Page 353. " If Seoul is a Boardman's faithful spouse,' said Hae-Joo, 'Pusan is his no-pantied mistress.' "
Panorama of Busan
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePanorama of Busan - Credit: Mark & Emma Hambleton & Dolan

Pusan is South Korea's second largest city, has a population of 3.6 million and is the fifth largest port city in the world. It is split into fifteen districts, some of which are divided by mountains.

Backstreets of Pusan
Creative Commons AttributionBackstreets of Pusan - Credit: Yazan Badran, flickr










Page 357. " Hae-Joo knew; we were going aboard the golden ark. "
MS Oasis, the largest passenger ship in the world, was built in South Korea.
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMS Oasis, the largest passenger ship in the world, was built in South Korea. - Credit: Ereine, flickr

South Korea is the world's largest ship builder and Pusan the fifth largest port city in the world. South Korea has produced the largest passenger ship to date and has the largest ship yard in the world. In 2008 South Korea produced more ships than the rest of the world combined.

Page 361. " Violence breeds further violence until the only law is whatever is willed by the most powerful. "

The will to power is one of Nietzsche's most enduring philosophical legacies. It is those whose will to power is most ruthless and cunning who succeed in imposing their will on others.  Such men as manage to transcend the mundanities and restrictions of society are Übermensch, or supermen.  I could attempt to summarize this concept but Nietzsche does it so well himself here:

Anything which is a living and not a dying body (...) will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant - not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power (...) 'Exploitation' (...) belongs to the essence of what lives, as a basic organic function; it is a consequence of the will to power, which is after all the will to life.                                                                                         (Beyond Good and Evil, s.259)

Page 371. " Cavendish à la Carl Sagan. caged in a Dandelion Clock. "

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was an American astronomer and science writer who became world famous through his thirteen part television documentary Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Broadcast initially in 1980 it has been watched by over 500 million people in over 60 countries. In his rather poetic introduction he plucks a dandelion from a rock and blows it skywards, inviting us to 'explore the cosmos in a ship of the imagination, unfettered by ordinary limits on speed and size, drawn by the music of cosmic harmonies...perfect as a snowflake, organic as a dandelion seed.'

Page 371. " in the Kingdom of the Dying the most Enfeebled is the common Maginot Line against the Unconquerable Führer. "
Map depicting the Marginot Line
Public DomainMap depicting the Maginot Line

The Maginot Line was the line of defence built along the French/German border prior to the Second World War. It consisted of - among other forms of defences - machine gun posts, concrete bunkers and tank obstacles. The Germans broke through where the Maginot Line joined the Belgium fortification system.

Page 371. " Oh, the horror, the horror. "

The immortal and haunting lines uttered by Kurtz as he lies on his deathbed in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1902).  We can only imagine that Kurtz is recalling the colonial butchery he has perpetrated on the Congolese people, or else realizing with appalling vividness the wretched state of the human condition. Conrad's hugely influential novella was given the Hollywood treatment in Apocalypse Now (1979) in which Marlow's journey into the heart of darkness is transposed into the world of the Vietnam War. Despite the textual liberties taken by director Francis Ford Coppola, it succeeds in capturing much of the novella's brooding, dreamlike quality, as well as its sense of mindless brutality. You are warned that the following clip contains potentially upsetting images of violence.


Page 372. " I thought of Primo Levi's The Drowned and the Saved. "
The entrance to Auschwitz of which Primo Levi is a survivor
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe entrance to Auschwitz of which Primo Levi is a survivor - Credit: Tulio Bertorini

A collection of essays on life in the concentration camps by Primo Levi, a Jewish holocaust survivor. Its prequel If This Is a Man is commonly regarded as one of the twentieth-century's most significant works.  

Page 373. " Your beloved large-print sagas of rags, riches and heartbreak were no camouflage against the mysteries trained on you by the tennis-ball launcher of life "
Title page of the Jacobean play by John Webster (1584-1634)
Public DomainTitle page of the Jacobean play by John Webster (1584-1634)

A reference to John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi in which appears the line: 'We are merely the stars' tennis balls, struck and banded which way please them.'  The title of Stephen Fry's thriller The Stars' Tennis Balls also borrows from the play. The Duchess of Malfi (first published 1623) explores the theme of misused power, a motif also explored by Mitchell.


Page 374. " That left All Quiet on the Western Front "
First edition cover (1929)
Creative Commons AttributionFirst edition cover (1929) - Credit: Hans-Peter Haack

A novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of the First World War, in which the moral and physical sufferings of a front line soldier are depicted. The book sold in huge quantities but was subsequently banned in Nazi Germany, not least because it undermined the 'glory' of war and served as a bitter reminder of Germany's defeat.