The Paradoxical Nature of Cloud Atlas

This film was astounding.
I don’t watch films very often, but after reading the plot premise, I hunkered down to the sole movie theater that was playing it in my city.
But anyways. Go see Cloud Atlas. It will be the best three hours of your life.Some critics may argue it fell short of its goal to portray of the original novel. But the sheer ambition, the sheer daring of trying to connect and attach meaning to six different storylines deserves to be watched and marveled.

I’d rather go see a movie that is overly ambitious than be stuck with a safe, yet horribly boring and cliched film.

Cinematic beauty.

I won’t write about the plot since I’m trying to get you to go see it (and that then this post would be too long). So I’ll talk about what’s fundamentally great about it:

1) It’s realistic.
2) It’s a message of hope.

Life, as many people are so happily aware, is not always full of magical ponies and sparkling rainbows. It is often nasty, brutish, and short. Realism is a piece of work acknowledging these unsavory characteristics of life. But the other side of life is love, humor, and the occasional goodwill of strangers. That’s hope. If a creator can pack these two seemingly paradoxical sides of life into a single film, then they’ve created genius.
Cloud Atlas is not happy-ever-after for everyone. People die. [spoiler alert!] Robert Frobisher commits suicide, Sonmi 451 is executed, Hae Joo Chang is killed in crossfire, Sixsmith gets shot in the mouth – fuck, the movie is a furball of emotional tragedy that can send even me, the emotionally stunted recluse, bawling.The only thing that stops me from continuing to be emotionally distressed is that in spite of these ended lives, there’s this shining hope – there’s meaning created in their deaths. That what they died for is worth it. That in life (even if it ends in a bloody goddamn mess) it is worth standing up for truth. It is worth living freely.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is why you must go see Cloud Atlas. Such an artistic endeavor to portray humanity in all its ugliness and loveliness is worth witnessing. 

The secret to Lincoln’s success: shutting up at the right times.

(God how I hate that title…)

But Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin is truly a fascinating read. When I picked it up, I expected it to be some dry boring commentary on how Lincoln was so great and his rivals were numb skulls with the brains of  flowers and the ferocity of squirrels…(you get my point).

To my greatest delight, while there still was incessant praise for Lincoln’s character, goodwill, and political maneuverings, she treated the other Republican candidates justly. Her storytelling is masterful; leading the reader through each of the character’s situations, reflecting on how their actions lead to ultimate defeat (or success in Lincoln’s case). The scenes are crafted to easily let the reader imagine he/she is also cheering among the throngs at conventions.

But enough of that.

Let’s talk about politics. Or more specifically, the past and the future. To be a successful statesman back in the day, one had to have excellent command over the spoken word and the written word – one had to have a vigor, a charismatic quality to their speaking. While Seward (Lincoln’s rival, Governor of New York back then) had an explosive quality, a charming, enthusiastic rhetoric, Lincoln was more reserved but no less compelling with his carefully chosen words and analogies.

Nowadays, leading political figures do not write their speeches. To write a speech about a topic, one actually has to do research.  The lack thereof is quite a pity. Perhaps that’s why we have statesmen like Rick Santorum who think ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a travesty and a secret plot to undermine the golden sanctity of American independence. Clearly this will bring down the Statue of Liberty and reduce our beloved democracy to shambles. Clearly.

Yes Mr. Santorum. Think on your life. Think on your choices.

But besides that misguided opinion, my issue is with his clear lack of common sense as a statesmen. Alright, sure, maybe he doesn’t like the measure, maybe he thinks the United States is better off without joining in on the agreement. But Mr.Santorum, how effective are UN conventions? How effective are global agreements that are just affirmations of principles and no required actions?

The Convention, as far as I can tell, is a broad list of “rights of the disabled”. There is no where in there that states that United States must do so-and-so or suffer dire consequences. Signing this convention would beholden the United States to nobody unless the country decides to abuse its disabled population (which I surely hope will never happen).

Recognizing this fact, Mr.Santorum should have convinced his party to ratify the convention in order to improve the public image of the Republican party ( their GOP makeup was disastrous: i.e. rich old white people sniff at the rights of immigrants, gay people, and women). A second reason is to express a sign of goodwill of the Republican party – that no, they are not just going to always butt heads with the Democratic party (ahem. John McCain, looking at you).

The cost of simply ratifying a rather lacking in substance global agreement versus the cost of once again, showing the nation that the Republican Party has the brains of flowers and the ferocity of a rabid squirrel, is far lower.

In this aspect, President Lincoln was a far better politician – he knew when to shut up and when to make his case. Mr.Santorum should take a leaf from President Lincoln’s page.

Hello world!

Ramblings of an easily distracted, crazy cat lady, who generally hates social interactions, and lives through books.

And yes. Nipples, my friends, are glorious.
(attaching nipples to the end of anything will instantly fabulouslize it.)