Round and Round We Go

, David Mitchell:

Sometimes the fluffy bunny of incredulity zooms round the bend so rapidly that the greyhound of language is left, agog, in the starting cage.

Where there’s bluster … there’s duplicity.

There was a line in the movie Arrival that seemed to describe Cloud Atlas perfectly: A sentence written from both ends at the same time (paraphrase). In Arrival, it refers to a circular notion of time. In Cloud Atlas, it connects events, people, and themes from one place in history to some place in the future and back again. It is, more or less, a Benjamin Button of a book. Just as the reader thinks she is progressing to a teleological conclusion, she begins to go backward in time, making connections from a now familiar future to past events, which may or may not make sense of them. If you watch Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, you may get my meaning here. For instance, is it any kind of coincidence that I have read/watched/viewed all three of these works within the last six months, or is everything really and truly connected? Especially given the fact that I just read Wikipedia’s description of the novel and found that the style was inspired by Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler, reviewed in these pages a few months back.

There are long winter nights ahead and if, on several of them, you find your mind craves to attempt to penetrate a conundrum more interesting than Donald Trump, I suggest you pick up Cloud Atlas. Personally, I’m going to watch the movie again. It should make much more sense to me now.