Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Wondrous Words of Cloud Atlas

I couldn't resist sharing a few of the words I've discovered in reading Cloud Atlas for Wondrous Words Wednesday, the meme hosted by Kathy over at Bermuda Onions.
The section I'm reading  - An Orison of Sonmi - 451 takes place in the future. It's probably confusing out of context but Mitchell has invented and morphed words as well as mandating some sensible spelling changes.

For example, any word that begins with ex should drop the e. Who has time for superfluous vowels? The 'eh' sound is part of the way you say the letter 'x' so words like exhale, exultation, exhort become xhale, xultation, xhort. See? you don't even miss the 'e'.

Other words that can be simplified are vis a vis flight which becomes, logically, flite. Frightened is fritened.
On the other hand Mitchell mystifyingly leaves a word like 'aesthetically' as is. Could he not have spelled it sthetically or perhaps sthetickly or even esthetically?  Maybe because the sentence "He believed it was aesthetically pleasing to alternate stemtypes around the Hub." already contains enough puzzling elements.
Stemtypes are the building blocks of clones like Sonmi 451 (played by former Korean model, Doona Bae in the film) who takes us through a regular day as a 'server' of purebloods (humans). Presumably the sunrise has to be manufactured - at least for the servers who wake up, not to alarm clocks, or sunlight pouring in through the windows (there are none since they are twelve floors underground) or a piping hot cup of coffee but to "stimulin in the airflow, then yellow-up in the dorm room". 
Sonmi 451 says their job for 19 hours is to 'greet diners, input orders, tray food, vend drinks, upstock condiments, wipe tables and bin garbage.'  I love how efficient 'bin garbage' is! When they are done, the fabricants (workers) will return to their dorm room to imbibe one Soapsac.
Soapsac is a futuristic, chemical variation of 'name your poison' except in this case, not only can one OD on the stuff, but Soap contains amnesiads 'designed to deaden curiosity' and clearly keep the server clones in their place. Lest you think these drone like servers are all of a piece here's one  of my favorite sentences so far: "But make no mistake: even same-stem fabricants cultured in the same wombtank are as singular as snowflakes"  I love that statement of  'personal' dignity and individuality.
Do you remember Days of the Week underwear? They wouldn't have much use here since weeks no longer exist. Instead, they are ordered in terms of 'tenthnites'
The wife of one of the overseers spent most of her husband's salary on "facescaping. Certainly her seventy-plus years could pass for thirty". Now THAT's a great name for what is happening RIGHT NOW in cosmetic surgery. I wonder if someone has that term copyrighted?
The world Sonmi 451 inhabits is Nea So Copros, a futuristic version of Korea and a corpocracy - a world ruled by corporations. Again, looking around today, it's not hard to see that we are headed in this direction. It also makes sense that purebloods (humans) all drive fords (any vehicle), wear nikes, read their sony's and watch their disneys.
Hope you enjoy this smattering of words from Cloud Atlas. Do you have any favorite words from Mitchell's excellent novel?

The highly anticipated film starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, James Darcy and Susan Sarandon comes out October 26.






3 comments:

  1. I saw the trailer for Cloud Atlas at the theater the other day and it looks too "out there" for me. I do think some of that spelling makes sense, though. lol

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  2. What a group of wonderful words that is. I read Cloud Atlas much too long ago to remember details. Thanks for the trailer, I hadn't seen it before. I was already intrigued. I'll have to see this one.

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  3. Not a favorite word, but a favorite quote - Sometimes the fluffy bunny of incredulity zooms round the bend so rapidly that the greyhound of language is left, agog, in the starting cage.

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