Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dune: Misunderstandings, and Rebutting the Father

So, Rick Stump has come out and commented on my response to his son Alex's review of Dune on the Castalia House blog. I'll get to that in a moment, but first I NEED to clear something up, for the benefit of anyone new here:

The last line of my post, "When you play Social Justice, the world loses." was not directed at Alex or his opinions. It's a TAGLINE, you know, branding. It's at the end of my posts with the only exceptions being a music blog here and there. It feels out of place there, but also feels weird leaving it off. Go ahead, check my book reviews, check my comics posts. Pick a post. It's there. It's at the end of this post, because it's branding. My book reviews also open with "Cower not, fierce reader!", since I came up with the phrase.

I don't blame anyone for not being familiar with my phrases. I'm a minor blogger, though my audience is growing, and Ive gained both the friendship and respect of a few authors. I'm also not part of the OSR community, though I have read a couple of posts of Rick's prior to this.

Now, also:

I didn't know Alex was a minor. Doesn't make me change my post. It does make me want to congratulate him for writing something that demanded response. I am up for friendly arguments, my post was not made in enmity, though I get the impression that Rick's was. I am willing to argue with an understanding of friendship, though, and will try to do so here.

He called my post objectively bad, and his first bit of evidence is that I stated Alex's review displayed antipathy. Allow me to quote his son: "SCREW THIS BOOK!!!" .  Am I objectively wrong in declaring that to be a statement of antipathy? His son's review concentrates far more on what he perceives to be bad than any of what he considers good.

In fact, I'm guessing that Alex talked to his father far more than he wrote about what he liked of the book, if indeed he is neutral to it. I'm not projecting, I'm looking at the fact that over 2/3rds of the review is spent bashing the book, even gleefully. Rick, your son nowhere stated in his review that Dune "sucked him in". In fact he stated, "The first three chapters were good, uhh…yeah that’s all I like about DUNE, everything else sucks.". Reads like antipathy to me.

As to my possibly incorrect recollection on the effects of melange, I can only blame the years. That said, Navigators don't see the future, they see across space, and gain the ability to fold space, and calculate the folding safely.

If your son did not intend his comments on the "man vs machine" trope or the Bene Geserrit to be negative, then why are they clearly in the section of his review titled the bad and the cheesy? Like with your son, I come to believe we are reading different texts entirely.

He then goes into personal attacks on me for warning his son off Somewhither if Dune was painfully long, attacking my manhood, instead of merely saying my argument was invalid. Then goes on to say that Chick Tracts are "painfully long". No sir, they are painfully bad theology.

Rick then complains that I missed a point about Suk conditioning and the loyalty it confers to employers. Does Mr. Stump deny that being a father is a job? I submit that being a husband is a more important position for Dr. Yueh.

Rick then goes after the fact that I substituted the word Arabs for his son's use of Palestinians, based on the political realities of the 60's. Then, of course, he goes on to completely ignore my positing that the Fremen are instead the Jews, specifically the zealots of the time of Christ, hiding from the occupying empire and searching for the Messiah. If you're going to call my essay bad, address my counterpoints as well, please. Or are you afraid I might be right?

As to the not understanding stoicism, the stoics would demand a limited mourning, as does the Fremen life. It possesses a harsh code, and tears would waste water. Though I freely admit it has been many years since my reading.

Mr. Stump even goes so far as to insult me with the label trufan. Sir, those things inhabit File770, a place I deign to dip into only to get material to tear apart. If I had meant enmity with your son, whom I had no way of knowing was a minor, I would have truly torn into him. Check on my response to the Publisher's Weekly review of Beyond the Mist. THAT is objectively bad. And why are YOU the one responding? Your son entered the arena at Castalia House, and he should be responding in kind, not you.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.


  1. I did guess that was a tag line or something, as I wrote.

  2. Would you like a student of philosophy and hermeneutics to critique your original post or this response? I am of the analytic tradition, but have the historical and theological background to be able to respond and be aware of what Herbert was espousing in its original context. Up to you.

    1. I'm good either way. I think this is largely played out. Herbert choose to call a lot of things prescience, and I prefer more specification. The plot point in question was the water empire based on melange(yes, I know, weird mixing of terms).

      I'm also not that big into literary crit./theory. It has uses, but I prefer to take stories as they present themselves. However, if you do write up something, let me know. I'll link to it gladly, or I might let you have a guest post, which I may immediately respond to.

    2. I suspect you misunderstand, I am not a literary critic, but I do do some reasonable facsimiles of Analytic Philosophy. The purpose of AP is to take an argumentative work such as a criticism, review etc and analyze it mathematically, typicaly using formal logic. The question then comes as to if there are any fallacies, does the argument maintain, do the individual arguments obtain, etc.

      There is little need for the form of literary critisism with regards to Dune, the authorship is well established and we have easy access to all of the textual varients and the authors own comments regarding meaning and symbolism. Instead, I was offering to analyze your argumentation and the resultant responses and to break them down mathematically to see if the arguments as presented were consistant, true and valid while discarding anything purely rhetorical. It is no mean undertaking, but the offer still stands.

    3. Ah, now I understand a bit better. Given the amount of work, as well as the fact that the discussion itself is the important, I think I'd rather pass at this time. But, I thank you for your willingness to offer.