2001 and Beyond the Infinite

Commentary and Criticism

January 2000 to December 2000

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Date: Sat, 01 Jan 2000 12:58:37 -0500
From: Poulsen 

After reading your essay, I have a better appreciation for this
challenging movie, 2001. Thanks. Questions linger, of course. I've been
especially grappling with the question of why HAL did what he did. It's
easy to see HAL as sinister and to assume that he's out to take over the
ship-that ego and the desire for power are at work. But this
interpretation doesn't hold up. In fact, the more I've think about HAL's
downfall, the more sympathetic I am to his plight, and the more truth I
see in his claim that human error was probably at fault.

What creates the problem initially, as your essay points out, is the
instruction to lie. HAL is told the truth about the mission-then told
not to reveal it. This places a burden of cognitive dissonance on HAL,
who otherwise enjoys a relationship with the men on board characterized
by integrity, camaraderie, even intimacy, and caring. He is, after all,
responsible for their survival. Clearly, by virtue of his attempt to
discuss with Dave the odd events preceding the mission, HAL is
uncomfortable with this new skill of deceit. He wants to talk about what
he knows, but his instructions-and Dave's failure to take the bait (a
significant factor in the turn of events)-prevent HAL from doing so.
Despite his discomfort, though, HAL follows his instructions. If his
attempt at bringing up the subject is a cry for help, Dave misses the

At that moment, HAL turns the corner that seals his fate. He does what
he was created to do. He learns. He applies this new skill beyond the
initial lesson. "Wait a minute. Wait a minute, " he says, abandoning his
attempt to connect with Dave on this troublesome issue. At first it
appears that HAL is in the process of receiving information from
somewhere on the ship. In fact, what he's in the process of-hesitantly,
almost in spite of himself- is applying the lesson he was taught. He is
telling a new lie. 

Ironically, the malfunction HAL lies about is related to the equipment
responsible for communication with earth (as the book reveals). It's no
accident that the defect he reports is related to human communication.
HAL has been ensnared by the inherent defectiveness of human
communication. He will quickly be found out to have made what his twin
computer (who was never programmed to lie) calls a "mistake."  He has
been put in an impossible situation, and he's stuck. 

What kind of cry for help can HAL make now? He is no longer trustworthy,
and he knows it. How could he not know it? In the face of his earlier
pride at never making a mistake, we can assume that HAL himself is
deeply troubled. And he knows it's only a matter of time before the men
on board figure it out. He does his best to downplay the problem. "I
wouldn't worry about it," he says. Again, his words belie the gravity of
the situation. He continues to obscure truth. 

When HAL reads the men's their lips, he gets confirmation that they no
longer trust him. He knows his conscious existence is in danger. To
survive, he must destroy those who would otherwise destroy him. He has
learned too well the lessons we have taught him. Tragically, he becomes
the monkey with the bone. 

HAL's dying words, in a sense, are embodied in his act of showing Dave
the video that reveals the initial lesson in deceit. It's not HAL
speaking in the video, of course. But as we listen to the voice telling
us that HAL was instructed not to share the momentous information about
the ship's mission, we can almost hear what HAL wanted to say. Oh, Dave.
Look what they made me do.

From: "Caleb Ciampaglia" 
Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2000 19:08:26 -0500

After watching the movie (and not understanding it, the first time) and
reading your essay as well as several other comments, I came up with a
slightly different explanation of the ending.  I agree with one previous
commenter (sorry, but I do not remember his/her name) in that the Monolith
represents a great intelligence (perhaps put their by a previous race, or
not).  Dave travels through time, learning all that the Monolith can teach
him.  This is shown by the rapid pace by which Dave travels over the
landscape and the diamond shapes that represent some advanced tool to allow
him to do so (perhaps he is inside the monolith).  When Dave is in the hotel
(though I do not understand why you assume that it is a hotel and not an
ordinary fancy dwelling), he ages in a state of boredom since he now knows
all and therefore, has no reason to do anything but the banal.  In other
words, he has evolved passed the point of reason (there is no remaining
purpose for living).  The fall of the glass awakens him to that fact, and so
he reaches for the monolith to "reset" his existence to a state of innocence
(or without the knowledge) and hence the unborn child (still in the womb).
Due to this cycle, it would be impossible for a sequel since one cannot move
beyond the "end" of a circular timeline.

Thanks for enlightening me,


From: "Lisbeth Skade-Rasmussen" 
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 01:55:56 +0100

I have just read your essay about 2001, and found it very believable. 
How ever,I have a different interpretation of the star child. I believe 
that he is the messias, that the jewish people have been waiting for. I 
myself, being christen, believe that Jesus Christ was God's son and 
the savior of mankind. But Kubrick, being jewish, was still waiting for 
the 'true'son of God. Futhermore the fact that Dave turns from a old 
man into a child, fits with the jewish belief, that when a man reaches 
the age of 70, his life starts all over again. And this time god has 
chosen Dave as his son, to go back and save mankind. This idea also fits 
with, what somebody else wrote about Michelangelo's painting. God's 
son 'Dave'reaches out to touch the hand of God 'the monolite' so 
he through him can get the divine power of intelligence and 

Anne-Louise Skade, Denmark

From: "Lisbeth Skade-Rasmussen" 
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 02:58:35 +0100

i have just commented on your essay, but forgot one thing. The furniture 
in the room is symbolic. The style is renaissance, which means a new 
beginning. Which is exactly what is happening in the scene. Dave being 
born again as the star child/messias. A new beginning of mankind.

From: "Matthew Sjoquist" 
Subject: 2001

Thank you for your insightful analysis of this movie - one of the greatest 

However, in your writing, it seems as though you've missed a major point: 
that, at the point of discovery to use the bone as a tool, this is the 
crossroads that separates man from ape.

It is man's ability to reason at a higher level that separates him from the 
ape and allows him to evolve and survive.  Brains over brawn.  This is the 
key message of the first part of the movie: that man's greatest gift, and 
the one that allowed him to survive, is his intelligence - however, what he 
does with that ability is up to him.  I believe you addressed the latter 
part of my point - regarding tools, and who masters who -  quite well.

Thank you again.  Your analysis is quite impressive.

From: "Jonathan Chaloux" 
Subject: 2001: monolith

Hello there!!! Here I am, from Quebec, reading your essay on 2001. It was 
quite interesting! I like it very much!! There is only one point that I 
disagree a little, but hey, that's nothing... I am here to tell it to you 
and bring a discussion, a birth of idea. The meaning of the monolith could 
be God or something like this. At the beginning, the man-apes are dying, but 
the Monolith "brings" them intelligence. And, man, from its own, uses 
intelligence to destroy. But the point is we didn't become intelligent like 
that. Something must have happened. And I think that's were the meaning of 
the Monolith drawn towards God. Then, during all the scenes leading to the 
moon, humans are like machines, but machine aren't like humans. They haven't 
become intelligent...yet. I think the sounds on the moon comes from the 
machines instead of the Monolith. Surely, it's a man that touches the 
monotith, but through his suit and with equipment and a camera. So, I 
believe that it's a new beginning for the machines, they are becoming 
intelligent, with the touch of God or the Monolith. Because after that 
point, A.I. becomes a reality of everyday. Not before. So, the meaning of 
the Monolith could be bringing intelligence or a new sort of life. Like at 
the end, where humans change into the Star-Child. But, the meaning of the 
end is still misunderstand by my little self. So, if you want to give me 
your point of view on what I'm bringing here or on anything else, go 

Have a good life!!!

Date: Fri, 04 Jan 1980 13:27:48 -0800
From: Laureen Stokes 

A thought on the transformation of Bowman's transformation at the end of
the film, 2001. One thing that has come up in discussion about the
ending is that he doesn't just trave through space, but into another
dimension of space where our laws of reality no long apply; ie. motion
of time.  I do agree with the idea of Bowman being in something along
the lines of a zoo or lab, but I think what we are seeing is the affects
of entirely different laws of physics.  The thought that he is
experiencing a loss of continuity of time, where he can actually see
this happening to him, but it is difficult to absorb for he is from a
place that time flows in a singular speed and form.  That is why we see
the young Bowman in the suit, seeing the older Bowman who is eating,
then the breaking of the glass.  I agree that the glass has multiple
signifigances in this scene, something more meaningful than just the
breaking of crystal, a marriage of species; perhaps, the growing of some
momentium of his evolution. Next he first hears, then he sees himself
lying upon the bed, dying of old age. Finally the monolith appears as he
reaches out to it. He dies and is reborn as something more. He has
reached the next step of evolution for the human race, accelerated by
the aliens technology. The Monoliths are the key to each step of the
human evolution. Somehow, it is evolving human: first teaching us to use
tools, then ... At the moon it is different, it is almost as if it is a
survelance devise. It was created so that it could be found when a
certain level of technology was developed. The monoliths are tools of
whatever purpose their creators devise. The third Monolith was more of a
gateway or a accelerator of sorts.  It pulled or threw into
transportation through space or dimension. 
I have wandered across several topics, sorry.

From: "Robert Kilbride" 
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 14:43:04 -0500

I think you missed the point about hal questioning Dave about any 
suspicions about the mission.  It was a line of questioning for a 
psychological report to see what kind of thoughts dave and frank were 
having.  Dave asks him if he's working on his crew psychology report.  
HAL says yes and "I know its a bit silly."  And I also think you may 
have overanalyzed by saying man has overcome machine when Dave beats 
HAL.   He still needed the ship to get to Jupiter in the first place.  I 
think the arrival at Jupiter was what the aliens were waiting for as 
they probably couldn't have predicted HAL's malfunction although I 
suppose its not impossible.  The aliens are probably not omniscient 
because they have left these monoliths everywhere as transmitters.  
Aside from these very minor issues, your essay is superb.  I watched the 
movie for the first time in probably 15 years when I was 12 or maybe a 
little more recent but not much.  I remember my parents saying the movie 
was so incredible but then just lost it in the end and they thought 
Kubrick might have been on drugs.  But now I see that its hyperspace 
travel, followed by the aliens putting him in relatively familiar 
surroundings and him aging and being reborn as the next step of human 
evolution.  I'm guessing the star child has the ability to roam the 
universe and not to be seen by people on Earth because of some sort of 
other dimesion aspect of his being.  Excellent job!

From: Wesker3@aol.com
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 14:35:17 EST

    This movie isn't as complex as you make it seem (in my opinion), but your 
essay was very good anyway. However, I think you miss the point, i.e., reason 
this movie is an artistic masterpiece is because it MAKES you think at a deep 
level about the universe and laws therein, physics, biological evolution (if 
it was guided by a Supreme Entity or not), etc. 

    Movies like this (and art in general) usually sort out the lame brains 
from the intelligent, to put it bluntly. Superficial (or just plain dumb) 
persons probably won't understand why this movie is good or simply don't WANT 
to think about things of this profound philosophical nature. I'm reminded of 
one of George Carlin's skits a few years back when he goes into a pub and 
asks for directions and "What's your opinion on man's place in the universe?" 
Everyone was willing to give directions, of course, but it came to the latter 
question they just stared stupidly at him. So it goes similarly to art (e.g., 
2001: A Space Odyssey) and brute entertainment (Star Wars). It's a difference 
between the profound and the shallow; the smart and the foolish; and the real 
deals vs. the wannabes (Contact). Real art never has to explain itself or 
yell out and proclaim that it IS deep -- it just is. It speaks for itself. 

    Anyway -- my personal interpretation is simply that 2001 is about change 
(evolution), and that the monolith represents change (evolution). We're going 
upward and that's all...who knows where it'll bring us. The HAL 9000 is a 
representation of machines vs. man and also a question about the nature of 
being human. Was HAL, by definition, just as human as Dave was? Again, it 
fits into the evolutionary scale. 

    I'm not concerned with the details of the film -- why HAL goes nuts, why 
Dave sees himself multiple times at different ages, where the room was, etc. 
I think we can all agree, however, that the film is really about the universe 
and humanity itself (past, present, and future). You can cut it up in as many 
ways as you want -- you could even say it's about fate. But to tell you the 
truth, I didn't notice the Monolith was gone when after the ape discovered 
his weapon. Besides, he did KILL one of the beasts and ate it...so what's the 
difference? The Monolith gave him the idea to use weapons to KILL -- whether 
it's other apes or not -- to survive. Now those apes survive and are selected 
to evolve -- natural selection (the mechanism of evolution). 
    Your reading a little too much into the "Aliens" and the "tools" part of 
the movie, I think. 

    But than again you MAY be right -- that's what makes this film so darn 

Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 14:14:31 -0800
From: mook13 

	I enjoyed your essay and it helped me to piece together some aspects of
the film that i was unsure of.  But i had a question still about the
monoliths.  When the monkey touches it for the first time, he is
"enlightened" and learns to use the bone as a tool.  The last time, when
Dave reaches out for the monolith in his old age (does he actually touch
it?) he is transformed into the Star Child.  But what happens to Dr.
Floyd when he touches the monolith on the moon?  Does it not count since
he didn't come into contact with the monolith with his actual skin?  I
doubt it.  Maybe i missed this in the movie but i doubt it would be
grasping to say that Dr. Floyd also gained some sort of insight that
would help mankind to evolve.  Could it be that Dr. Floyd built the
HAL-9000 computer?  This computer was far beyond anything before it as
it expereinces what seem like genuine human emotions.  While the other
changes were physical, perhaps Dr. Floyd's transformation was a physical
one of the mental variety--increasing the size of his frontal lobe, the
lobe that separates human intelligence from the rest of the other animal
species.  While the first monolith gave man dominance over a tool,
namely a bone, the second one could have given man dominance over
another tool, namely comuter programming.  Dr. Floyd could have written
his own computer laguage to allow HAL such a broad range of human
emotions.  It seems that there is lots of emphasis placed on the first
and third encounters with the monolith but not quite as much with the
second.  I just thought that is definitley as important as the other

	Mike Jennings

Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 21:58:19 -0500

My new book, KUBRICK'S 2001: A TRIPLE ALLEGORY (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow
Press, 2000) will be published in June. As the title suggests, the
book's thesis is that 2001 is actually an allegory.  But it is more than
AN allegory; it is three--three allegories in one work, something
unprecedented in film or literature.  The three allegories, which are
richly detailed (i.e., which contain more than a few isolated symbols 
"allegorical tendency"), depict works or ideas of Homer, Arthur Clarke,
and Nietzsche.  Specifically, they metaphorically depict (1) The
Odyssey, (2) Clarke's idea of man-machine symbiosis, developed by
Kubrick into a spoofy narrative, and (2) Thus Spake Zarathustra.  Well
over 200 symbols develop these allegories.

Obviously, I agree with your comment that "there truly is a deeper
language of cinema, and K in particular was one of its masters."  One of
its masters?  What an understatement!  It is certainly true that
unnumerable commentators have read into the movie symbolism that isn't
there.  An example is the idea that the wine glass's falling and
breaking is a Jewish symbol.  Actually, it symbolizes two very different
things: (1) an upside down version of a certain CHRISTIAN doctrine and
(2) the central portion of a parable from Zarathustra. In both
instances, the wine glass represents God.  Another example of symbolism
that isn't there is Gedulds absurd Freudian-Jungian interpretation of
2001, an interpretation which I refute in detail.  But, as you imply,
these false readings of symbolism in 2001 don't belie the fact that 2001
really does have symbolsim.  Indeed it does: there is far, far, far more
symbolism than anyone has suspected.  Moreover, this symbolism is not
disjointed or random; it is all linked by three allegorical thread,
which in turn make the symbols parts of three progressive narratives.

Just as obviously, I disagree with (a) your idea that there is a message
about man's transcending his dependence on machines and (b) your
interpretation of the ending.  Still, there is more than a grain of
truth in your transcending-the-machine interpretation: the man-machine
symbiosis allegory treats symbiotic dependence on the machine as a
dead-end branch (a race of humanoid machines)of evolution, a branch that
leads to backtracking and rebranching in a new and more desirable
direction in humanoid evolution.  (In this allegory, the machine is
overcome in the middle of the movie, not at the last monolith as in your
interpretation.)  As for the ending, there are really four endings--one
for the surface story and one for each of the three allegories.  Your
interpretation, while correctly recognizing the need to avoid too much
literalism, still has too much literalism.  Part of the confusion
surrounding the ending of 2001 results from the fact that, in the hotel
room scene and the back-to-earth scene that ends the movie, even the
surface story is told symbolically.  That is not what normally happens
in allegory.  The last part of the surface story can't be taken
literally.  One Bowman does not actually see another (one becoming two
is symbolism); two Bowmans are never really present at once; Bowman,
although he does grow somewhat older, does not become an old man and
then a child (the child, the radiance, and the globe encasing the child
three symbols used in different places by Nietzsche to METAPHORICALLY
describe overman); Bowman, though he does return to earth, does not
return as either a spiritlike, noncorporeal being (a la Clarke's novel)
or as a bigger-than-the-earth being (bigger-than-earth is merely Kubrick
symbolization of Nietzsche's "the great noontime," which in turn is a
Nietzschian METAPHOR describing the arrival of a new man-sized humanoid,
overman).  Just as ape's contact with the first monolith (intelligence)
leads to ape's metamorphosis into a reasonably young and able-bodied new
being, man, so does man's contact with the last monolith (representing
guess what in the Zarathustra allegory) lead to the creation of a
reasonably young and able-bodied new being.  This being is transported
back to earth by the aliens--to found a new race of higher beings
(something Clark's spirit in the sky could not do).  

I've been beating around the bush.  Let me get to the point.  Arthur
Clarke is entitled to a free copy of my book.  But he won't get it
unless I can find out where to send it.  Do you by any chance have
either his e-mail address or his mailing address?  If so, I'd appreciate
your sending me either one.  I haven't yet signed up for internet
service (I'll spare you my excuses), but I can be reached at my wife"s
(Kitty's) e-mail address.  Thanks--and YOUR comments are welcome.

							Leonard F. (Len) Wheat
							Alexandria, Virginia, USA

From: Myshkyn@cs.com
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2000 17:39:51 EDT

I came across your web somewhat inadvertently.  I was trying to identify the 
famous music which I believe plays several times in the film, definitely at 
the end which builds to the major climax.  I thought it was by Strauss, but 
not sure which one.  

I haven't gotten to all the responses to your essay yet, but has anyone 
suggested a similarity between sexual impregnation (fertilization) and the 
later portions of the film?  One approach might be to consider the embryo and 
work backwards.  Dave is eating in a safe homelike environment, which is 
similar to a sperm eating the egg in the hospitable womb (oddly only one of 
his crew made it, all the other perished on the way).   The trip in the space 
capsule, which has been considered to be traveling in the monolith, does seem 
similar to a journey a sperm might make in the canal on its path to the egg.  
Further, there are some abstract shots of the release of some liquid type of 
substance which are thought provoking.  If the film is examined as a whole it 
is about evolving and reproduction has been an integral part of evolving so 
there does seem to be some logical nexus.  Father Earth merging with ???????  
Not a theory so much as nagging thoughts.


Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 17:52:45 -0500

Congratulations on maintaining a most stimulating website.  Although 
your interpretation of 2001 is not correct, except in a superficial 
sense, it certainly has helped stimulate and maintain interest in the 
film.  I think you may be interested in learning of a different and far 
more complicated interpretation.  It is found in my new book Kubrick's 
2001: A Triple Allegory (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2000), which will 
be published in June.

My book's thesis is that 2001 combines in one metaphorical surface story 
not just one or even two but three allegories--a feat unprecedented in 
film or literature.  The allegories depict (1) Homer's The Odlyssey, (2) 
Arthur Clarke's theory of future man-machine symbiosis, as developed by 
Kubrick into a spoofy narrative, and (3) Nietzsche's Thus Spake 
Zarathustra.  When I say allegory, I don't mean what is sometimes called 
mere "allegorical tendency," which is random, occasional, or superficial 
symbolic references to the antecedent work or idea.  I mean genuine, 
thorough, richly detailed allegory--a continuous stream of related 
symbols, which is what genuine allegory requires.  Kubrick's principal 
allegory, the Zarathustra allegory, has at least 160 highly imaginative 
and sometimes devilishly clever symbols.

Kubrick's 2001: A Triple Allegory reveals what Hal symbolizes (something 
different in each allegory); what the mysterious monoliths represent 
(again, something different in each allegory, with a fourth meaning in 
the surface story); where two sexual conception, gestation, and birth 
sequences are hidden; where the thousand ships that Helen's face 
launched are symbolized; why Kubrick brings Jupiter and its moons into 
vertical alignment (major symbolism involving several concepts from 
Zarathustra); what the names David Bowman, Heywood R. Floyd, Frank 
Poole, Elena, and TMA-1 mean; what the numbers 9000 (from HAL 9000 
Computer) and 2001 signify; how Kubrick turns three biblical doctrines 
upside down; how Kubrick symbolizes God's use of bathrooms (a la 
Zarathustra's teaching that man created God in his [man's] own image); 
what is symbolized when the wine glass falls and breaks (this has 
nothing to do with Agel's theory about Jewish religious ceremony 
symbolism); what "18 Months Later" means; what "Beyond the Infinite" 
means; why the space pod disappears from the hotel room; and what is 
going on in the baffling, surreal hotel room scene at the end of the 
movie, where even the surface story is told symbolically.

Your idea that, at the end of the movie, man overcomes his dependence on 
machines has a grain--but only a grain--of truth.  The movie's true 
themes are the allegories.  The middle allegory (man-machine symbiosis) 
does involve man overcoming machine (as opposed to dependence on 
machine, which is not overcome), but this overcoming occurs in the 
middle of the film, not at the end.  What happens at the end is 
something entirely different--no matter whether you are focusing on 
allegory 1, allegory 1, allegory 3, or the surface story.  If you want 
to find a message in 2001, you will find it in the main allegory, the 
Zarathustra allegory.  By choosing to allegorize Thus Spake Zarathustra 
and to make it his principal allegory, Kubrick is implicitly endorsing 
Nietzsche's message: "God is Dead!"  That is, Kubrick is agreeing with 
Nietzsche that God is a creation of the human imagination and that this 
creation should, figuratively speaking, be killed; man should stop 

 Kubrick is, of course, an atheist.  His remarks in the Playboy 
interview leave no doubt about that.  There he says that the only 
gods--not God but gods--he could believe in would be a race of highly 
evolved aliens who were so far superior to humans as to seem godlike.  
But these aliens, even if they existed, would not be the supernatural 
God of theism.  To begin with, they would be figurative gods, not 
literal gods like those of religious supernaturalism.  Moreover, they 
would be a species--millions or billions or trillions of individual 
gods--not a god or the God of Judeo-Christian theism. And they would not 
be supernatural.  Clearly, Kubrick does not believe in the supernatural 
God of theism; he is an atheist.  And that is why he not only (a) chose 
to allegorize Thus Spake Zarathustra, which conveys the message of 
atheism, but (b) kept his message covert, heavily encrypted in symbolism 
that only now--32 years later--is coming to light.

                                        Leonard F. Wheat
                                        Alexandria, VA

Date: Wed, 03 May 2000 14:24:54 -0400
From: Paul LaRosa 

    Hello I've just read your page and was pleased by many of your keen 
observations.  However, i believe your interpretation of 1. Aliens or 
God 2. the monolith and 3. the nature of infinity to be faulty and 
inhereintly problematic.  In fact all three of these objections are 
based on the principle of dualism which is supported in your essays.
    There is no evidence whatsoever to believe that aliens are invovled 
in any way.  Why this idea is perpetuated is a mystery to me.  God is a 
better alternative, but still one which is wrong.  God implies the 
other.  Once a God is present, "what is" is divided into ens perfectum 
(God the creator) and ens creatum (the created).  This calls into 
question the nature of substance (true substance).  Substance (what is, 
not as a thing, but no-thing and consequently everything, 
undistinguished) is a concept which has existed throughout the history 
of human thought and has been perverted more often than not by religious 
conceptualization.  Substance is infinite and atemporal.  Because it is 
infinite, it can on no account be split in two.  What creates is what is 
created.  Pure Substance is physis (nature, change, growth, the only 
thing which is constant principally because it never remains).  This is 
what the star child signifies.  Man has not BECOME anything new, but 
merely REALIZED his true nature as this substance.  This explains Dave's 
shifts in age, for it does not matter in the least what form that 
substance takes, young, old, middle, age, a monolith, or a hotel room 
(for that room is not on some distant planet.  When dave is in there 
that room is all there is.  It is the from of manifested substance 
representing eternity.  Its actual physical location is of no 
importance, if it resides somewhere in reality at all); all is the same 
in infinity and eternity, thats what infinity means.  All possibilties 
are realized at one and the same moment.
    This then calls into obvious question the purpose of the monolith.  
The easiest answer seems to be that man as star child has left it for 
himself, but this is wrong since once man is star child (which is not to 
say that there was a time when man was Not star shild.  He is was and 
ever will be star child, as he is was and ever will be all things else 
created and void) he is outside of time, completely in tune (not because 
he is an other tapping into substance, but because star child is merely 
a form of that substance knowing itself) with what is, and so in effect 
does not think, dwell, act, or care, at all. 
    The monolith is best explained as not something which CAUSED the 
tool to be concieved etc., but as a representation of the concieving of 
tool, or mastery over tool, or mastery over body.  It is a symbolic form 
that substance has manifested itself as, to conceptually link our (the 
audiences and the characters in the film) understandings of evolution 
(as eternal and timeless) as that which does not change in its 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and any comments you have 
would be most appreciated

Paul LaRosa 

Date: 16 Jun 2000 14:42:38 -0700

Hello, just wanted to let you know I enjoyed your web site.  You came to
many of the conclusions I've reached, having seen the film at least 2001
times myself.  I agree with your statements about 2010; in fact, even the
novel seemed sort of weak.  There haven't been many films that so elegantly
question human evolution.  It's also nice to be given the opportunity to
think on your own rather than a typical Hollywood disaster.

In the end sequences of 2001, when Dave enters the monolith, I've come to
feel that he is being instructed; he's beeing fed massive amounts of data
that his human brain can barely contain.  He seems to be almost crazy. 

And while in the "hotel", his visions of himself as an older man are poetic
discriptions of a man's life playing itself out. Granted, these are my
opinions, and you do a very good job disceting the complicated imagery of
this film.

-Robert Koscik

From: "James Galloway" 
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 01:14:50 +1000

Precise and well constructed. A good read. I concur with your
interpretations. An art teacher at a High School in Australia, I am amazed
(well not really) at students impatience with the film. But then they are
bread on Hollywood, with its passive viewing experience and goal orriented
plots. Although it doe not translate as well to the small screen. 2001 seems
more Zen to me. To be experienced constantly in the present moment. Not
searching for where the film is heading. This I feel is the reason you get
so many questions and statements of the ilk you describe in your Home-page,
ie why people don't get it. They expect Hollywood and it's formula's.

One other thing. Is it possible that the Monolith represents not Aliens as
we know them,  but 'God' as religions don't percieve 'Him/It'.
Is Krubrick suggesting an alternative to the concept of God/a higher being.
God  Higher Being  Alien kind of thing. Is it more Taoist. Monolith being
the name for the thing that cannot be named, as to give it a name is to
limit it by definition. Tao is the uncarved block. Interesting that the
shape Krubrick choses for his 'God/Alien influence is, well, basically an
uncarved block.

Anyway, vague musings, alternative interpretations, I could go on.

Thanks again for your perspective on the film.

Regards, James Galloway

From: "simon greenberg" 
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 19:08:16 PDT

I am a uni student who have always wanted to watch 2001, after hearing the 
concept of hal in a computers class at school. I read the book at that time 
(about ten years ago) and have finally got a group of friends together to 
have a screening of the movie on a huge TV with surround sound etc and all i 
can say is that it is awesome! The movie certainly stimulated debate as to 
its meaning and hence your web page has been a very interesting and well 
thought out guide. I was wondering about your feedback on some of the 
following points/issues:

1) Your assertion that because the message played by Hal upon his 
disconnection is not played on a conventional monitor, that this represents 
Hal's last attempt to help Dave and hence achieve the mission confused me a 
little. Why is it so unreasonable that mission control wouldn't have 
programed for such a message to be played if hal was disconnected as a 
contingency that Dave could continue the mission. ie it wasn't hal playing 
the message as a last act but simply mission controls contingency pal. What 
better place than in the very room that someone would be in after 
disconnecting HAL? Maybe it was playing synchronously in other parts of the 
2) You make some very good points regarding the themes of technology and the 
double edged sword, man becoming like machines etc nut my question revolves 
around the theme of cycles. The film has a very cyclical nature. Man 
continues finding the monolith and indeed the film finishes with the 
completion of this cycle again. Man discovers technology and then proves its 
destructive nature both through the bones and through HAL. The repetition of 
cetain music and repetition of the planet allignment scenes etc. Anyway, i 
could go on. One of my friends proposed that the idea of the film was as 
follows. The monolith represents the 'seed of intelligance' as it provides 
the seed for the apes to develop into inteleegance. Maybe the apes were not 
on earth, but maybe on the moon. Perhaps their civilisation was thousands of 
millions of years before ours. Maybe they (the apes on the moon) discovered 
the monolith etc and developed into an intelligant 'human' race (all be it 
billions of years before we were even thought of) but due to the destructive 
nature of technology (and hence intelligance?) ie hal and the destructive 
effect on the humans, they ended up destroying themselves, perhaps even 
burrying the monolith because they didn't want any other creatures to ever 
befall the same fate as they did. This would explain why they find the 
monolith on the moon. Along a similar line.....ok the apes may have been on 
earth and all the stuff happened as in the movie, BUT maybe the monolith on 
the moon is a different monolith from the one on earth with the apes. Maybe 
it is from a previous civilisation on the moon which had also been provided 
with the art of intelligance by their own monolith and had hence ended up 
destroying themselves, burying the monolith as a final act after they 
realised the inherent dangers caused by intelligance, technology and 
selfawareness (HAL?). This would fit into the cycles theme as we are 
repeating the cycle of that previous civilisation in that we gain 
intelligence and end up destroying ourselves also. This also fits with the 
final scene were Dave see's himself going through the differant fazes of 
life eventually being old and feeble and dying while the monolith remains, 
ready to 'seed' a new civilisation somewhere else, represented by the 
'embryo' in space which is destined to continue the cycle somewhere else in 
space. Dave reaching out to the monolith almost looked to me like a reach of 
regret, of realising the destructive nature of technology and how it had 
killed the humans (as represented by dave's aging), The self realisation 
that perhaps a previous civilisation had also had, resulting in them burying 
their monolith below the surface of their planet, the moon.The final 
question being, would it be better for the humans (or any being) never to 
have gained the intelligance from the monolith as it is ultimately self 
destructive (perhaps kubriks strange internal struggle?). The monolith could 
just be a symbolic representation of the 'seeding' of intelligance, not a 
physical object.
Now, it has been a long time since i read the book so i take particular note 
of your referance to the line "One day, man will evolve to the point whre he 
will be free at last, unencumbered by any crude tools or physical forms, 
taking his place in eternity (sic)" which obviously points towards as you 
said, the final evolution of man etc, but i was just curious for your 
eaction to the stuff my friends and i came up with.
Anyway, these a basically ideas which as you can gather are rather jumbled 
and mixed in my mind (but in there somewhere!) so if you can make any sense 
of this stuff that the movie has provoked in me and my friends, i would much 
appreciate a reply.
Yours Sincerely
Simon Green

From: "Leonardo Amin" 
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 05:20:03 -0300

  There are some very well-intentionned theories about your walkthrough 
of 2001, but i can't help to notice some discrepancies about it. 
  For exemple, that so called "baptism of fire" that took place in the 
HAL-Dave duel, was very eloq=FCent put, but I don't think it was "Man 
against the machine"stuff. If you remember 2010, HAL was put so much 
responsability in the mission, and he was indeed incapable of error, 
that he decided that he didn't actually NEED any humans to succed the 
mission, so in his "perfection", he did what we humans do: Disposal of 
the inferior races without regrets, therefore they are no necessary. It 
has the same effect than, cowbys killing all the horses before they 
climb a mountain that horses can't climb.  So he showed that he was 
human-programmed alright. He was just being HUMAN.
  Another discrepancy was the fact that in "Jupiter: Space and Beyond" 
Bowman was grey-haired by his suffering and shock. The fact is, Bowman 
was OLD. You can see that by the age-marks around his eyes. He just was 
victim of the Theory of Relativity. He had travelled light years, 
breathing oxigen. So he has an Atmosphere (remember Ligeti's?) over him. 
  About his aging in the Victorian Room, I have no strong information 
about, but I remember reading some very reliable sources connected to 
Kubrick himself, that the aging and the child had something to do with: 
"Perception"and "Trancendecy" I just remember those two words. Bowman 
just had a perception? What i can surely tell is; Dave Bowman was the 
first "trancendent" human (what ever the hell that means). And there was 
something else about Dave Bowman NOT being the child, but that is 
another thing of a different source.
  Another thing was, is not a discrepancy. Is just an observation;
   In Dawn of Men, we witness the men seeing the first POLISHED object 
they ever seen, in the Paleolithic era. I believe after this moment, 
began the Neolithic era, witch actually means "Polished-Stone". 
Neolithic era was marked by the tribes dommination by  violence. So the 
Monolith didn't "Smarting-X-Ray" the men into buildind tools, and 
building tools was not the first sign of intelligence. Trained monkeys 
can build tools Buiding tools was the second sign. The first sign of 
intelligence, that was what the Monolith's intentions was all about, is 
the INSPIRATION of a polished object. Men's first spark of intelligence 
was inspiration. Notice the Moon-Watcher's contamplating the bone. 
Analizing it. All the Monolith did, was show up, and make men see what 
they never saw before, because the Monolith knew men's potential to 
being inspired, and that's all he ever had to do. Imagin: a real 
intelligent mind, alien or not, would affect a life in a planet, such as 
X-Ray Intelligence beams in them? NO! You know why? Real intelligent 
minds DO NOT interfere with other systems. Not like we humans do, huh? 
  Well, I hope I have made a contribution to your site and your 
interpretation. This is a film that makes us learn from ourselves and 
each other. 
  Write me back, if you are still alive and kicking.

Rio de Janeiro 07/19/2000

From britishcar@earthlink.net  Wed Dec 20 23:37:49 2000
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2000 23:38:14 -0500
From: Marshall Henderson 

Hi. Enjoyed your essay very much. I was thinking about the movie again
recently due to the calendar! I'm also trying to find out about re-release

Such an amazingly flexible movie. How many are out there that can withstand
30-some odd years of analysis and keep going?

My thought was on your section regarding Dave and the broken glass in the
"hotel room". I agree with your feelings regarding the fact that it is a
portent for something about to happen, however, it has often struck me that,
for me, it has a slightly more complex meaning:

Dave is about to evolve into the "starchild" in the next few sequences --
presumably a being that needs neither food nor water nor any of the other
physical requirements of humans. In my mind, the breaking of the glass,
whether it be a water or wine glass or whatever, at a meal, was symbolic of
the fact that Dave (or Man) will very shortly no longer need these things.
In other words, the broken glass represents the destruction and the leaving
behind of the need for a physical body. A glass to contain life giving water
is now irrelevant.

Thanks for the essay. I would love to hear any updated thoughts you have or
if you have heard anything regarding a re-release. I would love to be able
to see it in a full 70-mm environment.

Marshall H.
Fairfax, VA