Monday, November 11, 2013

Good Reads: Eat the Worm

The book: Dune by Frank Herbert

For all its accolades, Dune, in my opinion, epitomizes the difference between writing and storytelling. Frank Herbert thought up an amazing story, fascinating characters and a brilliantly detailed world. Unfortunately, the he was really deficient when it comes to the mechanics of writing. The point of view leaps from person to person every other paragraph and, given the immensely detailed universe and thick political intrigue, characters are left to narrate large blocks of the plot in droning masses of dialogue. That said, who wouldn’t want to ride a fucking sand worm? Solve math problems with a mentat? Or watch a spiced-up Guilt steersman pilot an interstellar freighter? Fear (of terrible writing) is the mindkiller.

A representative passage:
Aloud, he said: “You speak of a place where you cannot enter? This place which the Reverend Mother cannot face, show it to me.”
She shook her head, terrified by the very thought.
“Show it to me!” he commanded.
But she could not escape him. Bludgeoned by the terrible force of him, she closed her eyes and focused inward—the direction-that-is-dark.
Darkness and a wind out of nowhere.

Through it all threaded the realization that her son was the Kwisatz Haderach, the one who could be many places at once. He was the fact out of the Bene Gesserit dream. And the face gave her no peace.

The album: Mourning the Unknown by Sayyadina

Sayyadina take their name from the caste of Fremen priestesses in Dune, so naturally their music is intrinsically linked to the novel in my mind. It doesn’t hurt that the Swedes aren’t afraid to bust out of grindcore’s narrow gore vs. politics lyrical confines and spread their philosophical wings a bit more, opining on life and our place in it. While Mourning the Unknown couches many of its metaphors in the chill of winter and the creak of ice, it’s not too hard a notion to transplant their lyrical isolation to the clean-swept sands of Arrakis.

A representative song: “Stolen Identity.”

Like a lot of messianic literature, Dune struggles with the nature of fate, identity and the weight of people’s expectations and desire to bend power to their own ends. Sayyadina ably wrestle with the same themes on “Stolen Identity,” the excellent lead off track from Mourning the Unknown.

Stolen identity
You took it all from me
Obsessed with violence
Obsessed with hate
Never thinking
Before it’s too late
Now all that I can see
Is revenge, finally
Hatred and violence
Controlling a fat
Never thinking
Before it’s too late
Stolen identity
You took it all from me

No comments: