Frank Herbert Quotes

Who the Heck is Frank Herbert?

Franklin Patrick Herbert Jr. was an American science fiction author best known for the 1965 novel Dune and its five sequels: Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune.

Though Frank Herbert became famous for his novels, he also wrote short stories and worked as a newspaper journalist, photographer, book reviewer, ecological consultant, and lecturer.

Born October 08, 1920
Died February 11, 1986

Books by Frank Herbert


Best 178 Quotes by Frank Herbert

“A man is a fool not to put everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating. You're there now doing the thing on paper. You're not killing the goose, you're just producing an egg. So I don't worry about inspiration, or anything like that. It's a matter of just sitting down and working. I have never had the problem of a writing block. I've heard about it. I've felt reluctant to write on some days, for whole weeks, or sometimes even longer. I'd much rather go fishing, for example, or go sharpen pencils, or go swimming, or what not. But, later, coming back and reading what I have produced, I am unable to detect the difference between what came easily and when I had to sit down and say, 'Well, now it's writing time and now I'll write.' There's no difference on paper between the two.”

Frank Herbert

“Demagogues are so easy to identify. They gesture a lot and speak with pulpit rhythms, using words that ring of religious fervour and god-fearing sincerity. Sincerity with nothing behind it takes so much practice. The practice can always be detected. Repetition. Great attempts to keep your attention on words.”

Frank Herbert

“Gold opens all locks, no lock will hold against the power of gold.”

Frank Herbert

“Guilt starts as a feeling of failure.”

Frank Herbert

“Ideas are a dime a dozen. It's execution that counts.”

Frank Herbert

“If I'd been born in my grandfather's time, I'd have made my grandfather's mistakes. Theres no doubt of it. I just don't want to make my grandfather's mistakes today.”

Frank Herbert

“Never attempt to reason with people who know they are right!”

Frank Herbert

“Respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality.”

Frank Herbert

“Technology is both a tool for helping humans and for destroying them. This is the paradox of our times which we're compelled to face.”

Frank Herbert

“The best contribution one can make to humanity is to improve oneself.”

Frank Herbert

“The mistakes of leaders are amplified by the numbers who follow them without question. Charismatic leaders tend to build up followings, power structures and these power structures tend to be taken over by people who are corruptible. I don't think that the old saw about 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely' is accurate: I think power attracts the corruptible.”

Frank Herbert

“The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action in mind.”

Frank Herbert

“The proximity of a desirable thing tempts one to overindulgence. On that path lies danger.”

Frank Herbert

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

Frank Herbert

“Think you of the fact that a deaf person cannot hear. Then, what deafness may we not all possess? What senses do we lack that we cannot see and cannot hear another world all around us?”

Frank Herbert

“To endure oneself may be the hardest task in the universe.”

Frank Herbert

“What do you despise? By this are you truly known.”

Frank Herbert

“You know it's love when you want to give joy and damn the consequences.”

Frank Herbert

“Education is no substitute for intelligence.”

Frank Herbert

“Nature does not make mistakes. Right and wrong are human categories.”

Frank Herbert

“The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it.”

Frank Herbert

Products by Frank Herbert

"Chapterhouse: Dune" Quotes

“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“Confine yourself to observing and you always miss the point of your life. The object can be stated this way: Live the best life you can. Life is a game whose rules you learn if you leap into it and play it to the hilt. Otherwise, you are caught off balance, continually surprised by the shifting play. Non-players often whine and complain that luck always passes them by. They refuse to see that they can create some of their own luck.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“Do actions agree with words? There's your measure of reliability. Never confine yourself to the words.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“Each life creates endless ripples.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“Face your fears or they will climb over your back.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“Politics: the art of appearing candid and completely open while concealing as much as possible.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“Show me a completely smooth operation and I'll show you someone who's covering mistakes. Real boats rock.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“Silence is often the best thing to say.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“The unclouded eye was better, no matter what it saw.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“We tend to become like the worst in those we oppose.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“What does a mirror look at?”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

“When you think to take determination of your fate into your own hands, that is the moment you can be crushed. Be cautious.”

Frank Herbert
Chapterhouse: Dune

"Children of Dune" Quotes

“Ambitions tend to remain undisturbed by realities.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“Atrocity is recognized as such by victim and perpetrator alike, by all who learn about it at whatever remove. Atrocity has no excuses, no mitigating argument. Atrocity never balances or rectifies the past. Atrocity merely arms the future for more atrocity. It is self-perpetuating upon itself--a barbarous form of incest. Whoever commits atrocity also commits those future atrocities thus bred.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“Every civilization depends on the quality of the individuals it produces. If you over-organize humans, over-legalize them, suppress their urge to greatness – they cannot work and their civilization collapses.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“Every judgment teeters on the brink of error. To claim absolute knowledge is to become monstrous. Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“Experts and specialists lead you quickly into chaos. They are a source of useless nit-picking, the ferocious quibble over a comma.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“Good governance never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class – whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“I do not have to be what my father was. I do not have to obey my father's rules or even believe everything he believed. It is my strength as a human that I can make my own choices of what to believe and what not to believe, of what to be and what not to be.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

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“It is said that the only fear we cannot correct is the fear of our own mistakes.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“Most deadly errors arise from obsolete assumptions.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“Often there's no need to tear off an arm to remove a splinter.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“One learns from books and example only that certain things can be done. Actual learning requires that you do those things.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“One uses power by grasping it lightly. To grasp too strongly is to be taken over by power, and thus to become its victim.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“Some actions have an end but no beginning; some begin but do not end. It all depends upon where the observer is standing.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“The future remains uncertain and so it should, for it is the canvas upon which we paint our desires. Thus always the human condition faces a beautifully empty canvas.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“The gift of words is the gift of deception and illusion.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“The joy of living, its beauty, is all bound up in the fact that life can surprise you.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“The purpose of argument is to change the nature of truth.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“To know a thing well, know its limits; Only when pushed beyond its tolerance will its true nature be seen.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“To stay awake all night adds a day to your life.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“Too much knowledge never makes for simple decisions.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“We never get far from wealth and all of its masks when we deal with power.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

“When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles.”

Frank Herbert
Children of Dune

"Dune" Quotes

“A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“A killer with the manners of a rabbit - this is the most dangerous kind.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“A leader, you see, is one of the things that distinguishes a mob from a people.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“A person needs new experiences. They jar something deep inside, allowing you to grow. Without them, it sleeps – seldom to awaken. The sleeper must awaken.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“A popular man arouses the jealousy of the powerful.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

Products by Frank Herbert

“A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“A ruler must learn to persuade and not to compel.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“A world is supported by four things: the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these things are as nothing without a ruler who knows the art of ruling.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Anger is one thing, violence another.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Any man who retreats into a cave which has only one opening deserves to die.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere. Climb the mountain just a little bit to test that it's a mountain. From the top of the mountain, you cannot see the mountain.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Be prepared to appreciate what you meet”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. This is as true of humans as it is of gas molecules in a sealed flask. The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who so survive.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Don't sit with your back to any doors.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Expect only what happens in the fight. That way you'll never be surprised.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Fear is the mind-killer.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Give as few orders as possible. Once you've given orders on a subject, you must always give orders on that subject.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Greatness is a transitory experience. It is never consistent. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind. The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“He who controls the spice controls the universe.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Highly organized research is guaranteed to produce nothing new.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Hope clouds observation.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“How often it is that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“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

“If wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“If you rely only on your eyes, your other senses weaken.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

Products by Frank Herbert

“It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“It is impossible to live in the past, difficult to live in the present and a waste to live in the future.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“It is so shocking to find out how many people do not believe that they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“It's easier to be terrified by an enemy you admire.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“It's well known that repression makes a religion flourish.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Just as individuals are born, mature, breed, and die, so do societies and civilizations and governments.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Knowing where the trap is—that's the first step in evading it.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Law is the ultimate science.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Life — all life — is in the service of life.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Parting with friends is a sadness. A place is only a place.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Polish comes from the cities; wisdom from the desert.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Power attracts the corruptible. Suspect any who seek it.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Proper teaching is recognized with ease. You can know it without fail because it awakens within you that sensation which tells you this is something you have always known.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Prophecy and prescience--How can they be put to the test in the face of unanswered questions? Consider: How much is actual prediction ... and how much is the prophet shaping the future to fit the prophecy? What are the harmonics inherent in the act of prophecy? Does the prophet see the future or does he see a line of weakness, a fault or cleavage that he may shatter with words or decisions as a diamond-cutter shatters his gem with a blow of the knife?”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Prophets have a way of dying by violence.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Science is made up of so many things that appear obvious after they are explained.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Survival is the ability to swim in strange water.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“The concept of progress acts as a protective mechanism to shield us from the terrors of the future.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“The highest function of ecology is understanding consequences.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“The mind can go either direction under stress—toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

Products by Frank Herbert

“The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“The mind goes on working no matter how we try to hold it back.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“The night is a tunnel... a hole into tomorrow.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“The people who can destroy a thing, they control it.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“The thing the ecologically illiterate don't realize about an ecosystem is that it's a system. A system! A system maintains a certain fluid stability that can be destroyed by a misstep in just one niche. A system has order, a flowing from point to point. If something dams the flow, order collapses. The untrained might miss that collapse until it was too late. That's why the highest function of ecology is the understanding of consequences.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“The vision of time is broad, but when you pass through it, time becomes a narrow door.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“The willow submits to the wind and prospers until one day it is many willows - a wall against the wind.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“There is no escape - we pay for the violence of our ancestors.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“There is probably no more terrible enlightenment than the one in which you discover your father is a man – with human flesh.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times to develop psychic muscles.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Try looking into that place where you dare not look! You'll find me there, staring out at you!”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“What has mood to do with it? You fight when the necessity arises—no matter the mood! Mood's a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. It's not for fighting.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“What is the son but an extension of the father?”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong - faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it's too late.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“Whether a thought is spoken or not it is a real thing and it has power.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

“You cannot go on forever stealing what you need without regard for those who come after.”

Frank Herbert
Dune

"Dune Genesis" Quotes

“Don't give over all of your critical faculties to people in power, no matter how admirable those people may appear to be. Beneath the hero's facade you will find a human being who makes human mistakes. Enormous problems arise when human mistakes are made on the grand scale available to a superhero. And sometimes you run into another problem.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Genesis

“It is demonstrable that power structures tend to attract people who want power for the sake of power and that a significant proportion of such people are imbalanced — in a word, insane.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Genesis

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"Dune Messiah" Quotes

“An offer is only as good as the real thing it buys.’”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“Belief can be manipulated. Only knowledge is dangerous.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“Do not be trapped by the need to achieve anything. This way, you achieve everything.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“Empires do not suffer emptiness of purpose at the time of their creation. It is when they have become established that aims are lost and replaced by vague ritual.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“Four things cannot be hidden — love, smoke, a pillar of fire and a man striding across the open bled.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“Here lies a toppled god.
His fall was not a small one.
We did but build his pedestal,
A narrow and a tall one.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“If you need something to worship, then worship life - all life, every last crawling bit of it! We're all in this beauty together!”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“Only gods can safely risk perfection... it's a dangerous thing for a man.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“Power tends to isolate those who hold too much of it. Eventually, they lose touch with reality and fall.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“Reason is the first victim of strong emotion.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“The dice cannot read their own spots.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“There exists no separation between gods and men; one blends softly casual into the other.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“To come under siege was the inevitable fate of power.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“Truth suffers from too much analysis.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“Was it defeat to choose a lesser evil?”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“When a creature has developed into one thing, he will choose death rather than change into his opposite.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

“Words are such gross machinery, so primitive and ambiguous.”

Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah

"God Emperor of Dune" Quotes

“Caution is the path to mediocrity. Gliding, passionless mediocrity is all that most people think they can achieve.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“Enemies strengthen you. Allies weaken you.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“Governments can be useful to the governed only so long as inherent tendencies toward tyranny are restrained.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“History is a constant race between invention and catastrophe.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

Products by Frank Herbert

“If we deny emotion, we lose all touch with our internal universe.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“If you live in bad faith, lies will appear to you like the truth.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“If you want immortality, then deny form. Whatever has form has mortality. Beyond form is the formless, the immortal.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“Membership in a conspiracy, as in an army, frees people from the sense of personal responsibility.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“Most civilisation is based on cowardice. It's so easy to civilize by teaching cowardice. You water down the standards which would lead to bravery. You restrain the will. You regulate the appetites. You fence in the horizons. You make a law for every movement. You deny the existence of chaos. You teach even the children to breathe slowly. You tame.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“Most men go through life unchallenged, except at the final moment.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“Small souls who seek power over others first destroy the faith those others might have in themselves.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“The best prophets lead you up to the curtain and let you peer through for yourself.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“The only past which endures lies wordlessly within you.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“The problem of leadership is inevitably: Who will play God?”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“The truth always carries the ambiguity of the words used to express it.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“The undeserving maintain power by promoting hysteria.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“War is the most readily available form of chaos.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“Wealth is a tool of freedom. But the pursuit of wealth is the way to slavery.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“When I need to identify rebels, I look for men with principles.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“Words can carry any burden we wish. All that's required is agreement and a tradition upon which to build.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

“You should never be in the company of anyone with whom you would not want to die.”

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune

"Heretics of Dune" Quotes

“Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept. Who enjoys appearing inept?”

Frank Herbert
Heretics of Dune

“If enough of us believe, a new thing can be made to exist. Belief structure creates a filter through which chaos is sifted into order.”

Frank Herbert
Heretics of Dune

“Love is a very ancient force, which served its purpose in its day but no longer is essential for the survival of the species.”

Frank Herbert
Heretics of Dune

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“Memory never recaptures reality. Memory reconstructs. All reconstructions change the original, becoming external frames of reference that inevitably fall short.”

Frank Herbert
Heretics of Dune

“The surest way to keep a secret is to make someone think they already know the answer.”

Frank Herbert
Heretics of Dune

"Man's Future in Space" Quotes

“If you ask "Should we be in space?" you ask a nonsense question. We are in space. We will be in space.”

Frank Herbert
Man's Future in Space

"New World or No World" Quotes

“Ecology is a dirty seven-letter word to many people. They are like heavy sleepers refusing to be aroused. "Leave me alone! It's not time to get up yet!”

Frank Herbert
New World or No World

“The thing we must do intensely is be human together. People are more important than things. We must get together. The best thing humans can have going for them is each other. We have each other. We must reject everything which humiliates us. Humans are not objects of consumption. We must develop an absolute priority of humans ahead of profit — any humans ahead of any profit. Then we will survive. Together.”

Frank Herbert
New World or No World

"Science Fiction and a World in Crisis" Quotes

“By the time we awaken faintly to the awareness that we have been socially conditioned, we find ourselves so indoctrinated that it's difficult, if not impossible, to break the old patterns. Survival pressures demanding that we evolve, grow, and change, however, continue to proliferate. We don't want to change, but the floodgates open abruptly and we are overwhelmed.”

Frank Herbert
Science Fiction and a World in Crisis

"The Godmakers" Quotes

“When a wise man does not understand, he says: 'I do not understand.' The fool and the uncultured are ashamed of their ignorance. They remain silent when a question could bring them wisdom.”

Frank Herbert
The Godmakers

"The Green Brain" Quotes

“A slave is one who must produce wealth for another. There is only one true wealth in all the universe. I have given you some of it. I have given your father and your mate some of it. And your friends. This wealth is living time. Time. Are we slaves because we have given you more time to live?”

Frank Herbert
The Green Brain

"Whipping Star" Quotes

“Learning a language represents training in the delusions of that language.”

Frank Herbert
Whipping Star

"Without Me, You're Nothing" Quotes

“One of the best things to come out of the home computer revolution could be the general and widespread understanding of how severely limited logic really is.”

Frank Herbert
Without Me, You're Nothing