DUNE: messiah as anti-hero

DUNE is above all a critique of the myth of the hero and of the hero’s journey, and a critique of the God-like saviour. The whole series of books turns around creating human beings that would be invisible to prescience, becoming  unpredictable, escaping omniscience, be it that of a God or of a Computer.

According to Norman Spinrad, in his text “The Emperor of Everything“, the tragedy of Paul Atreides in DUNE is that “he cannot transcend his own transcendence”. Paul is trapped in his own myth, and “cannot achieve the grace of the Bodhisattva.” This identification of Paul with his Messianic role, his fixation in transcendence is what Jodorowsky transforms in his re-imagined DUNE (see my review).

Another aspect of Paul Atreides’ tragedy is that the Empire triumphs once again over democracy: “he cannot place the scepter of enlightenment and power in the hands of Everyone”.

In the new STAR WARS VII, Kylo Ren is the one who most corresponds to Paul Atreides, as Paul finally succombed to the Dark Side. He became the new Emperor and unleashed a jihad of fanatical troops across the galaxy to expand and consolidate his Empire.

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