Paul, Leto II, and Frank Herbert's sympathies - a question

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Vogon Poet
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Paul, Leto II, and Frank Herbert's sympathies - a question

Postby Vogon Poet » 06 Jan 2016 18:04

Hi guys,

I am a big fan of Frank Herbert's Dune novels though I have not read them for quite some time.

My question is about one of the big themes of these novels: not blindly following leaders.

So my question is this: what, in your opinion, does Frank Herbert think about Leto II and the Golden Path?
Also, what does he think of Paul/Muad'Dib in in comparison to Leto II? One could also bring the Preacher into this.

It would seem to me that if FH's sympathies lie with Leo II's political vision, then this is somewhat contradictory regarding this key theme (as Leto creates a tyrannical regime). I also understand this is seen as necessary as it leads to the Scattering etc. It just seems to me that making this tyrannical regime 'necessary' to the story seems to be contradictory to FH's themes?
I do understand that Paul/the Preacher's vision is incomplete compared to Leto's but my question is somewhat different, it is where FH's sympathies lie (understanding that he obviously thought no leader is perfect).
Maybe Dune and Dune Messiah work better as a cautionary tale then the Leto story (not discounting that the first 3 books were considered one story).

Apologies if this is an obvious question, or not worded particularly well, as I say it has been quite some time since I have read the novels but I have been thinking about this.

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Re: Paul, Leto II, and Frank Herbert's sympathies - a question

Postby georgiedenbro » 06 Jan 2016 23:33

As much as Frank gave Leto II a lot of insightful things to say and justification for all of them, he did include in the book a very serious argument against Leto II's methods, voiced by both Duncan and Siona. Arguably Duncan was just fulfilling the part of Leto's plan that was desired of him regardless of his opinion on the matter, but I think the moral argument in GeoD shouldn't be discounted. I need to think more on this before I answer in greater detail...
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Freakzilla
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Re: Paul, Leto II, and Frank Herbert's sympathies - a question

Postby Freakzilla » 07 Jan 2016 14:51

Leto II told Sister Chenoeh that he modeled his empire on the persistent pharaonic model, a disease of government and that he was a warning by example.

"You will not understand me. The harder you try the more remote I will become
until finally I vanish into eternal myth-a Living God at last!
"That's it, you see. I am not a leader nor even a guide. A god..."
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Re: Paul, Leto II, and Frank Herbert's sympathies - a question

Postby Vogon Poet » 07 Jan 2016 17:47

Thanks for your responses.

georgiedenbro wrote:As much as Frank gave Leto II a lot of insightful things to say and justification for all of them, he did include in the book a very serious argument against Leto II's methods, voiced by both Duncan and Siona. Arguably Duncan was just fulfilling the part of Leto's plan that was desired of him regardless of his opinion on the matter, but I think the moral argument in GeoD shouldn't be discounted. I need to think more on this before I answer in greater detail...


I guess my response to both is that in creating this character of Leto II and giving him all these prescient powers etc that are much stronger than other characters such as Paul's FH leaves little space for alternatives in the face of this. There is a moral critique from some characters but in the end they are just fulfilling their role in Letos vision and perhaps they don't so much present an alternative vision?

Freakzilla wrote:Leto II told Sister Chenoeh that he modeled his empire on the persistent pharaonic model, a disease of government and that he was a warning by example.

"You will not understand me. The harder you try the more remote I will become
until finally I vanish into eternal myth-a Living God at last!
"That's it, you see. I am not a leader nor even a guide. A god..."


It is not that I don't understand the point of Leto II and the Golden Path it is that it would seem there is little room to genuinely challenge that vision because Leto II is so powerful (though not quite all powerful), almost God-like.

It would seem that given the trajectory of the story the Golden Path is made so necessary for mankind that the theme of not blindly following leaders is somewhat lost, certainly as compared to the first two novels.

I welcome any responses though as well as alternative opinions. It has been quite a while since I have read the books. I'm planning on re-reading them with this thought in mind.

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Serkanner
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Re: Paul, Leto II, and Frank Herbert's sympathies - a question

Postby Serkanner » 07 Jan 2016 18:15

Vogon Poet wrote:
It would seem that given the trajectory of the story the Golden Path is made so necessary for mankind that the theme of not blindly following leaders is somewhat lost,


That is what Leto wants you to believe.
"... the mystery of life isn't a problem to solve but a reality to experience."

“There is no escape—we pay for the violence of our ancestors.”

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and wrote a Dune Novel."

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Re: Paul, Leto II, and Frank Herbert's sympathies - a question

Postby georgiedenbro » 07 Jan 2016 19:05

Serkanner wrote:
Vogon Poet wrote:
It would seem that given the trajectory of the story the Golden Path is made so necessary for mankind that the theme of not blindly following leaders is somewhat lost,


That is what Leto wants you to believe.


Exactly. Do note that since he knowingly represents everything Dune warns against, he creates a puzzle wherein he is both making commentary on control while nevertheless exploiting it maximally for a purpose. Is his lesson that it's bad to let a leader control you? That's funny, since according to him the universe benefits greatly from his version of control despite it being brutal. That's quite the contradiction, isn't it? Hence the quasi-koan he tells Chenoeh. The more you try to figure out the wheels within wheels of his thought the more you turn him into a myth, and therefore a god. All part of his plan. All that means, though, is that his plan works, not that it was necessary.

I'm not at all convinced that Leto II saw the future "better" than Paul did, even though Paul admitted that Leto's visions had greater scope (i.e. saw more futures) than Paul's did. I know that Leto saw the extinction and Paul didn't, but what I don't know is why. We've theorized here that it could be that Leto was a 'true Fremen' and was willing to investigate futures Paul dismissed on principle, thus allowing himself better foresight. But maybe Leto really did invent that future and under Paul it never would have happened. Another point made in the books is that Leto II's vision of his Empire was much more vast than what Paul could see. But this could be either due to increased innate power, or alternatively due to his increased desire to control more than Paul ever wanted to. Indeed, Paul largely shied away from the effects of his powers, whereas Leto wanted to utilize them maximally. Surely this attitude difference could account for it just as much as innate gifts could. There is also the fact that Leto's sphere of influence was far greater than Paul's, and I have my old theory that physical influence affects the ability of an oracle to see and control the future better. If I'm right about this, an oracle who was a pauper with no power would have lesser visions than an oracle who was a prince, all other things being equal. The reason I believe this is that a person's ability to change the future materially (to enact that which they see) in turns allows them to see more because their own actions figure into their visions. Someone with no power would see little since all they would be doing is passively observing what others do and would not have to take their own actions into account very much. In fact, this difference is to a large extent what I think distinguishes AI calculation and mentats from a KH in predictive power, since the KH can understand a system including his own participation in it, rather than treating the system as it is as data to be examined. The KH sees the fluid continuum, and if he's powerful then his own actions will affect that enormously with each decision making exponentially more trees into the future to examine.

In short, I don't know how clear it is anymore that Leto II was 'more powerful' than Paul, notwithstanding Leto's different and updated vision of the future from Paul. He was different on a personal level than Paul was - this much is certain. How this plays into Frank's personal opinion on the subject is a question. I'll still have to think more before responding to the rest of OP...
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Re: Paul, Leto II, and Frank Herbert's sympathies - a question

Postby Freakzilla » 08 Jan 2016 08:15

Leto apologizes for himself all throughout GEoD.

I agree that his prescience possibly created the need for his rule. We just have to take his word on that, though. With that as given, he not only led by bad example, the affects of his empire limited the possibility of someone like him doing what he did again.

When I set out to lead humankind along my Golden Path. I promised them a lesson
their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern which humans deny with
their words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and
quiet, the condition they call peace. Even as they speak. they create the seeds
of turmoil and violence. If they find their quiet security. they squirm in it.
How boring they find it. Look at them now. Look at what they do while I record
these words. Hah! I give them enduring eons of enforced tranquility which plods
on and on despite their every effort to escape into chaos. Believe me, the
memory of Leto's Peace shall abide with them forever. They will seek their quiet
security thereafter only with extreme caution and steadfast preparation.

-The Stolen Journals
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Re: Paul, Leto II, and Frank Herbert's sympathies - a question

Postby xcalibur » 09 Apr 2016 04:48

it's not a contradiction. Leto II leads by negative example.

you see, the central message is to beware of messiahs, charismatic leaders, and hero-worship. :Adolf: they're just as human as you, and blindly following the leader can lead to death, destruction, and oppression on a massive scale.

and so, Frank Herbert first deconstructs the Messiah myth by portraying Paul Maud'dib, a talented but very human character, taking on the guise of a Messiah. but in the context of the story, Paul can't bring himself to take the next step and fulfill his "terrible purpose" (mentioned early on in Dune) - this is passed on to his son Leto II.

Leto II makes it his life purpose to embody the Messiah/Dear Leader mythos and push it to the furthest possible extent. his rule subsumes all the old power brokers and unifies the Imperium on an unprecedented scale, while concentrating all political/economic/religious power in his hands. Leto II teaches that the Messiah myth is wrong by carrying out its reductio ad absurdum.

He hates the "pharaonic disease" and defeats it by becoming the ultimate pharaoh. it's an enormous sacrifice.

By bottling up social pressures and Volkerwanderung for millennia, his eventual death releases this pent up energy, directly causing the Scattering. Through prescience-cloaking genes (which Leto II carefully bred) and the wide expansion of the Scattering, Leto II ensured that no Great Leader or Messiah could dominate the human race again, and extinction was prevented.
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