Thursday, July 30, 2009


Psychoanalyzation is an extremely hard process. It requires intimate grasp of the workings of the human mind in all of it’s states, and knowledge of the people or things being studied. It stands to reason, therefore, that psychoanalyzation is a valid form of literary criticism; on that is convoluted, and often misunderstood, but a valid style nonetheless. Take, for instance, a science fiction or fantasy novel like “Dune”, which is ripe for interpretation.

Frank Herbert’s “Dune” is a book set in the distant future. It is about a young noble whose father, after the entire family gains a duchy to a desert planet responsible for producing a life-extending spice, is assassinated by his cousin, the boy’s uncle. After escaping the assassins, the boy and his mother retreat into the deep desert, only to find that the people who live in the desert have been waiting for them, deeming the boy a messiah who will transform their planet, Arrakis, into a plentiful paradise, where water is bountiful and the spice is produced only in the deep desert. The boy, Paul, realizes his power, and begins the process of changing the planet around to the state intended by the desert people.

Herbert intended to use the story as an allegory for Iraq and the oil it produced and hoarded, but if one actually takes a deeper look in the novel, the author employs the idea that the Kwitzas Haderach, the messiah, has the ability to look down a path that “…women cannot see”, including being able to actualize dreams to become prophecies. This is only an entranceway to the ability for mankind to explore their psyche. Even Paul’s hard trip down the road of the mind of mankind is mirrored by his descent from his lush home planet to the desert planet, Arrakis, where the true potential is realized only by entering the most dangerous parts of the planet.

In his essay titled ‘The Dream-Work”, Sigmund Freud attempts to explain that dream interpretation is key to understanding a person; that through the three ways of understanding dreams, one could see a person for what he truly is, or at least how his mind works. Not only that, but he also proposes that while most of these “latent…(and) manifest”, or the underlying desires and their manifestations in the mind, occur in dreams, they also “…play a part in the production of some slips of the tongue”, crossing the border of sub-consciousness and consciousness. When Paul tries to force his visions onto the world of Arrakis through both political and physical channels, he needs to do so through subterfuge, crossing under the fences.

Another interesting tidbit that could be interpreted is the utilization of the Voice, commanding or suggesting in a frequency or tone only available to those trained from a young age to use it, such as the book’s Bene Gesserit witches, a school of thought of which Paul’s mother is a part. Freud, in his essay, insists that the nuances of language is imperative in the dreamwork, that languages must be torn apart and understood in order to understand dreams, and thus the mind. Paul’s use of the voice, a commanding language of which the target has no choice but to listen, seems to translate Paul’s transcendence of the dream-realm, that he can not only conquer the planet, but mankind’s consciousness, and gain full control of both his humanity and mankind around the planet.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting idea--not enough Freud in here to really pull off something more complex, so we end up with a first paragraph generally about the issue, two paragraphs of summary, and one making the explicit connection between the work and the theory, which doubtless isn't enough to be very convincing.