Chapter 11


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Chapter 11

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I hear the wind blowing across the desert and I see the moons of a winter night
rising like great ships in the void. To them I make my vow: I will be resolute
and make an art of government; I will balance my inherited past and become a
perfect storehouse of my relic memories. And I will be known for kindliness more
than for knowledge. My face will shine down the corridors of time for as long as
humans exist.

-Leto's Vow, After Harq al-Ada

Alia is contemplating her own possession. As a child she’d used the prana-bindu trance to strengthen her own persona against the hoard of her ancestors. As a Fremen, she couldn’t escape the spice. She envied the other Fremen who could release the built up pressures of their own ancestral memories in the spice orgy but there was no release for her. She was forced to confront the personas of all her ancestors and those shared by Jessica before birth. She had all the knowledge of a Reverend Mother and more before she was even born. Of course with this came the knowledge of her own abomination. She was able to keep her own persona intact through childhood but there were always intrusions from ancestors trying to live through her. That’s what she’ll be doing one day, trying to live through a descendant. She had no one to turn to for help. Jessica could only think of her as abomination, and Paul walked into the desert. Afterwards she married Hayt and Jessica fled to Caladan. She was left alone with the twins and in charge of the universe. In an attempt to deal with this pressure, she sought advice from Other Memory, this opened a flood of ancestors until finally the Baron appeared to her. Terrified, she was able to block it all out temporarily until one day they all attacked her and she feared she was going insane. Then the Baron offers to hold back the others if she would let him live through her occasionally. He convinces her to have an affair with Javid and kill him because he is dangerous and he wants to experience it through her senses. She arranges it.
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Re: Chapter 11

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Revised
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by georgiedenbro »

Children of Dune wrote:On this morning, Alia took her pre-breakfast walk through the Keep's roof
garden. In a new attempt to win the inner battle, she tried to hold her entire
awareness within Choda's admonition to the Zensunni:
"Leaving the ladder, one may fall upward!"
This maxim, that one always requires a solid frame of reference, can apply as well to psychology as to nature itself. A person, when reduced to the component elements, is some combination of body, mind, memories, and their environment. So where is the "I" in all this, where is the individual? When real memory is accessed and opened up, as the RM's and pre-born do, one can be lost in the sea of past memories. When a prescient like Paul drifts through future paths he can be lost there too. In both cases a tether is needed, a pillar that can always be grasped to return one to the present time and the real self. But what is the real self? How can the self be separated from the ancestral memories, and from the knowledge of the future? And if they are intertwined, then what is this 'self' that one can come back to that somehow seems to exist apart from future and past? For Alia there is no such self, apparently; the battle to find a pillar or a tether was a losing battle from the start.

Alia thinks about how the Fremen can shut out their Other Memory through the tau orgy, but that she can't do that. Is the act of self-deception involved in denying one's own memories the very thing which can allow there to be a 'real self'? Presumably the same would be true of ignoring the future to focus on the present; willful ignorance is required, a sort of fantasy that one resides only 'now.' Perhaps Frank is saying that in order to have a real sense of self we must embrace the illusion that we exist separately from what came before and what is to come, that we must pretend we stand alone like a unmoving stone in a flowing river, because to think of ourselves as part of the river would be too chaotic to make sense of. Might we think of Alia as being too wise for the illusion; that she cannot have a self of her own due to seeing through the facade too well, not having spent the years others do in building up imaginary walls?
Children of Dune wrote:"The morality of this lesson escapes --"
"Don't be dense, grandchild! Morality must always be based on practicality.
Render unto Caesar and all that nonsense. A victory is useless unless it
reflects your deepest wishes
. Is it not true that you have admired Javid's
manliness?"
The Baron here is right. To have a self one must recognize that one has deep wishes, to think of oneself as apart and to want things. Contrast Alia with Paul or the twins; Alia seems to want nothing, to aspire for nothing, we never hear her speak of goals or what she would like for the future. She was as full a KH as Paul was but still was content for him to think about what he wanted while she just went along with it. The same goes for the twins, who seem always to be worried about what will come next and what they should do for the future; they want things. Alia seems portrayed always as a passenger to the plans of others, never to have plans of her own. The Baron is trying to tell her that she needs to begin to be someone, rather than no one; to fulfill her own wishes rather than carry out plans enacted by others. In this sense he is right; since she is incapable of generating the illusion of self that she would need to do this, her only remaining option for mental stability is to become the Baron.
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by stilgarr »

I really enjoyed this chapter. One quote that stood out to me was:
Children of Dune:
You made a good decision! He was another dangerous tool. You acted to maintain order in your society. Now there's a good reason for judgments, not this justice nonsense! There's no such things as equal justice anywhere. It's unsettling to a society when you try to achieve such a false balance.
I felt this part because for the first time (for me at least) the baron made sense. There is no such things as equal justice. I feel like you can translate this to everyday live. What is justice? Can a society in real be equal and balanced? Every person has their definition of what is just and what not.

Also while reading I was thinking to myself, why has Alia a connection with male ancestors? She should only have the memories of the other reverend mothers, why a male? Is it because she killed him or is there more into it?
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Re: Chapter 11

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stilgarr wrote: 05 Apr 2022 16:23 Also while reading I was thinking to myself, why has Alia a connection with male ancestors? She should only have the memories of the other reverend mothers, why a male? Is it because she killed him or is there more into it?
Alia was pre-born in the womb when Jessica converted the water of life. She did not have the benefit of Reverend Mother training to prevent her from accessing her male ancestry, all of her ancestors were forced on her awareness at once.
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by georgiedenbro »

Freakzilla wrote: 05 Apr 2022 19:19
stilgarr wrote: 05 Apr 2022 16:23 Also while reading I was thinking to myself, why has Alia a connection with male ancestors? She should only have the memories of the other reverend mothers, why a male? Is it because she killed him or is there more into it?
Alia was pre-born in the womb when Jessica converted the water of life. She did not have the benefit of Reverend Mother training to prevent her from accessing her male ancestry, all of her ancestors were forced on her awareness at once.
I wonder, though, if it's also because she has the power of the oracle like Paul does, which in theory should give her access to past/present/future in a way that goes beyond normal BG limitations. The way OM is described in Dune, it makes it sound more like the BG can't access it, rather than that they could but it would be dangerous. It may be instinctual, mind you, rather than trained in.
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Re: Chapter 11

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georgiedenbro wrote: 12 Jul 2022 14:07
Freakzilla wrote: 05 Apr 2022 19:19
stilgarr wrote: 05 Apr 2022 16:23 Also while reading I was thinking to myself, why has Alia a connection with male ancestors? She should only have the memories of the other reverend mothers, why a male? Is it because she killed him or is there more into it?
Alia was pre-born in the womb when Jessica converted the water of life. She did not have the benefit of Reverend Mother training to prevent her from accessing her male ancestry, all of her ancestors were forced on her awareness at once.
I wonder, though, if it's also because she has the power of the oracle like Paul does, which in theory should give her access to past/present/future in a way that goes beyond normal BG limitations. The way OM is described in Dune, it makes it sound more like the BG can't access it, rather than that they could but it would be dangerous. It may be instinctual, mind you, rather than trained in.
It's Jessica who shows Paul where the male OM is after he takes the WoL.
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by georgiedenbro »

Freakzilla wrote: 25 Oct 2022 18:37 It's Jessica who shows Paul where the male OM is after he takes the WoL.
Right, the BG know 'where' that place is, but they can't go there. My point was that maybe "can't" means it's actually impossible for them, rather than merely too dangerous to risk an attempt. I think Alia had a non-BG ability, like Paul did, which allowed her to do something females normally can't. If I'm right, it means that not only was she at risk from becoming abomination because of her lack of training, but additionally could do 'safaris' into her male OM adding even more danger. I imagine even regular BG could become possessed by male ancestors whether or not they could access those memories on purpose, but being able to do so on purpose would mean being exposed directly to those ancestors from within the womb. So basically Alia was screwed.
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Re: Chapter 11

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georgiedenbro wrote: 27 Oct 2022 13:55
Freakzilla wrote: 25 Oct 2022 18:37 It's Jessica who shows Paul where the male OM is after he takes the WoL.
Right, the BG know 'where' that place is, but they can't go there. My point was that maybe "can't" means it's actually impossible for them, rather than merely too dangerous to risk an attempt. I think Alia had a non-BG ability, like Paul did, which allowed her to do something females normally can't. If I'm right, it means that not only was she at risk from becoming abomination because of her lack of training, but additionally could do 'safaris' into her male OM adding even more danger. I imagine even regular BG could become possessed by male ancestors whether or not they could access those memories on purpose, but being able to do so on purpose would mean being exposed directly to those ancestors from within the womb. So basically Alia was screwed.

Textual content? I can show you where Jessica shows Paul where it is.
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Re: Chapter 11

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If it was impossible there wouldn't be abominations
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Re: Chapter 11

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Freakzilla wrote: 09 Feb 2023 02:05 Textual content? I can show you where Jessica shows Paul where it is.
Honestly it probably boils down to text interpretation. I'm not sure I recall it being explicitly stated one way or the other. But I can see abomination being possible even if they couldn't access those memories directly. The memories are still there, after all, whether or not they can get at them intentionally. And actually this makes me wonder what Frank would have said about those of us without access to OM, but who obviously do contain the genetic lineage. Is it possible for a totally regular person to be 'possessed' by elements in their genetic line, to be controlled by parts of themselves that take them out of control? I'm tempted to say, in a context even outside of the books, that I could see a case for this. Maybe many of us are possessed, since by a BG standard we are 'animals' and not human: we can't control our bodily functions, nor can we choose our own actions with the control and discipline a BG could. So maybe not being possessed is the exception rather than the rule, which sets the BG apart. This is just me thinking out loud, but I feel like it's hard to answer the in-universe question about whether BG can be possessed by male ancestors if they cannot access those memories, since we don't have an explicit understanding of what OM constitutes. I have a theory, but we lack a Dune 7 to prove it.
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Re: Chapter 11

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Aloud, he said: "You speak of a place where you cannot enter? This place
which the Reverend Mother cannot face, show it to me."
She shook her head, terrified by the very thought.
"Show it to me!" he commanded.
"No!"
But she could not escape him. Bludgeoned by the terrible force of him, she
closed her eyes and focused inward -- the-direction-that-is-dark.
Paul's consciousness flowed through and around her and into the darkness.
She glimpsed the place dimly before her mind blanked itself away from the
terror. Without knowing why, her whole being trembled at what she had seen -- a
region where a wind blew and sparks glared, where rings of light expanded and
contracted, where rows of tumescent white shapes flowed over and under and
around the lights, driven by darkness and a wind out of nowhere.
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by Cpt. Aramsham »

There is no mention of male OM in this passage, though. I don't believe Frank Herbert at this point thought of Reverend Mothers as having access to ancestral memories.

Though certainly it does seem that it was terror that was holding them back from whatever this "male place" in their psyche was, not that they didn't have the ability to see it.

(We've had this discussion before, and I'm sure that wasn't the first time, either.)
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Re: Chapter 11

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I still think even that passage doesn't clarify whether it's impossible or not. Of course this depends on semantics a bit. For instance if I put a 300lb weight in front of someone who isn't a bodybuilder and ask them to lift it, I might be able to say that it's impossible that they could do so. That isn't quite the same thing as it cannot be lifted, but it may well mean it cannot be lifted by them. In Dune it may be separated by male/female instead of strong/weak (in the analogy), but a female sort of nudging the weight a bit, indicating they can vaguely move the needle on it, doesn't mean they can actually possibly lift it.

But this is just one example of how it's tricky to explain what can/can't means in context. If it's merely 'terrifying' to the BG to look there, however that level of terror is such that none of them could ever actually do more than 'glimpse the place dimly' then I would say that's as good as saying it's impossible for them. The alternative would be that they actually can go there, fully, and not just dimly, but that this would be dangerous. Based on the quoted passage it doesn't sound like she could have gone any further than this even if she had wanted to embrace the danger.
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Re: Chapter 11

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Cpt. Aramsham wrote: 19 Apr 2023 06:42 There is no mention of male OM in this passage, though. I don't believe Frank Herbert at this point thought of Reverend Mothers as having access to ancestral memories.

Though certainly it does seem that it was terror that was holding them back from whatever this "male place" in their psyche was, not that they didn't have the ability to see it.

(We've had this discussion before, and I'm sure that wasn't the first time, either.)
He talks about it in the first chapter.

"The drug's dangerous," she said, "but it gives insight. When a Truthsayer's
gifted by the drug, she can look many places in her memory -- in her body's
memory. We look down so many avenues of the past . . . but only feminine
avenues." Her voice took on a note of sadness. "Yet, there's a place where no
Truthsayer can see. We are repelled by it, terrorized. It is said a man will
come one day and find in the gift of the drug his inward eye. He will look where
we cannot -- into both feminine and masculine pasts."
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Re: Chapter 11

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And the last...

"How would you like to live billions upon billions of lives?" Paul asked.
"There's a fabric of legends for you! Think of all those experiences, the wisdom
they'd bring. But wisdom tempers love, doesn't it? And it puts a new shape on
hate. How can you tell what's ruthless unless you've plumbed the depths of both
cruelty and kindness? You should fear me, Mother. I am the Kwisatz Haderach."
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Re: Chapter 11

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georgiedenbro wrote: 19 Apr 2023 12:11 I still think even that passage doesn't clarify whether it's impossible or not. Of course this depends on semantics a bit. For instance if I put a 300lb weight in front of someone who isn't a bodybuilder and ask them to lift it, I might be able to say that it's impossible that they could do so. That isn't quite the same thing as it cannot be lifted, but it may well mean it cannot be lifted by them. In Dune it may be separated by male/female instead of strong/weak (in the analogy), but a female sort of nudging the weight a bit, indicating they can vaguely move the needle on it, doesn't mean they can actually possibly lift it.

But this is just one example of how it's tricky to explain what can/can't means in context. If it's merely 'terrifying' to the BG to look there, however that level of terror is such that none of them could ever actually do more than 'glimpse the place dimly' then I would say that's as good as saying it's impossible for them. The alternative would be that they actually can go there, fully, and not just dimly, but that this would be dangerous. Based on the quoted passage it doesn't sound like she could have gone any further than this even if she had wanted to embrace the danger.
Then how do the preborn become possessed?
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Re: Chapter 11

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Freakzilla wrote: 31 Jul 2023 11:57
Cpt. Aramsham wrote: 19 Apr 2023 06:42 There is no mention of male OM in this passage, though. I don't believe Frank Herbert at this point thought of Reverend Mothers as having access to ancestral memories.

Though certainly it does seem that it was terror that was holding them back from whatever this "male place" in their psyche was, not that they didn't have the ability to see it.

(We've had this discussion before, and I'm sure that wasn't the first time, either.)
He talks about it in the first chapter.

"The drug's dangerous," she said, "but it gives insight. When a Truthsayer's
gifted by the drug, she can look many places in her memory -- in her body's
memory. We look down so many avenues of the past . . . but only feminine
avenues." Her voice took on a note of sadness. "Yet, there's a place where no
Truthsayer can see. We are repelled by it, terrorized. It is said a man will
come one day and find in the gift of the drug his inward eye. He will look where
we cannot -- into both feminine and masculine pasts."
In my opinion this passage is ambiguous, and not a clear reference to ancestral memories. When we actually see Jessica become a Reverend Mother, it's not her ancestral memories that are awakened, but Reverend Mother Ramallo's memories that are shared with her (and the ones shared with Ramallo, and so on, "a wide corridor to other Reverend Mothers until there seemed no end to them").

But yes, I also think this passage is as close as Frank Herbert came to putting ancestral memories into Dune. But then he decided not to follow through on it when he actually got to that part of the story. (We need to keep in mind that Dune, Muad'Dib and The Prophet were conceived as three separate books in a trilogy: he hadn't completed writing part 2 and 3 when he submitted the first part to John W. Campbell.)
Freakzilla wrote: 31 Jul 2023 11:59 And the last...

"How would you like to live billions upon billions of lives?" Paul asked.
"There's a fabric of legends for you! Think of all those experiences, the wisdom
they'd bring. But wisdom tempers love, doesn't it? And it puts a new shape on
hate. How can you tell what's ruthless unless you've plumbed the depths of both
cruelty and kindness? You should fear me, Mother. I am the Kwisatz Haderach."
This is a reference to the alternate lives Paul has experienced through his prescience, not to ancestral memories. It basically repeats an earlier passage that is more explicit about that:
He could feel the old-man wisdom, the accumulation out of the experiences from countless possible lives. Something seemed to chuckle and rub its hands within him.
And Paul thought: How little the universe knows about the nature of real cruelty!
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Re: Chapter 11

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That's not what he said. How would you like to LIVE billions of lives. I don't how you can disregard direct evidence of OM just because you CAN interpret it as something else.

Who's memories is Mohiam talking about in the first chapter, ones she shared? So FH thought of OM sharing but not ancestral memory? :snooty:
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Re: Chapter 11

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Paul hasn't actually lived any of the lives in his hypothetical OM either, so that argument has no force. It's not direct evidence of ancestral memories, any more than his references to Hitler and Genghiz Khan in Dune Messiah (he's clearly citing history books, not his own memory; he effectively says as much to Stilgar—in fact, that he bemoans how little of pre-Butlerian history has been preserved is itself evidence that he does not have access to ancestral memories).
Freakzilla wrote: 01 Aug 2023 07:25So FH thought of OM sharing but not ancestral memory? :snooty:
Given that this is what we in fact see happen when Jessica becomes a RM, and what all references to OM by all RMs in the first three books are about, why is that so difficult to believe? In Children of Dune, Leto II even explicitly states that Jessica's only point of reference to understand his and Ghanima's ancestral memory is the memories Ramallo shared with her:
"I must make it clear to you how much we differ. Let me remind you of that sietch orgy so long ago when the Old Reverend Mother gave you her lives and her memories. She tuned herself to you and gave you that … that long chain of sausages, each one a person. You have them yet. So you know something of what Ghanima and I experience."
But as I already said, I think it's quite possible that when Frank Herbert wrote the first chapter of Dune, he was thinking of giving Reverend Mothers ancestral memory. But then when he actually got to that part of the story, he didn't, going with the memory-sharing instead.
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Re: Chapter 11

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Freakzilla wrote: 31 Jul 2023 12:11 Then how do the preborn become possessed?
The explanation given for why a BG needs training prior to awakening is that they need to develop a strong sense of self so that it can resist all the other personalities. No doubt some of the technical training helps as well. The preborn have no sense of self, and so are flooded with all of it with no defense. On that much we probably agree.

Where it gets peculiar is that OM in Dune seems to be something that all people have, but that only RM's can access at will. Even non-BG have the ancestral memories in their DNA, and probably it can effect them even if they're oblivious to its presence. I could see a possible answer to your question as being that since the preborn have no personalities of their own, and a higher general closeness with all of their OM, the entire host of memories - male and female - flood in and try to take over. Presumably a female preborn could not actively seek out the male memories, but that doesn't imply their presence can't overwhelm her.

There's a third wrinkle, though, which is that we only see three instances of preborn: Alia, Ghani, and Leto II. Alia is already unusual because she's a female KH, with prescience and OM. The fact that she's prescient would cause strange effects by itself. Ghani and Leto II are not only preborn but have Paul's memories - of his entire escapades with prescience! So they, too, have tons of information access that isn't normal for a regular BG preborn/abomination.

Since we don't get to see a regular preborn it's hard to make clear distinctions about what should or shouldn't happen.
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Re: Chapter 11

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Because they haven't been BG trained and can't or don't know to avoid the masculine ancestral memories
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Re: Chapter 11

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"Because the memory of being human is so rich in him. Think of all those lives, cousin. No.
You can't imagine what that is because you've no experience of it. But I know. I can imagine his
pain. He gives more than anyone ever gave before. Our father walked into the desert trying to
escape it. Alia became Abomination in fear of it. Our grandmother has only the blurred infancy of
this condition, yet must use every Bene Gesserit wile to live with it -- which is what Reverend
Mother training amounts to anyway.
But Leto! He's all alone, never to be duplicated."
~Children of Dune
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Re: Chapter 11

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You can't be a female KH. It's in the very definition.
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Re: Chapter 11

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RMs don't normally access OM at will, they have adab, the demanding memory that comes of itself.
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