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Cloud Atlas Draft

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Cloud Atlas

“The important part of this responsibility becomes manifest when we as ourselves: out of the system of values giving consistency to culture, which ones shall we choose for making them the sense of our life? The answer is based, of course, on free choice. But this implies a great responsibility, because we have to decide which values we choose for guiding our being: placing us in a ridiculous and ephemeral world, or those which offer depth to our personality and elevate it to the maximum of humanity.” (Source: Culture and Freedom (Romanian Philosophical Studies, III), (3rd ed.), The Relation Between Value and Cultural Development. In Marin Aiftinca, pp. 16-17.)

“So, the past erupts into the present not only announcing the other, repressed, side of modernity but also seeding a more unruly disturbance. Modernity does not merely become more complex through the addition of the unacknowledged; it remains irretrievably undone by the questions it can no longer contain. The archaic, presumed to lie back there in the mist of time, appears in the midst of modernity bearing another sense, another direction. An absence, the ‘lost’ world of the past against which the present measures its ‘progress’, unexpectedly returns to haunt modernity. Rational certitude confronts a ghost that bears witness to the return of the apparently timeless economy of the ‘archaic’ and the ‘primitive’: ‘a rumour of words vanish no sooner than they are uttered, and which are therefore lost forever.’ For the potent traces of such lost languages, of diverse cultural configurations of time and place – prehistoric rock paintings in South Africa and Zimbabwe, pre-Colombian cities in the jungles and deserts of the Americas, song lines in the Australian bush, prayer flags in Asian mountain passes – can prise open the present to interrogate its all-inclusive manner of knowing. The tourist ‘exotic’ can unexpectedly testify to a deeper testament when an absence of immediate meaning can open up a rift in time.” (Source: A Question of History. In Iain Chambers (Ed.). Culture after Humanism (History, Culture, and Subjectivity) (p. 17) Chambers Iain.)

“The Baroque announces a border, most obviously in a line drawn between the ‘ancients’ and the ‘moderns’, between religious cosmology and secular science, but also in its dramatic establishment of an ambiguous threshold between what is familiar and what remains foreign. Its presence is an unsettling one within the narratives of modernity, a modernity that it seemingly simultaneously founds and disavows. For the Baroque’s excessive energies and diverse directions cast an unruly commentary across the unilateral ‘progress’ subsequently installed by modern mythology. All knowledge pertains to narrative, to a way of telling that returns us the the familiar, in which the new, the discovery, the ‘there’, is returned to the ‘here’, is rendered recognisable in a shared economy of sense. But it would be foolish and denying, ultimately life-threatening, to ignore the uncanny, the unstable and interceptive voices that call upon us to tell the story again and again seeking to accommodate what the previous telling ignored and repressed. So, the account is never complete. The ‘truth’ it bears is forever open to further interrogation. History thinks it has come home, only to discover that it has established a new point of departure.” (Source: History, Baroque and Judgement of Angels. In Iain Chambers (Ed.). Culture After Humanism (History, Culture, Subjectivity) (pp. 96-97) Chambers Iain.)

“Musics and memories: the perpetual translation of space – the space of a language, a sound, an image, a life – into the peculiarities of a place, into the shaft of existence constituted by the passing ‘now’, inevitably invokes the translation of geography into ontology, of the syntax of sound and images into the event of singing and seeing, of the abstract into body. To consider these questions in the context of sound, even in the epoch of global technological reproduction, is to lend attention to the metaphorical and metamorphosing power of music giving voice the enigma. As a language, as an economic institution and set of cultural practices, a way of listening to and sounding out the world, music contributes not only to the making of soundscapes, but also to variegated culturalscapes in which we move. As such it is also ‘a repository of our knowing and our memory.” (Source: A Voice in the Dark, A Map of Memory. Chambers Iain. (2001). A Voice in the Dark, A Map of Memory. In Iain Chambers (Ed.). Culture After Humanism (History, Culture, and Subjectivity). (p. 115) Chambers Iain)

“The political and ethical understandings that can be drawn from these histories, from these sounds as they course through our lives and resonate in our sense of becoming, is not only that they simultaneously reveal a diverse and more experimental manner of inhabiting and testing its possibilities. As they sound off against, and yearn across, the divisions of our time they open up spaces within the inherited to stretch and tear the accepted, to disturb and undercut the ordained, to sound the world in a diverse key.” (Source: A Voice in the Dark, A Map of Memory. In Iain Chambers. (2001). In Culture After Humanism (History, Culture,, Subjectivity) (p. 112).)

“Accordingly Heidegger nominates as true history not the mere accumulation of time in facts, figures, institutions and events, but the unfolding of being that comes to meet us, and which never disappears. To turn to history, as to turn to the work of art, is to concentrate on the centrality of recollection (Andenken) and remembrance (Erinnerung). What comes out of the past to meet and envelop us is a historical memory greater than the individual act of remembering: ‘I can’t be restored or framed’. Here, what cannot be contained in the representation lives on as a shadow or trace that confutes and exceeds the subject-centred economy of appropriation and its pedagogy of identity. What comes out of the past bears more than any individual can contain or explain. Further, it reveals the past as a future. For what precedes us is the potentiality that permits us to turn to face the unhomely and confront the enigma of our being. In the danger of the present we are drawn to the past that discloses the history that has brought us here. As though in a flash (what for Walter Benjamin ‘flares up’ in a moment of danger) a sense of being that outshines its oblivion in the calculations of its present appropriation is returned to the care of memory and the inheritance of the possible.” (Source: Earth Frames, Heidegger, Humanism and Home. In Iain Chambers. (p. 65). Culture After Humanism (History, Culture, and Subjectivity) Chambers Iain. (2001).)

“The greatest weight.—What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: "This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence—even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!"
Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: "You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine." If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are or perhaps crush you. The question in each and every thing, "Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?" would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?” (Source: Selections From Nietzsche, the Gay Science (1882/1887). (1974). Retrieved from

“The Eternal Return is basically the theory that there is infinite time and a finite number of events, and eventually the events will recur again and again infinitely. Consider the world as a super-complex chess game. If games of chess are played one after another forever, eventually a game will be repeated since there is only a finite number of possible games. It is the same with the world; eventually events will recur in the same order. The world is an eternal process of coming to be and passing away. The process, however, has no beginning or end. Eventually every combination of matter and energy will be realized and repeated an infinite number of times.” (Source: Mcdonald Matt. (n.d.). Eternal Recurrence. Retrieved from

“Nietzsche believed that there is no final state of the universe; that the world is in a constant state of flux, always changing and becoming: "If the world had a goal it must have been reached." (WP 1063) There is no permanence, no duration, no "once-and-for-all": "That a state of equilibrium is never reached proves that it is not possible." (WP 1064) The world never reaches a final state. There is no finality of time; time is infinite. There is also no beginning to time. Nietzsche's time is like a cyclic time, non-linear, bent round in to a circle.” (Source: Mcdonald Matt. (n.d.). Eternal Recurrence. Retrieved from

“On this integrated-self picture, integrity is a matter of knowing “who one is’ and what one stands for. It involves being one’s own person, and being that same person reliably over time and despite countervailing pressure from other people or changing fashion in the moral commitments of others.” (Source: Mendus Susan. (2009). Integrity. In Susan Mendus (Ed.). Politics and Morality (p. 17). United Kingdom: Polity Press.)

“…Bernard Williams defines integrity as a matter of standing by what one believes to be ethically necessary. The word ‘ethically’ is important because it points to a distinction between different kinds of value: it suggests that there may not be simply one distinctively moral value, but different kinds of broadly ethical values, some of which reflect the agent’s own beliefs and commitments, and which are associated with his or her integrity, while others reflect the values of society, or of what Calhoun calls ‘the community of reasoners’, and are associated with social or conventional morality. Moreover, just as we may sometimes be glad if people (like Himmler) do not retain their integrity, so we may, sometimes be glad if people do not adhere to the dictates of social or conventional morality.” (Source: Mendus Susan. (2009). Integrity. In Susan Mendus (Ed.). Politics and Morality (p. 28). United Kingdom: Polity Press.)


Aiftincă Marin. (2001). Culture and Freedom (Romanian Philosophical Studies.III). (3rd ed.). United States of America: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy.

Bishop Graham. (2014). "Genomed to alter history": Ideology, Discourse and the Politics of Text in David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. [Microsoft Word document]. Retrieved from

Chambers Iain. (2001). Culture After Humanism (History, Culture, Subjectivity). London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Gardner David M., & Jones Gardiner Mary. (1976). Consumerism, A New Force in Society. Canada: Lexington Books. D.C. Heath and Company.

Hussain Waheed. (2006). Democratic Capitalism and Respect for the Value of Freedom. [PDF]. Retrieved from

Martin Ailsa. (n.d.). Power, Culture and Resistance: Is 'Cloud Atlas' an Anti Capitalist Novel? [PDF]. Retrieved from

Mcdonald Matt. (n.d.). Eternal Recurrence. Retrieved from

Mendus Susan. (2009). Politics and Morality. United Kingdom: Polity Press.

Selections from Nietzsche, the Gay Science (1882/1887). (1974). Retrieved from

Tan Cenk. (2014). David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas: A Multitiude of Iconic Signs. [PDF]. Retrieved from
Welch Shay. (2013). Social Freedom and the Value(s) of Friendship. [PDF]. Retrieved from

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