Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Something to think about...

I have been reading through Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert (the 2nd book in the Dune series) for the third time, and came across an interesting passage. I've read it before, but for some reason, it caught it my attention this time around:

"'You produce a deadly paradox,' Jessica had written. Government cannot be religious and self-assertive at the same time. Religious experience needs a spontaneity which laws inevitably suppress. And you cannot govern without laws. Your laws eventually must replace morality, replace conscience, replace even the religion by which you think to govern. Sacred ritual must spring from praises and holy yearnings which hammer out a significant morality. Government, on the other hand, is a cultural organism particularly attractive to doubts, questions and contentions. I see the day coming when ceremony must take the place of faith and symbolism replaces morality.'"

While these words were taken from a letter written by Jessica to her daughter regarding the way Alia and her brother were governing the empire from Dune, I think the ideas are more generally applicable. Rather than continuing with a discussion of my own views on the significance of this passage, I will give you a chance to think about it without my influence. Go with it where you will, and leave a comment if you have an interesting thought.

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