Frank Herbert on Prescience, Predestination and Paradox.
by Estéban Trujillo de Gutiérrez
“…As in an Escher lithograph, I involved myself with recurrent themes that turn into paradox. The central paradox concerns the human vision of time. What about Paul’s gift of prescience–the Presbyterian fixation? For the Delphic Oracle to perform, it must entangle itself in a web of predestination. Yet predestination negates surprises and, in fact, sets up a mathematically enclosed universe whose limits are always inconsistent, always encountering the unprovable. It’s like a koan, a Zen mind breaker. It’s like the Cretan Epimenides saying, “All Cretans are liars.”
Each limiting descriptive step you take drives your vision outward into a larger universe which is contained in still a larger universe ad infinitum, and in the smaller universes ad infinitum. No matter how finely you subdivide time and space, each tiny division contains infinity.
But this could imply that you can cut across linear time, open it like a ripe fruit, and see consequential connections. You could be prescient, predict accurately. Predestination and paradox once more.
The flaw must lie in our methods of description, in languages, in social networks of meaning, in moral structures, and in philosophies and religions–all of which convey implicit limits where no limits exist. Paul Muad’Dib, after all, says this time after time throughout Dune.”
Frank Herbert, Dune 0: A Dune Genesis, pp. 3-4.