Historical Materialism => Honored Matres


Thinking about when I read the final books of the original Dune series – Heretics and Chapter House – and how they became a kind of myth for me: Bene Gesserit (introspection, sublimation, technique, training, control) versus Honored Matres (anger, sex, violence, technology, power).

The HM are pretty obviously the BG’s Jungian shadow, romping around out of control – and they’re great fun, with all the death-kicks and tying people up with shigawire and enslaving-men-through-advanced-sexual-technique. But it’s the BG who have the deep introspection, the knowledge of millennia of experience through immersion in Other Memory, the long and large (and, um, eugenicist) view of human and posthuman evolution. The implied unification of the two at the end of Chapter House is deeply satisfying in much the same way that the ending of A Wizard of Earthsea is satisfying, because it suggests the possibility of an accomplished, integrated selfhood.

I realised today that I had been seeing the twitter/tumblr axis of intemperate social justice red-guardism as basically the Honored Matres – a disorderedly flailing but also enviably vital offshoot of a longer and more thoughtful intellectual/political tradition. Trotskyism’s Jungian shadow, its returning-repressed. That is a cartoonish, stereotyped way to look at it, but the unconscious often thinks in cartoons – re-reading these books has been a way for me to look again at the source material for this particular fantasy.