Iraq, Frank Herbert’s Dune – and George W. Bush?

From Bidoun: Art and Culture from the Middle East, comes a thought-provoking article by Anand Balakrishnan, contrasting Frank Herbert’s epic novel, Dune, with the American war in Iraq, in the process talking about science fiction in Arabic, the future of Islamic culture and more:

Dune’s central importance at our current historical juncture is twofold. First, it postulates, however implicitly, that in the distant future the only remnants of twentieth-century human life will be Arab in origin: a desert planet, an invaluable natural resource, veiled and fanatical nomads, a prophet known as the Mahdi, an intergalactic jihad. Each object of significance in the Dune universe has its obvious parallel in the Arab Word: spice is oil; the nomads, Bedouins; the intergalactic jihad, jihad. Even the language spoken by the Be-douins of Dune is derived from Arabic. The sand-worms have no immediate analogue in either Arab or Islamic history; they are, one hopes, completely made up.

But the notion that Islamic Arab culture exists essentially unchanged in the year 10,000 or so is a double-edged sword, a sign of both tenacity and stagnation. – Read the rest of the article.

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