“The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.”
-Frank Herbert (by way of Reverend Mother Mohiam in Dune)
It’s one of my favorite science fiction authors, Frank Herbert,’s birthday today. He passed away in 1986 but he would be 88 if he were alive today. Herbert was a short story and novel writer most famous for his novel Dune. Dune chronicles the life of the Atreides family, specifically the young Paul Atreides. It is set on a desert planet called Arrakis where water is scarce and the spice melange, even scarcer. it is the only planet that produces the spice melange, which is crucial for space navigation and prized for its longevity and prescient properties it gives the person who consumes it.
The most striking thing for me, is that while Dune is a great epic story, complete with monsters, a love story, and secret societies, it is at its core about human relations. Herbert deftly uses dialogue and description to illuminate the ways people interact with each other and examines social mores that are applicable to us in the here and now.
There has been a movie made of Dune by film major favorite David Lynch. It’s real bad, and I recommend only seeing it if you want to watch a funny-because-it’s-bad-and-has-Sting-in-a-codpiece kind of movie. There was also a TV series in 2000, but as previously stated I don’t have TV and don’t know if it’s worth watching either. But IMDB tells me that there’s another remake coming out in 2010, so hopefully that one will finally do Dune justice. In the meantime though, it comes highly recommended for fall reading.
This is a little late for today, but here are some good ways to celebrate Frank Herbert style tonight and tomorrow:
- Remind yourself and others that “Fear is the mind killer”
- Plant a tree or get a houseplant
- Pay close attention to the non-verbal cues given in your social situations
- Wear bright blue contacts to look like a Fremen
- Have a Dune watching party to ogle Sting
- Make spicy Indian or Eastern food
- Go to the beach or somewhere sandy
- Dream up new ideas about social evolution
- ETA from my old Chicagoist kin Peter Mavrik: Drink several shots of blue curacao (aka the spice essence) and try to say ‘Kwisatz Haderach’ three times fast. Take another shot each time you mess up.