Atlas is a brilliant novel, and quite possibly David Mitchell's
best work to date. Through six distinct narratives and narrators,
spanning time and geography, he unearths the footprints left behind
by our ancestors' collective yearning to build empires at the expense
of native peoples, and then traces those footprints forward in time
to an imagined and dismal future.
Ours is a scary world.
We've advanced by leaps and bounds technologically, but on a global
scale, we are still incredibly immature and completely lack the
ability to co-exist peacefully in a world replete with differences.
It is appalling, and we should be taking seriously the impact of
our actions on the future of this mudball we call home.
This feels like David
Mitchell's year. Cloud Atlas is certainly
leading the way with the bookies, and has also garnered many exceptional
and glowing reviews. Still, we've seen the judges bypass the
acknowledged favorite before, and it could certainly happen again
this year. No matter what the judges decide, Cloud
Atlas is a book that deserves to be read and re-read, admired
and considered seriously.
conflict between corporations and activists is that of narcolepsy
versus remembrance. The corporations have money, power, and
influence. Our sole weapon is public outrage. Outrage
blocked the Yuccan Dam, ousted Nixon, and, in part, terminated the
monstrosities in Vietnam. But outrage is unwieldy to manufacture
and handle. First, you need scrutiny; second, widespread awareness;
only when this reaches a critical mass does public outrage explode
into being. Any stage may be sabotaged. The world's
Alberto Grimaldi's can fight scrutiny by burying truth in committees,
dullness, or misinformation, or by intimidating the scrutinizers.
They can extinguish awareness by dumbing down education, owning
TV stations, paying "guest fees" to leader writer, or
just buying the media up. The media... is where democracies
conduct their civil wars."
"Three or four times
only in my youth did I glimpse the Joyous Isles, before they were
lost to fogs, depressions, cold fronts, ill winds, and contrary
tides... I mistook them for adulthood. Assuming they were
a fixed feature in my life's voyage, I neglected to record their
latitude, their longitude, their approach. Young ruddy fool.
What wouldn't I give now for a never-changing map of the ever-constant
ineffable? To possess, as it were, an atlas of clouds."
"My vision roamed
the moor, rested on a burial mound, an abandoned sheep pen, hovered
on a Norman church yielding to a Druidic element at last, skipped
to a power station, skimmed the ink-stained sea of the Danes to
the Humber Bridge, tracked a war plane over corrugated fields.
Poor England. Too much history for its acreage. Years
grow inward here, like my toenails."