2001 and Beyond the Infinite

Commentary and Criticism

October 1996 through December 1996

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Date: Fri, 04 Oct 1996 01:43:13 -0700
From: "Mr NAGY, Akos" [akos@mail.matav.hu]


I just started to read your essay on 2001.
I suggest you completely different point of view.
We cannot forget when the film was made (in 1968, _before_ man landed on moon).
So by that time seeing realistic spacetravel was something new and exciting.
Today after almost 30 years and a plenty of sci-fi films the same scene looks boring.

There is a parallel with early movies where they showed each steps of the actor
as movie was such a new experience that people couldn't fill the logical gaps
(how can a person be in a flat on the third floor if we hadn't seen him climbing
the stairs, etc.). But later showing the person entering a building and in the next
cut seeing him in a flat was enough as people already understood the trivia that
'he climbed the stairs but it's so boring that we skipped'.
In new sci-fi films it's the same: we see the beginning of docking and then
space shuttle passengers are in the lunar base and we all know what happened in

        Best whishes, Akos

Date: Wed, 9 Oct 1996 14:24:34 +0100
From: "Viktor Jansik" [VIKTORJ@BLECHA.F.AMU.CZ]


my name is Viktor Jansik and I'm student of FAMU (Film Academy)
in Prague, Czech Republic. I have read your essay about 2001:Space 
Odyssey and I found it very interesting. But I don't quite agree with
your opinion that man is always stronger than his tools. I think, that 
the fact that the astronauts on the space ship were killed by Hal and 
the only one survived, proves that man is not stronger than his tools. 
It was only a matter of FORTUNE that the star child was born. It 
was not the credit of the man that things went good. I think that you
can see it all around the world that man controls things worse and 
worse. Man becomes the slave of his tools and weapons and in the 
present time, he can't live without them.

I am looking forward for your mail.


Date: Sat, 12 Oct 1996 03:56:00 -0700
From: powers@usf.edu

To suggest that the Star Child is a physical being rather than a concept seems like it 
would lower the scope of 2001 to drive-in theater sci-fi. I can't recall if Clarke 
intended the Star Child to be anything more than a symbol in the books.  It has been 
some time since I read 2001-2061.  Dave Bowman, clearly seems to be something separate 
from the star child in both movies.  The image suggests in the most obvious HUMAN terms 
that a new form of life is preparing to reach fruition. I don't think there's any other 
implications there.  However, since your essay is sound and concretely based on logic, 
you should not switch tracks when defining the Infinite.  It's safe to say that the 
entire scene except for the "zoo" concept, is symbolic.  I think Dave evolved, but did 
not literally become a child. A new form of life was born.  In 2010, the same thing 
occured when Europa was preparing to get an upgrade.
Speaking of Kubrick raising difficult questions with even more difficult answers!  It 
seems like Coppola did the same thing with Apocalypse Now.  Personally, I have a great 
deal of trouble understanding why ambitious Hollywood directors make films of that 
nature.  They ask a commonplace question, such as What is God? and wait until the last 
minute to answer it!  Isn't that the whole point of the movie?  They always hide behind 
what THEY perceive to be...(drum roll)...HUMANITY! Makes me feel great to see that I'm 
self-destructive, negligent, careless, bored, and all the other negative things we can 
think of.  Everybody damn well knows we humans have a tendency to botch things on an 
overwhelimingly large and horrible scale, but we don't have to dwell on it to please 
Ebert's Home Companion. To paraphrase George Lucas, that type of behavior on the 
filmmaker's part (i.e., no game plan) causes the narrative form to suffer.  
Speaking of Lucas, I have been a fan of both 2001 and Star Wars for years.  I do not 
think that 2001 is the superior film when compared to the Star Wars Trilogy.  2001 was 
an ambitious, academic film, that in my opinion WASTES precious film time dealing with 
the physics of space travel.  Those were TRIVIAL things for a movie that wants to 
explain the Almighty.  It doesn't matter if you can hear things explode in space or not. 
 When you get the central theme straightened out, then you can preach about the details. 
 Star Wars kept a fast pace on a tighter budget and deserved to sell more tickets at the 
box office.  It seemed like Kubrick was saying "Look at all this hard work I put into 
the special effects!  Now sit there and like it."  The meter's running pal! Don't 
discuss the mechanics of bowling during a sermon in church. It works for a relaxation 
tape, but it's not entertaining.  I wasn't very enlightened by the Pan Am logos 
    Now I hope that this is not terribly offensive to anyone.  I really liked the essay 
and agree with your opinions on about 95% of the issues discussed.  That doesn't mean I 
don't like Kubrick either. He tries so bloody hard every time out you have to like him. 
 I think 2010 actually got the story back on track and I ain't afraid to say it.  Man 
Vs. Machine is very, VERY old news.  It's Frankenstein all over again.  The most 
important theme was that of an advanced intelligence that plants life, harvests life, 
and reaps it on occasion.  And that's all I have to say about that....

Date: Sat, 12 Oct 1996 11:17:10 -0500
From: "Jod Taywaditep" [u21815@uic.edu]

Thanks for the Web Page on 2001.  Here are some additional interpretations
and  views about the movie.  Let me take a shot at some interpretations in
the reams of philosophy and psychology.

THE MONOLITH.  Alternatively , the Monolith could be interpreted in a
metaphorical sense as opposed to as a literal alien device.  The
monolith's morphology was described as something not quite technological
but rather plainly mysterious and somehow unmeasureable--its total lack of
light reflection, its various locations and resurgence throughout Human's
journey and evolution. Instead of a monitoring gizmo dispatched by
extraterrestrials, the monolith represents human's unfathomable nature, an
unexplicable yet universal human traits and idiosyncracies, such as
emotions and logic, destructive tendencies and a will to survive,
intelligence and foolishness, brilliance and stupidity, etc.  These human
qualities keep expressing themselves again and again across scenarios and
times.  Although life in a technologically advanced world looks remarkably
different from prehistoric time, and despite the distinctions between the
Ape-man and Floyd and Bowman, all of them possess these similar "black
box" experiences.  

              Are these experiences unique to Human?  Can we create a tool
so advanced that it not only performs perfectly but also possess these
Human experiences?  Is it inevitable that once the tool imitates great
human capabilities (such as problem solving or empathy as HAL seems to
have), it has to also possess other "dark sides" of human traits (such as
jealousy, insecurities, self-importance, dishonesty, or even

HAL 9000.  The tragedy of HAL 9000 represents the view that once machine
approaches the functions of Human, the unfathomable, unpredictable, "black
box" Human qualities are unavoidable.  If HAL, completely human-made, is
to be smart, creative, understanding of human conditions ("Can I ask a
personal question?) and even possessing some kind of moral system (HAL's
sense of priorities and his decision to murder the crew members clearly
shows that he indeed underwent some moral decisions), he cannot help
having other human experiences and traits like arrogance, worry,
defensiveness, dishonesty, etc.  Subject to an enormous responsibility of
the Discovery mission, it was HAL who succumbed to the stress and
pressure, not the two crew members who were reduced to perform simple,
insignificant tasks once reserved for machines.  HAL might be struggling
with the burden of the mission's secret agenda, or his concerns for the
fate of his human pets/buddies/servant ("could you go check the
malfunctioning unit?") Bowman and Poole, the concerns for his own future,
the shame of making mistakes, etc.  We could say that Discovery is
analogous to the stressful modern world in which Human struggles, and HAL
represents us humans in this deceptively serene-looking yet chaotic,
complicated world.  With the built-in quirks (human vulnerabilities), HAL
is slowly driven over the edge, a process similar to how human
vulnerabilities interact with the stressful environment to produce

           HAL is a human-made tool that became human itself.  What then
distinguishes Human and Machine?  Where does the body ends and the mind
starts?  What is the relationship between the the physical and the mental
states?  Here, the Cartesian duality is blurred. HAL's appearance was
deliberately designed to look like the Monolith--a Leitmotif of the
commonalities between HAL and Human experiences.

JUPITER AND BEYOND.  Bowman's experiences have been interpreted literally,
for example, that he was fed by the aliens or put up in a room that looked
like a fancy hotel for observation.  Here I offer a metaphorical
interpretation of what we see him undergo at the end of the movie.  Having
heroically won a self-preserving battle, Bowman was in touch with the
enlightened side of his human qualities and left behind his inert,
complacent, meaningless duties for a great existential self-discovery that
only he can experience.  For the audience, we observe the flashing lights
and music and Bowman's life played out before our eyes as a proxy to his
"spiritual" awakening.  The exhibition does not make sense to us, and it
shouldn't because we have yet to found our own existential awakening.  We
see that he was enthralled, excited, mesmerized, curious, frightened,
shaken, and a lot of other feelings for which we may not even have words.
He observes his own fate which reflects common human path of birth, aging,
illness, and death.  He achieved a state that others might have called
Nirvana.  As he tried hard to assimilate concepts beyond his words into a
cognitive whole, new and undescribable information have to be fit into his
cognitive structure, therefore common, mundane, or seemingly unrelated
images keep reappearing in the forms of illusions, incoherent nightmares
or deja vu or flash foreward.  

                As life and its meanings unfolds before him, he is reduced
to a mere humble being, one of many billions that exist on Earth, yet he
became one with their collective existence, experiencing life in a truly
new way like a baby.  His sense of mastery or conquer, as Clarke stated at
the end of the novel, could be real or unreal.  It's true that he has
evolved beyond the rest of us to another plane of being but that does not
have to be an end-all be-all status.  After all, the Ape-man who
discovered the tool that allowed him to survive and excel thought he was
pretty cool, too.  Kubrick and Clarke might have illustrated the
successive evolutional bursts in human history which involve not only
physical or intellectual transformations but also the spiritual and the

Date: Sun, 10 Nov 1996 02:29:11 -0500
From: user@cc.bellcore.com

I just watched the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, and to be perfectly honest
I am full of more questions than theories concerning its meaning.  To begin
with, what is the significance of the number three in the movie?  The Greeks
believed that the number three was the most logical and perfect number
because it had a beginning, middle, and an end. The theme music of this
movie, Thus Spake Zarathustra, mentions the name of the Zorrastrian prophet
and after doing some research, I discovered that the Zorrastrians believed 
that after 3000 years, (in 2001) good would triumph, and a superrace would
emerge.  In addition, they believed that after the soul died, had it led a pure
and good life, it would spend three days chanting religious hymns before it
could reach the Infinite, or the Good, or something to that effect.  Now, 
when I was watching the movie, the music that played during the monolith's
appearances reminded me of the chanting of dead souls.  But what does it 
all mean?? I feel like I have so much information, but I just can't piece it 
Dave's journey to the infinite also reminded me of Socrates' philosophy con-
cerning the soul.  Socrates believed that when a person's  soul was pure and
uncorrupted by the pollutants of the physical realm, it could travel to the
Good, a sort of energy force which existed in the nonphysical realm. However, 
if the soul was not pure, it would return to earth, and take up another body.
This brings up another question: why would Dave return to Earth as the Star 
Child?  When I saw the movie, I interpreted the Star Child as the manifestation
of Dave's soul- but then again, what the hell do I know?
Lastly, I just wanted to know what exactly the Infinite was.  Is it just the infinite
realms of the universe- is it an actual destination or place?  Or did it exist in 
an entirely different realm- a nonphysical one, perhaps?  I really don't know-
these are just ideas that went through my head.  I'll write again when I really
understand what I'm talking about.

Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 18:03 +1030
From: "Galanis, George" [galanisg@aodmel.arl.dsto.defence.gov.au]

 I would like to congratulate you on producing a really succesful Web-site. 
Your essay and the responses you are getting are often very  thought 
provoking . Although I have already commented on 2001, I just watched it 
again recently and saw it in quite a different light, particularily after 
having read what you and others have had to say on your web-site.

In the Dawn of Man, Kubrik made a point of showing us a tiger sitting over 
the carcass of a zebra. In this scene the eyes of the tiger were glowing, 
probably because the tiger was looking into the setting sun. The ape-men 
were hiding in their cave and could hear the roar of the tiger not to far 
away and they were fearful.  I asked myself, "why did Kubrik show us these 
scenes, were they just poetry?".  I believe that, as a perfectionist, Kubrik 
planned and agonised over every scene and so they are all  important and 
should not be discarded by the viewer. Later in the movie, HAL is portrayed 
by a glowing camera lense. I have noticed that in real life camera lenses 
don't glow, so why did Kubrik choose to portray HAL with glowing eyes? I 
believe that Kubrik is making a link here between the predatory tiger and 
HAL. HAL is a predator.

I was quite intruiged by the chess game. On past viewings of 2001 I have not 
paid much attention to the game,  but this time I set up a chess board and 
studied the position. I have read that Kubrik is a keen chess player so I 
reasoned that there might be something important about the game. The movie 
takes up the game just before Frank loses. It appears that Frank has played 
into a trap set by HAL. HAL has baited Frank into moving his queen over into 
HAL's queen rook area. The only other piece that Frank has developed is a 
knight, which appears to have been baited by HAL's pawns from the king side 
of the board to the queen side. All of Frank's other pieces are undeveloped, 
which in chess is equivalent to "hybernation". HAL has focussed on the 
development of his own pieces towards Frank's king. With Frank's queen and 
knight convieniently out of the way, busy capturing pawns, HAL is able to 
checkmate Frank. The activity in the chess game appears remarkably similiar 
to what is going on in the mission. Most of the humans are hybernating.  HAL 
baits both Frank and Dave out of the ship pursuing relatively minor problems 
with the AE35, while he (HAL) continues on with his plan of taking over the 
mission by killing all the crew members and locking Dave out. If HAL had 
succeeded he would have been just like the tiger, glowing eyes sitting over 
the carcasses of the dead crew members in Discovery.

One of the previous writers suggested that the motif of the monolith was 
used with respect to HAL. On this last viewing I also noticed this. I 
checked all the photos in books on 2001 and all the pictures show HAL as a 
glowing eye inside a monolith shape or the monolith shaped blocks in the 
brain room. I believe that the implications are astonishing and profound. 
2001 is definetely about evolution, and HAL appears to be the next stage in 
evolution after man. But where does evolution lead from HAL? To the monolith 
itself !  HAL is still a predator, the destroyer of life, but as we saw with 
the apemen and the birth of the star child, the  monolith without the 
glowing eye is the creator of new life, the bringer of the next step in 
evolution! It appears that the evolutionary path from organic life, to 
computer, to monolith is one possible evolutionary path.

But why does the monolith care about the evolution of man? One possibility 
is that it is purely an altruistic jesture on the part of the monolith. 
However I do not find this possibility very interesting and it doen't give 
us much to think about.  A much more interesting hypothesis is that the 
progression from organic life, to computer, to monolith leads to a dead-end 
in the evolutionary progression. The monoliths shown in the film, and 
possibly many others, are out combing the universe looking for an "organic" 
spark to spur on their own  evolution.  At first I thought this idea was 
stretching the imagination somewhat, but then  the novel, "Childhoods End" 
by Arthur Clarke has a similar theme. I also seem to recall having read that 
Kubrik paid Clarke not only for the rights to use "The Sentinel", but also 
"Childhoods End", just in case. The implications of this for the final 
sequence are truly astonishing, because the birth of the Star Child is not 
just man's evolution, but the monolith's also. The star child is greater 
than both man and monolith.

Date: Sat, 16 Nov 1996 02:30:56 -0600
From: Ryan McGinnis [mcginnr@iastate.edu]

BTW... just an interjection.  :)  I found your interpretation of the
bone -> orbiting nuclear weapons platform a new and refreshing
viewpoint.  Of course, I wouldn't be writing if I didn't have one of my
own.  :)  The way I always looked at it was that the bone and the
weapons platform say something more effectively than any other way that
I can think of, and that the entire "Dawn of Man" scene helped build
upon it.  What did it say?  A couple of things.  For one, in 4 million
years, man has essentially remained the same.  It's tools are suped up,
but mans uses and intentions are exactly the same.  
  Also, I believe that another strong message was that, despite all the
wars, murders, proceedings, advancements, and conquests of men, nothing
of signifigance happened in the 4 million year span between the Dawn of
Man sequence and when the story picked up.  This is sort of scoffing at
man's achivements, basically summing up the obvious; that in the long
run, all of our petty dwindleings don't amount to anything when viewed
from the "big picture".  

  At any rate, that's my take on the sequence.  :)

Date: Sun, 17 Nov 1996 13:46:18 -0500
From: Sean Owen [srowen@husc.harvard.edu]

I've just finished reading your essay and skimming the messages on your
web page. I thought I'd add my two cents here; I apologize if these
ideas were already put forth in the essay/messages and I just missed

First, HAL's memory chips (or whatever those things are) look just like
miniature Monoliths. This connection makes some sense in that both in
some way represent knowledge. The fact that they're translucent as
opposed to matte black means something I'm sure.

The whole "Jupiter and Beyond The Infinite" sequence seems to me to be
symbolic of a universal birth, or more specifically, a union. It is very
physical; It is perhaps no accident that the Discovery resembles a sperm
cell (Dave Bowman is the genetic code, perhaps?).

Much of the 'light show' can be looked at as analgous to a trip through
a metaphysical birth canal. Certainly the fluid, organic images at the
end gives this sense. I'd swear that the last few of those images look
like films of sperm and egg cells from biology class...

If the Discovery/Dave Bowman is analagous to some metaphysical sperm
cell, then what is the 'egg' symbol? Jupiter could be construed as this
symbol; once the Discovery reaches Jupiter, the 'conception' of the Star
Child begins.

Perhaps the Monolith is this symbol; the Star Child is the child, or
marriage, of human consciousness with absolute intelligence.

Also, the shots of an 'alien landscape' - isn't it very likely that
these are intended to be shots of the icy terrain of Europa? It is
reasonable to think that the Star Child's purpose is to create life on
Europa, as happens in 2010.

Anyhow, you're welcome to post this if you like. I very much enjoyed
reading your essays and messages.

          Sean R. Owen  [ Planet J Laboratories              ]
srowen@fas.harvard.edu  [ http://www.eden.com/~joshk/pjlabs/ ]

Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996 12:04:19 -0800
From: Matthew Cherniss [MatthewC@foxinc.com]

Prior to this weekend I had only seen 2001 once, and that was as a
child.  This weekend I took the opportunity to watched as an adult.  I was
as exhilarated as I was confused.  I think your website is great, it gives
me the opportunity to try an understand many of the aspects that were
incomprehensible after only one viewing.  That being said, I wanted to
comment on some of your analysis.  I realize I am not nearly as
knowledgeable as you regarding 2001; however I spent a large part of
my 4 years and UCLA studying film and history, and I do have some
insights.  Nothing would make me happier than you telling me that I am
wrong and proving it. So please write back and explain where I have
gone wrong.  Anyway, here goes:

Dawn of Man
1.  There is a point where you say "In a close-up of his face, we see
eyes that are definitely human - the same curious eyes that Moon
Watcher's descendants will have, four million years later"  My thought is
that the true importance of this scene lies in the fact that not only is he
staring at the stars, HE IS THINKING.  While the others in his tribe react
instinctively either sleeping, eating, or growling at eachother,
Moon-Watcher is thinking.  No other animal species takes time to ponder
ideas, I believe Moon-Watcher is doing this, as simple as these ideas may

2.  I am still struggling with the idea that the monolith gave Moon watcher
the knowledge/notion to use tools.  However, it seems to fit so I will
accept it.  That being said, there is a more interesting question of why
the monolith chose the human, rather than the leopard, etc.  I think that it
has to be because early Man had the ability to THINK. Symbolically, the
aliens saw what the viewer saw, Moon-Watcher staring at the sky. 
That is why I think it is extremely important to acknowledge that Moon
Watcher is doing more than just staring, he is already thinking.

I haven't read any further in your analysis, as I'd love to discuss 2001
more with you.

F.Y.I. I was watching a documentary on the beginnings of man and this
was the story they told.  According to the show, man began as a tree
dwelling mammal, eating primarily berries.  As climates shifted and much
of the forests began to disappear, Man had to move to the plains.  When
he did this he realized he could not compete with the faster more
adapted animals and was forced to develop the use of tools.  One of the
ways scientists propose that man's intellect developed faster than other
plains animals is that for a number of years (were talking a couple
hundred-thousand) Man lived near the ocean.  This would account for
certain evolutionary traits for humans.  Furthermore, if man lived by the
ocean they would eat lots of fish.  Fish are extremely high in protein
which is very important in brain development.  When man went back to
the plains there brains were more developed and were even better
hunters.  I think this theory, which makes a lot of sense to me personally,
fits in nicely with Kubrick's story of early man.  What do you think.

Once again, thanks for your website.
Matt Cherniss

Date: Thu, 21 Nov 96 10:18:06 EST
From: "Thomas O'Neill" [Thomas_O'Neill@smb.com]

     Dear Modemac:
     As a long-time fan of 2001, I found your web page and essay on this 
     groundbreaking film to be most enjoyable.  You have done a fine job in 
     delineating the many themes and ideas which the film explores, as well 
     as how their significance is underscored through cinematic technique.
     I have always marveled at the seamless marriage of form and content in 
     2001.  I feel this is largely the result of both the story *and* the 
     film itself having been developed in parallel, by persons at the top 
     of their respective fields.  For another example of this phenomena 
     check out Last Year At Marienbad - director Resnais and writer 
     Robbe-Grillet practically made it up as they went along, and the film 
     achieves the same level of symbiosis as a result.  LYAM also shares 
     some key characteristics with 2001: audiences either loved or hated 
     it, the pace is slow and deliberate, much attention is paid to detail, 
     time shifts inexplicably (more so in LYAM than 2001), ambiguities 
     abound and many aspects of the story are left open to interpretation.  
     The major difference is that LYAM accomplishes this in black and 
     white, without any special effects whatsoever.
     Regarding 2010, I can't recall if Clarke wrote the novel before the 
     movie was made or if, like 2001, Clarke and Hyams worked in parallel.  
     I remember reading the novel some time before the movie came out, and 
     really liked it (though I may have been in a minority); for me the 
     movie version of the novel was a distinct disappointment.  But hey, 
     how often does lighning strike twice?
     Thanks again for a thorough and thoughtful analysis of a landmark 
     event in the history of cinema.
     - Thomas O'Neill
     (leave the apostrophe out of the email address, or responses will not 
     reach the intended destination!)

Date: Wed, 11 Dec 1996 03:57:29 -0800
From: gordon withers [gwithers@infomatch.com]

I just watched 2001 for the first time tonight. Very thought provoking.
It was nice to find this web page to see what others think. I read some
of the responses, but not all, so I hope I'm not repeating the ideas of
        When Dave was travelling through "hyperspace," or whatever you want to
call the light show, there was a strange transition of imagery. At some
points the patterns are very structured, looking like computer circuits.
At other points, they look much more organic. During these "organic"
scenes, I had a sense of being inside the womb. This was just a passing
thought, but a moment later, Dave's pod appears, glowing white, with a
thin tail behind it..... perhaps I am just strange, but it looked like a
sperm cell to me. When the tail "disintigrated," so did my theory....
but then at the end the star child appears. Hmmm.. now i don't know what
to think. What do you think?

Gordon Withers

Date: Sat, 14 Dec 1996 14:08:53 -0800
From: Andrew Babian [ababian@cruzio.com]

dude is definitely not inside our space-time anymore.  The travel shot is 
certainly faster than light,  and the temporal jumps really just blurt out 
to me that  the linear nature of time is just unimportant to him in the 
room.  He seems to me to be clinging to the normal sequence of his life,  
while trying to realize that he is no longer tied to time's rail car.  
Eventually he fully realizes that he is fully outside of time, and takes his 
place as the starbaby.
(only in his time-space form could he consider this to be a "previous" form
of his existence).  Time and space are now under his control,  at least to 
the extent of his own person.

Date: Tue, 17 Dec 1996 09:13:20 -0500
From: GENTLES5@aol.com

You have no idea what it's like for me to be able to read the works of a
person who has put just as much thought into the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey
as I have. When ever I try to discuss my theoriies about the movie with my
friends, they simply shrug and say "You're reading too much into this." The
reason I am emailing you now isso I can finally tell these theories to
someone who will listen.
         First of all, I'm afraid that my beliefs as to what caused HAL to
malfunction are in conflict with yours. I simply believe that HAL, believing
himself to be incapable of error, thought that he was superior to humans. He
felt that humans, with their numerous flaws, could cause the mission to fail.
So he simply attempted to exterminate the humans. However, Dave proved HAL to
be wrong. He defeated HAL by disassembling his "brain," proving humanity's
superiority to computers/their tools. I've always suspected that this was the
case because logic dictates that one organism/system (humans) cannot cause
the creation of another organism/system which is superior to itself. This is
discussed in Isaac Asimov's book I Robot.Well, if this is the case, then how
come HAL, a logical computer, believes differently? The answer is that he
most likely became delusional, losing his sense of logic, which resulted in
the loss of his sanity. This delusion, I believe, was caused by whatever
controls the Monolith. They/He (I tend to believe God to be the mastermind of
the Monoliths) did this to test Dave, to see if he was ready to become The
Star Child. By defeating HAL, Dave proved himself to be the "cream of the
crop" of humanity, and therefore worthy of the next stage of evolution.
            This brings us to the next part of the movie: Jupiter and Beyond
the Infinite. Towards the beginning of this scene, when Dave sees the columns
of bright lights, I believe that he is travelling through time, not space,
although it may be a little bit of both. This is why the first thing that we
see after this intergalactic jopurney is a great explosion. This is the Big
Bang. Then we see the miracle of creation as numerous galaxies begin to form.
I believe that whatever controls the Monoliths allowed Dave to witness this
so that he could realize the role that They/He play in the fate of all
things. Then Dave sees seven glowing stars. A believe that this corroberates
my theory that God is responsible for the Monoliths, because in the Bible,
seven is a number which represents God (note: you may have noticed how I
incorporate The Big Bang Theory and Biblical teachings into my discussion of
this movie. For the record, I believe in both of these things and do not
believe them to be conflicting).
         We then see Dave in a room decorated in things from the Renaissance.
The Renaissance was a great leap forward for humanity, as will be the events
in this scene. When Dave begins to age (in what I believe to be a short
period of time) this is the beginning of his transformation into The Star
Child. The Theory of Relativity will tell you that acceleration is needed for
matter to become energy. Since I believe The Star Child is a being of pure
energy, acceleration would have to take place somewhere. So, I believe that
time was accelerated dramatically within the room in order to achieve the
David Bowman/Star Child transformation. Dave's actions were accelerated too
(first he's standing in a space suit, then he's eating in a black robe, then
he's on his death bed in a white gown), which would suggest the acceleration
of space (read: Dave's movement through) as well. This results in the birth
of the Star Child, here to save humanity much in the same way as Moon-Watcher
         Thank you for your time. I would be delighted if you would put my
letter on the internet page with your essay and even happier if you would
email me in response.
         Send email to Gentles5.

P.S. I think that 2010 was a travesty. The thought that MGM would make such a
movie without Stanley Kubrick is appalling. All video copies of that movie
should be burned. 

Date: Sun, 22 Dec 1996 02:13:22 -0500
From: Speak [speak@sagelink.com]

I've been a fan of 2001 for years.  And, like eveyone else, I've tried
to figure out everything going on.   Your essay was a very exciting
perspective on a very exciting movie, in my opinion (boring? yeah
right!).  With little "help" from anyone else I managed to reach
virtually all of the conclusions that you did, and reading your essay
confirmed most of my own opinions.  I understood all of the symbolism,
and I understood exactly what Kubrick was trying to accomplish by
portraying the human characters as "machine-like" and bland.  However,
one simple phrase you used really struck a chord with me.  And, it
actually made me see the movie in somewhat of a new light.  You
described the story as a "great experiment".  OF COURSE!!!!!
        I never really thought of it in those terms before.  I understood that
it was somehow mankind's destiny to journey into the unknown, thus
completing the evolution into a pure mind.  And, I realized that there
was alien intervention guiding this evolution.  But, I thought of it
more as a simple matter of destiny; this all HAD to happen.  
        But, actually, this was all an experiment -- and it nearly didn't
happen.  Dave's triumph over HAL wasn't the way it all was pre-destined
to unfold.  Mankind came very very close to stopping it's own
trancendence by creating the ultimate tool (HAL), that could outwit it's
very creator.  4 million years ago a superior being(s) planted a seed in
the mind of a particularly awkward looking creature.  That seed would
gradually, unconsciously, summon him to the far reaches of the
universe.  After that initial endowment of intelligence 4 million years
ago, it would be up to mankind to take the next step.  Man had to prove
that he could finally master this ability to create, which he had been
given, before the next step could be taken.  The confrontation between
Dave and HAL is the final resolution of a 4 million year old struggle
between mankind's potential for trancendence and his potential for
self-destruction.  The experiment was a success.

By the way, please feel free to post this,

Date: Fri, 27 Dec 1996 14:34:26 -0600
From: Michael Scott Shappe [mshappe@jeeves.net]

It may interest you to know (and, since your essay has been on the net
for a while, you probably already know) that your are not alone in your
feelings regarding 2001 v 2010. Even back in 1984 (And I was only 14 or
15 at the time), I recognized that these were two fundamentally
different stories, glued together by only the loosest of common threads. 
2010 is fun to watch, and EASIER to watch, but 2001 is a masterpiece.

My own feeling is that this relates more to the purpose for which each
story was created than anything else. 2001 was created in part to
explore deep questions, and in part as an attempt to create a science
fiction movie that did not require fictional science. Every element of
human technology depicted in 2001 was scientifically possible -- the
only areas where they goofed up was in their belief that the real and
political capital would continue to exist for such massive space
programs, and in predicting that we would, by 1997, have artificial
intelligence licked to the point where a HAL was possible. While I'm not
an astrophysicist, it is my understanding that we are not all that far
away from having the technical capability to build a _Discovery_. What
is lacking is the money and the will. I am, however, a computer
programmer, and I'm fairly sure that HAL is *not* just around the

2010, by contrast, was an adventure story -- even in novelised form.
Thus, certain elements of realism wound up giving way to 'dramatic
necessity' (a pity in some ways, since 1984-era effects should have been
able to do an even better job at making it realistic if they'd put their
minds to it). _Star Trek_ and _Star Wars_, of course, succumb to this to
the point of basing themselves on a kind of technomagic, with
discernable rules (just as most magic-based fantasies have rules), but
little relation to real physics. More recently, _Babylon 5_ has tried to
be realistic, but succumbs to dramatic necessity and budget constraints.
For example, in theory, the Command and Control center of the B5 station 
is under low-gravity conditions, and they explicitly state that the
'core shuttle' running through the middle of B5's hollow center is
micro-g -- yet people tend to simply walk normally in these
environments, because actually doing the micro-g effects would take time
and money away from producing the story, and the story really  has
nothing to do with ANY sort of technology or science -- in B5, space is
merely a setting.

So it is with 2010 -- space is merely the setting for what is
essentially an action-adventure story. 2001, by contrast, uses real
space science and real technology as a fundamental story element.

Michael Scott Shappe 

Addicting the unsuspecting to the Net since 1987

Date: Sun, 29 Dec 1996 19:22:37 -0500
From: "Walter C. Koehler" [estragon@erols.com]

Thanks for all your work on the 2001 web page. 

Sometimes, when confronted with abstractions and paradoxes, we jump too 
quickly to the question "what does it mean?" When you see 2001 in a 
theater or on video, you invariably hear people asking afterwards, "But 
what does it mean?" Certainly there's a place for us to discuss 
questions like what did HAL mean by his questions to Dave about the 
mission. But too often we watch the "Beyond the infinte" sequence with 
an unstated assumption that there is some "meaning" or "symbolism" 
behind it. 

To me, one of the key scenes of the film is when the monkeys first 
encounter the monolith and as they overcome their fear, they crowd 
around it and reach out to it. When people ask me to explain the end of 
the film, I ask them how the monkeys would explain the monolith.