We, human, are driven by a number of innate forces. There are forces that perfect us – the pursuit of truth and freedom; and the ones that could wreck us – the lust for love and power. For most of the time, these forces are within our control (well.. maybe not so much about love). By carefully exerting these forces upon the world we live in, we are one step closer to finding our meaning and feeling alive. In Cloud Atlas, we could see all these forces at work, in those who rebel against oppression: slaves breaking off of their chains, people fighting for the slaves, abandoned old people escaping the elderly home, a police chief liberating the clones; those who seek the singular truth: a reporter uncovering a conspiracy, a curious clone seeking for the truth about her birth, an anxious tribe man investigating the origin of the mountain goddess; those who seek power or money: a doctor poisoning a bounty hunter, a landlord profiting through exploiting slaves, an oil company colluding a nuclear explosion to protect their business, a writer gaining fame from a ruthless murder; and those who love (everyone) and willing to to kill for in the name of love.

No matter if we're born in a tank or a womb, we are all Pureblood.

“No matter if we’re born in a tank or a womb, we are all Pureblood.”

Not only we are born with these forces, we often think that we could control and even outsmart these forces. We even start taking control of something more than ourselves: scientists playing with the law of physics to create nuclear power; ‘archivists’ cloning humans and enforcing cannibalism to sustain them. Our arrogance has blind us from the bigger forces at work, forces that disregard time, race, geography or creed. These forces “begin long before we are born and continue after we perish”. Some call these forces karma, others see them as God-assigned fate. On a less fatalistic note, they are simply forces beyond our control, because the story of our lives are inevitably bound to those that walked the face of the earth long before us, and naturally affects those who come after us.

"But they got somethin' else. A hunger in their hearts, a hunger that's stronger than all their Smart.  A hunger for more."

“But they got somethin’ else. A hunger in their hearts, a hunger that’s stronger than all their Smart. A hunger for more.”

While religion, fate or karma might be there to console us in confronting the forces beyond our control, they are pessimistic and passive. They are not there to transcend us to the next level. Cloud Atlas has offered us another way out: struggle for truth and freedom by Autua, Hae-Joo and Sonmi-451. They showed us that sometimes we need to be at war with fate or karma to realize our innate drives: the pursuit for truth and freedom. Nevertheless, we need the religion or karma to keep us from our destructive arrogant nature, well, maybe with a little flexibility. As Meronym told Zachary: people has been worshipping Sonmi-451 for hundred of years, but in a different way.

What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?

“What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?”

There are many voiceovers in Cloud Atlas, they are wonderfully written story punch line selected from the novel. However I missed many of them as I was processing too many storylines and recognizing the faces… But there was this one that struck me most:

“I understand now that boundaries between noise and sound are conventions. All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention if only one can first conceive of doing so. Moments like this, I can feel your heart beating as clearly as I feel my own, and I know that separation is an illusion. My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.”

We are all just part of an immensely large cast in creating a a timeless, singular human story. Our lives are not our own.