Thursday, March 18, 2010

Analyzing STANL88 Cubed Brick and Arthur C. Cl(ark)e's 2001 Space Odyssey Film

Many 2001 fans(fylfot) know that the film's subtitle, "A Space Odyssey," alludes to the return voyage from Troy of Homer's Greek hero Odysseus. Dave Bowman(B is 13~2bee or not 2bee) an ordinary sounding name, but when you examine it carefully, it divulges unexpected meaning. Chapter 21 in The Odyssey is titled "The Great Bow," it tells of the incurved bow given to Odysseus by his friend Iphitus. Left behind by Odysseus when he sailed for Troy, the bow is so strong that ordinary men cannot bend it to string it. In the climatic scene in the great hall od Odysseus's home, Penelope(wisdom), Odysseus's wife, challenges the suitors(instant gratification,~worldly knowledge) who have occupied her home and turned her life into hell. She will wed the man who can string the bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axes, lined up in a row, the way Odysseus used to do. All fail, then Odysseus secretly back home disguised as a beggar(mendicant), effortlessly strings the bow, inserts an arrow, and shoots it through all twelve axes. Inserting another arrow, he sends it through the neck of the most obnoxious suitor. One by one Odysseus slays the rest of the suitors, first with the remaining arrows, then (helped by his son and two loyal servants) with spears and swords. Odysseus was a bowman and so was Dave - with a capital B.

One of the obstacles Odysseus sails into is the land of the Cyclopes. They are fierce giant man-eating creatures of incredible strength;they have only one eye. Taking twelve of his best men, Odysseus enters the cave of one of the cyclops Polyphemus. Polyphemus returns home with his sheep and goats which he counts, divides, and organizes them all according to their age(what does that remind you of?), seals the cave entrance with a boulder, spies the intruders, and devours two of the men. The next morning he gobbles down two more men before taking his sheep out to graze. When he leaves, he effortlessly rolls the boulder aside and quickly replaces it. Things are going badly but Odysseus craftily and cunningly comes up with a plan of escape. While the cyclops is out, he and his men sharpen a pole (the monster's staff) they find in the cave, turning it into a huge stake. That evening, after the cyclops returns, and eats yet another two men, Odysseus tricks him into a wine induced sleep. Odysseus then slips the point of the stake into the coals of the monster's dinner fire. When the point is red hot, four of his men plunge the stake into the cyclops's eye while Odysseus twist the stake. The cyclops wakes up screaming but cannot see the men to exact revenge. In the morning the men escape by clinging to the bellies of the sheep when the cyclops rolls aside the boulder and ens the animals out to graze. The monster takes the precaution of feeling each sheep as it exists, but he doesn't feel the men on the bottom. Bowman too has a one-eyed adversary, he is Hal, the malevolent computer who reads the lips of Bowman and Poole with his sinister red eye. Like the cyclops he is a killer of crewmen: he kills Frank Poole and the three hibernating astronauts. As Odysseus, Bowman uses a weapon an elongated key which symbolizes the stake used Odysseus.

The movie 2001 also depicts the allegory of Nietzsche's best known work, Thus Spake Zarathustra. The music that opens and closes 2001 - three sets of five heraldic notes, punctuated by kettle drums and followed by crescendo - is the opening fanfare from Richard Strauss's symphonic poem "Thus Spake Zarathustra." This composition was inspired by Nietzsche's book. The music announces loudly that Kubrick intend to allegorize Thus Spake Zarathustra. Zarathustra better known in the West as Zoroaster, was a prophet in ancient Persia. Though fictionalized as an atheist by Nietzsche, Zarathustra was actually the founder of the Persian religion Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrian mythology holds that history consists of a 12,000 year old struggle between good and evil - between the true god, Ahura Mazdah, and the evil spirit Angra Mainyu (later called Ahriman). Both exist transcendentally before history begins. History has four 3,000 year periods. In the first Ahura Mazdah creates angels and other spiritual (non-material) beings. In the second material creation arises with the appearance on earth of primal man and animal. , but he is thwarted when the first human couple and first cow spring from the seed of their slain prototypes. The last period begins when Ahura Mazdah causes Zoroaster to be conceived to help man resist Angra Mainyu and his demons. Every thousand years thereafter over the last 3,000 years, a new prophet - three more altogether - will be born of a virgin; she will conceive when Zoroaster's seed, preserved in a lake, enters her body as she bathes((artificial insemination). The last prophet, or Saoshyant, will resurrect the dead and begin the final struggle that will culminate the destruction of all evil. The year 2001 could be interpreted as a symbol for the first millennium of the final 3,000 year period, 9,00o years (HAL9000) (3 x 3,000) after the beginning of history, when Zoroaster appears himself.

Influenced by Darwin, Nietzsche described evolution as a progression fro worm to ape to man to overman. Man subdivides into lower man and higher man; the latter is really a series of ever higher higher men, climbing toward overman. Lower man comes first man's evolutionary progress is blocked by God, whom lower man creates in his own image. Nietzsche's remodeled prophet puts it this way: "Yes, you brothers, that God whom I created was human work and human madness, like all the gods! A man he was, man created God, and the God created was a man - that, he was the image of man." Zarathustra avers that God stifles man's intellect, controls man with arbitrary values and rules, instills fear, restrains creativity, and humiliates him by peering into him and witnessing his hidden secrets and shame. The Ugliest Man. whom Zarathustra identifies as the murderer of God (actually one of many), summarizes the indictment: "He - had to die: he looked with eyes which beheld everything - he beheld peoples depths and dregs, all their hidden ugliness and ignominy." When man can bear this treatment no longer, he rebels, killing God. This acts permits Zarathustra to announce, "God is Dead!" (in reality meaning the neanderthalers died out as a race and the chemical computer took over). The final step of evolution will be overman (superslave~third gender~3 in 1 Hermaphrodites); he will evolve from higher man.

The killing of God is a manifestation of "the will to power." This will is a force that drives evolution in all creatures, it pushes life in new directions. The will to power impels man to transcend himself; to become more intelligent, more creative, and more noble; to triumph over the repressing forces of existence; and to take control of his life. This will to power (which is really the will of the system)is the antithesis of the will of God, which enslaves the populace. "Pious backwordsmen" believe the preachers who declare, "You shall not will!" But this preaching, this call for subjugation to the will of God, "is a sermon for slavery." The will to power found in those who are "lion willed" (ready to battle God), frees the human spirit from bondage. The black will of God foolishly seeks to undo the past - an impossible task - through punishment. The will to power, instead of seeking to undo or destroy, looks toward the future. It seeks to create: "The will is a creator." The will to power will create overman. The will's all consuming goal is power: "power is it, . . . a ruling thought."

Zarathustra likens man to a rope stretched across an abyss that separates ape from overman. The crossing is frightening, "a dangerous trembling and halting." But the abyss will be crossed and man will evolve from mediocre, religion oriented being into a superior being, overman. The overman is both the end and a new beginning. Nietzsche believed in "eternal recurrence," the idea that the universe involves a cosmic cycle in which the same series of events, beings, and relationships repeats endlessly. Everything that is has been before and will be again. Everything is reborn repeatedly, time is a circle(really more like a spiral). How does Kubrick symbolize the idea of time as a circle? he does in a few but I'll mention two, the first when we see the wheel shaped space station and second inside the spaceship when Frank Poole jogs around the centrifuge, he keeps coming back to where he was before and then repeating the cycle all over again also known as REGO.

The monolith seen in the beginning of the movie represents intellect but more specifically the generative force which is neanderthaler implanting the egg with the spear and creating mankind, and is seen later on in the movie hinting at the neanderhtaler's role guiding humanity ultimately to its destruction to be replaced by a new gender (overman)which will be female on the outside male on the inside to fertilize its own egg and a neanderthaler thinking process, propagating this tole-gating system (they've used to oppress all the peoples of this planet) to the outer reaches of the universe. In the Nietzsche context Hal-Discovery represents the thoroughly man like God that man creates in his own image, then loses faith in and kills but in reality Hal represents Jachin and Boaz the chemical computer the Idiot savant Neanderthalers downloaded themselves into.

Nietzsche begins Thus Spake Zarathustra with "Zarathustra's Prologue." It centers on the parable of the rope dancer. The parable includes the previously mentioned "rope over an abyss" metaphor, which is a simplified version of the parable. But whereas in the metaphor the rope (narrow is the path)over the abyss between animal and overman is humanity, in the parable a man walking on a rope symbolizes humanity. The man is a tightrope walker on a rope streched between two towers (symbolizing ape and overman) at a town market place. He is called rope dancer although he doesn't literally dance. The rope dancer begins his performance by coming out of a little door in the first tower and going along the rope. Suddenly, the door opens again and pops out "a gaudily dressed fellow like a buffoon:, later called simply "the buffoon." The buffoon goes rapidly after the rope dancer taunts him, leaps over him with a devilish yell, lands on the rope in front of the rope dancer, and proceeds in triumph; he achieves supremacy. Frightened the rope dancer falls, all onlookers except Zarathustra scatter in terror. Zarathustra though almost directly beneath the falling man, stands firm, he then kneels and cradles the dying man in his arms and comforts him. Later, he picks up the corpse and disposes of it in a hollow log.

In this parable, the rope dancer striving to reach the far tower (represents overman) symbolizes humanity's striving to become a superior being. The buffoon who comes after but overtakes and surpasses man, symbolizes God. Because a creator must exist before that which he creates, the buffoon's coming temporally and spatially after the rope dancer symbolizes Nietzsche's idea that man created God. In creating God man dooms his own aspirations making it impossible for himself to become superior. The buffoon leaping over and getting ahead of the rope dancer symbolizes God's coming into the picture, regulating man to inferior status. The rope dancer's death symbolizes the death of any believer's chances of advancing humanity - that is, of progressing toward the far tower. Zarathustra's fearlessness and compassion symbolize the moral superiority of the rare higher man vis-a-vis lower men, symbolized by the crowd in the market place. The buffoon actually symbolizes not only God but fear - the rope dancr's fear of falling, which in turn represents fear of God. Fear causes the rope dancer to get jittery and fall, in Nietzsche's eyes, fear of God is foolish because there is no God, so god is characterized as a buffoon, someone a person shouldn't be afraid of.

In 2001, Frank Poole symbolizes the rope dancer, who would more aptly be called a rope walker. Poole remember is Dave Bowman's colleague, the second active (nonhibernating) human member of the spaceship crew. The name Frank Poole is our first clue to the symbolism. Given that Kubrick(Cubed Brick) plays symbol games with the names Dave Bowman, Heywood R. Floyd, and Hal, not to mention Elena and TMA-1, we should not be surprised that he also plays a name game with Frank Poole. The last 9 of the 10 letters of [W]ALK ON ROPE have been reordered to form the last 9 of the 10 letters of [F]RANK POOLE. Just as the killer approaches his victim from behind in the parable of the rope dancer, so does the killer approach his victim from behind when Hal uses the space pod to sever Pool's air hose. The pod can be viewed as an extension of Hal-discovery's body. This is analogous to the Holy Spirit's being an extension or agent of God in Christianity. In Christianity, anything the Holy Spirit does is really the work of God.

Bowman's Last Supper is the beginning of a pattern of symbols. Bowman dressed all in black while eating, knocks over a wine glass to the floor and breaks it(chaos~black and white are two opposing forces). He stares at the broken glass and then slowly shifts his gaze to the bed. there he sees his next self, a feeble old man in white (purity)apparel. From nowhere, the monolith materializes at the foot of the foot of the bed before Bowman, grasping for it he transforms into the star-child, encased in a transparent globe and radiant - surrounded by light. Kubrick uses Bowman's gaze to establish a cause and effect connection between the broken glass and the white Bowman.

So that was a short overview of the movie 2001 which by the way is no coincidence that it coincides with year the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened and that event was a plethora of symbolism in itself. Obviously I left out a lot of symbolisms in the movie but what I provided should entice the reader to look into the movie, these topics and other movies as well and overstand that things are not what they appear to be at first hand.