Reflections after finishing up Leto II’s journals

As I mentioned in my last post of the diary variety, my Dune book club has arrived at the completion of God Emperor. I quite liked it. I liked that it had an entirely different storytelling style than the previous three, while upholding on of FH’s major themes – question your damn leaders because everyone is human. And boy, could that lesson be more timely in 2020? We don’t have any Worms (or reptilian people…?) governing us in reality, whereas on Arrakis, the citizens had their leader who’d lost most of his humanity whilst ruling them over the course of 3500 years.

I remember finishing Messiah and feeling a great sadness for many days. Just thinking about the night I finished the book, a heavy knot tightens in my gut. I was disappointed in Paul Atreides, he who should have been a Savior of sorts, but avoided his “terrible purpose.” He chose to flesh out his own humanity rather than sacrifice it for the sake & survival of ALL of humanity, as Leto II eventually does via sandtrout suit. I felt sad for Paul Atreides, a fallen Emperor who had good intentions but was lost in his own power because he was only a man. I felt pity for Paul Atreides, who was ultimately blinded physically and figuratively, stagnated in his mortality without prescience. He was just a man, a man who loved his wife and his ghola!Duncan. So distracted by his failure to prevent the Jihad was he, that he did not foresee the birth of his son, who would inherit the choice to walk the Golden Path.

The image of Muad’Dib, of Usul, of Emperor Paul Atreides walking alone, a weakened and blind Fremen, into the desert, still makes me so, so very sad. It was so powerful after having read about his ascension to power, to then see the other side of the trajectory – the part where it plummets back to 0.

My feelings at the end of God Emperor are not quite as melancholy, and I don’t think I’ll feel the same degree of sadness in the months to come as I still feel when I think about the end of Messiah. Leto II chose loneliness and that in itself does indeed elicit a sense of sadness; he did make a great sacrifice to go down in the annals of history as a tyrant spanning the eons. Future historians reportedly have to uncover his true intentions by going through his centuries of journals. Perhaps it was the magnificent disgustingness of Leto II, the pre-worm body in all its phallic inhumanity that averts my sympathy. But his father, who was a man, a mistake-making man riddled with error and sin, can still make me give water to the dead.

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