'Context switching is the mind-killer': Elon Musk shared a strange, altered quote from 'Dune' as he juggles leading Twitter with running 4 other companies

Elon Musk
Elon Musk  
  • Elon Musk has three times shared an altered version of a famous quote from sci-fi classic "Dune."

  • "Fear is not the mind-killer, context-switching is the mind-killer," Musk tweeted Wednesday.

  • The quote seemingly means that constantly switching focus is mind-numbing.

Elon Musk once again posted a bizarre altered clip from the 1984 sci-fi movie "Dune" in an apparent reference to his extremely hectic work schedule.

The nine-second clip, which Musk posted in the early hours of Wednesday morning, shows a scene from the movie featuring actors Siân Phillips and Kyle MacLachlan, with altered subtitles overlaid.

The text over the clip reads: "Fear is not the mind-killer. Context switching is the mind-killer," altering the words of a famous passage from the sci-fi series: "Fear is not the mind-killer."

Musk's post was captioned: "Oh, you know, keeping busy …"


Musk has repeated the edited quote before in an identical tweet in 2021, and again in a Clubhouse chat. Musk's altered quote is taken to mean that switching tasks and contexts repeatedly can be mind-numbing, while maintaining focus on one task is the real winner.

The billionaire CEO is currently juggling the leadership of five companies, including Twitter, where he has enacted a sweeping series of staff cuts and workflow changes in just six weeks.

His four other businesses include Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer; aerospace company SpaceX; a neurotechnology firm called Neuralink; and The Boring Company, a tunnel construction startup.

The original quote altered by Musk comes from the so-called "Litany against Fear," a text that makes up part of Frank Herbert's 1965 science fiction novel "Dune," on which the 1984 movie is based.

The original quote is: "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."

Dune's primary protagonist Paul Atreides reads the litany to himself when put to a test by a high ranking member of the Bene Gesserit, a secret sect.

The scene Musk posted to Twitter shows the sect member ordering Atreides to put his hand in a box filled with "pain." When Atreides puts his hand in the box, he recites the litany to himself to muster the courage to keep his hand inside, despite the agony.

The litany is one of the most famous lines from the novel and is even considered by some to be solid advice to overcome fear in real life.

While Musk has three times repeated his altered version of the quote, he has also shared the original quote, posting the first words of it to Twitter in March 2020, just as the COVID pandemic was beginning to sweep the globe.


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