David Mitchell quotes

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David Mitchell

Birthdate: 12. January 1969

David Stephen Mitchell is an English novelist. He has published seven novels, two of which, number9dream and Cloud Atlas , were shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Works

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell
Ghostwritten
Ghostwritten
David Mitchell

„What is this thing, "imagination?"“

—  David Mitchell

Interview in The Japan Times Online, (24 June 2007) https://archive.is/20121219091415/search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fb20070624a1.html
Context: What is this thing, "imagination?" A muscle that can be "forced" or "stretched"? Or something immune to the ethos of ganbaru [grit it out, or strive for one's best]? Like the relativist's view of light, it is both wave and particle, depending on what you want it to be. The verb "to imagine" is both active and passive, as in "Steve imagined his future," and "Such a future was never imagined." So, I work on my novel by imagining the world of 18th-century Nagasaki and its people and their fears and desires, as an act of will, and a lot of will is involved, believe me. However, I could ganbaru until I'm blue in the face. If my imagination doesn't work "passively" or even "intransitively," at its own behest rather than mine, and come up with cliche-demolishing twists of phrase and turns of plot and happy accidents and unexpected reactions from characters, then the book will be sterile. Well-written with luck, and even intelligent, but sterile. (...) Imagination is what makes art fertile.

„Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an' tho' a cloud's shape nor hue nor size don't stay the same, it's still a cloud an' so is a soul.“

—  David Mitchell, book Cloud Atlas

"Sloosha's Crossin' an Ev'rythin' After", p. 308
Cloud Atlas (2004)
Context: Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an' tho' a cloud's shape nor hue nor size don't stay the same, it's still a cloud an' so is a soul. Who can say where the cloud's blowed from or who the soul'll be 'morrow? Only Sonmi the east an' the compass an' the atlas, yay, only the atlas o' clouds.

„I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Torturous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president’s pen or a vainglorious general’s sword.“

—  David Mitchell, book Cloud Atlas

The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, Monday, 13th January —, p. 528
Cloud Atlas (2004)
Context: Scholars discern motions in history & formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilizations. My belief runs contrary, however. To wit: history admits no rules; only outcomes.
What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts.
What precipitates acts? Belief.
Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind’s mirror, the world. If we believe humanity is a ladder of tribes, a colosseum of confrontation, exploitation & bestiality, such a humanity is surely brought into being, & history’s Horroxes, Boer-haaves & Gooses shall prevail. You & I, the moneyed, the privileged, the fortunate, shall not fare so badly in this world, provided our luck holds. What of it if our consciences itch? Why undermine the dominance of our race, our gunships, our heritage & our legacy? Why fight the “natural” (oh, weaselly word!) order of things?
Why? Because of this: — one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the Devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.
Is this the doom written within our nature?
If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe divers races & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share their candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Torturous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president’s pen or a vainglorious general’s sword.

„History admits no rules, only outcomes.“

—  David Mitchell, book Cloud Atlas

"The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing", p. 528
Cloud Atlas (2004)
Context: History admits no rules, only outcomes. What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts. What precipitates acts? Belief.

„Truth is singular. Its 'versions' are mistruths.“

—  David Mitchell, book Cloud Atlas

"An Orison of Sonmi~451", p. 199 (Nook Edition)
Cloud Atlas (2004)
Context: "Your version of the truth is the only one that matters."
"Truth is singular. Its 'versions' are mistruths."

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„How lazily "xperts" [sic] dismiss what they fail to understand.“

—  David Mitchell, book Cloud Atlas

"An Orison of Sonmi~451", p. 305 (Nook Edition)
Cloud Atlas (2004)

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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