Monday, June 1, 2009

Insights Into 2001

My insights into 2001 after yet another recent viewing?  
Here are my notes, from my journal:

Up until "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite", the third section, 2001 is a procedural mystery.  All of the film is about the presence of the Trickster Other in our perception of reality, as represented by the plain, abstract monolithic black block.  That's the unknown presence we sense all the time, call it God, call it ETI, call it the Unknown.  Does its deception, then, lead to rebirth?

Syzygy is alluded to and shown several times.  Alignments are significant coincidences -- is Clarke meaning synchroniciy is a sign?  That alignments hint at hidden order behind or inside the chaos?  Seems so.

2010 is the rest of 2001's mystery plot, where it is solved.

Bowman's experiences through the infinite are shamanic.  He is torn apart and experiences space-time shifts, only to live another very compressed life as a guest, then he is reborn as Star Child.

2010 does not deal with this Star Child, oddly; only Dave Bowman's ghostly presence makes itself known.  And they suspect him of trickery, note, even as he proves trustworthy in a Zen way.  "Something wonderful," he keeps saying, with a reassuring and beatific smile.

The birth of a new star from Jupiter's mass is what he means.

Bowman IMAGINES the Regency hotel suite outside his pod in order to cope with the shattering experience of going beyond the infinite, what ever that means.  It is another abstract, the subjective human equivalent  of the objective black monolith.  He then imagines himself outside the pod, in his space suit, in the hotel room.  Next he imagines himself alone and living in those rooms, eating, and when he drops the glass it is a literal shattered illusion, a concrete correlative, and he looks up to see himself dying in the bed, where he imagines the monolith and a new start.

And once he's aging and dying in bed, we're back to the iconic breathing.  The breath of life.

From the bed, his last act is to reach for the monolith -- reach for the unknown, as he and mankind have always been doing -- and the embryo appears.  It is noteworthy that it appears ON THE BED; he gives birth to his own new beginning.

We're then back at the moon's orbit and the Star Child sees Earth.  It is a homecoming, exactly as in the Odyssey.  He was lost and found a way home, finally.  

We are all thus placed in one man's imagination -- the infinite loop is closed.

We imagine reality, which imagines us right back as we endlessly try to solve the mystery of the unknown.  Brilliant movie, and so elegant.

As Clarke once said, it's all there, very simply laid out, and people overcomplicate it.  He's right, but they overcomplicate it because it's so mythical.  

We are no further from the beginning of Kubrick's 2001 than the distance Moon Watcher throws the killing bone, to our shame.  That beautiful myth that could easily have become reality -- that was in fact already planned when 2001 came out in 1969, same year we landed on the moon for the first time -- but we squandered it the same as we squandered the good will 9/11 brought us, through greed, hate, and small-mindedness.  

At least we had a brief, shining moment of optimism and vision, if only once.

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