2001 and Beyond the Infinite

Commentary and Criticism

July 1997

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Date: 1 Jul 97 09:13:00 -0400

   I think you were right on the money with your analysis of 2010.  Although
it was a good sci-fi, it was not in the same league as 2001 (but what is?).
Floyd's transformation into the "fall guy" was a great flaw.  I would like to
make a couple points on 2001, though.
   I had always thought the "breaking glass" sequence (occuring as it does
during Bowman's "aging" process) was more symbolic of a the shattering of the
concepts of time and space Bowman had just undergone.  Perhaps the aging
sequence doesn't "mean" anything other than to stress the strangeness of this
new relationship; a relationship his technology has led him to.
   For me, the relationship between man and his technology is THE theme of the
film.  For instance, what has always seemed to me the most striking scene in
film is when Bowman returns with Poole in the pod and tries to gain entry into
Discovery.  The pod stands in front of Discovery presenting the lifeless body
of Poole and asking to be let in.  This seems to me to be the offering of a
sacrifice-- Man offering himself (his soul?) to gain his technology.  The
apparent deadpan nature of the charactors comes in here, as Man's technology
grows, he becomes that much less human (more importantly, I think, this
deadpanness, by detracting from the charactors, reinforces the technology
theme).  But, in the end, to survive Man must maintain his humanity (thus the
"killing" of HAL).  I think the monolith sybolizes this duality -- Man gains
dominance through his technology (his intellect), but it will take him only so
far.  To continually grow, he must retain his humanity (his sense of wonder,
of excitement, his spirituality and the nature of his animal past).

From: "Chris Allard" [ALB123@worldnet.att.net]
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 1997 18:41:37 -0400

I think you've done a great job disecting this great film.  Many people
unfortunately do not see the importance of this film..  I think there is
another, much simpler, explanation of the movie.  Man's sole purpose in
existance is to destroy itself.  Technology is the tool we use to destroy
ourselves.  Every technological advance we achieve is a method of
simplifying something.  Mankind will not be happy until we can sit at home
and have every mundane task performed for us automatically.  HAL was
programmed to be almost human. (I think if this film was made in 1997,
knowing all the technologcial advancements we have now, Kubrick and Clarke
would have done it MUCH differently). Humans programmed HAL to be
functional without the need for human intervention.  Yet, machines can not
replace humans entirely.  They lack intelligence and emotion, critical to
the continuing existance of life...

I know my thoughts are off on a tangent of the original purpose of 2001. 
However, I do think that there were metaphors regarding the laziness and
greed of mankind to conquer and destroy.  Check out Roger Waters album
Amused to Death... In a related note, Mr. Waters wanted to use the music
(which is played when the monkey picks up the bone), during one of his
songs but Mr. Kubrick would not allow him.  There are similarities among
the two works....Just a bit of my ramblings...

Good Work!

Chris Allard

From: Chimchim68@aol.com
Date: Wed, 2 Jul 1997 20:52:22 -0400 (EDT)

Let me start off by saying that your essay was a fabulous read.  Good thing
you aren't some pompous movie critic or noone would read it.  :)  I must have
had a deprived childhood because it took me until I was 16 to see 2001, even
though I have seen most of Kubrick's films beside it.  What actually happened
was my friend had a tape of 2010 that his dad taped off of TBS in 1994, and I
borrowed it one day and watched it that night.  I thought it was a pretty
cool movie.  So I decided to run up to the local Blockbuster and get 2001.
 So I did.  I sat down and watched it and then ran to my computer to find out
all I could about it, because there was stuff I really didn't understand.  I
read your essay and it all became apparent to me.  And now I don't see why I
didn't figure this out before, and I realized why.  It was because I saw 2010
first and expected to give the same amount of attention to 2001.  This was a
mistake.  Soon after understanding 2001, I realized what a crappy film,
relatively, 2010 is.  It's quite a shame that 2010 had such rich bloodlines
and accomplished so little.  It actually had a negative effect.  But I just
wanted to thank you for clarifying all that for me.  And my own little idea,
though bear in mind I didn't read the other e-mails: I think that, in the end
"hotel" scene, Kubrick was trying to relate the placement of the Monoliths in
man's maturation to the benchmarks in Dave's life as well.  The first one was
when he passed thru the Gate, the second being his wise 60-year-old self,
andthe third being the ultimate step, death and rebirth.  but I'm sure you
knew that.  Thanks!

Date: Sun, 06 Jul 1997 17:13:57 +0200
From: Dirk Parijs [ALBION@dma.be]

Dear Modemac, 
I have read your web-site with great pleasure and have found your
arguments quite sound. During the last months I attended a very
interesting seminar on science fiction and postmodernism at Antwerp
University and we had a great thime discussing the movie. 

I would like, however, direct our attention to the following fact:
HAL says he had been designed at Urbana (Il). What a remarkeable
coincidence ! We think that Richard Powers in his most thought-provoking
book Galatea 2.2 is trying to simulate the brain's networks by computer
at Urbana Champaign (Il). He always refers to the place as U. 
In the novel, the protagonist and a cognitive neurologist eventually
switch off their creation. As you can see, there seem to be a few
similarities between the novel and the movie. They are, in my opinion, 
worth working on. 

Best regards,

Prof. Dirk Parijs
Junior lecturer for German
Higher Instute for Translators and Interpreters Antwerp, Belgium

Date: Mon, 07 Jul 1997 11:39:29 -0700
From: Kevin Klein [kleinfam@flash.net]

	I must agree, 2001: Space Oddessy is the greatest film to ever have
been created.  Infact everytime I go to BlockBuster I rent it and watch
it over and over again.  I have some answers for those commonly asked
questions and mabey you could include some of these.

The monkeys:
	I believe that the apes in the begining symbolize evolution, because as
you watch, you see their behavior change.  First the monkey picks up a
bone, and he hits it against the ground, and fools around with it.  He
discovers a use for it, so he smashes it against another ape.  It serves
a use now, the monkey realizes.  Perhaps as a hunting tool, or even a
construction tool, and even as a weapon.  

The Monolith:
	I admit, the first time I watched the movie, I was coonfused by the
monoloth, and I still have trouble understanding what it is, but I do
not think it is so much what it is, but what it DOES that matters.  I
believe that hals malfunction was either caused by the monolith, or the
mission itself.  Hal was never made to lie, and mabey hal was told a lie
about the mission objective.  Perhaps the mission was not to ge beyond
jupitor, but perhaps to get to the Monolith. 

	The monolith to me symbolizes evolution.  It is realy not anything,
just a symbol of evolution.

Hal 9000
	Hal 9000 is my favorite character of all time.  He thinks, he worries,
he gets scared...
	And somehow he malfunctions.....
	But what drove him to that?
I just have to say your essay is incredible

			Kevin Klein

Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 17:34:24 -0400
From: Eric Dyer [4fred@qlink.queensu.ca]

Its very refreshing to see someone talk about this movie and hold it in
high regard. I know many people who have seen it and absolutely hate it
because they cannot understand it, or only like it because of the
brilliant cinematography (?spell?)

I found your essay helped me clear up the last of a few nagging doubts
about the message of the movie. I had a few things I wanted to throw
your way and see what you thought.

You mentioned that the glowing of the leopard's eyes at the beginning
were a fluke during the filming.  It might have been, but I think Kubrik
used it in a very interesting way.  I think that the aliens origionally
picked the leopards to do their experiments on rather than the apes
because they were fast and agressive hunters (so they would have a
better chance of survival).  The scene where the leopard attacks the ape
not only shows that the apes as a group were dying, but that the
leopards were a superior force.  They aliens later picked the apes after
realizing that they had the foundations for real intelligence.  The
aliens enhanced each species' best traits - the leopards became better
hunters; the apes more intelligent.  It shows that intelligence is more
important than physical force.  Who knows where we would be now if the
leopards had encountered the Monolith!!

The introduction of the movie could very well have been during the
moment that life first  existed on Earth - every time there was an
alignment of the stars, moons etc.. it marked an important moment in the
evolution of mankind - why not mark the very beginning of life on earth
at the beginning of the movie?  (I prefer to think of the intro as
seeing Earth through the aliens eye's as they were about to begin their
experiment on Earth) The best thing about this movie is that there are
so many interpretations, and every one is valid.  Let the story be
whatever you want it to be. :)

To me it looked like the ship travelling to Jupiter was mankinds seed to
start populating the universe.  Perhaps during the voyage to Jupiter,
the Space Child was first conceived. Maybe...

I think the space child idea is Kubriks explanation for god. You said
:"And if there was anything beyond THAT, then its name could only be
God." I think the space child is god.  If the aliens were 'space
children' themselves, they created us, by giving us what we needed to
get the ball rolling. We would have died off without their help.  A
scientific explanation for God and what God could could be.

Lastly, you probably already know this, but every letter in HAL's name
is one letter before the name IBM.  Perhaps a pretty reasonable
prediction into the future of corporate computing??

Anyways, I really enjoyed spending a few hours reading over your page
and some of the comments it got.  If you want to get in touch with me my
email is:

Eric Dyer

Date: Tue, 17 Jun 1997 11:55:09 -0700
From: allen ross warmington [dd703@worldnet.att.net]

Dear Sir,

Excellent review!  I saw this film the moment it arrived in Virginia
Beach in 1968 [where I was stationed at the time c/o the USN, NAS
Oceana, etc. You mentioned an interest in military technology, as an
"Awe Junkie." We'd just gotten some of the first A-6s. They were rather
awesome at the time and still are, IMHO.]  Your description of the film
was acute enough for me to "re-see" it through your words. Your comments
re the "But it's so boring that I couldn't bother to understand it and I
couldn't understand it because it was so boring" Syndrome, were being
mumbled by the sparse audience as it meandered out of the "picture
show"---including those mumbled by my rather boring, albeit gorgeous
date---when junior officers had never given a thought to sexual
harassment, blah, blah, blah. 

Of course some parts of the film DID require a bit of thinking about but
the Big Theme was fairly obvious. I'd never read the book and frankly
had never even heard of Arthur Clarke so I hadn't a clue what was to be
expected. The word around the Air Station was something to the effect
that "some real weird flick about monkeys turning into humans in 2001"
had made the rounds. [2001 to a 24 year old, which I was back then]
seemed like several centuries in the future----anyway, no question about
it being one of the best films, EVER. I remember telling my dumb date
she'd just seen a "Classic."  

So just a note of thanks. I still have the sound track from the "LP" I
bought at the time when a CD was a Certificate of Deposit and ROM meant
absolutely NOTHING. Two minor

The music used when Discovery's first seen heading toward Jupiter comes
from Katchaturian's "Gayne Ballet."  If you mentioned this I must have
missed it but it fit the long, lugubrious journey and the very shape of
the Discovery quite well. As for the furniture set up for Dave by the
"aliens", it's 18th Century French Louis VXVI bric a brac. not
"Victorian."  Victorian furniture was and is so huge, ugly and stuffy I
don't think it would have fit in very well, though far more comfortable
than those effete French "sticks." But I guess that was the idea---Fey
and Aristocratic. 

Great website you have and Duly Bookmarked for current and future


Allen Ross Warmington
Former Naval Person

Date: Sat, 26 Jul 1997 17:32:30 -0700
From: Clif & Nancy Eckman [eckman@primenet.com]

i was talking to a friend last night about this movie so i looked for
some interpretations of it on the net and i found yours.
so here is what i have to say.
first, i think the star of this movie is the score, esp zarathustra. 
wowzers.  but why rhat song?  does this movie have something to do with
nietzsche's book?
i think it does, it must, it might, its possible.  following that
notion, i think there's a great case to be made for the idea that 2001,
in its largest grandest sense, is about the eternal recurrence of the
same, the philosophical idea at the darkest heart of nietz's book.  it
is the idea that basically the universe is finite and time is infinite,
the uni expands and collapses infinitely many times, everything has
happened an infinite number of times before and will repeat, in exactly
the same way and in all infinitely many variations, infinitely many
times again.  in short, nothing at all matters at all even a little
bit.  the trick, for nietzsche, was to bring his reader to the point
where one could would will that everything would happen again--every
laugh, every painful regret, every lost love, every joyful moment--and
again and again and again.  basically, the idea calls for the greatest
the most unconditional the most vivacious love of life in the face of
utter meaninglessness.
okay, sorry about the mumbo-jumbo.
and now the supporting evidence.
first, circles.  they are every where.  rotating circles like the space
station and the discovery (when bowman(?) is jogging around the
cockpit), stationary circles like hal's eye, the pod, the planets, etc. 
undoubtedly, circles pervade the film.  (see, too, hudsucker proxy on
this theme.)
second, and more convincingly, i think, is the star-child.  in
zarathustra, the great manifesto of the abandoned overman, nietzsche
describes 3 stages toward transvaluation.  first is the camel stage,
when one gladly assumes responsibility, humility, the expectations of
the world, etc.  second is the lion stage, where one is a rebel. 
thirdly, after the great dragon known as "thou shalt" has been
destroyed, the human being becomes a child, a creator, with his or her
whole world to create for herself, in her own image, according to her
own will.  this process, of course, takes place over and over and over
again.  the process is life.
so im not exactly sure what to make of all this other than to say that i
know it's there.
and so on.
thanks for your time.

From: guillaume APOSTOLY [apostoly@hol.fr]
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 17:57:02 +-200

Hi, First, I want to great you about the essay you've done, it's very
interesting even if I'm not one of the people who don't understand 2001, I
agree with most of your essay and if you don't see any inconveniences
about it, i'll perhaps translate some parts

to make a french explanation of 2001 (cause I'm french).
So here are some remarques about what you wrote :

" - The man-apes were given the use of tools by the Monolith, but they
learn to kill other man-apes AFTER the Monolith has disappeared. Murder,
apparently, is entirely a human invention. "

  This is quiet right, but I want to precise that moon-watcher (and not
moon walker as I saw on another site !) had the idea of killing other
living-animals (the tapirs) when the monolite was still there. what can
actually be infered is that killing people from the same species is a man,
or man-apes, invention. Just slightly different.

I can't make any comments about the TMA-1 episode, because I get a
document not found error ... thanks to mail me when it's corrected.  The
moon monolithe episode is very interesting, espescialy the visit of the
monolithe by the scientists, with the " sound " attack " ", that seems to
be a reminiscence of the first version of how the apes meets the
monolithe.  I'll be interested to know what you think about this moment of
the film. 

" But the exact question of "how" Dave achieves this transformation is
not as important as the question of "why?" Why is he growing older? "

That's right but the " why " and the " how " seems to me as to be very
linked, you'll see what I mean.

" This question is much easier to answer. In fact, the entire film has
been leading to this point. Dave is growing older, as if his body has
out-lived its usefulness. This is exactly what is happening, for he has
reached the limits of his Humanity. He is about to take the final step,
the last transformation. "

  That's the point, that's I think why Dave is growing, and here is where
I see the " how " to, looking at the film several times, I'm pretty sure
that the younger Dave always see it's evolution, the Dave with helmet
actually see the older Dave eating, and the older Dave, may have a glance
and his bed when breaking the glass, his bed where's lying the oldest. I
think that what you call the Aliens, make the process of Dave growing
older go faster by showing him images of what he will be to tell him its
story and so transpose it in this older state.  I think that at this time
of the film, the scenic time is quiet the same as the " real " time, the
aliens only accelerate Dave growth with unlinear transitions, only linked
by Dave sight and thinking. 

" It is as though he is reaching out to touch something. We are shocked
to see that he is repeating the gesture that has happened twice before in
the film -- for suddenly, in the room at the foot of his bed, the Monolith
has appeared once again... "

  I think that this touch, can be compared to the god to man touch in "
the creation " by Michel Angelo in the sixtin Chapel (see what I mean ?
I'm sure you do ;-) ). I think that it's the same sort of touch, and that
this may perhaps have inspired Kubrick for this leit-motiv in the film. 

Last thing, about 2010 The Year We Make Contact, I agree with your point
of view. I think that it was made as a science fiction film, with the
vocation to explain a little 2001. The first time I saw it, I didn't
really remember 2001 and kept a blur impression of this film, I wasn't a
2001 fan at this time. After, I became the 2001 addict I am today, and
2010 made nothing that decrease and decrease in my film scale.  Not a bad
film as a lot says, but definitly not an explanation neither a suite to
2001. The only explanation to 2001 is 2001. As you're saying : " If the
opening credits of the film were the point-of-view of the Star Child, then
the Odyssey is complete ". 

 That's right, not as the Lucas trilogie , wich makes really a sens wich
the 3 films, 2001 lives on its own, and 2001-2010 can really not be
considered as a " bilogie ". 

	Ok, so I came, down your essay, and that's all I've got to say,
I'll not repeat what you write because I agree with a lot ; I just wanted
to make some precisions of my own interpretation.  If I've got the time,
i'll make a french site for " 2001 l'odyssée de l'espace ", and then I'll
tell you about it.  Don't hesitate to respond to the mail ( !), I'll be
pleased to read your comment 8)  CU later !  

Date: Wed, 16 Jul 1997 22:00:00 -0400
From: Francois Marchand [bobeche@videotron.ca]

I've noticed something about 2001 that i think you have failed to point
out in your essay and that fellow contributors have forgotten.  It is
something i find quite relevant.

Just as someone pointed out that there is a lot of EATING in the movie,
there is also a lot of BIRTHDAYS.  When you think about it the most
striking ones are Heywood Floyd's daughter's birthday and Frank Poole's
birthday which are awkwardly celebrated via picture-o-phone (or
something like that).

First, Heywood's daughter's BIRTHDAY is awkward in the sense that you
feel that there is some kind of short delay between each one of the
communicator's sentences. It would be understandable since
communications from space (and even from overseas) are delayed in time.
But the feeling is kinda awkward with the atmosphere of the movie, we
feel that Floyd is merely a bureaucrat and has lost some kind of
physical and spiritual contact with his own offspring. There may be some
kind of message in the way his daughter asks him for a telephone as a
birthday gift : "Now that we have all the tools to communicate, when
will we finally do it?" Opting for a little white rabbit suggests
innocence and warmth, as opposed to Floyd's mechanical speech.

Second, Frank's BIRTHDAY is celebrated as he's relaxing. Just like when
they were watching the news, the message comes up with delay (about
seven minutes or more i can guess...), so it is longer delayed than
Floyd's daughter. The lack of contact is also greater, Frank doesn't
seem to care much more than Floyd or even his daughter about his own
BIRTHDAY or the concern of his own parents which are celebrating with a
cake, alone.  They also talk about means of communications referring to
TV "We were on TV today, with Dave's parents..." So again a means of
communication upon a BIRTHDAY, hmmmmm....

Third, let's get to the implied BIRTHDAYS.

"The DAWN Of Man..." implies the BIRTH of mankind which occurs when the
monkeys come in contact with the monolith (some may have a different
opinion upon this, i know the interpretation is too easy..) and find
ways to survive (violence) when learning to get new food and new
territory. It is the BIRTH DAY of mankind, which happens in a short span
of time, or long one, whatever the interpretation of the blackout
between scenes, but i'd rather go for a short one, having made the
mistake to read the book first. So the BIRTHDAY is happening instantly.

There is the BIRTHDAY of Hal, which has once happened, but that happens
in reverse motion as Dave slowly puts him out of function. So as Dave
will later return to youth or even childhood, Hal returns to his
embryonnary form, to the simple form of an idea, a simple theory.=20

And there is of course, the birth of the "Starchild", which everyone
refers to this way because of the book... But as Dave "dies" he his
reborn in the same instant. So begins his new life...

So birthdays take place in a perfectly symetric pattern of delays and
returns. Instantly (monkeys become men), short (Floyd's daughter), long
(Frank's), less long (return to innocence for Hal), and instantly (Dave
dies and is reborn). So in a way, we are progressively detaching from
our own origins of innocence but gradually returning back to our senses
to become what we have always been and have always had INSIDE.
Remembering the meaning of being alive, and not being only a mere tool
in the hands of what we call Gods (or whatever...).

***Thoughts upon the last scene***
I will not explain my own interpretation of this scene, it would take
too long. Just realize that most of the scene takes place in a perfectly
symetric set except for one detail in each shot, which is always on the
left side of the image. The sink on the left in the bathroom (in front
of the mirror...), the spout in the bathtub (on the left...), the towels
perfectly placed...=20

The last shot is the most striking, when Dave points towards the
monolith.  EVERYTHING IS PERFECTLY SYMETRIC : the statues, the way the
monolith is placed on the floor, the decorations, the walls. Except, one
minor detail : the chair on the left...

Finally, whatever the interpretation you make out of 2001, whether it is
Aliens, God, a Supreme being. Whether Hal was a friend or a foe, whether
Dave really is God now, or an Alien... the only fact that matters with
all these ridiculously conflicting ideas is that we have not learned to


Francois "Cirkus" Marchand
19 years old
Montreal, Quebec (Canada)
mail any comment to : bobeche@videotron.ca

P.S.: i have not seen 2010 and i don't think i'll see or even read it.
there simply cannot be a sequel to this movie, because the story goes on
inside us and it cannot be explained by simple facts of aliens or
whatever, it goes on by what we make of it. THINKING. Have a nice

P.S.S.: I have not explained all i would've liked and as well as i
would've liked (then again it is impossible, the possibilities are
infinite, huh?), but that's that and people will carry on... Thank you.