The Wisdom of Frank Herbert


Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. (1920 – 1986) although famous as a American science fiction writer and primarily for the novel Dune and its five sequels, was also a newspaper journalist, photographer, book reviewer, short story writer, ecological consultant and lecturer. Dune, the first novel in the Dune saga, is the best-selling science fiction novel of all time. Many of these quotes are spoken by characters in the Dune universe, but they contain much wisdom nevertheless:

'I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.'

'Greatness is a transitory experience. It is never consistent. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind. The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man.'

'There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.'

'Confine yourself to observing and you always miss the point of your life. The object can be stated this way: Live the best life you can. Life is a game whose rules you learn if you leap into it and play it to the hilt. Otherwise, you are caught off balance, continually surprised by the shifting play. Non-players often whine and complain that luck always passes them by. They refuse to see that they can create some of their own luck.’

'Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.'

'A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it.’

'Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.'

'The gift of words is the gift of deception and illusion.’

'The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.'

'Nature does not make mistakes. Right and wrong are human categories.'

'Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, absolute power attracts the corruptible.'

'The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.’

'Education is no substitute for intelligence.'

'Do actions agree with words? There's your measure of reliability. Never confine yourself to the words.'

'What do you despise? By this are you truly known.'

'Whether a thought is spoken or not it is a real thing and it has power,' Tuek said. 'You might find the line between life and death among the Fremen to be too sharp and quick.'

'When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong - faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it's too late.'

'Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.’

'There is no escape—we pay for the violence of our ancestors.'

'Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class -- whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.'

'If wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets.'

'Hope clouds observation.'

'Belief can be manipulated. Only knowledge is dangerous.’

'Truth suffers from too much analysis.'

'The mind can go either direction under stress—toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.'

'It is so shocking to find out how many people do not believe that they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult.'

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