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A matter of existence

This is the last post in this opening trilogy about 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Let’s take a minute and observe something about the monolith. Each appearance of the monolith triggers a jump in man’s evolution. Man discovers the tool, reaches the Moon, then Jupiter and the beyond. It is very interesting how the first two monoliths work. The second one, the one on the Moon, just sends a signal towards Jupiter and man just follows and the first one just exists. It does not use any mechanism or supernatural power to teach primitive man how to use tools. What happens is that faced with this unnatural object, that stands out in a purely natural landscape, the ape man realises that objects can be created, that there are ways with which one can manipulate matter. It’s the monolith’s material existence that triggers this next step in man’s evolution. And how do we interact with matter? What sense gives us the certainty that on object is indeed there? By reaching out and touching it.

Also, before the Stargate sequence, Bowman approaches the monolith in the little utility pod. It looks like this.

It almost looks like a baby with little arms. Babies always reach out and grab whatever is in front of them, it’s a basic human instinct.

Speaking of babies…

The famous closing shot

So, after these three posts, we can draw the conclusion that, by hiding a monolith in the opening , Kubrick marks the movie as having a similar role to the monolith in it. That’s not that much of a big surprise considering it’s content.

Anyway, time to move on to other movies for now.

(Also check out this parody of 2001 I once did)

Categories: Stanley Kubrick
  1. Bălă
    April 18, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Dude, are you serious?

    • April 18, 2011 at 10:41 pm

      in general or about this specific topic ?

  2. Dragos
    April 18, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    But how can the ape man understand the monolith as an artifact, if he is not aware of the distinction between natural objects and created objects? Just because of it’s aspect? But it’s geometric form, in order to be noticed, has to trigger some pre-existing mental structures, therefore it cannot be the cause of the apparition of these structures.So, the theory that such an exterior reason (as an alien artifact) causes an evolutive jump seems flawed.

  3. April 19, 2011 at 10:56 am

    ha ha, your parody is very funny!

    • April 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      the thing is, it’s not the monkeys that have to aknowledge the artifact as alien or unnatural. It is the viewer. The visual language of the movie addresses our culture, not the one in the movie. It is an interesting point tho. You don’t need a special genetic ability to use tools. Dogs use tools just by learning from us. The regularly open doors by pushing them or jumping the door handle. And I don’t think humans discovered tools all of a sudden (in the movie the tool is discovered a bit later, when an ape plays with a bone and breaks the ribs belonging to a skeleton). The opposable thumb was used primarily to hand on to branches. Then one day maybe a branch broke with ape attached and the ape started swinging it around. Generations later they use the branches to chase after unwanted visitors, a few generations after that they use it as a back scratcher, and after lots of generations they decide that tying a rope around a bull’s testicles and seeing who can ride it for the longest time is a great idea.

  4. Dragos
    April 22, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Yes, that is kind of what I wanted to say: tool use evolves in time.There is no genetic sequence labelled “for tool use only”…but the ability heavy relies on all things genetic, mostly on cognitive arhitecture and body shape (things we share to some extent with other animals).The experimental steps that the monkeys make, that go up to the pinnacle of the testicle ride, are mirrored in, and partially caused by their brain development.The problem with the perspective offered by the movie (but then, art doesn’t need to be scientifically accurate) is not necessarily that it pictures this evolution as sudden, but as directed, somehow caused by some misterious and alien forces.This force gives us a direction and a purpose, makes us evolve to reach a higher state of being; as sugessted by the Zarathustra reference, to go beyond human.Nietzsche wouldn’t like precisely that: the purpose is given to us, we are not transgressing ourselves with our own power and creativity, but following other’s scenario.But then, that is Kubrick’s vision.
    Si de ce vorbim in engleza?

  5. April 22, 2011 at 9:20 am

    tu ai inceput

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