Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
We're seeing it tomorrow (Sat.) as well, at an I-MAX theater. Cheers!
I-MAX -- that will be awesome! I don't think I have anything like that near me, but the local theater has pretty good-sized screens -- enough for a good spectacle. Enjoy! (I've been hearing good reviews from friends ... though not necessarily from critics.)
I plan to see it too. The review though is telling. The author of the book, Mitchell, is critical of the reincarnation implication. And the general tone of the movie seems to be more of mystical evangelizing (like Wilber) where Mitchell offers subtle and more open implication. As the review summarizes:
"Belief in the great Perhaps suffuses Cloud Atlas the novel; the misstep of Cloud Atlas the film is to try to turn Perhaps into Certainty."
As we've noted in this forum ad nauseum, that is one of the problems with theories of everything instead of anything. With Wilber and his acolytes, the Waschowskis among them, there is an air of certainty and finality about Reality. Whereas our focus has been on openness and indeterminism, more of the maybe. Still, I'll go see it and report back.
A fricken masterpiece. I suspended my disbelief in reincarnation and some mystical Whole that connects us all. Still, the theme of connection with the Other via love resonated deeply. And the separate stories, excellent in themselves, did cohere through a common thread of humanity and culture, if not of Spirit. Very well done. More later as I let it sit a while.
Ha! I just returned from the film about 10 minutes ago. I also really enjoyed it; I also was happy to accept the declarative statements about reincarnation and such as part of the thread that held this wild tale together; and I also was thinking, I want to let this stew a bit before I write about it. More later.
I have to admit to some disappointment. Despite some great moments (and hey, I'm usually a sucker for movies about liberation from bonds, sacrifice, solidarity, revolution, transformation, etc.), and wonderfully interconnecting threads, as a whole "Cloud Atlas" failed to pack the wallop I'd hoped it would. I felt mildly satisfied -- but not full -- at movie's end. Still, I appreciate the attempt. (And six story lines is quite ambitious!)
A week after seeing it, I still think it was one of the better movies I've seen in my lifetime. I hope to see it again on the big screen before it's gone. I can't believe how well they wove 6 story lines together coherently. I thought the allusions to reincarnation were a bit strained, but there were also hints of precognition, fate, karma, & free will. They did occasionally stick the actors into some strange roles & makeup jobs. I loved the future religion based on the catechism of the clone Sonmi. Also seeing Hugh Grant as a cannibal. :>)
One message was how the current power structure in any time rationalizes itself as "the order of things." I.e., its worldview theory of everything is the way of the world as it is, I know that way with certainty, I control it and everyone else must obey or die. Literally. I think that's why the review linked above said of the movie, and apparently Wilber's influence, that there is a kind of certainty about its own worldview that leads to the hegemony of the mystical One.
And yet the film is largely about revolting against such hegemony. One of my favorite recurring lines: “I will not be subject to criminal abuse.” One of the largest and most insidious of those criminal abuses is in such orders of things and theories of everything. So I'm not sure if the filmmakers see their own film as one such TOE that is better than the kinds of TOEs of power fought in the film. Are they aware enough to make such a transparent statement? Or does the film suggest there is a better, higher worldview beyond such base power drives that truly liberates the world? My guess is the latter and that it doesn't realize that that belief in itself is the very cause of the kinds of hegemony in the film.
Still, I also believe in a progressive vision, that there is a better worldview that is not about hegemony but rather about human rights, pluralism, democracy, fairness, equality etc. And while it might not be the “order of things” it is the best order humanity can muster at present and it should be law. So is such law itself not a hegemony that forces everyone into a straitjacket of conformance for their own good? Indeed it is, but it is also transparent enough to allow for the singular in each application of the law, at least theoretically. Thus it is not that there is an inviolable truth for each individual and anything goes depending on individual whim. There is a generalized law but individual circumstances are to be considered in any given application of the law.
Hence we come back to the difference DeLanda talks about in Deleuze between a general/particular differentiation versus a universal singular/individual singular. And our OOO discussion about individual suobjects, endo-structural suobstance, hyperobjects and mereology. We see the kennilingual merelogy in the film with its nested stories and perspectives but as we've critiqued it is a different kind of mereology with a certitude of belief in the end game, in the One of All that binds and connects us. Whereas the OOO mereology is a democracy of objects where there is no doubt a hyperobjective endo-structure within which we individuals must to a large extent conform. But we also have the capacity, apparently built right into the fabric of the universe, of changing the endo-structural fabric of the universe through our individual and collective action. i.e., the universal fabric is not set in stone, is not an unchanging infinite but an open infinite, itself malleable to the revolutions within itself.
And this is what sets this worldview apart from its predecessors' hegemony for complete and utter conformity to criminal abuse, and which allows for transcendence and freedom. I appreciated the film's themes of transcendence and freedom from hegemony, but I question whether it stems from the kind of worldview that actually allows for it or is but a rationalized extension of the very thing it attacks? Not sure yet, as I did see glimmers of the kind of thing I'm talking about in the Fabricant Savior Somni 451, for as she tells the Archivist:
“To enslave an individual troubles your consciences, Archivist, but to enslave a clone is no more troubling than owning the latest six-wheeler ford, ethically. Because you cannot discern our differences, you assume we have none. But make no mistake: even same-stem fabricants cultured in the same wombtank are as singular as snowflakes.”
Which is also another interesting twist in the film, how the future affects the past as well as the other way around. More contemplation required.
I woke up this morning with several scenes playing in my mind, thinking how (with Wilber's influence on the filmmakers) they were likely intended to communicate v-Memetic perspectives. The strongest one that stands out for me is the scene where Hanks and Berry are in the lotus-like structure on the mountain top, and the Devil is whispering messages of traditional/ethnocentric indignation and fear of otherness in his ear in response to her revelation that Sonmi was not a goddess, but a replicant revolutionary. Did you notice this? Do other scenes stand out for you like this (as sorts of exemplars of SD values)?
Actually I thought the clearest example of that was the story with Hanks as part of a tribe and Berry as part of what? According to the wiki entry they both inhabited a post-apolcalytic world after the time of Sonmi's revolution. Why the Hank's tribe devolved and Berry's society did not was never apparent to me. Still, Berry's culture retained the tech of Sonmi's and presumably its advanced worldview, since she had to find something on the mountain to confirm it? All unclear to me from the story.
Whereas Hank's haunting sidekick I took to be his shadow, or one of them. So perhaps it could be that per Wilber's psychology such shadow voices are indeed split-off aspects from previous developmental levels that continue to haunt us? But why only such a shadow for his character and not the others?
I also liked the story of how the famous composer told the scribe that his masterpiece, Cloud Atlas, would never be heard by anyone and die in obscurity. It reminds me of a recent and recurrent topic on the forum, about how regimes of power and academy marginalize competing narratives, in effect killing them so as not to override their power. And yet Cloud Atlas is heard by a few, and that few change everything. Much like the idea of revolution for freedom from Somni's world.
I read the revolution was actually engineered by the pureblood's to create a villain to hate and thereby reinforce their power. But ironically it created a revolution so violent that it destroyed that world altogether? Hence the post-apocalyptic work of Hanks' goatherd? So where does Berry's advanced world come from? And what exactly did she need to find on that mountain top?