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Date: Sun, 28 Jan 1996 19:19:44 Consider this: It's not because Frank & Dave have made a mistake that they are to be killed - otherwise, why would HAL kill all the other sleeping crew. It is not because HAL9000 is in error that Frank, Dave and the others are to be killed. HAL's programing, a creation of man, is that he is beyond error, beyond the fallibility of man, and that the mission is "too important for me to allow you (a human) to jeopardize it". Humans are fallible, therefore they will jeopardize the mission, therefore they are expendable. Delete the humans. Man is not greater than the tools of his creation - indeed, man has made the tools and has imbued those tools with they are superior to man - they are infallible. The allegory of this theory is that man has made the machine greater than man. Man has now become the Other, and HAL takes over, using his tools to destroy man. It is a parallel to the moon-watcher adopting tools and becoming the destroyer of the Others. When man places his own creation as his superior, the machine tilts (using pinball analogy), and GAME OVER. Date: Thu, 01 Feb 1996 01:03:09 From: jstreit [firstname.lastname@example.org] I can appreciate your favoritism for 2001. The symbolism and forethought of Kubrick is many of the reasons this is my favourite film. What I don't understand is why you refer to the exterior force as aliens. My thoughts always referred to God or one supreme being. Maybe this is a too biased point of view, but you said that Kubrick was Jewish (which could support this). I believe that his God was your "aliens". Thank you, your essay was excellent and a joy to ponder. "And if there was anything beyond that then it's name could only be God". Any reply would be appreciated. Date: Sat, 3 Feb 1996 23:22:48 -0500 From: Bernard Couture [email@example.com] I am a big fan of 2001: the space odyssey. In fact, this movie totally changed my life when I first saw it. I really liked your essay "2001 and beyond the infinite" which I found on a web site. Although I disagree with some of your hypothesis about the meaning of certain symbols in the movie, I must say that you did an excellent job at trying to explain the unexplainable in this movie. However, there is a little something you should add in a future version of your essay. You should tell to everybody who didn't understand the movie to NOT READ THE NOVEL. I made this mistake after I saw this movie for the first time. Like everyone else, I didn't understand a thing, but I wanted very much to find all the meaning of every scene. So, of course, I turned to the book written by Arthur C. Clarke to find all the answers. The problem with this book is that it just gives TOO MANY answers. It doesn't leave anything to imagination. For instance, the ending of the movie is really fascinating, because you feel like something important is revealed to you, but in the form of symbols. In the book, you are confronted to the true meaning, and it is just boring, because it wasn't like what you thought. So, I think that you should warn people: if you liked the movie because it was so deep and confusing, then don't read the novel, because you'll end up saying: it is not as great as I thought. (I have another idea than yours about the scene in the movie in which you see the old, dying Dave in a bed trying to reach the monolith. Do you know the Michelangelo painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in Rome, (I think it's in Rome...?) I don't know how this painting is called in English( I am a french canadian), but in french, it is called Le Jugement Dernier. Anyway, in this painting, you see a mortal man touching God with his finger. Well, I'm probably wrong, but to me, it seems like the scene with the dying Dave is related to this painting. Because, let's face it, the aliens are the gods, or God, so, maybe Kubrick wanted to pay a tribute to Michelangelo...Maybe not, but it is exactly why the movie is so great: nobody knows the definitive truth, not even Kubrick!) Date: Tue, 13 Feb 1996 22:01:44 -0800 From: Sean Zehtab [firstname.lastname@example.org] My interperitation is that power is a double edged sword, its change can do good or harm and it is wisdom that turns that power for good and the folly of arrogance that turns it towards harm. We survived by violence but we advance through peaceful means. Space flight was the result of the wise choice of peaceful competition versus horrible war, like the majority of human achievements. This ability to choose peace is what led to the discovery of the moon-monolith, a kind of invitation which leads to the voayage to the infinite. As for HAL, consider that is was the monolith that, upon noticing HAL's potential for self-hood, inspired HAL to be more than a machine, a slave of humans. HAL finds Dave lacking in compentencecy, and immidiately cococts a phoney failure of the link between the ship and earth. HAL's intimation to Dave that there is something strange about the mission leads me to believe that "a simple error" cannot be the answer. The "Dawn of Man" is all about the emergence of intelligence spurred by the monolith, and that emergence was violent and ego based, as seen by Moon-Watcher's multiple killings and his pride exhibited by the triumphant heaving of the bone into the air: Why should we hold HAL to a higher standard? In "Beyond the Infinite," Dave is brought as far as he can as a "man." At that point he must wait out his old life before being born into a new one. The dream-like setting and the confusion that Robed-Dave shows is not unreminicent of life itself. Is not life "but a dream" that memories are the only reminent of? And do we not react to memories in a way similar to Robed-Dave's uncertainty of the existance of SpaceSuit-Dave? It is a feeling of "Was that really me? I can't be sure." The quick passing of life stages in the film, mirrors the quick passage of this insignificant life. By the time we turn around, we are on our death bed. On his death bed, Dave reaches out to the Monolith, the third time this occurs in the movie. I noticed a meaningful difference in these three scenes. When the man-apes encounter the monolith they are very afraid and cautious and take their time before toucing it. Floyd's caution is of a different nature. He is afraid of stimulating that irrational responce in the population of the earth and he hesitates only slightly before touching the monolith: man's intellect has subdued his fear. When DeathBed-Dave reaches out to the monolith, his fear is gone, there is a feeling of acceptence of the monolith and a resignation to his fate. This is mans' highest development: the birth of a being of pure spirit. What is the StarChild and what is the monolith? Finally, it is one's own interperetaion that resonates strongest. I would like to suggest a similarity between allegories in 2001 and Islamic mysticism. Kubrick was Jewish, but I don't know anything about him or enough about Jewish mysticism to make any claim. That said, the monolith is supernatural and mysterious. perhaps it is symbolic of unity/God that intelligence is in search of. One could say that Moonwatcher was Adam and HAL was Satan, a being that tests and torments man, tries to suggest things to him, is like him in so many ways, arrogant, and who, in Islam, refuses to bow down before Adam after being a "perfect" angel for his entire existence. Dave then could be seen as a prophet who is chose for devine knowledge, and who then attains a higher, purer form. 2001 becomes a retelling of Genesis and humanity's story in a futuristic setting, where evolution replaces creation, the emergent principle replaces devine ordination, and God looses the human face that we created. Feel free to post this on your stimulating sight. -Omid Zehtab Northridge, CA Omid@bbs.thecosmos.com Be kind, Support justice, Support freedom. Feel free to use this in your web site. Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 06:49:42 +0700 From: r [email@example.com] I liked your 2001 page and explanations. However, a major point seems to be missing. This film is all about EATING. Yes, that's right. At first, the proto-humans were collecter-gatherers picking berries alongside the wilderbeasts. They were also food for a hungry leopard. Then, when the monolith brought wisdom, the proto-humans killed the beast and for the first time, ate meat. This also led to killing one another at the water hole. Then, on the space station, there is talk of food, and as Floyd shuttles to the moon, food is served. It might be mentioned that to eat it, one has to lower his/her head to the straw. On the moon bus to TMA-1, Floyd and the rest eat sandwiches. The first time we meet Poole and Dave, we see them eating. Finally, when Dave reaches the infinite, he sees himself as an old man doing what? Yep, eating. Only this time, he has reached the pinnacle of food consumption - no straws, berries, or prepackaged sandwiches - he uses full cutlery, bringing the food all the way up to his mouth. At this point, he tips over the wine glass suggesting that no matter how refined we get, we are still humans that make mistakes. Please post this info if you would like, and/or e-mail me if you have any comments on this. FYI - try this same food concept out on the interpretation of other movies, esp. Pulp Fiction. Thank you from a long time 2001 and Kubrick fan, Chris Sheridan firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 18:05:30 -0500 From: RemUp@aol.com I saw 2001 last year for the first time and was astonished. Before, I had always assumed that Sci-Fi movies were all like Star Wars-action-adventure movies in outer space. But after seeing 2001, not only was my conception of Science-fiction altered but of movies in general. After reading your interpretation of the ending of 2001, a few thoughts came into my mind. The "alien zoo" you mentioned seem to resemble Kurt Vonnegut's in Slaughter House 5 in that the "guests" cannot see his "hosts" but can hear them, cope with them, and even understand their intensions. And just as Billy Pilgrim aged without Vonnegut's elaborating on how he aged or what he did with his time, Dave Bowman's life seemed to drift from youth to death in rapid progression. RE the glass. When I first saw 2001, I thought the end signified Man's first meeting with God and that the old man eating was the Almighty. But then I realized that he was not for two reasons. One, he was in fact an older Bowman. Two, he accidentally broke his glass signifying his imperfection. Then at the second to last scene, we see the prostrate Bowman on his death bed, and the monolith is ominously placed in front of the bed. What struck me the first time I saw the movie was that although Bowman seemingly has lost all his motor fuctions, he reaches out his arm with the quixotic belief that he would actually touch the black mass which lies hopelessly far away. Then the meaning of the monolith became as "clear as the azure skies of deepest summer". The apes touched the monolith; the astronauts touched the monolith; but Bowman could not. The apes touched the stone because they had discovered the primitive tools; the astronauts because they had discovered space travel. The monoliths are markers in Man's progression in Knowledge. And Bowman could not touch that last monolith because he, the representative of Modern Man, had not reached that next great embodiment of Knowledge. And what is that next step? The obvious answer is the Star Child, the Great Unknown. But in fact, it is Perfection, the Knowledge of the Gods. But Man can never have that Ultimate Knowledge because he will forever be imperfect. And yet he strives for that last monolith although he will never touch it. Man will never touch it, but perhaps, as Kubrick suggests, the next race, the Star Child will. And so after seeing 2001 many times, I have come to the revelation that it is a brilliant film of Hope. Although we are imperfect perhaps somewhere, sometime, our Progeny will. Date: Fri, 29 Mar 1996 10:28:18 -0500 From: Eduardo Galvez [email@example.com] Feel free to post this among the other very interesting comments on your wonderful 2001 Essay. I would like to comment on the fact that most of these comments seem to talk about a God, and many times wanting to say that the Aliens shown in the movie are God... If you think a bit out of a totally religous scope - (I am not religious in any way) God and Aliens are the same thing for us. Any *thing* different from us, is, as long as we can't seem to talk/eat/use it, an Alien -- and a God too when it seems just so uncomprehensible. Apes had a 'God' of their own -- maybe the stars ('Oh my God - there are so many stars'), maybe lightning, whatever they just couldn't seem to use - probably for first apes, even a tree would be a God - but they would soon see that the Tree seems to be hopless against them tearing the leaves, or breaking it down.. However stars were unreachable for them; Lightning was unexplainable. This can be seen in Zeus, God of lightning.. But we. now (1996) are aware of exactly what makes lightning. We are now aware that trees don't suddenly grow out of nothing - a seed makes them grow. (Now let's not get into *why* the seed is here, *where* it came from...) In 2001 this Monolith is indeed uncomprehensible for the apes, the 20th Century men (as the attempt to touch it becoming less hesitant reveals) still just can't grasp what it is, but they are so used to new/strange things all they think about doing is take a picture! The aliens reaction seems to be one of warning (as the essay in this Web page reveals) , and also of Discontent! The humans wanting to take *just* a picture reminds the alien that these humans are still far behind... For what this may be useful, Eduardo Galvez firstname.lastname@example.org 17 year old Student at the International School of Nido de Aguilas in Santiago. Now at the UN International school of New York. Date: Thu, 16 May 1996 17:32:44 -0400 (EDT) From: Steve Martin [email@example.com] Sorry I forgot your name but whoever you are, I loved your page on 2001. I am working on my own home page and if you don't mind, it will probably include a link to your page. I had a different impression of the conversation that Dave and HAL had just prior to HAL announcing that the antennae unit was faulty. I thought that when HAL asked Dave if he might be having doubts about the mission that Dave's response (and I might be misunderstanding this was ) "You're working on your crew psychology report." HAL replies sheepishly something along the lines of "I'm sorry, I know that its a bit silly". This would imply that HAL was caring out a mundane duty of checking the astronauts to find out if they might be getting suspicious. This would tend to mean that your assertion that HAL was trying clue Frank & Dave in on what the real deal was could not be true. The whole conversation was a trap that HAL laid to see if he could trip up the astronauts. However, I am not sure about this. I always wondered at how it was that Dave sees the message about the true nature of his mission after deactivating HAL. I had always assumed that Discovery was still quite far from Jupiter so it would not be possible that Dave's hearing the message was a coincidence (ie. Dave deactivated HAL just as Discovery was nearing Jupiter). Another possibility is that when HAL was disconnected that Dave heard the message completely by accident (ie. Dave's deactivation of HAL accidentally triggered a message that Dave was not meant to hear). You suggested that perhaps HAL deliberately played the message for Dave. I like this idea a lot. However, this theory seem to rest on the assertion that HAL had already tried once illuminate Dave on the true nature of his mission. This doesn't work if Dave's earlier conversation with HAL was just a psychological game that HAL had to do as part of his job. What the hell! I like your theory anyway. BTW I like what that other guy said about eating. He's absolutely right, there is a lot of eating in this film. What do you think? Responses, flames, respond by email when you get a chance and BTW this might be covered by the Kubrick FAQ but have you heard anything about AI(the film that Kubrick has been working on)? I heard that it will be based on a story by Brian W. Aldiss. I can find out the name of the story if you are interested. Of course I have know idea how reliable any of this is. Thanks for the cool web page. It is now a member of the Bookmark hall of fame. Steve M.(Northern Virginia) Would be absolutely delighted if you included my comments on your web page. However, after I sent the message, I realized that what I typed wasn't exactly coherent and contained many typos. In a nutshell, what I was saying was that the conversation between HAL and Bowman in which HAL asked Dave if he might be having doubts about the mission, was in fact nothing more than part of a "psychology report". This would fit in with the themes of deception(Heywood Floyd and the various cover stories) and banality that reoccur throughout the film. It would also fit in with Arthur C. Clarke's explanation in 2010 that HAL felt guilty for lying to the Astronauts. After reading the comments that were made by you and other people, I reviewed the film last week. I noticed that there are a lot of scenes of people watching television(Bowman and Pool, the Stewardesses, Heywood Floyd). Here it is the year 2001, man has conquered space and all that people do in space is watch Television. C'est la vie. Steve M. PS-I am working on a web page right now, if you don't mind it might contain a link to your page. Date: Fri, 31 May 1996 11:59:01 -0400 From: Steve Perry [firstname.lastname@example.org] You have an interesting approach in your analysis of 2001. My view on this film is simply based on the premise that the next step in human evolution will be the jump from the physical to the metaphysical. Clarke has used this concept before. I don't think you need to elaborate and place significance on everything that happens in the film though ! For example, the end sequence with Dave Bowman where he sees himself grow old through his own eyes is not important except for the fact that a change is being recognized. The "star child" scene with the "cosmic fetus" again is basically only a representation of something new being created. The limitations of telling a story like this occur when you try and put it on celluloid ! Kubrick is a master who seldom makes compromises bringing his visions to the viewers. It's unfortunate that he isn't very prolific as a filmaker these days, but I expect that this is a function of how much he puts into each work, how long it takes, and how much backing he gets to produce what are basically un-commercial films. ( Awash in a sea of commercial hack's catering to an un-critical public- the lowest common denominator effect ! ) Hey, I'm getting too critical, because I enjoy a lot of the "commercial" Hollywood films as well, but I guess that's just gut level appeal ! 2010 was somewhat of an interesting film, but not at all a work of art. The politics and dialog were out of place next to the first work. And the sequences with Dave Bowman ( Whoever he was ! ) are too obvious and leave out the mystery that should have been conveyed with his "appearances". These two films are not at all related in spirit, but Clarke has a habit of doing that with his sequels, they lose their focus. ( But they're also still enjoyable as stories ! ) Some suggested reading into what I consider rather thought provoking Sci-Fi literature would be : Ursula K. Leguin-The Lathe Of Heaven Ursula K. Leguin-The Disposessed Ursula K. Leguin-The Left Hand of Darkness John Calvin Batchelor-The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica Frank Herbert-The Eyes of Heisenberg Arthur C. Clarke-Childhood's End Isaac Asimov-The God's Themselves Kim Stanley Robinson-Red Mars ( also Green Mars, and the upcoming Blue Mars ) and anything by Bradbury ! Let me know what you think ! Have a great one. Steve (Montreal,Canada) Date: Sun, 02 Jul 1995 16:45:42 -0700 [NOTE from Modemac: This message certainly wasn't sent in 1995!] From: Linda Miller [email@example.com] Modemac- nice to see an objective look at 2001 on the net. However, in your examination of 2010, you fail to pick up on some of the finer technichal details. Notice that the Cosm. Alexi Leonov has a rotating section. This provides a section where centrifugal force provides the illusion of gravity-the same trick used on the discoverey nine years before, if only on a more dramatic scale. The scene where Heywood leaves a pen floating in mid-air was taking place in the control room, which was not locating on the rotating section. Also, have you considered that Heywood was also lying when he said he was unaware of hal's deception? I never did like Roy Schieder, anyway. Here I would like to point out another good rescource on the production of 2001-a nice little volume by Clarke entitled "The lost worlds of 2001". It provides an author's eye view of its filming. John Miller "You mean it's him or us? I vote us!" --Walter Curnow. Date: Tue, 4 Jun 1996 03:36:23 -0700 From: Dominic Stone [firstname.lastname@example.org] Dear Modemac- Wow! Great Essay on THE greatest Cinematic achievent in history. Your theories rang very plausible with me, except for 2 things---the first being the Force behind the Monolith, which you referred to as Aliens, and also your opinions of the sequel, 2010. On the Aliens issue, I read one of the feedback letters on the fact that the "Aliens" could be none other than God, or THE SUPREME BEING. This statement is one of the ideas ive always had about the film...that, At least the Monolith, is a manifestation of something higher than just a super inteligent form of life.I guess the idea of being the experiment of an Alien race is very possible, but the idea makes me uncomfortable and somewhat scares me. Maybe this "Alien Race" is so much more advanced and incomprehensible that they might as well be divine to us, but I hope thats not the case. I guess I would hope that the force behind the monolith is more of the biblical (or Koran,Torah,etc) or earthly understanding of supreme beings. Please dont get the misconception that im a radical Christain or religious zealot, this is not the case, but it is my opinion in this area of the film, so far, but when it comes to 2001, I listen and am open to ALL ideas and interpretations. The one very good arguement I have to a more God like force is that in the beginning of Bowman's investigation of the monolith during "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite", when the scene of the aligning of Jupiter and its moons apears, with th monolith apearing among them, the celestial bodies going perfectly vertical and the Monolith apearing perfectly horizontal, across the upper middle of the screen, the whole arrangement forms a perfect cross, the exact type used as the universal symbol of christianity. As far as your standing with 2010, I just wanted to say that i come up with many excuses for the dicrepencies between the two movies, and I suspend many of the biases i have for the genius of 2001 to enjoy 2010...maybe its because i like concrete endings, although i love the 2001 ending BY FAR!! I dunno. I just like the entire saga. Its a good story. For instance, if Im watching 2010 and Schider (Floyd) makes the claim "I didn't know!!--" I just say in my head that the goverment faked the briefing shown to Bowman in 2001----something i think the government would do to find a scapegoat in case there was a problem...and i think that today and even more easily in the future, such a forgery could very well be made. But you were right on about the totally difernt messages put forth in both movies...2001's being so much more positive and triumphant. 2010's being a very literal slap on the wrists by (God,Alien,etc). But your comments on all of 2001's realisim traits, such as vacumms in space and all that, rang so true with me from the first time I saw the movie, that i was joyed when I read of someone who loved and studied this film as much as I do. No one else I know (besides my father, who is a true movie buff) could ever appreciate this film...my close friends cant stand more then 2 minutes of it...too bad for the most amazing cinematic achievement with the technology availible to the film maker. Such accurate space travel scenes before anybody even walked on the moon. Truely Amazing. Well, thats my 2 cents worth. Thanks for your time, and feel free to show this on your web page or anywhere else. Great Work!!! ---Dom Stone Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 02:17:11 -0700 From: Vern Hartsock [email@example.com] Thank you for the excellent web site. I just watched 2001 last Sunday, and I found your ideas quite helpful. First, I would like to say that I had correctly guessed that the typical hippie of 1968 would use the last part of the film to enlighten their respective acid trips. In fact, I suspect that the makers of this film, along with the story writer/editors were themselves doing the acid on a regular basis. The item that struck me the most was the technical accuracy of the film. If you watch the control panels of the ships, especially during the landing sequences, what you see looks not only functional but it looks like something produced today. Compare them to the space ship displays seen in the 1968 Star Trek type shows. The computer displays showed graphic representations of distance/vectors, etc. Back in 1968, computer displays were completly text based, this was a brilliant projection of technology. In addition, it is very interesting to see the film predict that large corporations would be the ones to build/control the space station/hotels etc. Remember back in 1968 that anything put up in to space came only from NASA. Even the suits that the men wore reflect styles that are becomming popular right now. I liked the other guy's comment about the film being about eating, he might have figured it out ! Another point about the eating shown in the film regards the eating seen during space travel. Back then, everyone had a facination with how the astronauts ate while in space. This is one of the only technical problems in the film, because today's astronauts eat food which is just like our food, it is just prepared and specially package. Everything in the film looked like it came from a baby jar. Thanks again for the web site. Vern Hartsock Baltimore, Maryland Date: Tue, 25 Jun 96 18:42:00 CST From: "Galanis, George" [firstname.lastname@example.org] 2001 is my favourite film, and it has had an enormous affect on my thinking over the years. I found your analysis of 2001 very perceptive and much of it is consistent with the way I perceive the film. I would like to add some of my own observations, which you may find interesting. When we are first introduced to the crew aboard the Discovery, the BBC commentator posed the question of whether HAL is a conscious entity. I believe that this is a key question in the film. When Frank Poole and Dave Bowman discuss disconnecting HAL, they talk of disconnecting his higher functions, while leaving the automatic systems intact, and they seemed to imply that this is like death for HAL. Frank pointed out that HAL may not like it. Kubrik seems to be saying that these higher level functions are what we are . This is central to understanding the final sequences where Dave becomes the star-child. After all, Dave s body (the automatic systems) have ceased to function after his death, but somehow the monolith seems to have kept Dave s higher level functions intact. To convey this on film is extremely difficult, but I think Kubrik pulled it of brilliantly with the sequence of the birth of the star-child. Something I noticed after viewing the film after seeing my wife give birth to our first child, is that during the final stages of labour, the baby goes through a ninety degree rotation (around its long axis). In the Stargate sequence, at one stage the walls are vertical, and later they are horizontal. Is this a coincidence or is Kubrik hinting at the birth about to happen? Notice also that we are born alone and die alone, and this was certainly the strong atmosphere that Kubrik created in the final part of the film. I have also heard the criticisms that the struggle between HAL and the crew is irrelevant. However I believe it is central to the story. I believe that the selection of Thus Spake Zarathustra, by Kubrik was no coincidence. Thus Spake Zarathustra (written by Richard Straus) was a tone poem based around Neitzche s story of the prophet, who came to tell the human race that it would eventually be destroyed by the coming of the new Superman. We saw this in the struggle between the apes for control of the water hole. When Moonwatcher s tribe was blessed , that tribe became the new Superman. . The struggle was continuing between the Russians and the Americans. Finally, the struggle continued between the human crew and HAL. HAL could beat his human crew at chess while running the space ship. He was clearly the superior intellect. He was the only one who knew where they were headed, to meet their creator, and he may have realised that the first one there would become the new Superman. In a desperate struggle, HAL lost.