by Scott Creighton
“The problem you create is a political one… There is a natural order to this world and those who try to upend it do not fare well”
So, I’m reading David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and I’ve come to understand what it is that kept U.S. corporations in Vichy Hollywood from financing the film. In a word, it’s blasphemous in it’s encompassing review of our “progress” from the days of imposing brutal slavery on not just the darker skinned less violent tribes we happened across, but also the generally weaker beings in our own societies. This is the nature and the guiding principle of corporatism; the only sanctioned religion of the Washington Consensus.
“Be that as it may, future ages will still be corpocratic ones. Corpocracy isn’t just another political system that will come and go – corpocracy is the natural order, in harmony with nature.”
At the heart of Cloud Atlas is one recurring theme: knowledge must be carefully controlled working your way up the stratified class system and completely withheld from the least of society altogether so that stability and order can be maintained.
Does this tie into the recent attempt to shut down the internet and control the sharing of information freely from one user to the next? Does this tie into the new globalist Education First program being forced on the people of the occupied neoliberal nations? Does this tie into the murder of Aaron Swartz who swore that access to knowledge must never depend on access to money and took action to see that it wasn’t?
“What if the differences between social strata stem not from genomics or inherent xcellence or even dollars, but merely differences in knowledge? Would this not mean the whole Pyramid is built on shifting sands?”
It’s one thing to create some new black cowboy hero like Django Unchained, running around cartoonishly shooting people for money and status, killing white folk like it’s going out of style as if that ends the problem of just a few greedy folks out there.
It’s another thing entirely to suggest that slavery was, is and will be again until we are forced to take a real hard look at ourselves and the things we are being taught to believe are universal truths about our species: the natural order of things.
The honored film (Django) tells us the past is as dead as the greedy plantation owner while the other, less honored even shunned film (Cloud) shows us that the root of the developing corpocracy (the New World Order and other names) is something we disingenuously convince ourselves that gave up long ago when in fact we have never abolished it and we never will if those who write the propaganda have their way. TIME called it the worst movie of 2012. Guess it struck a nerve, huh?
The book is cyclical. It starts where it ends on many different levels. It chronicles not the lives of reincarnated characters, but the history of the rise of the corporate state itself, starting with mercantilism and free trade exploitation, slavery and savagery of the imperialist nations of the world, and ends in a similar place some 600 years or so in the future on the other side of the world and ironically in the final destination of the sailing ship on which the opening diary is being written; Hawaii.
After the ultimate incarnation of the corporate state is brought down by a single assented slave with a thirst for knowledge, humanity is cast back nearly a millennium and all our social and economic “progress’ is wiped away leaving us to start all over again anew with only a single testimony from an enlightened slave to lead the way.
The journals, books, sextets… are created in one story and inspire in the next. What inspires is not a formulaic transmission of some new economic algorithm or a plan to propagandize the masses, but rather and honest recounting of our devolving humanity, shared one to another like the warnings of a devoted father to a lost son.
It is that knowledge ultimately, that heartfelt honesty, which moves each protagonist to change or to perish in pursuit.
Cloud is filled with insight and so well written that it’s hard to put down.
The format of the storytelling is riveting leaving off each story after slowly bringing you in and captivating you with it’s characters, storyline and pace. Each is a half finished book. Each a half finished love affair. A self conscious trick to be sure, but an effective and even playful one.
I will do a full review of the book once I finish it. But I thought it needed to be addressed in light of so many recent developments including that of the untimely demise of Aaron Swartz.
I cannot speak to the film version of this work. It seems a short time to fully develop these characters and a difficult presentation to expect audience members to understand in terms of having the actors playing the various roles in all of the stories.
In that regard, those who wish to marginalize the film and indeed the book, like they did with Avatar, will be given a built in theme to use: reincarnation. Like Avatar before it, a deeply subversive and important message gets lost by those who simply hear that it focuses on this issue and they disregard it out of hand not wishing to have a religious doctrine preached to them at the cost of 17.00 per ticket.
But this film is no more about reincarnation than Avatar was about green industries and “mother earth worship” but that’s enough for propagandists to marginalize them from various sectors of society who should in fact see the films.
The book is leaps and bounds ahead of many subversive novels that I have read in scope, skill, talent and insight. In many ways it is a modern version of 1984 delving more into the history and development of tyrannical corporatism than simply presenting it as a future state, which it does as well and probably more accurately than Orwell or Huxley could have in their times. There is even a reference to those two in the book which I found interesting.
Cloud Atlas shows us something that the current world as it is would rather you not see and that is why it was not made by the handful of Vishy Hollywood production companies and then run around the country in a limited and very short distribution roll-out.
That is why it was completely dismissed by the Vishy awards academies and denigrated by the various reviewers who sat uneasily watching the film deconstruct the abject vacancy of the lives they so arduously pursue.
One character in the film who just happened to be a critic was simply tossed off a balcony to set the action of the story in motion. Perhaps that is a shot at the critics they knew would invariably pan the book and the film in the future. Must have given Mitchell a chuckle to write that.
Over halfway through and I can’t recommend the book enough.
The irony of a corporate state doing their level best to shield this work (literary and film) from the public when it seems to center around the idea that ideas like this are what will eventually free us from the corporate state and the only thing that can… is not lost on me.
In the corpocracy “Union’ is the name of the terrorist threat to be feared and stamped out and if you don’t see us moving in that direction now, to borrow a bit of a phrase, then there is blind, there is willfully blind and then there is you.
“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others past and present. And by each crime and every kindness we birth our future”