HARKONNENDOG

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Is Dune an allegory for the Middle East?

This just occurred to me two days ago. Spice is oil. Fremen are Bedouin, or any less assimilated Arabs, I guess. The Harkonnen's are... Americans? Israelis? Ottomans, and Paul Atreides is Lawrence of Arabia? Dune is a rewrite of Lawrence of America? I guess the Sardaukar would be the Americans...

I loved this book. I mean this book went deep into my psyche, DEEP, to the point where it might have changed some root programming, you know? MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of people have been affected by this book. I wonder what the net affect was? And how could I have not seen that connection before?

After some googling I've found this is a popular idea. Here are a couple of sites if you want to explore this.

From here:

So if Dubya is Rabban (and the comparison is too scary to ignore), and the Harkonnens are the Bushes and the
Atreides are the Clintons, who is Feyd?

Feyd is handsome, charming, cunning, and trained since birth to warfare and politics.
For a while, I thought it was going to be Jeb. But now...

(Koresh, I hate to do this.)
He sounds a lot like Wesley Clark - currently being hailed as a savior, the only Democrat who can beat Bush.

This site demonstrates the etymology of many of the made-up words in Dune. Excellent resource. One especially interesting note: Kwisatz Haderach is a Jewish term...

"Shortening of the Way.' This is the label applied by the Bene Gesserit to the unknown for which they sought a genetic solution: a male Bene Gesserit whose organic mental powers would bridge space and time. Paul Atrides says that he is the Kwisatz Haderach, a super being. Several visitors to this site indicated that this term means "shortening of the way" in Hebrew, with possibly Kabbalistic roots...


Anyway, just something interesting to think about.

6 Comments:

  • At 2:11 PM, Blogger Steve said…

    I think Frank Herbert intended it that way. By the 60's when he wrote it, we had already toppled governments and installed dictators over the oil. Now IRAQ is Dune. The only thing that is different is that the Harkonens have a free press, so they have to use propaganda rather than violence to keep their people in line.

     
  • At 7:05 AM, Blogger Cynthia said…

    The similarity between Harkonnen and Harken Energy, George Bush's old oil company has long intrigued me. Even though Herbert could not have been referring to it (since Harken was not formed until the 70's), perhaps those who formed the company.. were aware of Dune and House Harkonnen?

     
  • At 12:05 PM, Blogger D said…

    we have to be careful of trying to take modern events and apllying them to what he was suggesting. Take a look at who is in the middle east in the 1960s, 50s, and 40s, prior to the books. comparisons to the Bush family, other modern actions or figures cannot be possible since the book was written later. Major players carving up the ME are Britain and France. America was a distant influence, mainly through Woodrow Wilson's 14 points.

    If I were to make an assement without looking closely at the period..I would guess that yes, Atredies are the British, but that the Harkonenn are the french, perhaps misintepreted, also possibly the russians, althought heir invovlement was not as strong in the area and the cold war had not heated up, they still claimed to ahve a communist regime at the time, perhaps the red haired feature and red coloring of Harkonnen is to indicate them, and certainly Stalin is brutal and imposing figure.

    Similar terminology is hard to ignore. Arrakis, Iraq, Muad di- Mahdi, the list goes on for arabic and islamic symbology and reference.

    While there is many similarties, there are things that defy being assigned to somethign existening at the time, and many things have so many interpretations it is hard to say they actually were meant as something specific. Individual characters I dont' beleive are modeled on specefic people, with perhaps the exception of Paul Atredies being a T.E. Lawernce like figure, but still not a recreation of the man or his life.

    The differnet houses and factions have a stronger arguement for being represeantive of nations or groups.

    However, I have not been able to find anything from the Herbert estate or from Frank himself that indicates he actually studied or intended to model the book after. Everything I find states he got his inspiration from ecologists working in Oregon, and researched how to turn deserts into green lands.

    The Middle East is seen as agreat desert area, but there is in fact many green areas. If Iraq is Arrakis, yes there is a lot of oil, but there are very lush green areas, the Tigris and Euphrates have very fertile beautiful areas where much agricultaral development occurs. The middle east and oil depedency were not in the public eye nearly the way they are now, and most people in the U.S. did not give the middle east much thought until the later 60s and 70s. U.S. involvment in the area is also not great and certainly more covert than overt until the mid 60s, 70s. Considering how long he worked and researched for the book, most of his ideas would have been from earlier than that.

    On the on the other hand, anyon who reads the novel cannot deny the amazing and seemingly blatant parrallels between Oil and Spice, Arrakeen culture and middle eastern culture, and the Atreides house and the British.
    Can these things really be coincidence when they so closely resemble one another?

    I think there are arguments on both sides, and that Frank has been quite good about keeping silent on inspiration relating to the middle east, so it is a question we may never have answer.

    What we can know is that the books, especially "Dune" itself, are amazing stories and incredibly intrictate political and scientific plots that have touched and often perhaps made fundamental changes in its fans.

    Hats off to you, Mr. Herbert!

     
  • At 3:44 AM, Blogger THEJakeArnold said…

    It is an allegory for the middle east. However, much like Lawerence of Arabia in space, it is a direct allegory to the British, American, Allied forces (Atreides) involving the Bedouin, Arabic and Persian peoples (Fremen) in combatting for control of the Middle East against the Nazi/Axis (Harkonnen) and indirectly the Empire's (vaguely Soviet and European interests) during the first half of the 20th century. Oil is the spice, of course. Although it can be compared to contemporary geopolitics, one must remember that the US did not become a legitimate socio, military, economic powerhouse until, at the very least, two decades after WWII.

     
  • At 3:46 AM, Blogger THEJakeArnold said…

    It is an allegory for the middle east. However, much like Lawerence of Arabia in space, it is a direct allegory to the British, American, Allied forces (Atreides) involving the Bedouin, Arabic and Persian peoples (Fremen) in combatting for control of the Middle East against the Nazi/Axis (Harkonnen) and indirectly the Empire's (vaguely Soviet and European interests) during the first half of the 20th century. Oil is the spice, of course. Although it can be compared to contemporary geopolitics, one must remember that the US did not become a legitimate socio, military, economic powerhouse until, at the very least, two decades after WWII.

     
  • At 6:42 AM, Blogger Autumn Jade said…

    I used to think that the Spacing Guild represented Britain and the Europeans with its navy capable of ferrying troops everywhere, and also dependent on oil (melange).

    Shaddam beeing their puppet king and the Harkonnen beeing one or the other moslem faction they used to keep order.

    Atreides the represent some other faction in the region at the time. Possibly the fairly American friendly Shahs.

    Not really sure what to make of the Fremen or the Bene Gesserit, though the latter seems to have some religios significance.

     

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