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About tabmabbly

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  1. The Idle Book Club 2: Cloud Atlas

    I completely understand what you mean about reading criticism as works in their own right. They can offer up such deliciously new ways of looking at texts.
  2. The Idle Book Club 2: Cloud Atlas

    I agree almost completely with everything you said there. I actually had a line in my previous post about the author's interpretation obviously being the most valid line to discerning the author's intent, but edited out because I felt that bit was rather self-explanatory. I think that everything gets muddled about when people start to assign levels of "validity" to the different tracks of understanding a work, as if the author's intent somehow reigns supreme over an audience member's reading, or the position of the work in the greater historical and social context somehow discredits an author's stated intent. They exist simultaneously as unique perspectives upon the work that are undeniable assets when stepping back and looking at the value of the work as a whole. In fact, I find most art becomes that much richer when the different perspectives are in powerful disagrement. When an author created spoke to something in a specific voice, that was then transformed by society into something else, and that now at the modern listener's ear becomes something new entirely. That's the nature of a rich and living text. That said, I'm a big fan of ambiguity in texts, so it can be a little disheartening for me personally to have the author to come forward and say "such and such was so" definitively.
  3. The Idle Book Club 2: Cloud Atlas

    I'm a firm believer in the "Death of the Author" school of thought, though. Once the author finishes a work and hands it to the public, it's no longer his. The work stands alone is must be allowed to speak for itself. The author can later say what they intended (an impulse I understand, but which I always find a little disappointing) but in the long run all audience interpretations of the work are as equally as valid as the author's. So I think your initial reading is totally valid, and personally, a much more interesting way to view the book. It's sad that Mitchell (perhaps due to constant badgering from the press) isn't content to leave the issue of interconnectedness as open-ended as the book does, but I think that open-endedness is what makes the book so compelling. Like you said, without concrete reincarnation, the book as whole reflects more upon humanity and it's struggles with it's more oppressive and destructive nature, rather than a choice string of one-off episodes cherry-picked by supernatural whim.
  4. The Idle Book Club 2: Cloud Atlas

    I almost feel that while the resilience of knowledge plays a part, equally important is sort of the resilience of narrative, of storytelling as a sort of essential and immutable human experience. I don't want to spoil anything, but there are some definite points within the book where the previous vignette, as it gets passed forward, a lot of the meaning gets stripped away, and in many cases the authenticity of the previous vignette as "real" is thrown into serious doubt. Even so, the audience of the vignette is as enthralled as we were, captured by a narrative they may neither believe nor fully understand. I'm not sure how I feel about the comet birthmark. When I was reading the book, I kind of revelled in the more explicit threads between the stories as points that made the book less of just a anthology of thematically similar tales. Now, looking back, I remember the sort of thematic unfolding and building upon for each story better than those explicit ties, and could almost do without a spotlight so bright as those comet birthmarks. I did appreciate however the interplay between the idea that each story was possibly even fictional within the universe of the book, and the existence of the birthmark.