Dune Meme

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Is Earth Becoming A Dune Planet in Paranoia Magazine


Imperialism, Charismatic Leadership, Messianic Hunger, Corporate Feudalism, Neuro-Bio-Info-Cogno, Secret Societies, Culture Collapse, Drugs, Cults and Jihad

Allegory, Archetype & Prophecy

By Iona Miller

A process cannot be understood by stopping it.”
The real universe is always one step beyond logic.”'

Cult Classic: The Dune Meme

Earth is becoming more and more like DUNE, the desert planet. Petrocollapse, economic and climatic meltdown means class war, drought, food and water shortages. Humanity battles for survival with OILogarchy, full-spectrum mind control, ubiquitous drugs, religious cults, imperialism, face-dancing spooks, corporate feudalism, elitist families, secret societies, would-be saviors, AI, clones, genetic manipulation and Jihad. Frank Herbert called it decades ago. But where is our mything link, our Dune Messiah?

The prophetic epic DUNE (1965) by Frank Herbert (1920-1986) is one of the most phenomenal science fiction successes of all time. Conceived as an 11th Millennium trilogy, this first literary science fiction novel remains the most popular, most influential and most critically acclaimed novel/series in the genre. Not since Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land had a sci fi novel made such an impact. Its spin-offs seem endless.

Film versions, unfortunately, failed to capture the richness of character and detail contained in the novels, fed by individual imagination. But Dune still has many fans though they don’t dress up like Fremen and Harkonnens or call themselves Duneiacs.

Dune is a barren planet entirely covered in vast oceanic sand dunes that conceal a hidden treasure -- the Spice Mélange. The great Imperial Houses of the Empire fight religious orders and fierce guerrilla warriors over this single unique commodity that is more precious than anything. Machiavellian plots and subplots twist and turn in fractal reiterations through this unforgiving landscape concealing a monstrous secret and an unbridled demiurgic power – the Makers.

Dune focuses on the dynamics of power and the mass manipulation of unconscious dynamics, of the mythic dimension. The unique feature of Dune's messianic superhero, Paul Atreides, was his ability to see, shape, and intentionally build the future from the zero point of a cosmic maelstrom. In an almost prescient anticipation of chaos theory and complexity, Dune explores the influential introjection of the unforeseen critical element, tipping-points and intergalactic butterfly effects.

Amplified Awareness

Tensions in the Duniverse are based on competing visionary dreams amplified by mind-expanding techniques. To the ordinary, the edible "Spice of Life" is energizing, heightens awareness and supercharges the immune system. It means different things to various transhuman factions.

For some, it is mutagenic, for others, transformative, and others transmutational. To the Spacing Guild Navigators, it means the ability to transmogrify and see safe routes for navigation as they fold space and time. The Guild must ensure that the spice and commerce flow throughout this fragile civilization. David Bohm's holographic theory describes such enfolded dimensions of space, but that theory did not exist in the mid-60s.

For the psiops-trained Reverend Mothers it means life extension by hundreds of years, precognitive trances and genetic memory. For the Fremen, their tribal bond and spiritual sacrament, 'the blood of God' gives them insight, guidance and communal rapport. But for Dune's fated superhero, the Kwisatz Haderach, product of an elite breeding program, it means riding the apocalyptic whirlwind.

But the cinnamon-flavored spice's dark side is that it is highly addictive. Once you take it you cannot and dare not ever stop ingesting it, as withdrawal is fatal. As in alchemy the cure and the poison are one in the same. The more spice you consume, the more you need to consume and the more addicted you become. This is the nature of the Elixir Vitae, the Philosopher's Stone, and “the Water of Life," the nectar of immortality and wisdom, the most precious thing.

A symbol of wealth, it is the most valuable commodity in the Universe, as oil is in our own. Without it, commerce and transport grind to halt. Who can deny Herbert's metaphor that implies we are addicted to oil as our Holy Grail of energy? And that addiction is as fearsome as the primordial sandworms that would eat you alive with their CO2 breath yet have spawned this awesome quintessence.

For the superhero, spice brings a reversal of fate that blinds the normal eyes even as it opens hyperdelic vision and consumes all semblance of humanity. The water of life makes a mythic mystic of the man, initiating him at the cosmic zero point where all timelines and all mass motivations of the Collective Unconscious can be sensed in the ultimate probability cloud. It is a mind-blowing experience. They say that, "He who controls the spice controls the universe." But the fact is spice controls everything and everybody in the Duniverse.

Dune Buggies

Every good sci fi novel needs a creature feature - something so alien and unknowable it's beyond previous conception. Classic sci fi's perennial favorites are mammoth insects, spiders, reptiles or snakes. Anything that creeps or is chthonic represents the primordial unconscious, raw instinct.

Like the phallus, the demiurgic worms of Dune are the Maker. Grow even a lowly earthworm big enough and it becomes an object of veneration. Lucas stole the idea (and many others) in “Star Wars” for Jabba the Hut. He appropriated many other dramatic elements of Dune, as well, tweaking them just enough to suit his tale while keeping the psychological hooks strong.

In Dune's case, the venerated animal/god is a gargantuan phallic worm with psychedelic sperm that erupts in quasi-orgasmic sandblows. Its mouth is a yawning pit of razor-sharp cris blades. Only the bravest can ride such a dragon-like beast. It is death to others who can't escape its deadly maw quick enough when stealing its treasures.

This perennial theme echoes stealing the treasure of the dragon. When the dragon wakes it ravages everything in its path. Those who steal the energetic treasure, the essence of immortality, are horribly punished. What a superb metaphor of the hypersexualized nature of addictive relationship. The real “maker hooks” are psychological: either you ride the beast or it rides you.

Altered Heads of States

When first released, Dune reflected the zeitgeist of its time and its still does. We still live in the persistent delusion that we control our fate but naturally we cannot compete with the raw force of infinity. But if you face that naked awareness, let it strip you and do not resist, you remain. Yet, our existence is always profoundly uncertain.

We struggle to walk a tightrope between security and adaptability. The safe course leads to stagnation. Our consciousness exists at the edge of chaos - criticality. Chaos is a deterministic non-linear process that can cause sudden shifts among a multitude of dynamic states without warning. Sometimes it is catastrophic, a sudden avalanche of change.

Tremendous upheaval and enormous consequences can emerge from seemingly trivial events. In systems, including nature and socio-political systems, criticality can lead to spontaneous self-organization. Chaos Theory calls this the creative edge. But critical states can also be catastrophic or seemingly miraculous when unexpected patterns emerge. Herbert's superhero was just such a dynamic element who lived at the nexus of all flux and paradox after his enlightenment.

Paul Atreides was a Strange Attractor of interstellar civilization, a catalyst. When the sensitivity of groups to one another's actions increase, sudden changes may occur as cascades of interconnected events. Scandals, betrayals and miscalculations can lead to unpredictable global changes punctuated by intense climatic, economic or political instability, including war.

Self-organizing criticality is common in politics. Trends toward greater interdependence disrupt some portion of interdependence. Dynamic tension between competing tendencies produces generic fractal (self-similar) time series and spatial patterns. Their dynamic behavior neither dampens nor explodes. Instead, they always move towards the edge of chaos, a region where small and seemingly insignificant events can propagate and cause major cumulative changes.

The Sleeper Must Awaken

Recurrent themes turn into paradox. By exposing the reader to hyperconscious imagery, in his masterpiece Herbert performs the Promethean task of bringing light to mankind. He seeks to awaken us through a journey to a parallel universe. Just as the spice awakens dormant parts and potentials in the mind, Herbert sought to awaken his reader. In that sense he initiates the very process he describes without any drugs using his spellbinding skill. Symbols are the spiritual currency of consciousness. Dune exposes the pros and cons of charismatic leadership and messianic hunger.

Writing in 1963, Herbert showed his own prescience extrapolating a world at that time 40-50 years in the future. Is Earth paralleling Dune in any ways that should raise an alarm? In the end, we have to awaken ourselves. Few can doubt the radical changes on our horizon after the 2008 economic meltdown. Can we courageously and consciously enter the unknown? To do so, we have to focus on infinity as a probability cloud not a single vision. We must risk shaking off the rigidity of habitual thoughts and behaviors.

With more archetypes than “Star Wars,” more Shakespearean intrigue and complex genealogy than The Da Vinci Code, and grander scope than Laurence of Arabia, Dune resonates with nearly anyone taking the time to read its many nuanced volumes. Herbert's messianic work also drew from universal truths of Eastern religions. The accumulated wisdom of the past injects authenticity and philosophical depth into the story. Herbert evokes challenging scenes of love, confrontation, revenge and tragedy by immersing us in his subliminal multisensory imagery.

He also gives more than a passing nod to many of the devices of the world's greatest literature and writers, drawing from the richest characterizations and themes from Greek tragedy onward. The drama is somewhere between the stories of Alexander, Oedipus and the quest for the Holy Grail. It also echoes ancient shamanic traditions from Fraser's Golden Bough, Beowulf and the global architectronics of Hesse's Glass Bead Game (The Magister Ludi).

Saint Paul and the Dragon

Dune was an evolution as much as an unashamed homage. Herbert intentionally recycled many of the best authors and literary themes from Shakespeare to Dostoyevsky to T.E. Laurence to Asimov. Gilgamesh, The Illiad and Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, King Lear, The Quran, and Lord of the Rings are among his inspirations.

Herbert explores many key themes in Dune:

* The dangers and flaws of charismatic leaders, covert action, slavish followers and the pitfalls of bureaucracy and government.
* Holistic, holographic, ecological and Systems Theory. He stressed our need to think both systematically and long term.
* The relationship between religion, politics and power; sociobiology, thinking and learning.
* Human survival and evolution: the Fremen, the Sardaukar, and the Dosadi are molded by their terrible living conditions into dangerous super-races.
* Extraordinary human potential and transhumanism: Mentats, the Bene Gesserit and the Bene Tleilaxu are different visions of human possibilities.
* The nature of sanity and madness. Herbert referenced Thomas Szasz and Anti-psychiatry.
* Effects and consequences of consciousness altering chemicals, such as Spice.
* Semiotics and semantics: myths, symbols and signs, shape how we think as described in Korzybski's General Semantics and Jung’s depth psychology.

Dune reveals the raw guts of guts of fanaticism and opportunism. It also outlines an ecology of consciousness, a map for transcending the human, and describes how the worm turns. Now that we have collectively acknowledged deep crisis, ecology has become a crusade likely to intensify, drawing power players.

Dune illustrates a holistic, complex reality beyond the mechanistic worldview that deifies technology, especially artificial intelligence. It demonstrates how everything is cosmically connected. Our consciousness is bound to the fabric of reality. We create it and it creates us. We express our primal fear of uncertainty by trying to control the future. Yet enlightened paranoia may be the only rational response to today's complex world.

Well Borne PSIchology Priestesses

Fully trained in the esoteric arts, the Bene Gesserit are a secretive transformation team of silent shapers. Psi and eugenics are their forte. They understand the unconscious motivations of both individuals and masses, controlling them through their own denial and lack of awareness. They collect and control intelligence information for their own ends. As a means of communication or control, language depends on context.

The intuitive and prophetic Reverend Mothers with their genetic memory, gene manipulation and alchemical mindbody training methods challenge us all to become more than animal, more fully human. Can we learn to manifest more of the genius of human potential through cultivating extraordinary, even psychedelic consciousness?

Deficiencies in our brains are controlled by human culture, the communal context. Culture gives a distinct and recognisable shape to a human society, no matter how economically, cognitively and politically disadvantageous they are, allowing us to continue life with a maladapted brain. Though this may not be the way the world ends, it is the way homo sapiens was rescued by culture.

Collective “ego death” may be a viable model for current changes in the cultural landscape, presuming that ultimately collapse is part of sustainability. In nature’s way, old forms must break down and “die” before the new matrix of creative self-organization emerges. The more catastrophic the breakdown, the stronger the new order that emerges. Each thing you call a "decision" is comprised of countless billions of quantum events, each of which causes a local differentiation in the universe structure.

The psychedelic process is a sudden opening of the mind to enlargement, to a grander vista than ever seen before, with a power surge analogous to shifting into overdrive. This acceleration is available under proper conditions of internal and environmental resonance. In the flow state, answers arise from primordial awareness, in what were perceptual blind spots, in the gaps in consciousness between physical and mental, the fearless space between breaths.

Boundaries between the ego and the preconscious open and the conscious mind finds itself in an enlarged domain. Psychic and psychedelic events are related. One is a paranormal event in an expanded environment, while the other is an event in an expanded consciousness. Psychedelic experiences are developmental, whereas parasensory psychic phenomena usually are not.

What is the psychedelic stage without psychic powers? Conscious resonance with the preconscious produces beneficial psychophysical health effects in the person and environment. These peak experiences extend to well-being, youthful vigor and energy, warding off harmful events, accidents, and disease, to the selection, visualization and manifestation of desirable futures.

Virtuosos of hypnosis, Dune’s psychedelic witches have command over individual consciousness. Like Truthsayers, they can read body language and use it and the Voice to their advantage like today's Neurolinguistic Programmers (NLP). This is the mystique of the ultra-psychologist with esoteric powers of suggestion and psychological manipulation. The seduction is that perhaps we can learn those mystical techniques of accelerated and intensified perception and sensitivity to nuanced meaning for ourselves.

The Bene Gesserit conceptually frame reality with superior insight. But the Voice works at the visceral level and on the emotional brain, commanding and compelling the animal organism. Undercutting logic and exploiting unconscious projection, superstition works much the same in the masses, who can be played like an organ through national and global waves of emotional response (religious engineering). Populations overexposed to Voice control adapt until they can no longer be manipulated. As Burroughs put it, “the marks are wising up,” awakening from consensus slumber.


Dune is in every way inspiring, challenging us to live with heightened awareness -- to find our humanity and live up to it. If it is our fate, we come face to face with our self or the universe as it is -- primordial awareness. We'd better hurry because we are already cyborgs and set to go transhuman.

We are morphing from Cyber-culture to PSI-ber Culture, with challenges humanity has never faced. We may not even be "humanity," but trans-human moving toward a post-human hybrid of high tech and tissue as communication and computing technologies amplify one another.

Business as usual is nonsustainable and cannot continue unchecked. Our old culture is collapsing. We need a Plan B for human survival. Negentropy is arguably our greatest hope for a sustainable future rooted in human survival technologies, which doesn't mean that "technology will save us". It both creates and solves problems. Unique physics governs matter at the nanoscale. Soon "reality chips" and nanobots will put themselves and us together and culture will be revolutionized.

Bioart, tweeking genetics and physical structure, is the medium of the 21st century -- 3-dimensional designing and engineering of new bodies and environments. Probably more than a million people living today were conceived in petri dishes. Bioart is an aesthetic response to biotechnology (meta-biology).

We are in a transhuman transition era we call the Information Age. Direct Brain Interface is coming soon. Quantum dots can already merge with nerves. Information is more fundamental than matter, controlling and patterning randomness. It makes matter matter.

Synthetic Reality

The next technologies are those of the infinitely small: nanotech, photonics, smart technology, and cold fusion. Psionics will revolutionize culture with both new means of mind control and self-regulation: Electromagic, Yogatronics. Currently, we access computers manually, but soon we will have direct neural interface, which will create a form of synthetic telepathy among those with the hook up.

Eventually, our machines will share our organic substance and nature. DNA is a versatile component for nano devices and structures. There are non-biological uses for DNA such as computing devices. DNA is an ideal molecule for building nano-structures that hold molecule-sized electronic devices or hosting crystalline molecules. We will move from silicon circuits toward organic biochips. We are already fusing with our technology as it moves into our bodies. We are becoming cyborgs as tech moves into our bodies for support, repair and enhancement.

We already have voluntary and synthetic telepathy. Spyentists are working on several means of mind-reading. Cellular camera/phone means we are never alone, and always accountable, and surveilled on GPS. Hand-helds provide mindless entertainment on tiny TV with expanded content. In the global era, there is no more first-person singular. "They" are inside your head and potentially watching and conditioning your every move.

Can civilization trump Nature? Next-generation technologies that make reading DNA fast, cheap and widely accessible are coming in less than a decade. Quantum wave genetics will soon after manipulate the root of our being with acoustic holography, a form of cymatics creating morphogenetic formative change with light and sound, holographic projection. Rooted in the quantum nature of Cosmos, we are Photonic Humans: Homo Lumen, holistically aware of and cultivating our energy and Light Bodies.

To be more than human is to be fully human. We sense our own staleness, our dormancy. Evil has been defined as misapplied force and form. Religions have been used to justify personal and cultural agendas, honoring some beliefs over others. What is the nature of evolving spirituality or meta-spirituality that might resolve this global issue? Conscious Evolution means becoming more fully human, participating in an integrative way with [higher] Self, others and world.

We all participate in the evolution of consciousness, whether our transformations are conscious or unconscious. Conscious Evolution is the ethical, philosophical, intentional governance of human change and cultural engineering. We can each conduct ourselves compassionately with creative intent and spiritual responsibility for the health and unfolding of human progress and survival technology. The post-metaphysical desire is to contribute to the spiritual fulfillment of all people. The needs of the many resonate with the needs of the one.

What we need are bigger stories to guide us in our complex world. We can enlarge our perspective from the individual to the global through “bigger stories”, such as those from our wisdom traditions. Mythopoesis means literally, "myth-making," the natural expression of the visionary wisdom inborn to the human species.

We create myths to satisfy our need to understand our environment and to give us some sense of control over it, or at least an understood place within it. We need a way to make the myth real to us, and that is the fundamental reason why we connect ritual to our myths. The Dune meme emphasizes rituals surrounding the water of life.

Mythologizing is a creative act of story-telling or narration, by which human beings "track" their experience and orient themselves to the cosmos at large. Metahistory is a guiding narrative for human potential, rather than an interpretation of events. The cross-cultural metastory of the human species is an overarching view of past, present, and future. It opens a path toward participation in a story that leads beyond history, a mythos to guide the species.

No Fear

We must draw the line at our hearts, bending back toward soul and spirit, becoming more fully human. Self-defeating and self-fulfilling prophecies can shape the future or prevent it from happening. We have to claim our future and humanity by developing and consolidating (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) human survival technologies, by romancing the Philosopher's Stone.

Sacred Activism is service in motion. If you have a value, stand up for it. Let's build better humans from the primordial field upwards. There is only one race, and it's the human race and we are losing it. The sleeper must awaken. For sustainability, we have to begin at the primal foundation of our Being, creating and allowing more compassionate human beings who recognize that the only sustainability possible for ourselves is to realize at the deepest level that WE ARE ALL IN IT TOGETHER.

Our best and perphaps only defense may be Dune’s “No Fear” litany:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Herbert, Frank, "Dune Genesis," OMNI, www.dunenovels.com/news/genesis.html
Herbert, Frank, (1965/1967 p.) DUNE, Ace Books
O'Reilly, Timothy (1981), Frank Herbert, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., Inc. (Out of print.)

Working at the bleeding edge of Intelligence, IONA MILLER is a consultant, nonfiction writer, hypnotherapist (ACHE) and multimedia artist. A systems theorist, her work is an omnisensory fusion of sacred activism, science-art, chaos theory, physics, and paradigm shift applied to experiential psychotherapy, biophysics, philosophy, cosmology, healing, creativity, post-pomo metaphysics, psiops, media ecology, mind control, and culture change. Instead of specific doctrines, she is interested in the EFFECTS of doctrines from religion, science, psychology, and the arts. Author of THE MODERN ALCHEMIST (Phanes) and MAGICAL & RITUAL USE OF PERFUMES (Destiny, Inner Traditions). Online archives at ionamiller2008.iwarp.com


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