Golden Path (Dune)

Golden Path (Dune)

The Golden Path [In "Children of Dune", Leto II and his sister Ghanima also call it "Secher Nbiw", which means "Golden Path" in an ancient language they know through their Other Memory. This term is used as the keyword to unlock the post-hypnotic suggestion Ghanima has put upon herself to believe Leto is dead, according to their plan.] is a term in Frank Herbert's fictional "Dune" universe for Leto Atreides II's strategy to prevent humanity's destruction. With such precedents as Buddhism's Eightfold path and Isaac Asimov's Prime Radiant, the Golden Path is an important theme in the novels "Children of Dune", "God Emperor of Dune", "Heretics of Dune" and "".

Through prescience, Paul Atreides and Leto II foresaw that humanity would become extinct if it remained confined within the known universe of the Imperium. Though the Imperium's population was many trillions, Leto II's rule proved that humanity was still confined within a space that could be controlled by a single interest. Although rarely addressed directly, it was often suggested that this lack of exploration and growth would cause the eventual destruction of humanity. The conflict between humanity's stated desire for peace and their actual need for volatility is the central theme of the entire "Dune" series after Book One. God Emperor Leto II's stated goal is to "teach humanity a lesson that they will remember in their bones," that sheltered safety is tantamount to utter death, however long it might be delayed.

In addition to the internal causes of humanity's downfall, there is an external "great enemy" that threatens humanity in Leto's visions. Leto II knew through prescience of some possible and eventually certain fatal danger to humanity in general [""Do not fear the lxians," he said, and he heard his own voice as a fading whisper. "They can make the machines, but they no longer can make arafel. I know. I was there." He fell silent, gathering his strength, but he felt the energy flowing from him even as he tried to hold it. Once more, the clamor arose within him-voices pleading and shouting." "Every historical reference to the Scattering and the Famine Times has to be taken out and reexamined! What have we to fear? No Ixian machine can do what we, the descendants of Duncan Idaho and Siona, have done. How many universes have we populated? None can guess. No one person will ever know. Does the Church fear the occasional prophet? We know that the visionaries cannot see us nor predict our decisions. No death can find all of humankind." "No ancestral presences would remain in her consciousness, but she would carry with her forever afterward the clear sights and sounds and smells. The seeking machines would be there, the smell of blood and entrails, the cowering humans in their burrows aware only that they could not escape . . . while all the time the mechanical movement approached, nearer and nearer and nearer ...louder...louder! Everywhere she searched, it would be the same. No escape anywhere." — "God Emperor of Dune"] which compelled the prescient leader to take humanity down his Golden Path; "i.e.", enforced tranquility, and acceptance of his own fate of returning to the sand.

Leto II and the Golden Path

Paul's son, Leto II, inherited his father's prescient abilities. Knowing of his father's reluctance and eventual refusal to embark down the Golden Path and rescue humanity from certain extinction, Leto II sacrifices himself. In devoting himself to the Golden Path, Leto II forgoes as normal a life as he could expect as emperor, and forfeits his humanity.

The Old Imperium's dependency on spice for space travel and the metahuman tasks performed by groups such as the Spacing Guild and the Bene Gesserit cause humanity to stagnate and stop evolving. Because spice can only be generated on Arrakis, humans continue to look inward, focusing only on Arrakis. The fate of humans is precariously balanced on the availability of a single commodity. As Herbert indicates throughout the early novels of the series, and as the Baron Harkonnen famously notes, the person or persons who control the spice control the universe. Without spice and without spice alternatives, humans are headed toward extinction.

From the realization of this truth (through prescient visions), the Golden Path was born. By destroying spice production, and controlling the only remaining supply of the spice, Leto II ruled his Imperium with an iron fist. He was deliberately oppressive, engineering in humanity a longing for freedom and an end to absolute futures. Yet, in oppressing humanity to spur on this desire for freedom, as well as rekindling human ingenuity, Leto II also created a need and desire for his own godhead. Such a strong desire for a Kwisatz Haderach-style ruler was counterproductive to his plans; Leto has to destroy the human need for those like his father and himself. Leto knew that he had to be the first, last, and only human to rule with such absolute power. The problem with that notion is that, once opened, this type of Pandora's Box can rarely be shut.

Leto's Golden Path took its shape by creating three great hybridizations.

Changing the worm

One of the great requirements of a person who wants to live many millennia is the need to find a form that would support this quest. Though grotesque and undoubtedly painful, Leto II found a way to combine his body with that of the sandtrout, and grow into a sandworm. Slowly, over the creeping of 3,500 years, his body transformed into a hybrid of human and sandworm biology: the first of three great hybrids. The obvious benefit of this was his long lifespan. The not so obvious effect of this combination was the gift to the sandworm of "human adaptability."

The fates of sandworms and humans had been tied together for millennia, and would thus be tied even closer. By killing off all of the original sandworms of Dune and keeping himself as the sole remaining survivor, Leto II was forcing all sandworms that would ever be, to be his descendants. Leto II always lamented his inability to have children, and thus he created his own descendants. Although imbuing the sandworm with more ganglia (nerve tissue) made them more cantankerous, Leto II also made them adaptable to new worlds and habitats. The sandtrout could then be transplanted to other planets throughout the universe, just as was shown in "Heretics of Dune". The spice cycle could begin anew anywhere where there was ample water for the sand trout to grow in. Once the sandtrout were at certain numbers, and with ample dryness caused by the encysting of them beneath the surface, the sandworms would appear and the spice cycle would begin again.

During this time, Leto II took from the Bene Gesserit their prized breeding plan. Over the period of the 3,500 years of his life, he manipulated multiple mutations to breed into the Atreides (first and foremost) total invisibility to any all-seeing prescience. Thus, during the far-off future, no person, no matter how prescient, would ever be able to track down all humans and wipe them out. Some would escape; some would live. More than that, into the Atreides were bred greater nobility, honor, passion and other "wild talents." These were wild talents that, when combined with the Scattering and the Honored Matres, would produce some of the great wealth of talents that would be needed in the distant future.

Taken on the surface, each of these talents were enormous gifts to humanity, but considering the future that awaited humans, it is obvious how necessary they would become. Prescient invisibility, transplantable sandworms, passion for living, desire for freedom, and the added tools to move its people throughout the universe, were just peripheral blessings of the Golden Path.

Blending Atreides and Bene Gesserit

The second great hybridization that the God Emperor created was the most hidden one of them all: the blending of Atreides and Bene Gesserit. While the Atreides were too small and feudal to rule humanity, the Bene Gesserit lacked a desire to get their hands dirty, or the passion to rule (which the Atreides had). It may seem like a convenient choice based upon desirable bloodlines; but the reason why the God Emperor also included such nobility into his breeding scheme is so that one day in the future (during the conquest of the Old Imperium by the Honored Matres) the Bene Gesserit would all be children of the Atreides. We are presented with the greatest face of this in Mother Superior Darwi Odrade. Odrade — a female descendant of Siona Atreides — was the bearer of a name that was, itself, a descendant of the name "Atreides." No more were the Bene Gesserit crafters and schemers who did their work behind the throne. No more were the Atreides guided by their passion for justice and the feudal nobility. That is why the God Emperor finally compels (in the caves on Rakis) the Bene Gesserit to act and take the sword by its handle. Where once there was a secret society (the Bene Gesserit) and a ruling family (the Atreides), there was born the noble, purpose-driven, proud, yet wizened Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, whose members were "all" children of the Atreides. Fact|date=August 2007

Creation of the Fish Speakers

The last great hybridization that Leto II bequeathed to humanity came from the Fish Speakers. What was originally a desire to create a horde of fanatical warrior women to oppress humanity became one of Leto II's greatest gifts to humanity. By flooding the scattering with his Fish Speaker warrior-fanatics, he was actively seeding the universe with nascent Honored Matres. The God Emperor could easily see that the Bene Gesserit would be the only hope of saving humanity. The Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, however, was too slow to grow and did not cover enough space to be numerous enough to actively defend humanity. By Odrade's accounts, the Honored Matres really were "good for them (the Bene Gesserit)." By seeding the universe with trillions and trillions of Honored Matres that would one day hybridize themselves and their wild talents with the Bene Gesserit, Leto II granted the Bene Gesserit sufficient numbers to finally "think big", and act upon those thoughts. In short, the Scattering served as an enormous boot-camp for the Bene Gesserit, creating sisters with new talents that would protect and guide humanity in the future.

The other results of the rule of Leto II were present in the patterns of science in the Bene Tleilax and the Ixians (both in the scattering and at home in the "Old Imperium"). By oppressing the Tleilaxu and the Ixians, Leto II drove their inventiveness. By his oppressiveness, Leto II forced Ix and the Bene Tleilax to become inventive in ways that they never thought possible. The fruits of this oppression appeared in the Ixian navigation device (a substitute for living Guild Navigators) and the Tleilaxu artificial spice. More than that, their people who were sent out into the Scattering also invented and created, and the results of that were shown in "" — super Face Dancers, Futars, and Honored Matre Obliterators.

"Dune" novels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Since 1999, Frank Herbert's son Brian and Kevin J. Anderson have written two prequel trilogies, "Prelude to Dune" and "Legends of Dune", as well as two novels ("Hunters of Dune" and "Sandworms of Dune") that complete the original series. These works are based on Frank Herbert's purported outline for his own "Dune 7", left behind after his death, and various other notes. In these books, the "great enemy" is identified as the thinking machines, as led by Omnius. ["These new thinkers met in secret and discussed how they would change the Empire, if only they could overthrow the foolish rulers. Discarding their birth names, they assumed appellations associated with great gods and heroes. Foremost among them were General Agamemnon and his lover Juno, a tactical genius. These two recruited the programming expert Barbarossa, who devised a scheme to convert the Empire’s ubiquitous servile machines into fearless aggressors by giving their AI brains certain human characteristics, including the ambition to conquer...Victorious, they called themselves Titans, after the most ancient of Greek gods. Led by the visionary Tlaloc, the twenty allocated the administration of planets and peoples among themselves, enforcing their edicts through Barbarossa’s aggressive thinking machines. They conquered most of the known galaxy...Wishing to rule for centuries, Agamemnon and his lover Juno undertook a risky course of action. They had their brains surgically removed and implanted in preservation canisters that could be installed into a variety of mechanical bodies. One by one — as the remaining Titans felt the specter of age and vulnerability — all of the others also converted themselves into “cymeks,” machines with human minds...But one fateful day the hedonistic Titan Xerxes, anxious to have more time for his pleasures, surrendered too much access to his pervasive AI network...The sentient computer network seized control of an entire planet, followed quickly by others. The breakdown spread like a virulent infestation from world to world, and the computer “evermind” grew in power and scope. Naming itself Omnius, the intelligent and adaptable network conquered all the Titan-controlled planets before the cymeks had time to warn each other of the danger." — ""] In their novels, Brian Herbert and Anderson further establish that most of the elements created out in the Scattering (Futars, Obliterators, etc.) had actually been created by the thinking machines.


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