Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dune Club--Thoughts about The First Session

For the first time since college, I am participating in a group discussion of a book, and today was our first session.

The club is hosted on Twitch by ComicBookGirl19 and the book we're discussing is Dune by Frank Herbert.    

I'm loving it so far.  

I'm thrilled I finally get a chance to read this book.  I've wanted to read Dune for a long time but I'm easily side-tracked and my list of books to read is long and growing.  

And I dearly love ComicBookGirl19 (CBG19).  She's incredibly intelligent, well-read, and sure she's stunningly beautiful but honestly, I don't care about that.  You guys know me and you know all I care about is what's between the ears.  And a woman smarter than myself will always have my attention.  

Plus, she's soulful and she brings that to the table when discussing Dune, which is far more soulful and spiritual than I expected.  

Sadly, I have to work when the discussion is live, but once work was done I began following it.  I'm listening to it right now.  

She broke the book into five sessions and tonight we discussed pages 1-59.  

What stood out to me instantly was how over-developed the people of that world are and inferior I felt while reading about them.  

In the Dune world, machines (computers, AI) took over the world and subjugated humanity.  Humanity was left stupid without their machines to think for them and were enslaved until they revolted and re-established their dominance.  As a result, humans forbade machines be made that can think like a human.  Humans instead developed themselves mentally beyond anything we can comprehend today.  I felt stupid reading about these people.  

The MC of the book Paul Atraides, is hyper-aware of not only himself but of everybody around him to a point that is exhausting.  His mother, a witch, taught him to pay attention to minutiae that makes a human.  I find similarities in what his mother taught him and all kinds of various beliefs and religions.  Even Satanism teaches hyper-awareness of your demeanor and in observing another's.

There were a few obvious moments thus far.  Back in the 20th century, if you wanted your bad guy to be instantly hated, you gave him a Russian name.  So, the Barron's first name is Vladimir.   Obvious.

Something else I found interesting while reading the book was how bare the descriptions were.  After having seen the movie from the 80's several times, I was really looking forward to detailed descriptions of the planet Caladan.  Plus, I had hoped to learn more about the day to day lives of those in that hyper-advanced world.  But no, Herbert keeps the story moving forward, and doesn't give us much to work with.

There is some serious wisdom in this book.  The lines about "Fear being the mind-killer" is famous but also true.  How many times have we, as humans, be ruined by fear?  Or made bad choices because of fear?

I'm really excited about this book and I'm really happy about the book club.  I can't wait for next week and tonight I'll read pretty much all of the part for Session II.  And I'm so happy my friend Brittany gave me this book to read.  I would have never been able to afford to get it for my Kindle this week but she totally hooked me up.

This is exciting for me in a lot of ways and I have to wonder just how many of these books I'll end up reading.  But I'll worry about that later.  For now, I'm just happy to have another book to dive into and just enjoy.  It's been a while since I've found a book I can dive into like this.  Dune has really absorbed me unlike any book has for some time.     


Friday, July 7, 2017

The G-Forces of a Downward Spiral

It's 6:11am.

Our Hero can't sleep.  His sinuses keep swelling shut due to the allergies he has every summer.

An evil Mind Gremlin sneaks out the window, unseen by him, but the spell put upon him certainly worked.

Our Hero has been re-living the past.  Certain, select days from the past, in a three-day block from 27 years ago.  The way events unfolded in that memory, deep scars were dug, making them not easily forgotten.

The original events were difficult.  Families, abuse, alcoholism, and anger.  Lots of anger.

What the evil Mind Gremlin did was shine a bright light on that distant memory, highlighting it, calling it forth from the shadows, and forcing Our Hero to relive it over and over again.  But this time, he began to fantasize about what he could have done differently.  What he should have done differently.

It was the emotional equivalent to dumping a ton of gasoline-soaked straw on a dying fire.

Suddenly, Our Hero found himself in a battle inside his mind.  Rage.  He was consumed by rage as he thought about how he should have handled the situation.  He should have thrown the man down on the ground and kicked the shit out of him.  He should have beat him within an inch of his life.  He should have beat down upon him the sum of all his resentments while accusing the man's mother of being responsible for all that was wrong at that moment.

Our Hero found himself in a battle with a ghost.

But this battle is pointless and stupid.  He knows this.  Or rather, he's supposed to know this.  The spell put a fog on that knowledge.  So after a few minutes of rage flowing around in his brainpan, he came up for air.  He looked around his apartment and took a deep breath.

Then he focused on the moment in front of him.  The present.  The small actions of his fingers on the keyboard, the distant thunder of a storm that went around his village, the feel of the fan blowing in his hair.

So often, the solution to a problem is right in front of us.  The present.  What we're doing at that exact moment is far more powerful than any memory or dream or hope.

Our Hero doesn't own a time machine.  He can't fix the past, re-do certain events, or fix the many mistakes he made.  He can't foresee the future and he doesn't know the winning lottery numbers.  But he can focus on the moment he is in, at that exact time, and he can do something about it.

It's 6:30am.  Our Hero is still wide the fuck awake.  His sinuses are still clogged and he can't breathe through his nose in order to sleep.  But his head is quiet.  The ghost is gone and he's left with the empty moments of his life, alone in his apartment, his fingers on the keyboard.  It's the best he's got to work with right now and the best he can do.

He wonders, when his story gets re-told around the campfires, if this lesson will be included.  Small victories in isolation in the middle of the night rarely are and it's a shame.  They're usually the biggest victories of all.