1. Cloud Atlas is a meterology of spirit. Mitchell fictionalizes the various shapes that the will to power assumes across space and time. He’s like Hegel, who writes a phenomenology of spirit, in this respect except Mitchell’s a good prose stylist. That, and he doesn’t believe history is governed by logic or rules.
4. Save X, then X will save Y, and Y will be someone you love.
5. Human nature is a hydra, as is the HYDRA nuclear reactor, the most pernicious manifestation of the will to power. Unlimited power is a mushroom cloud that destroys indiscriminately.
6. Although he’s a hapless, gullible man (a notary from San Francisco, no less!), Adam Ewing has great philosophical insight. Such insight isn’t linear or cumulative or progressive. It’s episodic. And it’s just as likely to occur in the 1850s as it is in the early 21st century.
7. In Frobisher’s suicide letter, his riff on eternal recurrence is wrong. But that’s okay. His exuberance comes from Nietzsche who partially botches it, too. Eternal recurrence isn’t a sequence of events that happens in the exact same order ad infinitum. It’s a metaphysical reality, namely, the will to power, which is indepedent of time in a way that its phenomenal appearances are not.
8. Adam Ewing isn’t represented as having a birthmark, but I bet you an ARC of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet that he does. He reads and writes, he saves Attua, he suffers at the hands of Dr. Goose, he diagnoses the problem of the existence and even proposes a solution, thank you very much, his journal is read by Frobisher, and I know—I just know—that when he gets to San Francisco, his comet-shaped birthmark, which no one knows about, not even David Mitchell, will throb slightly under his shirt when he nears an old haunt of Mark Twain’s.
9. Frobisher reads Ewing’s journal. Luisa reads Frobisher’s letters and listens to his Cloud Atlas Sextet. Cavendish reads “Half Lives.” Sonmi watches a disney about Cavendish’s ghastly ordeal. Zach’ry invokes Sonmi through oral traditions. I read Cloud Atlas. You read this post—and off we go. History is intertextual. Inter-subjective, too. We’re interlocking words, stories, and experiences. Like Mozartian leitmotifs.
10. My love of symmetry demands a ten!