Chapter 11


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georgiedenbro
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by georgiedenbro »

Freakzilla wrote: 03 Aug 2023 19:12 You can't be a female KH. It's in the very definition.
Well it all depends on your definition. So long as we consider a KH to be just a male BG, then no, you're right. But it seems what the male KH could do was to access both past and future lives, including presumably the male ones. And it seems Alia could do this. The BG didn't know this is what the KH would be able to do, possibly because, being women, they didn't understand prescience very well. Paul was the KH, but not at all what they expected. And Alia could do what Paul could do, so despite it going against the current BG assumptions, she was essentially a female KH. Now it's a fair question to ask why she had prescience at all, since neither Jessica nor Leto (as far as we know) were prescient.
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Re: Chapter 11

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Freakzilla wrote: 03 Aug 2023 19:10 "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
That is a good quote for your position, but I don't think it is very conclusive. We can take Ghanima to refer to the experience of having memories of many lives in general, not necessarily ancestral memories. So for Paul it is the memories of uncounted possible lifetimes experienced presciently, and for Jessica, the "blurred infancy" of the condition means the shared memories from other Reverend Mothers, just like Leto referred to earlier in the book.

Spoiler for Heretics/Chapterhouse:
It would also apply to the Duncan of the last two books, and there it is clear that the experience of his many ghola lifetimes has granted him Kwisatz Haderach-like powers.
Otherwise, to claim that Paul went into the desert to escape ancestral memories rather than prescience seems to me like a massive retcon.
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Re: Chapter 11

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Cpt. Aramsham wrote: 01 Aug 2023 03:20
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!
Freakzilla wrote: 01 Aug 2023 07:25 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.
I've been looking at the differences between the Analog and book versions of Dune, and noticed that the earlier text has a number of passages that confirm my interpretation. First, there are a lot of bits where Paul talks about his experiences from the lives "lived" via prescience:
Frank Herbert wrote:The new understanding of his prescience had loaded him with a weight of years far beyond his age. All the possible futures that fanned out from this point-event called “now”—all the personal lifetimes he had experienced in one burst of drug-induced clarity—had filled him with ruthless wisdom. He felt that he had never experienced childhood, but had sprung forth and old adult here on this wasteland planet of Arrakis.

Thus, Muad’Dib could not always choose to look across that mysterious terrain called Time. Yet, he had looked there—down world lines and life lines without number. He is to be thought of as many people in one flesh. Do not doubt him when he says: “Much kindness is the beginning of cruelty.”

The way the rock was opened made Paul think of the threshold barrier that had just opened to permit him a new view into more possible lives. He had gained new experiences. In a few seconds, he had become many lifetimes “older.”

Now, he could only rely on his training and the numberless experiences of the possible through which he had lived in prescience.

He must rely instead on the weight of experience his prescience gave him and deal with the “now” from a position of immediate ability.

Cortical changes were taking place slowly and inexorably within him, he knew, as he absorbed the experiences of the possible future, as he became the lives he had lived.

How ruthlessly direct his thinking is, she thought. And for the first time, she focused her attention in the full Bene Gesserit Way on the implications of the changes in Paul—the old-man maturity his actions reflected. She was suddenly terrified by the weight of infinite futures in his manner.

And again he cautioned himself to rely on the lessons learned from the infinite experiences of the future and not to put his confidence in the visions themselves.

He understood the elation then. Time-darkness forced a hyper-acceleration of his other senses, forced him to rely on the shadow experiences of the uncounted lives he had lived in the possible futures.

He stood within an ultimate emergency, forced to rely on his training and on the experience lines of possible futures as yet only poorly absorbed into his young body.

The words were gibberish to Paul, but he sensed meaning in them out of an unabsorbed possible future.

The possible futures flowed through him, deposited their experiences and were gone, leaving the detritus to be absorbed and rejected.

But he saw that blind-Time had its own rigors, preparing him for the experience of new lifetimes, for another inflooding of possible futures.

This made him think of the many lives he lived in prescience. They felt real… he learned from each of them… yet…

And the experiences of the possible futures poured through him, enriching him, aging his atman-self millennia per second.

Prescience had given him the experiences of near infinite lives, but unless he integrated them with his moving-now, his own fluid point-events of living, those experiences remained as useless as a wild Maker… another creature he had failed to master. All those experiences remained like instincts that he could not use.
His own special way of comprehending the universe haunted Paul. Prescience gave it to him in situ. Yet, when the now was born and came into the pressures of reality, it had its own life and sprouted subtle differences. It was like a body with many faces…and the body was always his old Terrible Purpose, the Race Consciousness shaping its wild and bloody jihad.
I have the wisdoms of many lifetimes, he thought. Yet, I live only one lifetime in which to choose the right set of wisdoms.

It was a critical change in his essential being, a maturing of the fibers woven into him from other possible lives.

Prescience had never shown him a phantom future with that particular action by Gurney Halleck. He had the partly-absorbed experiences of all those lives
In revising the book for final publication, Frank Herbert cut out most of this repetitive material, and left in only the last two quotes near the end, but it should be clear that they're all still talking about the same thing: Paul experiences his possible futures as lives he "has lived," and learns from these experiences, gaining maturity/wisdom but also ruthlessness.

And finally, after Paul takes the Water of Life, there is a discussion of the effect it has on him:
Paul lay back, searching the spread-out present, its limits extended into future and past, holding onto the awareness with difficulty as the spice illumination faded. And even as that illumination faded, he saw that another factor did not fade—the phantom experiences of those other countless possible lives stayed with him! He realized with a terrifying exultation that he had become all those other lives, that he was an ancient being in a youthful shell, his every action monitored by ruthless wisdom.
Again, we see that "having lived countless lives" refers to his prescient visions, and here the full integration of all those lifetimes, which turns him into an "ancient being," is explicitly linked with drinking the Water of Life. The lack of any reference to Other Memory is palpable.
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by georgiedenbro »

Cpt. Aramsham wrote: 12 Jan 2024 06:38 In revising the book for final publication, Frank Herbert cut out most of this repetitive material, and left in only the last two quotes near the end, but it should be clear that they're all still talking about the same thing: Paul experiences his possible futures as lives he "has lived," and learns from these experiences, gaining maturity/wisdom but also ruthlessness.

And finally, after Paul takes the Water of Life, there is a discussion of the effect it has on him:
Paul lay back, searching the spread-out present, its limits extended into future and past, holding onto the awareness with difficulty as the spice illumination faded. And even as that illumination faded, he saw that another factor did not fade—the phantom experiences of those other countless possible lives stayed with him! He realized with a terrifying exultation that he had become all those other lives, that he was an ancient being in a youthful shell, his every action monitored by ruthless wisdom.
Again, we see that "having lived countless lives" refers to his prescient visions, and here the full integration of all those lifetimes, which turns him into an "ancient being," is explicitly linked with drinking the Water of Life. The lack of any reference to Other Memory is palpable.
Ok so I think you may be confusing two separate things. In all of these quotes I believe the "other lives" Paul is seeing are different future versions of his own life. It's as if he has lived out his own life an infinite amount of times and has the age and experience of having been alive basically forever. I agree that these particular quotes do not refer to OM, but rather to prescience. However that doesn't mean that FH didn't intend us to understand that Paul also had access to OM. We're told repeatedly that the BG expect the KH to simply be a male BG, and we're never actually told that Paul cannot do the things they expected of him. Rather, I think the book highlights the things he can additionally do, that no one expected. The book also never spells out why a male BG would be an oracle rather than just a male with OM, but my theory at least is that this is what happens when you have access to full OM (both lines) and full prescience as well.

It isn't until GEoD that we are explicitly told exactly how an oracle interacts with his OM, even though in CoD we do see that Leto II has it. And again, that book never mentions that he has an ability that Paul lacked; in fact it is quite important to the story that they have exactly the same power, which is why it's so striking that Leto II saw something in the future that Paul didn't.
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Re: Chapter 11

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This was in response to Freakzilla's assertion that Paul claims to have OM in the quote given above. The Analog quotes provide context that I think definitively establishes that he was not in fact talking about OM in that quote.

Of course, this does not in itself disprove that Paul has OM, but I think it is rather extraordinary to claim that the main character of a book series has a particular superpower that (1) he is never shown to use, (2) he never talks about, and (3) he is never actually described as having. Particularly when he is supposed to have got it in a scene where his experience is described in some detail without any mention of it.

Not to mention that in Dune Messiah, Paul is staggered, overwhelmed and struggles to comprehend the experience when Leto shares a glimpse of his OM with him:
Frank Herbert wrote:Paul sagged against the wall in a spasm of dizziness. He felt that he'd been upended and drained. His own life whipped past him. He saw his father. He was his father. And the grandfather, and the grandfathers before that. His awareness tumbled through a mind-shattering corridor of his whole male line.
"How?" he asked silently.
[…]
Slowly, Paul felt himself being disengaged from that endless awareness.
I think this makes the idea that Paul already had access to this male-line OM on his own pretty much inconsistent with the text. (If we're going by the assumption that the KH should have access to both male and female OM, how can it be "mind-shattering" to him?)
georgiedenbro wrote: 15 Jan 2024 12:49 We're told repeatedly that the BG expect the KH to simply be a male BG, and we're never actually told that Paul cannot do the things they expected of him.
Yes, but IMO the evidence that this includes OM is exceedingly slim, resting solely on Mohiam's cryptic, ambiguous pronouncements in the first chapter.
georgiedenbro wrote: 15 Jan 2024 12:49 It isn't until GEoD that we are explicitly told exactly how an oracle interacts with his OM, even though in CoD we do see that Leto II has it. And again, that book never mentions that he has an ability that Paul lacked; in fact it is quite important to the story that they have exactly the same power, which is why it's so striking that Leto II saw something in the future that Paul didn't.
I beg to differ:
Frank Herbert wrote:There could be no doubt these twins went beyond their father. But in which direction? The boy spoke of an ability to be his father—and had proved it.
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Re: Chapter 11

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Cpt. Aramsham wrote: 15 Jan 2024 17:58 This was in response to Freakzilla's assertion that Paul claims to have OM in the quote given above. The Analog quotes provide context that I think definitively establishes that he was not in fact talking about OM in that quote.
Thanks for the clarification.
I think it is rather extraordinary to claim that the main character of a book series has a particular superpower that (1) he is never shown to use, (2) he never talks about, and (3) he is never actually described as having.
Dune is particularly cagey about exactly what powers Paul has, at all. It is somewhat written from his POV, and he has no basis of comparison to know why he can do what he can do, since he's the first ever.
Particularly when he is supposed to have got it in a scene where his experience is described in some detail without any mention of it.
Yes, but again, I think the book is more going for what the experience is like for him, rather than for an objective statement of what it is. The latter we have to work out for ourselves. I think it is meant to be something of a mystery at this point in time.
Not to mention that in Dune Messiah, Paul is staggered, overwhelmed and struggles to comprehend the experience when Leto shares a glimpse of his OM with him:
Frank Herbert wrote:Paul sagged against the wall in a spasm of dizziness. He felt that he'd been upended and drained. His own life whipped past him. He saw his father. He was his father. And the grandfather, and the grandfathers before that. His awareness tumbled through a mind-shattering corridor of his whole male line.
"How?" he asked silently.
[…]
Slowly, Paul felt himself being disengaged from that endless awareness.
That is indeed a very interesting passage, but I don't think it's so clear what is startling Paul. I see how you could think it was shock at the fact that a man could experience and be his own male lineage. But I think that "How?" is meant to ask how it could be that Leto II is an oracle. The questions that follow are informative:
Faint word-shapings appeared, faded and were gone, as though the strain was too great. Paul wiped saliva from the corner of his mouth. He remembered the awakening of Alia in the Lady Jessica's womb. But there had been no Water of Life, no overdose of melange this time . . . or had there? Had Chani's hunger been for that? Or was this somehow the genetic product of his line, foreseen by the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam?
I don't think Paul is shocked than a man can be awakened, but rather is shocked that his son is awakened, since there was no individual incident with Chani like there was with Jessica to awaken the twins. The fact that Paul sees himself as his father and grandfather is staggering because he's experiencing his son experiencing these things. The text doesn't actually imply that Paul hasn't, himself, experienced these things before. The text that follows is focused on explaining how Leto II could have this power when no Water of Life was involved. You'd think if Paul was realizing for the first time what OM was like that the following text would be focused on that, and would be about realizing what the BG have been able to do all this time. Again, I don't think we've been privy to the details of Paul's powers, but only to a few things said and thought about them.
I think this makes the idea that Paul already had access to this male-line OM on his own pretty much inconsistent with the text. (If we're going by the assumption that the KH should have access to both male and female OM, how can it be "mind-shattering" to him?)
I think this is a narrative issue, not a factual one. FH wanted us to wonder what Paul is, even to the end of DM. Only in CoD does he begin letting us in on some of the details of what a KH really is and why Paul made some of the decisions in Dune and DM he made. A lot of his choices are meant to be opaque and strange until his conversation with Leto II.
Frank Herbert wrote:There could be no doubt these twins went beyond their father. But in which direction? The boy spoke of an ability to be his father—and had proved it.
I'm not sure about this quote or its context, so it's hard to dispute it. However it's entirely possible that the ease of being his own father in living practice is something Leto II and Ghani could do that was strange. Note that the BG definitely have OM, and we have never seen an example of any of them being one of their ancestors on purpose. But the lack of doing that, or even being able to do that, doesn't mean they don't really have OM. The fact that we never see Paul do this (or that maybe he can't) doesn't necessarily mean he lacks OM. Leto II's safaris in GEoD are supposed to be unique, I think, in that if a BG tried to go into the past too much it would be much more dangerous for her than it apparently is for Leto II. In the last two books we get a little more info about BG delving into the past, but even then it's not to be temporarily possessed on purpose like Leto II and Ghanima did, or even to spend much time in OM. So it could be that the "in which direction" refers to greater powers of OM, which IMO is consistent with my reading of the idea that Paul's oracular powers are identical with those of his son. It could well be that Leto II's use of OM is more powerful than Paul's and that of the RM's.
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Re: Chapter 11

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georgiedenbro wrote: 18 Jan 2024 12:42 Dune is particularly cagey about exactly what powers Paul has, at all.
I feel this is rather circular reasoning. Dune is only cagey about what powers Paul has if you assume that he has powers other than the ones clearly stated (prescience, primarily). I, on the contrary, would argue that Frank Herbert is pretty clear and explicit about his powers.
georgiedenbro wrote: 18 Jan 2024 12:42I don't think Paul is shocked than a man can be awakened, but rather is shocked that his son is awakened, since there was no individual incident with Chani like there was with Jessica to awaken the twins.
I don't think this accounts for his degree of shock, and all of these considerations seem to follow after the initial shock, with his immediate reaction being more of a "WTF is going on?"—which I don't think fits with the idea that he had already experienced OM.
georgiedenbro wrote: 18 Jan 2024 12:42I think this is a narrative issue, not a factual one. FH wanted us to wonder what Paul is, even to the end of DM. Only in CoD does he begin letting us in on some of the details of what a KH really is and why Paul made some of the decisions in Dune and DM he made. A lot of his choices are meant to be opaque and strange until his conversation with Leto II.
I don't find this interpretation narratively or historically plausible, since I don't believe Frank Herbert originally intended to bring Paul back in Children of Dune at all. The draft ending of Dune Messiah published in The Road to Dune has him pretty explicitly dying … though I suppose it is possible he could have envisioned Leto having conversations with the Paul in his OM. But in any case, I don't think all that stuff about the Golden Path was part of the initial vision, but more of a third-book ret-con.
georgiedenbro wrote: 18 Jan 2024 12:42
Frank Herbert wrote:There could be no doubt these twins went beyond their father. But in which direction? The boy spoke of an ability to be his father—and had proved it.
I'm not sure about this quote or its context, so it's hard to dispute it.
It's from Stilgar's little interior monologue/exposition dump at the start of Children.
georgiedenbro wrote: 18 Jan 2024 12:42Note that the BG definitely have OM
See, that's the thing: I don't agree that they do. (Ancestral memories, that is, rather than Shared memories.)

Sure, they do in God Emperor and the later books, but in the first trilogy there is no sign of it (apart from, again, Mohiam's ambiguous mutterings in the first chapter of Dune).
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Re: Chapter 11

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Cpt. Aramsham wrote: 19 Jan 2024 09:59 I feel this is rather circular reasoning. Dune is only cagey about what powers Paul has if you assume that he has powers other than the ones clearly stated (prescience, primarily). I, on the contrary, would argue that Frank Herbert is pretty clear and explicit about his powers.
I mean yes, the argument that "it's there but unstated" does run the risk of being a self-satisfying argument. But then again this condition is created naturally if the author really did introduce a ton of stuff that he doesn't explain, which I think he pretty clearly does. And I think it's actually ok to have somewhat divergent head canon on some of this, as I think he deliberately left enough room for some of it to be open-ended, like exactly what the BG can do. The fact that in later books he spells some of it out can be seen as a retcon, or just as him leaving it open for us while he did have an idea of it for himself that he didn't reveal. Hard to know which it is.
I don't think this accounts for his degree of shock, and all of these considerations seem to follow after the initial shock, with his immediate reaction being more of a "WTF is going on?"—which I don't think fits with the idea that he had already experienced OM.
Even if he did have OM, it's not everyday you go from knowing the entire future, to being totally blind, to seeing through someone else's eyes. I'd go wtf too no matter what I knew before. And the reason all of it would be so startling to Paul is he's used to knowing everything that's going to happen, and not only didn't he foresee this be he couldn't because Leto II was blocking his vision. That's a blind spot he was apparently blind to, i.e. didn't even foresee that his son (or another oracle) could block out entire possible futures from him.
But in any case, I don't think all that stuff about the Golden Path was part of the initial vision, but more of a third-book ret-con.
This part I do tend to agree with.
It's from Stilgar's little interior monologue/exposition dump at the start of Children.
Thanks!
See, that's the thing: I don't agree that they do. (Ancestral memories, that is, rather than Shared memories.)

Sure, they do in God Emperor and the later books, but in the first trilogy there is no sign of it (apart from, again, Mohiam's ambiguous mutterings in the first chapter of Dune).
Yeah, a lot of our interpretation would change if OM wasn't actually a thing (until retconned in GEoD). According to your view, then, Leto II and Ghani were the first two ever to have this power, and then we have to assume one of two things: in HoD and CH:D the BG then finally learned this technique; or that it's a straight retcon and they always knew how, but we were never told so until GEoD. Something like that?
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Re: Chapter 11

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georgiedenbro wrote: 24 Jan 2024 14:41

Yeah, a lot of our interpretation would change if OM wasn't actually a thing (until retconned in GEoD). According to your view, then, Leto II and Ghani were the first two ever to have this power,
You forget Alia
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Re: Chapter 11

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georgiedenbro wrote: 24 Jan 2024 14:41 I mean yes, the argument that "it's there but unstated" does run the risk of being a self-satisfying argument. But then again this condition is created naturally if the author really did introduce a ton of stuff that he doesn't explain, which I think he pretty clearly does.
There's a bunch of unexplained stuff throughout, but I think on the whole FH tends to be pretty explicit about the core "superhuman" powers of the different characters.

And while I agree that not mentioning an ability doesn't logically preclude a character from having it, if we return to the passages from Analog, I do think they are very hard to reconcile with the idea of Paul having OM, because their effect would overlap in a way that is never addressed. If Paul did have OM, then that should give him the experience of many lifetimes, make him "ancient," and so on (in the same way as Leto II). The fact that these effects are only discussed in relation to his prescience is to me an implicit indicator that he did not in fact have access to ancestral memory.
georgiedenbro wrote: 24 Jan 2024 14:41 Yeah, a lot of our interpretation would change if OM wasn't actually a thing (until retconned in GEoD). According to your view, then, Leto II and Ghani were the first two ever to have this power, and then we have to assume one of two things: in HoD and CH:D the BG then finally learned this technique; or that it's a straight retcon and they always knew how, but we were never told so until GEoD. Something like that?
As with Paul, I would challenge you to find any quote from the first trilogy, aside from the line by Mohiam in the first chapter, that indicates Reverend Mothers have ancestral memory access. There are plenty of passages that talk about how they have the sequence of memories from Sharing with other Reverend Mothers, so why wouldn't there be any that talk about their ancestors?

My view is that FH retconned OM several times:

Early on while writing Dune, he thought Reverend Mothers (including, eventually, Jessica and Alia) would have ancestral memory on the female side, and that Paul would have it on both the male and female sides. Chapter 1 was written with this assumption. But by the time he wrote the scene where Jessica becomes a Reverend Mother in "Book II: Muad'Dib," he'd decided not to include this element after all, and instead focus on the idea of Sharing memory. (Which works much better thematically and plot-wise, enabling Jessica to integrate into Fremen culture in a way ancestral knowledge would not really be helpful for.)

In "Book III: The Prophet," when Paul takes the Water of Life, this also allowed him to keep Paul's abilities focused on prescience, rather than muddle it with another power of unclear relevance, though he still gains the ability to commune, as demonstrated with Jessica—and with Leto II in Dune Messiah. (The original plan for Book III was that Alia would be killed in the Sardaukar raid, along with Paul's son, but she would apparently somehow Share with Paul remotely/across time, so that he would gain her memories and she would live on in his mind. Although John W. Campbell convinced FH to let Alia live, this idea is still partially preserved in the words she leaves Paul "where only you can hear them," as well as in a chapter epigraph: "Though we deem the captive dead, yet does she live. For her seed is my seed and her voice is my voice.")

By omitting ancestral memory from Dune, it meant that FH could hold back this power for later, introducing it in Dune Messiah as a new evolutionary step unique to Leto and Ghanima: "Or was this somehow the genetic product of his line, foreseen by the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam?" (Though contrary to his original plan for Paul, in Messiah the twins each only have access to half their ancestors, male/female respectively: "He saw his father. He was his father. And the grandfather, and the grandfathers before that. His awareness tumbled through a mind-shattering corridor of his whole male line." "As he stared, she opened her eyes. Those eyes! Chani peered out of her eyes … and the Lady Jessica. A multitude peered out of those eyes.")

Note that in Dune and Dune Messiah, Alia does not—by all indications—have ancestral memory at all: just like "regular" Reverend Mothers, she only has Shared memory. Notably, in Messiah she explains that she has Jessica's memories because of having Shared with her ("the trance of transmigration," as she puts it), and strongly implies that she does not have her father's memories (or, for example, her paternal grandmother's).

Then comes Children of Dune. A book we know FH struggled with. A book in which (by my interpretation) he strove to recapture whatever it was made Dune so popular, after the less commercially successful Dune Messiah and his failure to break out of science fiction with Soul Catcher. So he decided to bring back Baron Harkonnen, as a ghost in Alia's mind.

This is completely inconsistent with the rules as established, but never mind! He has to retcon it so that Alia has ancestral memory on both the male and female side, which in turn means he needs to give the same to Leto and Ghanima. Ancestral memory becomes a characteristic of pre-born in general, a power shunned up until this point because it leads to insanity and/or Abomination (itself retconned to refer to possession by an ancestor, while in the first books it merely referred to the pre-born status in itself). Reverend Mothers, specifically Jessica, still don't have ancestral memory, nor does Paul. In Chapter 1 of Children of Dune FH establishes the new rules through Stilgar's interior monologue.

Finally, in God Emperor of Dune, Reverend Mothers now have ancestral memories as well. I tend to consider this a retcon, but—especially if by this time they are descendants of Ghanima and have Atreides genes (as they explicitly do in Heretics/Chapterhouse)—it could also be explained as having unlocked this ability in the intervening millennia.

My theory for why most fans miss all of this is because… well, for one thing it's fairly confusing, and for another, people have a strong need for order and things making sense, and this leads many readers to try to impose consistency on a set of works that are fundamentally inconsistent, applying claims from later books to the earlier ones even when they don't really fit.
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by georgiedenbro »

That is a very interesting theory, and one that is consistent with my view that FH's works are not entirely consistent with each other. For instance, Alia's abilities in Dune (to appear in Mohiam's mind), and Duncan's in CH:D, don't seem concordant with the simple idea of OM, and where he was going with the Tleilaxu research seems to suggest there is more to it than that, even in the case of the BG. That being said, I do think that Alia appearing in Mohiam's mind does really seem like Mohiam has OM, since what else would Alia be appearing in? Her shared memory? But Alia wasn't part of the shared chain, so the fact that Alia could do that is even weirder than it already seems if you think the BG don't even have OM yet in canon. That being said, if I'm right that FH was fundamentally using the mysticism beliefs that I think undergird Destination: Void in this series, then he definitely would have had in mind that OM was a thing right from the start, since memory being accessible remotely is part of that belief structure. But it's possible that he did have this in mind while the BG hadn't yet understood what it was or how to use it. So they 'had' OM without having conscience access to it. That could also explain Alia's possession even if she lacked conscious use of OM, since everyone 'has' OM even if they can't access it. They just don't have the capacity for 'safaris' on purpose.

The only thing I can say re: your theory is that I'll keep it in mind during my next re-read and see if I can find supporting or contradictory evidence for it.
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by georgiedenbro »

Serkanner wrote: 25 Jan 2024 05:57
georgiedenbro wrote: 24 Jan 2024 14:41

Yeah, a lot of our interpretation would change if OM wasn't actually a thing (until retconned in GEoD). According to your view, then, Leto II and Ghani were the first two ever to have this power,
You forget Alia
Maybe. It's not clear that Alia had the capacity to deliberately inhabit past lives and play the 'parent game'. Her possession could be a result of, shall we say, a lack of a barrier between her and her OM, which is a bit different from suggesting she could take safaris like Leto II could.
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Re: Chapter 11

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georgiedenbro wrote: 30 Jan 2024 16:37 That being said, I do think that Alia appearing in Mohiam's mind does really seem like Mohiam has OM, since what else would Alia be appearing in? Her shared memory? But Alia wasn't part of the shared chain, so the fact that Alia could do that is even weirder than it already seems if you think the BG don't even have OM yet in canon.
(I try to avoid the term "Other Memory" because I feel it is ambiguous in that it can refer both to ancestral memories and to Shared memories.)

I think Mohiam's explanation strongly suggests that this is exactly what is happening, and exactly why it is weird:

"You don't understand. Majesty," the old woman said. "Not telepathy. She's in my mind. She's like the ones before me, the ones who gave me their memories. She stands in my mind! She cannot be there, but she is!"

(Though I don't really see how it would make any more sense with ancestral memory.)
georgiedenbro wrote: 30 Jan 2024 16:37That being said, if I'm right that FH was fundamentally using the mysticism beliefs that I think undergird Destination: Void in this series, then he definitely would have had in mind that OM was a thing right from the start, since memory being accessible remotely is part of that belief structure. But it's possible that he did have this in mind while the BG hadn't yet understood what it was or how to use it. So they 'had' OM without having conscience access to it. That could also explain Alia's possession even if she lacked conscious use of OM, since everyone 'has' OM even if they can't access it. They just don't have the capacity for 'safaris' on purpose.
Yes, I agree that he must already have had the idea of ancestral memory while writing the first book. He uses it in the short story "The GM Effect," published in Analog in June 1965—perhaps he wrote the story precisely because he decided to omit the concept from Dune?

It can be argued whether Dune already assumes that ancestral memory is a latent ability. If it does, I think it's assumed to be transmitted genetically, not through some mystical "net" as the final books start to suggest. (I don't remember D:V or its sequels well enough to comment on how it's explained there.)
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by georgiedenbro »

Cpt. Aramsham wrote: 31 Jan 2024 04:05 I think Mohiam's explanation strongly suggests that this is exactly what is happening, and exactly why it is weird:

"You don't understand. Majesty," the old woman said. "Not telepathy. She's in my mind. She's like the ones before me, the ones who gave me their memories. She stands in my mind! She cannot be there, but she is!"

(Though I don't really see how it would make any more sense with ancestral memory.)
It would make more sense if OM is accessed remotely, like from some shared storage bank, where your DNA being in common is like a keycard opening up the connecting lives/memories. If OM is just what's in your DNA, coded in there somehow, then no, it doesn't make sense either. But I don't think FH intended the latter, despite it being perhaps the prevalent view of what OM is. On the other hand, if RM's only have the shared memories, then it likewise can't make sense since you're just telepathically (I guess) transmitting your memories to a new RM. They can't possess what they aren't given. And since Mohiam denies this is TP, Alia can't be messing with her mind directly. I personally don't see a way of making sense of this unless OM is in fact a thing, and is accessed remotely, and Alia has a way of connecting up with the 'storage bank'.

So as a sidebar, Dan Simmon's Hyperion series, which spells out much more clearly this mysticism that I think FH was maybe into, suggests that not only is memory stored non-locally, but that time is also not the barrier that it appears. So something can come to be that exists not only in the present but goes forward and backward in time at once, becoming present throughout history. The KH abilities sound somewhat like this, in that they can see the now by seeing the full past and future; and one needs only go one step further to suggest that not only can they see forwards and back, but that in some sense they affect forwards and back. I think the BG realize this in CH:D when they realize that data about the past that was previously collected is now obsolete because the past isn't what it was anymore. By studying and seeing it, it changes. And all of this may resonate with FH in his Catholic upbringing, since Catholicism likewise has the idea that Jesus' salvation stretches forwards and backwards through time even though the action precipitating that salvation occurred in one finite time in history. Anyhow, keeping all of this in mind, Alia's ability is hard to make sense of if we think of shared memories as just being a local telepathic event between two people.
It can be argued whether Dune already assumes that ancestral memory is a latent ability. If it does, I think it's assumed to be transmitted genetically, not through some mystical "net" as the final books start to suggest. (I don't remember D:V or its sequels well enough to comment on how it's explained there.)
I don't think the net is supposed to be mystical. It's an ability, maybe like the KH's scanning ability, but it seems to go further and do more. But I do think M&D being able to use 'the net' would have been eventually tied in to the BG's awakening, the Tleilaxu awakening, and the central force (in physics, let's say) permitting both of them to function. Duncan's memories of all his past selves (even those whose DNA was absent) seems to be to lead directly to M&D and to the net. Anyhow that's what I think.

D:V didn't involve ancestral memory per se, but there are a few quotes in the book that scream to me that the same physics is in play in that series as here. In fact it's D:V that made me realize Dune was using this physics. I'd have to re-read it to find the exact quotes, although I'm sure I made a thread about it at some point.
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Re: Chapter 11

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I think when Mohiam denies that Alia being present in her mind is telepathy, we have to be really careful how we interpret that. Because quite obviously, Alia is able to communicate information to her psychically:
Dune wrote:"You babble, old woman," Alia said. "You don't know how it was, yet you rattle on like a purblind fool." Alia closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and held it.
The old Reverend Mother groaned and staggered.
Alia opened her eyes. "That is how it was," she said. "A cosmic accident … and you played your part in it."
And that seems to be the very definition of telepathy. So is Mohiam/Frank talking nonsense?

Well, I think we have to look at the other instances where telepathy is discussed to understand precisely what he means. In particular, when Ramallo and Jessica Share:
Dune wrote:[Jessica] felt that she was a conscious mote, smaller than any subatomic particle, yet capable of motion and of sensing her surroundings. Like an abrupt revelation—the curtains whipped away—she realized she had become aware of a psychokinesthetic extension of herself. She was the mote, yet not the mote.
[…]
She saw the old Reverend Mother Ramallo being brought to sit beside her on the carpeted ledge. A dry hand touched her neck.
And there was another psychokinesthetic mote within her awareness! Jessica tried to reject it, but the mote swept closer … closer.
They touched!
It was like an ultimate simpatico, being two people at once: not telepathy, but mutual awareness.
With the old Reverend Mother!
This simpatico is expanded upon later, between Alia and Jessica:
Dune wrote:The contact of flesh restored that mutual awareness they had shared since before Alia's birth. It wasn't a matter of shared thoughts—although there were bursts of that if they touched while Jessica was changing the spice poison for a ceremony. It was something larger, an immediate awareness of another living spark, a sharp and poignant thing, a nerve-simpatico that made them emotionally one.
So I think when Mohiam/Frank says that it's not telepathy, what that means is that it's not just telepathy—not just a kind of "psychic walkie-talkie" that lets you send each other messages without speaking aloud, nor mind-reading, as the Emperor suggests—but "something larger" that involves a direct mutual awareness of each other's consciousness, a shared feeling of togetherness, oneness. A mingling of spirit, if you will.

And I think that it's pretty clear from the parallels in word choice, etc., that Alia's connection with Mohiam is a manifestation of the same phenomenon as her "nerve-simpatico" with Jessica, and Jessica's "ultimate simpatico" Sharing with Ramallo. It's not ancestral, but Shared.
georgiedenbro wrote: 31 Jan 2024 14:42 It would make more sense if OM is accessed remotely, like from some shared storage bank, where your DNA being in common is like a keycard opening up the connecting lives/memories. If OM is just what's in your DNA, coded in there somehow, then no, it doesn't make sense either. But I don't think FH intended the latter, despite it being perhaps the prevalent view of what OM is.
I feel like there are too many references to ancestral or racial memory being genetically imprinted (or "cell-stamped") for that interpretation to work. Though if we assume that it's based on Jung's idea of the collective unconscious, it has been pointed out that Jung seemed to shift his explanations for that, sometimes adopting a "minimalist" version where it's just a matter of certain innate ideas ("archetypes") that are genetically inherited and common to all people (much like instincts, which also form part of the collective unconscious), and sometimes a "maximalist" version suggesting the collective unconscious is something that exists independently, some sort of higher plane of existence or truth, or a "world-mind," that humans have access to through mystical means. So it might be that Frank is also employing that same ambiguity.
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by georgiedenbro »

Cpt. Aramsham wrote: 09 Feb 2024 02:57
Dune wrote:"You babble, old woman," Alia said. "You don't know how it was, yet you rattle on like a purblind fool." Alia closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and held it.
The old Reverend Mother groaned and staggered.
Alia opened her eyes. "That is how it was," she said. "A cosmic accident … and you played your part in it."
Yes, this does seem to imply either TP or that Alia is accessing something, which Mohiam is able to register somehow (like the remote data bank theory). I suppose the latter could be considered TP in some indirect sense, but wouldn't be Alia directly sending messages to Mohiam's mind.
So I think when Mohiam/Frank says that it's not telepathy, what that means is that it's not just telepathy—not just a kind of "psychic walkie-talkie" that lets you send each other messages without speaking aloud, nor mind-reading, as the Emperor suggests—but "something larger" that involves a direct mutual awareness of each other's consciousness, a shared feeling of togetherness, oneness. A mingling of spirit, if you will.
I can see that. Now going back to Jesuit roots for the moment, Catholicism does also have the idea of a mystical connection between people, that ultimately people are connected in some manner that goes beyond physical space. In the case of the quotes you mention, there is also something perhaps silimar to this in the Fremen spice orgy, where they appear to have some sort of unity going on.
And I think that it's pretty clear from the parallels in word choice, etc., that Alia's connection with Mohiam is a manifestation of the same phenomenon as her "nerve-simpatico" with Jessica, and Jessica's "ultimate simpatico" Sharing with Ramallo. It's not ancestral, but Shared.
Even going with your interpretation, it may not be right to create a dilemma between ancestral and shared. Sharing might, itself, require ancestral commonality, like DNA or something. And let's just say for argument's sake that what Duncan can do in CH:D is related to this: the commonality of his DNA to the missing Duncan's would allow him enough closeness, let's say, to be able to have a unity with them and share their personalities/memories.
So it might be that Frank is also employing that same ambiguity.
I think he is, actually.

None of what you say sounds wrong to me, but it also seems to focus on the details of what the characters are doing, rather than what is happening. In other words while Alia may be able to consciously affect whatever it is she's affecting to get inside Mohiam's mind, and that this may feel like (or be) a sharing of minds, it doesn't get at why this is possible or what is happening to allow such a thing. That's the part I'm getting at. If I'm right, then the distinction between 'shared' and 'ancestral' would be a bit moot, because they would only be able to share as a result of ancestral links, and it would mean that maybe there's no retcon.
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Re: Chapter 11

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georgiedenbro wrote: 12 Feb 2024 14:32 In the case of the quotes you mention, there is also something perhaps silimar to this in the Fremen spice orgy, where they appear to have some sort of unity going on.
Yes, it's mentioned that the sietch tau is a weaker version of the Sharing:
Dune wrote:Another element of the incident forced itself into her awareness: she had
thought of coffee and it had appeared. There was nothing of telepathy here, she
knew. It was the tau, the oneness of the sietch community, a compensation from
the subtle poison of the spice diet they shared. The great mass of the people
could never hope to attain the enlightenment the spice seed brought to her; they
had not been trained and prepared for it. Their minds rejected what they could
not understand or encompass. Still they felt and reacted sometimes like a single
organism.
Dune wrote:TAU, THE: in Fremen terminology, that oneness of a sietch community enhanced by
spice diet and especially the tau orgy of oneness elicited by drinking the Water
of Life.
In total fairness, in Children of Dune Alia also describes these spice orgies as involving genetic memories:
Children of Dune wrote:In the orgy, Fremen released the accumulated pressures of their own genetic memories, and
they denied those memories. She saw her companions being temporarily possessed
in the orgy.
For her, there was no such release, no denial. She had possessed full
consciousness long before birth. With that consciousness came a cataclysmic
awareness of her circumstances: womb-locked into intense, inescapable contact
with the personas of all her ancestors and of those identities death-transmitted
in spice-tau to the Lady Jessica. Before birth, Alia had contained every bit of
the knowledge required in a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother—plus much, much
more from all those others.
I'd argue that bringing up genetic memories here (and explaining that the orgies involve temporary possession!) is part of the retcon of giving Alia ancestral memory. But note particularly that it points out that she has "much, much more" than a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother "from all those others": in other words, that Reverend Mothers don't have access to ancestral memories. (It's also interesting to note that tau is used as the term to denote what later books call Sharing.)
georgiedenbro wrote: 12 Feb 2024 14:32
It's not ancestral, but Shared.
Even going with your interpretation, it may not be right to create a dilemma between ancestral and shared. Sharing might, itself, require ancestral commonality, like DNA or something.
I've been struggling with what you're trying to say here for literally days, and I have to admit myself baffled. All humans have ancestral commonality and share DNA. That's what makes us human. So saying Sharing requires ancestral commonality is like saying it requires a brain. Technically true, no doubt, but completely besides the point as far as I can tell.

If what you're saying is that the Sharers need to be closely related, that is obviously not true. Jessica and Ramallo are not near relatives, nor are Sheeana, Rebecca or Murbella closely related to the established Bene Gesserit in the later novels (they all share an ancestor in Siona, but that's more than a thousand years back).

Or are you making some other point that I'm simply not seeing?
georgiedenbro wrote: 12 Feb 2024 14:32 None of what you say sounds wrong to me, but it also seems to focus on the details of what the characters are doing, rather than what is happening. In other words while Alia may be able to consciously affect whatever it is she's affecting to get inside Mohiam's mind, and that this may feel like (or be) a sharing of minds, it doesn't get at why this is possible or what is happening to allow such a thing. That's the part I'm getting at. If I'm right, then the distinction between 'shared' and 'ancestral' would be a bit moot, because they would only be able to share as a result of ancestral links, and it would mean that maybe there's no retcon.
I don't think the distinction is moot at all, because there is clearly a difference between having memories of your ancestors and having memories that have been collected and transmitted to you by someone else. Jessica having her ancestral memories awakened would not have helped her learn Fremen ways (nor would it have allowed Rebecca to preserve the Lampadas horde in Chapterhouse), and having Shared memories would not have exposed Alia to being possessed by Baron Harkonnen. If Alia doesn't have awakened ancestral memories in Dune and Dune Messiah (as I maintain), then that is clearly a retcon in Children of Dune.

I'm really only interested in "why this is possible or what is happening to allow such a thing" in terms of what the "rules" are within the stories. To me it's kind of like asking why vampires don't cast a reflection—the answer a particular vampire story goes with might tell us e.g. if vampires show up in photos or on video in that story, but it's not really very interesting in itself because it is made-up nonsense (a.k.a. applied phlebotinum).

Here I'm not convinced it is super-important to understand just how Frank Herbert imagines the mechanisms of genetic memory to work, but one very strong piece of evidence that it is stored physically and transmitted genetically (rather than accessed through some "remote database") is the fact that it only goes up to (almost) the point of conception:
Children of Dune wrote:How truly strange it was, Jessica thought, that this young flesh could carry all of
Paul's memories, at least until the moment of Paul's spermal separation from his
own past.
Of course, scientifically speaking this is preposterous but hey.
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Re: Chapter 11

Post by georgiedenbro »

Cpt. Aramsham wrote: 18 Feb 2024 03:45 I've been struggling with what you're trying to say here for literally days, and I have to admit myself baffled. All humans have ancestral commonality and share DNA. That's what makes us human. So saying Sharing requires ancestral commonality is like saying it requires a brain. Technically true, no doubt, but completely besides the point as far as I can tell.

If what you're saying is that the Sharers need to be closely related, that is obviously not true. Jessica and Ramallo are not near relatives, nor are Sheeana, Rebecca or Murbella closely related to the established Bene Gesserit in the later novels (they all share an ancestor in Siona, but that's more than a thousand years back).

Or are you making some other point that I'm simply not seeing?
Yes, I can see how my phrasing was confusing. What I meant was that, since I'm talking about mechanism, that maybe it's the fact of being human beings (i.e. having 'similar' DNA) that allows the sharing. That sounds trivial, but only if what we're wondering about is whether any two human BG can do the sharing. Since the answers appears to be yes, as you point out, I may as well just say they both have a brain. But I'm interested in why they can share. In other words, is this just some random fantasy spellcasting rulebook thing where Frank says they can do this magic sharing thing? Or is he suggesting that humans are innately connected in some way, and that this link is to be accessed via DNA? That would matter, because both the BG and the Tleilaxu mess around with DNA to try to accomplish certain things.

After all, what does it even mean to have a KH breeding program? What would this breeding actually accomplish that a normal male could not do? Make him more resistant to pain, as Paul is with the box? It seems that meddling with DNA has some important effect, and that issue is fundamental to the entire series. The BG can only meddle with DNA through breeding due to the Great Convention, but in principle it's no different from what the Tleilaxu are doing. And the Tleilaxu breeding program, if you want to call it that, does eventually create the final Duncan, who can do what he can do. I would consider his 'powers' as analagous to a KH but somewhat different. He may be a latent prescient, but his awakening is not the same as Paul's when he changes the water of life. And yet he does gain the memories and personas of past genetic lives, albeit only of the Duncans. So why do RM's only gain the female line, and why do Alia and Leto II apparently have both male and female lines? And why does Duncan only gain the Duncans? We don't really know. But it all somehow comes down to DNA.

So that's the topic I'm addressing above: that even if you're completely right that the RM's are in fact sharing, and not awakening, memories, it may still be the DNA that's being activated and accessed. Even if I'm right that there's a non-local memory storage, it's still the DNA that gives human beings access to it. You might think of the Jungian collective unconscious as an analog, which has been mentioned before. Yes, it's common to humans, due to them being humans. But if the RM's have a ritual or practice that allows them to transfer some of this to a new RM, that doesn't mean that this isn't using DNA. I didn't mean to imply that RM's need to be familially closely related. That's what makes the final Duncan a new thing, because it's his super-closeness to the other Duncans that allows him to fully not just have access to their memories, but actually become them. It's further than the BG ever go with memory, and I guess my theory is that this is due to his DNA not being merely commonly human, but commonly Duncan. I should also point out that M&D make a pointed remark about it not being memories, but personas that they collect, and this seems to be what we are seeing for this first time in the final Duncan. The BG can activate memories, but they are not personas. And in fact to the extent that a memory can become a persona, they call that abomination. At least as of CoD.

I also like your question about the memories only going as far as conception, for instance regarding Ghanima and Leto II. If it's remote storage, why should they not be updated in realtime in regard to Paul and Chani's memories. I am not 100% sure about this one, honestly. But I do think that FH suggests that genetics can learn or develop over a person's lifetime, and that receiving DNA from someone at one point in this life isn't identical to reveiving it later in their life. That seems to be a general principle that he employs. How exactly this impacts on one's genetic memories I'm not sure of. But science does seem to be finding that genes can accumulate real knoweldge, despite the assumption until very recently that it couldn't. We find that worms and even more complex animals like mice can be born with learned knowledge of their parents, for instance how to get through a maze. So far FH is proving to be at least somewhat right. I'm not sure it's necessary that we demand of him that he knew exactly how far this would go in minute detail, which is perhaps why he skirts with being a bit evasive about the finer details of what's going on.
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