Spice Flows Like Time

Didja hear? There’s a new trailer for Dune out! I haven’t seen it, because I already know I’m going to watch it, and the first trailer was super dope and I’m on board because the look is right and Dennis Villeneuve is a director whose work I love and, given his three-hit-combo of Sicario, Arrival, and Blade Runner 2049, I really think he’s someone who’ll be able to get the uncanny tone of Dune right.

Which reminds me, I really oughta reread that book sometime.

I read Dune around twelve years ago, eager to dive into a bastion of science fiction and to be able to make jokes about how “the spice must flow” while knowing the source (that’s important to me). Unfortunately, I didn’t really like it at the time. Like, it was fine, but it seemed dry to my eighteen-year-old self (who had just read The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) and I didn’t care too much for the feudalistic approach to it. In my mind, science fiction was meant to be more sweeping romance and adventure, and while Dune had it, it was weighed down by politicking and other concerns. Just wasn’t my speed.

I haven’t read the book again since (which, yes, is a huge lapse on my part), but I’ve read a lot of other books, learnt a lot more about science fiction (even took a class on it in college), and gotten old (yikes, I’m how old now?). In that time there’s a lot I’ve come to appreciate about my hazy recollections of Dune, like how Frank Herbert captures this sprawling sense of scale within the book. Heck, I even look back fondly on the politicking and how it’s not as easy as in other stories. I’m pretty confident I’ll like it a lot more now.

It’s pretty weird, to say now that, yes, I like Dune, even though I didn’t back when I’d read it. You’d think a reassessment and thus appreciation for something would have to be built on actually engaging in the piece in question, not just letting it gestate in the back of one’s mind for over a decade. Yet gestate and ferment it did, bereft of my reading any thinkpieces on the book, watching any adaptation of it, or really much of anything aside from following some of the news about Villeneuve’s movie. But at some point, I realized that, hey, Dune was pretty good.

Art, because yes, books, movies, and that weird painting in the McDonald’s bathroom is all art, is a two-way street. What you get out of it is based on what you put in, and the big thing you bring to art is you. And you change. So something you liked a lot once, you mayn’t like as much further down the road, and something you didn’t like could become something you love. The text of the piece is static, but you aren’t. I adore The Lord of The Rings for different reasons than I did when I was twelve and I appreciate (500) Days of Summer from a vastly different perspective than back in ’09. And maybe I’ll like Dune now; the actual book and not just the idea of it.

Just gotta figure where on earth my copy ended up.

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