The Cursed Descendants of Atreus

The Dune series began by Frank Herbert continues by his son, but that’s not the only familial pass down — the curse on the House of Atreus passes along, too. Are we all marked with the mark of Cain or does humanity suffer from a curse brought upon by another murder — the curse brought about by Tantalus when he chopped up his son, Pelops, and served him to the gods (Abraham, from the Old Testament, almost did the same thing, but that story came out different). I don’t know why the curse rides upon the Atreus name and not his grandfather. Tantalus, but I do know Frank Herbert built his House Atreides.upon the foundation set by the House of Atreus.

Romeo and Juliet obviously suffer from this same curse, but the curse also resides outside of fiction. I base my novels upon the love-hate wedding dance of my ancestors the massacre of the Huguenots by Catholics and the Native American wars in Florida — involve ancestors from each group. My ancestry is unique, in regards to Florida, but everyone descends ancestral feuds and the curse that apparently starts the fire.

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The Tantalus Touch

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Anyone familiar with Tantalus should recognize the Tantalus touch, in the pirate curse (Pirates of the Caribbean). The House of Atreus begins with the curse that Zeus puts upon Tantalus.

Dune, the Science Fiction series, created by Frank Herbert, links up his House of Atreides with the House of Atreus, I’ll do the same for my novel. I want to use the myth of Tantalus, in some way, but an idea hasn’t tantalized me, yet. Something with a pirate involved remains a possibility.

Van Gogh and the Kwisatz Haderach

I’m not sure why Frank Herbert chose to give his Bene Gesserit an original oil painting of Vincent Van Gogh  (Thatched Cottages at Cordeville), but I will provide a fictional theory—Van Gogh was on an early version of the spice.

My main character will visit a patient at the Florida State Hospital, in Chattahoochee, and I’ve been riddling out a riddle; in which, Van Gogh may feature in the riddle. He wouldn’t truly be a Kwisatz Haderach; I just preferred the title. The Kwisatz Haderach has many ancestors and Van Gogh would just be one among many.

Ancestral ghosts of the shaman world inspired my fictional cult, but I’ve added elements to draw it closer to a contemporary version of the Bene Gesserit. This post covers one such element.

Four of Van Gogh’s works feature dunes. Van Gogh’s ‘Women Mending Nets in the Dunes’ works better with a theme of my novel, but I can expand to include other paintings. Placing the scene in a mental hospital fits with Van Gogh’s stay at an asylum in Saint-Remy. Having the character speak a bunch of cryptic stuff, concerning Vincent Van Gogh, seems like a good way to go. Don McLean cryptically alludes to a few of Van Gogh’s works, in the song—Vincent. I suspect I will do the same.

In the Creek language, Chattahoochee means “marked rocks.” Marbles are round rocks, but they can be marked and occasionally lost. The idiom of “losing your marbles’ may not  be a politically correct phrase for people in a mental hospital, but it is a phrase of common use. Chattahoochee’s identity is wrapped around the hospital. People with mental illnesses often contribute greatly to society; Van Gogh is a prime example of such special people.

Clinical Notes About A Dab Of Dope

My main character will test a genetic memory drug, on herself. Altered States by Paddy Chayefsky has a similar experiment, but I’m trying for a Frank Herbert Dune type experience; worms will even play a role. A fictional collection of clinical notes will record the experience. I hoped to find examples from another author, but one of the better examples came from real-life; when Dr. Albert Hofmann, a chemist at Sandoz Laboratories recorded his reaction to a small amount of LSD:

Last Friday … I had to interrupt my laboratory work in the middle of the afternoon and go home, because I was seized with a feeling of great restlessness and mild dizziness. At home, I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant delirium, which was characterized by extremely excited fantasies. In a semiconscious state, with my eyes closed (I felt the daylight to be unpleasantly dazzling), fantastic visions of extraordinary realness and with an intense kaleidoscopic play of colors assaulted me.

Miscalculating what a small amount will do is the shared component between Hoffman’s story and mine. I’m may have my character dictate notes, so I can make note of her mental state when she’s not fully conscious. Hofmann’s use of indirect phrasing interests me and one episode needs to show this type of denial. His last line about the kaleidoscope of colors is worth rephrasing and maybe some form of his double denial.

The Bene Gesserit in the World of Today

The spice in Frank Herbert’s Dune is a genetic memory drug, so I created my own witch cult with Dune’s Bene Gesserit, in mind. The drug is the only Sci-Fi thing in my novel and technically it is not much different from what Shamans, all around the world, have done for centuries.

My cult is much crazier because the Feminists of today’s world have radically different views from each other. My Feminist theme was somewhat accidental because the Bene Gesserit act as backseat drivers, in the Dune universe. The cult is very powerful and secretive.

The title of this post could fit the High Concept category in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy world and I wish I fit the High Concept category, but I use more than one concept. If you want to sell books, you should consider your sales pitch before writing the book because it may save you some future agony.

My main character is a hapless version of Paul Atreides, but when you consider Atreides eventually turned into a worm, my character may be less hapless. Herbert took the name Atreides from the cursed House of Atreus, in Greek Mythology.  I consider the family in my novel cursed because the come from a Romeo and Juliet background which was inspired by own diverse ancestry. I may barely fit in the Comic Fantasy genre because of the genetic memory drug.

Suggestion about the House Harkonnen

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I don’t  see a Greek origin to House Harkonnen and I have a suggestion. If you base it on the works of  Aeschylus, the opposing houses can be seen as the King and Queen of Argos.  Clytemnestra, the queen, came from Sparta and descends from Zeus by way of Leda.

We know he House Atreides comes from  the House of Atreus (the King of Argos). The prince, Orestes, served Apollo when he killed his mother, who killed his father–the king. The god line of Harkonnen would be Zeus and at Sparta–sits the throne.

Spartan kings claim descent from Hercules and are called the Heracleidae. Harkonnen has some linguistic similarity to the Heracleidae, so my suggestion is the House Heracleidae.

I wanted to solve this for my own purpose. My novel will have an allusion to another daughter of Leda– Helen of Troy. After figuring this info out I have decided to make a niece; with an allusion to Orestes. I just have to figure out where to install it in my novel. Brian Herbert or other writers devoted to the Dune universe may find use for my suggestion.

 

The Curse of Philos-Aphilos

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Dune’s House of Atreides, descends from the cursed House of Atreus; Dune is Sci-Fi and the latter is Greek mythology. Philos-aphilos means “love in hate” and you can say it applies to the Atreides-Harkonnen relationship. My novel is based on my ancestry’s curse—the curse of philos-aphilos. I’m of Huguenot and Catholic blood; plus, Native American blood; they all collided in Florida. The reason for my original allusion to Dune came due to my use of a drug to access the genetic past. I didn’t realize this philos-aphilos existed—kismet, I guess.

The trilogy, by Aeschylus, is normally called the Oresteia. I need to allude to the House of Atreus, in some way. The weird names make allusions difficult; mythology’s complexity is a mixed blessing. Orestes killed his mother Clytemnestra whose mother was Leda by way of Zeus the Swan. Helen of Troy is a basis for one of my character’s, and Helen is Clytemnestra’s sister. Making a sister to my Helen-based character may work best.

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson wrote the books shown; they act as preludes. My novel is sort of acts as an unofficial prelude. My novel depicts a crazier version of the Bene Gesserit and an imperfect spice; the world of today is my setting. I based my cult on the Greek Mystery cults. Herbert and Anderson should consider doing the same.