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Date: Wed, 03 Jul 1996 08:07:33 -0400 From: "Bruce C. Miller" [email@example.com] Thanks very much for the dissertation on 2001. I'm very happy to see there are others besides myself who love this movie and what it is trying to say. Its not just my favorite, but the best ever made. But to my single point. One of the points of the movie that you skipped over was the meeting at the moon base between Floyd and other senior Clavius Officials. This meeting was clearly a one-sided power punch. Not sure what Kubrick was trying to say, but this committee was being directed like a military combat unit: there was no discussion and certainly no principles of democracy were evident. I call it the shut-up-and-sit-down speech. I mean, who is this Space Agency that can control the who, what, when and where of releasing new-found information? Where is the press? What would Floyd have done if one of the committee members had politely said that he/she had no intention of taking a security oath, and that they were leaving for home on the next flight out, etc, etc? Is autocracy, absolute compliance and the surrender of our Western style of independence now life as usual? And your point about no sound in a vacuum....I have not seen another space-based movie get that law of nature right, including Apollo 13! And I can't understand why. Its such a simple point to get right...just shut the sound off of the sound track when the camera is in space! Thanks for the WEB page. Great Idea!!! -- Major Bruce C. Miller Military Medical Field Studies Course Director Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) Department of Military and Emergency Medicine (MIM) Bethesda, MD 20814 Internet: Miller@usuhsb.usuhs.mil AOL: ORYGUNDUCK Date: Fri, 05 Jul 1996 01:51:06 -0700 From: "firstname.lastname@example.org" [email@example.com] I believe that in 2001 HAL wanted to tell the truth about the mission because Dave was his friend. His odd behavior was a series of clues but it made his attempted malfunction seem like something was very wrong. They did something that HAL did not want to happen. They wanted to shut HAL off which, in HAL's terms, would be like killing him. He realized that it was either him or them. Survival of the fittest. A theme that was showcased in the beginning of the film when the smarter man-apes that came in contact with the monolith drove away the dumber ones. Anyway, Dave is successful in shutting off HAL and right before he is completely off the message is played stating the true meaning of the misson. You say HAL was detemined to complete the mission and wanted Dave to know the true meaning so he could complete it. I believe HAL showed the message because he didn't want Dave to hate him, he wanted him to realize what had gone on. Something a friend would do. Date: Wed, 17 Jul 1996 19:58:22 +0800 From: "Depto. Legal" [firstname.lastname@example.org] Hy Bob, first of all my english and my internet knowledge are certainly not the best in the world, since I was born and raised in a Latin America undeveloped country (Dominican Republic to be specific). So I apologize for all mistakes this can cause. I started to read your essay about 2001 and I think your explanations are great (at least the ones that are included in The Dawn of Man which is so far the only one I have experienced). I just wanted to add one thing to it, as I will like to do with other chapters or parts of it as I continue to read them. If there is one important thing in Kubrick's masterpiece besides the music (thought everything is excelent), is the use of cinematographic time. The Dawn of Man is probably the best part of the movie in that manner. As ape man evolutionatized, a lot of time goes by. I think there were like 5 times in this part of the movie when the screen goes black, and it remains black for an important period of time. As you know, in movies that means a lot of time (it could be a day if the story is very short and specific, but millions of years in Kubrick's view of the evolution of man). Compare to those black screens in the last scene of this chapter, the ape throws the bone to the sky and the spaceshuttle? apears. I think the message is clear: it takes the man more time to became inteligent and civilized (as Freud said: the first man that holds a weapon and uses it against their opositors was the inventor of civilization), than it takes him to use this inteligence to build anything he wants. Its like a cualitative jump compare to a cuantitative one. Regards, Hector Molina adress: email@example.com Date: Sun, 28 Jul 1996 23:04:48 -0600 From: Greg Smith [firstname.lastname@example.org] Hi, Thank you for creating a great tribute to a wonderful movie. You have done an excellent job of presenting a straight-forward interpretation of the film. I have been a fan of 2001 since its debut. I read Clarke's novel (one of the few instances when I have felt that the movie was vastly superior to the book) and the book, THE MAKING OF KUBRICK'S 2001. Over the years I have developed my own opinions of Kubrick's intent. I believe the movie is an allegory representing Man's relationship with technology and what may be the ultimate outcome of the relationship. In this metaphorical view, the monolith is an icon for technology. Man's earliest encounter with technology produces a bone tool which is his salvation from starvation and extinction. Even this primitive technology, however, has a dark side which is soon revealed in the killing of one ape by another. After the flash-forward to the late twentieth century we see that Man has used technology to totally transform his environment. In fact, there are no natural shapes, materials, plants or non-human organisms other than the celestial bodies themselves in this segment of the film -- even the food is synthetic. Man is totally surrounded by a technological world of his own creation. And underscoring this situation, the rectangularly precise shape of the monolith appears everywhere. On board the Discovery, HAL is the personification of Man's technology and Dave Bowman represents Man. HAL and Dave become engaged in a chess game of cataclysmic proportions. Note that HAL's electronic brain is portrayed as a huge monolithically shaped room filled with lighted monolithic "brain cells". The disaster on the Discovery could be any technological disaster in which Man's own creation becomes powerful enough to destroy him and escapes his control. Kubrick may have been thinking of a disaster involving nuclear weapons ala Dr. Strangelove, but today our technology seems to have outstripped our means to control it in so many areas that one could just as easily contemplate genetic, medical, environmental, or some other technological apocalypse. My best guess at "Beyond the Infinite" is that it represents a kind of fall of Man from his technological heights after this cataclysm back to some "safer" era of technology -- a future dark age following technological disaster. I think that the final scenes are meant to represent Man ultimately reaching out to technology once again, to save himself from extinction. This time, however, Man transforms not just his environment, but himself, the star child being the offspring of the union of Man and technology. As for 2010, I think it attempts to force a very literal and conventional sci-fi explanation of its predecessor that was never intended by Kubrick. Again, thanks for the great Web site. -- ========================================= Greg Smith email@example.com Date: Mon, 29 Jul 1996 18:11:59 -0400 From: GUEST [GUEST@Cafe.CA] interesting attention to details, but why is the monolyth there? and why was it hidden? men arent supposed to be 100m below the moons surface. The answer believe it or not goes all the way back to ancient greece. god creates man, man creates machine, man destroys god, machine destroys man, or at least he tries. notice all of the theatrical references. First of all when floyd enters the space station he is seated in a revoving door. This is known in ancient greek theater as an eccyclemma. it is used to show a character changing setting from outdoors to indoors. indeed the setting has changed from space flight to some kind of terrafirma, but that is just Kubrick getting fancy. The real theater device is the DEUS EX MACHINA. in theater it is the use of a crane to bring man to god (god from machine). To reach god man must fly by means of some machine. The space ship is mans MACHINA. It was also believed that gods resided in splendour atop mount olympus. Aplace where no man could reach without god like ability. The moon is Mount olympus, the spaceship is the Machina. Now that man lives there in splendour and cumfort he has reached godlike status. The monolyth is the prize, the trophy, and the clue to the next step, JUPITER AND BEYOND. It is no accident that the station is named CLAVIUS meaning Key (key to enlighten ment?) nor is it any cooincidence that the planets are named after classical gods. I hope this is food for thought now put it in a pipe and light it up. see what you can find. If you dont buy it, I hope my prof does...... TRISTAN VERBOVEN From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Tue, 06 Aug 1996 17:13:17 -0700 I have another explination for the rapid aging sequence. He jumps from one stage of his life to another to signify that, for Dave, time has lost the meaning which we have attached to it. It seems unlikely that this advanced civilization would survive for 4 million years with a concept of time as we see it. Likewise, Dave may not have "aged" at all. Instead, he was experiencing many moments in his new life at the same time. His transformation was, at once, infinitely long and instantaneous. Date: Fri, 16 Aug 1996 02:07:29 -0700 From: Max Gerry [email@example.com] Your essay begs the question of whether or not HAL understood the full implications of what they were looking for in the Jupiter monolith. Let's look at it like this: We've established that if the being overcomes his tools, he is something of the cosmic winner in this film. Since mankind has created a tool (HAL itself) that is superior in almost everyway to his creator, and since the people onboard Discovery are there to service HAL and make his "life" easier (by performing maintenace, fixing the AE-35, doing things HAL can't do on his own--the very definition of a tool), HAL truly blurs the line between who is the tool and who is in charge. Who is using who? It may be that HAL came to the same realization that Dave eventually figured out--that he would have to abandon his tools to complete the mission. This necessitated killing everyone. He ends up being undone by his own "tool", Dave Bowman. Date: Fri, 16 Aug 1996 11:11:39 -0400 From: "Etan M. Gery - DLR" [firstname.lastname@example.org] I first saw 2001 about a month ago, and i was completely clueless as to the meaning.....your web page helped a lot....thanks. Anyway, here are a couple of points and observations: 1. why did aliens place the monolith? what did they, a superior race have to gain? and why do you say it was aliens? it may have been god, but i have another somewhat crackpot theory: very early cultures in the middle east (from where religion sprung up with the idea of one "God") put up very simple "monoliths" that were just large stones. these stones have been said to represent man in that their shape is that of an erect penis. in 2001, was man himself the creator of the monolith? did the monolith even exist, or could it have been imaginary? 2. in what way was dave different from frank in that he became the next step in man's existance? in moon-watcher's case, he was the one who had made a discovery to use tools. but what did dave do that made him so special? he was simply placed in a situation where he had to "evolve" in order to survive by killing HAL. actually, i guess that is extremely similar to moon-watcher. okay, i'm wrong. but why not frank? it could have just as easily been dave who was killed by HAL while frank would go on to become the star child, suggesting that dave did need outside help to evolve from old lady luck. so why were two characters needed in the first place? i don't think the point of the movie would be lost at all if frank did not exist. 3. as for the debate on why dave saw the message about the real purpose for the jupiter mission, let me just throw this out: it could have all been in dave's imagination....who knows, maybe the entire jupiter and beyond sequence was just dave's hallucination....it would be awful lonely out there...... oh well, thanks again for clearing up much of the movie, and i would greatly appreciate a response From: email@example.com Date: Mon, 19 Aug 1996 18:48:43 -0700 I just read your 2001 essay. 2001 is one of my favourite books and perhaps my favourite (or at least most watched) movie. Although your essay was well thought out and presents a interesting (if not correct) interpretations, it does have some minor technical flaws. I do not want to belittle the essay, the oversights are quite minor. 1 - Dr. Haywood Floyd was not with NASA. He was the Chairman of the National Council of Astronautics. This point is quite clear in the novel. During the briefing on Clavius Base, he refers to the Council and Floyd is introduced as "Chairman Floyd." 2 - In the first scene of the "Jupiter Mission" sequence it is Frank Poole, not David Bowman who is running around the centrifuge. 3 - The transformation of Jupiter from a planet to a star would not affect the earth' orbit. Gravity is a function of mass, not density. Had the "aliens" used interstellar dumptrucks to move additional hydrogen to Jupiter, then the earth's orbit would be affected. [NOTE from Modemac, in defense of my 2010 point: The Aliens did indeed use "interstellar dumptrucks" to increase Jupiter's mass, by creating millions of copies of the Monolith.] SOME OTHER POINTS 4 - Dr. Floyd had to go through voice print identification eventhough Mr. Miller and the receiptionist already knew him. He was not Dr. Flyod until a machine confirmed that he was Dr. Floyd. This show the interdependence of man and machine. 5 - In the movie HAL's instructor was Dr. Langly. At some point HAL was instructed to lie. (by Dr. Langly?) A certain organization with a long history of lies and forcing people to lie is based in Langly, Virginia..the C.I.A. Perhaps this was Kubrick's little insult at the C.I.A. Afterall, 2001 was filmed during the anti-government frenzy of the 1960's where the C.I.A. was especially unpopular with the community. Tim Smith Tulane Law School From: JoshJDS@aol.com Date: Sun, 8 Sep 1996 15:24:16 -0400 I have just finished reading your essay. Most of what you said I agree with. I would like to note that 2001 was originally released at 160 minutes, but Kubrick cut it after the premiere. I am hoping one day this footage will be restored. The overture, intermission, entr' acte, and exit music was "lost" until the 25th anniversary Letterboxed video version, which is a must-have for all fans. I recently had the priviledge of attending the New York Premeire ot the new 35mm print from Turner Entertainment featuring those little bonuses at the American Museum Of The Moving Image. Never before had I seen so many people really enthusiastic about this film. All four showings were sold out! I beleive the Tyco Monolith was buried so man would have to evolve far enough to discover it. I believe it is, indeed, a tool. This says that even the most advanced species require tools. The signal was sent to Jupiter instead of something like an asteroid, so man would have to learn to travel there. Even now, scientists speculate the possiblity of life on Europa, which was a theme of 2010. I believe the cosmic light show's purpose was to explain the beginning and the way of the Universe to Man. The jouney throught time and space took so long that dave actually aged from before he left to when he arrived. He also appears terrified in the pod. Kubrick showed us shots of him like that to scare the audience. When you see a figure sitting and eating, Dave (and the audience) assume that this is something which will explain what has been going on for the past two hours. When he reaches out to the monolith, he is ready to go back to us, as one of THEM, to explain and teach us of the way of the Universe. Perhaps he will tell us we are not ready to join others in space until we unite in peace on our own planet. Perhaps the monoliths serve as markers on the scale of human evolution. Maybe Mr. Kubrick doesn't even know all of the answers of his odyssey. Also, consider this. Man had not been to the moon when 2001 came out. The project was started in 1964. Artifical gravity, images of Earth from space, the surface of the moon, and detailed pictures of Jupiter really didn't exist back then. Most of these concepts were being explored for the first time. On of the reasons for the success of 2001 is that it gave people their first reallistic look into outer space, and not just a guy in a rubber suit in front of a black screen. It took four years to do the special effects, and the effects in 2010 and other films don't top these. And it was all done by hand. Most of them were invented as they went along. This film should have won Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay, not just Special Effects. Also, HAL's panal has the same shape of the MONOLITH!!! The differences are that it is colored, labeled, and has and electronic eye on it, but the rectangular backround is still the same shape. Perhaps Kubrick is trying to compare the simularities of these two tools. -Josh Steinberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: Chris Upchurch [cdu@U.Arizona.EDU] Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 00:26:38 -0600 I found your 2001 web page interesting and thought provoking. I did have a few problems, mainly relating to the trilogy of novels by Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: Odyssey Three, 2061: Odyssey Three). To begin at the very beginning I feel that I must mention that 2001 was originally inspired by a short story by Arthur C. Clarke called (I believe) "The Sentinel." Also in your essay you never mention that in fact the original draft for the novel, 2001, was written before the screenplay. This was because a screenplay must specify everything in minute detail and is hence, very tedious to write. Instead, Clarke and Kubrick first wrote the rough draft of the novel, which was updated as the screenplay was developed. It was cast in it's final form before the final version of the screenplay was written. This is why the novel's climax takes place near Saturn and the movie's near Jupiter. The setting was changed at the last minute because the special effects department was unable to produce a Saturn which lived up to Kubrick's standard of realism. Another aspect which you fail to mention (probably because I don't think it is mentioned in the movie) is that, no matter what size it is, the proportions of the monolith are those of the first 3 squares, 1:4:9. I feel I should note that the novel, 2010: Odyssey Two, was written not to explain 2001, but in response to the wealth of new information on Jupiter's moons from the Voyager mission (Clarke has hinted he might write a fourth novel based on data from the Galileo mission). I do not feel that the movie version of 2010 is quite as bad as you make it out to be. This may be because I was first introduced to the Odyssey by reading 2001, thus the movie 2010 did not explain anything I did not already know. One criticism of the 2010 movie I did have is it does a rather inadequate job of explaining the actions of the aliens. These actions are described at length in 2010 (and expounded upon further in 2061) and they, not the actions of the crew of the Russian spacecraft are the true heart of 2010. The humans are mere spectators in this cosmic drama. Overall, I think you made some good points, however, I do not think that you give proper credit to Arthur C. Clarke. I believe he is probably the one most responsible for the astounding realism of 2001. In addition to being one of the most renowned science fiction authors of all time (in large part due to the Odyssey series) he is also a scientist of great vision (it was Clarke who first proposed the geosynchronous communications satellite in the 1940s, so you have him to thank for that DTS dish in your backyard). When I first saw 2001, I was awed. After seeing so many horrible cinematic adaptations of novels I was amazed at how effectively Kubrick had translated 2001 to the screen. Kubrick had managed to use cutting edge special effects to bring to life Clarke's visions of space travel. He had also managed to tell a complex and intricate story without the novelist's advantage of being able to show the interior of the character's heads. Finally, contrary to one of the other letters in your mail file, I feel that the best way to watch 2001 (and 2010 as well) is to read the books FIRST, before you ever see the movie! I, of course, would invite any comments you might have. Chris Upchurch email@example.com Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 15:55:14 -0500 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (strosenb) Dear Modemac: I came to a different conclusion about HAL's "malfunction" than you and would like to explain. As you noted, the part where HAL asks some disturbing questions to Dave is vital to the story. But you didn't mention the additional remarks. After HAL told Dave of his concerns, Dave remarked that HAL was doing is "crew psychology report" and HAL says "of course." This tells us that HAL was programmed to keep an eye on the crew. The scientists who created the mission were aware that 2 men kept in close confinement for so long might start to crack up, get cabin fever (sort of like the family in "The Shining") and destroy themselves and the ship. HAL could be trusted to keep watch over them. When the fault in the AE35 unit was detected, HAL's hubris, as you said, assured him that it could only be human error. When the crew began to doubt HAL's conclusions the machine saw the crew acting in an irrational manner and concluded that they were no longer capable of continuing the mission. HAL would have to take control. In short: the computer was programmed to do exactly what he did. The only catch is, did HAL have to kill the crew? Couldn't it have locked the equipment to prevent the crew form destroying anything while turning the ship back towards earth? I can answer only by speculating that the machine is amoral. When HAL believed that the mission was in trouble it did what it felt was necessary to keep it on track: remove the crew. Killing the crew is unnecessarily harsh to you and me but to an object made of metal and wires it is merely expedient. Perhaps HAL's programmers could have done better here but if you think about it, trying to program a machine to distinguish degrees of severity is pretty hard. What do you think? Steve Rosenberg From: "Jesus Villalobos Lopez" [email@example.com] Date: Sat, 21 Sep 1996 06:00:50 +0200 I've just plug into the Web and the first thing I find is this page. That's what I call a great start! I'd like to make my own additions to the criticism I've read here. And the most important is: This film CREATES criticism. This may be obvious, but think about Kubrick's filmography itself. Every Kubrick's movie is not just the movie, but the talking and the writing it generates. Think about a film as straight forward as "Barry Lyndon" or as dark as "The Shinning" - not to mention "A Clockwork Orange" or "Lolita"- ; no one who watch them can avoid to talk with somebody about them and extract a set of conclusions, more or less accurate. That's what Kubrick really wants in every film: to generate thought. It really doesn't matter if you think the Monolith is this or that; the purpose is the act of thinking itself. Of course, there are different ways of thinking, and Kubrick DID want to say something. Every artist wants so. But, in my point of view, the question is not: "What does the film mean?", but "What does Kubrick, as an artist and a human being, meant?". I'm not in the possesion of Truth, but I'll try to do the same that Kubrick does; I'll build my own pieces of the jigsaw, and let you compose it. MONOLITH: Mr. Kubrick's mood is definitely not a Fantasy one. All his movies, with the sole exception of "The Shining" (and there is a lot to discuss in it...), are very realistic (yes, "A Clockwork Orange" is a realistic movie, and so is "Dr. Strangelove..."). I don't imagine Kubrick reading metaphisical literature, but I do imagine Kubrick reading Nietszche's "Zarathustra", a very crude piece of pragmatical philosophy. That's why actually I'm not considering the metaphisical explanations (God, the Almighty and all the rest), even when that's the first explanations I found when I saw the film for the first time, sixteen years ago (now I'm 31). Instead of that, I think about the evolution of a human being: childhood, youth, mature age, death and it all begins again. Nietszche talks about the "Forever Return" (I don't know its exactly translation in English, I'm from Spain). There are lots of signs that point to this: circles and spheres all around the film, the Monolith that appears from the beginning to the end, the same music opening and closing the film, etc. I think that an explanation of the first and third parts of the movie must follow this way. The theory of Nietszche's Superman, already mentioned in this forum, is very obvious to anybody who has read Nietszche's masterwork, which I strongly reccommend from here. HAL: One thing I've got very clear in mind is that Kubrick likes to say as many things as he can in one movie. So I think that he made the HAL part in order to explain another thing, completely different from the rest of the film. Let's be honest: if the second part of 2001 (from the first appearing of the "Discovery" to HAL's last act) would not exist, would the rest of 2001 had another explanation? I think the answer is no. But in this case the film would not be such a poem, a dramatic poem. As for the behavior of HAL, I'd like to mention what Dr. Isaac Asimov said to Arthur C. Clarke (they were good friends) when he saw the film and met Clarke in a SF Convention: "Arthur, you've spoiled my Laws Of Robotics". Clarke answered: "And who minds?" Yes, who minds? The scene when HAL is disconnected is one of the most dramatic, intense and important scenes of the whole history of movies, and so it is the rest of this part (the conversations with HAL, the changing of the AE-35 unit, and on and on...). The explanations given in the film and novel "2010" not only are not convincing: they are not necessary. A crime is a crime, with all its crudeness and drama. It just happens that this crime is made by a computer. And who minds? It's incredibly well narrated and constructed. It is, by itself, a masterwork of art, and I don't need more. Kubrick is an artist (I'll repeat it until the end of times), and an artist does not need to explain WHY things happen: an artist need to explain HOW things happen. SCIENCE FICTION: I used to read a BIG lot of SF books in my teens. Clarke was one of my favorites (not exactly for "2001", but for others). The origin of "2001" was a short tale written by Clarke in the 50's called "The Sentinel". Its plot is (more or less) just the Dr. Floyd's part of the film; the rest was built around it. But in "2001", again, the more important is the WAY that SF is made: silent spaceships, extraordinary FX, realism... In one word, DIGNITY. I love the old SF movies (and the recent, too; I've not lost that), but "2001" is THE SF movie. No other movie has given the genre so much prestige as this film. There are a lot of SF books and authors that are well considered in the world of literature (Bradbury, Ellison, LeGuin, Silverberg and lots of others), because they wrote something different to he-entered-the-hyperspace-and-shot-the-uzzk'las-with-the-plasmatron. Clarke's books are very good... for a SF fan. On the other hand, "The Martian Chronicles" or "The Dispossessed" are good for everyone. The same way, "2001" is an important film for everyone, SF fan or not, and the history of cinema is not complete without it. These are just a few of the things that one can see on "2001". I've seen the film 10 or 12 times, and I always discover another detail, something I've had not realized before, another way to see the film. That's more of its greatness: it is as inmortal as the Monolith itself. Thanks a lot for this Web page. Jesus Villalobos, Barcelona, Spain, September 21th 1996 Date: Sat, 21 Sep 1996 15:26:20 -0500 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mike Hobbs) Anyway, I'm not sure how this birth thing fits in with the man/machine theme, but I thought I'd just bring it up as another observation. I just watched 2001 again, trying to pick out a theme. (Last time I watched it, I was a little too young and didn't find much more than simple entertainment value. For that matter, I may still be to young...) Anyway, I've also seen 2010 some time ago, but do not remember any of the specifics, so if this thought is something that was explained in that movie, forgive me. My theory is that the monoliths are a symbol for "birth." I can't exactly relate how the geometric shape fits into the symbol, but it's interaction in the movie seems to support the thought. The first time we see it, we encounter the birth of mankind. That is, we cease to be dumb hunter/gatherers like all the other animals and become tool makers and rise above the rest. Then, there is the monolith on the moon. This is perhaps a symbol of man's birth into the space age, having gestated for 4 million years on Earth. Then there is the monolith orbiting Jupiter. This one doesn't easily fit the pattern. If it is a symbol for birth here, it's a little more obscure, and frankly, makes me doubt my theory. But, as one person mentioned before, this one turns 90 degrees, like an infant during birth. Could the light show then be symbolic of a birth canal? (Boy, am I stretching the metaphor, or what? :) And of course, the last monolith is the birth of the Star Child (celestial fetus?). And finally, as a tie in to 2010, there is the birth of a new star. Just thought I'd throw out yet another theory into the mix. This is what makes a great movie great. Oh yes, there were a few more things that I forgot to mention as supporting my thought of birth being a major sub-theme. First, there are 2 birthdays mentioned in the movie (3 if you count HAL's). Second, I got the impression that after the first light show, Dave was witnessing the big bang, the birth of the universe. Lastly, (this one is rather tenuous, but plausible) during the big bang scene, one of the shots shows a comet (or the space pod?) that looks strikingly similar to a sperm cell.