Soul Atlas

Soul Atlas

The fate of our souls are woven by mysterious cosmic forces, intertwined in the fairy tale of life through the emotional experiences of our lives. The tragedy of souls is that they rarely break free from the forbidden strings of human consciousness. They seemed doomed or trapped, but yet again somehow through their transmigration, as souls are born and reborn, they renew their bonds to one another throughout eternity.

The mundane banality and terminal nature of our physical lives drives us to seek out reasons to justify that we are not beautiful and unique snowflakes. The horrifying truth is that we are the same decaying mass as anything else. A comforting thought is to look ourselves as comets. Since our birth we shed our life force just like a comet slowly vaporizes itself into space. Through this process of loss, the comet reveals its self to the universe through its beaming tail light. We do the same. Through the cruel passing of time, like notes in an unfinished symphony, we touch the lives of others and change them as they change ours as well. In the world of physics such occurrence is called quantum entanglement. Is when momentarily intertwined photons display later the same recurrent common properties without any identifiable explanation.

Is there entanglement of the souls? I think there is. But our egos often blinds us. It switches on and like a misguided, self-preservation reflex clouds our vision. Our failure to see our cosmic entanglement may be the very reason why we can detect the course of human history to be a persistent cycle of cruelty, oppression and exploitation. It’s here where I believe culture and the arts by giving us something like spiritual consolation can contribute the most towards a meaningful life. Through the beauty of artistic expressions we may thwart our human painful eternal recurrence by cultivating values such as love, sacrifice and compassion. With those as our compass we can navigate our lives through the time space fabric and to elevate our consciousness beyond the boundaries of here and then.

Within this stream of thoughts I have recently found myself captivated by the book and the film adaptation of Cloud Atlas. Most of all that incredibly intelligent musical journey which engulfs the movie. It bounds the theme of the movie, that our lives are to be bound together through the ages by powers yet to be realized, so beautifully. Cloud Atlas, is the name of the concerto that Robert Frobisher struggles to compose almost driven by an irresistible, unexplained power.

In the book in his letters to his lover Sixsmith, Frobisher frequently makes attempts at describing the concerto that he is composing. In one instance, he analyzes the piece’s influences when he writes:

“Echoes of Scriabin’s White Mass, Stravinsky’s lost footprints, chromatic of the more lunar Debussy, but the truth is I don’t know where it came from. Waking dream.”

In another attempt Frobisher gives a detailed breakdown of the piece’s structure, thus suggesting that the Cloud Atlas Sextet is in fact a mirror of the novel Cloud Atlas or the book, The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, which he was so desperately looking to find its missing part.

“Spent the fortnight gone in the music room, reworking my year’s fragments into a “sextet for overlapping soloists”: piano, clarinet, ‘cello, flute, oboe, and violin, each in its own language of key, scale, and color. In the first set, each solo is interrupted by its successor: in the second, each interruption is re-continued, in order. Revolutionary or gimmicky? Shan’t know until it’s finished, and by then it’ll be too late.”

Like in every chapter of the book and its separate story in the end its a piece of cultural expression that is  left behind to transcend time and space and bound the lives of people together, either this is a piece of music, a movie, a tape recording or even a journal book.

For the Cloud Atlas film, director Tom Tykwer was tasked with the impossible , that is trying to bring the Cloud Atlas Sextet to life. Music plays a very important part in the film forging a great deal of the narrative’s connective tissue linking themes, concepts and stories. The soundtrack is being built around two core elements, Frobisher’s  “Cloud Atlas Sextet” and the “Atlas March”. The Sextet with its various tingling variations, extends its tendrils into at least two other portions of the film. It is influencing the fate of one character, and coming back in circular fashion as an inspiration for itself in the past by way of a dream about the future. As one reviewer so beautifully described it:

“It’s an intentionally classical-sounding piece, emanating from a recurring 7-note melody that swoons and weaves its way around the various parts of the string section, moving from one lead instrument to another, while the orchestra swoops and flies around it in various expressive counterpoints. It’s very beautiful, and certainly fits the screenplay’s notion of it being a work of art whose impact spans many generations, endlessly fascinating those who hear it. The Atlas March, meanwhile, is a hesitantly romantic piano piece which carries a slight sense of melancholy, and is first heard in the opening cue, but appears in numerous guises thereafter. This piece seems to signify the importance of the recurring relationships within the film, romantic or otherwise; characters whose paths cross in one time period, do so again decades or hundreds of years in the future, and this music that accompanies them on their almost pre-destined encounters seems to suggest a cosmic order to things, of past lives influencing the present.”

Culture and artistic expression it’s the ringing of the bell going on, sending sound waves in space through time. If we override our ego we may be lucky enough to feel our souls riding the tail lights of cosmic entangled comets through the eons. Who knows what would this mean for our lives and the ways we choose to be.

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