About Us

My photo
Bedford, United Kingdom
A Reading group that combines the joy of reading with adaptations of books in various media; film, theatre, radio plays etc. Our reading material: the classics, science fiction, crime, literature, non-fiction - in short from Asimov to Zola and everything between. We meet every 2 weeks (flexible depending on groups availability), discussing the current read while reading it. We talk about the book and bring to the discussion supplementary material relevant to the author and/or story or period. Our aim is to lift the words off the page to enjoy and experience the author’s creation in a multitude of ways.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Interview 1: 1969

Professor Willis E. McNelly recorded and typed an interview that he made with Frank Herbert and his wife Beverly Herbert, in 1969.

There is some missing text.

INTERVIEWEE:   Frank Herbert (FH) and his wife, Beverly (BH)          
INTERVIEWER:   Willis McNelly (WM)                                                                                                             

SUBJECT:  Herbert’s science fiction novels, “Dune” and “Dune Messiah”                                

DATE OF INTERVIEW: 3 February 1969

WM: This tape recording is being made February 3. 1969, in the home of Frank Herbert in Fairfax, California. Frank and his wife Bev are sitting around including myself, Dr. Willis E. McNelly of Cal. State English Department, Fullerton, California; sitting around, talking about science fiction. Frank Herbert, as you all know, is the author of “Dune” and many other science fiction novels. Frank, I wonder if you’d tell us a little bit about the origins of “Dune”. You started a little earlier and you said you could trace the germinal idea?

FH:    Oh yes. The idea come came from an article (I was going to do an article, which I never did) about the control of sand dunes. What many people don’t realize is that the United States has pioneered in this, how to control the flow of sand dunes, and it started up here at Florence, Oregon. There is a pilot project up there of the U.S. Forest Service which has been so successful that it has been visited and copied by experts, related departments from Chile, Israel, India, Pakistan, Great Britain, several other countries…

WM: Well, I know I drove along the Oregon coast this summer and you had mentioned this a year ago, that it had begun with this, what was happening along Oregon. I remember stopping t one for there, right south of Columbia River, it is Oregon State Park now…

FH:    That’s, well, Florence is considerably south of that.

WM: South of it.

FH:    Yes. It’s about centrally located on the Oregon coast and it was an area where sand dune blew across Highway 1. U.S. Highway 1, frequently blocking the highway, and the forest service put in a test station down there to determine how they could control the flow of these sand dune. And I got fascinated by sand dunes. And I got fascinated by sand dunes, because I’m always fascinated by the idea of something that is either seen in miniature and the can be expanded to the macrocosm or which, but for the difference in time, in the flow rate, and the entropy rate, is similar to other features which we wouldn’t think were similar. Like a river…

WM: How long ago was this, by the way?

FH:    Oh, this was in ’53. This was considerably…

WM: Fifteen years ago, more or less…

FH:    Yes. It was a long time ago. Sand dunes are like waves in a large body of water; they just are slower. And the people treating them as fluid learn to control them.

WM: Fluid mechanics, in other words.

FH:    That’s it. Fluid mechanics, with sand. And the whole idea fascinated me, so I started researching sand dunes and of course from sand dunes it’s a logical idea to go into a desert. The way I accumulated data is I start building file folders and before long I saw that I had far to much for an article and far too much for a story, for a short story. So, I didn’t know really what I had but I had an enormous amount of data and avenues shooting off at all angles to gather more. And I was following them … I can’t read the dictionary, you know; I can’t go look up a word…

WM: (Laughter)

FH:    I get stopped by everything else on the opposite page. But … so, I started accumulating these file folders, which I’ll show you later, and as a result, I finally saw that I had something enormously interesting going for me about the ecology of deserts, and it was, for a science fiction writer anyway, it was an easy step from that to think: What if I had an entire planet that was a desert? During my studies of deserts, of course, and previous studies of religions, we all know that many religions began in a desert atmosphere, so I decided to put the two together because I don’t think that any one story should have any one thread. I build on a layer technique, and of course putting in religion and religious ideas you can play one against the other. Now this is … you see, I’m talking about surface now…

WM: That’s right.

FH:    I’m not talking about the way things are layered…

WM: …within the novel itself.

FH:    That’s right. Yes. The way character is developed for various reasons in the story … this is just the germ of the idea, but that’s where it begins.

WM: It began fifteen years ago, then. Well, what made you or at what point did you go from the sand dunes of Oregon and the ecological background there to the decision to utilize let’s say the Arabian mystique as another counter notion or contrapuntal notion working within the novel?

FH:    Well, of course, in studying sand dunes, you immediately get into not just the Arabian mystique but the Navaho mystique and the mystique of the Kalahari primitives and all...

WM: Kalahari primitives?

FH:    Yes, the Kalahari desert, the black foot (people) of the Kalahari and how they utilize every drop of water. You can’t just stop with the people who are living in this type of environment: you have to go on to how the environment works on the people and how they work on their environment. Just as … I mean, you could look at this thing on the Oregon Coast quite simply, if you wanted to, and say, yes, the sand was covering the highway, and that’s bad, so…

WM: …so we plant certain grasses, and that stops the sand from moving, and that’s good.

FH:    And that’s the end of it, you see, that’s the end of it. But if you start going into the mechanics of how the United States Forest Service set up this project and all of the internal politics undoubtedly that were involved … I only know part of them … but I do know enough of them to know there were quite a few more … Then you would probably have a story there, a “main street” type of story. But I got off on a different kick because of the science fiction angle and the emphasis on ecology. It’s been my belief for a long time that man inflicts himself on his environment … that is, Western man.

WM: I think we can see that just looking around us: the simple thing of beer used to be packed in bottles, which eventually disintegrated, then it was packed in cans, and that took at a fifty-year half-life, and now it’s packed in aluminium cans, and that, you know, lives for ever, and we’re gradually corrupting…

FH:    Unless it’s in salt water…

WM: …Yes, well, all right, but we’re gradually corrupting our environment as a result of that kind of thing.

FH:    Plastic is the thing that we…you know, Bev and I were up on the Washington coast last year and an area unspoiled, originally very primitive area where the Mawka tribes lived, and so on, and even there, down among the driftwood logs on that primitive beach, that almost unspoiled beach, you frequently, much too frequently, come on these blue, orange, green, white plastic containers … Purex, Ivory Soap … and they’re virtually indestructible There they are … they float …

WM: Well, man is then, as you view him, a creature who ecologically is a destructive force, a divisive force.

FH:    Well, we tend to think in Western culture … I’m talking about Western man, you realize that.

WM: Yes.

FH:    We tend to think that we can overcome nature by a mathematical means; we accumulate enough data and we subdue it.

WM: And establish parameters of that data and subdue it.

FH:    Yes. We subdue nature. This is a one-pointed vision of man, because if you really start looking at man, Western man, you’ll see that you could cut him right down the middle and he’s blind on that backside, you see.

WM: This is the point you made earlier, Bev, in talking around about the death of the planetary ecologist in “Dune” being a very touching spot, I think you said…a very moving…

BH:   Well, I felt also it was a very significant point. A lot of the story swung around this: how the ecologist died. I thought it was very important that the planet killed the ecologist.

WM: Even though the planet … I mean, even though the ecologist was technically able to subdue anything within that…

BH:   Well, there he lay dying…

WM: Dying, and…

BH:   And understanding everything that was happening to him.

WM: Exactly.

BH:   Much more than someone else dying in the desert would have. Complete understanding … I think it made it more horrible, the fact that he completely understood…

WM: That he knew what was happening to him and understood it and was technically capable of controlling it.

BH:   He knew it had gotten him.

WM: Yes.

FH:    This of course was done deliberately for that purpose … to turn … it’s a turning point of the whole book, but … a pivot, you might say … and the very fact that Kynes, who is the Western man, in my original construction of the book, sees all of these things happening to him as mechanical things doesn’t subtract from the fact that he is still a part of this system because it is observing him. He’s lived out of rhythm with it and he got in the through of the wave and it tumbled on him.

WM: And we’re polluting our atmosphere, we’re polluting our rivers, we’re polluting our beaches because we don’t understand the principles of ecology, among other things.

FH:    Well, ecology, as somebody said…and I use this…I don’t recall…I’d like to contribute this, but I don’t recall where I encountered it … I did read over two hundred books as background for this novel … somebody said that ecology is the science of understanding consequences.

WM: I remember that.

FH:    Lovely expression! And of course we’re … each of us, individually, is the product of everything that has happen to us, and this happened to me and hit me, and so I used it, because, as far as I was concerned, one of the purposes of this story was to delineate consequences of inflicting yourself upon a planet, upon your environment.

WM: So you have a number of forces, then, that are inflicting themselves upon the planet. You have the Fremen forces, you have the forces of the House of Atreides, do you pronounce it..?

FH:    Atreides.

WM: Atreides. Parenthesis: I’d love to examine with you the possible implications of the House of Atreus in the Green legend there. End of parenthesis. And you have the off-planet forces of the Spacer’s Guild and the entire Imperium also as being forces inflicting themselves on this planet.

FH:    The name of the game is power, you see.

WM: Yes.

FH:    It…as it is today; we play the game today with counters called money and we talk about laws of supply and demand and so on. There is a law of supply and demand as long as you only have one form of exchange, but once you start getting other media of exchange, such as force, then the law of supply and demand gets different beats on it, different rhythms.

WM: It may interest you to know that on of the…in fact, the major question on my final examination for my science fiction course this last…two weeks ago was the…asking the class to examine the effects of power in its various forms, abuses and uses in two of the major works read during the semester, and…you’re mentioning power just now as being the name of the game as far as Arrakis is concerned…

FH:    Yes. You see, Western man has assumed that if you have…that all you need for any problem is enough force, power, and that there is no problem which won’t submit to this approach, even the problem of our own ignorance.

WM: (Laughter)

FH:    Which, you see, throws it out the window right there because it is an asinine assumption, and it is the basic fallacy of Western man’s approach to living. Now, I’m not saying that we immediately drop this and adopt a vendetta…

WM: Although that might not be a bad idea.

FH:    No, we need what I would call a science of wisdom.

WM: I think among the things that we need…and this is indicated to a certain extent in the novel…but, we need a clear distinction in our minds…the minds of Western man…between the ethical norm and the moral life. The moral life is subject to change, it is the law, etc. etc. etc., but the ethical norm are those things which we must do because they are the proper thing to do regardless of the law.

FH:    They’re an abstract.

WM: They’re abstract … they are an abstract, and this conflict between the moral and the ethical norms we see obtaining in certain situations within “Dune”, as I recall…at least I could extrapolate…

FH:    Yes, that’s correct. But the moral norm, as I saw in “Dune”, was something that is imposed upon people by their environment.

WM: Yes.

FH:    I mean, it’s as fixed as how many wives a man in his culture might be might be able to support and thereby have, or what possessions he can carry from one stopping place to another, and how this would control the moral law, the … that we build up in society. We see it in our society, for example, out of our nomadic background and herdsman background…we see all kinds of moral injunctions which grew out of that and which we accept today logically … I’m not trying to denigrate them…

WM: Yes.

FH:    But we can trace it this way. Now this is where moral law comes from. Ethical law takes a step in another direction, and it says that I, the thinking animal, see that the logical consequences of these moral actions are such and so and maybe I’d better modify the moral law slightly by a higher ethical law…

WM: I find this that in one of the … or some of the internal conflicts which are bothering Paul, that the ethical norm which he sees as being one of say absolute rightness as opposed with the law of moral necessity, and these are clashing in him … these are tensions that work within Paul which cause him, I think, to have a depth of characterisation that you don’t normally find within the normal science fiction novel.

FH:    You hit on, of course, the way the character of Paul was constructed. It was the conflict between absolutes and the necessity of the moment.

WM: Yes.

FH:    And…

WM: It’s almost an existential necessity, incidentally, as I caught it…as I read it.

FH:    That’s right; that’s absolutely right. Absolutely.

WM: (Laughter) Gee, thanks!

FH:    You see, this is an exercise in showing up, you might say, the fallacy of absolutism.

WM: Even to be absolute about being non absolute, because Paul is bothered with that very problem.

FH:    That’s right.

WM: How absolute can he be and yet…in his relationships with his subordinates; with Stilgar, for example, if he’s too absolute, he loses…you know…he gains…how did you put it in the novel?.. he saw … he sees the loss of a friend and the gain of a worshipper, almost. I…

FH:    He gains…he loses a friend and gains a worshipper.

WM: A worshipper. Yes; and this kind of conflict: if he’s too absolute here and non-absolute there or in the necessity…when the tribe tries to force upon Paul the apparent necessity for killing Stilgar and he has to talk the tribe out of one of their tribal rules in order...

FH:    A moral…

WM: Yes, right.

FH:    A moral rule.

WM: A moral rule.

FH:    And you see how the moral rule was developed out of the necessities of their background.

WM: Yes. Exactly.

FH:    And he was given them, then, an ethical rule.

WM: Yes, and yet this conflict is continual, within Paul, I think, and it makes, I think, for certain added dimensions in the novel that again the normal science fiction novel does not have. Well, you began this, then, in ’53, and you began doing research and filling file folders with facts and extrapolating to the sand dune planet. Tell me further about the writing process itself.

FH:    Well, this was the first book where I really started carefully applying these ideas about the building of a rhythm within a story.

WM: Would you define this a little bit more for me, please?

FH:    I will. I’ll be specific about it and I can use an analogy, which is familiar to both of us, in poetry, but it is used only as an analogy…

WM: Ok.

FH:    You know how you choose the word in a given poem to control the beat of a poem?

WM: Are you…

FH     The way…

WM: …familiar with Hopkins’ poem, “The Windhover?” If not, I’ll get it out for you later and show you how there is one word in there which absolutely controls the total poem.

FH:    Yes; this happens in many poems.

WM: Many poems…

FH:    Yes, and the poem that develops a certain fixed rhythm. Now by changing the phraseology, placement of words, you can change that rhythm; you can slow it down, you can speed it up. Well, there is an analogous thing in prose. I think this is quite easily defensible, that length of sentence, number one: modifying clauses…

WM: Variety of sentence structure, right.

FH:    Variety of sentence structure…all these things control the pace of controlled reading or controlled…controlled…silent reading or oral…and I work orally, because I think that the language was spoken long before it was written, and I think that unconsciously we still accept it as an oral transmission.

WM: That’s something I’m going to have to try with my classes…reading parts of “Dune” aloud to them. I’ve done this … I do this as a standard device when I teach Joyce or Yeats or Eliot… I read great gobs of it aloud, in parts.

FH:    Well, this was done deliberately to control that oral pace by the length of sentence, by the variety of sentence, by the words in the sentence, whether long convoluted words or short chopping words…

WM: Anglo-Saxon.

FH:    Anglo-Saxon as against Latin.

WM: Latin.

FH:    I controlled the pace, so I have several rhythms built into the story deliberately: one is a long-term rhythm…and we’ll get to the ending of the book in a minute. I…the ending is camp, high camp. Deliberately. And a number of people, interestingly, have seen it. I wanted to say…

WM: I found it sheer action, almost for the sake of action.

FH:    Yes.

WM: And overly dramatic, maybe; and, you know, “in the future they will call us wives,” I said yeachch! almost. But you call it high camp. I hadn’t thought of it that way.

FH:    Well, I wanted to turn the story around on itself, but in two very specific ways. And obviously you don’t limit the way it turns. If you do that…if you do one way that you know of..

WM: Sure…

FH:    One, I was poking a little fun at the idea of the person who always sees things verbally and must write about them and record them, you know. The historicity of anything that happens, you see. You’re not living it, you’re recording it.

WM: Yes. This is what we’re doing right now.

FH:    Yes. But we’re having a good…

WM (to B): Say that again, please.

BH:   The man who never sees anything except through his camera viewer. He sees the whole world, you see, in through that little square box.

FH:    The view hunter.

WM: Right.

FH:    Yes; so I wanted to kind of have a little snicker about this, you see, right at the end, and you deducted that sheer action treatment there. And you see how that this does what I’m describing…
WM: Yes. And that is a limited point of view, actually; the sheer action treatment…

FH:    Yes. That’s right. And also by making it a man to man battle at that point between Paul, who is an extremely complex character, and this almost stick figure, black, you see…

WM: Who is sort of, in many ways, Paul’s counterpart.

FH:    Exactly.

WM: He’s a foil, in the classic sense of the word.

FH:    A foil in the classic sense, in other places.

WM: Yes. Right.

FH:    But at this point he becomes that…that impossible thing, that non-existent thing, the absolute evil.

WM: Yes.

FH:    You see, and so we turn the whole thing whirling backward through the story. There was another thing there, in the pacing of the story, very slow at the beginning. It’s a coital rhythm all the way through the story.

WM: It’s a what?

FH:    Coital rhythm.


FH:    Very slow pace, increasing all the way through, and when you get to the ending of it, I chopped it at a non breaking point, so that the person reading the story skids out of the story, trailing bits of it with him. On this I know I was successful, because people come to me and say they want more and…

WM: I have said this to my classes that, in many ways as satisfying as “Dune” is, I find it unsatisfying because there are so many unanswered questions; you don’t tie up the loose ends of, say, Paul’s sister, unless you read…what is it?.. a “Huntress of a Thousand Worlds” (Laughter)…that marvelous little…little footnote of Princess Alia. But… or several other things. The whole question of the Spacing Guild itself and how it got to be the way it was is handled very…you know…

FH:    Well, let’s…let’s examine something, as far as fiction in general is concerned…

WM: All right.

FH:    Now there are other reasons why stories are remembered, and I’m talking about story in the classic sense of the knights who goes from castle to castle to earn his meal.

WM: All right.

FH:    Entertainment…

WM: Sure.

FH:    The stories that are remembered are the ones that strike sparks from your mind, one way or another. It’s like a grinding wheel. They touch you and sparks fly.

WM: Would this be something like the Miller’s tale of Chaucer or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, if you please?

FH:    Yes, indeed.

WM: Or, well, we could adduce thousands of other examples up to, say, Treasure Island or what you will. There’s sparks there.

FH:    OK.

WM: I understand your term.

FH:    Now we all have stories that we go on with after we finish reading them. As children, we can remember playing Treasure Island…

WM: Or playing Tom Sawyer…

FH:    Or Tom Sawyer…any of these. We remember playing these. The story stayed with us…the characters and their conflicts, their joys, their play all stayed with us.

WM: And it enkindled sparks in our own imagination, so that we were then active in creative play.

FH:    That’s exactly right! We went on and told the story ourselves…

WM: Yes.

FH:    Now, I deliberately did this in “Dune” for that purpose. I want the person to go on and construct for himself all of these marvelous flights of fantasy and imagination. I want him to…you see, you haven’t had the Spacing Guild explained completely…just enough so that you know its existence. Now with lots of people, they’ve got to complete this.

WM: Yes.

FH:    So they build it up in their own minds. Now this is right out of the story, though, you see…

WM: Yes. Or the whole…

FH:    The sparks have flown.

WM: Bene (Bené) Gesserit, you pronounce it?

FH:    Bene (Benny) Gesserit, yes.

WM: Bene Gesserit. The...their whole mystique and so on is relatively unexplained. Why do they want the Kwisatz Haderach in the first place? You see, is relatively, at the time…

FH:    The name of the game is power.

WM: Yes, and they want power. That…that explains it to a certain extent but…

FH:    They want power in a specific way. You know, I’ve always been amazed by the statement or by the label of psychological warfare. There can be no such thing as psychological warfare…if you develop a psychological weapon sufficiently that it is destructive to any potential enemy, it will destroy you with the enemy…it’s a two-edged sword without a handle, and if you grab it hard enough to wield it, you’re going to…

WM: It’s self-destructive.

FH:    Yes.

WM: So we could have a variation of the Lord Acton notion: power corrupts both the user and the receiver of the power, both absolutely...

FH:    Right. Acton saw it.

WM: How interesting. I hadn’t thought of the…who power corrupts…

FH:    Now the Bene Gesserit see this. You see how they keep themselves in the background.

WM: Yes, that’s true.

FH:    They want a user of power they can control.

WM: I see…with safety to them.

FH:    That’s right. It’s a safety device, you see, and I say this in several ways, not in this way, not in this blatant, you know, way, but implying it with all of its permutations, because there’s much more to this. We could go on for several hours discussing this aspect of it.

WM: Yes. The whole attitude of Reverend Mother Gaius Mohiam, for example…Helen Gaius Mohiam...yes, I see how we could…various aspects of it…well, I-I’d like to…I’d like to examine this a little bit further in some of the religious constructs.

FH:    Before we got into that…


FH:    Let me tell you something. I was up at Sonoma State last month, talked to a class up there, and the question that seemed to attract the most attention from the class…somebody asked back there, what’s all this nonsense about controlling people with voice?

WM: (Laughter)

FH:    There seemed to be a lot of agreement with this point of view, that it’s impossible to do this. And so I said, we do it all the time.

WM: Of course we do!

FH:    And it’s amazing to me that anybody could even begin to question this as a fact of our existence. And they couldn’t see it, so I said, well, I’ll give you an example. I’m going to describe a man to you. You know this man. And I’m going to give you a task of controlling him by voice after I’ve described him and after you recognise him. I said, this is a man who was in World War I as sergeant, came home from World War I to his small town in the mid-west, married his childhood sweetheart and went into his father’s business, raised two children, who he didn’t understand…and they don’t understand him…He joined the VFW and the legion, went on every picnic, every convention, lived by the double standard (he thought). Now on the phone, strictly by voice, I want you to make him mad.
ALL: (Laughter)

WM: Oink! Oink! Oink!

FH:    Any one of a hundred thousand variations.

WM: Yes, certainly, certainly.

FH:    Simplest thing in the world. Now what we’re saying here is that…see, I-I’ve drawn a gross caricature.

WM: Of course!

FH:    But, we’re saying that if you know the individual well enough, if you know the subtitles of his strengths and weaknesses, that merely by the way you cast your voice, by the words you select…

WM: By the intonations…

FH:    Whatever…

WM: Whatever.

FH:    Yes, right. You can control him. Now if you can do it in a gross way, obviously with refinement you can do it in much more subtle fashion and it’s done all the time in politics.

WM: And this is one of the techniques, incidentally, that science fiction, I think, does. It takes a possibility or something that does actually exist today and extrapolates from that, perhaps refines it, makes it more specific.

FH:    The science of control by voice.

WM: Yes. Exactly.

BH:   Isn’t there a word in semantics where these messages that we get across…what was?..

FH:    Metamessage.

BH:   Metamessage.

WM: Metamessage.

FH:    It’s a well recognised thing in semantics and you see it…Hayakawa uses the example: you’re talking, you’ve met somebody for the first time, maybe at a business meeting in a convention, and you get acquainted and you’re speaking. You exchange views and at the end of it you say, “We must get together for lunch sometime.” Now, under one example of this, the fellow will call you the next week or you’ll call him and you will get together for lunch, and he knows he’s supposed to call you and make this luncheon date. Under the other example of this same phrase, he knows that this luncheon date. Under the other example of this same phrase, he know that this is “Goodbye, I don’t care to talk to you anymore.” But it’s the same phrase.

BH:   And they’re both polite.

FH:    They’re both polite.

WM: Oh, yes.

FH:    And this is the metamessage.

WM: Yes…the hidden message underneath the message, and so on…

FH:    Yes.

WM: Yes, I can understand that. Well, I had no trouble understanding the question of the voice, as I read the novel, because, among the other things which the novel gave to me, was the whole question of communication and how we communicate on multiple levels, whether it be Paul communicating by shedding a tear…that’s an act of communication on a very profound level…to the Fremen, whether communication of the voice or communication by sword or communication by a dozen different ways that we all do constantly as we’re doing in this room right now. See, you’re communicating by the …in one sense by the way you’re both watching me as I speak and watching Frank and watching the recorder and watching what you are doing with your hands. There are all sorts of communications, just as I’m communicating and you are in a dozen hundreds of hidden different ways. I had no problem with that in the novel and I thought that it was rather well done. Let me go off on another parenthesis here. Did you ever read the novel “Nostromo” by Conrad?

FH:    No.

WM: I was reminded very much as I read “Dune” for the first time of the reaction that I had when I first read “Nostromo”. I think that “Nostromo” is one of…if probably Conrad’s greatest novel…it’s certainly his most artistic achievement as well as his most profound…and I found myself thinking about “Nostromo” as I read “Dune”.

FH:    Now I’m going to have to read it. (Laughter)

WM: Well, I mean that’s very high praise, because “Nostromo” is ultimately the creation of an entire universe. It is the country of Casteguana in Central America. There is one thing in Central…in this country of Casteguana that influences everybody, and it is the presence of a gigantic silver mine. And the silver corrupts everybody in the country in one way or another. It corrupts the British people who are running the silver mine; it corrupts the incorruptible “Nostromo”, our man, who is the soft of a folk hero of the thing; it corrupts everybody; it totally controls the country; and in watching how these people interrelate to the problem of the silver mine and the parallels there, you see, between “Dune” and “Nostromo”, to me, as I read it as a Professor of English, were very strong. This is one of the things I object to in among my own compatriots…that they are unable to see that something like “Nostromo” is in a very real sense a type of science fiction. We have created a mythical country, based upon reality, where the people react in certain ways to things which we would react to in other ways. But it’s said over here, just as the Fremen react to…

FH:    Oh, yes, it’s my contention that especially in “Dune”…and “Dune” is an exposition of this point that man himself is going to change. We have changed, but our changes…the actual basic change is a gradual climb. Now I don’t see this as progress, I see it as a sort of entropy and as a growth of complexity. But that this is such slow process…that in thousands upon thousands upon thousands of years we would still recognise the emotions, the reactions, all of these things and given any set of forces which you can delineate: the silver mine, the geriatric spice, the existence of certain hard lines of power control and communication…

WM: As perhaps oversimplified by, say, the Harkonnens versus the Atreides.

FH:    Yes.

WM: Families…

FH:    Yes. You have a classical feudal system here.

WM: Yes; sure.

FH:    It’s my contention that feudalism is a natural condition of human beings…not that it is the only condition or not that it is the right condition…that it is just a way we have of falling into organisations. I like to use the example of the Berlin Museum Beavers. You ever come across this?

WM: No.

FH:    Well my…the numbers are going to be wrong but it’s on this order… Before World War II there were a number of families of beaver in the Berlin Museum. They were European beaver. They had been there, raised in captivity for something on the order of seventy beaver generations, in cages. World War II came along and a bomb freed some of them into the countryside. What did they do? They went out and they started building dams.
ALL: (Laughter)

WM: Wow! Wow!

FH:    Now tribal organisation…feudalism is tribal organisation…

WM: Oh, yes.

FH:    And that’s what I’m talking about. So, tribal organisation is a natural organisation of humankind. We tend to fall into it, given any chance at all, given the proper stresses, or given the proper lack of stresses.

WM: And I think we could extrapolate from that notion and say we have many more feudal or tribal aspects in our society than we might have otherwise thought about. I think that the existence of the Roman Catholic in its feudal state as long as it has existed is sort of proof of what you’re saying.

FH:    The hippies are a proof of it.

WM: Yes.

FH:    Look at the organisation they set up. It’s a tribal organisation.

BH:   A business office is feudal.

FH:    Yes. A company is feudal.

BH:   A university, perhaps?

WM: Oh, yes, indeed; an English department, very true!

ALL: (Laughter)

FH:    Well, of course what we’re doing here is oversimplifying.

WM: Yes.

FH:    The complexities of it and the variations on the theme are multitude but the framework is there, the skeleton is there, and you can recognise that skeleton. So I set up the situation in “Dune” where the natural evolvement was a classic feudalism, and for a very specific purpose. I wanted the lines of power to be clear.

WM: Yes. At the same time, feudal lines of power were extremely complicated. I don’t want to contradict you but it…

FH:    No, I understand what you’re saying. That’s why I said…

WM: But, while they were simple, they were nonetheless multi-level, as you indicate with the Baron Harkonnen and the navarone, and so on. All of these things of the relationship to the Imperium…this…you want to go back to the 14th…13th…14th century in England, of the war of the roses.

FH:    No. By clear this, I meant in this sense recognisable by anybody who knows the first damn thing about history.

WM: Precisely. The fief has a set of obligations from top to bottom, bottom to top, mutual back and forth, ultimately.

FH:    Yes. It’s a feedback situation.

WM: Exactly. And this kind of thing, the kind of loyalty that, say, Gurney Halleck gave Paul, or gave Paul’s father, this is the kind of thing you mean.

FH:    The loyalty to the family.

WM: Yes, certainly, and “I am the rightful Duke of Atreides.”

FH:    Yes.

WM: At the very end of the thing, as he is speaking to Sardaukar…you pronounce it…

FH:    The Sardaukar.

WM: Yes, very interesting.. I know my students had had a lot of fun tracing down the background (Laughter) of the Fremen as far back as they can from the hints you drop in the novel, and coming to their surprise, delighted surprise, that they were once probably on Salusa Secundus, and this accounts for part of the way they are, in the hardening there, and, further, the tracing of the life cycle of Shai-Hulud is really an interesting thing for them because you don’t quite complete whole thing in your appendices.

FH:    Of course, what have I set up there? We know our information about the cyclic nature…the interdependence in our own environment is quite sketchy in many areas, but we do know this…we know that you need…to create large bodies of sand, dust, whatnot, you need water action…some, anyway…so I’ve set up multitudes of creatures who substitute for this…quite logical…they do this. And I postulated that in one vector of their life circle, water is poison to them. We see this sort of thing on planet Earth right now where a creature can live in one environment, in one vector, but that environment will kill it in another vector. The anopheles mosquito is a good example. And it doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to carry this further in that classic science fiction way, saying that, given other circumstances on another planet, a creature could develop something that we could see was analogous to this and…but would do these other things…now, there’s another element of Shai-Hulud too. Shai-Hulud serves a specific function among other things in the history, but a specific feral function. It’s the unthinking beast. It’s the black beast. It’s the personification of the bull in the arena…not the way the bull in the arena…not the way the bull in the arena actually is, but the personification…

WM: The mystique of the black…

FH:    The mystique of it…and it’s…there it is.

WM: I never took…the black beast has connotations that I never gave it. Maybe it’s my taking it wrong from your terminology. It’s the mythical beast. It’s the archetypal beast…is that what you’re talking about? Is that what you mean by black beast?

FH:    The archetypal beast…that’s right. Now I bring this up because of something you’re mentioning earlier, tracing the archetypal background.

WM: Yes.

FH:    And I made it, classically, the archetypal black beast, the one who lives underground in the cavern, with the gold.

WM: I see. OK., right. Well, this is the dragon of Beowulf, who lives in the cave.

FH:    Yes.

WM: Guarding the gold.

FH:    With the golden dagger.

WM: Right; precisely. Incidentally, L. Frank Baum used this is one of his Oz books…used the dragon guard hoarding the gold, guarding gold, believe it or not.

FH:    Well, this…that is why I put this in there. It’s a familiar…

WM: And gold, of course, becomes the geriatric spice.

FH:    That’s right.

WM: In other sense.

FH:    Yes.

WM: Which I once figured out…one of my students figured out that the geriatric spice itself is probably the defecated of Shai-Hulud…

ALL: (Laughter)

WM: …in one of its vectors, or it might have been…no, not…not the defecated matter at all, so...no, no, it was the eggs, perhaps, and that’s why they’re guarded, among other things.

BH:   The valley of bat-guano.

WM: Yes; oh, true. They have lots of…you know, kids have lots of fun with this.

FH:    Of course. The…yes, and…and I did that deliberately. The…the value of a good story in the entertainment sense is how much of this it tips off…how much it starts rolling.

WM: Sure.

FH:    So that you start creating your own story, the one that’s in all of us, you see.

WM: And in that sense there is no right answer to the final…let’s say, the complete 
life cycle of Shai-Hulud.

FH:    Yes. Do you want me to pin it down for you? I can. I mean, I had it in mind…

WM: You had it in mind?

FH:    Yes, but…

WM: I had it worked out, too. Let’s…let’s compare notes.

FH:    Well, I’d be interested, before I saw anything…I…to hear what you have to say.

WM: I got to get my book. I’m going to turn this off for a minute…(tape pause)…

WM: well, we’re back again. We’re talking about the archetypal patterns in “Dune” for a minute…off on this tangent now…

FH:    Well, we got on to the sequel for a while.

WM: Yes.

FH:    And there’s a point here that I think should be made. Campbell turned down the sequel. Now his argument was that I had created an anti-hero in Paul in the sequel, and he has built his magazine…I’m…’I’m oversimplifying…grossly oversimplifying.

WM: Sure.

FH:    But this is the essence of it really and truthfully accurate…

WM: Yes.

FH:    That he had built his magazine on the hero. Now it’s my contention that the difference between a hero and an anti-hero is where you stop the story, and if you’re true to life, if you’re true to life, giving these ingredients, then the story goes on, because human beings go on. Now, you can confine your story to one individual, and therefore as far as he’s concerned the story begins with birth and ends with death. But if you’re dealing with larger movements...

WM: The parameters are much broader.

FH:    That’s right…as they are in this book.

WM: Yes.

FH:    Then there is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story. And one of the reasons, by the way, why in the book “Dune” I stop it the way I do, deliberately building up a carrying momentum, as though you were going down a slide and then just chopping it…

WM: To a moment of triumph and than that’s it…

FH:    And then you skid out of the story with all of this clinging to you.

WM: Yes. I can see that. Yes. But as I understand the Jungian archetypal patterns, you know, the Lord Raglan steps of the hero…why, “Dune” takes up about the first fifteen of them, more or less, and if…I know nothing about the sequel other than the few words you’ve told me, but I would be willing to predict that it you follow the pattern, the archetypal hero pattern, he goes through many of the things that Lord Raglan sets out in the notion of the hero and the quest hero. Ultimately, some…Paul has to die. It’s just a question of how and under what circumstances, and probably as a result of some of these tensions which have been previously operating.

FH:    Yes, several of them, and one of them, of course, is the tension of prognostication.

WM: Yes.

FH:    Prediction.

WM: This is foreshadowed in here.

FH:    Yes.

WM: He never sees his own death moment, but he’s always concerned about it.

FH:    Yes. We bring this…yes, that’s right…we bring this to a head, this idea that I’m expounding: that…you know…when you talk to any of the average individual and he says, “Oh, if I could only know everything that’s going to happen tomorrow, wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

WM: Oh, sure.

FH:    What he is talking about if the fifth race of High Alia.

WM: Yes, or will that girl say yes or no? (Laughter)

FH:    That’s right. That’s what he’s talking about, and he doesn’t really want to know everything that’s going to happen tomorrow because this is precisely what I do to Paul. WE carry this to its logical outcome and reach a point in the sequel where he is physically blinded…is without sight…I think this is what set Campbell off, the fact…

WM: Oh, here comes an anti-hero and that’s…that’s…yes.

FH:    Yes. But he…here is Paul. He’s physically blinded and yet he knows everything… everything…that’s going to happen. He’s lived this one before. Think of how boring that is but think of how mysterious and terrifying…

WM: That it would be to everybody else. Yes, sure.

FH:    A guy…it would be as though I without sight, you see; I had nothing but a couple of sockets here, and my comes in and picks up a cigarette out of a package…I lean over and light it for her.

WM: And say it’s a Pall Mall.

FH:    Yes, and say “Oh, you’re back to Pall Mall’s.”

WM: Yes.

FH:    Paul does such things as grabbing a microphone out of a trooper’s hand and relaying orders immediately after the accident in which his eyes are lost…and greeting people in the hallway as he passes them. The…of course it builds up this terrifying god head among the people around him, but it also foreshadows their turning against him, because if a person really does this sort of thing to you, you’re going to get away from him one way or another.

WM: They crucify him.

FH:    Yes.
WM: In many ways they would. I-I can see this and this would lead us to all sorts of possible symbolic interpretations of knowledge, and so going back to the Oedipal notion.

FH:    Now…yes… It is my contention, of course…

WM: And I’ve always wondered about the Oedipal aspects of the novel.

FH:    Oh, they’re there.

WM: But let’s not go into that right now. (Laughter.)

FH:    They’re there and deliberately.

WM: Yes.

FH:    The…no…it’s my contention…I think I’m probably right on this…that the thing that got to Campbell was not that I had an anti-hero in this sense, but that I had destroyed one of his gods.

WM: Oh.

FH:    See…because the prediction and ESP.

WM: Oh, of course! With Campbell that’s…you know…obviously!

FH:    Yes.

WM: Yes.

FH:    You see, if you know the magazine and his editorials.

WM: Yes, sure. I’ve been reading it since 1940.

FH:    All right. The you know that he is completely devoted to this idea, and I’m not…I’m not arguing against him, but I’m merely saying that this is his point of view, and this pokes a great deal of fun at…not so much fun as it pokes a big hole in the whole theory that…

WM: That’s…yes.

FH:    That it would be great to know everything that’s going to happen tomorrow.

WM: And so he rejected it, huh?

FH:    Yes. So he rejected it.

WM: Isn’t that interesting?

FH:    But Galaxy snapped it right up and paid Campbell’s rates.

WM: Huh! Well, well, well, well. Looking for another Nebula for that one? (Laughter)

FH:    I don’t know. I didn’t even look for a Nebula for the fist one…I didn’t write it with that in mind.

WM: U-huh.

FH:    My chief concern is to tell a good story. It really is.

WM: Virginia Heinlein says that every time that Bob wanders away she says, “Cut to the chase.”

ALL: (Laughter)

FH:    Yes. I heard him say that. (Cough) That’s the classic Hollywood approach.

WM: Yes. Oh, could we go back a little bit and…tell us more about the novel as it developed in your mind.
FH:    Well, you were going to do something.

WM: Oh, I was going to trace Shai-Hulud for you. Well, I can’t quite do…



FH:   U-huh.

WM: As I saw it.

BH:   Is that something like royal honey, royal nectar.

FH:    No, the way I saw it is slightly different but…the spice in the presence of a…of a dead…worm.

WM: Oh yes. Killed by the water of life. Then this becomes…and you’re off in the spice below.

FH:    That’s right. This becomes the…the seed of the new life cycle.

WM: Ok. Yes. It’s almost orgasmic in that sense.

FH:    That’s right. Yes.

WM: Probably deliberately so.

FH:    Yes. I built these things in there deliberately, all the way through it.

WM: Yes. How interesting. Well, if we can go back then and talk about…a little bit more about the formation of the novel from say 1953 in the germinal ideas and your file folders and so on…we were up to about there a little while…while ago.

FH:    Well I’m not too clear…

WM: On dates…

FH:    Dates. They…they don’t concern me.

WM: No.

FH:    I-I’m more involved with the actual piece of paper in front of me.

WM: All right. How long…how long a writing process did this take then from the time this began ‘til the…say…the time you…

FH:    You mean, the actual physical writing process?

WM: U-huh.

FH:    About two years.

WM: About two years, and you wrote it when you were in Mexico?

FH:    No.

WM: Oh.

FH:    I wrote it here.

WM: Wrote it here.

FH:    U-huh. But I had the idea with me in Mexico…was adding to it, you see. We’re talking about two different things here, the accumulation of data…

WM: Data and the physical writing process.
FH:    And the physical sitting down in front of the paper and actually putting the story down. It’s almost as though you’re filling a container.

WM: I see. That has been pretty well built up at that time…

FH:    Yes.

WM: It’s interesting…Harry Harrison describes the writing process with him rather well in a tape I made with him a few months ago. He is absolutely uninterruptible from, say, 12:30 in the afternoon ‘til 5:00 at night, because the ideas as they form in his mind sort of becomes extensions of his (Cough) excuse me, fingers in his typewriter and that they are up here and that …that any interruption, whether it be a telephone ringing or his wife knocking at the door or anything at all is liable to shatter that idea as it transforms itself into paper.

FH:    This is a very evanescent thing and I have to fight this, but Bev is very nice to 
me about this. She keeps the…

BH:   A writer’s children are always…they learn to tiptoe, and “Is daddy writing?” In fact, you don’t have to say be quiet. You say your father is writing and…silence.

WM: What is your writing schedule?

FH:    Well, it varies…depends on what I’m doing…writing for the magazine…but as a general rule it goes like this: I’ll get home somewhere around five o’clock when Bev is here, when she’s not working as she has been the last couple of weeks. She’ll have dinner ready at that time or very close to that time. I’ll then take an hour’s nap and then work sometimes until one o’clock in the morning. Then I hit the sack and get up and sometimes if a story is strong in mode I get up in the morning and write…get up at five o’clock in the morning or so and write for an hour or two sometimes before going down to San Francisco.

WM: Yes.

FH:    And this is the thing I want to get out of because I can write eight hours a day in two bursts and I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be doing what I want…writing what I want to write during those times. I don’t envision supporting myself entirely by science fiction writing in the sense of writing only science fiction, because I have other axes to grind, too.

WM: Yes.

FH:    I’m going to do a nonfiction book on air pollution, for example. I’m really hipped on this ecology thing…the consequence of some of the things that we’re doing to our planet. And I don’t mean in the lock-it-up-and-throw-it-away sense of the classic conservationist…in other words, turn it all into wilderness. I don’t mean that, but there are ways of living with our planet and not against it and this is the attitude that we have to develop, and it is an attitude…

WM: Thank you, Mr. Kynes. (Laughter) Pardot Kynes.

FH:    But it is an attitude.

WM: Sure.

FH:    It…it’s something that has to be ingrained into us as children.

WM: As my wife is fond of telling my children, a fountain pen is not a screw driver.

FH:    Very good. (Laughter)

WM: And each has its own purpose for whatever it may be and…and if you misuse that thing it will turn around and bite you. You’ll ruin a screw driver or ruin a fountain pen in trying to make it work like a screw driver, and we’re rapidly ruining our air, our water, our planet, if you will.
FH:    I found that…you were talking about the economics of writing and selling…”Dune” has made…made us at this point about $ 15.000 since the first sale.

WM: This includes the sale of…what was it…something like eight chapters to Campbell?

FH:    That’s right.

WM: By the way, I did not read it in analog. I read it first in book form. How much of it did appear in…

FH:    Almost all of it.

WM: Almost all of it.

FH:    U-huh. In fact, in one sense, a little more, because there were capsule recapitulations, the synopses at the beginning.

WM: Oh, yes. Did you write those?

FH:    Yes, I did. The…the way it comes in…I’ve found…and this is broad for a novel…it makes somewhere between five and seven thousand dollars on the…in the first twelve months of sale, and this depends on how far you sell it, how many times you sell it. Then I found that with my own work it’ll go on earning for a long time. 
We received several hundred dollars out of “Dragon In The Sea” that…last year.

WM: Is that right?

FH:    Yes. The old dragon.

WM: Yes. It’s still one of my favourites. Still one of my favourites.

FH:    Well, it’s still selling. Selling beautifully in Japan.

WM: I understand that you speak Japanese?

FH:    No.

WM: No? Where did I hear that?

FH:    No, I-I don’t speak Japanese. I can read a bit of idiogram.

WM: Ah so.

FH:    Ah so. (Laughter) But I was raised with Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest in an area where there were a great many of them, let’s put it that way.

WM: Yes.

FH:    A place called Fyfe between Seattle and Tacoma and…

WM: That’s up near glorious Tunwater. (Laughter)

FH:    Yes, its north of Tunwater. (Laughter) Ah, an Oly fan…if I’d known, I would have brought in a mess of beer. By the way, we have another wine in there. Would you like…?

WM: No, I’m going to stick to coffee for a while, thanks. I’ll be up all night reading, but then, what difference does it make.

FH:    Well, anyway, I was raised with them, and eat in Japanese and I know a few phrases.

WM: Yes. I learned quite a…(tape paused)…

WM: … well, you were speaking of your writing plans for the future. You say the sequel to “Dune” will be out this fall sometime?

FH:    Or earlier.

WM: Or earlier.

FH:    Possibly in October, possibly earlier. There’s some question of I requested that it be moved up a bit and I’m not sure that everyone’s in agreement and maybe that’s best…I mean I’m not…

WM: Yes.

FH:    I just thought it would be a better idea for several reasons to publish it earlier. One of the reasons is that I have built a Dune Tarot into the sequel.

WM: Do that one again?

FH:    You know what the Tarot deck is?

WM: Oh, of course, yes.

FH:    Ok.

WM: Oh, I’ve missed that.

FH:    I built a Dune Tarot into it and it’s hot right now.

WM: Yes.

FH:    And I was just thinking economically they ought to capitalize on it.

WM: Oh, sure, why not. A Dune Tarot. Well. See, I teach Yeats and Eliot and so on…

FH:    Of course, yes.

WM: In fact, I-I own my own private deck.

FH:    Yes. WE have one. It’s my contention that if you immerse a society in a great deal of what we call fortune telling, you know, that you cloud the whole process…you see what happened in classic times in Greek myth…historic times, when the oracle was…had terrifying accuracy.

WM: The Oedipus cycle for example.

FH:    There weren’t a lot of oracles around. You went to Delphi.

WM: Delphi, right.

FH:    Or to the local madman.

WM: Yes. Look at the birds and cast a few auguries here and there.

FH:    Yes. Who might have…might kill a chicken and look at the entrails.

WM  Or note which way the blood spurts.

FH:    That’s right. Any one of these methods, which I call ignition principles as far as prediction is concerned. You see, I contend that there is such a thing…that you can do it, whether you do it by a subliminal thing…petit perception, or whether it is a…

WM: You use the petit perception in that scene in the conservatory, incidentally. I thought it was rather well done. With…Countess…Fenring?

FH:    That’s right.

WM: Leaving that thing for Lady Jessica to pick up, end parenthesis.

FH:    Yes, that’s right. That’s…well, whether our predictive faculties are prophecy…and we’ve had our prophets…is a product of an accumulation of…in a sense of a computer is accumulating data.

WM: Yes.

FH:    Or something mystical in a sense that it is unexplained thus far…unexplained…I’m looking at it through Western eyes now as you’ll undoubtedly see…that…that it is a mechanical scientific principle and if you get enough data to bear on it, you’ll understand it. Now this doesn’t necessarily follow, of course, that we can understand everything in the universe. Ask me about…what is the basic about what I think is the basic fallacy in science.

WM: All right. What is the basic fallacy in science, tell us, pray tell! (Laughter)

FH:    You want a prognostication. Ok. You know, I think…I think it’s the idea that we can invent… that of course, science fiction is based on this…the idea that…that we can invent anything we imagine, and having invented it, we must use it…

WM: And then live by the consequences of it.

FH:    Exactly. Yes. Now, this is the Western…see, this is the Western fallacy.

WM: And this is one of the great things about the east…that it does not…

FH:    Yes, of course we frown on it because the achieve their ignition by…by methods that we can see are hogwash.

WM: Right. And…or we misinterpret their methods, for example…if we were to consider, say, the tantric yoga, all we would think of is that they’re achieving nirvana by means of sex, and it’s much more than that.

FH:    Yes.

WM: Or, as…as one specific example, we…we take only one aspect of it, and make sort of an end out of it…

FH:    Or, hell, then you go back to the…the slitting the neck of the chicken and watching which direction the blood spurts.

WM: Yes.

FH:    You see, you see…what I’m saying about ignition.

WM: U-huh.

FH:    This ignites the…you see, you have to have confidence that you can do it…you have to believe you can do it, and believing you can do it, the process is ignited by any one of a million methods. We’ve experimented with many…the direction the birds fly or any of this, you see.

WM: Well, I had a student a few years ago who…whose wife was so accurate with the Tarot deck that…that she stopped using it completely.

FH:    I must tell you something.

WM: She frightened herself.

FH:    I terrified a gal one time in a weird…I was about seventeen. We were sitting in her aunt’s house and her aunt and an uncle were out of sight, but within hearing distance, down in some (…) in their library. It was nearby and we were sitting across the…from each other on hassocks, the mouth of the fireplace, a big stone fireplace, between us, down to embers. We’d been out on a date, and I brought her home. We didn’t have anything going…we…she was just a gal I knew. I happened to have had a crush on her younger sister, and she knew it, and…ah, unrequited love at seventeen is hideous thing.

ALL: (Laughter)

WM: Oh, yes!

FH:    Anyway, that was a…it was great upsurge of Rhine consciousness at the time.

WM: Yes.

FH:    Predicting the cards…of course, our interpretation of predicting the cards, was, you know…we had only one kind of cards, that was a deck of cards.

WM: Sure.

FH:    So she broke out a brand new deck of cards and shuffled them. We’d been talking about it on the way home and…quite shadowy in the room…there was the firelight and Pat was sitting across the fireplace and the light from where.…her aunt and uncle were playing cribbage in the back in there, both of them deaf, by the way… you hear this (Falsetto) Fifteen two and two is four (Laughter). Counting…

WM: (Falsetto) A pair of sex.

FH:    Yes, that’s right. So there was a light from back in there and so she could see the cards, and she said, see if you can predict the cards. And she had been shuffling them, so she picked up the first card, and I closed my eyes, and I saw that card. And so I told her…that was it. She put it down. That was the card. I swear to you, Will, I went through that entire deck, predicting every card that she was going to see, and there wasn’t a failure at all. I told her every card. I did it the same every time. Now, whether I saw a reflection in her eyes…in other words, we’ll go back to petit perception.

WM: Yes.

FH:    Or whether this was some actual keyed-in transmission. We were sympatico or something…

WM: Tuned in on her wavelength.

FH:    Empathy or what is rampid to this atmosphere…I don’t know what it was, but I predicted what the cards were, and I said “My goodness,” I said, “This is fascinating! Let’s do it again. Show them to me again.” So she shuffled the deck again, and cut them a few times, and we started going through them again. And we got down to, oh, five or six cards in the deck, and suddenly she threw the whole deck down on the hearth of the fireplace and said, “This scares me! I don’t want to do this any more!”

WM: Hmmmmm. Have you ever had that kind of success…

FH:    Never. Never again. But it was a…the odds against being able to do this by anything but some unrecognized…

WM: Force.

FH:    Contact or force…I’m not ruling out the fact that I may have seen…she wasn’t wearing glasses, but the light may have been such that, without even recognizing it, I saw them or reflection of them in her eyes, or something of that nature. This is possible.

WM: There are more things ‘twixt heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of…

FH:    Oh. Oh, Will! (Laughter)

WM: Why are you laughing? You expect things like that from an English teacher don’t you? (Laughter)

BH:   Not frequently…(tape paused)…

WM:       I’d like to ask you a couple of more questions (Cough). I wanted to talk about some of the religious constructs behind the novel. It’s obvious that some of the Arabian mystique is there, and I think that any perceptive reader can pick this up, but part of the question relates to the identity of Paul as an avatar, as a new messiah.

FH:    That’s right.

WM: Or as a new prophet or what you will. Would you care to talk about that a little?

FH:    Well, one of the threads in the story is to trace a possible way a messiah is created in our society, and I hope I was successful in making it believable. Here we have the entire process, or at least the large and some of the subtle elements of the construction of this, both from the individual standpoint, and from the way society demands this of you. It’s the references in there, you know, that the man must recognize the myth he is living in, because the creation of an avatar is a mythmaking process. We’ve done it in our…in recent times. Look at what’s happening to John F. Kennedy.

WM: O, sure.

FH:    Who was a very earthy, real, and not totally holy man…so here we have a likeable person, now, you see…

WM: Yes.

FH:    But real in the flesh and blood sense who by the process of emulation 
becomes something larger than life, far larger than life, and I’ve just explored all of as many permutations as I could recognize in the process.

WM: Oh, I-I caught overtones of Lawrence of Arabia in the thing, for example.

FH:    He could very well become an avatar for the…for the Arabs.

WM: Right.

FH:    If Lawrence of Arabia had died at the crucial moment of the British…

WM: Say, when Allenby walked into Jerusalem.

FH:    Yes. If he had died…if, for example, he had gone up and killed the people who were destroying his breed, walked into that conference and said, Gentlemen, I have here under my javala a surprise, Bang! Bang! Bang! and he had been killed…

WM: He’d have been deified.

FH:    He would have been deified. And it would have been the most terrifying thing the British had ever encountered, because the Arabs would have swept that entire peninsula with that sort of force, because one of the things we’ve done in our society is exploited this power…Western man has exploited this avatar power.

WM: Well, if I could ask then one more question along this same line, you mentioned a little bit earlier that you studied comparative religion at one time.

FH:    That’s right.

WM: A student of it…was it from your experiencing reading comparative religions that brought you to this particular notion of an avatar?

FH:    That was part of it. Of course, it was ignited by the idea of…by the ideas I encountered in reading about desert societies, and I think that the idea of the way Western society has exploited this force. We have, you know…

WM: Oh, yes.

FH:    We’ve used it as…quite consciously we’ve sent out our missionaries to do our dirty work for us…then come along behind them with the certain belief that we’re right in anything we do, because God has told us so…God in the person of the avatar.
WM: Well, one last personal question, then, if…one last personal question, then, if you don’t mind. Do you profess any specific religion yourself? You mentioned vendetta earlier or other backgrounds. I’m a little curious…if it’s not at all pertinent, why say so.

FH:    Oh, I don’t mind saying so. I mean it…I don’t really profess a religion in the sense that we normally recognize religion I believe in more in self development in the Zen sense.

WM: Well, I caught those Zen elements from time to time, I thought, in…in “Dune”, and in fact, the whole Zensunni school line thought was an aspect of that…

FH:    You know, don’t you, that one element of the construction of this book…it’s all the way through there…that I wrote certain parts of it in haiku and other poetical forms, and then expanded them to prose to create a pace.

WM: I hadn’t picked those out specifically, but I sort of caught something of that, and that’s

FH:    Some of my friend have come back to me with examples out of it and said, was this a…

WM: Haiku.

FH:    Was this a haiku?

WM: Or a tanka, or something…

FH:    Yes, or a tanka, and yet they’re in there…

WM: Very good. And thank you very much. We certainly appreciate this.

No comments:

Post a Comment