“I’d advise you to diversify your holdings, one day water may not be a precious resource on Arrakis.”
-Duke Leto Atreides (Frank Herbert’s “Dune”)
As will become very ironic very soon, it has been difficult finding applicable quotes from “Dune”.
So, I’m reading this science fiction classic by renowned Arabist, Frank Herbert, and I am worried it is perverting my perception of the real Arab World. You see, in “Dune” the action follows the young duke Paul Atreides as he rises to power on the monoclimatic, desert planet Arrakis. It is a desolate place designed to mimic, but mostly inflate many conditions and social problems of the Middle East.
For example, water is THE most critical resource on Arrakis. The characters have specifically designed clothes so as to lose the least possible moisture throughout desert treks (this includes all liquid that leaves the body). Herbert goes into detail about the grandeur of the ducal palace on Arrakis, but he speaks only in terms of how much water each extravagance wastes per day. Herbert also has included a local race of people he calls “Fremen”. The Fremen live in an intensely tribal society that completely submits itself to a common faith.
The world of Arrakis is too damn engrossing. On several occasions I have found myself judging Jordanian practices and happenings based on the situation of the characters of the novel. When my group went to visit a nature preserve I immediately thought of how irresponsible it was to let all these trees grow for no real reason when we could be drinking the water they use. In the book the Arrakean people are shocked at the concept of “drowning”, that much water in one place is inconceivable. So, when I heard about one of my friends using a swimming pool on campus my gut instinct was to judge her for her bourgeoisie wastefulness.
Water may be an issue here in Jordan, but I think I need a reality check nonetheless.