The Other Lisan al-Gaib

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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby Freakzilla » 03 Jul 2014 18:17

Who started this crazy topic? :P
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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby Robspierre » 03 Jul 2014 18:27

Freakzilla wrote:Who started this crazy topic? :P




This is what happens when you drink and post.


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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby Freakzilla » 03 Jul 2014 20:01

You're so funny Rob! :P

I want to believe this is a reference to the original BG MP adept who prepared Arrakis. But obviously no one living would remember her. Could it be bad editing on FH's part?
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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby Robspierre » 04 Jul 2014 00:23

It could be a story thread that was started and then discarded.


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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 04 Jul 2014 05:02

Freakzilla wrote:I want to believe this is a reference to the original BG MP adept who prepared Arrakis. But obviously no one living would remember her. Could it be bad editing on FH's part?

I don't really see the problem. People never seem to have any difficulty recognizing Jesus or the Virgin Mary when they appear on a piece of toast. As a major religious figure, the earlier Lisan al-Gaib/MP agent would no doubt be familiar to them through various representations or descriptions (as we have no reason to suppose that the Zensunni Arrakeen population is aniconic).

Plus, although the book mostly glosses over it, there is recording technology in the Dune universe. (The first example I can think of is the "solido tri-D projection" of a harvester that the Duke and his men examine in their meeting.) So it's not out of the question that the people have seen recordings of their off-world prophet, even if she lived before they were born. Comparing Jessica to the "other Lisan al-Gaib" might be like us comparing someone to Martin Luther King.

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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby lotek » 04 Jul 2014 05:35

Robspierre wrote:
Freakzilla wrote:Who started this crazy topic? :P




This is what happens when you drink and post.


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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby Freakzilla » 04 Jul 2014 08:47

LOL, I need that. :obscene-drinkingfaded:
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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby lotek » 07 Jul 2014 06:41

Your computer tells you you had enough.
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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 21 Jul 2018 06:42

I was just browsing the forums and came across this old thread. I don't know why I didn't mention it in my first post, but there's a twist on the interpretation of who "the other Lisan al-Gaib" refers to that I don't think has been mentioned. It's pretty simple, but I want to be thorough in lining up the supporting evidence, so please excuse my over-explaining obvious points.

Irulan is talking about how the Arrakeen people thought Paul seemed to fit their legends and prophecy, which foretold the Lisan al-Gaib. What do we know of these prophecies? Apart from the terminology definition (LISAN AL-GAIB: "The Voice from the Outer World." In Fremen messianic legends, an off-world prophet. Sometimes translated as "Giver of Water." See MAHDI.), our information is mainly from three sources. First, the confrontation with the Shadout Mapes:

"My Lady!" Mapes pleaded. She appeared about to fall to her knees. "The weapon was sent as a gift to you should you prove to be the One."
...
Mapes lowered the knife. "My Lady, when one has lived with prophecy for so long, the moment of revelation is a shock."
...
That was a specific catchphrase from the Missionaria Protectiva's stock of incantations -- The coming of the Reverend Mother to free you.


Second, from Dr. Kynes' thoughts and words (before the ornithopter ride and at the banquet):

He prided himself on being a scientist to whom legends were merely interesting clues, pointing toward cultural roots. Yet the boy fitted the ancient prophecy so precisely. He had "the questing eyes," and the air of "reserved candor."
Of course, the prophecy left certain latitude as to whether the Mother Goddess would bring the Messiah with her or produce Him on the scene. Still, there was this odd correspondence between prediction and persons.
...
Kynes' thoughts were overwhelmed at last by the words of prophecy: "And they shall share your most precious dream. "He spoke directly to Jessica: "Do you bring the shortening of the way?"


Third, from the confrontation with Stilgar when Paul and Jessica are ambushed, and later in conversation with Harah:

Now, the test of reason, Jessica thought. She said: "You ask after the Lisan al-Gaib."
"You could be the folk of the legend,"
...
"A Bene Gesserit witch!" Paul brought his captured weapon from his sash, trained it on the dark figure of Stilgar, but the man and his companions remained immobile, staring at Jessica.
"It is the legend," someone said.
"It was said that the Shadout Mapes gave this report on you," Stilgar said. "But a thing so important must be tested. If you are the Bene Gesserit of the legend whose son will lead us to paradise . . . "
...
"You saw the stranger, woman who went with Chani to the Reverend Mother?" Stilgar asked. "She's an out-freyn Sayyadina, mother to this lad. The mother and son are masters of the weirding ways of battle."
"Lisan al-Gaib," the woman whispered. Her eyes held awe as she turned them back toward Paul.


All of these make it clear that the Lisan al-Gaib is part of the legends implanted by the Missionaria Protectiva, and that these legends involve a Bene Gesserit (sometimes presented as a Mother Goddess, sometimes a Reverend Mother) and her son. The legends are deliberately vague about whether she will bring a son with her or give birth to him on-planet, in order to fit whatever in extremis situation the Bene Gesserit sister forced to fall back on this safety-hatch superstition finds herself in (if necessary, she would let her herself be impregnated and then use her son as a figurehead, in typical Bene Gesserit fashion).

Anyway, many of these quotes suggest that both the mother and son of the legend are "the One", and are in some sense the Lisan al-Gaib, or Lisan al-Gaibs. So one interpretation of the line in the epigraph is that "she was like the other Lisan al-Gaib" means that Jessica was like the other Lisan al-Gaib of the legend, in other words the Bene Gesserit "Voice from the Outer World" prophetess whose son would be the Messiah and "main" Lisan al-Gaib.

Phew!

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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby distrans » 22 Jul 2018 19:04

has it occurred to you that planting a story about a woman and sun would significant cut down on the usefulness as most often they wouldn't have a boy with them?

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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby SadisticCynic » 23 Jul 2018 05:11

distrans wrote:has it occurred to you that planting a story about a woman and sun would significant cut down on the usefulness as most often they wouldn't have a boy with them?


Cpt. Aramsham wrote:The legends are deliberately vague about whether she will bring a son with her or give birth to him on-planet, in order to fit whatever in extremis situation the Bene Gesserit sister forced to fall back on this safety-hatch superstition finds herself in (if necessary, she would let her herself be impregnated and then use her son as a figurehead, in typical Bene Gesserit fashion).


Yeah, I think it crossed his mind.
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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby georgiedenbro » 23 Jul 2018 11:01

Cpt. Aramsham wrote:Anyway, many of these quotes suggest that both the mother and son of the legend are "the One", and are in some sense the Lisan al-Gaib, or Lisan al-Gaibs. So one interpretation of the line in the epigraph is that "she was like the other Lisan al-Gaib" means that Jessica was like the other Lisan al-Gaib of the legend, in other words the Bene Gesserit "Voice from the Outer World" prophetess whose son would be the Messiah and "main" Lisan al-Gaib.


I think that the quote is referring to Jessica and Paul as the two Lisan al-Gaibs, which just means that they're both off-world potential saviors. But I don't think this could refer to any old off-world nobles, but rather had to be about Bene Gesserit. The MP would have been sure to make the local legends require a BG to satisfy the criteria so that no one else could make use of the MP's work and co-opt the Fremen legends. I still think the confusion in this passage comes from the fact that it sounds like Mahdi and Lisan al-Gaib must be the same person. Since there can only be one Mahdi it makes it weird to speak of multiple Lisan al-Gaibs, unless they're different people - potentially, at least, since Paul actually is both.

Think of it in terms of the MP's objectives. They would want an environment suited for either/or of the actual KH showing up, or of any BG in extremis showing up and needing to make use of the legends. In the case of the real KH showing up presumably they'd send his birth mother with him to satisfy the legends, as we assume once the BG had control of the KH it would be very easy to arrange affairs in whatever way they wished. But it would be disastrous for the contingency BG-extremis situation if only the Mahdi could be the Lisan al-Gaib, since even a BG and her son couldn't pass for the real KH. Maybe they could fake it a bit but it would be clear that a non-KH would lack the ability to do what Paul needed to do. So for the extremis contingency to work the Lisan would have to be open to being either a random BG or else the actual mother of the KH, whereas the Mahdi himself must be the KH.
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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 23 Jul 2018 13:34

I think that the quote is referring to Jessica and Paul as the two Lisan al-Gaibs, which just means that they're both off-world potential saviors.

Yes, in substance, the theory I propose is essentially identical to the argument people were making from the beginning: that the Arrakeen populace thought both Paul and Jessica could be Lisan al-Gaibs (which we might perhaps gloss as "promised prophet").

The nuance is about how exactly to interpret "it was obvious to them that she was like the other Lisan al-Gaib" – who does "the other Lisan al-Gaib" refer to? In previous versions of this interpretation people seemed to be saying it was Paul: "it was obvious to them that Jessica was like Paul." That doesn't seem like a satisfactory explanation to me. I'm saying it should (perhaps) be read as "it was obvious to them that Jessica was like that other prophet who was also promised in the Mahdi legends."

the Mahdi himself must be the KH.

I agree with basically your whole argument, but I take it to a different conclusion:

I don't think the legend as implanted assumed that the Mahdi/Lisan al-Gaib would be the Sisterhood's Kwisatz Haderach: planting superstitions (which, yes, are obviously designed to be difficult if not impossible for anyone but a Bene Gesserit to fulfill – the stuff about "questing eyes" "reserved candor", "knowing your ways as if born to them", etc. are things that taken together would be telltale signs of BG training) is a routine safety tactic of the Missionaria Protectiva. Mohiam mentions it off-hand, and Irulan confirms:

With the Lady Jessica and Arrakis, the Bene Gesserit system of sowing implant-legends through the Missionaria Protectiva came to its full fruition. The wisdom of seeding the known universe with a prophecy pattern for the protection of B.G. personnel has long been appreciated, but never have we seen a condition-ut-extremis with more ideal mating of person and preparation. The prophetic legends had taken on Arrakis even to the extent of adopted labels (including Reverend Mother, canto and respondu, and most of the Shari-a panoplia propheticus).

Not to mention the Appendix:

It may be argued here that the Bene Gesserit sent their Missionaria Protectiva onto Arrakis centuries earlier to implant something like this legend as safeguard should any members of the school be trapped there and require sanctuary, and that this legend of "the voice from the outer world" was properly to be ignored because it appeared to be the standard Bene Gesserit ruse.

And it's implied that the Messiah legend is just one they tend to use on the most awful planets (which makes sense: even the Baron hit on a similar scheme), not necessarily anything specifically to do with the Kwisatz Haderach.

So, as you suggest, I think we should take it as one of their plans-within-plans gambits: they design the legends so they can be exploited in a variety of scenarios, relying on the improvisational skills and abilities for manipulation of the Bene Gesserit sister (and a son trained by her) to fit them to the particular situation:

She knew the cant of the Missionaria Protectiva, knew how to adapt the techniques of legend and fear and hope to her emergency needs, but she sensed wild changes here. . .

Of course, the Sisterhood might very well incorporate foreshadowing of the Kwisatz Haderach in the superstitions they implant, just in case, and in order to prepare the way for the day they're waiting for. Indeed, Jessica implies as much:

Kwisatz Haderach, Jessica thought. Did our Missionaria Protectiva plant that legend here, too?

However, I'm inclined to attribute any assumption on Dune that the Mahdi/Lisan al-Gaib would be the Kwisatzh Haderach largely to the "wild changes" to the standard Missionaria Protectiva superstitions that Jessica notices – most likely influenced by the Fremen having their own Reverend Mothers and by spice-induced limited prescience among the Fremen.

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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby Freakzilla » 24 Jul 2018 06:47

I think the "other" was the BG who originally implanted the legend.
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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby georgiedenbro » 24 Jul 2018 13:52

Freakzilla wrote:I think the "other" was the BG who originally implanted the legend.


Based strictly on the quote out of context I think your reading makes the most sense. But the lack of any other reference of another Lisan al-Gaib, or even mention of there having been a particular RM who was on Arrakis long ago, makes that reading strange in context of the book. I had always had the gist from reading the book that the Missionaria may have gone as a team, as it would have taken many BG to make their way to enough of the people to spread the word sufficiently. Unless, I suppose, they sent one BG who was on Arrakis for so long that she had time to circulate all around. I never thought about the minutiae too much but I guess I assumed there were several of them working as a team. But if your reading is correct then there would have to have been exactly one, and she would have to have been very famous - like on the level of a prophet. I wonder whether having that kind of notoriety among local peoples would have been wise, since the BG's whole tactic over the long-term was to avoid anyone noticing that they were shaping things for themselves across the Empire.
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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 25 Jul 2018 00:45

Freakzilla wrote:I think the "other" was the BG who originally implanted the legend.

Well yes. That's the other reasonable interpretation, as already discussed.

georgiedenbro wrote:Based strictly on the quote out of context I think your reading makes the most sense. But the lack of any other reference of another Lisan al-Gaib, or even mention of there having been a particular RM who was on Arrakis long ago, makes that reading strange in context of the book. I had always had the gist from reading the book that the Missionaria may have gone as a team

Dude, you gotta read more closely:

Jessica thought about the prophecy -- the Shari-a and all the panoplia propheticus, a Bene Gesserit of the Missionaria Protectiva dropped here long centuries ago -- long dead, no doubt, but her purpose accomplished: the protective legends implanted in these people against the day of a Bene Gesserit's need.

Jessica thought: If only he knew the tricks we use! She must've been good, that Bene Gesserit of the Missionaria Protectiva. These Fremen are beautifully prepared to believe in us.

So Jessica at least assumes that there has been a single agent (not necessarily a RM) sent among the Fremen at some time. Note also that the panoplia propheticus is described as the Missionaria Protectiva's "infectious superstitions": the implication seems to be that it has been carefully designed to take root and spread on its own, so she wouldn't have had to preach it to the whole planetary population. (Cf. the small number of followers Jesus had in life to the scale of Christianity today.)

georgiedenbro wrote:she would have to have been very famous - like on the level of a prophet. I wonder whether having that kind of notoriety among local peoples would have been wise, since the BG's whole tactic over the long-term was to avoid anyone noticing that they were shaping things for themselves across the Empire.

I think this is a more compelling argument. And if the Fremen realized that the prophecies came from a Bene Gesserit, wouldn't they also seem less convincing because more self-serving?

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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby georgiedenbro » 25 Jul 2018 10:04

Cpt. Aramsham wrote:
Jessica thought: If only he knew the tricks we use! She must've been good, that Bene Gesserit of the Missionaria Protectiva. These Fremen are beautifully prepared to believe in us.



Ah, good catch. At least Jessica seems to think that it could have been just one agent.
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Re: The Other Lisan al-Gaib

Postby Nekhrun » 27 Jul 2018 15:32

georgiedenbro wrote:
Cpt. Aramsham wrote:
Jessica thought: If only he knew the tricks we use! She must've been good, that Bene Gesserit of the Missionaria Protectiva. These Fremen are beautifully prepared to believe in us.



Ah, good catch. At least Jessica seems to think that it could have been just one agent.

Any BG could have used that one had they made it as far as Jessica because I'm guessing it wouldn't take one long to have a son and insert herself into the prophecy.
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