I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
- Frank Herbert, Dune
I've always been surprised at the strange places that little gem of a quote will come up. It's something I had memorized for a long time and that I would say to myself whenever things were getting bad. Getting lost while hiking, confronting an employer, or just when I heard a strange sound at night.
The first time I had the inspiration to use it as a mantra was from a rock climber I met out in Utah. I was laying sandstone for the SCA and building a staircase in Dinosaur National Monument. The guy had the entire quote written into his helmet. Another time it was a snowboarder in Lake Tahoe who had it customized onto his board. An attorney I met while working for the government was repeating it to himself before his trial began.
In the book it's the mantra of a sisterhood of extremely disciplined women who repeat it to themselves while they undergo their training. The counter-point to the sisters, the Mentats, are a group of men who rely purely on logic. Guzzling a kind of liquid adderall, one repeats,
It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of Sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains. The stains become a warning. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
One is a dogma of empowerment, the other is of liberation. The Mentat in the book, fully believing in his own superiority, ends up betraying the protagonists and getting himself killed by his own hubris. It is the sisterhood, and the young child they train, who go on to challenge the Imperial Order. The quest for power ultimately becomes an act of fear in the book, an action of insecurity instead of necessity. The Hero does not challenge the Emperor because he is more powerful, he challenges him because he is not afraid.
So it was with great pleasure that I heard the quote again on the fifth level of Rez HD. The game draws on a beautiful combination of music and visuals, techno and meditative cultural images, to create what is still one of my personal favorite titles.
Fear is the mind killer.