Sunday, October 09, 2005

postal scrotum: Kubrick redux

Don W. writes:

Hey there, Big Ho!

If you liked even just a bit, you've got to check out


I hope that you find something or other of interest here.

Yours from Busan,

Don W

Charles of Liminality also wrote an interesting comment, which I'll reproduce here:

Nope, you weren't the last to see the 2001 site. I hadn't seen it either. Of course, I had my own ideas about 2001 before I saw this. When I first saw the movie, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Later on I learned about Von Neumann probes. That's what the monoliths are, of course. They weren't exactly "planted" by an extraterrestrial who visited Earth, they were just a few of many self-replicating machines sent out into the universe by an advanced civilization. The probe on the moon lay dormant until our Type O civilization evolved into a Type I civilization. The whole mission to Jupiter was a test to see if we had mastered interplanetary travel.

Of course, Kubrick mixes science and mysticism, and he also has his own message (the whole thing about humans being too dependent on technology). I think the final part of the movie (and the last scene of the presentation) are a metaphor for humanity's evolution beyond our current state. It's kind of like computer technology: we develop faster and faster chips with the existing architecture until we reach the limit of that architecture. Then we develop a new architecture and start over. In 2001, humanity had reached "the peak of its evolution" and so needed to start over. Thus, the Starchild. Like I said, there's a lot of mysticism in there, but I think it's ultimately metaphorical. It's only mystical because we don't understand it yet (and also because Kubrick takes us for a twenty-minute psychedelic ride).

For more info on Von Neumann probes and Type 0 and 1 civilizations (along with a paragraph on how this relates to 2001), see Michio Kaku's "The Physics of Extra-Terrestrial Civilizations." It's a great read if you're into that sort of stuff.

I think the monolith is a probe, all right. A probe sent by an evil Jedi knight obsessed with finding his son.


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