Posts Tagged ‘ Nietzsche ’

Another approach to “Dune”

I really like Dune. So, I thought I would look specifically at the novel through a Heideggerian lens. This will be shorter than my first analysis of it.

Before I do that, I want to look at some things in terms of Nietzsche. I suspect that Nietzsche would despise the Bene Gesserit. Their goal seems to be to genetically create an Uebermensch, yet they de-emphasize fear. Indeed, they reassert the idea of fear as bad in the novel’s (most famous) line: “Fear is the mind killer” (8). On the other hand, Muad’Dib’s betrayal of the Bene Gesserit would please ol’ Friedrich. Indeed, the following statement could just as well have come from Thus Spake Zarathustra: “And always, he fought the temptations to choose a clear, safe course, warning ‘That path leads ever down into stagnation'” (218).

So what of Heidegger? He too, I would argue, would not express much pleasure with the Bene Gesserit. One of their proverbs reads:

“Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere. Climb the mountain just a little bit to test that it’s a mountain. From the top of the mountain, you cannot see the mountain.” (69)

I would argue that Heidegger would be disappointed with this proverb because it assumes a merely knowledge-based conception of the world. Being at the top of a mountain may prevent you from seeing the mountain in a purely visual sense. Therefore, you would not know how the mountain appears, but such an ontology is not our complete experience. Rather, we first come to understand the mountain. It is equipment of Nature — an environment. Indeed, the mountain may even be such a ready-to-hand that it appears as the woraufhin: the scene on which things appear, the scene that remains distinct from those things or any-thing. Such a view of the mountain would no longer even allow it to be equipmental. Instead, the mountain as woraufhin would be a world.

My central argument about Dune from a Heideggerian perspective is that place is more important that Herbert suggests. Herbert likes to focus on things like religion and militancy and economics — yet the language he uses betrays a different trope. It seems unintentional, but it permeates the novel.  As I have explained, it is the idea of place, environment, and world that Heidegger would particularly notice; these are ideas with which Herbert spends little time, but they account for much of the representation of humanity.

We need look no farther than the function of the Kwisatz Haderach — whom we come to discover is Paul, Muad’Dib. The Reverend Mother states, “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” (13). Two brilliant things become clear. One, the Reverend Mother again announces the Bene Gesserit obsession with thought only; the Kwisatz Haderach is meant merely to look. Secondly, we see quite overtly that the pasts of men and women, the multitudes, are measured by place. This connection between time and space magnifies and gives meaning to the abilities of the Kwisatz Haderach. Late in the book we see Muad’Dib grapple with the numerous possibilities — many of which even he cannot see. It is only because the world bends in a certain direction (involvement) that allows any possibility whatsoever. Because of the involvement of time and space, the bent world opens, always, the possibility of being aware of our being (as Dasein).

See, I made this one shorter.


Man, be thyself. Troll, be thyself — enough!

A busy week for this blog.

People tend to be trolls.

Henrik Ibsen observed this fact in “Peer Gynt” — one of the least acclaimed of his plays (speaking from a literary perspective, musically however…). Essentially, trolls are those people who are content to let their identities fall away so that they may fit into a system. Which system? Doesn’t matter, because you’ve only got to be real enough. I would suggest that we could add “to get through” after “enough.” But that fits into my belief that prepositions are good things to end sentences with.

Someone told me today that “maybe you should find a religion that fits you better, or maybe you should be an atheist.” N. B. — this came after I told the person that I do not believe God, who loves us, is going to condemn anyone to hell. I think my logic is firm. Humans have unconditional value; go back to freaking Genesis 27  if you want with the whole “image of God” thing. My brain made the jump very quickly to the Troll King’s mantra, “Man be thyself. Troll, be thyself enough.”

If I can’t be Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in damnation, for the “bad” people, then apparently I must find whatever fits me best. This rationale seems to fit with “Man be thyself,” yet there is a problem. Lacan likes to say, “There is no big Other;” I like to say, there is no little other. Because if we truly “love our neighbor” in a way that is not selfish, we abolish the subjectedness of the “other.” We pour out our essence for them — The essence of ourselves becomes mingled.

I also recently had a discussion about subjectivity/objectivity. Obviously, I argued from the side of objectivity — a hazard of being male and also not French. Yet what arose in my mind, after the fact, was the possibility that making others objective is the same as making them subjective. We need to move beyond the good and evil (to improperly steal a phrase from Nietzsche in a way he would have hated) of objectivity and subjectivity. Beyond these, we find that the harsh realities and the preposterous meaninglessness negate each other. I believe there is a kind of joy revealed by the burning away of darkness and the cooling of the searing light.

So, apparently, I’m not Catholic enough if I don’t want God, who loves us, to hate some of us. Very well, I will be a Catholic-troll. I will also make a final argument. In this system of sin as a kind of negative money (if you have x number of sins or x gravity of sins, you will go to hell), we are stuck with a vision of negative capitalism. It’s like some freaky game of golf — for your soul. As Kazantzakis’ beautiful character Zorba points out, the tools of God are not scales of judgement or knives to slice away cancerous sin — “those damned instruments are meant for butchers and grocers — no, he’s holding a large sponge full of water, like a rain-cloud.” A sponge to wipe away our sin and cast those into hell. Of course I look like a troll, I’m dealing with a world full of people who want to take, not just their money with them, but want to take the money system with them as well.

It makes the phrase, “Alles ist in Ordnung” even more disturbing.

Evidently, My Angriest Post Yet!

I’m pretty sure Nietzsche is stalking me. I’ve been studying his work in my Philosophy class (Philosophies of Violence and Nonviolence), and I’ve begun reading “Thus Spake Zarathustra.” It’s fun stuff. But like I said, I’m seeing him everywhere. I recently re-read a short story I wrote (a little less than a year ago) and saw elements of the crazy German everywhere. Incidentally, I sent the story in to Crazyhorse. We’ll see if them Southerners can accept a story from, not a Yankee, but a proud Midwestern boy…

I also had the “fortune” of watching the movie, Waking Life, recently. To quote Frank Zappa’s “Valley Girl,” — “Gag me with a spoon!”

Waking Life is an irritating assembly line of relativism. In short, it’s perfect for the current state of intelligence in this country. While the subject of dreams and the subject of reality are both interesting to me, the manner in which Waking Life touches them both is damningly obscene. Rather than actually go into any actual analysis of reality, the rotoscoped (yes, I learned that term from the Wiki article) actors give us antiseptic sound bites (I was struck by how many things said in the film were as vague as the mouth-farts of politicians). Existentialism (Sartre) was praised as a God-send. It was then denounced, three seconds later, by the same character who so swore by it in a logic-death-spiral that’s still got me spinning. Seriously. Existentialism was praised, then essentialism was praised. Oh, and apparently he didn’t believe in post-modernism. Never mind the fact that his logic was assuredly post-modern…

There were a LOT of generic Eastern philosophical thoughts tossed around. I’m hoping that the point of their brevity was simply to make us think. Because if they were designed to make us consider they were too passing and too arbitrary. The best scene involves a strange man holding onto a telephone pole, many feet off the ground. When asked, he replies that he doesn’t know what he’s doing up there. I loved that. But then, they ruined the absurdity by adding the phrase, “He’s all action and no theory, we’re all theory and no action.” Oh bother…

And Nietzsche was there!

Ephemeral quotes, lost in the myriad insanity, proved his existence to me yet again. Things about fear as the most basic human trait. Things about creativity, and dynamic human spirit. I believe I recall vague things about “eternal return.” Then there was the ultimate thing: mention of going-over.

God, how I love Nietzsche for the over-goer. Granted, I don’t like his approach (I don’t like violence). But it’s still such a wonderful, remarkable thing! Zarathustra praises the failed tight-rope walker — for he has over-gone his potential. He has taken a risk! A much forgotten art indeed, that taking a risk… but what did Waking Life do with dear old Friedrich’s concept of over-going? It neglected the best part!

To over-go, one must under-go as well! The tight-rope was the whole of mankind. The walker’s over-going of his personal ability coincided with his under-going. To over-go, we must also fail. Waking Life is too happy-happy-joy-joy (not the Ren & Stimpy kind, though that would be amusing) in its approach — failure is not one of its options. “Dream is destiny,” we are told — and destiny is ever elusive. We’re all individuals (in-duh-viduals), Waking Life wants us to believe. But how are we individuals, I ask? Well (apparently) we’re dreamers. Or we’re supposed to be anyways. Which to me sounds like individualistic relativism…

Oh well. Here’s a clip from the blasted thing:

Apparently I’m been devoured by that iguana. I don’t dream. Dreams can be saved for my writing, and nightmares too 🙂

(Almost forgot to mention that I am crazy about that music. Sweet, mad stuff it is!)