Book Quotes: Cloud Atlas

October 26th 2013

Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell

What moral to draw? Peace, though beloved of our lord, is a cardinal virtue only if your neighbors share your conscience.”
Pg. 16 Ewing
“Implausible truth can serve one better than plausible fiction.”
Pg. 49 Frobisher
“A man is ruined when the times change but he does not. Permit me to add, empires fall for the same reason.”
Pg. 76 Frobisher
Sophistry makes a fine smoke screen.”
Pg. 80 Frobisher
“Anything is true if enough people believe it is.”
Pg. 99 Rey
How is it some men attain mastery over others while the vast majority live and die as minions, as livestock? The answer is a holy trinity. First: God-given gifts of charisma. Second: the discipline to nurture these gifts to maturity, for though humanity’s topsoil is fertile with talent, only one seed in ten thousand will ever flower---for want of discipline. Third: the will to power. This is the enigma at the core of the various destinies of men. What drives some to accrue power where the majority of their compatriots lose, mishandle, or eschew power? Is it addiction? Wealth? Survival? Natural selection? I propose these are all pretexts and results, not the root cause. The only answer can be ‘There is no “Why.” This is our nature,’ ‘Who’ and ‘What’ run deeper than ‘Why.’
Pg. 129 Rey (Grimaldi)
“The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.”
Pg. 178 Cavendish
“To mistake a book of fairy tales for Nea So Copros may seem laughable to you, a pureblood, but perpetual encagement endows any mirage of salvation with credibility. Ascension creates a hunger sharp enough to conseme the subject’s sanity, in time.”
Pg. 193 ~451
“The giant told me to follow, but I hesitated: Boom-Sook had ordered me not to leave the room. Wing~027 warned me, “Sonmi~451, You must create catechisms of your own.”
Pg. 207 ~451
“We are only what we know, and I wished to be much more than I was, sorely.”
Pg. 208 ~451
Fury forges Will.”
-Pg. 210 ~451
“My soul was ‘ready half stoned, yay, surefire I’d not get re-birthed, so what’d I got to lose?”
Pg. 268 Zachry
Times are you say a person’s b’liefs ain’t true, they think you’re sayin’ their lifes ain’t true an’ their truth ain’t true.”
Pg. 273 Zachry (Meronym)
“I und’standed why Meronym’d not said the hole true ‘bout Prescience Isle an’ her tribe too. People b’lief the world is built so an’ telling ‘em it ain’t so caves the roofs on their heads’n’maybe yours.”
Pg. 282 Zachry
Times are pretendin’ can bend bein’.”
Pg. 283 Zachry
Siddhartha is a dead man and a living Ideal.”
Pg. 332 ~451
“Ascended fabricants need a Catechism, to define their ideals, to harness their anger, to channel their energies.”
-Pg. 346 ~451
Middle age is flown, but it is attitude, not years, that condemns one to the ranks of the Undead, or else proffers salvation. In the domain of the young there dwells many an Undead soul. They rush about so, their inner putrefaction is concealed for a few decades, that is all.”
Pg. 386 Cavendish
“I lied, yes, but that doesn’t make me a liar. Lying’s wrong, but when the world spins backwards, a small wrong may be a big right.”
Pg. 400 Rey (Joe Napier)
“E.’s character depends on which angle you’re looking from, a quality of superior opals.”
Pg. 450 Frobisher
Any society’s upper crust is riddled with immorality, how else do you think they keep their power.”
Pg. 456 Frobisher
“Place it’s mouth against your ear and you hear the world in a different way.”
Pg. 458 Frobisher
My head is a roman candle of invention. Lifetime’s music, arriving all at once. Boundaries between noise and sound are conventions, I see now. All boundaries are conventions, national ones too. One may transcend any convention, if only one can first conceive of doing so.”
Pg. 460 Frobisher
“Cloud Atlas Sextet holds my life, is my life, now I’m a spent firework; but at least I’ve been a firework.”
Pg. 470 Frobisher
Strip back the beliefs pasted on by governesses, schools, and states, and you find indelible truths at one’s core.”
Pg. 471 Frobisher
“ ‘Aha!’ you will ask, yes, ‘But why us Aryans? Why not the Unipeds of Ur or the Mandrakes of Mauritius?’ Because, Preacher, of all the world’s races, our love—or rather our rapacity—for treasure, gold, spices & dominion, oh most of all, sweet dominion, is the keenest, the hungriest, the most unscrupulous! This rapacity, yes, powers our progress; for ends infernal or divine I know not. Nor do you know, sir. Nor do I overly care. I feel only gratitude that my Maker cast me on the winning side.”
Pg. 489 Ewing (Goose)
Why tinker with the plain truth that we hurry the darker races to their graves in order to take their land & its riches? Wolves don’t sit in their caves, concocting crapulous theories of race to justify devouring a flock of sheep! ‘Intellectual courage’? True ‘intellectual courage’ is to dispense with these fig leaves & admit all peoples are predatory, but White predators, with our deadly duet of disease dust & firearms, are examplars of predacity par excellence, & what of it?
Pg. 490 Ewing (Goose)
“Surgeons are a singular brotherhood, Adam. To us, people aren’t sacred beings crafted in the Almighty’s image, no, people are joints of meat; diseased, leathery meat, yes, but meat ready for the skewer & the spit. He mimicked my usual voice, very well. ‘But why me, Henry, are we not friends?’ Well, Adam, even friends are made of meat. ‘Tis absurdly simple. I need money & in your trunk, I am told, is an entire estate, so I have killed you for it. Where is the mystery? ‘But, Henry, this is wicked!’ But, Adam, the world is wicked. Maoris prey on Moriori, Whites prey on darker-hued cousins, fleas prey on mice, cats prey on rats, Christians on infidels, first mates on cabin boys, Death on the Living ‘The weak are meat, the strong do eat.’
Pg. 502 Ewing (Goose)
“My recent adventures have made me quite the philosopher, especially at night, when I hear naught but the stream grinding boulders into pebbles through an unhurried eternity. My thoughts flow thus. Scholars discern motions in history & formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilizations. My belief runs contrary, however. To wit: history admits no rules; only outcomes.
What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts.
What precipitates acts? Belief.
Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind’s mirror, the world. If we believe humanity is a ladder of tribes, a colosseum of confrontation, exploitation & bestiality, such a humanity is surely brought into being, & history’s Horroxes, Boerhaaves & Gooses shall prevail. You & I, the moneyed, the privileged, the fortunate, shall not fare so badly in this world, provided our luck holds. What of it if our consciences itch? Why undermine the dominance of our race, our gunships. our heritage & our legacy? Why fight the “natural” (oh, weaselly word!) order of things?
Why? Because of this:--one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.
Is this the doom written within our nature?
If we believe that humanity may transcend both tooth & claw, if we believe divers race & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share their candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitable, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Tortuous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president’s pen or a vainglorious general’s sword. . .
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 rednecks 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 & gray in caucuses! You’ll be spat on, shot at, lynched, pacified with medals, spurned by backwoodsmen! Crucified! Naïve, 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?
Pg. 507,508 & 509 Ewing
September 18th 2013