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Chapter 14

Posted: 12 Feb 2008 21:32
by Freakzilla
Oh, worm of many teeth,
Canst thou deny what has no cure?
The flesh and breath which lure thee
To the ground of all beginnings
Feed on monsters twisting in a door of fire!
Thou hast no robe in all thy attire
To cover intoxications of divinity
Or hide the burnings of desire!

-Wormsong from the Dunebook

After short sword and crysknife shield practice with the ghola, Paul is worried about Chani who had become ill earlier that day in her sixth week of pregnancy. Neither has he heard from Wallach and assumes the BG are deliberately delaying. He's trying not to think about the future and just go with the flow. He's already prolonged her life by things he's concealed from her. If he chose her over an heir it would be slave pits, torture and worse for them. Just then Chani enters, looking like she wants to kill someone. Someone has been secretly administering contraceptives to her and this will cause complications with the birth. Her life burns faster now and she'll have to eat more spice now to counter it. She knows Irulan did it and want to kill her but Paul forbids it. Paul thinks to himself that Irulan has actually extended her life, he knows she will die in childbirth. Chani doesn't like it that Paul's practicing with the ghola. Paul asks him how he will die, Hayt says, "of power and money". That pisses Chani off. They discuss the idea of restoring Duncan's memories. While discussing it, the original Duncan surfaces for a moment, Paul and Chani recognize it. Chani asks if Duncan would have let Irulan go on living and Paul says he would if he ordered it. Chani says she's hungry and the pregnancy goes too fast. Paul thinks to himself that the fetus knows the need for speed.

Re: Chapter 14

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 11:50
by Freakzilla
Revised, clean.

Re: Chapter 14

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 11:53
by Freakzilla
How did Irulan prolong Chani's life?

Re: Chapter 14

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 12:26
by SadisticCynic
Freakzilla wrote:How did Irulan prolong Chani's life?

I haven't looked at the chapter, just your notes, but I think that by slippin' Chani some contraceptives Irulan delayed her getting pregnant, and according to Paul's visions she was destined to die in childbirth. Thus, by preventing the pregnancy Irulan effectively extended her time alive.

Re: Chapter 14

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 13:10
by Freakzilla
OK, that makes sense.

I was kind of confused because it also says that if he'd chosen Chani over an heir the result would be slave pits and torture... I'm pretty sure she'd have to be alive to be a tortured slave. :?

I guess I'd rather die, too.

Re: Chapter 14

Posted: 02 Sep 2014 15:55
by georgiedenbro
Dune Messiah wrote:He'd face events when Chani came, Paul told himself. Time enough then to
accept the fact that what he'd concealed from her had prolonged her life. Was it
evil, he wondered, to prefer Chani to an heir? By what right did he make her
choice for her? Foolish thoughts! Who could hesitate, given the alternatives --
slave pits, torture, agonizing sorrow . . . and worse.

Who would hesitate, Paul, thinks, to make Chani's choice for her, given the alternatives. The choice, we presume, was in deciding when to become pregnant, and specifically, deciding to delay it until now. Preferring Chani to an heir seems to mean preferring her to an heir for the time being, but in the long run the heir was always coming sooner or later. Deconstructing this passage, it seems that Paul is saying that had Chani become pregnant earlier than she did, i.e. if Chani had been the one to make her own decision instead of Paul, then someone would have ended up in a slave pit. Is this someone Chani? The child? I doubt it could be Paul, since who could be the ones administering the slave pits and torture other than the Qizarate?

I think the answer to Freak's question about 'wouldn't Chani have to be alive to be tortured?' can be addressed based on the alternate future that would have presented. Paul knew Chani would die in childbirth - and so he delayed her pregnancy. He also saw her death at the time of the birth. This was all based on Paul, as the observer of the future, being the one making the decision and being someone who'd make the decisions he did make. But had Paul done things differently (i.e. been a different person) and arranged for her pregnancy earlier perhaps Chani wouldn't have died in childbirth after all, but instead lived and been put in a slave pit. Why she would ever end up in such a place is beyond me, unless Paul was de-throned. The reason, I think, that Paul continued to see her death during childbirth is because his idea of who he was as a person locked him into certain visions of what could be. Here's a passage from a bit later:

Dune Messiah wrote:"What I've seen . . . what I've seen . . ." he muttered. Every aspect of
surrounding events fitted a present which paralyzed him. He felt chained to a
future which, exposed too often, had locked onto him like a greedy succubus.
Tight dryness clogged his throat. Had he followed the witchcall of his own
oracle, he wondered, until it'd spilled him into a merciless present?

Paul seems to have locked himself into prescient traps of all sorts, and the future course that he saw and then couldn't avoid seeing felt to him almost like an outside force chaining him. I think that he had fashioned his own chains all along, as Scytale predicted; he would rather do anything than become the opposite of what he was, even if that meant being locked into a pattern of action. Hayt says something mystifying along these lines:

Dune Messiah wrote:"Hayt," Paul said, "are you the tool of my undoing?"
"If the substance of here and now is changed, the future is changed," the
ghola said.

Here I think Hayt is saying two things at once. One, that if they should find a way to restore him to being Duncan he could no longer threaten Paul. But the other side of the coin is that if Paul, himself, should change his nature, then things in the future would unfold in completely different ways as well.

Can we assume, then, that the vision of Chani/the child in a slave pit was a future where Paul had opted to sacrifice his self-image in order to break free of the prescient trap? If so, by delaying Chani's pregnancy he didn't only do it to prolong her life (either by dying in childbirth earlier or dying in a slave pit), but to also preserve his sense of self, his nobler instincts.

This chapter makes me wonder whether a large part of creating prescient traps lies in creating rules for oneself about who one is and how one must act. Maybe it's these restrictions which lead to forcing certain future paths inexorably.

Re: Chapter 14

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 07:09
by Freakzilla
The way I've always pictured the prescient trap is: each time the prescient chooses from among the possible futures, the less possible futures are presented to him the next time, or in Paul's case, fewer acceptable futures. At this point, Paul had narrowed down his possible acceptable futures to this one timeline and all others were too horrible for him to consider.

Re: Chapter 14

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 09:34
by georgiedenbro
Freakzilla wrote:The way I've always pictured the prescient trap is: each time the prescient chooses from among the possible futures, the less possible futures are presented to him the next time, or in Paul's case, fewer acceptable futures. At this point, Paul had narrowed down his possible acceptable futures to this one timeline and all others were too horrible for him to consider.

I agree, but I'm starting to think of it this way: An oracle can see future events, including himself. He can predict what others will do, and can also predict what he'll do. In considering the permutations of what can happen, he'll see in advance what his best course would be and proceeds further into the future, and so forth. The reason such an oracle could predict his own choices is because he has a self-image that operates on certain pre-set rules that he can rely on in his prediction; he is predictable, at least to himself. For instance, in Paul's case, Paul knows several things about himself: 1) He would choose to extend Chani's life over other considerations. 2) He is noble-born and won't act ignobly. 3) He wants to minimize death and suffering. 4) He has a penchant for efficient and yet subtle solutions to problems, that cut straight to the point. The list could go on, naming other personality traits and tendencies. When Paul looks forward he takes all of this into account and based on all of it can come up with (dare I say, compute?) the best course for himself. Assuming his sense of self remains consistent, he'll agree with his previous assessments of what his best course is when he re-examines the same future, and seeing that same computation made again and confirmed would probably make that future seem all the more real and inevitable.

I think Hayt is saying that it's these facts about the present, though, which are really determining how set the future is. He already had discussed with Paul the issue of being trapped into a path, and I think he reminds Paul from time to time that the path is only locked so long as Paul remains locked into his conception of the present; who he is, what he is, how he must act.

Dune Messiah wrote:Had he followed the witchcall of his own
oracle, he wondered, until it'd spilled him into a merciless present?

This passage seems to reinforce the idea that Paul's foresight of his own choices is so clear-cut that when he comes back to the present he can only shrug his shoulders and make all the same choices that he foresaw himself making. He already 'lived' those moments and decided what to do, there's no need to decide again when they actually happen. But this mentality discounts the possibility of Paul changing, of his decision-making changing, of his opinion on which actions are permissible changing. After all, how could Paul predict what he'd do were he a different person that he hasn't yet met? I think the decadence and stagnation of the Empire, making each faction predictable and locked into step, is being shown to happen to individuals as well. Any person who believes they can know their thoughts in the future presumes that they will not change between now and then, and this presumed sameness dooms the thinker into refusing to change.

My current thinking is that while Paul feels that it is the future locking down the present, I'd suggest that it is Paul's view of the present which locks down his future.

Re: Chapter 14

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 13:41
by Freakzilla
georgiedenbro wrote:(dare I say, compute?)

Why not? He did have some mentat training.

I'm not sure there really is a present that is identifiable to Paul anymore, but what you say makes sense.