Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Finally finished David Mitchell's, Cloud Atlas. It was really worth the trip to Tokyo to attain a copy of it. The book is a virtuoso performance, brilliantly structured, wonderfully plotted with lots of twists and turns, with a rainbow of genres to sample as you read it. The book's structure is 6 different narratives that interweave through space and time, and each narrative is a different genre. One is historical, one mystery, one thriller, one science fiction, one a sort of comedy of manners, etc. And it's all about power politics and the evolutions and demises of social orders throughout history and the individual's responsibility to those rises and falls. In the wake of the election despair, it was a heartening book.

A spoiler follows. A really big spoiler, so just don't read on if you don't want to read the actual *end of the book*. It the very end of the book that sums up how I feel (more than ever) after the results of this election.

** Jackson is the narrator's son

"A life spent shaping a world I *want* Jackson to inherit, not one I *fear* Jackson shall inherit, this strikes me as a life worth the living. Upon my return to San Francisco, I shall pledge myself to the Abolitionist cause, because I owe my life to a self-freed slave, & because I must begin somewhere.

I hear my father-in-law's response. 'oho, fine, Whiggish sentiments, Adam. But don't tell *me* about justice! Ride to Tennessee on an ass & convince the red-necks that they are merely white-washed negroes & their negroes are black-washed Whites! Sail to the Old World, tell 'em their imperial slaves' rights are as inalienable as the Queen of Belgium's! Oh, you'll grow hoarse, poor & grey in caucuses! You'll be spat on, shot at, lynched, pacified with medals, spurned by backwoodsmen! Crucified! Naive, dreaming Adam. He who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain & his family must pay it along with him! & only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!'

Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"


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