I examine the origins of the Golden Path and its relations to the restoration of indigenous knowledge, by way of ancient Egyptian mythology and MENA irrigation practices, and the related dangers of spirituality (by way of Abomination) with respect to the Islamic concept of the alam al-mythal (and maybe it has something to do with “drunk sufism”). I also consider the question of the Fremen as “sophisticated primitives,” making some comparisons to the anthropologist Talal Asad. …

I dissect the relationship between law and modernity in the context of Fremen customs and ecology. I make a wild discovery (hitherto unacknowledged, as far as I’ve found — kull-wahad!) about Herbert’s esoteric Biblical references to the “Beast from the Earth” in The Book of Revelation, and speculate on the beast’s relationship to Pascoal Naib’s (Duna Arrakis Brasil) incredible findings (also hitherto unacknowledged — kull-wahad!) on the likely origins of Herbert’s “Jacurutu” in an account from the Mura people of indigenous Brazil. I contemplate Herbert’s conservative politics, legal realism, and anti-liberalism in the appearance of the Baron as Abomination. I…

Reading Children of Dune, Entry 1: Qur’anic Passages; Race & Fremen Customs; Tradition & Change (pp. 1–29)

Over the coming weeks, I will post reading journal entries as I revisit Children of Dune (CoD). I remember next to nothing of the plot and themes (beyond the overall trajectory, core characters, and general vibe), so this is a delight.

These entries will be relatively scattershot. Some will cover longer portions of the book than others, and I’ll mainly raise questions/thoughts that interest me, rather than summarize plot. …

Over the coming months, I will post a series of essays as I reflect on the broader themes of Frank Herbert’s Dune novels and re/read them (starting with Children of Dune). This page consists of a table of contents for the series. As I post new essays, I will return to fill in links as needed. I encourage comments engaging in dialogue, critique, or debate on any of the posts; my hope is to provide a space for fruitful discussion.

Prior Essay on Dune & “White Saviors”: Dune’s Not a White Savior Narrative. But It’s Complicated.

Introduction to the Essay…

Last year, I tweeted about Frank Herbert’s Dune and its apparent white savior problem. Unexpectedly, the Twitter thread went viral, and, following the numerous responses, I collated and developed the thread into a long-form essay (here on Medium). The tweet was intended as a discursive intervention: I’d felt that many were reading Dune as a simple white savior narrative, when that did not align with how I had read the book, particularly through my experiences as a Muslim person of color (Dominican and Pakistani) with a passion for the history and theory of post/colonialism, law, and technology. Previously, when I…

Do you think Dune is a white savior narrative*? Well, you’re wrong.

To accept that interpretation is to re-inscribe an account of the novel promulgated by adolescent white boys since the first of Frank Herbert’s Dune books came out in the 1960s.

Spoilers ahead.

* [For an explanation of how I define a white savior narrative, see “Coda III: Defining the Savior Narrative & the Problem of Fremen Agency.”]

The Authorial Intent to Critique the Savior

In a 1969 interview, Herbert directly situated Dune as a critique of T.E. Lawrence and other instances of “western exploitation” of “the avatar power”:

Something in particular has, more than anything else, kept me up at night after the Trumpocalypse: Only days after the election, PEN America promoted Ayaan Hirsi Ali across its social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr). Ali has called for a “war on Islam,” which she dubbed “the new fascism” and a “destructive, nihilistic death cult,” justifying these generalizations by reference to her unfortunate personal suffering and experiences. To claim “Islam” is a universal, monolithic category, as Ali assumes, is the definition of stereotyping — the equivalent of characterizing black people by reference to “gang culture” and “the inner city” or…

Haris Durrani

Author, Technologies of the Self. | PhD student @Princeton. JD, BS @Columbia. Law, history, technology. Outer space. Postcolonialism. Modernity. Dune.

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