Sunday, November 4, 2012

Creating An Unnatural 'Natural Order': Cloud Atlas

 
If Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto were going to be made into a Hollywood story, it would be Cloud Atlas. As with other liberal agendas, the film's own values propel it towards a state of contradiction. Directly targeting specific “demographics” of voters (such as the elderly, homosexuals, blacks, professional women), Cloud Atlas (like other pro-socialist films) fails to show a positive representation of socialism and instead targets the "evils" of capitalism. I am not going rip Cloud Atlas because it falls apart like rotting flesh off a corpse (and if you think I'm being hard, the film didn't even gross $10 million its opening weekend). First, we must turn our attention to the most striking feature of the film: its structure.
The film opens with Tom Hanks in the character of an ... old tribesman,... who is from the future? His speech is so choppy and muttering it's nearly impossible to understand what is being said and that's part of the point. We have discussed "noise" as an artistic medium regarding both Contagion and The Dark Knight Rises, and "noise" as an artistic medium is named in Cloud Atlas when Robert Frobischer (Ben Whishaw) writes a letter to his "male lover" (or is Sixsmith just his best sex customer?) revealing that he can now hear the noise in between the silence. So what are we to take from this? Just as it was difficult to understand what the socialist Bane was saying in The Dark Knight Rises, so we can't understand everything the socialists say in Cloud Atlas, like what will really happen in a "state of revolution" and how many people will be imprisoned and put to death to force the United States of America into becoming a socialist state; how long it will take to overthrow all private and small business operations and put them in government's control and how long it will take the government to figure out how many rolls of toilet paper each city should be allowed to have for its citizens, how many quarts of milk, etc., then for those orders to be actually carried out, etc., or one can just look at history and see the constant shortage of supplies in the social history of the Soviet Union, in the famines of North Korea, the civil rights abuses of China or the stories of the boat people fleeing Cuba.But socialists will just look down at me and call me names for mentioning all these things, instead of letting it be consigned to the "noise in between the silences."
Built upon a number of converging stories and characters—as in Traffic, Crash, The Red ViolinCloud Atlas relies upon chaos theory for its philosophical foundation (without the idea of history repeating itself, or Mandelbrot sets, such a story as Cloud Atlas would not be possible). Now, dear readers—especially those who have been bearing with me all summer and my talk about Darwin vs. Chaos theory, now is your reward!--because Cloud Atlas aligns itself with chaos theory yet aligns the villains (capitalists) with Darwin's “natural order” (there are a number of philosophers who incorporate a form of “natural order” into their system of thought yet the application of "natural order" in Cloud Atlas specifically targets race and class relations but the point is, I told you this opposition between the two scientific paradigms was going to be important, and now we see how it's turned out) and it thoroughly demonizes "order" in society only to replace it with a new, unnatural natural order of its own making.
I am glad that the makers of Cloud Atlas chose to sexually unite a "fabricant" and a "pure blood." Why? Well, if you consider homosexuality a natural act which has been unnaturally suppressed throughout human history by laws and social disapprobation, or sex changes with men becoming women to be natural, then the point of the film would not be easily discerned apart from social bigotry. With Sonmi 351 (the female pictured above) and Hae-Joo Chang (the man holding her) "falling in love," the blurring of the line between a man-made robot/machine and a human being quickly reveals how confused socialists are about reality (this also happens in Ice Age 4 Continental Drift and the inter-mating of different species, not different races, but entirely different species). By definition, Sonmi 351 is a robot, yet the socialists bequeath to her the full-range of human emotions and sexuality, so no, she's not a robot,... oh, wait, she is because otherwise the whole plot fails, but she's not a robot because the socialists freed her, thereby creating a previous-robot who now has a philosophical consciousness that blows them all away,... but she's a robot, not a human, but she then claims to be human. Are you confused? You should be, because something which does not have life naturally cannot come to have life naturally just because someone wishes it so, likewise, just because we wish to have a utopian, just society where the government gives us everything we want, doesn't exist anymore than a fully-human, fully-robot.  If you think I am reading "too much into this," please consider that "Lana" Wachowski, who was born "Larry," is a director and screenwriter, one of the creators of the mega-blockbuster hit The Matrix who recently underwent a sex change to become a woman. By socialist standards, the very act of calling Sonmi 351 a fabricant is an act of racism, even though--as I said--the film's whole plot depends upon her being a robot.
Slavery is a primary subject throughout the film, whether due to skin color or economic status, and those who have the advantage consistently cite "the natural order" as justification for their enslavement of others: according to the film, and the general ideas of "social Darwinism," certain people (read: rich, white people) validate the poverty and suppression of other people (read: all women, all blacks, all homo- and bisexuals, robots/machines and all non-human life-forms and anyone outside industrialized society or those within industrialized society in low-skill jobs) because those "on top" are "naturally" more talented and capable at success than those on the bottom; those at the top are destined to stay at the top and those on the bottom destined to stay on the bottom and that is the will of God. 
There is a problem with this, however.
In Neo-Seoul, 2044, there is a shortage of workers so they are mass produced (as humanoid robots called "fabricants") to labor in jobs such as this food-court; they wear collars keeping them in their location. Of all the places in the world, or all the places the imagination could invent (because there are imaginary places in the film) why would Seoul be chosen? In a different section of the story, Louise Rey's (Halle Berry) father had been in the Korean War (America's "forgotten war" which also was remembered in Battleship) and the history of Seoul is not only the battles of the Korean War, but of the Cold War and the successful stopping of the spread of communism the fight for Seoul was about (the whole of the TV series MASH was roughly based on the Korean War). Cloud Atlas presents to us a picture of utter failure: the "consumer world" is a world of sex enslavement and people who lack real identity; the problem with this, of course, is they fail to look a little way to the North where North Korea is under a communist dictator who prefers threatening America with nukes than feeding his people; why don't the socialists want to talk about him? To being that point up, of course, again meets with socialist ridicule yet the imperative fact remains that socialists do everything they can to destroy successful capitalist societies but pass over failed socialist societies in silence.
Liberals/socialists have a very selective, random memory of history, specifically, that it was the Democratic party who enslaved the blacks in the Old South pre-Civil War, incorporating the "natural order" into their party platform to justify it, but also the socialist party of Adolf Hitler employed natural order to justify his party's slaughter of the Jews, homosexuals and Catholics. Socialists argue that Hitler wasn't a socialist, he was a Nazi, but he was a socialist and his programs were socialist: in other words, the very un-natural natural order of which liberals and socialists accuse conservatives, capitalists and Republicans, is the unnaturalness inherent in their own party and has been practiced by them throughout history.
Hugo Weaving in one of many roles in Cloud Atlas, Old Georgie, the devil. Please note the top hat he wears is the signature of a gentleman of the upper-class, thus aligning him with the rich. It is the strategy of socialists to tell the middle-class that religion only serves the upper-class as a means of subjecting the lower-classes, but there are at least three, fundamental reasons why (at least) Christians should be against a socialist government: the government determines what is right and wrong, not moral teachers (such as Rabbis, Pastors or the Pope); secondly, "suffering" is evil and supposedly eradicated and, thirdly, the government becomes the author of the individual's life, not God. That a socialist revolution is taking place in America right now seems inconceivable, but the truth is, it's easier today than ever because we have no spiritual understanding to help us through the tough times socialists blame on capitalist greed: it's easy for socialists to employ the misery of those without of jobs and the increasingly high cost of living to their own advantage because we have lost the backbone to "suffer in faith" that God will use our suffering for our own good and the good of others; to socialists, any "suffering" is evil and must be done away with. Either we are slaves of Christ Jesus or we are slaves of the world, and the tempting of our weakened spirituality to rid ourselves of the "discipline of the Cross" has found a place of "hope" for many people supporting the government taking over their lives.
Sonmi 351 illustrates a popular liberal strategy: we, the viewers, are put into a position of unreality by this line of the plot, because it's a real human playing the part of a robot with artificial intelligence (computer code to simulate human thinking patterns and emotional reactions) so we "forget" that she's a fabricant because we see her emotionally respond to situations to which we ourselves are responding; her capitalist employers at the food court only treat her like a fabricant because she is a fabricant! People who treat robots like robots--by the film's reasoning--are intrinsically evil!
In this scene, Doona Bae, who portrays Sonmi 351, also portrays a white woman married to an American lawyer before the Civil War, suggesting that the fabricant has a soul which flies through time like the other re-incarnated beings. A socialist might make the case, that the case can be made in art that, being employed, Sonmi 351 is only a fabricant to her employer and that accurately reflects American capitalism; when she comes into contact with Hae Joo, who cares about her and provides for her, she "comes alive" and is no longer a fabricant, a slave of capitalism, but has her own will. Sure, you can make that case, but at best it's irresponsible screenwriting, at worst, it's philosophical inconsistency, and we all know that a logical, sane being will think consistently and logically, so, if philosophical inconsistencies don't bother you,...
To the viewer, and because of the inherent power of stories to grab the audience and compel us to identify with the characters, we believe that somehow the socialists who free Sonmi 351 endow her with human life, just as the slaves are endowed with freedom. This is impossible, but they promise it just the same, just like the sinking utopian island of Atlantis in Journey 2: Mysterious Island, and the ginger bread house made of candy in Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters. The socialists employ our natural, human emotions and turn them against our brains.
Let's examine what position Cloud Atlas takes on art.
This moment is a perfect example of how immoral the application of cinematic techniques is within Cloud Atlas. Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent) is the greatest living composer of his day; Robert (Ben Whishaw) is a bi-sexual, young composer working on the Cloud Atlas Sextet he wants Vyvyan to sponsor. After playing the score for Vyvyan, Robert "comes onto" him at which Vyvyan scorns him and says that he has known all along that Robert was a thief and a homosexual prostitute and asks Robert if he thinks he would really allow someone in his home without doing a background check on him? Then, Robert says that he is leaving and Vyvyan says that he has to finish the Cloud Atlas Sextet which Vyvyan will take credit for and then he will release Robert. What has the film done to create the situation of having the viewer sympathize with Robert's plight? First, Robert gets rejected, and we have all experienced rejection in some form in our lives; secondly, he's been working on the Cloud Atlas composition and he fears having it ripped away from him and we can all identify with that fear. Robert, pursuing his dream of being a great composer, comes against a man who will take all Robert's work and claim it as his own, and to socialists, this is what all employers do, take the laborer's labor and the employer claims it as their own; this same situation came up in The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Gardner) when they invent a new pencil design and the owner of the factory claims the design as his own.
There is a consistent tattoo of a shooting comet upon several people throughout the story (those meant to do something important but not live long, shine brightly for awhile, but then expire).  The "comet tattoo" appears on Robert which we see when Robert lies in bed with Rufus Sixsmith, and this "mark" and it reminds me of what was said of Edgar Allan Poe in The Raven, that Poe (John Cusack) had a great genius but God cursed him with misery. It's only misery, however, if you don't believe in God (and the last words of Poe in The Raven factually reflect Poe's real last words, God have mercy on my poor soul). To a Christian, suffering and misery is an allotment each person is given by God to aid them in fulfilling their destiny and preparing them for the glories of heaven; to socialists, suffering signifies a break down in the government and must be eradicated, unless, of course, that suffering comes from a socialist government, and then God help you if you criticize it.
The tagline reads, "Past. Present. Future. Everything is connected." I agree with this. This particular scene is Robert smoking his last cigarette and watching his last sunrise before blowing his head off. According to the story, Robert kills himself to become a record store worker who digs out an only copy of The Cloud Atlas Sextet for one of Halle Berry's characters, and he can't stop listening to it. In this part of the story above, however, Robert prepares to kill himself and this leads us to a fourth reason why Christians should always abhor a socialist state: there is no human soul. It's a contradiction in Cloud Atlas that the soul of each character re-incarnates time and again, but in reality, people are Darwin's animals, no soul, not the children of God, no destiny, just animals and suicide is perfectly legitimate if that is what you want to do. But it's not just suicide, it's any behavior which might contradict a "moral code," even if one is not particularly religious. The laws of a socialist government primarily are meant to protect it from the citizens, not protect the citizens from the government or other people.
In Cloud Atlas, artists are cursed with capitalists. The plot is clear that, had Robert not been compelled to go stay with Vyvyan, he could have worked on his art--with no worries about rent, food or theft of his ideas--if the state were sponsoring him,... we are not treated to an actual depiction of this grand idea, it's only hinted at as a better alternative to Robert foolishly shooting Vyvyan then later killing himself, BUT, had Robert had better surroundings, the film posits, the Cloud Atlas Sextet would have become a major work of art instead of being consigned to just a few copies in North America. 
But this is where socialism fails to understand art.
Part of the film is a journey taken by a lawyer to a slave colony and he writes of his adventure and publishes it, which Robert happens to find, reads, and then can't find the second half of the book; why? The book was torn in two and the second half used to prop up the bed post, a fact we discover only when the empty casing shell from Robert shooting Vyvyan lands beside the book Robert had desperately been searching for/ why does this happen? Vyvyan obviously was the one who tore the book in two and regulated this "great story" to a utilitarian function (propping up the bed) so instead of "propping up great art" (Robert's Cloud Atlas Sextet) Vyvyan props up his material and luxury goods instead; therefore, Vyvyan deserves to die (the casing landing beside the lost book after Robert shoots Vyvyan). Capitalists know nothing about art, even if they are artists themselves.
 There is an example of an artist under a socialist system, Soviet writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whom the film cites (by name two times) as being a great writer, and who also was writing against the socialist system which imprisoned and exiled him. Trying to understand the devastation the October Socialist Revolution caused Russia which became the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn wrote: 

"Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened (Wikipedia)." 

The film, while simultaneously holding up socialism and Solzhenitsyn, doesn't seem to realize how critical of socialism/communism Solzhenitsyn was and why. It's difficult to name great artists (of whatever medium) who have emerged from socialist states, but Solzhenitsyn was the writer most critical of the state imprisoning him, not glorifying socialism, and the makers of  Cloud Atlas really don't seem to get that.
Here's a perfect example.

A part where Jim Broadbent, as Timothy Cavendish, has "returned to his first love," Ursula (Sarandon) and writing his own works instead of publishing others' works. This scenario of returning to the first love, and especially how it plays out in the film, is meant to remind people who have perhaps been successful in capitalist markets that when they were young and innocent, and probably supported socialism, they can still do that today because our first love was always our greatest love,... or so they want us to believe.
Timothy Cavendish is another character in the story and his book publishing perfectly deconstructs what socialism doesn't want us to know. Cavendish plays a publisher to Dermot "Duster" Hoggins (Tom Hanks) and we are supposed to be picking up the "hog" in Hoggins' character. Hoggins wrote a terrible book called Knuckle Sandwich (perhaps a reference to "brass knuckle tactics" we see in the anti-capitalist film Lawless), which was reviewed by a critic; Hoggins then throws the critic over the apartment railing, killing him on the street below. Even though Hoggins hasn't an ounce of talent, the infamy of the murder makes him famous and his book sells out, meaning that Cavendish also makes a tidy sum.
Enter socialism
Tom Hanks as one of the many villains he portrays throughout the film which is supposed to symbolize the history of the US in all of our faults and "missteps." Hoggins has no talent, but he makes a lot of money and gets famous because of his brutality. This association of art with fame and money is supposed to illustrate how art and capitalism do not mix. The first question is, does Hoggins fit the general understanding of what a writer is? He's neither Hemingway nor Stephen King, or Sylvia Plath or Poe, so the film takes a thug who would never be a writer in reality and makes him into a writer for their argument. They want you to think that only the homosexual Robert Forbischer (Whishaw) can be a real artist. Next, the film criticizes American consumer behavior (after murdering the critic, everyone wants to read the book) and I do agree with that; we all know about consumer appetites and exploiters such as the Kardashians, but, then again, would anyone call the Kardashians artists (outside of "con-artists")? No, and Cloud Atlas wants us to believe that capitalism makes people this way and socialism will magically redeem us and turn us into perfect human beings. Herein lies the fifth reason for Christians not to buy into socialism: a socialist government basically denies Original Sin, which is the reason Christ came to save us and redeem us; the government wants us to believe that only a socialist government can save us; it can only alter our behavior--regardless of how bad it is--by holding guns to our heads and threatening to haul us off to detention camps.
As Cavendish enjoys his wealth from the sell of Knuckle Sandwich, three thugs come to Cavendish claiming they are friends of Hoggins' and they want Cavendish to give them $50,000. The thugs accidentally symbolize socialism, because whenever someone succeeds, a socialist government is thee to "drag them back down" to the equalized mediocrity the government artificially creates throughout society, so the thugs are not an accurate reflection of capitalism, rather, of socialism.
Now enter nationalized health care.
Cavendish gets "tricked" into signing himself into a retirement home he doesn't want to be in by his older brother. In this scene, Cavendish and Mr. Meeks (left) engineer their escape from Nurse Nokes (Hugo Weaving, yes, the men play a number of women in the film, supposedly to make capitalism look "unnatural" but it really only makes socialism look unnatural). Mr. Meeks doesn't say anything except, "I know, I know." Which begs the question: what is it that Mr. Meeks knows? Four of the group have escaped the nursing home but Mr. Meeks has gotten left behind, so they risk their own escape to go back and get him (this is a jab that, "In America, you're on your own," because the capitalist government won't help you, only the socialist government will, and we saw this in Ice Age 4). They then go to a pub and have a drink when the pursuers from the nursing home catch up with them. Mr. Meeks stands up and, recognizing the Scottish makeup of the pub, incites the crowd to defend him because the English are taking advantage of him and disregarding his human rights and liberties; the Scottish being Scottish, immediately seize upon the English and beat them to a bloody pulp with the refugees from the nursing home escaping once again (please note that my mother's maiden name is McAlpin, the name of the first dynasty of Scottish kings, so I am very Scottish myself). This moment, and what happens and why, is imperative because of the tumultuous relationship of Scotland and England (and, because, it's very probable that this will come up in Skyfall, because the film is named for the Bond home in Scotland and is the scene of the major fight sequence of the film). Because the union of Scotland and England was achieved through the Treaty of Union, which came about as the resulting failure of the Darien scheme (a failed capitalist venture Scotland undertook which bankrupted them), and there are all those terrible, and bloody wars for Independence between the two countries, there still lingers some hostility which flares up occasionally. Socialists artificially employ the "take over" of Scotland by England as an anti-imperialist argument against capitalism, i.e., only capitalists are imperialists because capitalism (being Darwinistic and therefore unnatural) naturally seeks to enslave everyone; both Italy and Germany sought to take over African countries in World War II, the Soviets gobbled up all their neighbors behind the Iron Curtain, North Korea is still officially at a state of war with South Korea, etc. (there is literally too many examples to name here, however, I do discuss it in An Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and the Vietnam War, how that song reflects America's policies in stopping the spread of communism). Cloud Atlas utilizes this bit of history to make the audience believe that everyone has more freedom under a socialist government than a capitalist government,  however, socialist governments are historically the world's worst violators of human rights (China, the Soviet Union, North Korea, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Warsaw Pact countries, etc.).
The nursing home Cavendish gets tricked into entering is partly owned by his brother Dennis (Hugh Grant), and Dennis does it to get rid of his brother borrowing money all the time and in part for revenge against his brother for having an affair with his wife Georgette (Ben Whishaw, yes, he plays a woman). The guilt of Cavendish's affair with his sister-in-law is overlooked (probably a symbolic reference to Cavendish "coveting his brother's wife," and possessions, i.e., he wants to be as rich as his brother and sleeping with Georgette is a way to do that). What Cloud Atlas focuses on is that, because the nursing home is privately owned, it is being used by the rich to "imprison" the elderly who are "no longer wanted" by their relations except to get their final will. So, the logic is, by nationalizing all nursing homes, your relatives can't punish you for sins you have committed by locking you up because they won't be able to use their wealth against you,... that's the logic. And you won't get into trouble for sleeping with you sister-in-law because "marriage" is only a religious institution that will be done away with because sex, too, will be nationalized and you can sleep with anyone you want.
Isaac Sachs, also portrayed by Tom Hanks, upholds Obamacare as well. The doctor robs Adam while he supposedly treats him for his illnesses, because Adam has a chest of gold the doctor wants, so, instead of treating him, the doctor poisons him. Yes, we should read this for what it is, that doctors who practice privately are rotten to the core, but, when Obamacare takes effect, all that will disappear and doctors will become good people who will give you the greatest care possible for absolutely no compensation (because they will all go broke under nationalized health care).
In a work of art, a “highpoint” references a moment, detail, plot twist, character, etc., that is the interpretative "vantage point" from whence to interpret the film because of that singular element in the art, there is no other way to understand the encoded message/agenda but through that suture of the highpoint revealing the message beneath the art's surface, i.e., the art breaks its own encoding. Every scene of Cloud Atlas is a highpoint, leading to a break-down of all its encoding in every scene and revealing a political manifesto in its place, in every scene, with no or little encoding, making it tedious to watch in addition to being a call for socialist revolutionaries to unite and overthrow capitalists.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--I am considerably upset about the attack Cloud Atlas makes on Seoul; here is the full episode of Peter and Dan Snow's 20th Century Battlefield special on the Korean War; if you know nothing about that period of the Cold War, this is the show for you!