Frank Herbert – Dune

I came across the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear today — many, many years after reading it for the first time in Frank Herbert’s Dune.

If you haven’t read Dune, you can’t know the impact the book had on me as a teenager. Before the internet, life in an Alaskan fishing village defined isolation — no TV or radio, week-old newspapers, one small revolving stand of shiny new paperbacks at the only news stand. Thanks to Herbert, Heinlein, and Clarke, I was able to overcome the geographical barriers and wander the worlds of the universe in my imagination. Special thanks goes to Zenna Henderson, who started it all for me with a story of The People in an English-class textbook. It wasn’t REAL. It was fantasy. 🙂

Back to the Litany. It stuck in my head, no doubt ingrained by my frequent re-reading of the book, and then leaped out into my consciousness whenever I was afraid — a mantra from the past and future to help me through.

It’s a little embarrassing to remember how often it has happened. Timid, much?

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.

—Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear