Dune (Frank Herbert) and TSA (Bakker)

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« on: June 03, 2013, 01:34:05 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
Edit:
Revising the preface of this.
Discussion of Frank Herbert's Dune Saga. This is Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune,and Chapterhouse: Dune.

If you haven't read these, be warned that there will be major spoilers, and likely none of them will be tagged.
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Anyways. I've seen mentions of parallels and similarities between the two mentioned here, and even that Bakker drew some of his ideas from the series. If anyone would care to expand on what they see between the books and authors I'd like to read it. Some of you are so much more, shall we say, literarilly inclined than myself. (yup made up that word)

But as for me, some obvious things jump out. The Mentat and their absurd computational abilities as well as the Bene Gesserit and their galactic breeding program. The Kwisatz Haderach and his abilities.

All these things remind me of the Dunyain. They are basically the Mentat and the BG combined. Their Kwisatz Haderach the one who first obtains The Absolute, or maybe its Kell (again coming before his time like Dune) who is the prodigal dunyain.

Then we have Qirri: "The poison that made strong" WLW 429. Qirri and the spice melange. Both addictive, both shrouded in mystery. Perhaps the qirri doesn't give prescience, but maybe it does. As the space navigators can see glimpses, perhaps mundane humans just get some of the fringe benefits but not all. The actual affects of the qirri on a Nonmen or a dunyain is largely unknown, who knows, perhaps it could grant some prescient visions.

On that subject, the way the future is portrayed in visions. Kell sees paths of probabilities and is largely able to control what lines of logic he follows into the future. Our Kwisatz Haderach can only just barely grasp the future and its implications, and he is more just looking at visions of different futures rather than following specific paths. However the TTT and the 'nexuses' that the Kwisatz Haderach cannot see through are similar. They are both large pools of cosmic forces all condensed into a small point, where small, minute varations in paths lead to drastically different futures.

Then of course the obvious parallel of the face dancers, which I have only just met and not much for to say on that subject.

Made me think of something interesting, near the end.
Paul can't see others with prescience. He can see the effects, where the person went and where they may end up, but never the person directly. Could this be the case in TSA series?

Perhaps the gods have similar visions of the timeline, like Paul's. They exist outside of the timeline entirely, but maybe those with similar 'powers' are invisible to them. Obviously the No-God, if it was some kind of god figure, would then be rendered invisible. How about Kell? Could Kell be similar to the space guild navigators in that he has a limited 'power' and is therefore himself invisible, but at the same time much more easily seen the the No-God. Paul never saw the other Kwisatz Haderach revealed at the end. Maybe this was because Paul was still not adept at using his powers, but he can see the effects of the guilds men rather plainly, so perhaps it was because (to make a lame analogy) they had such similar power levels that they were both invisible.

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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2013, 01:34:13 pm »
Quote from: Truth Shines
On the old Three Seas forum, I came down on Dune like the proverbial ton of bricks.  In the end I had to admit I went too far and was being too harsh.  All the same I stand by my opinion: compared to Bakker's Second Apocalypse, Dune is an amateurish work.  Granted Herbert had all these great ideas (the rise of a prophet who can see the future, face dancers, Bene Gesserit, etc.), but when you compare these to their counterpart in the Second Apocalypse, they appear woefully underdeveloped and poorly thought out.  It's like comparing a few pieces of raw meat and uncooked vegetables with a sumptuous feast.  And certainly there is no comparison when it comes to the philosophical depth between the two works.
 
p.s.: just as a background, I read the first Dune book with some interest (but growing dismay); I struggled mightily with the second (it literally bored me to sleep multiple times); I started but completely lost interest part way through the third book.

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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2013, 01:34:21 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
Did you read and fall in love with Bakker's works before you read Dune?

I agree that the depth and breadth of the books are not the same, but consider what you are reading. It is a sci-fi novel written in the 60's. Is Asimov's Foundation saga any 'worse' than Dune? You seem to be complaining about an overall lack of interest in the genre as a whole, and indeed Bakker is writing his series as a foil to these supposed genre staples. Liking Bakker barely qualifies a person as one who loves fantasy/scifi novels.

If you want deep philosophical writing there are many other places for you to go, and whining about how classic, widely appreciated genre staples arn't any good because they don't compare to a more modern example to your liking is like playing the Atari 2600 and complaining about how the graphics don't look as nice as MW3. Sure what you said may be true, but its missing the point (and is entirely off topic).

I appreciate the input but if that post turns this topic into a flame war rather than an actually discussion based loosely on my original post and the questions contained therein, I'd be rather disappointed.

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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2013, 01:34:29 pm »
Quote from: Madness
I don't think Truth Shines intended that to be read as major criticism. In fact, it reads polite and toned down compared to what might have been written.

I, for one, am very interested in discussing comparisons of the two works and the ideas therein, Wilshire, however, I feel I couldn't possibly begin until you've finished at least up till God-Emperor without my analogies spoiling things for you.

Also, I agree that the works reflect their time and place. Asimov and Herbert are prime examples of what was the common style at the time. Limited descriptions, usually simply used to develop setting, and relying majorly on dialogue and introspection as means to further plot.

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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2013, 01:34:36 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
I was worried about that. Guess i'll come back later when I've finished it up, though that might take some time.

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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2013, 01:34:44 pm »
Quote from: gwern
Good eye, OP. http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/articles/features/2005/R-Scott-Bakker-Interview-8186.php

"Do you have any particular favourite authors who have influenced your work?"

"Tolkien and Herbert are the two great wells from which The Prince of Nothing is drawn. When I first started writing, my mantra was to write something that would 'awe and intrigue.' Since I worked on it as a hobby for so long, however, it ended up growing into so much more - and owing so much more as a result. For years - decades - I found myself jotting down book-related titbits inspired by whatever I was reading at the time: history, the classics, Shakespeare, and lots of philosophy - especially Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Aristotle."

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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2013, 01:34:52 pm »
Quote from: Callan S.
Thanks for posting that, Gwern :)

Edit: Actually this is even extra interesting - thanks alot?

Quote
that which does not kill makes one stranger, not stronger
Okay, interview date: 2005. Batman: The dark knight release 2008.

Is "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stranger" actually a bit of a common phrase (a quick google doesn't seem to indicate that it is)? Perhaps in some circles? I hope so, or that's freaky...

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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2013, 01:35:03 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
Just finished the second book (messiah). Onto Children of Dune. I am very,  very, glad that I dont have to wait an average of 6 years in between books like the poor fellows back when these books were first published.

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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2013, 01:35:11 pm »
Quote from: Jorge
I once made a picture with all of the influences I could detect in Bakker's work. It was huge. It can be largely be thought of as a mix between the Bible, Tolkien, Herbert and good dose of HR Giger just was extra kick. The philosophical influences are very numerous, but at its heart, the first trilogy is a celebration of skepticism and doubt.

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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2013, 01:35:17 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
guess that leaves me with Giger afterwards then

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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2013, 01:35:23 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
Well since im up through God Emperor and fumbling around with Chapterhouse I thought I'd bump this thread.

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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2013, 01:35:30 pm »
Quote from: Madness
I just want to say, in rereading this thread - Jorge, you're really cool. I'd like to see that picture on day, if that is at all possible.

So Wilshire, I'm very interested in your thoughts - or anyone's, obviously - as I'm hugely interested in how Bakker could have come up with any prefix No- without reading Heretics and Chapterhouse. If he made it through the first four books then we have plenty of means of comparison.

I'm not going to pull quotes and whatnot ATM as I'm just getting off work and it's almost (now past in editing) three in the morning.  But... food for thought:

What parallels can we pick from Dune specifically? I feel like the cliffhanger ending of Dune is primarily what might have inspired him - there are a number of powerful themes set up, that don't get fleshed out in the original novel.

Character parallels have been a pretty distinct for me. Moenghus the Elder is Paul. Paul doesn't see/doesn't accept his place in the symbiosis or Leto sees farther/accepts his Father's denied fate.

In Dune and Dune Messiah, Paul hovers at the edge of pure prescience until the stone burner goes off - it's only when he's finally blinded that he realizes the true extent of his oracular knowledge and acts in certainty.

So it made me think that Moenghus the Elder saw farther at the time of TTT. He's blinded and sees the only path. Which is something he explicitly tells Kellhus in their conversation.

In Children of Dune, everything leads up to Leto's transformation, his realization of the Golden Path, and confronting the Preacher who has been undermining his empire.

Something that probably needs quotables later but I very much read in Leto and the Preacher's conversation in the desert that Paul admits he saw the Golden Path and refused it, seeing Leto's later acceptance.

You suggested, I think, Wilshire, in The Heart thread in TWP forum, that when Kellhus' Circumfixion transpires, the Outside somehow "sandworms" him. So when Kellhus confronts Moenghus, "I am more," I think, Moenghus has actually seen farther in the Thought than has Kellhus.

As I think Bakker's pulled more random threads of characterization and plot from Dune rather than episodes like LOTR, I'd also suggest that this is why I think Meppa to be Moenghus - though a Neuropunctured Metapsukhari Cishaurim of Moenghus' sect would be the cooler thing ;). It's quite possible that Meppa will preach in Momemn to undermine Kellhus' empire which is under the stewardship of Esmenet, haunted by her past - as opposed to the Preacher in undermining Leto's empire under the stewardship of Alia, possessed by the Baron - after all, Cishaurim are Fanim priests.

I think that God-Emperor will reflect the majority of TUC themes - Kellhus is going to sacrifice himself to achieve the Shortest Path, Achamian and Mimara will be involved in that persecution and will be forced to continue the major struggle without Kellhus' guidance - he dissolves into the Outside to do work there o.O?

I always wonder at Siona's connection - after all, the No-Rooms, No-Ships, etc, etc, developed by the Ixian's reflect Siona's genetics being equally undetectable to prescience.

However, prescience in Earwa has two analogies - the perspective of the Warrior, the Gods, and the Outside or the perspective of the Dunyain. I got more as I just got the feeling Bakker drew from all six Frank books and mashed them all over TSA.

Get after me.

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« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2013, 01:35:39 pm »
Quote from: sologdin
Quote from: Truth Shines
to Bakker's Second Apocalypse, Dune is an amateurish work.  Granted Herbert had all these great ideas (the rise of a prophet who can see the future, face dancers, Bene Gesserit, etc.), but when you compare these to their counterpart in the Second Apocalypse, they appear woefully underdeveloped and poorly thought out.  It's like comparing a few pieces of raw meat and uncooked vegetables with a sumptuous feast.  And certainly there is no comparison when it comes to the philosophical depth between the two works

shoulders of giants.  TSA is a basically a gloss on tolkien and herbert, with plenty of other lesser influences, arising out of the passage of many decades and the differential educations of the respective writers. 


had written this over at westeros a while back:

Quote
note that the narrative of [dune] part I might be described as follows, allowing an intermediate level of generality:
 
(click to show/hide)

we might also describe it this way, however:
 
(click to show/hide)

we might further describe it this way:

(click to show/hide)

i've read those narratives in other books recently, so i think some fancypantsed loyar needs to send mr. herbert a cease and desist letter on behalf of these other stories.

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« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2013, 01:35:46 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
So as I said in the OP, simply from Dune it would seem Kellhus was Paul. However after reading the other novels I can see why you would think of Moe instead.

I've not thought of that until now, but on the surface your theory seems to make sense. The blindness, the disbandment, being a heretic in his own empire. Perhaps Moe actually wandered off into the wasted North after he came back and delivered his news, rather than being exiled like the Dunyain claim, giving us another parallel.

Im typing this as I think it, so it might be that half way down I will change my mind, but lets see were it takes us. The main issue I have with Moe being Paul is that Moe is not the prodigy. He is not the one to deliver the Dunyain from their mundane bonds and catupult them into the realm of the Absolute. There are so many obvious distinction that make him parralel Paul closely, but there is some break-down... or rather he is more of a combination of themes than simply one character.

Moe is also kind of a combination of Paul and Jessica. Denying your order, choosing another over your own tribe. Jessica trained and lead Paul to what he became, more or less. Sure she didn't know where exactly he would end up, but she trained him to be a mentat and a male with all the bene gesserit training. Moe fathers Kell in a similar way. He conditioned the grounds for Kell to walk on. He showed Kell the way to TTT, though he didn't know what would happen when he grasped it. He also probably thought Paul would bring balance to the force not destroy it, erm I mean bring more stability to TTT and help his father complete his goal rather than take it and warp it beyond recognition.

So Paul saw the golden path but made the conscious decision not to follow it. Did Moe do this?
Well, more importantly might be the reasons for Paul's actions. Why not choose the path that would forever lead humans to a better place? Why not save everyone, for eternity?
Leto believes its because he could not justify the worm transformation in order to make this path possible. That losing his humanity, becoming a different species, was too much for him to bare. Paul wanted to save his subjects, as any Atreides would, from death and suffering. And yet, he chose to ignore the Golden Path, so damning everyone.
Or, was it that the end did not justify the means? Paul saw the great war, another Jihad, that was too terrible. He spent his time alive trying to find a path to the future that did not cross this inevitability.

Was this Moe's intention? Did he see the golden path, the shortest path, through the nexus of events( the Nexus being TTT rather than the path), but choose to find another, less bloody, more difficult way through? Did he know that he would likely fail, but that he must try regardless? Is his idea of the future, the one that delivers Earwa to the Inchoroi, truly the lesser of two evils, or was it just one evil over another?

Not that I disagree entirely with your theory, Madness, but just that it is incomplete. Like you mentioned, there is a mashing together of themes and while a lot of Moe can be seen in Paul, I believe so too can a lot of Paul be seen there too.

In my OP, I mentioned that Kellhus is the Kwisatz Haderach (or Paul). Not, I suppose, in the sense that he has the genetic ability to see more than other Dunyain, but mostly that he is the prodigal son of the Dunyain, their penultimate achievement.
I dont think that Moe fits this motif very well. For one, Moe was sent out, but he was presumably fully 'controlled' by the Dunyain. He had, more or less, completed the training. He drank the punch. Kellhus, however, is kind of like Paul in that he is outside the Dunyain. The begrudgingly sent him out to his father, even though they would have wanted to keep and train him. Outside of their sphere of influence at a young age (I hope he was younger than Moe when he was sent out), he decided on a path of his own, damning the Dunyain and their practices. Sure Moe did this too, but I feel the link is stronger with Kell.

But then Kell is distinctly like Leto in the ways you said, and I like that portion of your conclusion. I think its highly possible that Kell took the path his father would not, and it may likely have something to do with losing his humanity. Perhaps he will become the No-God like some have suggested, however I don't know how he would plan to save everyone like Leto's worm did, but that remains to be seen. What we do know if that Father and Son choose different paths out of TTT, and yet both thought that theirs was the only way to truly save humanity.

BTW the idea of the outside sandworm-ing Kell was lockesnow, not I. Is Kell in a skin that is not his own? Thus the heart, the halos, the metagnosis.



Quote
So it made me think that Moenghus the Elder saw farther at the time of TTT. He's blinded and sees the only path. Which is something he explicitly tells Kellhus in their conversation.
But didn't Paul follow the only path? Then Leto comes along with another 'only path'. 'Only' here does not mean there are no other choices, but rather that no other choices are as good as the one each has chosen, which is largely subjective.

Farther? If we are standing  back to back, and we each see to the horizon, who sees farther? If you ask someone which one of use sees farther, what would they say? Without context, it would seem we can each see to the same distance, more or less, so perhaps the poor guy you asked would say we see the same. But its more complicated than this, since 'farther' in our case, depends on where you think we should be going.
Moe perhaps sees farther along his chosen path, but Kell likely sees farther down his. They both know, in general, what will happen along both lines of causality and circumstance, but as the variables become more complex and more numerous, there might just not be enough time to compute all possibilities for all paths.
Then again this breaks down when you consider that Moe has had much more time to consider TTT and the paths out of it. It would be more likely that Time is a bigger factor in this equation. With so much more time Moe should have a greater understanding of where the paths through TTT lead, at least compared to Kell who basically picked the path me liked the most and ignored the other possibilities.
Though all that is mostly off topic.

The real questions would be if the blinding gave him sight. With Paul, when he became blind he no longer saw the now. Rather, he could only see his visions. His vision became the present and future. But what if Paul did not go to the dessert, and Leto was raised under Paul's tutelage. Eventually Leto would have chosen the Golden Path, and Paul's reality, his 'pure prescience', would have broken down. He would have become blind in the metaphysical as he was already blinded physically. Who sees farther then?

Did Moe see farther until Kell came and shut out his future? Moe's only path suddenly becomes a dead end, a no-path maybe :P.

I agree that TUC will have a lot of similarities with God Emperor. The Preacher, the sacrifise, the collapse of the fathers regime under the son's hand. Perhaps Kelmomas is Leto though with the Atreides, I mean Anasorimbor, family compassion stripped away making him much more 'evil'.


Which incarnation of prescience from TSA would Dune fall under? The prescient of Leto and others is more like the Gods/Outside/WLW. This, because the Dune prescience is more of a Gift, something that just happens, rather than a cold and calculated future of possibilities. It doesn't matter that much though, since the amount to about the same thing.

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« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2013, 01:36:16 pm »
Quote from: Madness
Rushing off to work here. Firstly, thanks solo for getting in on this and Wilshire for correcting my misquote.

Just wanted to add one main pertinant thought of many to your post, Wilshire.

Paul was Kellhus for me too... up until the blinding and the fact that Leto just gets it all so much quicker than Moenghus, mostly due to the prebirth metaconsciousness a la Alia. Then Leto the II became the undeniable comparison - it keeps stacking up. God-Emperor, Aspect-Emperor.

Then I quickly saw reasons I previously ignored to the idea that Paul is Moenghus rather than Kellhus.

Certainly bias on my part.

Also, remember when Paul first experiences the blindness, he is at first worried that the visions won't match reality. The accumulation of their invariance is what welds him to his path... I think us using the word choice is probably misleading.