Friday, March 15, 2024

Why Andrew Is Still Writing About Why Andrew Is Still Not Writing About Politics

"Don't be mean with the beans, Mum. Beanz meanz Heinz."

1: Oh, adult human female who has procreated or adopted! Be more generous when distributing the edible seeds of climbing plants! Unrelatedly, "Edible seed of climbing plant" is synonymous with a German name meaning "Ruler of the House"!

2: Mother: Give us generous portions of cooked haricot beans in tomato sauce, because the words "cooked haricot beans in tomato sauce" mean the same as the words "Heinz canning company."

3: Although many varieties of canned baked bean are available, if you mention canned baked beans, people automatically assume you mean the variety manufactured by Heinz, because the quality is so high. So if you have children, you ought to give them large portions.

4: If you buy Heinz baked beans rather than any other kind, your children will be pleased.

5: The kinds of people who like Heinz baked beans are the kinds of people who would notice that the name of the product and the name of the manufacturer assonate. That's because they are a fun, informal product to be enjoyed on fun, informal occasions

6: Buy our product.

What does woke mean?

What, indeed, does anything mean? Even the most innocent expressions are fraught with ambiguity. We learned this last year when trying to translate some of the more gnomic Thoughts of Chairman Musk. 

For some time now, my working hypothesis has been that the word woke is synonymous with ethnic (and minority representation): it is used primarily by people who believe that ethnic representation is an unreservedly bad thing or (to translate that into plain English) racists. 

"Doctor Who is woke" (on this theory) translates as "Black characters appear in Doctor Who, and this is bad", or alternatively "Only white characters ought to appear in Doctor Who."

I decided to unscientifically test this hypothesis.

This afternoon, I looked up the twenty most recent pejorative usages of the W-word on the right wing hate site formerly known as Twitter. I ignored non-English messages, messages from people who include "Woke" in their user names but not in the tweet and messages which only contained links.

I don't think the results were especially surprising. Obviously one would need a larger sample to prove the hypothesis. But I think they are worth recording.

The Experiment

About fourteen of the posts related primarily or secondarily to race, religion or immigration. The tweets that I saw did not contain hateful tropes or slurs about black people or Jewish people: but they did complain obsessively (in both England and the UK) about "immigration" and (less frequently) "Islam".

Five or six of the posts used "woke" generically to refer to liberal or left wing viewpoints; 5% used the slogan "go woke, go broke". Racial, religious and political definitions were frequently conflated. Two or three used "woke" unintelligibly to refer to "bad thing" or "thing I dislike". Two or three used the word primarily to mean "Islamic" or "pro-Islamic". I saw only a couple of specific references to gender. 

I spotted no positive or neutral uses of the word -- no posts where black people or liberals exhorted each other to be more "woke". There were some ironic usages ("I suppose people will say that such-and-such is too woke...") and some critical usages ("Someone silly has implausibly claimed that such-and-such a thing is woke.") One hopeful sign is that "anti-woke" may be passing into the lingo as a synonym for "silly right wing person."

In the 80s and 90s, when the "PC gone mad" panic was at its height, "political correctness" was still occasionally used in a neutral or descriptive way. ("The Spastics Society is now called Scope because this is felt to be more politically correct"). No equivalent usage of the w-word shows up on my radar.

I didn't see much sign of a consistent conspiracy theory; but the posts seemed to take for granted the existence of a malevolent third party pulling the strings. The US Army is run by "brainwashed socialists"; and the UK immigration system is "overseen by the woke". 

There is a strong implication of weakness, hypocrisy and insincerity in accusations of wokeness. 

On the basis of this very small sample, it seems clear that "woke" does not refer to any one group or belief-system; nor does it precisely scapegoat any particular minority, although it is overwhelmingly hostile to what it calls "immigrants". But it pretty consistently speaks to an inchoate ambience:

1: Everything is terrible

2: Someone is to blame for everything being terrible.

3: The people who are to blame for everything being terrible are a malevolent third party who insincerely advance the interests of black people, immigrants, trans people and Muslims for unspecified nefarious purposes.

4: In so far as this group has any specific characteristics, it can be said to be weak and hypocritical.

Who is woke?

Show Your Working

Text of Tweet

Proposed Definition of Woke

Blogger Commentary

We granted citizenship to 202,000 people in 2023. The success rate for citizenship applications for the UK is 99%. One of the highest rates in the world. Our citizenship tests are weak and overseen by the woke. Then need to be fixed by @reformparty_uk

Woke: [1] Insufficiently Hostile to Immigrants

The Citizenship test has always been a formality in which people who have already been given the right to remain answer questions about where they would find Big Ben and which poems William Wordsworth wrote: you would expect the pass rate to be close to 100%. But the poster imagines it to be a system for preventing undesirable foreigners remaining in the UK, which is not being applied with sufficient rigour. 

Cuban says winning arguments with young adults on Instagram and TikTok is so much easier than X. Mark Cuban was handed his head by @TheRabbitHole84 and @elonmusk repeatedly when he said stupid woke S$#% while virtue signalling.

Woke: [1] Liberal views, insincere 
[2]Insufficiently right wing. 
[3] Insufficiently supportive of Elon Musk.

Obscure: so far as I can tell this refers to Mark Cuban, generally thought to be an objectivist/libertarian. "Virtue signalling" almost always refers to insincerely held liberal values, so I take it that he is being blamed for being insufficiently right wing. (One of my former Labour friends regards the Green Party as virtue signallers by definition.)

It’s the woke white folk who feel they have to stand up for the appressed [sic] and be the voice to make them feel like they are the true humanitarian.. Horse Stuff! [Poo Emoji]

Woke: [1] Insufficiently hostile to racial minorities 
[2] Disapproval of derogatory imagery, insincere. 

This Tweet refers to campaigns to remove stereotypical imagery of Native Americans from football logos. The specific issue may be nuanced, if as one contributor says, the logos were often originally created by or in consultation with native Americans. "It's only white people complaining, the black people don't really mind" is a common trope used to close down any criticism of racial content whatsoever. 

The only thing you're sorry about is that you have been exposed by the Angiolini Inquiry
Sarah and many others would be alive today if you people had done your jobs
Suella Braverman was right
The Met surrendered to woke and Sarah Everard died because of it

Woke: [1] Bad Thing 
[2] ??Insufficiently racist 

Very Obscure. The tweet refers to a report into the shocking murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer who haad a history of committing sexual offences. 

The Metropolitan police have often been accused of systemic racism and misogyny; it is alleged that in this case they ignored "red flags" about the officer because they didn't take sexism seriously enough. The implication that they didn't identify the murderer in their ranks because they were too liberal or left wing is rather hard to make sense of; but it is very hard to suppose that the Tweeter understands "surrendering to the woke" to mean "being sexist and misogynic."

When I first wrote about Political Correctness, I noticed that some of the main vectors of the conspiracy theory used the McPherson Report as their primary example of political-correctness-gone-mad. So the thought here may be:

  • MrPherson told the police to be less racist
  • Being less racist is woke
  • Twenty seven years after being told to be less racist (=more woke) a police officer commits a terrible murder
  • Therefore, the murder was caused by wokeness

Ahh you got your words mixed up: damn sure it should say woke cun.... !

Woke:  [1] Disapproval of bad taste jokes, insincere
[2] Insufficiently hostile to Palestinians
[3] Insufficiently hostile to Muslims
[3] Bad Thing 

The context here is that one Tweeter had made an offensively bad-taste joke about the protestor who set fire to himself outside the Israeli embassy, and implied that the people who attended his vigil had bad or insincere motives. There followed the kind of witty, Socratic debate for which Twitter is justly famous. Well, hardly anyone would come if they held a vigil for you / At least they would be sane rather than indoctrinated into a vile religion or woke cult / Better a woke cult than a bigoted cunt/Damn sure it should say woke cunt.

"It was a prostitute on the altar the first time around; today it’s a funeral for a male prostitute, laid out just feet from the Tabernacle and hailed as the “Mother of All Whores”. ~Michael J. Matt, "Woke Catholicism and the New Reign of Terror"

Woke: [1] Insufficiently hostile to transexual people
[2] Dogmatism 
[3] Bad thing 

A barking mad hyper-catholic who doesn't accept the papacy of Pope Francis maintains that because the funeral of a trans man took place in a Catholic cathedral, the Church is now in thrall to a new French Revolutionary Terror, a new Whore of Babylon, and a new Abomination of Desolation. Note, again, that the ostensible target is not trans people themselves, but a conspiratorial "woke catholicism" which supports them and forces other people to support them. 

Sign the petition to stop the censorship so you are not charged for “ having feelings” that don’t align with woke ideology! New federal bill attempts to censor your feelings! What the hell.

Woke: [1] Insufficiently hostile to minorities 
[2] Not a free speech absolutist

This refers to Canadian legislation that might give financial compensation to victims of hate speech. 

I think it is quite unlikely that the feelings themselves (as opposed to the public expression or publication of such feelings)  are to be criminalised, but I am neither a Canadian nor a lawyer. The feelings in question are presumably feelings of hatred towards Muslims, black people or gay people. Note that although the specific complaint is about the state limiting free speech,  "woke ideology" appears to refer to the belief that racist and homophobic ideas are bad in themselves.

…and it will be half full.
When it is , without fanfare, this will be dropped. Not because of any outcry but because it doesn’t make money.
Go woke, go broke.

Woke: [1] Insufficiently hostile to black people. 
[2] Belief in white privilege, insincere. 
[3] Belief in affirmative action, insincere. 

This is slightly nuanced. 

A new London play about slaves, imaginatively called Slave Play, has advertised "black only" evenings -- for the benefit of people of colour who would not feel comfortable watching a racially charged play alongside white people. I reserve judgement on whether or not this is a good idea, and whether it would even be legal in the UK. If your reaction is but-what-would-you-say-about-a-WHITE-only-performance then you haven't understood the question. 

The strong implication of the Tweet is that no-one will attend the production (people of colour don't really want this) and that the theatre's motivation is insincere (they don't really care about the racial issue and will drop it if it fails to make them money).

No more irresponsible than you stirring up the idea any criticism of Islam is phobic you woke grifting low life

Woke [1] Insufficiently hostile to Islam 
[2] Contemptible person, bad thing.

Unable to rebut a previous poster's allegation (that claims about the Mayor of London being operated by a shadowy cabal of Islamists is inflammatory) the Tweet resorts to the rhetorical technique known as  whataboutery

It may be true that some people unfairly claim that any criticism of the Muslim faith is Islamophobic (and, similarly, that any criticism of the modern Israeli state is anti-semitic). On the other hand "not all legitimate criticism of Islam is necessarily Islamophobic" very often means "all Islamophobic remarks are to be regarded as legitimate criticism of Islam." 

Perhaps this writer is making a legitimate distinction between nuanced religious and cultural criticism and racist abuse; and limits the term "woke grifting lowlife" to those who mistake the former for the latter. Or perhaps he isn't. 


The #USA is fn screwed!!
I'm afraid the military is to woke, undisciplined (CLEARLY), brainwashed socialists, n fn drag queens! Ha!

Woke: [1] Bad thing 
[2] Liberal 
[3] Insufficiently hostile to trans (or gender non-conforming) people. 


The reference point is a film of service-men engaging in what appears to be an activity part way between a raucous play-fight and a riot. Which I would have thought would be exactly the sort of thing that you would expect "single men in uniform" to engage in.

Is the speaker seriously arguing that "a belief in higher taxation and improved public services" (=socialism) and "a taste for gender-non-conforming clothes" (=drag) necessarily causes macho horse-play to get out of hand? And does he seriously think that most US soldiers, or their officers, hold left-wing political views and wear frocks? It is pretty clear that "socialist" and "drag queen" (like "woke') are here simply synonyms for "naughty".

Go woke go broke … fuck em

Woke: [1] Ethical consumption 
[2] Liberal

The Body Shop cosmetic chain is going into receivership. The writer hates the chain because they believe in ethical consumerism and the humane treatment of animals. He believes they only acquired those characteristics recently; and as a result have got into financial difficulties. The fact that the Body Shop failed after only forty seven years proves that running a business on liberal or ethical principles will invariably lead to commercial failure.

Okay, and I am surprisingly tired of this kind of criticism. Which is not to say there is a bunch of a**holes that will label anything that breathes as woke, but it's pretty obvious when "inclusion" is written as a selling point rather than a tridimensional character.

Woke: [1] Inclusivity 
[2] Insufficiently hostile to minorities. 

Another nuanced Tweet: the writer even admits that the term "woke" is overused. 

However she puts scare quotes around the word "inclusion", so she apparently thinks that at least some "inclusivity" is "woke". This really only makes sense if you think that non-white (or non straight, or female, or minority religion) characters are deviations from the norm and that the existence of black people has to be justified as a special case.

It would be interesting to hear which black characters she regards as "three dimensional" and which as "selling points". My guess would be "none" and "all" but I would be perfectly happy to be proven wrong.

Keep in mind this girl was extremely woke, and went to a woke university. Her professors are literally defending the killer and saying it’s racist to blame her death on illegal immigration. Low sympathy for people like Lwken. She’s just another Molly Tibbs.

Woke: [1] Insufficiently hostile to immigrants. 

"Molly Tibbs" refers to Mollie Tibbets, a twenty year old student who was murdered in 2018. "Lwken" refers to Laken Riley, a twenty-two year old student murdered earlier this month. In both cases the apparent murderer was a person of foreign origin, in the USA illegally. The argument has been made, in both cases, that their deaths were therefore caused by lax immigration policies. This Tweet engages in particularly despicable victim-blaming: the young woman (to some extent) deserved to be murdered by an immigrant, because she had been supportive of immigrants in the past; and because her college was supportive of immigrants. 
"This person was murdered by an immigrant; therefore, we ought not to allow immigration" and "This murderer was an immigrant, therefore, all immigrants are murderers" are both unambiguously racist statements. 

Really? That’s not what they say about guns. When it comes to guns it’s not “that person isn’t dead bc of a gun but because that person ran into a violent person” woke people are seriously dangerous.

Woke: [1] Insufficiently hostile to immigrants 
[2]Insufficiently supportive of gun ownership 

Another nasty tweet about the same tragic case. The twisted argument here is that it is hypocritical to blame a gun-murder on the availability of guns while not blaming a murder committed by an immigrant on the presence of immigrants. Note the othering of "woke people", incidentally. 

So between democrats, woke local governments and sheriffs, victims of the heinous crimes by these illegals - they simply don’t care?!

Seriously, when is someone going be held accountable?

Woke: [1]Insufficiently Hostile to Immigrants 
[2] Liberal

Yet another racist tweet about the Laken Riley case. As I understand it, US immigration authorities can ask (but not require) police forces to detain suspected illegal immigrants for up to 48 hours; and the current sheriff of the county where the murder happened had stated in his election campaign that he would not necessarily cooperate with such requests. This is a rather arcane point of American law. I would only note that "If we had locked all the illegal immigrants up, we would have locked up this illegal immigrant; therefore the policy of not locking up illegal immigrants is the direct cause of this murder; therefore we should lock up all illegal immigrants" is, at best, logically flawed, and at worst, an argument for internment and collective punishment. 

For our purposes, the interesting point is that the writer believes in an indistinct group "woke local governments" who are deliberately or callously allowing bad things to happen. 

If Mason Greenwood returns the media and woke brigade will destroy him. He’s better off abroad

Woke [1] ??Judgemental, self-righteous  
[2] ??Insufficiently tolerant of sexual violence. 

Very obscure. Mason Greenwood is a footballer who was accused, prosecuted, and acquitted of serious sexual offences. The implication is that "the woke brigade" will continue to believe that someone is guilty of a crime even though they have been found innocent in a court of law. 

This seems to be using "woke" to refer to an actual phenomenon: the possibility that someone will be treated as guilty in the court of public opinion despite having been found innocent in a court of law. It is unclear if this is a particularly recent phenomenon; although the internet and social media undoubtedly increase exponentially the speed with which rumours and false accusations can be spread. 

It is interesting that the "media" and the "woke" are here conflated, as if, say, the Daily Mail was well known for its bleeding heart liberalism. (Are the "woke" who tolerated the police officer with the criminal record the same as the "woke" who are going to hound the man who was falsely accused?) 

I wonder if, lying behind this tweet, is a buried assumption that liberals will not accept that someone has been exonerated because they take sexual offences too seriously?

Our military is weak.Anyone who would have entered the past 5 yrs hasn't because of the woke bullshit being pushed into it. They're all at home. Where they need to be. Because shits gonna hit the fan with the illegal immigrants and crazies this summer. Hope not. But seems like it

Woke [1] ?Liberal  
[2] Insufficiently hostile to immigrants 
[3] Bad thing.

Very confused indeed. 

a: No-one has joined the US army since 2019. (Untrue, although there has been a shortfall of recruits.)

b: This is because no-one between the ages 19 and 25 (the famously conservative Generation Z) will join up.

c: This is in turn because, since 2019, the army has acquired an unspecified quality called Woke Bullshit.

d: This isn't necessarily a bad thing, because it means that the quarter million people who did not sign up (assuming a target of 50,000 new recruits each year) are available and prepared to participate in a civil war against immigrants in the run-up to the November election. 

This seems 

a: Very unlikely to be true and 

b: Very scary indeed

Homeowners clash with ‘woke’ city that refuses to remove street squatters causing 'disgusting' hazard

Woke: [1] Insufficiently hostile to poor people 
[2] Liberal 

Fairly self-explanatory. Note use of "street squatter" for "homeless person."

London…what a cesspit of nutters. Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion, Free Palestine….left wing, woke, Islamic capital of the World.

Woke [1] Insufficiently hostile to Muslims. 
[2] Liberal 
[3] Bad things

The speaker disapproves of the tactics of environmental protestors. He regards Extinction Rebellion and Free Palestine as essentially the same thing, and conflates "left wing" and "muslim" into a single thing he calls "woke". 

Saturday, March 09, 2024

Dune Part Two

Dune 2 just works. 

It's immersive in the way that the book is immersive; but it's a piece of cinematography, not a crib-sheet for the book or a gallop through the major plot points. We engage with Stilgar and Irulan and the Emperor as characters in this movie; not as more or less successful translations of literary figures. Huge machines lumber across a desert landscape without making us wonder about models or see gee eye. We flash away from the main action to breathtaking vistas of alien otherness but there is never any sense that we are being shown spectacle for the sake of spectacle. I couldn't say if Timothée Chalamet embodies the Paul Atriedes of the book; because the Paul Atriedes of the book is either a held-at-arms-length construct; or else a printed-in-italics stream of consciousness. No-one in the movie thinks in italics. Kyle MacLachlan was absurd, and I have already forgotten Alec Newman. Chalamet is older than I recall the character in the novel being; but he has an androgynous youthfulness, so that even in the final scenes he feels like a child thrust into a role he is terrifyingly good at but at the same time far too small for. When the spice runs out, perhaps he could go into the confectionary business, though ideally not in Glasgow.

We are very definitely watching Dune Part Two; not Dune II or Dune - the Sequel. Like Les Trois Mousquetaires it's a long adaptation of a very long book split into two more or less manageable chunks. (Cinema Buddy said she could follow it perfectly well having so far avoided part one.)

Denis Villeneuve has taken five hours to adapt a 500 page novel; where Peter Jackson spent about nine on a book which runs to around 1300. Put another way, Jackson spent two and a half minutes on each of Tolkien's pages, where Villeneuve spent a minute and a half on each of Herbert's. But Jackson's ring trilogy always felt rushed, breathless, frenetic. Villeneuves Dune feels leisurely, even slow. Granted, more happens on any one of Tolkien's pages than on any three of Herbert's. Dune, is, in the end, a contemporary novel with a contemporary novel's pacing, where the Lord of the Rings is (the Professor always insisted) a "prose romance". But there is more to it than that. Villeneuve omits; Jackson condenses. Tolkien himself in his lifetime said that omission was the way to go. Jackson looks at a crowded house and feverishly tries to stuff everything into the van, along with some new things that he thinks might come in useful later on. Villeneuve steps back and tries to see which pieces of furniture to keep and which to discard: retaining only what is essential to allow the room to continue to look like itself. Jackson tried to translate the Lord of the Rings into the language of a Hollywood blockbuster, which was always going to be a poor fit for his source. Legolas became a swashbuckler and Aragorn became a romantic lead because movies require swashbuckling heroes and romantic leads. But that meant that Jackson had to create completely new material which isn't in the book to provide a pretext for swashbuckling and heroism, which meant in turn that he had to rush through the stuff which is in the book even faster.

Dune is no a Hollywood blockbuster. It is quite clear from the opening seconds that it is the kind of historical epic that they don't make any more. It has more in common with Spartacus or the Greatest Story Ever Told than with Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom. Since Dune was always a pseudo-historical novel, the translation to cinema far less painful. It may not be a coincidence that Dune Part Two hits the cinemas in the same month that the gore-soaked Shogun remake finds its way onto Disney Plus. The two books occupy not entirely dissimilar ballparks. James Clavell spent the 1970s on the same spinner racks as Frank Herbert.

People returning to Dune after a long absence -- and people coming to the film without prior knowledge of the book -- are likely to look at the deserts and the great big machines and think "Gee, this is awfully like Star Wars." And in one way, it is. It's hard not to look at desert dwelling nomads and not think of Tusken Raiders; it's hard not to wonder if Uncle Owen's moisture 'vaporator is preserving the precious water of the tribe; and it's hard not to suspect that the spice that Han was smuggling for Jabba the Hutt had something to do with the psychotropic melange that the galactic empire depends on. Tatooine isn't Arrakis -- it clearly owes a very great deal to the desert kingdom of Mongo -- but Dune was clearly one of the many streams which fed George Lucas's imagination. 

In the first film, Luke mentions in passing that he hunts local fauna from his T16 spaceship; and examples of the creature were spliced into the "special" edition of the movie. They look quite a lot like the kangaroo mice that Muad'dib takes his name from. Maybe there are only so many way you can CGI a desert dwelling rodent. If Luke Skywalker had needed a "battle name", Womp Rat would have done the job very well. In World War 2, the Seventh Armoured Division called themselves the Desert Rats. The Gerbils wouldn't have sounded nearly so macho.

But Villeneuve never plays up to any of this. Where Peter Jackson seemed to quote Star Wars excessively, one never feels that Villeneuve is particularly pointing outside the film or asking you to smile with recognition or even borrowing shots from older movies. There are big ships; there is an emperor; there is a princess; and (for good and adequate reasons) the heroes of both franchises use blades; but the visual vocabulary never bleeds from one movie to the other.

If there is such a bleed, or inadvertent retrospective quotation, then the film which interposes itself between Dune and the viewer is Life of Brian. It's more or less impossible to look at middle-eastern religious mobs in a desert landscape and not find yourself wondering whether, perhaps, Paul is after all not the mahad but merely a very naughty boy. When Stilgar literally and in so many words says that Paul must be the messiah because he denies that he is, a certain frisson of recognition goes through the audience. (It overshadows a very good plot point. In the previous movie, Paul's father said the same thing: the best leaders are the ones who don't desire it.) I never believed that Cleese and Palin ever had et al had a conscious political motivation, but their film has created a sort of psycho-historical ripple that makes religion, or at any rate cinematic religion, almost impossible to approach with a straight face. I don't recall Herbert himself describing the Fremen of the South as "fundamentalists", but desert dwellers in robes obsessively chanting Muad Dib! Muad Dib! have unfortunate contemporary real world resonances. One or two people online have already described it as irreducibly That Culture Appropriation Movie.

There are small plot changes: it may be that proper serious Dune Geeks are as annoyed by the movie as proper serious Tolkien Geeks were by Lord of the Rings. It seemed to me that on the whole, details were being polished, clarified, and spelled out; and that the less cinematic ideas were gently pushed into the background. We are told that Alia becomes sentient in utero, and that she communicates with Jessica and Paul telepathically; but Villeneuve very sensibly spares us a talking baby. The novel is framed with endless commentaries by Princess Irulan about the life and teaching of Muad'dib, but the princess herself barely registers as a character in the actual narrative. Chani is a similarly passive figure, the book ending with Jessica's assurance that although Paul is going to make a dynastic marriage to the Princess, posterity will regard Chani as a wife, not a concubine. The film (like the old sci-fi channel TV show) gives both women considerably more agency: indeed, the final shot of the movie is a disgruntled Chani turning her back on Muad'dib's jihad and riding back to the desert on one of the sandworms.

The film makes some sensible choices about which plot points to underline: what the story loses in ambiguity it gains in clarity. We are told directly and early on that the prophecies of the mahdi were planted on Arrakis by the Bene Gesserit; and that Paul himself does not believe in them. (David Lynch, weirdly, ended his movie with Paul supernaturally bringing rain to the desert world.) The film presents the Bene Gesserit as directly running the whole show from behind the scenes, where the books leave one thinking that they are merely one powerful faction among many. Herbert as a slight tendency to murmur about Reverend Mothers and the Water of Life and leave the reader to infer what the heck he is going on about. Villeneuve sensibly lets us overhear characters explaining details to one another. We are shown a Fremen drowning a baby spice worm and harvesting the Holy Poison from it, answering the question "Water of excuse-me-what-did-you-say?" without giving us the feel that we are being info dumped. In Part One, Paul says directly that he is going to make a play for the Emperor's job; at the end of film 2, we positively see the old emperor kneel and kiss his hand. The film ends with the Fremen going off to war against the Great Houses and Jessica saying "Begun these Clone Wars have" (or words to that effect). That's pretty much what happens in the book; but there it's presented just that little bit more elliptically.

Are books factual accounts of What Happened, or verbal constructs built in particular ways by particular authors for particular effects? (This question recently became slightly controversial in Another Place.) Frank Herbert completed six volumes of the Mighty Dune Trilogy and due to the sterling work of his literary executors, the Trilogy now runs to a concise twenty two volumes, which possibly makes it a icosikaidology.

Opinion is sharply divided about the merits of the various humous and posthumous volumes. I am one of a minority who thought Children of Dune was a bit all over the place, but really liked God Emperor. It seems to me that if Frank decided to end Dune on the eve of the Big War and begin the sequel when the Big War had long since finished, that was probably because he thought that leaving the big war off stage was the right way to tell the story he wanted to tell. Son Kevin evidently knows better, and has Andersonned no less than three books to plug the "gap" in the original saga. I have not read them. People who have done so say they are by no means the most hateful of the sequels and prequels. I assume that if no-one was reading them, no-one would be publishing them.

Villeneuve is pretty clear that there is going to be a third film, but probably none after that. This makes a good deal of sense. Frank Herbert's own sequel, Dune Messiah, could be read as an extension of the original novel, where Children of Dune and the latter volumes introduce a lot of new, and increasingly whacky, ideas. If Villeneuve was reluctant to show us a talking baby, he would certainly baulk at Paul's son covering himself with leeches and turning into a Sandworm/Human chimera. And the (spoiler alert) death of Paul is as good a place as any to end the trilogy.  (Spoiler alert: he gets better.)

But Kevin Herbert's name appears on the credits as an executive producer, and Kevin J Anderson crops up in the "special thanks" section.

Please Reverend Mother, tell me that Dune Part 3 will be an adaptation of Dune Messiah as opposed to Paul of Dune, Winds of Dune, Princess of Dune or Tasteful Yellow Lampshades of Dune. 

Friday, March 01, 2024

Book Are One of A Number of Quite Good Things That There Are In the World

Book-Enjoyers Bingo

Have you done any of these slightly amusing things in the context of a book? 

If you can answer “maybe” to at least several or more of them, then you may be a book-liker! 

But on the other hand you may not be. 

Or maybe you can tick off some different things which aren’t on this list. 

Really, it’s fine.