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Talk about 2001 and Beyond the Infinite

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> ----
> 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the few films (if not the only one) that truly parallels a work of art. That’s not to say that it’s the finest film made, though many would argue that. My comparison between the film and a work of art though is more based on that both are open to interpretation.
> An artist paints a picture, and hangs it in a gallery. 100 people could look at that painting, and when asked the question “what does it mean?” each person could have a different answer.
> In the case of 2001 Kubrick is the artist, film his canvas, and 2001 his work of art.
> Calling film “Art” isn’t a new idea but rarely is it truly achieved in the very real sense of what art is supposed to be.
> When Jackson Pollock finished a painting, he didn’t include with it an explanation of what it “meant”. The meaning is left to the imagination and interpretation of the viewer. The artist may or may not have their own interpretation of their art, but to share that would only cheat the audience. Kubrick, like any artist didn’t feel the need to provide Cliff Notes to his masterpiece.
> Music is also a medium or art-form that accomplishes this. Lyrics to a song can be interpreted in so many different ways.
> Film though rarely leaves itself open for interpretation. More often it “is what it is”. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end – all wrapped up nicely with a bow. Films may provoke thought and debate afterward, but rarely are they so abstract like that of a painting.
> What bothers me most about 2001: A Space Odyssey is because the film is so enigmatic and vague, it tends to attract every film elitist and intellectual type that is so sure they know exactly what it’s about.
> They like to separate the audience into two groups: Those that “get it” and those that don’t. And they seem to take great pleasure in dismissing the “DON’T get it” category as somehow less intelligent. This is ridiculous. There is no right or wrong in art.
> Even the author of this essay does this. He says in the introduction “I am amazed that the story of 2001 is misunderstood by so many; to me, the story is easy to understand.” And “For the benefit of those who say they still don't understand 2001, I have written this essay.”
> OK, well thank you for enlightening us. Now I understand YOUR interpretation of 2001. It was very interesting to read and well written but is it “right”? No. But he’s not wrong either.
> I doubt that any fan of 2001 would argue that the film is an incredible work of art. If you believe that then you have to be willing to concede that there is no right or wrong explanation of it.
> -- Danno 2007-03-18 17:33


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I'm a college professor who has always been somewhat baffled by 2001 though I loved the film. My theory was somewhat close to yours, that the Monolith represented some supernatural alien that got us started and then awaited our reaching out. What I like about your theory is the idea that Bowman travels to the Aliens world thru hyperspace and the theme of tools throughout. I had always assumed that David travels through time to witness the Big Bang and the start of it all, whether the Bang was something the Aliens had recorded or started I was never sure. When Bowman approaches them I thought he entered their 'mind' in another dimension. His waiting in the room I saw as a metaphor for humanity having to wait for their next leap. However, I think your interpretation to be correct. Thanks for a great site!
KW

– Anonymous 2005-03-09 06:04 UTC


i think the film is actually a prophecy for the next step in humankind's evolution. I think the monolith represents the physical manifestation of the entity that created/set in motion this thing we call the universe and is the same thing that managed to giude us --the ape men( admit it we are) to where we are today--able to split the atom etc.

I think that the wagner reference to zarathustra is because the person who discovers the object--the starchild- is of iranian origin - ie has the spirit of zarathustra- the first monotheist- but suprisingly not a man who feared god-all religions are a corruption/expansion of zoroastrianism.

although i could be wrong.
karl popper taught me that

just dont bet on it

– Anonymous 2005-04-12 19:34 UTC


i came upon your web site by accident, and read your essays on 2001. you took alot of time and effort in writing them and i just wanted to say thank you… your take on the movie is superb, better then any explanation ive ever heard. ???

i remember as a small child being taken to see 2001 by my parents. i remember sitting there almost hypnotized at what i was watching. i was way too young to understand what i was watching, but it was the defining moment in my life…… almost 40 years later, i still question everything, still look up at the nite sky. still wonder about the meaning of everything…. still wonder how one movie, one director could be so pivitol in ones life,,,,, and yet, i still am amazed every time i see 2001…. its almost as if every time i see it, its like the first time. each time i grasp something new from it. i can hardly wait to rent it again… and see it again for the first time……

2001 for me, turned into star trek, star wars, 2010, lost in space, space 1999, UFO, outer limits, X-files, 7 days, pretty much 30 years of star trek and star wars and every other sci fi movie, and tv show, etc. and it all started with a little seed, a little seed planted by stanley Kubrick almost 40 years ago…. who could have known…..

well thanks for all your essays, they helped put the pieces of the puzzle together…..

– Anonymous 2005-04-27 02:49 UTC


This is great ! Love the comentary !
You should read Clarke's "Childhood's End" (Title re-translated into english , may be innacurate)

– Pav 2005-04-27 17:49 UTC


I think 2001 is a statement of evolution. When Bowman arrives in the 18th century hotel surrounding, time is irrelevant. Which explains why he ages before his own eyes. I think that him evolving is just a statement Stanley is trying to make in that we are going to keep on evolving until we're back where we started. And since time is irrelevant in the spacey hotel room, that very thing happens before our eyes (Billions of years of evolution pass in minutes)

– billyspacefan 2005-07-20 03:20 UTC


There seems to be a general tendency to over-analyze 2001 and its meaning. Having seen the movie countless times, I've abandoned hopes of determining any deeper, significant meaning and have come to the final realization that the film is simply about food.

From the opening sequence of the film with the apes and pigs and their quest for food, to one ape becoming food; to food onboard shuttle transports; to food on the Discovery; even old-Dave eating food "beyond the infinite", the whole film is all about eating food. Take note of how often food consumption is discussed (Heywood is talking about food right before calling his daughter) or portrayed - this the next time you watch. Food consumption is integral to the entire film but universally overlooked in all attempts at explaining the film. The special effects tend to distract you from this - like the stewardess delivering food to the shuttle pilots. Sure, you might think there's a deeper meaning on evolution, tools as benefit and curse, man's ascension to avatar's - but at it's core - the film is all about food.

– prometheus 2005-08-30 01:01 UTC


Add your comment here.
2001 is more than just a film. It is a milestone in human evolution. A point at which mankind has reached a level of conciousness as to understand his own next stage in human evolution at a precise point in space and time that he may tranmit around the planet at the speed of light. I first saw it when I was six. And watching those apes huddle around the monolith, for a brief moment I became a mature human being with a deep sense of cosmic awe. It was so deep that I actually consider it a close encounter of the first kind! It reminds me of a myth I once heard about a supposed starchild somehow born out of humanity at the exact moment of the cuban missile crisis(the point at which the earth came closest to nuclear destruction). As the story was told to me, this person did'nt seem to age as fast as other people and somehow gained spectacular insight into the future of human evolution. He claimed that the cartoons of Chuck Jones contained the highest level of human concieved motion and pose ever comphrehended on the planet earth and that in 10000 years humanity would be able to move like this. He claimed that the way we draw our cartoons actually predicted our own next stage in human evolution in some bizarre way. He spoke of sciences never before thought of such as Geometric Harmonic Evolution and the possibility of an Atomic Dimensional spectrum. He seemed to be obsessed with Dolphin Intelligence. Supposedly he was to unite with a female starchild, also born out of humanity in the same way, at the exact moment of man's birth of mass communication. It was WIIIEEERRRD! It was also a long time ago. Paul V

doctor cleavage 2005-09-12 03:01 UTC


I just finished reading the book and thought that the movie was much more deep and thought proving. Don't get me wrong i loved the book but its hard to compete withsuch a amazing movie. Anyways i wrote my own essay and thought it was a pretty good interpratation. I think tha the essay is not good but i willrevise it several more times and hopefully make it better writing. Im only 16 years old so tell me your opinion on my interpratation.

Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey’s Greater Meaning
Stanley Kubrick took Arthur C. Clark’s amazing and imaginative novel and applied a greater meaning to the story. In 1968, Kubrick created a film that seemed so enigmatic but in fact had no meaning. The film is just Stanley Kubrick’s ingenious metaphor.
There are many theories about 2001 and the symbolic meaning of the HAL-9000 and the infamous monolith. But the entire film is a paradoxical allegory for man’s attempt at understanding. People have continuously tried to fathom the true meaning of the film but it is not supposed to be understood.
Man’s resolute efforts at apprehension (of life, existence, this movie, ect.) are imprudent. Enlightenment is in incomprehensible. Infinite is beyond understanding and awe should be applied to this abstruse idea, not reason. Understanding is mystifying and knowledge of existence is inconceivable. The monolith represents the attempt of enlightenment, which has sacrificed wisdom for knowledge by applying science.
The HAL-9000 represents technology and science. Science is a primitive drive to understanding by searching for questions, not answers. Paradoxically, science is ignorance. Questioning is the attempt to gain knowledge and the pursuit the truth. Truth is a humorous word meaning reality or actuality while the pursuit of truth is the attempt to have an ultimate meaning to the value of existence.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a metaphor for man’s attempt to understand existence. Kubrick is trying to say that existence should not be understood, but appreciated. Bowman realized this and became a starchild. Children are pure from technology and science because they do not attempt to understand existence. There is no true meaning to the film because there is no true meaning of existence.
I don’t expect much credence for my theory because it is fairly implausible. I know from interviews in the documentary Kubrick: A Life in Pictures that he was very brilliant. I think that Kubrick purposefully made an unexplainable conclusion so that understanding the film would be unattainable. Arthur C. Clark admitted himself he was unaware of the meaning of the movie. Kubrick added symbols throughout the film so that people would be attempt to generate their own theories. He wanted the movie to be ambiguous. This is why 2001 is such an enjoyable film, every time it’s watched a new meaning would be conjured.
The brilliant metaphor created by Stanley Kubrick is quite opaque. When watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, sit back and endure the awe and imagination of a thematic genius.
by Michael Fahrenkopf, a 16 year old stoner

– killerbuds420 2005-11-27 18:55 UTC


One interpetation of the film I have is that thoughout Kubrick shows the progression of man s threat to himself and his surroundings through the progression of knowledge and the way the human brain functions. As man apes we posed little threat to anything till we gain the knowledge then the ability to do so, subsequently killing others of our own kind. Later on in history we become so dangerous that we gain the ability to make computers that possess the power to mess with the way we think and subsequently use that power to kill us, we dont even have to threaten ourselves we have used our ever increasing knowledge to create tools that can kill us on their own . then the film shows us again posing little threat as an old person who can barely move. then the film shows man in his purest form, a child inutero. not yet possesing the knowledge to use tools, simply tranquil with the universe posing no threat to himself or his surroundings, just simply existing.

– Hootily McBoobily 2006-01-13 20:08 UTC


For me, I have to combine to an extent the movie and film adaptations - just my personal preference. That said, here are my comments.

I like to think of the film as having power for the fact that it leave so much open to interpretation - just like a good painting, poem, piece of music, etc.,… I think the film version of 2001 is probably the best science fiction to date. Its predictions are so accurate, I'm kind of left wondering if some kind of prophesy is at work. I give credit to Kubrick for the presentation, but the story itself is all Clark's in my mind. In this case, I see Clark as the unparalleled inventor and Kubrick is the brilliant marketer - both are working with the same idea.

All that said, I see the film as starting out laying the groundwork of man vs. machine. It starts with 'man', lost and struggling. Then the monolith comes, does so serious screwing around with man and as a result, man and machine meet for the first time - in this case in the form of a bone tool. The machine was there the whole time, just as man was. The monolith gave man the capacity to realize the possibility then stepped back to watch.

After 4 million years, man and machine, together have advanced farther and farther, culminating to date with HAL 9000 - yet as was pointed out in the origional essay above, the question is still man and machine: which is the master and which is the servant?

The monoliths seem to be machines to an extent, but yet they also seem to be far more. The descriptions in the book imply that they are not so much big black dominoes, but more like the actually LACK of space and time, shaped like a domino when seen from the outside. 1x4x9…..x16x25x36 - how far does it go? Its like a cube - if you drop a cube through a surface, you get a square from the perspective of that surface. If you drop a hypercube through a space, wouldn't you get a cube? Perhaps the monolith is an upper dimensional shape that when seen from three dimensional space looks like the absence of space/time within that domino shaped volume. The book describes it as being completely non-reflective - an idea that doesn't translate well on film, yet to me makes the monolith more powerful, more fantastic and more mysterious - its not a perfectly proportional chuck of metal - its the perfectly proportional LACK or material of any kind. Science would be able to approximate the monolith if it were metal or any other material, but a lack of material - that's like a quantum bubble, but with corners - even more fantastic, yet here it is.

As far as the end sequence, I see it as Solar System 2001, Hyperspace to another world to meet the makers of the monoliths - their programmers. (They don't travel through space and time, they send out probes to bring things to them) The monoliths are sent out to find interesting species, help them become more interesting and when they have met certain criteria, bring them back to show the makers. So Dave is sent through what is also a portal and when arriving on the other side is put at ease while he lives out the rest of his life. When he dies, he is transformed and transcends time and space. Then, ON HIS OWN, he decides to use his new power, or perhaps lack or all limitations, travels back in time and space to where he started, still unable to just quit - the child leaves home, but still feels comfortable in his childhood bedroom, still cares for his parents and wants to see if there is anything he can do for them.

Now, free from time and space, he is like the makers of the monoliths - he can probably create them at will himself once he learns how. Perhaps, its a causality loop and he goes back to Earth because he knows he must - he finally gets it, that the monolith is actually his own creation and he must go back 4 million years to plant the monolith, tinker with man, wait for evolution to take hold, etc…. all so he can meet the monolith of his own future creation, go through it, become the star child and go back again. Then the final sequence is him looking at himself wondering if its his own self in the future or his own self in the past or whether there is a difference. Makes no sense to us as we are tied to time and space, but as the star child, there is causality paradox as those paradoxes only seem so from the perspective of consciousness still tied to time and space.

This is why I love this movie so much - there are so many interesting ways to interpret it.

– hal9000computer 2007-01-16 21:02


2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the few films (if not the only one) that truly parallels a work of art. That’s not to say that it’s the finest film made, though many would argue that. My comparison between the film and a work of art though is more based on that both are open to interpretation.

An artist paints a picture, and hangs it in a gallery. 100 people could look at that painting, and when asked the question “what does it mean?” each person could have a different answer.
In the case of 2001 Kubrick is the artist, film his canvas, and 2001 his work of art.
Calling film “Art” isn’t a new idea but rarely is it truly achieved in the very real sense of what art is supposed to be.

When Jackson Pollock finished a painting, he didn’t include with it an explanation of what it “meant”. The meaning is left to the imagination and interpretation of the viewer. The artist may or may not have their own interpretation of their art, but to share that would only cheat the audience. Kubrick, like any artist didn’t feel the need to provide Cliff Notes to his masterpiece.

Music is also a medium or art-form that accomplishes this. Lyrics to a song can be interpreted in so many different ways.
Film though rarely leaves itself open for interpretation. More often it “is what it is”. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end – all wrapped up nicely with a bow. Films may provoke thought and debate afterward, but rarely are they so abstract like that of a painting.

What bothers me most about 2001: A Space Odyssey is because the film is so enigmatic and vague, it tends to attract every film elitist and intellectual type that is so sure they know exactly what it’s about.
They like to separate the audience into two groups: Those that “get it” and those that don’t. And they seem to take great pleasure in dismissing the “DON’T get it” category as somehow less intelligent. This is ridiculous. There is no right or wrong in art.
Even the author of this essay does this. He says in the introduction “I am amazed that the story of 2001 is misunderstood by so many; to me, the story is easy to understand.” And “For the benefit of those who say they still don't understand 2001, I have written this essay.”
OK, well thank you for enlightening us. Now I understand YOUR interpretation of 2001. It was very interesting to read and well written but is it “right”? No. But he’s not wrong either.

I doubt that any fan of 2001 would argue that the film is an incredible work of art. If you believe that then you have to be willing to concede that there is no right or wrong explanation of it.

– Danno 2007-03-18 17:33

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