Archive for October, 2010

Cloud Atlas

First time I’ve read David Mitchell, and his writing/storytelling greatly impressed me.

First, I found his method for conveying the book’s themes to be highly engaging and emotionally effective.  The themes that most resonated with me were slave/master, recurrence of events throughout human history, the surface mutability of those experiencing the events, quest for power and the societal harms that accompany it, and the enduring human characteristics that, in some sense, negate time’s passage.

First, Mitchell composed the novel by creating six stories, broken up, with each occuring chronologically, except for the sixth.  This story entirely completes itself in one chapter.  That’s because Mitchell then reverses the order and ends the novel with the original character.  This structure simultaneously emphasises a static human nature with only the external world differing.  No matter which way the world’s clock runs, the same themes regarding power imbalances and quest for power continue unabated.

Slave/Master:  In each story, some Mitchell creates some variation on this theme. Sometimes it’s more parasitic – as in Dr. Goose, or the fabricants – and other times it’s more just a pure drive for power, as in Sloosha’s story.  Either way, one person/group seeks advancement not through skill or creativity, but through brutality and suppression.

Recurrence of events: I touched on this above, both with the novel’s structure and the slave/master theme.  Basically, no matter what period, either future or past, humanity continued to relive and perpetrate the same essence of events. Sometimes the victim was one person, as in Timothy Cavendish.  Other times, whole societies suffered, as in the fabricants.  Either way, no matter the time period, the same events occured, in both a macro and micro sense.


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