"The world is really so surreal these days that it's necessary for us to blunt it somehow in order to stay sane. The artist functions to short-circuit the buffering mechanism, so that people can occasionally perceive the weirdness of things as they are."
There are several mentions of message cylinders in the Dune novels. The idea is that these metal cylinders are locked; the message tape itself typically corrodes quickly and becomes unreadable when exposed to air.
This does not seem to be one of the more highly developed technologies - many times, they are described has having been captured and read by the enemy.
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