Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

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The life of a single human, as the life of a family or an entire people, persists as memory. My people must come to see this as part of their maturing process. They are people as organism, and in this persistent memory they store more and more experiences in a subliminal reservoir. Humankind hopes to call upon this material if it is needed for a changing universe. But much that is stored can be lost in that chance play of accident which we call “fate.” Much may not be integrated into evolutionary relationships, and thus may not be evaluated and keyed into activity by those ongoing environmental changes which inflict themselves upon flesh. The species can forget! This is the special value of the Kwisatz Haderach which the Bene Gesserits never suspected: the Kwisatz Haderach cannot forget. -The Book of Leto, After Harq al-Ada

Stilgar could not explain it, but he found Leto’s casual observation profoundly disturbing. It ground through his awareness all the way back across the sand to Sietch Tabr, taking precedence over everything else Leto had said out there on The Attendant. Indeed, the young women of Arrakis were very beautiful that year. And the young men, too. Their faces glowed serenely with water-richness. Their eyes looked outward and far. They exposed their features often without any pretense of stillsuit masks and the snaking lines of catchtubes. Frequently they did not even wear stillsuits in the open, preferring the new garments which, as they moved, offered flickering suggestions of the lithe young bodies beneath. Such human beauty was set off against the new beauty of the landscape. By contrast with the old Arrakis, the eye could be spellbound by its collision with a tiny clump of green twigs growing among red-brown rocks. And the old sietch warrens of the cave-metropolis culture, complete with elaborate seals and moisture traps at every entrance, were giving way to open villages built often of mud bricks. Mud bricks! Why did I want the village destroyed? Stilgar wondered, and he stumbled as he walked. He knew himself to be of a dying breed. Old Fremen gasped in wonder at the prodigality of their planet — water wasted into the air for no more than its ability to mold building bricks. The water for a single one-family dwelling would keep an entire sietch alive for a year. The new buildings even had transparent windows to let in the sun’s heat and to desiccate the bodies within. Such windows opened outward. New Fremen within their mud homes could look out upon their landscape. They no longer were enclosed and huddling in a sietch. Where the new vision moved, there also moved the imagination. Stilgar could feel this. The new vision joined Fremen to the rest of the Imperial universe, conditioned them to unbounded space. Once they’d been tied to water-poor Arrakis by their enslavement to its bitter necessities. They’d not shared that open-mindedness which conditioned inhabitants on most planets of the Imperium. Stilgar could see the changes contrasting with his own doubts and fears. In the old days it had been a rare Fremen who even considered the possibility that he might leave Arrakis to begin a new life on one of the water-rich worlds. They’d not even been permitted the dream of escape. He watched Leto’s moving back as the youth walked ahead. Leto had spoken of prohibitions against movement off-planet. Well, that had always been a reality for most other-worlders, even where the dream was permitted as a safety valve. But planetary serfdom had reached its peak here on Arrakis. Fremen had turned inward, barricaded in their minds as they were barricaded in their cave warrens. The very meaning of sietch — a place of sanctuary in times of trouble — had been perverted here into a monstrous confinement for an entire population. Leto spoke the truth: Muad’Dib had changed all that. Stilgar felt lost, He could feel his old beliefs crumbling. The new outward vision produced life which desired to move away from containment. “How beautiful the young women are this year.” The old ways (My ways! he admitted) had forced his people to ignore all history except that which turned inward onto their own travail. The old Fremen had read history out of their own terrible migrations, their flights from persecution into persecution. The old planetary government had followed the stated policy of the old Imperium. They had suppressed creativity and all sense of progress, of evolution. Prosperity had been dangerous to the old Imperium and its holders of power. With an abrupt shock, Stilgar realized that these things were equally dangerous to the course which Alia was setting. Again Stilgar stumbled and fell farther behind Leto. In the old ways and old religions, there’d been no future, only an endless now. Before Muad’Dib, Stilgar saw, the Fremen had been conditioned to believe in failure, never in the possibility of accomplishment. Well . . . they’d believed Liet-Kynes, but he’d set a forty-generation timescale. That was no accomplishment; that was a dream which, he saw now, had also turned inward. Muad’Dib had changed that! During the Jihad, Fremen had learned much about the old Padishah Emperor, Shaddam IV. The eighty-first Padishah of House Corrino to occupy the Golden Lion Throne and reign over this Imperium of uncounted worlds had used Arrakis as a testing place for those policies which he hoped to implement in the rest of his empire. His planetary governors on Arrakis had cultivated a persistent pessimism to bolster their power base. They’d made sure that everyone on Arrakis, even the free-roaming Fremen, became familiar with numerous cases of injustice and insoluble problems; they had been taught to think of themselves as a helpless people for whom there was no succor. “How beautiful the young women are this year!” As he watched Leto’s retreating back, Stilgar began to wonder how the youth had set these thoughts flowing — and just by uttering a seemingly simple statement. Because of that statement, Stilgar found himself viewing Alia and his own role on the Council in an entirely different way. Alia was fond of saying that old ways gave ground slowly. Stilgar admitted to himself that he’d always found this statement vaguely reassuring. Change was dangerous. Invention must be suppressed. Individual willpower must be denied. What other function did the priesthood serve than to deny individual will? Alia kept saying that opportunities for open competition had to be reduced to manageable limits. But that meant the recurrent threat of technology could only be used to confine populations — just as it had served its ancient masters. Any permitted technology had to be rooted in ritual. Otherwise . . . otherwise . . . Again Stilgar stumbled. He was at the qanat now and saw Leto waiting beneath the apricot orchard which grew along the flowing water. Stilgar heard his feet moving through uncut grass. Uncut grass! What can I believe? Stilgar asked himself. It was proper for a Fremen of his generation to believe that individuals needed a profound sense of their own limitations. Traditions were surely the most controlling element in a secure society. People had to know the boundaries of their time, of their society, of their territory. What was wrong with the sietch as a model for all thinking? A sense of enclosure should pervade every individual choice — should fence in the family, the community, and every step taken by a proper government. Stilgar came to a stop and stared across the orchard at Leto. The youth stood there, regarding him with a smile. Does he know the turmoil in my head? Stilgar wondered. And the old Fremen Naib tried to fall back on the traditional catechism of his people. Each aspect of life required a single form, its inherent circularity based on secret inner knowledge of what will work and what will not work. The model for life, for the community, for every element of the larger society right up to and beyond the peaks of government — that model had to be the sietch and its counterpart in the sand: Shai-Hulud. The giant sandworm was surely a most formidable creature, but when threatened it hid in the impenetrable deeps. Change is dangerous! Stilgar told himself. Sameness and stability were the proper goals of government. But the young men and women were beautiful. And they remembered the words of Muad’Dib as he deposed Shaddam IV: “It’s not long life to the Emperor that I seek; it’s long life to the Imperium.” Isn’t that what I’ve been saying to myself? Stilgar wondered. He resumed walking, headed toward the sietch entrance slightly to Leto’s right. The youth moved to intercept him. Muad’Dib had said another thing, Stilgar reminded himself: “just as individuals are born, mature, breed, and die, so do societies and civilizations and governments.” Dangerous or not, there would be change. The beautiful young Fremen knew this. They could look outward and see it, prepare for it. Stilgar was forced to stop. It was either that or walk right over Leto. The youth peered up at him owlishly, said: “You see, Stil? Tradition isn’t the absolute guide you thought it was.”

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Categories: Herbert, Frank