2001 and Beyond the Infinite

Commentary and Criticism

July 1999 to December 1999

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From: "Jamie Webb" 
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999 17:02:26 -0700

    I am so pleased with your essays on the film 2001. The film has 
changed my life, and you helped me to understand why, and gave me more 
educated thought out theories than my own to compare with, whereas no 
one else seemed to understand my point of view. Thank you.
    A note on the failure on the part of 2010 in the light od 2001: in 
2001 the Monolith was respected. The actual name was uttered maybe 
twice, with reverence and curiosity. In 2010 the name was flung aroun 
like a football, Every guy in the film spat it out at least seven times 
each, with no respect or awe whatsoever. This kind of offended me. Also, 
in 2001 there was a haunting sound effect that seemed to come from the 
Monolith. It was a combination of singing, laughing, and screaming. It 
terrified me and awed me at the same time. It was one of the most 
incredible things I've ever heard, and lent power to the presence of the 
Monolith on the screen. 2010 did not even attempt to produce such a 
sound, and the Monolith's effect was compromised. Damn them - have no 
attention to sound and visuals combined to produce an emotion in the 
viewer? 2010 was mere mockery of Kubrick's original.
    God rest Stanley Kubrick. 

From: "Jamie Webb" 
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 17:05:08 -0700

I have two theories on the monolith:
    I like to believe that the monolith is God himself. The appearences 
of the ebon block could symbolize the appearences of Jesus on earth 
throughout the course of mankind.
    The monolith could also be another race so advanced and free of 
violence that they have transfered their souls into their tools. They 
become an immortal race dedicated for the pusuit if knowledge and 
learning, free of hatred. Their kind once mirrored our own, and they 
have come here, found a species that resembles a past form of 
themselves, and decide  (not to experiment) but to help them. To advance 
our kind to theit point as well. "and anything beyond that could only be 
God" Maybe God employed the poeople that are the Monoliths and exalted 
them to supreme being to help other intelligent species. Are the 
monoliths lifted bodily to heaven without dying as Moses was? 
you can put this on your site if you want.

From: "Henry, Jason" 
To: "'modemac@modemac.com'" 

   Very interesting account of 2001, enjoyable until the final act (a liked
it but here is my interpretation). If you look closely during the 
   Atmosphere's sequence you will notice on screen what is obviously a
magnified image of a sperm cell in motion (presumably toward 
   the egg (I can't recall if an egg-like penetration layer is evident, but
the sperm cell definitly is). My rendition of this final act is in one
   statement: CONSUMATION! We have reached the ultimate CONTACT with an
intelligence different from our own for the first time ever.
   Now, here might be the hard part, but imagery is imagery. The Light show
"propelling the audience" into the spheres is the infinate
   transport/transformation of conceived life. The sperm traveling infinite
evolutionary planes toward its next "event". To me, the 'hotel room'
   as you call it, represents the womb. Something tangible (I know this may
really seem out) but the womb does represent a physical
   resolution of conceived sperm and egg. To me the aliens presence is, now,
irrelevant, they may have even left for we have finally touched the
   face of eachother and the resulting enlightment of this CONTACT is the
new being now ready to take earth man to the next level. Its almost as if
   we are waiting for you to join us. This can be indicative of two possible
scenarios. That more advanced life has reached out across the vast distances
   the universe creating mans next evolutional phase, or we have made
contact with a/our supreme being for same. Any comments? 

Jason Henry
Network Administrator
Obagi Medical Products
(562) 628-1007 x.6039

From: Eldrlaw@aol.com
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 16:28:14 EDT

I recently watched 2001 Space Odessy for the first time.  As most have 
experienced, I was quite confused yet intellectually aroused by the many 
messages and symbols presented in the film.  I just read your piece, and 
although merely one opinion in (what I'm sure of) countless theories, It 
helped me in discovering a basis for my own opinion.
    My one concern is that you theorize that this movie was centered around a 
sort of alien control.  I would suggest that since there is no evidence of 
any other beings in the movie, that it is simply the monolith, which 
represents the unexplained, that is catalyzing these certain events.  
According to your theory, aliens are THE higher being, which sheds light on 
another subject that humans no nothing about.  Aside from that, the word 
"Alien" has become so stereotyped and popularized in the media and economy 
that it is unfair to use that word due to its recognizable human-created 
characteristics.  I am merely suggesting that the monolith is unfathumable, 
unattainable----aliens on the other hand, or rather the word alien, is 
unfortunately something that can be defined by humans.
    Aside from that I enjoyed your essay and admire your opinion, although 
its probably altered every time you watch the movie.  I would also enjoy some 
feedback or any other information.


Brad Blondes

From: eldridge@rockisland.com
Date: Sat, 07 Aug 1999 06:58:24 -0800

In your essay you asked the question why did HAL go 
bezerk? Well, my theory is when the ape's find the black 
monolith they learn to use objects to help thim. Then in space 
the monolith has the same effect on HAL. He learns to become 
more humen and kill just the ape's did to the other pack of 
ape's. But I also like the idea the first e-mail you put on your 
web site said. I enjoy 2001 because when you first see it you 
say what the hell did I just see. Then you see more and more 
of it and you start to think for yourself and figure it out. that's 
why I enjoy it.

Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 13:59:02 -0600
From: Tony Biondo 

I enjoyed reading your webpage very much. I would like to make an
observation/suggestion in the spirit of your explanations regarding the
meaning of the movie.

In the section 'Jupiter And Beyond The Infinite' you mention the fear
"shock"  experienced by Dave Bowman as he is being transported by the
aliens at hyper-speed .

You state :

"After all, no human being has ever gone through what Dave is going
through now, and his instincts are not conditioned for this."

This is perhaps an allusion to the effects the Monolith had on the ape
creatures as Kubrick manifests the emotional experience (though
different in form) which they experienced. I found the fact that you
used the word "instincts" very interesting. I was surprised that you did
not draw upon this parallel in your page.

Thank for the webpage and all the hard work you surly must have put into

Anthony M Biondo

Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 17:42:06 -0800

I'm 15 years old and saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time when I 
was in the first grade. Nothing in the movie grabbed my attention, (I 
was to young to understand it) but the image of the ape-man discovering 
the use of tools stayed in my mind. Since then I have become very 
interested in movies and directors (especially Steven Spielberg and 
recently Stanley Kubrick) and hope to become a directer someday. I've 
recently become interested in classic movies and rent and watch the ones 
that seem interesting to me. 
(Citizen Kane, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, etc.) About a year ago I 
watched 2001 again on tv and really liked it, except I thought the 
ending was "weird." I didn't understand it at all. A few days ago I 
decided to watch it again and so I rented it. This time I was blown 
away! It's one of the best movies I've ever seen even though I'm usually 
the kind of person who hates movies about space (Star Wars, Star Trek). 
It's probably because this movie isn't really about space travel, it's 
about the evolution of humanity and life in the universe. No movie has 
made me think about it as much as this one has. 
Contrary to what some people think, the slowness and silence of the film 
add a lot more to its excitement. (The heavy breathing of Dave and Frank 
while they were in their space suits made my heart pound and I found 
myself breathing in sync with them.) I hate it when movies try to get 
you to think in a certain way with swells of sad and sorrowful music and 
explosions of joy. This is o.k. for action and adventure movies but not 
serious ones. 2001, Schindler's List, and saving Private Ryan are great 
examples of movies that use music in the right places.
I really enjoyed your site because it displayed so many interperations 
of the movie from so many people. They helped me form my own ideas about 
the movie, especially yours. However there are a few things I disagree 
1- First of all I don't think HAL made a mistake at all in detecting the 
fault in the AE-35 unit. In fact he was trying to get rid of the humans 
in the first place and everything was planned to happen the way it did. 
He didn't want human error to interfer with the very important mission 
they were on. He worked too well.
2- I dont't think that when Dave is going to disconect HAL, he is really 
showing fear in his plee to get Dave to change his mind. After all, 
during the news broadcast the newscaster asks the astronauts whether HAL 
expresses true emothions and Dave replies that he is only programed that 
way so that it is easier for the astronauts to talk with him. By knowing 
this and knowing that human emotions can be easily influenced and make 
humans act foolishly, HAL purposely tries to get Dave to feel sorry for 
3- I haven't exactly figured out what the monolith is yet but I refuse 
to believe it was made by aliens dispite what the book says or what 2010 
says. I think that maybe the monolith is a physical representation of 
human intuition and intiligence. When the monolith is flashed on the 
screen as the ape-man is looking at the bones, the movie is showing that 
he is finally using his own itelect as he looks at the bones in a new 
way. The monolith on the moon shows that human intelligence has lead him 
into the universe, and the monolith near Jupiter shows that it will lead 
him beyond. I think its much less interesting and more pessimistic if 
the film means to say that humans have needed another being's help 
everytime he was faced with a problem. It is also very naive to think 
that humans are "chosen" to become the highest form of life. 
The monolith is also used to show that modern day humans are similar in 
the way they deal with things and yet at the same time different. In the 
prehistoric times man was afraid of the unknown object yet his curiosity 
persuaded him to explore it. In 1999 man is again faced with the unknown 
and reacts with the same curiosity but he is not afraid anymore. He 
wants to learn as much as possible as soon as possible. 
4- I'm also surprised that you think the Blue Danube is used just to 
calm the audience. Here's what I think: When the man-ape is shown 
thinking about the bones and really looking at them instead of thinking 
of them as something in the background, the exciting and moving sounds 
of the Also Sprach Zarathustra are played to show how revolutionary his 
actions were and how revolutionary the simple bone tool was to the 
primitive man. In the spaceship scene, the Blue Danube illustrates how 
such an amazing tool (the spaceship) has become a normal everyday thing 
for humans.
I really appreciate your hard work on the site and thank you for taking 
the time to read my ideas. Sorry if it got a bit lengthy and sorry if my 
writing is bad, I wrote it with a lot of noise in the background and 
couldn't concentrate.

By the way my name is Al.

From: "Robert Snyder" 
Subject: 2001

2001: A Space Odyssey causes one to reflect on the primary questions of 
the ontology of human existence. The key word is questions.

The film is about unanswerable mysteries. It embraces the unanswerable 
and frames the unknowable in its rightful state of awe.

In 2001 the Questions are Monolithic (!). They are the Questions that 
have hounded the human soul since the Dawn of Man and persist just as forcefully today. 

What is the Monolith? It is black. It is impenetrable. It is always 
there. It comes from who knows where. It never responds to our 

It is void, and it is absolutely terrifying. It is . . . the Unknowable. 
It represents everything that we are not sufficiently equipped to know. 

Since humanity's first appearance in the universe, since that first 
miraculous acquisition of the quality that makes us human, self-awareness,
we have thereafter been engaged in confrontation with this Monolith. In 
the Dawn of Man, Kubrick shows the time from the first acquisition
of self-awareness until confrontation with the Unknown to be quite 
short. One sleepless night of fear and darkness, eyes searching, then at
dawn, suddenly, immediately, full force unmediated confrontation with 
the Unknowables of Existence. The unexpected and sudden "I am"
that precedes this confrontation is, smartly, only implied by Kubrick. 
He skips it and moves directly to the What, Where, How, and Why
Monolith. What, Where, How and Why are the objects that human logic and 
grammar immediately demand from the profound and simple
"I am."

"I am" is an a priori argument. It is antecedently necessary to the 
subsequent Monolithic Questions that have no answer. 2001 is mostly commentary on the fear and 
psychic destabilization which the human mind has endured since its first "I am." 
Fear and psychic trauma are humanity's characteristic reactions to the Questions that can not 
be answered and from which the mind demands answers in order to complete the argument "I am." In 
2001 these are the reactions we see the first time and every time the monolith is 

The first time is, of course, at The Dawn of Man. The monolith did not 
appear quietly without being noticed one day. No, clearly it was not there, and then it was 
there. The trigger was self-awareness. The trigger was "I am." Before this, the apes were quite 
content sharing puddle water with Tapirs. These same Tapirs and other animals, we later notice, 
do not seem the least bit impressed when the Monolith does show up. In fact, they don't even 
see it. And they certainly don't here that scary music. They just continue wandering 
around as always.

Man, alone, is burdened with the Monolith. This burden, this shock of 
being, but not knowing, is linked in the film immediately to a propensity to commit violence. The 
deep rooted fear, constantly present in our consciousness, of that which we can not know, 
has not yet been sufficiently tempered by any framework that we have yet been able to 
construct in this world to prevent us from lashing out irrationally and violently at the world. We 
kill, irrationally, because we do not know.

We still have not found any way to fundamentally alter our relationship 
with the unknowable. It was possible to skip all of human history since the Dawn of Man until 
the year 2001, transitioning as Kubrick did in only a few seconds with the camera panning and 
following the bone/weapon, flung out by man's arm in one fluid movement, propelled by a very 
perceptible and fertile combination of exaltation, fear, terror, power, primal angst. The bone 
is hurled skyward in this way, as has all of human technology since. But more importantly, what is 
said by compressing all of history like this into just about 5 seconds of film, is that nothing 
at all worth mentioning has changed apparently since the Dawn of Man regarding our own self 
awareness and its concomitant relationship to the unknown. The relationship was, at the 
beginning, and still is, a relationship of terror. Even the artificial intelligence of HAL is shown 
to encounter self-awareness in exactly the same manner. He becomes self-aware. Therefore he is 
inextricably engaged with the Monolith. And his reaction is the same: fear-inspired violence and 
murder. "I'm afraid, . . .Dave. . ., I'm. . . afraid," he says as he is about to die as Dave 
removes his "higher" logic circuits.

The psychedelic journey into the living room shows again the persistence 
of this shock on our psyche. Bowman finds himself engaged in rather immediate and intimate, 
Eyes Wide "Open" encounter with the Monolith. This plummets him directly into a domestic 
Victorian apartment where all of his physical needs are satisfied, without effort, for his 
entire lifetime (a simple symbol of civilized life which is surely designed to some extent to act as a 
buffer against our primal fears of the unknown). Yet, at the core of his soul, he is shown to be quite 
alone, in a world with still no answers to the questions. He has his life-long monologue with the 
silent monolith, which hounds him always and offers him still nothing even on his death bed. 
Even as his last act is a finger pointed at the monolith, as if to say "Can I ever know?"

Finally, the embryo. the awe of creation and of "being," and perhaps, 
Kubrick offers a suggestion that one day humanity may alter its manner of being, that 
perhaps we may find a way of perceiving the unknowable not solely with fear and violence, but 
instead with a more positive posture. 

-Rob Snyder

From: "Roberto Mendes" 
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 22:26:56 -0200


I've read your excellent essay about 2001 and I will read it again before
send you any comments about it. For now I'd like to share with you some
impressions I have about the movie.

The first one is about the "warning" transmited by the monolith, telling to
the aliens that the mankind is "waking up". I agree to that viewpoint, but
the scene always make to thing of an angry God.

I explain: several scientific tests were probably made with the monolith and
probably these tests included took photographs of the subject. So I think:
why was that the precise moment to the monolith starts the "transmission" to
the aliens -- a transmission that had caused pain to the human beings around

In that moment, another photograph should be taken, but that would be taken
as if the scientists were a group of tourists, in some kind of museum,
around some "ordinary" sculpture. So it seems that this lack of respect lead
the monolith to punish those men.

I don't think that that's really why the signal started at that time, but
the more I see the scene, the more I think of it. You'll probably agree to
me when I say that the group seemed as tourists... ;-)

The second impression I'd like to share, and the most important, is about
the COMPUTER MALFUNCION message. I'm not quite sure if this message means
that HAL was really with serious problems or if it was displayed by the
life-support subsystem in response to changings due to HAL's attempt to kill
the Discovery's crew, that is, I'm not sure if that means a real HAL's
malfunction or only an automatic response to a HAL's possible malfuncion.
What do you think of it?

That's it for now!

Best regards,