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I read it and thought it was the worst book I ever read. I would be genuinly interested to see what I missed as it has bugged me for years that I didn't "get it". So please if you have time let me know what I missed. Thanks
Cote Thank you for taking the time for a perceptive and clear analysis.
I am teaching Hunger Games to my very clever Y9s after Christmas and we have a couple of weeks to prepare so I decided to use the Sonmi 451 chapters as a short story for us to read and analyse.
So while preparing my lessons for this week and thought I wonder what MN has to say about Cloud Atlas work avoidance, moi? and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, particularly the links to Nietzsche as I don't have much knowledge in that area.
Cote, I agree, it looks pessimistic, but OTOH in every 'book' there are civilised, good people which allow humankind to go on. Even Somni451 was a good person once she ascended - her moral compass was set right.
The whole idea of humankind repeating the same mistakes over and over again, is depressing, but the world keeps turning with some good people trying their best. Or summat <<articulate>>.
Pacific - The impression I got was that David Mitchell was pessimistic. No matter how enlightened we are as people and even as cultures, we make the same mistakes and are one major disaster away from breakdown of all law & order and a return to illiterate savagery.
The irony (and imho heartbreaking cruelty) of the book is that it ends on a positive note (Adam Ewing deciding to dedicate his life to fighting slavery, believing (iirc) that humankind can change, that we can learn to live in peace. Of course, we know how it all ended and can only "watch" his enthusiasm and optimism in sadness.
Oh I'm definitely seeing the movie. Can't wait. The movie can't possibly have all the angles of this film, but I just hope that they won't have butchered it too badly. In any case, it will be interesting to see Wachowskis' vision of Cloud Atlas settings & characters.
I have just finished rereading Cloud Atlas (and should really go to sleep!), but dug this thread out to say thank you to Coted'Azur . What a phantastic analysis of a great book. I am not sure though whether David Mitchell is making a positive statement ("See how resilient Man is; whatever disaster befalls mankind, some form of civilisation prevails") or a rather depressingly glum one ("Man is destined to make the same mistakes over and over and over again").
The man is 3 years my junior - I really envy him his creative power although I do wonder what it must be like, living with his mind??
I know this is quite an old thread but just wanted to say it really inspired me to read the book again with your notes in mind, so it might do the same for someone else who (like me) had missed this thread. Thanks.
crescent - Thank you for that trailer. It is clearer on the IMDB page, if anyone wants to see it again.
It looks like the directors have focused on the adventure and the theme of reincarnation, possibly at the expense of some of the other major themes. As you said, it would have been impossible for all of the above to fit into a 2-hour film. I'm looking forward to it, actually, even if it has been lobotomised into merely a thriller.
Cote, thank you again. (I know this is getting to be an old thread now). I reread Cloud Atlas, and enjoyed it all the more for your analysis. I am sorry, but I can't add anything noteworthy, and I honestly don't think I'm capable of having a discussion about it (not in writing anyway).
I really do appreciate your having taken the time and made the effort. and aplenty.
just saw the new movie trailer for Cloud Atlas, by the makers/producers of the Matrix. wonder how it could fit all the complicated themes written of here. iv never read the book nor plan to watch the film but i followed this thread a month ago so thought to give a heads up!
Maybe some of you already know this, but the word Meronym means "part of a whole that is used to refer to the whole", like the word face in the sentence "I see many familiar faces in the crowd" refers to person.
Meronym's friend Duophysite also has a meaningful name. The word Duophysite is a theological word that means "double nature", used to refer to Jesus being both 100% human and 100% God.
All seems to point at double meanings, but I can't say why author chose those names for those two characters. Any ideas?
OK, good to see I'm not just typing away to myself
So, the last post will be about Eternal Recurrence and those thoughts echoing through the six stories of Cloud Atlas, and various other connections between the stories: - AE almost died at the hands of Dr HG > In the next story, Frobisher says that he "never met a quack whom I didn't half suspect of plotting to do me in as expensively as he could contrive" before he reads the 2nd half of AE's journal - Frobisher writes a sextet for overlapping soloists > the layout of the book Cloud Atlas > "revolutionary or gimmicky?" - AE's ship "Prophetess" is preserved & displayed at Cape Yerbas where Sixsmith's yacht is moored, and where Luisa Rey goes to find his documents - Luisa Rey "remembers" the Chateau at Zedelghem when she reads Frobisher's letters - Sonmi "remembers" Luisa's fall off the bridge - Boerhaave was thrown off ship in A.E.'s journal > Luisa falls off the bridge > a literary critic gets thrown off a building at Timothy Cavendish's story > a replicant doll is thrown off a bridge in Sonmi's story - AE's story takes place near Hawaii > Sonmi's replicants' heaven is Hawaii > Zach'ry's story takes place in Hawaii - Luisa Rey's mother lives in "Ewingsville" > so named because the famous Abolitionist AE lived there? - AE saves Autua who then saves AE back > Luisa Rey's father saves Napier who then saves his daughter Luisa - About a ticket seller, TC says "the corporation breeds them from the same stem cell" > Sonmi & other sellers actually bred from the same stem cells (foreshadowing) - HG tries to kill AE, slavery abound in their time, Maori kill & enslave Moriori as sub-humans > Frobisher wants to leech off Ayrs, Ayrs steals from Frobisher > corporation kills Sixsmith, doesn't care if nuclear disaster happens, wants to kill Luisa > old people are treated cruelly, like sub-humans > people enslave replicants because they are sub-human then kill them off > Kona enslave & kill valley people - "Untermensch slums" > Sonmi's world still using Nietzsche terminology - In Sonmi's world, the abbess of people living in the wild like Tibetans still pray to Siddharta = Buddha - Meronym stayed with horse-raising tribe on Swannake Island where the nuclear plant that Luisa Rey investigated was - Sonmi's password is "These are the tears of things" = Sunt lacrimae rerum which is how Frobisher ends his last letter
This is a significant phrase, from Virgil's book The Aeneid. While gazing at a scene of Trojan War (deaths of his friends & countrymen), he weeps and says "sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt" (these are tears of things and sufferings touch the mind, perhaps better translated as "the world is a world of tears, and the burdens of mortality touch the heart", as in the Wikipedia link above), referring to the futility of war & waste of human life
References about eternal recurrence each story:
Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing A.E. says missionary's "gaze was gravid with the ancient future"
Letters from Zedelghem - Ayrs' final major work to be named "Eternal Recurrence" - Ayrs' "Bible" is Nietzsche's en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thus_Spoke_Zarathustra. Zarathustra was the founder of Zoroastrianism, which says God created twin spirits: One chose truth & light, the other chose untruth & darkness (alluding to the struggle between the savage and the civilized in each of us?) - At the end, Frobisher says that he will be born to relive his life again, before he commits suicide
Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery - "Half-lives" refers to (1) radiation, (2) structure of this book - Richard says his guru "is on his last reincarnation" before Nirvana - Luisa says Hitchcoc's best films are scary rollercoasters that let riders get off in the end giggling & eager for another ride. "The key to fictitious terror is partition or containment (Bates Motel is sealed off from the world). But a film that shows the world is a Bates Motel, well, that's the stuff of Buchoe, dystopia, depression" > No such luck in this book. Author doesn't let us giggle in the end. - Sixsmith's niece does radioastronomy research at big satellite dishes in Hawaii > same place Zach'ry's people think is sacred/haunted in the end
Ghastly Ordeal Of Timothy Cavendish - T.C. says re Luisa's account "not original, but there can't be anything not done 100 times between Aristophanes & Andrew Void Webber"
Sloosha's Crossin' An' Ev'rythin' After - They believe in reincarnation "we knew we'd always be reborn as Valleysmen, so death wasn't as scary for us" > unless Old Georgie gets you to behave like a savage (reminiscent of Moriori's philosophy of pacifism) - Icon'ry diary/thoughts/lives of ancestors, for posterity - Zach'ry sees a globe and says "if world is a ball, why don't we fall off?" - They sing "Rudolph the Red-Ringed Goat Thief" > how the Xmas song has changed > fragility of knowledge
Although not technically recurrence per se, there is also the theme of reincarnation (with the comet birthmark), from a psychopathic murderer (probably) and then an immoral & arrogant thief, to an altruistic person with principles who risks her life for what is right, then first a reluctant martyr and then to a deliberately altruistic person with morals and principles.
... and still this "improvement" of personality and behaviour of every soul "crossing ages like clouds cross the skies" doesn't save humanity. Why? Is it because reincarnated people don't remember their previous lives, except for fleeting visions of old castles and falling off bridges?
I'm reading it Cote! It is very enriching and I am looking forward to reading the book again with your posts next to me. Thank you; hard work but very worthwhile for us ignorant lot.
I'd not heard of the San Luis Rey bridge book, but I am interested in reading it now. I knew F 451, it was one of the first sc fi books I read, and I had noted that Sonmi had the same number, but hadn't got much further with that thought.
I tend to read first for the plot and characters, and then subsequent reads get more out of a book. DH has stashed Cloud Atlas so I hadn't got around to re-reading as my eye hasn't just fallen on it. (We are in the process of getting more shelves, and stashed books are gradually coming out into the light!)
Your notes are very definitely appreciated. Thank you