Interconnectivity and Human Proximity

I’ve been thinking about these concepts for a while now. And after a bit of thought and research, I’ve come up with a few ideas to throw out into the world.

So the first of these is how humans, as individuals, are seemingly connected in some way. We live our own lives but our paths cross with others and we interact with hundreds of people a day. I mean I’ll get into destiny vs random events later. But for now let’s think about how we’re connected.

I’m going to use some texts as examples, the first being David Mitchell’s debut novel Ghostwritten (1999).This novel has similarities to his probably more famous Cloud Atlas (2004). The former has more literal interconnectivity as we can strongly assume that all of the events in the book take place in or around the same time era, whereas in the latter the 6 stories span from the mid 19th century to somewhere far in the distant future. So hear the interconnectivity is more metaphorical or in terms of parallel time periods occurring simultaneously. But I’ll get into that some other time.

But for now, we’ll discuss Ghostwritten. This text is about individual stories that are tied together by their characters having interactions or actions that affect others. I’ll give an example that sounds very complex out of context but bare with me. Ok, so on the Holy Mountain in China (Part 4 of the Novel), a woman is raped and her illegitimate daughter (when she gets older) goes to work in Hong Kong to provide money. Here (Part 3) she works as a maid for a guy who she has an affair with. Evidently, the guy’s wife leaves him and asks for her chair to be sent to her home in London. So in London (Part 7) this new guy has just slept with the wife who left her husband in Part 3. The morning after they are chatting and a delivery man delivers the chair the her house. She asks him to leave and on his way to somewhere else he saves a woman from being hit by a taxi, saving her life. The woman then hops into a taxi to the airport. Afterwards in Cape Clear Island, Ireland (Part 8) it is revealed that this woman is a scientist and has rare knowledge of war technology and for ethical reasons decides not to give her knowledge to the US Government and hides out in a remote island. Eventually she is found by the officials and her knowledge is used in technology which can arguably be seen in Okinawa, US & Tokyo (Parts 1,9,10). So it’s literally a domino effect. Each occurrence triggered an event. There are a lot more connections and other concepts throughout the novel. This is just one that I chose.

I personally love this idea of connectivity. Seemingly insignificant acts can have major consequences. These ideas do raise the question of destiny vs free will and I believe in a bit of both. I believe that things are gonna work out but I think you have to put a lot of effort in shaping your future as well. I don’t think all of our futures are mapped out for us but it’s hard to believe that everything is total consequence. I think the universe does bring people together for certain reasons. I mean two of my cousins were travelling on world trips (independently of each other) and they just happened to meet each other on the same train somewhere in Australia I think. They didn’t even know that the other was travelling. Like that’s amazing right?

This leads me on to Human Proximity in urban areas. This is a more everyday experience that I think we can all relate to in any town or city. So first just visualise yourself walking down any street in any town. As you pass people, you’re obviously going to pass strangers. You’re obviously not going to interact with every person you pass. So that begs the question, what if you have similar interests with someone you pass? It could be totally random or is it the universe bringing you two together? This is a very interesting thing to think about. It may also be unfortunate. Just say you’re walking with your headphones on. You’re listening to your favourite album or song or band. Imagine the person that walks past you is listening to the exact same thing or they have similar interests to you. Now imagine you were some divine creature looking from above the street and you could see that these two people were unknowingly connecting on some macro sociological level. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? An unknowing spiritual connection with someone you just passed. It’s really unfortunate as well though, because you may never see that person again. And they might’ve been someone you could’ve really gotten along with! There are a few things which allow recognition of similar interests and they are for example Jerseys, band T-shirts, wrist bands. They allow a silent connection and rapport with a passer-by.

I’ve lost most of you, haven’t I? If you’re still a bit confused, what I think may settle your confusion is the film The Adjustment Bureau (2011). Pretty good film. Great concept, not the best in terms of execution but all round good film. It follows similar themes of fate vs free will. And the whole individual paths and intersection theme. Watch it, you’ll get what I’m squabbling about!

So yeah, that’s my two cents on Interconnectivity. Final thoughts, I believe that we all have lasting effects on the people we meet, even if they seem insignificant. But you know, the future is yours to take!


Cloud Atlas

Future, Present, Past.

Death, Life, Birth.

Love, Hope, Courage.

These are what define our lives. We are obsessed with time, with our mortality, with our morality. Cloud Atlas (book turned movie) uses many of these themes to provide a platform of transience. This map work of individuals shows how our lives are both tiny in the grand scheme of things and also extremely significant. Individuals cross and re-cross with the paths of others. We’re creatures of habit, often making the same mistakes and triumphs. But with each mistake, do we not learn anew? Do our actions not impact on others? David Mitchell (author) uses 6 intertwining to show that, looking from outside ourselves we can see that there are consequences to our actions.

Ideas about free will, destiny and such have been thrown about for centuries. They’re interesting concepts, but which one rules our universe and defines the course of each of our lives? Are we living by a predetermined script, or do we create our own futures? I believe that it is our actions that create out future. With each act of kindness, our paths in life are safeguarded. And each cruelty damages that path.

In Cloud Atlas, each story is recorded in some format or another. And each tale is thereby read/viewed by a character in the next. It is important therefore to remember that all of our lives are meaningful, and our actions are consequential. We impact on others everyday, and our acts today will forever have impacts in the years to come. In the book, Adam Ewing’s journal is read by Robert Frobisher. RF’s letters to Rufus Sixsmith were read by Luisa Rey. A manuscript of one of LR’s mysteries is read by Timothy Cavendish. A movies about TC’s life is watched by Sonmi 451. And S-451’s Declarations are believed to be a sort of new age “word of God” if you will, in a post-apocalyptic future.  From this it is apparent that lives can be connected, and our acts can inspire or affect others.

The stories “Letters from Zedelghem” and “Half Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery” give an insight into the life of Rufus Sixsmith, one of my favourite characters. His life is that of selflessness and utter tragedy. *SPOILER ALERT: His relationship with Robert Frobisher frustrated me because RF seems to be a gloating, selfish person who doesn’t mind boasting about his promiscuity. And then RF kills himself without a good bye (in person) to RS. I know RF had his reasons but the suicide would’ve seriously damaged RS. And then decades later RS again selflessly puts his life in danger to speak out about a cover up of a detrimental working nuclear plant. He does in fact get murdered “for the greater good.” In the grand scheme of things he saved many lives, but I still can’t help but think a good soul died for trying to do good, and his lover took his own life. But I understand that it is a realistic portrayal of humans. We’re not perfect people, and life is, unfortunately, unfair. Bad things happen to those who do good. But I believe that truth will eventually out, good will triumph over evil.

Mitchell gives us the comforting idea of reincarnation. Although I think you should life your life to the fullest, enjoying each day, the idea of past and future lives is utterly infectious. I read that 5/6 protagonists in Cloud Atlas are reincarnations of the same soul. This reiterates the idea of trying to overcome the same challenges but in different lives. I must say, I do like the idea of meeting the same people in other lives. Meeting in different situations. I believe that our good deeds lead to prosperity in another life.

Although we’re only individuals, it is important to remember Adam Ewing’s words in “The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing,” : “My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean,but a multitude of drops?”

The Birth of A Blog

So yeah, here we go. This is the beginning of something new. I don’t know how this is going to work out but we’ll give a try. To whoever’s out there, pleased to make your acquaintance. May my words be that of comfort, companionship, and most of all, meaning. I can’t help but be reminded of the book “Cloud Atlas,” written by David Mitchell (not the comedian, although his rants are hilarious). The book, turned movie, tells the events of 6 stories, all exclusive of one another, yet cosmically and historically intertwined. I’ll discuss the book at a later stage. For now, I wonder will these blog entries intersect the lives of others and have an impact on them? No matter, someone will stumble upon them (and obviously if you’re reading this you have). Dear reader, I hope you enjoy this journey and get some insight. 🙂