With the advent of e-readers, books on the subway are getting harder and harder to spot. It takes dedication to get a sense of what people are reading these days. At The Awl, Ben Dolnick sets out to catalogue a week’s worth of sightings, which included a man reading Cloud Atlas and The Stranger and a teenage girl reading Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. You could also read our own Nick Moran on the question of whether e-readers are really green.
Wilber is an ecumenical taxonomist; he doesn’t choose between materialist and idealist accounts of consciousness. Competing schools of knowledge, he suggests, merely reflect limitations of perspective, a problem that conveniently disappears once all more or less plausible points of view are properly integrated, “not on the level of details—that is finitely impossible; but on the level of orienting generalizations.” He is big on labels and diagrams. No doubt part of his appeal is a talent for reducing complex phenomena to a flowchart. Who wouldn’t want a map of reality that fits in a wallet?
There’s an obvious futility in comparing a book to the subsequent movie, but ‘Cloud Atlas’ is no mere adaptation: it’s a big, ambitious structural overhaul, one that has been likened by Mitchell, amongst others, to a mosaic, all of his Russian dolls smashed to pieces and carefully reassembled.
Elizabeth Minkel, “Filming the Unfilmable: On David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas”