Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pebbles in the Stream

Miyamoto Musashi, Kobokumeigekizu
Above all else, the mentat must be a generalist, not a specialist. It is wise to have decisions of great moment monitored by generalists. Experts and specialists lead you quickly into chaos. They are a source of useless nit-picking, the ferocious quibble over a comma. The mentat-generalist, on the other hand, should bring to decision-making a healthy common sense. He must not cut himself off from the broad sweep of what is happening in his universe. He must remain capable of saying: "There's no real mystery about this at the moment. This is what we want now. It may prove wrong later, but we'll correct that when we come to it." The mentat-generalist must understand that anything which we can identify as our universe is merely a part of larger phenomena. But the expert looks backward; he looks into the narrow standards of his own specialty. The generalist looks outward; he looks for living principles, knowing full well that such principles change, that they develop. It is to the characteristics of change itself that the mentat-generalist must look. There can be no permanent catalogue of such change, no handbook or manual. You must look at it with as few preconceptions as possible, asking yourself: "Now what is this thing doing?" 1

We can still remember the golden days before Heisenberg, who showed humans the walls enclosing our predestined arguments. The lives within me find this amusing. Knowledge, you see, has no uses without purpose, but purpose is what builds enclosing walls. 2

Think you of the fact that a deaf person cannot hear. Then, what deafness may we not all possess? What senses do we lack that we cannot see and cannot hear another world all around us? 3

I have said: "Blow out the lamp! Day is here!" And you keep saying: "Give me a lamp so I can find the day." 4

* * *

You should never be in the company of anyone with whom you would not want to die. 5

1 The Mentat Handbook, Children of Dune.
2 Leto Atreides II, His Voice, Children of Dune.
3 The Orange Catholic Bible, Dune.
4 Bijaz to Hayt, Dune Messiah.
5 Ancient Fremen saying, God Emperor of Dune.

© 2011 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.