There may come a point in an organism’s development where it becomes able to extensively control its own environment to the degree that external threats are pretty much nonexistent. At this point the question arises: ‘What to do?’
I saw Cloud Atlas recently. Twice. I have read a bunch of reviews for it, which are pretty middling, describing it as many things. Dodgy prosthetics. Trite moralising. Overly long. Disjointed. Ambitious failure. Feel free to chart these out yourself…
I agree that it was ambitious, and I agree that it failed to reach the mainstream, but I was very impressed. A lot happens in the 2-3 hours of the film, and even more goes on behind the scenes. The cinematography was lovely, and the music too. My take: We are witnessing the lives and interactions of a group of souls across several generations. In addition, certain souls remain typecast in fairly constant roles, whereas other seem to change and develop. See the table below (from the Wiki):
|Actor||“The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing” (1849)||“Letters from Zedelghem” (1936)||“Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery” (1973)||“The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish” (2012)||“An Orison of Sonmi~451″ (2144)||“Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After” (2321)|
|Tom Hanks||Dr. Henry Goose||Hotel Manager||Isaac Sachs||Dermot Hoggins||Cavendish Look-a-like Actor||Zachry|
|Halle Berry||Native Woman||Jocasta Ayrs||Luisa Rey||Indian Party Guest||Ovid||Meronym|
|Jim Broadbent||Captain Molyneux||Vyvyan Ayrs||N/A||Timothy Cavendish||Korean Musician||Prescient 2|
|Hugo Weaving||Haskell Moore||Tadeusz Kesselring||Bill Smoke||Nurse Noakes||Boardman Mephi||Old Georgie|
|Jim Sturgess||Adam Ewing||Poor Hotel Guest||Megan’s Dad||Highlander||Hae-Joo Chang||Adam / Zachry Brother-in-Law|
|Doona Bae||Tilda Ewing||N/A||Megan’s Mom, Mexican Woman||N/A||Sonmi~451, Sonmi~351, Sonmi Prostitute||N/A|
|Ben Whishaw||Cabin Boy||Robert Frobisher||Store Clerk||Georgette||N/A||Tribesman|
|James D’Arcy||N/A||Young Rufus Sixsmith||Old Rufus Sixsmith||Nurse James||Archivist||N/A|
|Zhou Xun||N/A||N/A||Talbot / Hotel Manager||N/A||Yoona~939||Rose|
|Keith David||Kupaka||N/A||Joe Napier||N/A||An-kor Apis||Prescient|
|David Gyasi||Autua||N/A||Lester Rey||N/A||N/A||Duophysite|
|Susan Sarandon||Madame Horrox||N/A||N/A||Older Ursula||Yosouf Suleiman||Abbess|
|Hugh Grant||Rev. Giles Horrox||Hotel Heavy||Lloyd Hooks||Denholme Cavendish||Seer Rhee||Kona Chief|
Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving play characters bound to order and consistency, the former as some kind of profiteer who works the system to his advantage, the latter as the defender of the status quo. Weaving’s Nurse Noakes was exquisite! By contrast:
Tom Hanks starts off greedy, then works his way towards happiness at the end.
Halle Berry is questing for truth, becoming increasingly empowered towards the end.
Jim Sturgess starts off struggling to develop a moral backbone, and towards the end is increasingly empowered in defence of his ideals.
Doona Bae starts off as Jim Sturgess’ love, meekly sharing his moral sensibilities, and is elevated to godhood at the end.
There are lots of stories here, and the interactions between them merit exploration too. I know the prosthetics may be distracting, but they serve to identify the souls by a similarity of appearance. Alternative devices may have been more subtle, but I suspect would have made the identification nigh impossible for people.
I have a soft spot for the words of Sonmi – very simple but elegant language, food for the soul. To those who described the meaning as some wishy washy tale of cosmic interconnectedness, I’d say that a shallow man sees his own reflection in the deepest of ponds.
‘Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.’ – Sonmi-451
I started to see the matrix today. More specifically, the semiotic web as described in Patrick Dunn’s text on Postmodern Magic. The semiotic web/matrix is the totality of interrelated symbols and meaning that chart our experiences.
The term matrix or lattice has connotations of being crystalline and rigid – an oppressive sentiment that may be apt for the film the Matrix – which is why the web description is more appealing to me. It occurred to me however that the description of the semiotic web is still lacking something, or at least, it was for me.
The symbols are ALIVE. Do not view the semiotic web as a collection of things/points/nodes. The Net of Indra is a beautiful metaphor worth thinking about, and although the gems are like things, their identity is partly eroded and partly composed by the fact they reflect all the others. i.e. the identity of a thing is contextual (its place in the semiotic web). A change in one affects the others. But even more than this, the symbols are the landscape of our desires, ideals and motivations – which makes them decidedly ACTIVE. Imagine the landscape topology, with rivers flowing between peaks. Then consider the topology of the semiotic web:
In a crude sense, the symbol of a wall or obstacle serves to channel most ambulatory beings towards symbols of access and passage. Otherwise we would walk into walls more often! The very nature of the semiotic web serves to channel energy and direct us. More significant symbols, like ideals (and arguably gods) similarly distort the web, so that energies flow in different directions. As a ball rolls downhill into a depression, as the gravity well draws in objects, so too does the semiotic web guide and influence.
This is why I love Aikido so much: It works within the semiotic web so well. Rather than cruder approaches which might strike blows to deal with threats, Aikido literally takes advantage of the individual’s situation and interrelations within the web. Aikido is a form of magic made manifest – and as you get better at it you start to see the channels of people’s intentions. A bit like the scene in Donnie Darko when he starts to see the space-time worms emerging from the solar plexus, you start to see these energy flow more clearly, and how to direct them in different ways. I think a true master never has to fight, simply by virtue of avoiding conflicts before they even erupt.
Finally, I managed to see this yesterday, after a lot of interesting comments and reviews from others. There are going to be SPOILERS so be warned. First off: I really enjoyed it. It’s always a pleasure watching Sigourney Weaver beating the cr*p out of somebody. It was a good mix of horror with a twist, and there were some fun concepts based around the idea of a corporate sacrifice factory designed to prevent/delay the end of the world.
Joss Whedon’s touch was evident in the camp larger than life gratuitousness of some of the characters and scenes. A squad of troops being slaughtered in a nightmarish lift-foyer massacre. An office party with a silent and ignored backdrop of a brutal undead assault. Person catching a friend’s severed head.
The points I found thought-provoking were these:
1. Given the need to appease the BBG (Big Bad God) with the sacrifices, where is the moral compass on this one? I’ll refer to the sacrifices as the ‘victims’
2. How realistic was the portrayal of the corporation employees?
Gods can be cruel. For those of you who don’t know the tale of Cassandra, see here. In short, the sun god Apollo gifted Cassandra with the ability to see the future, but when this act of generosity failed to open her legs, he spitefully twisted the gift into a curse. Cassandra was left with the knowledge of future events, but could neither alter these events nor convince others of the validity of her predictions.
Hot sun kisses
A daffodil waves
Recollections steal me
Rock hard shower
Yet another tune
Each breath sings
Aromatic skin dances
Resting in light
Lying next to
Ecstasies of friction
Merry washing bubbles
Unkempt bed hair
Delicious indiscretions blossom
I’m glowing brightly
Lovely cookie monster
Around Halloween, when the shops fill up with plastic fangs and pumpkins, I am led to wonder what the point of it all is nowadays. What is the role of horror in modern life? One aspect of it is, for me, being reminded that no matter how much we feel safe and in control with all our gadgetry and sophistication, the dark is just outside. I find powerful horror stories to be the ones which remind me of just how fragile this sense of control is, by offering up scenarios that believably transform mundane life into a nightmare.
Here is one such scenario that came to me through real life inspiration, with a small added embellishment for effect!