2001 and Beyond the Infinite

Commentary and Criticism

May 1997 through June 1997

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Date: Fri, 02 May 1997 13:33:43 -0400
From: Green Jimmy [greenjimmy@geocities.com]

Hey there,

I really enjoyed the essay which coherently explained a lot of the
things about 2001 I had almost pieced together on my own...almost.

A few little things:
-First, perhaps the reason that Dave keeps seeing himself in different
ages in the 'hotel room' is because he is 'beyond the infinite.' Not
only is he evolving to the point where his body is useless but also to
the point where time and space are meaningless. Thus, after his
relatively long journey TO the hotel room, his trip to earth (as the
star child) is instaneous.

-I'm not sure that 2010 differs THAT much from 2001. Obviously it's a
more traditional movie and is easier to follow. Clarke implies in his
novels that the new sun is not THAT powerful. Not enough that it would
affect earth. I'm no phsyiscist so I have no clue how it would actually
affect gravity and our envirnonment.

The key, to link it to 2001, is that the aliens are doing another
experiment. Granted they, and their monolith, are more active than with
man but what they are doing is helping the trapped Europan life evolve
to THEIR next stage. To do so, they need the sun to help with
photosynthesis which is to them, as important as tools were to the apes.
Who's to say that they didn't create OUR sun, too?

-Also, maybe it's just my memory but I don't remember 'wooshing' ships
in 2010 (aside from the airbreaking). I don't see the TOTAL
inconsistency from the first film. When Floyd says that he didn't know,
is he saying that he didn't know that the mission would be kept secret
from Bowman and Poole (creating an inconsistency between the two movies)
or that HAL would have to lie about it. We are never told what they DO
think that their mission is. I'm not sure about that bit.

As for the rest, great work.

David Fleischer

Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 15:58:52 -0500
From: "D.P." [prospero@odin.thor.net]

A very relevant remark that you made in the " Dawn of Man" is that
MoonWatcher "Murdered" and ape from a rival clan.  Set apart from the
phrase "to kill", which is a purely animalistic and predatory
description, the murder reveals,  mans ascension from the animal form.
And to parallel the Bible's OT seems to correlate the "first" murder in
the history of man when Cain slew Abel.  Just wondering if you've ever
given this scenario and thought?

Date: Fri, 09 May 97 15:12:20 0000
From: Vo Duc [vdv01@uow.edu.adu]

interesting page, Strauss' also sprach zarathustra plays a much more
significant role than is at first realised. it is the sunrise theme from
the tone poem of the same name...strauss is expressing nietzsche's ideas
of man and superman in music..a commentary on the teachings of
zarathustra. a parallel can be seen in 2001 both movie and book as man
is evolved to a new level, at each level he adopts the traits of
nietzsche's superman..ie passionate and yet in control of his
passions..see novel end chapt5 and endchapt47. do you think kubrick knew
what he was doing...of course he did.  compare the placement and purpose
of the johann strauss waltz with the viennese waltz in the tone poem.
kubrick wanted the same device for the same reasons but probably found
the viennese waltz of richard strauss too ceberal for the audience...he
substituted a walts by johann strauss that was instantly recognisable..a
nice piece of intellectual playing with the appropriation technique of
modern (or post- modern) art. Eric Rowe, egr01@uow.edu.au

Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 00:58:34 -0400
From: "Patrick L. Johnsen" [pjohnsen@erols.com]

	the voyage to jupiter in 2001 also poses broader fundamental 
questions.  aside from clarke's vision for man, what makes man so 
special?  in space, away from the defining context of earth, man is not 
so different from hal, a computer-or machine.  but, then is man not just 
a machine, differing in complexity and ideosynchrity than hal?  However, 
this is not extrapolation on clarke's vision but a creative question of 
the questions raised by this great work.  But back to this question, 
from the point of view of the aliens, man is a carbon based life-form 
and hal, other than the fact that he was fabricated at the hands of man, 
is a life-form based upon silicon and minerals.  Does this not shed 
light on the nature of intelligence and man's limited scope of 
understanding?  here, man also created hal.  therefore man is able to 
master certain fundamentals of logic and understanding-but, what are the 
differences between man's nature, or'level', of intelligence, hal's, and 
 the aliens, and what are the relationships between these realms of 
	i enjoyed your homepage greatly, and i appreciate the work you 
put in to a topic with as much merit and useful application for creative 
thinking as 2001.  2001 is not only a step forward in film-making but a 
great narrative of manking also.  arthur c. clarke is indeed one of the 
most dynamic thinkers of this age.  however, the one theme that did not 
appeal to me particularly was clarke's preponderance on the 'special' 
nature of mankind.  this subject seems to be a product of the collective 
overbearing ego and insecurity of human beings, and is evidenced by many 
parts in 2001.  first, man is chosen as a race that has earned the right 
to excel into a higher form of being and consciousness.  i conceede that 
other races and planets can take part in this expirimet but then why not 
hal-other than the fact that he is a product of man.  But, then again, 
is hal not intelligent, and does he not possess the same motivations and 
consciousness as man.  although i conceede that this is not outright 
air-tight evidence for a human jingoism and inflated human ego in 
clarke's writing, there are other instances of this train of thought.  
in 2001, man is not just an experiment but a gilded phenom, groomed and 
guided through the monoliths for his acension to a more dynamic form.  
indeed, is not the quote, "And if there was anything beyond THAT, then 
its name could only be God" an allusion to the concept of man's 
prominent and special position in a higher agenda linked inextricably 
with the purpose and destiny of the universe?  i concede that here i am 
skating on thin ice for one, that i am assuming and simplifying a 
statement by a great mind and author, and two, that this statement could 
mean one of several thousands of things which have no relation to the 
concept of human religion but only draw literary atmosphere from it.  
anyway, somethings to think about.  oh, i almost forgot, your criticism 
of 2010 is a little to blanketing in its condemnation.  granted, in many 
ways it is not a continuation of the legacy of 2001 but only an 
extension of plot.  however, the aliens relied on tools throughout 2001. 
evidence of this is apparent even in your analysis of 2001 when you 
stated that the monolith was galactic 'alarm clock', notifying the 
aliens of mans progress.  i think it is simplistic, erroneus, and 
counterproductive to your argument to simplify this aspect of the movie 
in such a way.  first, the nature of these beings, man, and 'machine' is 
unknown and so abstract that this can not be appraised so concretely.  
second, beyond that, the simplistic notion that 'reliance on tools' 
begins to fall apart when expanded to encompass the nature of man, 
machine (hal), and higher forms of consciousness (the aliens), and the 
relationships between them as introduced by the themes of 2001.  it 
becomes apparent here that human pride is seeping into the plot and that 
the basic premise does rest on the notion of the 'specialness' of man, 
because, in the end, what is the difference between a super-computer as 
complex, sensitive, and thoughtfull as man, and the human being that 
created it?  i refuse to believe that such a thing is impossible.  enjoy 
yourself and continue to postulate on subjects which make you smarter 
than 99% of americans.  i guess i should wish you more 'slack' or 
whatever that means,
			matthew n. johnsen

Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 11:27:14 -0700
From: Dan Guerra [dan@ultimation.com]

Hello, I've been enjoying your essay on 2001: a Space Odyssey. It is
very well written and points out a few subtle things that I hadn't
noticed before. The film is one of my all-time favorites, and I just
watched part of again last night. 
  I realized a couple of things as I watched the scenes in which Dave
re-entered Discovery, and when Dave was disconnecting HAL. I have heard
it discussed (or maybe it was a scene in the film that wasn't used) that
the reason Dave was wearing his space suit while inside Discovery was
because HAL let all the air out of the ship. I always thought he was
wearing it as a precautionary measure, in the event that HAL would do
just that. In either case, why didn't HAL depressurize the ship BEFORE
Dave got back in? Did HAL just not think of it? or did he subconsciously
"want to get caught" out of some deep seated guilt factor? Perhaps there
were redundant systems that were manually operated that he had no
control over. Who knows?
  Then, when Dave was switching HAL off, I realized for the first time -
after having read the books and acknowledging that HAL is after all a
sentient being - that HAL was merely a child. A sort of "Star Child" in
his own right. He was only beginning to grasp these things that we
thinking humans posess: Emotions, ideas, reason. As he was panicking at
the prospect of being switched off, his behavior became somewhat
childlike, and of course when he began to feel the effects, he was
indeed infantile.
 This brings us to the part when the message was played to Dave right at
the moment when HAL "died". I have always assumed that it was simply
programmed into HAL to play the message if something happened to him,
thereby preserving the mission. (what the exact "mission" is, I still
don't really know). There were monitors all over the ship, I'm sure it
was played on every screen, Dave just happened to see it on that one. In
spite of the fact that HAL was a thinking entity, in the end, he was
still a machine.
  That leads me to the next part; Why did Dave leave Discovery after
  Anyway, I could probably prattle on and on, but for now, I'll say so
long, and keep up the good work, this is an excellent website, respond
if you'd like, see you later. Dan Guerra

Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 09:34:22 +1000

Thank you for a wonderful analysis of a fantastic movie.  I was in London
in August 16 1968 when at the ripe old age of eight I saw the second showing
to the public.  The dawn of man scene scared me under my seat and the rest
of the film was just a blur.  Oh, if I could have it back now, though.  The
theater had one of those extra wide curved screens and the sound was
overwhelming (at least to an eight year old.)

Given all that, I have always been partial to this movie and when I was old
enough, I formed my own ideas on the meanings and under currents.  I have
always been partial to the idea that when HAL (IBM +1,-1,+1) was given a
personality and made more human, he acquired something of a conscience and
could not deal with the conflict of keeping a secret from but yet being a
member of the crew.  In effect the machine became human enough to introduce
the seeds of failure so familiar in mankind.  

The end of the film is a creative solution to a difficult problem.  How do
we portray the next level of existence?  How would apes or children portray
the advanced aspects of our society or technology?  If we learn by
connecting new ideas to those we already know; then, the familiar is the
bridge to the new.  In such a way more advance beings (star people for
purposes of discussion) could use familiar objects to relate to us.  

The old man could be one of the star people who sent the monolith to teach,
measure and guide mankind in his development.  The star man seems relieved
that Dave Boman (mankind) has finally advanced far enough to enter their
realm.  Either as the prior star man is dying and happy to pass the torch or
simply as a guard is happy to see his relief arrive. 

We often associate wisdom with age and in this the star baby which Dave
Boman becomes would represent the tremendous growth both available to an
infant and required to become a peer of the star people.  Dave Bowman, the
pinnacle in the development of mankind is when advanced in wisdom (age) able
to become an infant of the star people. 

This is among the most thoughtful web sites I have found and one of the few
refutations to Clifford Stoll's contention that the web is really so much
glitz with no thought provoking content.  With all the negative things being
said about the movie industry (unfortunately with good cause in the main)
and the lack of content in most of the internet sites, at least the few I
have seen.  I think it is pleasantly ironic that you are able to bring
together the two into an insightful look at our existence and purpose.

You may, if you choose to forward this letter or use it in any forum, please
do not use my name.  


From: LewNorman@aol.com
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 00:22:05 -0400 (EDT)

Read your site today.  Your conclusions are pretty much on target, although,
as in any literary or artistic critique, there is some room for subjective
interpretation.  My response to anyone who does not understand or like the
film (and EVERYBODY who has expresses a dislike for the film always offers up
the explaination that they did not understand it) is to read the book.  It's
true that Arthur and Stanley collaborated on the screenplay while Arthur
wrote the novel contemporaneously with the screenplay, and many changes were
made (I encourage everyone to read "The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey" as
it offers many entertaining  "outtakes" from both the novel and screenplay),
but the novel still rules as the ultimate guide to the film.  In fact, I
think the novel is (as most are) far superior to the film, and I love the
film, having first seen it as a young  boy (age 10) in its original
theatrical release in 1968 in Cinerama, on a giant, curved movie screen.  The
last several, short chapters of the novel are brilliant science fiction, and
take on almost a religious (biblical) tone.
But you forgot to tell your readers that Bowman, as the Starchild, destroys
the earth in the last chapter of the book, and the last line of the novel "He
was master of the universe and did not know what to do next; but he would
think of something" is also the last line of the first section of the book
and Moonwatcher's final thought. I think that this is the most significant
line in the novel and underscores all the other themes in the film/novel,
which you correctly identified in your essay.  I think that if Clarke had
written only this novel, it would have immortialized his place in Sci-Fi
history.  Also, I recommend reading what I consider to be another of Clarke's
masterpieces, "Childhood's End," which contains similar themes to those found
in 2001.  Please feel free to communicate your thoughts to me on this.

Date: Sun, 01 Jun 1997 18:10:06 -0500
From: Zachary Ernst [zjernst@students.wisc.edu]


I've enjoyed your essay on 2001 a great deal.  It was very well-written
and insightful.  I don't really see anything there I disagree with, but
I thought you might be interested in an additional small observation.

In addition to the theme of "does man need his tools", a great deal of
the tension in the film revolves around the question of whether man's
tools have become superior to him.  Recall the chess game between Hal
and Bowman (was it Bowman?).  Like you point out in your essay, Bowman
appears bored.  But more importantly, when Hal announces mate, Bowman
doesn't even bother to verify that Hal is correct.  He doesn't respond
at all to Hal's win, and seems to take it for granted that Hal can beat
him.  If I remember correctly, Hal announces that mate will happen in
four or five moves, but Bowman doesn't spend more than a few seconds
looking at the variation.  When Bowman is aboard the pod, and Hal locks
him out of the spaceship, his behavior is completely different.  Instead
of just assuming that Hal has "checkmated" him, he actually looks for a
way to beat Hal and get aboard the spaceship again.  I'd suggest that in
the few seconds between Hal's cutting off communication and Bowman's
subsequent actions, he must decide whether or not give up.  His decision
to fight Hal seems to me to be possibly the most pivotal moment in the
film.  In making that decision, he asserts that he is superior to Hal,
the most advanced of mankind's tools.


  Zac Ernst                     "Never by reflection but by action."
  zjernst@students.wisc.edu                          -Goethe

Date: Sun, 01 Jun 1997 22:35:19 -0400
From: Chris Underdrive [underdrive@globalserve.net]

Being a huge fan of 2001, I was very happy to find your site... Now,
after reading through as much as time will allow, I have points of
disagreement to make with you (it's kind of a flaw in my nature).  Most
of my concern is your mistreatment of Arthur C. Clarke, and glaring
focus on the 2000 series as a movie/Kubrick phenomenon and not as a
literary accomplishment.

I only wish to point out that while 2010 is kind of a stinky movie, this
isn't what Clarke intended, and you'll be doing yourself a great favour
by picking up 2010 to read.  Carl Sagan himself calls it a "worthy
successor to 2001", and if that isn't high praise, I don't know what is.
Almost all of the points you make against 2010 are non-existant in the
novel, so right there you're benefitting.

However, there are points of the book you would have problems with,
namely the second sun ("Lucifer") and the fact that 2010 disproves 2001
and basically says that man can't survive on his own.

It's not portrayed well in the movie, but Lucifer is only supposed to be
"fifty times more brilliant than Earth".  It's not a doubling-up of the
sun's energy, but a much weaker version of Sol "virtually banishing
night for months at a time".  So the Earth wasn't turned into a giant
desert.  Sure, some things change, and Clarke acknowledges this.  "Many
nocturnal creatures had been seriously affected, while other had managed
to adapt.  The Pacific grunion, whose celebrated mating pattern was
locked to high tides and moonless nights, was in grave trouble and
seemed to be heading for rapid distinction."

Later on, is what I think is the real thrust of both 2001 and 2010
(...but more on that later) "The human race would adapt, as it had done
to so many changes in the past.  A generation would soon be born that
would never know a world without Lucifer; but that the brightest of all
stars would be an eternal question to every thinking man and woman."

Here's where we differ in a HUGE way.  I've always viewed 2001 as a
pro-technology work.  Tools are what HELP mankind.  The first thing that
TMA-0 did was teach the apes to use tools to conquer their environment.
Then, tools enabled man to reach TMA-1.  Finally, TMA-2, (aka "Big
Brother") is only accessible through tools, being way out by Jupiter. 
The Monoliths are goals for the humans to reach once they've progressed
to the intellectual level that will provide them with the proper tools.
Finally, the Monoliths themselves are TOOLS that their creators use to
teach and nuture prospective intellegent races through out the galaxy. 

I can expand on all of these points, but have to get offline.  In
closing, 2010 has many new ideas, and tackles all of the questions
raised in 2001 but unfortunately, none of this happens in the movie

Date: Tue, 03 Jun 1997 01:40:39 -0700
From: Michael Toy [toym@asme.org]

Hello there!  I enjoyed your essay.  I respect your effort to increase 
people's understanding of this great story.

I always wondered, from a cinemagraphic standpoint, whether or not Kubrick and 
Clarke intended to portray Bowman's stages of aging as occuring in succession, 
or as occuring with some time overlap (i.e. two Bowmans existing at the same 
time for a moment).  I think the latter was the intention because during 
Bowman's last age-metamorphosis, shown in the same frame, we see the back of 
Bowman's head and shoulder, and Bowman lying in bed in the background.  We see 
two Bowman's at the same time.

I agree with your point that Kubrick was simply coming up with a symbolic way 
to portray Bowman's transformation, and that the details of his aging are 
irrelevant, but did you notice the simultaneous framing of the two Bowmans in 
that brief moment?

I'd be interested in hearing your comments on this.


Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

From: opos@geocities.com
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 1997 12:05:36 -0400

Great essay!  I found it very enlightening and was glad to see the film
treated with the respect it deserves (rather than another "2001 is slow and
stupid" viewpoint).

I had one comment to make and it may have already been made.  I only had
time to briefly scan all of the other comments from readers.

I came away from the film feeling overwhelmed by circle imagery.
Everything, except for one vitally important element that requires stark
contrast (The Monolith), was round.  The pool in the Dawn of Man (it could
have been a stream), the aligning plannets, the spaceships, the space
station (where the artificial gravity "concourse" was a giant loop), HAL's
"eye", Dave's exercise room, the similar slope (to the concourse) of the
inside of Discovery, the corridor to the pods, the pods, etc.  Everything
was round or moving in a circle.  Even the rotating camera movements give
us this effect.  

My initial reaction as to why this was done is that Kubrick wanted to
emphasize the cyclic element of this story.  Man is continuing to be
reborn.  This cyclic element is referred to in your essay with the aligning
plannets and views of the Earth at the beginning and end of the film.

Just my 2 cents.  What does anyone else think?

From: "rodney.bell@virgin.net"@virgin.net
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 1997 10:50:08 -0700

You seem to think that the weapons man has forged from the DAWN OF TIME 
are for murder.  As you state that the man-apes numbers were diminshing, 
they were living in the desert so vegitation would be low.  The MONOLITH 
saw that man would be an ntresting subject and could not let it die so 
easy.  The MONOLITH placed into the moon watchers mind another means to 

Granted that since the first bone axe man has gone OVER KILL but the 
MONOLITH could not of forsore what we would have created.  It choose to 
give the bone axe for us to survive.

In the beginning it was SURVIVAL, near the 2001 it had become stupid.

I do not no whether this intrests you, if not thanx for listening.

Rodney Bell