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Kubrick's 2001: A Triple Allegory 170

Posted by timothy
from the your-eyebrows-will-hit-the-ceiling dept.
Our veteran reviewer Cliff Lampe takes time from work on his PhD to give you the lowdown on one of the most unusual books about a science-fiction movie that you are likely to encounter. Ever.

Kubrick's 2001: A Triple Allegory
author Leonard F. Wheat
pages 162
publisher Scarecrow Press
rating 7.5
reviewer Cliff Lampe
ISBN 081083796x
summary And you thought *you* was a crazy sumbitch

The Scenario

There are times when you read a book and think the author has it dead wrong. Then are times when you suspect he is right, and that thought scares gives you the cold shakes. Wheat's analysis of 2001 is exactly like that. No, this is not another whiney look at the sad differences between Kubrick's vision of what this year would be like and the McDonald's sponsored nightmare of reality television, boy bands and public disinterest in science that we ended up with. This is much crazier than that. Leonard Wheat examines 2001 from the perspective of three different allegories: the Odysseus myth, man-machine symbiosis and the Nietzschean Zarathustra legend.

Wheat is a retired economist, who has a doctorate in political economy and government from Harvard. That in itself does not qualify him to review old movies, but it does say he's used to pretty rigorous analysis. His book is an examination of the movie rather than the book. He points out that the movie was based on a Clarke short story, and the book came after the film. This being the case, Wheat is very centered on Kubrick's vision of the story rather than Clarke's. He uses scripts, director's notes, and some interviews to provide evidence for some of his claims.

So what are those claims? Alot of it makes good sense. For instance, Dave Bowman relates to Ulysses (a reknowned bowman in the myths). He goes on a long voyage and loses all his crew. Pretty neat so far, but Wheat tends to go to far in some oif his claims. Here's an example:

"In the next scene, the moon monolith scene, it becomes evident that TMA-1 symbolizes the wooden Trojan Horse: hence, we are looking for hidden meaning that refers or alludes to the Trojan Horse. And that meaning can be found in TMA-1. Spell out the figure '1' and you get TMA-ONE. These letters, like the last nine in Frank Poole, can be rearranged to form an anagram. In this case, the anagram is "No Meat." A wooden horse has no meat on its skeletal framework."

You had me at "Bowman". *sniff* But the whole "No Meat" thing is just a skoach over the top. It stays pretty topsy-turvy. For example, in the discussion of the man-machine symbiosis allegory, Wheat claims that HAL represents a new type of human called homo-machinus. I don't usually quote this much in a review, but you need to hear this from the horse's mouth. In this next passage, he is showing the anthropomorphism of the HAL-Discovery by claiming the six rockets at the back of the ship, encased in three hexagonal casings, have meaning.

"But why the hexagons? Why not circles or squares or nothing? When I was growing up in the 1930's, which is the same time Kubrick was growing up, most reasonably modern houses had white tile bathroom floors. The tile, in vogue from the turn of the century through World War II, were hexagons, one inch across and fitted together in a honeycomb pattern. The rear-end hexagons are bathroom tiles! They symbolize bathrooms. Hal-Discovery has three bathrooms, one for each mouth. And what is the only being that uses bathrooms to answer the call of nature? Homo sapiens. Once more we see that the intelligent spaceship is a humanoid." Yeah, I know.

There's much, much more where that came from. The thing is, these allegorical statements do make sense. I can see 2001 on a level as being a retelling of the Odysseus myth, and on another level being a moralistic story about the dangers of increasingly blurred lines between the mechanical and the biological. Hell, science fiction is littered with similar stories, and Kubrick is not usually without some sort of moral framework. The Zarathustra allegory obviously fits as well. The death of God, the realization that all humans could become god (or Star Children) as well, the whole schmeal. The problem is that one gets so caught up in the loony evidence like that presented above that it becomes easy to lose track on how cool the idea really is.

It reminds us how good human minds, especially smart ones, are at finding patterns in crazy shit. Reading this book you are impressed with two minds: Kubrick's and Wheat's. Wheat has the premise that Kubrick was so wicked smart that these long strings of meaning are not only possible, they are a sure thing. You also come away with the sense that Wheat is a pretty smart man himself. This book goes too far at times, but is worth reading. One thing's for sure, you'll never watch 2001 again in the same way.

Note: There is a very nice Post-It on the book I was sent saying the cover showing the HAL2000 red eye is a cover designer's screw up. I believe that, since after having read the book I doubt Wheat could have ever missed something as simple as Hal's name. Must kill him every time he looks at the cover in fact.


You can purchase this book at Fatbrain.

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Kubrick's 2001: A Triple Allegory

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    So okay, assume the guy is the numerologist-of-words (some would say here "post modernist") that he appears to be. I guess that poses a difficulty for Our Reviewer: how to reconcile cookiness with a few of his claims that seem to be genuinely insightful?

    Not to worry. There are two convenient explanations for this, which you are free to adopt under any open content license of your choice. The first is the simple one alluded to in the subject I chose: if the author tosses out enough crazy ideas, it becomes almost a certainty that some will hit home. And now that I think about it, this blends continuously into the other explanation I'm offering you. At the other end, he started off with one or a few reasonable insights, then fell down the rabbit hole while looking for more. Or somewhere in between. Maybe he's mostly kooky but not so far gone that he doesn't see, in some fashion, that some of his ideas are more sensible than the rest (though that needn't be how he characterizes them), and so he has pushed them harder, making it look like he started out fairly sensibly and got weirder later.

    Or maybe the slash-a-dot-a review just makes it sound much stranger than it is... though if the author actually said some of the things that were quoted that seems pretty unlikely.

  • The most interesting concept that I see here is Homo-Machinus. Long ago, I noticed that James Cameron had tapped a Jungian vein in the robot design in the first Terminator movie. Now whenever see a semi-truck in my rearview on the I-696, I say "Uh, oh. The Terminator's on my butt." This symbolism is very common in sci-fi, with Data and Spock from Star Trek being just two examples. But there are other reasons why Clarke's HAL cration works so well. That's right, HAL is Clarke's. He wrote the screenplay for Kubrik. But I wish the reviewer had written more on the Nitzchean (is that spelled right?) parallel. It sounded like the juiciest of his three connections, and, since I know nothing about Nietzche, I could have gotten some good exposure there, too. But he just blew that part off. Guess he'd better not try for an English PhD, instead. As to he Odysseus parallel, I think that the similarities are superficial. Sure Odysseus went on a long journey and lost all his men, but he also had multple aventures along the way. Where's the cyclops? Where's the island of horny women? Sorry Mike, but it don't wash. Odysseus gets home at the end and wins back his wife. Bowman gets turned into god. No cigar... It turns out that the guy who wrote our freshman Mechanics book, Tipler, went kind of nuts in his bizarro psycho-physical insights, too. He wrote a book called "The Omega Point Theory," in which he said that the universe will end in collapse (ok so far), at which point we will all become one with god and be transformed into a gigantic computer. Riiiiightttt! But this anagram thing makes me think of a movement going on right now to extract hidden secret messages from the Bible. I guess these folks have written a computer pogram that reads every ith letter and assembles them into words. Somwhere in there they found "Hitler," so of course this means that the Bible predicted the WW II. Koff, koff... If you want to read more on these topics, buy a maazine called "Skeptical Inquirer." Martin Gardner is still doing a column for them. I would recommend the movies "Pi" and "X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes" for a litle, non-biblical, allegory on what happens to people who read to much into too many things. I won't tell you what the allegory is, because that might spoil movie, but I'll give you a hint. If you're stumped, look up the profession of Carl Jung. At least when I have a far out fantasy that I can't easily shake off, I have the good common sense to write it down and try to sell it to Marvel Comics. Dont'cha think these these guys have seen one too many episodes of the X-Files?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The original short story is "The Sentinal"

    Published in several short story collections, as well as 'The Making of Kubrik's 2001' and 'The Lost Worlds of 2001' [along with portions of early drafts of the scrips and plot ideas]

  • by farrellj (563) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @02:26PM (#242368) Homepage Journal
    The book did not come after the movie...it was written during the movie, and was finished before the movie was finally finished, that is why there is a difference between Jupiter and Saturn.

    ttyl
    Farrell
  • "Folha Explains... 2001: A Space Odissey" [siciliano.com.br], published by the brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo [folha.com.br] to celebrate the entering in the year 2001, and written by Amir Labaki, this "three-keyed" interpretation is the more common and complementary. It's a very nice, cheap, short, easy-reading (if you can read portuguese ;-) ) book, that describes the relationship between the movie and novel, the reception of the movie when it was launched, how it was understood later, etc.
  • I have this overwhelming desire to pay you for your post...
  • by jafac (1449)
    There does seem to be an element to this review - when he's talking about how science fiction is littered with stories about "science gone wrong" stuff like that.

    About the earliest example of science fiction literature that I can think of is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. If you think of it, that story is THE basis for all science fiction.
    In essence, science fiction is about humanity, and it's "progress" from the dark ages to some futuristic point, via technological innovation, and how that technological innovation impacts humanity, and humanity's way of thinking.

    Obviously, Frankenstien talks about how this one doctor, way ahead of his time in the field of medicine, devising a method to bring people back to life, but he could not just leave it at that - because if he brought one person back to life, then things would be great and all, but he could not be a "creator" of life. So he built one out of spare parts. It was human pride that screwed Dr. Frankenstein up, because there were aspects to life that he didn't understand, the soul, etc. And as it turned out, the creature had the mind of a deranged madman, murderer, who didn't even know who or what he was, because he was made of parts of many different people. Now, I'm not saying that "it's all about mankind messing with things we do not understand - " it's more along the lines of the tradition of the great Greek tragedy, man falling before his pride.

    Pretty much every AI story out there is basically a rip off of Frankenstein. Yes, including the Matrix.

    Even when science fiction appears to be about some other topic, like alien invasions, etc. it's still about humanity's advancement. Now that our great thinkers have discovered other stars, and other planets, and have theorized what life on these other planets could be like - and thus, have created new life, have become the creators. And in most cases, this whole alien mythology stems from that concept.

    Star Wars, of course, does not fall under the category of "Science Fiction" when you think about it. It's really not at all about "the impact of technological advancement on humanity". It's a new genre, well, not new, it's Flash Gordon warmed over. Fantasy in a Sci Fi setting.

    My point is, after Frankenstein, it's pretty much all been done before.

    I, for one, cannot wait, for the well-done movie version of "Ender's Game".
  • While I haven't seen any comments from Pink Floyd members about this, according to Alan Parsons, the recording engineer on Dark Side of the Moon, the "Wizard of Oz" thing is utter nonsense--they never talked about it during the recording.

    (And, yes, that's Alan Parsons of the Alan Parsons Project.)

  • Or maybe Kubrick was referring to his frequent soundtrack composer, Walter Carlos, who went to to have a successful new age career as Wendy Carlos [who2.com]...
  • Exactly. I can't understand how anyone can miss the Nietzsche references. Rambling about bathroom tiles is crazy -- noticing obvious references that Kubrick included is not. BTW, besides the music and the general theme of evolution to higher forms, there is also the idea of being "beyond good and evil" -- the newly created ape-men use their intelligence in a way that is not very nice but which increases their power -- they attack the less developed apes.
    If Kubrick had made 2010, I bet Bowman wouldn't have beeen standing around saying "Something wonderful is about to happen" -- he would be making himself the leader of Earth or something.
  • So you think ACC was the main person responsible for 2001? Then why did 2001 so resemble the other films of Kubrick in theme -- i.e. what does it mean to be "human", do we rule technology or does it rule us, etc. Certainly the short story "The Sentinel" was ACC's but that was just a small part of 2001.

    Now 2010 was all ACC's -- and guess what -- none of the higher themes were there -- it was just a 1950ish pulp science fiction story more or less ripped off from "The Day the Earth Stood Still".
  • Using this equation, it's been proven that Abraham Lincoln never existed historically, that in fact he was a mythological construct.

    And they are right, if they mean the "Honest Abe" fellow who supposedly fought the South out of righteous anger over slavery, rather than a typical scheming politician who professed whatever beliefs he thought would get him elected. Even "historical" figures tend to become mythological constructs in time.
  • This isn't off-topic, as an anagram was posted in the original story. Come on moderators - wake up!

    Turambar
    ------------------------------
    Common sense is not so common.
    --Voltaire
  • Actually, it was 'mate on', the subliminal message the monolith sent into the brains of the monkeys. When they evolved into humans they eventually recorded it as "go forth and multiply"...

    At least, that's what Art told me.
  • The book and the movie were written concurrently. Try reading The Lost Worlds of 2001.
  • Doesn't this sort of... meditative for lack of a better word, art ever happen to anyone else?

    Yes, of course, I would wager that the best pieces of art usually happen this way. In music especially, for me. It's when I'm not even thinking of the key changes and my fingers seem to take on a life of their own that the best sounding riffs flow forth. Just tapping into the Universal Mind, man. ;-)

  • I always wondered why she didn't simply do the heel after....

    (and can you really die from being shot in the heel?) I guess Achilles was hit in the heel by a large bomb or something..
  • Oh this is right up there with dissections of Shakespeare (wrote some rip roaring yarns with lots of bawdy lines and the odd car chase/murder to keep the scum interested. OK I lied about the car chases but you get the point - he didn;t sit down and think "hmm time for another classic peice of fine literature" - he just wanted another hit play!) And those archeologists who find a body next to a bronze axe head and off the back of that decide he had 4 kids, his last meal was ground sparrow and he shaved every 3 days...

    Stonehenge is a similar story - people ooing and ahing and scratching their heads over why the stones are arrmaged like that - til they realise some guys with big ropes and a lot of time on their hands put them like that in the 19th century.

    Kubrick was making a film - not starting a religion - even though the story has western religious overtones. The hexagons were hexagons becuase they tesselate nicley to form a strong structure (and the model designer probably thought it looked nice).

    As for all that winamp screensaver stuff at the end - I often wonder if film makers and authors just invent this stuff and let the auidience invent the meaning afterwards. Imagine the script meetings:- "hey lets put in some wierd lights and stuff with some footage of a unborn baby - that'll really throw them"

    I wouldn't be suprised if bronze age man didn't randomly distribute axe heads just to confound Time Team.

    I'm off to bury 4 elephants and a karaoke machine in my back yard. Let's see the Wheats of the far future figure THAT one out :)
  • For some reason you seem to have confused Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) with Cypress, the large island whose ownership is disputed between Greece and Turkey.
  • Don't forget about Morn. If you can't figure out what his name is an anagram of, you need to go back to middle school. ;)

    Morn also had the running gag that, while he never said anything on camera, he apparently talked people's ears off off camera. This is something like the running gag on Cheers where Norm's wife was never seen. (Or Maris (sp?) on Frasier is never seen, either.)

    DS9 had lots of interesting gags like this, and it wasn't just some tripped out way of keeping Morn's actor for getting paid for talking. ;) For example, watch the real tribble episode, then watch it where DS9 travel back in time. In the real episode, there are two guys in the lineup after the fight, where Kirk talks to them, with a red uniform, and no one in the fight had one. This is a fairly common nitpick. Well...in the new timeline...O'Brien is wearing a red uniform, and in the fight, and in the lineup! Granted, it doesn't fix anything, cause there's still another guy, but I suspect they gave him a red uniform specifically to have fun with that nitpick.

    -David T. C.

  • Watch those Discordians grovel once I've cornered the market on hotdog buns.

    I do not understand this comment. Isn't that like saying 'Watch those Jews grovel once I've cornered the market on pork.'? ;)

    -David T. C.

  • I just prefer to think of 2001 as a joke at IBM's expense myself. The whole trojan horse thing, or the homo-machinus is just something that happens when one over analyzes a piece of work/literature/art. One can draw any number of parralels between 2001 and Greek Myths as long as look hard enough. Why, Arthur C. Clarke lives on top/close to the top of Sri Lanka right? Well obviously he equates himself with some sort of greek god.

    ---
  • Bradbury swears it off as a coincidence! But how do we know for sure...?

    What do you mean he swears it off? He says specifically in a preface or something in one of the books I read where he talked about writing the book, and how hard it was with little money, and that he couldn't think of names for characters, and just happened to be using a Fabercastle (i think that's it) pencil and Montag paper. Ray Bradbury right out said that's where the names came from.

  • Oh, you're absolutely 100% right that Kubrick filled his movies with symbols. He was very concerned about having non-literal meaning in his work.

    What i was trying to say was that while, yes, absolutely, artists use symbols and allegory (both consciously and unconsciously) in their work, its not ridiculously vague and disassociated the way the bathroom tile thing would be. Or the anagrams. Unless it's a pattern with that particular artist, I wouldn't buy an anagram. And there would be far more effective ways to call forth the image of a bathroom than through the shape of tiles in a certain demographics' homes at a certain time. To an artist, such a solution would be inelegant because it wouldn't trigger any subconscious response in the audience -- you can make people think of hell and the devil without being direct, but to think of a bathroom, you need more than the shape of a single tile. A PATTERN of tiles might do it -- and that would be interesting as a device, to make HAL vaguely resemble a bathroom wall. It would be something the audience would never quite put their finger on, but would bring out the idea.

    But, as a rule, few artists would be so vague unless it was a private joke (and private jokes are usually the first "hidden" things to ever get found!) :P

    ---------------------------------------------
  • Hate to say it, but your art teacher was full of crapola. If the creator of a work didn't place a meaning or reference in their creation, then it isn't there, period

    That's why i was specifically speaking as an artist, not as a viewer. It's not at all uncommon to look at a piece I did years ago and see things that i put in them without realizing consciously at the time I had done so. I don't know any writers or artists who don't have similar experiences with their own works.

    There's just too much going in to be aware of it all -- that;s part of why even the most talented creator needs experience, because you have to be able to do a lot of it without thinking, so you can focus on the things you need to consciously.

    ---------------------------------------------
  • As an artist, I hate to admit that my high school english teacher was right -- there are often meanings hidden in works that even the creator didn't realize were there.

    Its not at all unusual for another artist to look at some work and point out something to me that, once it is said out load, is obvious I put in there subconciously/unconsciously.

    Once you've been doing it long enough, every writer and artist is doing half of their work without conscious thought -- its only afterwards that they realize they were subconsciously running a parallel to the Iliad or the Bible (at which point they will usually go through and clean up the references or eliminate them).

    That said, its usually easy to tell what is REALLY there vs being coincidental.

    For example, Mark twain, despite his protestations to the contrary, clearly wrote with meaning, and had social allegory and commentary, it was never simply "a tale".

    I find anagrams HIGHLY unlikely to be meaningful unless the author is in the habit of doing them, as most writers pick names from people they know or from historical/literary sources. If you showed me that EVERY name in a story had an anagram, and that as a group the anagrams were meaningful, I'd buy it. One or two out of many characters? coincidence, especially when it comes up with something dorky like "no meat".

    Show me another story by Clark or Kubrick with many meaningful anagrams and I'd be willing to believe they were hiding them here.

    As for the hexagonal tile, geez, don't get me started. I don't know how much this Harvard guy has ever done creatively, but there are about a million hexagonal symbols that would be pulled up before bathroom tiles. If Kubrick had a meaningful story in his life with a bathroom tile, maybe I'd buy it, but without that evidence, I'd be much more likely to attribute the shape to a carbon atom (foundation of life!) or a honeycomb (bees) -- a hive mind, nature's workers, collectively peaceful and necessary for life, but with a surprising sting when riled! That's a lot closer to HAL in the story then a third-generation bathroom metaphor.

    Geodesic domes are based on hexagons, and are usually the basis of sci-fi colony designs. The shape itself seems very "sci-fi" just because of this history, so maybe that's the only association. Compare that to round shapes (as the head of the Discovery), which are associated with Russian spacecraft. having both shapes might just be a visual way of showing the ship comes from more than one design sensibility, a collaboration between nations.

    But I'd want to see something to indicate Kubrick was involved in that production design decision to even worry about meaning behind the arrangement of engines.

    ---------------------------------------------
  • A better one, as discovered by my friend Sheri and I one drunken Sunday watching World Of Disney, is "The Wizard Of Oz" combined with Alien Sex Fiend's "Another Planet."
    There are MANY times the beat of the music intersects with film cuts and/or matches up with the beat of the dancing on-screen. It still MEANS nothing.

    Oh, and Devo's "Freedom of Choice" LP goes well with the old Snorks cartoon, too.

    Pope

    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • In the X-Files, for instance, they love to have clocks pointing to 10:13 because Chris Carter's production company is named Ten Thirteen. They'll also name minor characters after regular posters on the X-Files newsgroup. That kind of thing is actually comparatively common, a kind of insider's joke.

    The Star Trek series' do this too. For instance, on the TNG Enterprise's bridge, the names of the writers and directors and so forth are on the dedication plaque.

    Or in a Deep Space Nine episode, there were two agents from Starfleet who were investigating a time travel incident. Their names were Dulmer and Lucsley. (Anagrams for Mulder and Sculley, of X-Files fame of couse ;-).

  • I think this author's style of analysis is commonly called "blush lit".

    --
  • Which I believe was some kind of hover craft.

    --
  • "These letters, like the last nine in Frank Poole, can be rearranged to form an anagram. In this case, the anagram is "No Meat." A wooden horse has no meat on its skeletal framework."

    Why just the last nine? After all, all of "Frank Poole" could be "Ankle Proof" or "Freon Polka", obviously what Clarke intended, while the last nine merely give us "Pork Alone." Or "Poor Ankle", or "Penal Rook", or "Nap Looker" or ....

    /me sighs
  • by Pahroza (24427) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @10:53AM (#242396)
    You're right. This happens regardless of the medium that's been reviewed, analyzed, folded, spindled or mutilated. The only person who will ever know what was meant was the creator of said piece of work. Even then, sometimes he or she may not even know, and it'll just be what it is.

    I think sometimes things take on a life of their own, and our input into the work is just a means to the end, where we really had no idea that the end would turn up as it did.

    Sometimes when drawing or painting my mind will be a complete blank. I'm not always thinking that "this X needs to be more like N because of Y". Even when writing. The words sometimes flow out without my thinking much about them. I can look back at things I wrote 10 years ago and be uncertain whether that was really me who wrote that or someone else.

    Doesn't this sort of... meditative for lack of a better word, art ever happen to anyone else?
  • An aquaintence of mine wrote a small program that will search the entire text of the bible and will find any phrase you give it hidden as 'bible code', similar to to the book of the same name which pruports to find all kinds of hidden messages. My aquaintence wrote it as a method of debunking such claims.

    Is it open source? :)

    But seriously, I collect books by kooks (and thus, Bible Code is one high on the list when I find a 2nd-hand copy), and a tool like this would be a great adjunct to the book. If you know anywhere I can get this, a URL etc. would be muchly appreciated. :)
  • Leonard F Wheat = Deft anal whore

    An on-topic post, yet one addressing a common trollish theme! You, my friend, have won my respect and admiration.
  • WARNING: 3001 SPOILER BELOW.

    While I think that the "NO MEAT" anagram probably takes it too far, there is reason to believe that the Monolith might symbolize a Trojan Horse. Anyone who has read 3001: The Final Odyssey might remember that the monolith was ultimately destroyed by introducing a Trojan Horse (the computer program variety) into its system. A lot of people are saying that the author is reading too far into 2001 -- but given the fact that "Odyssey" is included in the title, not to mention the "Bowman" name and the plot parallels, it's perfectly reasonable to draw Odyssean parallels. Writers don't do these things by accident, folks.

    Cheers,
    IT
  • Now look here Scooter, everyone knows that Stonehenge was created when Xena destroyed the Temple of Dahak with her Chakram. Well established historical fact that.

    dave "hmmph"
  • Wasn't it Brutus in the original?

    dave
  • Terry Pratchett frequently hides references to other things in his novels.

    See http://www.lspace.org/books/apf/index.html

    dave
  • The author refers to an anagram for "rank poole," but for the life of me I can't find anything [wordsmith.org] particularly interesting in that.

    Anyone care to fill me in on the secret?

  • Not having a copy of either the Wizard of Oz or Dark Side of the Moon, a friend of mine and I conducted a simple experiment to convince ourselves that the WoO/DSoM thing really is just coincidence...you can try this one at home, kids!

    We picked a movie from his collection at random (Slackers) and a CD from his collection at random (Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique) and played them at the same time.

    Eerily, they meshed exceedingly well. Thus, we must conclude that the Beastie Boys had Slackers in mind when writing that album: surely not too far fetched, if you think on it. ;)

    They really did work together. The Pink Floyd thing really is coincidence. Pick a movie and CD at random and watch...

  • Reminds me of that classic scene in Back To School where Rodney Dangerfield hires Kurt Vonnegut to write a bookreport on Slaughterhouse 5, and he gets an F...

    A similar story by Asimov has a scientist bring Shakespear back from the past, but he fails a class on himself and commits suicide in a fit of depression. (IIRC: was more than a few years ago)
  • by glitch! (57276) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @10:41AM (#242406)
    Thanks, Timothy! I might have been intrigued by the title and content of this book. Perhaps enough to actually buy it. Your short review, though, tells me everything I need to know...

    For an author as "educated" as he seems to be (on paper), your review shows him pretty much inventing a lot of history, and on the thinest foundation.

    So this fellow is an expert in economics and government, eh? If that is truly the case, that explains a lot about the state of our government and economy...
  • Show me another story by Clark or Kubrick with many meaningful anagrams and I'd be willing to believe they were hiding them here.

    Kubrick used them all the time! Just to give a few after a few minutes of Googling:

    Check out Dr Strangelove for some great examples. Among other things, there is a scene where Peter Sellers, in the role of the British captain Mandrake, plays around with variations on the letters P. O. E., trying to figure out the code to call back the planes. One relevant POE phrase would be "peace on earth", which is exactly what he was trying to save.

    Consider the drug Alex is given in "Clockwork Orange" -- CRM-114. CRM is, of course, a SeRuM, so the name fits. CRM-114 is also the license plate of the car Alex & his gang go joyriding in, as well the name of the radio on the B-52 in Strangelove, the serial number of Discovery in 2001, and in Eyes Wide Shut is a hospital room -- "C [r[oo]m] 114" (and it shows up in other movies too, like "Back to the Future", but that's an aside).

    In Kubrick's version of "Lolita", he has a character named Vivian Darkbloom [epinions.com], an anagram for Vladimir Nabokov -- the author that wrote the original book.

    In Eyes Wide Shut, there are a lot of examples of anagrams, puns, & general word play. A password is "fidelio", echoing the Latin for 'faithful' as well as an opera by Beethoven (which involved similar themes as EWS).

    Or consider the much debated connection between "HAL" and "IBM." Maybe a coincidence, maybe not, but the connection is strong enough to resonate with people.

    Or consider the very famous scene from "The Shining", where the kid walks around shouting "RED RUM! RED RUM!", which is of course "MURDER" backwards.

    You might not accept all of these examples. Fair enough. I know many of them aren't anagrams per se, but puns, allusions, and so on. So be it. I hope the pattern is clear enough all the same. Kubrick infused his movies with a lot of word play, and this all contributes to the larger meaning of each film. Did he do it deliberatey? I don't doubt that at least some of it was deliberate, but I also accept that a lot of it was probably done unconsciously -- the meaning may be there but perhaps not deliberately so. That's fine with me. But it's there all the same. That's what makes his films great.

    As for the hexagonal exhaust thing, well, I can't really comment much on that one. It's worth noting though that, as the movie's FAQ [krusch.com] page notes, food is a big symbol in 2001. The early apes feast on raw meat, while the early space travellers have increasingly bland foods, up through the pastey goo that Discovery's crew gets. It's not unreasonable to take that thread a bit burther & comment on how the 2nd monolith had "no meat", or about Discovery's "anus". Certainly our overreliance on technology is a big theme, and the fact that space travellers need machines even to eat & defecate is a very potent symbol to work into a movie like this.

    Cut the guy some slack. I haven't read the critique in question, but this review & these comments are being way too harsh. Kubrick's films in general, and 2001 in particular, are a rich source of allegory. Just because you only wanna dwell on the techno-nerd aspects doesn't mean that the larger themes aren't there. Come out of your cubicle & look at the bigger picture. One of the articles on the Kubrick FAQ [krusch.com] draws comparisons between the director and James Joyce, and they seem to be about spot on to me. Among other parallels, it cites a common use of puns (cf. examples above et al), encoded meanings (POE from Strangelove, "NO MEAT" from 2001, etc), portmanteau words (compound or layered meaning), and of course both of them set their masterpieces against the Homerian epics.

    Is it too easy to find these kinds of patterns everywhere? I dunno, maybe, but who cares? Patterns are fun! Whether or not they were "deliberately placed", like the lunar monolith (a ha! another one!), they exist and are being found. Deny them if you want to, but it's much more fun to try to figure out what they mean.

  • [This was originally [slashdot.org] posted waaaay down in the discussion, in response to another comment [slashdot.org], but I'm hoping it might be seen better as a parent thread of its own. All the Kubrick bashing here saddens me, and I'd like to try to speak against the herd here...]
    Show me another story by Clark or Kubrick with many meaningful anagrams and I'd be willing to believe they were hiding them here.

    Kubrick used them all the time! Just to give a few after a bit of Googling:

    Check out Dr Strangelove for some great examples. Among other things, there is a scene where Peter Sellers, in the role of the British captain Mandrake, plays around with variations on the letters P. O. E., trying to figure out the code to call back the planes. One relevant POE phrase would be "peace on earth", which is exactly what he was trying to save.

    Consider the drug Alex is given in "Clockwork Orange" -- CRM-114. CRM is, of course, a SeRuM, so the name fits. CRM-114 is also the license plate of the car Alex & his gang go joyriding in, as well the name of the radio on the B-52 in Strangelove, the serial number of Discovery in 2001, and in Eyes Wide Shut is a hospital room -- "C [r[oo]m] 114" (and it shows up in other movies too, like "Back to the Future", but that's an aside).

    In Kubrick's version of "Lolita", he has a character named Vivian Darkbloom [epinions.com], an anagram for Vladimir Nabokov -- the author that wrote the original book.

    In Eyes Wide Shut, there are a lot of examples of anagrams, puns, & general word play. A password is "fidelio", echoing the Latin for 'faithful' as well as an opera by Beethoven (which involved similar themes as EWS).

    Or consider the much debated connection between "HAL" and "IBM." Maybe a coincidence, maybe not, but the connection is strong enough to resonate with people.

    Or consider the very famous scene from "The Shining", where the kid walks around shouting "RED RUM! RED RUM!", which is of course "MURDER" backwards.

    You might not accept all of these examples. Fair enough. I know many of them aren't anagrams per se, but puns, allusions, and so on. So be it. I hope the pattern is clear enough all the same. Kubrick infused his movies with a lot of word play, and this all contributes to the larger meaning of each film. Did he do it deliberatey? I don't doubt that at least some of it was deliberate, but I also accept that a lot of it was probably done unconsciously -- the meaning may be there but perhaps not deliberately so. That's fine with me. But it's there all the same. That's what makes his films great.

    As for the hexagonal exhaust thing, well, I can't really comment much on that one. It's worth noting though that, as the movie's FAQ [krusch.com] page notes, food is a big symbol in 2001. The early apes feast on raw meat, while the early space travellers have increasingly bland foods, up through the pastey goo that Discovery's crew gets. It's not unreasonable to take that thread a bit burther & comment on how the 2nd monolith had "no meat", or about Discovery's "anus". Certainly our overreliance on technology is a big theme, and the fact that space travellers need machines even to eat & defecate is a very potent symbol to work into a movie like this.

    Cut the guy some slack. I haven't read the critique in question, but this review & these comments are being way too harsh. Kubrick's films in general, and 2001 in particular, are a rich source of allegory. Just because you only wanna dwell on the techno-nerd aspects doesn't mean that the larger themes aren't there. Come out of your cubicle & look at the bigger picture. One of the articles on the Kubrick FAQ [krusch.com] draws comparisons between the director and James Joyce, and they seem to be about spot on to me. Among other parallels, it cites a common use of puns (cf. examples above et al), encoded meanings (POE from Strangelove, "NO MEAT" from 2001, etc), portmanteau words (compound or layered meaning), and of course both of them set their masterpieces against the Homerian epic poem.

    Is it too easy to find these kinds of patterns everywhere? I dunno, maybe, but who cares? Patterns are fun! Whether or not they were "deliberately placed", like the lunar monolith (a ha! another one!), they exist and are being found. Deny them if you want to, but it's much more fun to try to figure out what they mean. I'd be willing to give this book a shot, if it could go any deeper than the critical interpretations I've already read on Kubrick & 2001.

    Hell, the Slashdot groupthink crowd has dismissed it, so it must be good! ;)

  • I was emailed the following letter from Leonard Wheat last night. I have never met the man before; he was simply replying to my comment -- which is apparently the only one here that gave him, and Kubrick, a fair treatment. I thought anyone still reading this discussion would find it interesting:

    Author's Reply to Reviewer:

    This is Len Wheat, author of Kubrick's 2001: A Triple Allegory, speaking. I'm here to point out some errors, misrepresentations, out-of-context quotations, and other problems with Cliff Lampe's review. I do appreciate Cliff's saying that, although "this book goes too far at times," it "is worth reading." Still, the general tone of the review-the basic notion that my analysis is "pretty topsy-turvy" and "loony"-is negative. The negativism rests on dubious ideas.

    Let's begin with Cliff's statement that "[Wheat] uses scripts, director's notes, and some interviews to provide evidence for some of his claims." The source of this "information" is Cliff's imagination. I saw no scripts, read no director's notes, and interviewed nobody. Nowhere in the book is there any such "evidence," except that I do refer at two points to script evidence seen by other writers (Walker and Bizony). These facts tell you something about the level of accuracy to expect in the rest of the review.

    That said, let's examine (1) Cliff's misguided quest for literalism in symbols, (2) his failure to grasp the subtle nature of most symbolism, (3) his misrepresentation of the TMA-1 anagram was being the basis for my saying the moon monolith symbolizes the wooden Trojan Horse, and (4) his out-of-context presentation of my assertion that the three hexagons surrounding Discovery's three pairs of rear-end excretory orifices represent bathroom tiles.

    CLIFF'S IMPLICIT DEMAND FOR LITERALISM IN SYMBOLS: A basic problem with the review is that Cliff refuses to recognize as genuine any symbols that don't come pretty close to being literal-symbols that don't reach out and slap you in the face. He doesn't seem to realize that many symbols, Kubrick's especially, are subtle. Recognizing them requires seeing analogies and paying attention to narrative and physical contexts. Cliff accepts Bowman's name as symbolizing Odysseus, because Odysseus was literally a bowman (user of the Great Bow). And he accepts the well established idea that Bowman's space voyage symbolizes Odysseus's sea odyssey, because (a) the movie's subtitle literally says "Space Odyssey," (b) Bowman literally "goes on a long voyage," and (c) Bowman, like Odysseus, literally "loses all his crew."

    But Cliff can't point to any other Kubrick symbols-nonliteral symbols-identified by me that he will accept. Indeed, Cliff can't bring himself to recognize even some fairly literal symbols, including the ones representing hexagonal bothroom tiles. I'll give four examples of fairly literal symbols that Cliff implicitly rejects when he calls my interpretations "loony."

    First, the Laestrygonian rock attack. Odysseus goes to the land of the Laestrygonians. All the ships in his fleet except his own anchor in a harbor. The harbor is ringed by cliffs (no pun intended). The Laestrygonians are nasty-and strong. They stand on the cliffs and throw down huge rocks, splintering the ships in the harbor and killing the crews. Odysseus's ship, outside the harbor, barely escapes under a hail of rocks. Cut to the movie. Just before Bowman goes out on his first space walk, we see an exterior shot of Discovery. Two huge meteroids come hurtling past. Kubrick is symbolizing Odysseus's escape from the Laestrygonian rock attack. But Cliff doesn't believe it. Not literal enough. Sure, the rock symbols are literally rocks, and they literally come close to hitting the ship; but the space rocks are not literally thrown, so I guess the overall symbolism is not literal enough for Cliff to accept. The idea that the meteoriods could be symbolic is, to him, just another "loony" interpretation.

    Second, the three disabled survey crewman. Odysseus visits the land of the Lotus-eaters. He sends three crewman inland to survey the territory, so to speak. The three eat lotus, lose the desire to return, and have to be dragged back to the ship and put in irons, unable to perform their duties. Cut to the movie. During the BBC interview near the beginning of the space odyssey, Bowman says (a) his three hibernating crewman are (b) "the survey team." And the three are, for the time being, (c) disabled-unable to perform duties. Isn't that literal enough?

    Third, the Movie's Title. Cliff focuses on the Odysseus allegory, giving short-shrift to the main allegory, which depicts Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra (TSZ). This misdirected emphasis is strange, because (a) the Zarathustra allegory has at least 160 symbols, compared to 55 for the Odysseus allegory, (b) I devote two chapters to the Zarathustra allegory but only one to the Odysseus allegory, and (c) the Zarathustra allegory is alluded to in the movie's title, whereas Odysseus's odyssey is mentioned in the secondary spot-the subtitle. Where does the title allude to TSZ? Nietzsche bases TSZ's title character, Zarathustra, on the Persian prophet Zarathustra (a.k.a. Zoroaster), founder of the ancient Persian religion Zoroastrianism. In Zoroastrian mythology, Zarathustra arrives after 9,000 years of history, at the beginning of the tenth millennium. The year is 9001. In the Zarathustra allegory, Bowman symbolizes Zarathustra. So he must arrive at the beginning of a new millennium. The movie's title year, 2001, symbolizes 9001, the year Zarathustra arrives. One millennial year symbolizes another. But Cliff, I gather, thinks my interpretation is "loony," because "2001" isn't literal enough: Kubrick seemingly (to Cliff) would have named his film 9001 if he wanted to symbolize Zarathustra's millennium. Well, Cliff, if you look hard enough you can find the 9000 years that expire before Zarathustra arrives. Hal, who arrives at the same time as Bowman, has as his full name HAL-9000: he is arriving after 9000 years.

    Fourth, God's Sticking Out His Tongue and Blowing a Bubble. TSZ tells the story of man's evolution from (1) ape to (2) lower man, the believer, who creates God, to (3) higher man, the nonbeliever, who figuratively kills God by ceasing to believe, to (4) overman, a mentally and morally superior being. Young Zarathustra, representing lower man, creates God ("I created him"), and the God he creates is the image of man ("A man he was"): Nietzsche is turning the Bible upside down by saying that man created God in is own image. Later, the mature prophet (now a higher man) kills God, declaring "God is dead!"

    In the Zarathustra allegory, Dave Bowman is the mature Zarathustra. The image-of-man God he kills is symbolized by Hal-Discovery-the spaceship and its computer brain. To be a good symbol, Hal-Discovery must have some image-of-man attributes. I'll describe these characteristics in some detail when I get to the hexagons. But for now, just recognize that Hal-Discovery has a head (with a brain inside) and three mouths, arranged in a row resemble a human mouth. In one scene Discovery opens his mouth (pod bay door), sticks out his tongue (pod launching ramp), blows a spherical bubble (space pod), and watches it rise over his head. Alas, the "tongue" isn't literally a tongue, just a pod launching ramp; and the "bubble" isn't literally a bubble, just a metal sphere. Besides, Kubrick would never resort to humor, subtle humor at that. (The pun in the name Bat Guano, from Dr. Strangelove, must have been unintentional.) So Cliff rejects my tongue-and-bubble interpretation. Indeed, he seems to reject the whole idea that Hal-Discovery, created by man and then killed by man during man's ascent from ape to overman (the star-child), could symbolize God. I wonder who, or what, he thinks the real God symbol is, or if he even thinks there is one. (He seems to acknowledge that there is a Zarathustra allegory.)

    THE SUBTLE NATURE OF MOST SYMBOLISM: Most allegorical symbolism and other literary and film symbolism is not as literal as the symbolism described above. It is subtle, resting on analogy, word play, and other hidden-or at least hard to see-characteristics. Let's examine two closely related examples: (1) Nietzsche's rope dancer parable and (2) Frank Poole's anagrammatic name.

    Nietzsche's Rope Dancer Parable. Early in TSZ, Nietzsche presents his parable of the rope dancer. "Rope dancer" is an archaic name for a tightrope walker. The rope dancer symbolizes mankind. He is walking on a rope stretched between two towers. The tower he comes out of symbolizes the ape (the first stage in ape-lower man-higher man-overman), and the tower he is trying to reach symbolizes overman (the last stage). When the rope dancer is part way across, a buffoon-a symbol for God-steps onto the rope from the first tower, comes up behind the rope dancer, leaps over him, and proceeds in triumph to the far tower, thereby achieving supremacy. Frightened, the rope dancer falls to his death. Zarathustra, standing below, picks up the rope dancer's body and later disposes of it.

    In this parable, almost all of the symbolism is subtle, not literal. The only thing approaching literalism is Nietzsche's use of a man, the rope dancer, to symbolize mankind. But how can a tower symbolize either the ape or overman, let alone both? A tower isn't even alive. Well, the first tower is where man's journey from ape to overman begins (at ape), and the second tower is where the journey ends (at overman). Beginning and end are the first two subtleties-analogical relationships-you must grasp. But how can the buffoon symbolize God? Nietzsche says man creates God: man, not God, is the creator. So God comes after man, just as the buffoon comes after the rope dancer (both temporally and spatially)-another analogy. And God, to Nietzsche, is an idiotic concept, hence "buffoon." Also, the God man creates is himself a man ("A man he was"), so a man-the buffoon-is a good symbol for God. Fear causes the rope dancer to fall: man's fear of God dooms man's chances of becoming the supreme being, overman. Only one being can be supreme. When man makes God the Supreme Being, man dooms his own chances of evolving into a supreme being (overman). That is the parable's symbolic message.

    Frank Poole's Anagrammatic Name. In 2001, Frank Poole is the character who symbolizes the rope dancer. How can this be, given that he does not literally walk on a rope? The answer is easy to deduce. Hal-Discovery, we have already seen, symbolizes God, and Frank's space pod is a detachable part of God's body-God's shoulders, arms, and hands. Now observe six subtle clues. (1) The pod-view it either as a part of Hal-Discovery or a weapon used by Hal-Discovery-comes up behind Frank, just as the buffoon came up behind the rope dancer. (2) The pod kills Frank, just as the buffoon killed the rope dancer. (3) Frank is taking a spacewalk-a figurative walk-when he is killed. (4) Dave Bowman, symbolizing Zarathustra, picks up Franks body, just as Zarathustra picked up the rope dancer's body. (5) Bowman later releases Frank's body, figuratively disposing of it, just as Zarathustra disposed of the rope dancer's body. (6) Bowman, verifying that he really does symbolize Zarathustra, later kills Hal, just as Zarathustra "kills" God by ceasing to believe and declaring, "God is dead!" Cliff considers interpretations like this "loony." But that is because he fails to recognize that most symbolism involves subtlety, and he finds subtlety hard to grasp.

    Now we come to Frank's name. Cliff quotes me out of context when he quotes me as writing, "These letters [TMA-ONE], like the last nine in Frank Poole, can be rearranged to form an anagram." Cliff doesn't even bother to say what the anagram is. Naturally, many Slashdot readers have taken Cliff's word for it-"loony"-and have ridiculed the idea that Frank Poole is an anagram. But we know Kubrick uses anagrams. A Slashdot commentator named Babbage, in comments #224 and #225-points out that, "in Kubrick's version of 'Lolita,' he has a character named Vivian Darkbloom, an anagram for Vladimir Nabokov-the author that wrote the original book." (Babbage also gives five other examples of Kubrick's "anagrams, puns, and general word play." His comments-the most intelligent I have read in this Kubrick's 2001 forum-deserve your consideration. What they don't deserve is the score of only 2 given them by Slashdot's Comment Rating Bureau.) Also, I have already mentioned the punnish name Bat Guano-another type of word play-from Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. (If you don't know what guano is, use your dictionary.)

    Frank Poole is what I call a 90 percent anagram. The last 9 of the 10 letters of "[F]rank Poole" can be rearranged to form "[W]alk on Rope." I figured that one out by starting out with the knowledge that Frank Poole symbolized the rope dancer. Then I looked for phrases like "Rope Dancer," "Rope Walker," "Dance on Rope," and "Walk on Rope." I didn't have to look far. Cliff seems to consider the whole idea that Kubrick uses anagrams-Frank Poole, TMA-ONE, Vivian Darkbloom-"just a skoach over the top." But I consider Cliff's refusal to judge these anagrams in context as something akin to burying one's head in the sand. In the case of "Frank Poole," the context is the six points of evidence showing that Frank Poole symbolizes the rope dancer.

    THE TMA-1 ANAGRAM: I wrote that, when you spell out the figure 1, TMA-1 becomes TMA-ONE. These letters can be rearranged to form the anagram "No Meat." The phrase humorously alludes to the Trojan Horse's being made of wood rather than flesh and blood. Cliff presents the TMA-1 anagram in an out-of-context way that invites challenges to the anagram's validity. The moon monoliths name, TMA-1, comes before the monolith itself in 2001, so I discuss the name first. But in doing so I write, "In the next scene, . . . it becomes evident that TMA-1 [the monolith] symbolizes the wooden Trojan Horse." In other words, the evidence of the monolith's identity is in my discussion of the next scene, where the astronauts examine the monolith. In this discussion I present evidence (1) from the scene itself and (2) from surrounding scenes that establish the sequential context of the symbolism.

    Evidence from the Monolith Scene. In Homer's The Odyssey, Troy falls to the Greeks immediately before Odysseus begins his odyssey, his homeward voyage back from Troy. The Greeks build a huge, hollow wooden horse, the Trojan Horse. Greek warriors hide inside. A clever ruse tricks the Trojans (residents of Troy) into bringing the Trojan Horse (1) inside the walls of Troy. After dark, (2) something-a bunch of Greek warriors-comes out of the horse. The warriors open the city gates, allowing the Greek army to enter and (3) inflict pain-actually death-on the people of Troy. Thus does Troy fall.

    Observe the 1-2-3 parallelism in 2001's moon monolith scene. (1) The monolith is inside the walls of a pit, walls that symbolize the walls of Troy. (2) Something-a loud signal-comes out of the monolith. (3) The astronauts, symbolizing the Trojans, fall back in pain. A fourth symbolic element, word play again, is also present. Kubrick-or more likely Clarke-scoured the list of the hundreds of named craters on the moon and put the monolith in the crater whose name most nearly resembles the name Troy. (4) The chosen crater was one named Tycho. It has the same initial letter as Troy, T, and it also has two of Troy's other three letters-o and y. Given the knowledge that The Odyssey is being allegorized, we find in these four pieces of evidence ample reason to infer that the monolith symbolizes the Trojan Horse.

    Evidence from the Story's Sequential Context. But the above evidence is just the beginning. More evidence of the monolith's symbolic identity comes from the sequence of events. Troy's fall and the events immediately preceding and following it display this sequence: (1) Menelaus, a Greek king, returns from a trip and is briefed on something that has happened: his wife, Helen (now known as Helen of Troy), has been seduced by Paris and taken to Troy. (2) Menelaus embarks for Troy with an army on 1,000 ships (whence Helen's moniker, "the face that launched a thousand ships"). (3) Using the Trojan Horse, the Greeks conquer Troy. (4) Odysseus, in the first episode on his odyssey, attacks the city of Ismarus. This episode has four features: (a) crewmen running through the streets of Ismarus and (b) fighting the inhabitants, after which Odysseus (c) loots the city and then (d) gets figuratively burned in a counterattack that kills 72 of his men. (5) Odysseus goes to the land of the Lotus eaters and winds up with three disabled crewmen, shackled and unable to perform their duties.

    The relevant events of 2001's surface story follow the same sequence. (1) Heywood R. Floyd, symbolizing Menelaus, is briefed on something. (2) A long, many-footed (two rows of landing feet), bug-eyed (front windows) moon bus travels to the crater Tycho-Troy. The bus symbolizes a millipede (mil = 1,000; ped = foot), whose figurative 1,000 feet symbolize the thousand ships sailing for Troy. (3) The moon monolith performs in its walled enclosure. (4) The space odyssey begins. Its first four events are (a) Frank Poole's-Bowman's only active crewman's-jogging, which symbolizes Odysseus's crewmen running through the streets of Ismarus, (b) Poole's shadowboxing, symbolizing the fighting, (c) Bowman's "looting" the food dispensing machine, and (d) Bowman's burning his fingers on the food, symbolizing Odysseus' getting burned in the counterattack. (5) The BBC interview comes up on the TV, and we hear Bowman say that his three-man "survey team" is in hibernation-disabled, just like the men on Odysseus' three-man survey team.

    Back to the Anagram. It is in this double context-the context of the moon monolith scene and the sequential context of before-and-after events-that the anagram (TMA-1 = TMA-ONE = NO MEAT) must be interpreted. Once you deduce by other means that the monolith symbolizes the meatless (wooden) Trojan Horse, the anagram's validity is obvious. Sure, somebody said that two other anagrams-NO TEAM and NO MATE-could be formed from the six letters, but they don't fit the context. Only NO MEAT describes the Trojan Horse. Note, by the way, how subtle Kubrick can get. In the other anagram he omitted the first letter of both [F]rank Poole and "[W]alk on rope." In the TMA-1 anagram he makes you discover that "1" must be spelled out before the anagram can be found.

    THE HEXAGON SYMBOLISM: Cliff also rejects my claim that the three hexagons at Discovery's rear end-we all have rear ends, don't we?-symbolize bathroom tiles and are part of a scatological joke about God's going to the bathroom. Earlier in this reply I noted that Hal-Discovery symbolizes Nietzsche's version of God, the God created by man in his (man's) own image. As part of Kubrick's God symbol, Discovery must be the image of man. So Kubrick gives him a huge bulbous head, wide-band mod sunglasses (the high-on-the-head windows), three mouths (pod bay doors) arranged in a horizontal row to resemble a single mouth, a tongue (pod launching ramp) for each mouth, a tapered neck behind the head, a segmented spine, a sacrum (tailbone) at the base of the spine, three pairs of excretory orifices (rocket nozzles)-one pair for each mouth-below the sacrum (same place as in humans), and a bathroom (hexagonal bathroom tile) for each pair of excretory orifices. Hal-Discovery, again like humans, can see, hear, and talk; he has human emotions, such as enthusiasm and fear; he is mortal; and he becomes senile before dying ("Daisy, Daisy").

    Note that part of this physical-mental context is the three pairs of excretory orifices. If that's too scatological for you to accept, you probably don't think the Dr. Strangelove puns in Colonel Bat Guano's name are anything but accidental. But if you recognize Kubrick's penchant for humor, including scatological humor, it should not surprise you that the rocket nozzles symbolize the orifices God uses to excrete his waste. And if you are familiar with the small hexagonal white bathroom floor tiles that were commonplace in the 1930s, it again should not surprise you that Kubrick has God doing his excreting where it should be done-in the bathroom. Bury your head in the sand if you must, Cliff, but those three hexagons do symbolize bathroom tiles. There are jokes in this movie.

    If you're still unconvinced that the hexagons are part of a Kubrick joke, consider a related joke. The Bible says woman was made from a bone, Adam's rib. Kubrick, who turns the Bible upside down in several places, makes a counterclaim: God, a man, was made from a bone. Begin by noting that Kubrick's God is a bony God, essentially an abstracted skull and spine. Now ask: how did we get to this bony God? We got there in an eight-stage, 41-minute evolutionary process, to wit: (1) A prehuman ape picks up animal bone-we start with a bone-and converts it into a primitive weapon, a club. (2) The primitive weapon, tossed into the air, morphs into a space-age weapon, an orbiting nuclear bomb. (3) The orbiting bomb evolves into an elongated, self-propelled, phallic space shuttle. (4) In sexual symbolism that Roger Ebert was the first to point out-I wasn't the first to recognize this-the phallus penetrates the slot in the rotating female space station: coitus. (5) A spherical moon lander symbolizing a sperm cell-Ebert missed this part-travels to the moon, a larger sphere that symbolizes the ovum, which is larger than the sperm. (6) Hangar doors on the moon open up, allowing the lander-sperm to enter and fertilize the moon: conception. (7) The fetus gestates: Part 2's subtitle, "18 Months Later," informs us that God, who is twice as smart as humans, has a gestation period twice as long as that of humans. (8) The bony male God is born slowly, horizontally from offscreen into the starry universe.

    I hate to say this, Cliff, but those long hours you're putting in on your dissertation have dulled your senses. You no longer catch onto subtle jokes when you hear them.

    Sincerely,

    Len Wheat



  • A footnote from Mr Wheat's email, which didn't fit in the other reply:

    End of official "Reply." Now, here are some Kubrick word-play names to add to your list:

    1. Heywood R. Floyd:
    2. HE comes from HElen--Helen of Troy
    3. Y is Spanish for "and"
    4. WOOD comes from "WOODen horse"--the Trojan Horse
    5. RFL is from "reflect"
    6. OY comes from "trOY."
    7. D stands for downfall.

    Put them all together and you get "Helen and Wooden Horse Reflect Troy's Downfall."

    Dave Bowman:

    Dave is short for David, who slew the giant Goliath by planting a rock in his forehead. Dave Bowman slays a giant (Hal-Discovery) by attacking the brain inside Discovery's forehead.

    Bowman literally means bowman and refers to Odysseus, who was a renowned bowman.

    Frank Poole: [F]rank Poole is a "90 percent anagram" in which the last nine letters can be rearranged to form the phrase "[W]alk on rope." This phrase alludes to Frank's role as the symbol for Nietzsche's rope dancer, or tightrope walker.

    HAL 9000:

    HAL is the letters IBM retreated one notch back down the alphabet. On the man-machine symbiosis allegory the HAL-IBM connection symbolizes the synthesis of man (Hal, a man's name) and machine (IBM, a machine's name). In the Zarathustra allegory, HAL-IBM refers to Nietzsche's idea that man created God in his own image. IBM symbolizes the idea that Hal-Discovery (God) was created by man, as all machines are, and HAL (a man's name) symbolizes the idea that God is the image of man. Arthur Clarke denies that the name Hal involves symbolism, but on pages 72-75 of my book I give six reasons for believing Clarke is wrong.

    9000 refers to the first 9000 years of history in the mythological history of the ancient Persian religion Zoroastrianism--the 9000 years that precede the arrival of Zarathustra, who arrives in 9001, the first year of the tenth millennium. Hal and Dave Bowman arrive at the same time, so the "9000" in Hal's name describe's Dave's (Zarathustra's) arrival time too. In the film's title, 2001 symbolizes 9001: the first year of one millennium symbolizes the first year of another.

    Elena: Elena, the name of the female Russian scientist Heywood Floyd meets on the space station, is Russian for Helen. Elena symbolizes Helen--Helen of Troy. Her presence inside the slotted female space station identifies her with the female partner in the copulation between the phallic earth shuttle (male) and the space station. Floyd, who symbolizes Paris (Helen's seducer) at this point, was inside the shuttle, identifying it with Paris.

    TMA-1 = TMA-ONE: This name is an anagram whose letters can be rearranged to form "No Meat." TMA-1 is the name of the moon monolith, which symbolizes the meatless (wooden) Trojan Horse.

    AE-35: I didn't include this one in the book, because I wasn't certain enough of my interpretation. But AE seems to stand for AEolus, king of the winds, whose winds cause trouble for Odysseus. And the 35? A hurricane is the epitome of wind. And the Hawker Hurricane, the famous British fighter plane from World War II, is associated with the number 35 in three ways: (1) The plane was first test flown in '35 (1935). (2) The original plane had a ceiling of 35,000 feet, although later models got up to 36,000. (3) The prototype Hurrican was labeled F.36/34, the two numbers of which average out to 35. Meanwhile, the AE-35 unit causes trouble for Bowman (it leads indirectly to Poole's death), just as Aeolus's winds causes trouble for Odysseus.

    I hope you find this information useful, or at least interesting.

    Sincerely

    Len Wheat



  • by PurpleBob (63566) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @12:11PM (#242411)
    Ah! If "allegory" means "making bizarre comparisons using three different abstractions", then I can do that too!

    Ready? The reader's expected response to the author's "NO MEAT" hypothesis would be "GET REAL". The letters in "GET REAL" can be rearranged to spell "LARGE ET". This obviously signifies the subconscious expression that the author is, in fact, an oversized being from outer space.

    Maybe I should publish a book called "Leonard F. Wheat's "Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey": A Triple Allegory": A Space Allegory".
    --
  • Nietzsche once said that the human was a bridge between God and animal.

    Doesn't he actually say that "Man is a rope, tied between beast and superman"? I don't think that the superman was meant to replace God, since the problem with God was that we looked to Him rather than to ourselves.

    As to your interpretation of the end of the film, it seems to overlook the importance of the willing of the eternal recurrence, a concept which calls the whole notion of the superman into doubt; the whole point of the "Soothsayer" (TSZ II.19) is that his truth shatters Zarathustra's great hopes for mankind.

    That being said, your interpretation of the end of the film could work if it were split from Nietzsche and expressed in terms of messianism (not necessarily religious; Marx and Hegel's end of history is messianism), which ushering in a new world cannot be described adequately to the old. Of course, Nietzsche would say that messianism in all its forms, Zoarastriansim, Judaism, Christianity, Enlightenment, Hegelianism, Marxism, etc., is a desire for an other world or a behind-the-world (Hinterwelt), and thus a manifestation of the spirit of revenge which will be overcome by willing the eternal recurrence.

    As to this whole business about koans, while Nietzsche did respect Buddhism more than Christianity (he thought he was the first European to understand Buddhism), it was not his end-goal, nor was anything like it. The crisis of the West was the decadence of the old slave morality; Buddhism was the decadence of an old master morality, but it was decadence all the same. Buddhism, too, remained something to be overcome for Nietzsche.

  • You say you don't think Nietzsche' superman (the last stage of evolution) was meant to replace God. Oh yes he was.

    I meant that Nietzsche does not intend for the superman to replace God as the object of our worship, i.e., the superman is not to be some higher power toward which we look for guidance and/or salvation. Man must become the superman, must become God by doing what God has done, but in so doing he abandons his relationship to anything God-like; man must not become to the superman what he formerly was to God, but he must become as God is to Himself. And since the God which Nietzsche attacks is defined by our relation to Him, viz. He is a separate Entity that embodies our desire for a moral, i.e., a just, world, the amoral superman cannot be an ersatz God. I think we are in agreement on this point, but that there was a difficulty in communication.

    But first, as a quibble, please get rid of that archaic translation of the German "ubermensch" (over-man) that says "superman," a translation popularized by George Bernard Shaw's "Man and Superman." Overman is the correct translation.

    A quibble for a quibble, superman is the correct translation of Uebermensch; Kaufmann abandoned it in favor of overman because of its association with the comic book hero, not because it more accurately described the intent of the German. Myself assuming a higher degree of literacy in those interested in Nietzsche, I prefer the more accurate rendering of superman and superhero for Uebermensch and Ueberheld.

    Hence we have Nietzsche's famous words (uttered by Zarathustra, who has killed God), "God is dead."

    And here's a superfluous quibble: Zarathutra did not kill God; the Ugliest Man did. Of course, you could say, a la Stanley Rosen, that everyone in Part IV represents some part of Zarathustra, and thus that in a sense it was Zarathustra who killed God, but then you would have to say that Zarathustra also served God until the end and seeks the hermit to serve Him still (for he would also be the last Pope). I myself think that God is already dead by the action of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the death of God representing both the crisis and the greatest opportunity of Modernity: since the death of God allows us to devolve into last men (for they, too, look to nothing beyond themselves), it also holds out the possibility of the superman.

  • As I tried to make clear in my original reply, I think we agree on point 1, that our apparant disagreement involves us saying pretty much the same thing in different words.

    As to the proper rendering of Uebermensch, this, too, seems a pointless quarrel. Overman has become acceptable in some circles because of the efforts of Walter Kaufmann, with whose translation I have a number of problems (e.g., Stein der Weisheit as philosopher's stone, Es ist der gute Krieg, der heiligt jede Sache as the good war hallows any cause, etc.). Kaufmann's reasons for preferring overman are not based on fidelity to the German, but are in order to avoid the snickering of those readers for whom Nietzsche expressly did not write over the word superman. I would have used Uebermensch in my original post, but that might have been taken as too elitist for our democratic /. community; most people know superman, and there is no linguistic reason not to prefer it over overman.

    I find your last point the most interesting. The problem with saying that Zarathustra killed God as the ugliest man killed God is that the ugliest man does so out of a spirit of revenge: Zarathustra has overcome the spirit of revenge, nauseating as such a process may be. The question then remains whether Zarathustra could kill God out of a motive other than the spirit of revenge; the text suggests that this is impossible, for the desire to kill God is a desire to punish that which torments you (as we see in TSZ IV.7). This is where Nietzsche's historicism comes into play: Zarathustra cannot do what he does unless God is dead, but he cannot be the one to kill Him (for the aforementioned reason). Zarathustra, like Nietzsche, is only possible after the death of God, just as it is only now that the Uebermensch is possible. There can be no Nietzsche unless there is first a Schopenhauer.

    Lastly, I have two issues of protocol. I would suggest that we continue our correspondence over email (my address is encoded, but not hidden), since I imagine that this story will soon be archived; in any case, we are now in the realm of offtopic moderation. Secondly, I try to follow the rule of always assuming that your interlocutor knows what they're talking about and letting them themselves prove otherwise; I hope my arguments are sufficient to reveal any profound misunderstanding and that they do not require a sentence to that effect. I do not use words, the meaning of which I do not know; speaking both German and English, I feel able to use ersatz intelligently in both (and Uebermensh, for that matter!).

    That having been said, I look forward to any further thoughts you may have on Nietzsche.

  • While I agree that a syntancially meaningless literal rendering is problematic, the problem with non-literal translations is that they assume that we understand Nietzsche's thought well enough to express it in our own language. While I am the first to admit that I don't fully understand everything about Nietzsche's thought, possibly because I lack the strength or the desire the will the eternal recurrence, I think that, so long as we recognize that Nietzsche's thought is beyond our own, we should be as faithful in our translation as possible. Allow Nietzsche to speak for himself, and if a phrase doesn't make sense in German, we should not feel obligated to make sense of it in English.

    I suppose that my reading of Nietzsche also disagrees with Kubrick's; I can accept that you have properly interpreted the relevent scenes from 2001, but I don't think we can take Kubrick's vision as indicative of Nietzsche's thought. It's been at least eight years since I've seen it, so I'll yield to your knowledge of the film.

    While your appraisal of the ugliest man is correct, I would say that his motive for killing God is vengeful; the problem of all human society is that it is founded upon the spirit of revenge. The ugliest man does not mind a God who sees his strength and beauty (though the ugliest man, as ugliest man, has neither), but rather is ashamed of his weakness. The spirit of revenge is an outgrowth of weakness: we take revenge on those who hurt us, i.e., who reveal us to be hurtable, to be weak. But as you said, that the ugliest man kills God out of revenge does not prove that Zarathustra does so for the same reason.

    God is a conjecture: to kill God means to kill this conjecture. To kill God is to induce disbelief in others, just as to create God is to induce belief in others. When gods die, they die many deaths. The ugliest man killed God, the last pope watched him choke on pity, and Zarathustra inherits a world in which his "ghost" has died. It is only those men lower than Zarathsutra, higher men as they may be, that kill God.

    Few people have the strength to kill God as you suggest that both the ugliest man and Zarathustra do. Killing God means acknowledging the result of a slain God: Shopenhauerianism or Zarathustrianism (I don't say Nietzscheanism because I don't think he was strong enough to will the eternal recurrence, as his later works show). Modernity is full of "atheism", but it has yet to come to terms with the death of God; modernity does not believe, but it lacks the strength to actually kill God. Indeed, no one is able to live Zarathustra's life: this is the problem of decadence.

  • I believe the point is, was the hidden meaning (if one acknowledges it) intentional, or just chance.

    Your post's hidden message was intentional. To be more in line with the story, if every capital letter spelt your message that would be more intriguing.

    > You can find hidden meaning in anything, if you spend enough time looking for it.
    The book "Godel, Escher, Bach" talks about this: Interpretation lies in the intelligence of the observer. Are there universal meanings, or is it just symantecs.

    *shrugs*
  • Ahem, ahem. I don't want to rekindle the debate
    between prescriptive and descriptive lexicography,
    but, suffice to say, you shouldn't stop resisting
    a solecism just because it has achieved sufficient
    market penetration to be noticed by a soi-disant
    authority. Parallels to a certain software ven-
    dor are left as an exercise for the reader...
  • Hard to trust a review of a review that has "the public's disinterest in science" adorning the third sentence.

    All together now: "uninterested" == a lack of fascination; "disinterested" == a lack of personal motive.

    For example: "The public's uninterest in science is caused, not by disinterest -- since science affects it deeply -- but by a lack of understanding..."
  • Other things not far-fetched:

    The Zarathustra reference is very deliberate. In fact, the opening theme by Richard Strauss is called "Also Sprach Zarathustra," after the book by Nietzsche.

    ---

  • OK, so he may have gone a bit far in his Ulysses allegory, but what about the Zarathustra side? There seem to be an awful lot of links between 2001 and Thus Spake Zarathustra, by Nietzsche.
    There's the tone poem of the same name by Strauss played at the beginning, the whole Superman [ecu.edu] theory of those who have 'overcome' humanity to evolve to a higher consciousness.

    Surely these analogies were better discussed in the book?
  • ah-hah! someone who gets it...
    The 'will to power' is a really strong theme throughout 2001, along with the corollaries of 'beyond good and evil' and the whole ubermensch thing.

    so many quotes that can seem relevant...

    I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves. Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.
    from Nietzsche's Thus spoke Zarathustra, p.3,4,5, Walter Kaufmann transl.
  • Reminds me of a website I ran across a few months ago. Read the first few, laughed a little, then realized there were 25 pages of the stuff.

    The Numbers of God [greatdreams.com]
  • I don't buy shit like that. Yeah, symbolism of the umbilical getting cut works, but are we to believe that Clarke went through the trouble to say, okay, I need a name for someone who walks a tightrope. Hmm...look for something good in another language? Seiltaenzer doesn't sound good. Hmm...string, chasm, abyss, fall, ...I know, I'll make the last nine letters of his name an anagram for "alk on rope".

    I think you have to just leave that one as a coincidence.

    Right now, though, I'm reading that paper you linked to, and I'm kicking myself for so obviously missing it. I wonder if maybe I haven't seen the movie since I read Zarathustra for the first time.
  • "A lot" is two words. I guess Hooked On Phonics didn't work for you?
    --
    Lord Nimon

  • "More teen bimbo hay time!"


    (Or these five: "I emit mere booby anthem.")


    (....so very, very bored....)


  • Methinks, perhaps, an example that predates Dragonball is more appropriate - Popeye.

    Popeye was definitely vegetarian-oriented. Popeye the sailor - girlfriend's name is Olive Oyl. Eats spinach and gets strong. Popeye, if I'm not mistaken, is a kind of bean as well. Then there's Sweetpea, and ultimately, there was Wimpy, who eats hamburgers (a guy who eats hamburgers is called Wimpy, is fat, and constantly have financial problems, hmmm....)

  • by nirnaeth (117870) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @11:06AM (#242433)

    Dark Side of the Moon, not The Wall, sucka. I pity the foo who's never watched Wizard of Oz timed to Dark Side. It's nothing at all like these whacky theories discussed in the review. Also, the song Echoes, on Pink Floyd's Meddle, is specifically timed to the Jupiter and Beyond The Inifinite sequence in 2001. No coincidence there.

  • I find that a good rule of thumb is that most of the time when the author is thinking about something wacky like making names into anagrams, he tends to do it compulsively rather than just once or twice. If names are significant, for instance, he'll use a group of names that have related significance- all names of saints, or characters from some other work, or the like. If you wind up finding one interesting anagram, one name that's a biblical reference, and one odd similarity to some other work, the chances are that it's just the analyst looking too deep. And, quite honestly, most authors aren't going to bury this stuff too deep in the first place. They put it in there to be, after all, so making it so obscure that it takes ages and ages to notice pretty much defeats the point.

  • by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Sunday May 06, 2001 @11:41AM (#242444) Homepage

    Of course some time these things are most certainly conscious. In the X-Files, for instance, they love to have clocks pointing to 10:13 because Chris Carter's production company is named Ten Thirteen. They'll also name minor characters after regular posters on the X-Files newsgroup. That kind of thing is actually comparatively common, a kind of insider's joke.

    What is even more wild is that once in a while a TV show will do something even more radical deliberately. I saw a very, very interesting art exhibit at the LA Museum of Contemporary Art. A group of artists had convinced Aaron Spelling to let them insert various symbolically significant props into the show. There was a pillow that showed up in some bedroom scenes, for instance, that had pictures of condoms all over it. Every container of alcohol that appeared in the season when they were doing this was redone to make it symbollically linked to its role in the plot. When somebody did something stupid after drinking, for instance, their beer cans were of "Be Wiser" rather than "Budweiser". After appearing there, they were moved to the top shelf of the bar that served as a hangout for the characters. More amazingly, the height of stacked glasses and pitchers on the middle shelf of the bar formed a bar graph (and the pun was deliberate) of average per-capital alcohol consumption in the U.S. since the revolution, and the bottles on the bottom shelf were matched with the next shelf up and had labels relevant to public perceptions and attitudes toward drinking at that time. It was pretty amazing, especially considering that the viewers had pretty much no chance of figuring all that stuff out.

    The take home lesson, though, is that sometimes people really do hide things in TV shows.

  • Actually everyone in the band has denied it, EXCEPT for Roger Waters.
  • I hate to burst your bubble but Clarke in an interview recently put to rest the hidden IBM reference. He said that it was unintentional and had nothing to do with IBM.

  • by efuseekay (138418) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @11:05AM (#242447)
    Maybe Kubrick was thinking about a sex-change operation?!
  • by BitwizeGHC (145393) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @11:19AM (#242449) Homepage
    Good point; I propose we call it the "Dragonball Principle". Dragonball Z has a lot of conventions of this type: One group of characters is named after vegetables (Kakarott, Vegeta, Raditz, et al.); another after musical instruments; and another after types of underwear. It's all illustratively obvious (to an English speaker) and deliberately done.

    Similarly, if we find a man named Balthazar in a novel and later on meet his two buddies Melchior and Gaspar, then we're more likely to flag it as a biblical reference; if the Balthazar is isolated it could more likely be that the author pulled it out of a baby book or telephone book. Sometimes the opposite happens: Fahrenheit 451, a novel about a society without books, has two characters named Montag (a paper manufacturer) and Faber (a pencil manufacturer). Bradbury swears it off as a coincidence! But how do we know for sure...?

  • by Chester K (145560) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @10:53AM (#242450) Homepage
    This sounds suspiciously like the people that watch The Wizard of Oz timed to music with Pink Floyd's The Wall.

    Coincidence? Probably. You can find hidden meaning in anything, if you spend enough time looking for it. This post is no exception.

    Not everything is a conspiracy.
  • by elephantman (147240) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @12:11PM (#242452)
    Let's all keep in mind that kubrick can't be attributed for the creation of the name "Frank Poole" or the label "TMA-1". Sure, perhaps he came up with the hexagonal shape for part of the ship, but the author here is making half-assed 'connections' about a man who only made the filmed version itself, not the darn book. So not only are his connections half-assed, they're being pointed at the genius behind a man who didn't even come up with them.

    C++ programmers do it with class.
    Perl hackers do it quick and dirty.
  • by sdprenzl (149571) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @04:39PM (#242453) Homepage
    Nietzsche once said that the human was a bridge between God and animal. That would explain our schizoid reality to a T. In "Also Sprach Zarathustra", Nietzsche created the myth of the "superman", but never really described him in detail. Somehow we humans would slave away at life until we reached some threshold, then magically, some border would be crossed by some individual to The Next Great Thing. This is what I read into the film after reading Kubrick interviews. Dave Bowman was that superman who finally crossed into the next state of being, the first human to get off that damned bridge to the other side. The confusing ending was symbolic of this Unknown. Rock Hudson supposedly left the film disgusted saying, "will somebody please tell me what that film is about!? Rock, just like you showing your dog your wedding pictures, Kubrick is "showing" us this Great Beyond. IMHO, Clarke screws everything up with his absolutist/literalist overcooking and overexplaining. The hotel scene at the end of the film is ruined by Clarke in his book version. To me the scene is a genial symbolistic dreamscape. The human mind, when given information beyond its comprehension does exactly what a computer does when it mis-calculates some math problem: vaguely recognizable, but totally unreliable stuff comes out. Koans, baby, do your koans! The Nietzsche-man asked Big Questions, probably the biggest ever asked. Seeing a film based on some of the N-man's biggest issues has made me a better person....
  • by Zara2 (160595) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @01:55PM (#242457)
    Not too sure about Clark but I would believe something of this order from Kubric. For instance in "The Shining" the pattern and colors of the carpet are supposed to symbolize Satan walking through the halls. Actually less Satan himself as evil incarnate (Neitzche's concept of eternal return. This info is from a interview with the man h)imself so who am I to argue.

    A few other things in the movie about this.
    1. The child travelling down the road to hell (the long hallway sceens on the tricycle)
    2. Multiple murders in differnt time frames.
    3. Pictures on the walls: Both having images of previous caretakers and in the end with the picture of Jack.
    4. Many of the cut scenes in the end. Particularly the man in a yellow dog suit giving a blowjob. According to kubrick the dog was very symbolic but I think it coulda been cut and I never woulda known.

    Just a little evidence that Krubrick was a crazy enough guy to do something like what the book is saying. After typeing all this out I still gotta agree that the bathroom tile thing is a little bit off.

  • by TeknoHog (164938) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @01:12PM (#242458) Homepage Journal
    BTW, that 10:13 company name comes from the birthdate of Chris Carter's wife.

    Every container of alcohol that appeared in the season when they were doing this was redone to make it symbollically linked to its role in the plot.

    $ ln -s alcohol plot ;-)

    --

  • Instead of blindly fishing around for "clues" in anagrams of names, the auther probably should have taken a little time to read the vast body of what has already been written about this film (including interviews with Kubrick and Clarke themselves). If he had, he would have discovered:

    1. The book is not based on the film. It was released later, but both projects were developed at the same time, with lots of cooperation between the two.

    2. Kubrick was reading a lot of Jung at the time, so a lot of the shapes did matter... just not the ones that this reviewer seems to be focused on. The Pod looks like an egg because Bowen is soon to be "born" as the Star Child. (Hence, the stargate scene, which is essentially passage into the "womb".)

    3. HAL was, by far, the most human personality on board the ship. This was to show that man had become more machine-like as machines began to seem more human.

    4. Yes, the voyage was based somewhat on Homer's Oddessey. All I can say to that observation is, "duh!"

    5. No Trojan Horses were anywhere to be found in the story. The astronauts were not Greeks trying to invate the Trojan moon... They were primates, mirroring the experience of the monkeys during the first chapter of the film: discovering the monolith (during a period of isolation and exile, brought about by conflict with another tribe... the monkeys were kicked out of the watering hole; the astronauts were quarentined in order to keep their project a secret from the Russians), not knowing what to make of it, and finally, deriving inspiration from it to move on to their next phase of evolution.

  • If Cliff is trying to make the author look like a gibbering idiot, he's done a pretty good job.

    All good art, i.e., art that stands the test of time, has a large degree of ambiguity in it to allow for various forms of interpretation and meaning. That is part of what gives it value.

    I think the book says more about the author than the subject. Boy is he deep and intelligent. I can't wait for his brainy analysis of Brittany Spears lyrics and how they are derived from Greek Philosophy AND quantum physics. You can PROVE this by rearranging the letters in the words to Baby Hit Me One More Time. It's soo obvious.....

  • Popeye was originally an advertising character for -- you guessed it -- spinach. Nothing subtle about character naming there.

    On the other hand, I wonder what "Bluto" means. Why not "Brutus"?

  • Happens when you analyze any book/movie/creative work. Where do you draw the line between what the author might have been thinking and your own twisted imagination? -Rahul
  • Google solves it again... [google.com] giving us this link: MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT 2001 [underview.com]

    There, you can find this text:

    The space voyage begins, and Dave Bowman - Zarathustra - becomes the central figure. Dave's colleague, Frank Poole, symbolizes the rope dancer (tightrope walker), a character in an important parable in Zarathustra. One clue to Poole's allegorical identity is that the last nine of the ten letters of [F]rank Poole are an anagrammatical rearrangement of the last nine of the ten letters of "[W]alk on rope"; another clue is that Frank, like the rope dancer, is killed by an entity symbolizing God who sneaks up behind him; a third clue is that Zarathustra (Bowman) picks up the rope dancer's (Poole's) body and later disposes of it. Next, Zarathustra and God clash, and Zarathustra kills God (Bowman shuts down Hal's brain). The words "Beyond the Infinite" flash on to the screen. You undoubtedly gave those words a spatial meaning, but Kubrick gives them a temporal meaning. "Beyond" means after, and "the infinite" is one of theologian Paul Tillich's names for God. "Beyond the infinite" means "after God " - after the death of God (Hal).


    --
    ACid [intersaint.org]
  • I like the clever "send me money" gimick. But what do you mean about "this post?" One of the main points in the post is that the author of the 2001 book often grasps at straws. But I don't see where the post does so.
  • 2001 is NOT a "Kubrick" story.

    2001 was mainly written by Arthur C Clarke, in conjunction with Kubrick when they decided to make "the proverbial good Sci Fi film".

    The book was written at the same time as the screenplay (although as the film was developed, certain limitations meant some changes to the script which were not reflected in the book. For example, in the book, they visit Saturn not Jupiter, purely because Kubrick didn't feel his special effects team could make a convincing Saturn backdrop. As ACC hilself says later, he was glad that turned out to be the case because of Europa).

    I wish people would get their facts straight and not go round claiming 2001 was Kubrick's story! It was a collaboration (sp?), with the main story coming from ACC.

    --
  • Actually he lives in Colombo (capital of Sri Lanka) it is a port town, bearly 100 metres above sea-level at its highest point.
  • ANKLE POOR? PORK ALONE? LEAK PORNO? Obviously Frank was an unhealthy, lonely SOB. How that parallels Odysseus I don't know...

    Actually, I think I heard something about "rank poole" itself having meaning, yah know, a stinky pool. Sorry, can't help you on this one.

  • While the quotes that Lampe has chosen to illustrate the outrageousness of some of Wheat's readings are funny, it is always rather risky to take quotes from books like these out of context.

    Yes, the bathroom-tile man-machine argument sounds pretty 'out there'; however, there is a long tradition of books attempting to connect-up seemingly dispirate myths, legends, stories and poems. Taken in abstract, Robert Graves's [robertgraves.org] claim that the stories of Jesus and Hercules are different versions of the same myth, sounds mad. Perhaps it is, but Graves's justification takes a few hundred pages and is pretty convincing. By the time he goes into how theories of accretion can pollute oral narratives and the effect of the written-word in making particular versions of stories more canonical than others, he's made a point.

    Fact is, Wheat wasn't the first nor will he be the last. Sir James Frazer's 'The Golden Bough' [bartleby.com], Joseph Campbell's 'The Hero With a Thousand Faces' [rain.org], etc, etc, etc, are all equally mad. But each of them is attempting to do something very human and touching: they are attempting to detect some order, sanity, ration and reason in an otherwise pretty random and chaotic world -- just as Kubrick was doing, just as Homer was doing...

  • by FrankDrebin (238464) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @03:04PM (#242500) Homepage

    This dude missed a few TMA-ONE interpretations:

    • NATO ME - the monolith is discovered in the Cold War posturing between the West and the Iron Curtain, and this is Kubrick's way of downing Communism

    • A MONTE - referring to a popular game show at the time, and that the monolith was at various times in the movie under a curtain marked number two, and behind a door marked number three

    • OAT MEN - Quaker paid Kubrick for subliminal advertizing

    Check all the others here [wordsmith.org]

  • A few things. HAL isn't IBM moved down one letter each. It's Hueristic ALgorithim. (yeah, I probably spelled it wrong). Clarke even states that in one of his books. Also, even though the book came out AFTER the movie, doesn't mean the book is based on the movie. Clarke and Kubric worked together on alot of it. The reason that Kubric used Jupiter instead of Clarke's Saturn is because the Special Effects department couldn't come up with a convicing Saturn in Kubric's mind. So there. TMA-ONE = NO MEAT? um. yeah, sure. Tycho Magnetic Anomoly. The first one, actually. There's a TMA-0 in his later books, on earth! hah! Read the books. Good books.
  • by Kraft (253059) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @10:59AM (#242507) Homepage
    I used to be really into Twin Peaks and spent lotsa time on USEnet (or was it FIDOnet?) to discuss meanings of the episodes [twinpeaks.org]. Well, it got pretty far out, to say the least. For example, someone noticed that all the 3 digit hotel room numbers which were ever shown, added up to 12. Since David Lynch [twinpeaks.org] is a ment, it made perfect sense that he did this on purpose. Then there were all the anagrams, like 'Agent Cooper' == 'One Great Cop'.
    And this never ended. The more people looked into it, the more strange shit came out. Some (me included) started speculating wether this all happened subconsciously for David Lynch. That maybe he didn't even know, but somehow he couldn't help adding twistedness to the script. And just like Mr. Lampe says here, I really got caught up in the looney evindence and lost perspective completely.

    I guess that paterns and similarities are all over the place, you just gotta look hard enough. Just like adding the ASCII values of the letters in Bill Gates name [google.com] and it equals 666. It just doesn't prove anything.

    -Kraft
  • Would you happen to have any additional information on the Twin Peaks prop art? Is this exhibit (or the artist group) documented anywhere online? Several Google searches have turned up nothing, and the MOCA-LA website is so Flash-laden that it's unusable.
  • Reminds me of an anecdote from one of my critical theory classes: A prominent Folklorist designed a mathematical equation to determine whether folk-stories represented actual events or reflected mythological archetypes. A character in a folk story would "score points" for things like military prowess, greater than human stature, etc. It was a very complex equation, subtley and pains-takingly crafted.

    Using this equation, it's been proven that Abraham Lincoln never existed historically, that in fact he was a mythological construct.

    And then there's the Douglas Adams thing about the guy who proved that God ddin't exist . . . .

  • A thought on "(F)rank poole". The anagram "ankle poor" immediately made me think of Achilles from the Illiad. Achilles mother dipped him in the river Styx when he was a child in order to make him invulnerable. The one part of his body that didn't get wet was the heel his mother used to hold onto him. During the battle at Troy, Achilles was shot in the heel by an arrow and killed. Interestingly, I believe that it was Odysseus who eventually won the prized armor of Achilles, before beginning his journey home in the Odessy.

    Your facts on the Illiad are right. Also, "ankle poor" reminds one of Oedipus, whose name after all translates as "swollen foot." (Although my greek isn't flawless.) "Frank Poole" yields many potentially meaningful anagrams:

    Flop one ark: clearly refers to the potential danger to the ship in the movie

    Freak'n' Polo!: Odysseus was noted for hating water-polo.

    Porno Flake: Obviously refering to HAL's voyeuristic tendencies.

    Lo! Fake porn!: Foreshadowing Kubrick's final movie.

    OK elf apron: It was rumoured widely at the time that Santa Claus' elves were hired to work as gaffers and key grips for 2001.

    No rape folk: The real reason all the scientists were locked up and frozen, to keep Dave from going buggy on their booties.

    Lake of porn: the real reason the the obelisks were protecting Jupiters moon -- their grrrly magazines were hidden under its frozen surface.

    I could keep going indefinately, but I've probably already made my point and made everybody who's read this permanantly dumber already. Might as well quit while we're ahead . . . .

  • As a post graduate rhetorician betrothed to a post graduate anthropologistm i am quite well qualified to say that you are ignorant of the studies involved with each of these fields. Not that I blame you -- to those who don't really look into them, they do seem a little stupid, associating scant evidence with lofty theories. And, in truth there is great contention in both fields any time somebody inroduces a new theory -- unlike mathematics there is no concrete proof to indicate genious or malarky. But there is still reason for the generation of these theories you should realise.

    First, realise that the best artists, authors and musicians have no idea what they're doing...they are generally good readers who, at some point, decided to put words together in a way they found pleasant. Which, of course, means that any deep meaning or allegory you uncover is quite possibly something they didn't intend; Hemminway went to his death claiming it was "just a fish." But this isn't the point. The crucifix is just a log, and the Grateful Dead were just potheads, but you can't make these claims around the devoted -- they see great meaning in the relative works. And the field of dissertation known as deconstructionism says "hey, if you think it has meaning, and can prove it with a little basic association and logic, then it has meaning, and nuts to what the author had in mind." First year English majors, encountering some of the whacko theories regarding modern literature, are quick to say that this is a bunch of bullshit. But us old hat parties in the field of discourse are forced to wonder if there isn't more to it. Consider this: all literature exists in print, using words. But words are defined only in context of other words or concepts, and these concepts are interpretted differently by each viewer (read into Saussure for more on this great philosophy called "Syntamatics"). As such, any work only has meaning once it's been read, and that meaning is rather personal. Therefore, all these whacko theories are entirely valid -- but that doesn't mean you have to believe them.

    And as for the anthropologists...only the charlatans you see on the Discovery channel, moving bodies about and uncovering tombs would be so quick to judge. Real anthroplogy is boring, scientific shit...it involves such activities as slowly documenting, drawing, photographing and examining using non destructive means every small, insignificant artifact at a dig. My girlfriend is excited if she found a doll's head tossed into a latrine a hundred years ago. It is this huge research entity (propelled by the fact that many states have regulations forbidding you to dig in certain areas without paying for an anthropological assessment first) that allow researchers of truly interesting finds to make assumptions. They're based on statistical analysis and comparison to what we know today...for example, a woman's hips grind into each other at a much higher rate when she is pregnant, and the grinding marks are different from those of a woman who carries a lot of weight or is just fat. Teeth are worn in different patterns depending on diets. Still, there is ocasional contention on the anthropological community about whether these assumptions are right, and many times these reassessments have brought about change. There are, for example, three major theories of the life of early man have been proposed, and there is evidence for each. One says that man got most of his food from hunting, and that women held an inferior role. Another holds that gathering was far more important and supplied the majority of sustenance, and that women supervised this activity (while men slumped about looking for stuff to kill). A third holds that both men and women were involved and that the activity was far less planned -- that humans were scavengers waiting for sick animals, stashes of really sweet berries and nuts, and waited for leftovers after another animal made a kill.

    But though there is contention in these fields, they are not by any means worthy of the type of contempt you have for them...these are some of the greatest thinkers in the world, and they've made a lot of important advances in the attempt to make fields that were previously guesswork become much more concrete and ordered. They're trying to make legitimate fields into legitimate realms, so that naysayers won't consider them laughable for jumping over unnecesary logical steps. They've moved beyond P -> Q and Q -> R to P -> R...in much the same way that physicists no longer debate the validity of theories based on quantum mechanics solely on their statistical approach.
  • A thought on "(F)rank poole". The anagram "ankle poor" immediately made me think of Achilles from the Illiad. Achilles mother dipped him in the river Styx when he was a child in order to make him invulnerable. The one part of his body that didn't get wet was the heel his mother used to hold onto him. During the battle at Troy, Achilles was shot in the heel by an arrow and killed. Interestingly, I believe that it was Odysseus who eventually won the prized armor of Achilles, before beginning his journey home in the Odessy.

    In 2001, Frank Pool was one of David Bowman's crewmates. HAL cuts Pools umbilical to Discovery while his is performing a space walk, and Bowman is unable to rescue him. At the risk of going out on a limb here, is the Discovery the "armor" that Bowman (Odysseus) inherits from Pool at the beginning of his long journey? I'm sure there's more here, but that's all I've got. I wish I remembered the movie better so I could draw more parallels.
  • This reminds me quite a lot of Erich von Daniken. He did things like take the different measurements of pyramids, multiply them together, take square and cube roots wildly until he got a number that could be construed as similar to some astronomical measurement, and then claim that as proof that the "ancients" had an incredibly advanced knowledge of astronomy. No, it's just proof that one set of numbers can be transformed into something similar to another (arbitrary) set by using lots of mathematical operations.

    Same thing here. If you try hard enough, you can find connections between just about anything. That proves nothing, however, beyond the creativity of the person coming up with the "connections".
    --
  • would you like that in small unmarked bills, or do you prefer foreign notes?
  • This weekend I pick up the April 2001 issue of Cinefex magazine [cinefex.com] (a technical periodical on movie special effects techniques). This issue contains a detailed retrospective of the production of 2001 a space odyssey.

    I would say that the article in Cinefex pretty well debunks most of the symbolism that is being attributed to the movie. The special effects crew involved in the film recount how many of the "symbols" planted in the movie were accidents or experimentation. That Kubrick would not be involved in the creation of most of the effects elements except in a "I like it" or "I hate it" final approval.

    For those interested in movie special effects this article is a goldmine. They invented techniques never before seen on the big screen for this movie. Computer displays and wireframe models before you could just whip it out in a few hours on a graphical workstation. Thousands of hours spend using a photographic animation stand to create the classic computer monitors on the Discovery. A technical description of how they created the stargate light show at the end of the film using a variation of time lapse photography.

    Obviously 2001 has alagorical elements built into it, but lets not go overboard. Sometime a cigar is just a cigar [geocities.com] people.

  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @04:01PM (#242525)
    Why is it people always have the tendancy to take great works of art and try to read way too much into it? It's like the theory that the Mona Lisa is really an expression of DaVinci's female/homosexual side... What these people are doing is at best akin to self-fulfilling prophecies...

    "So what are those claims? Alot of it makes good sense. For instance, Dave Bowman relates to Ulysses (a reknowned bowman in the myths)."

    While I agree that there is a lot in common between A Space Odyssey and Homer's original (just look at the title!), I think this is taking it a little too far. If Clarke really wanted to do what this author is suggesting, why not call him "Dave Archer?"

    "These letters, like the last nine in Frank Poole, can be rearranged to form an anagram. In this case, the anagram is "No Meat." A wooden horse has no meat on its skeletal framework."

    Yeah, so? It also spells "toe man" and "no team" and "M... neato." Besides, the Trojan Horse had a lot of meat (in the form of the Greeks inside of it).

    "But why the hexagons? Why not circles or squares or nothing?"

    Because curved surfaces aren't justified, while using a cube would result in something that looks a little too much like a Tinker Toy.

    "The rear-end hexagons are bathroom tiles! They symbolize bathrooms."

    Exactly how far up his own ass did he have to reach to pull this one out? This makes those goat sex pics look tame in comparison!

    "Hal-Discovery has three bathrooms, one for each mouth"

    Um... how do you figure three? Is this "the new math?" And HAL is no more Discovery than Windows is my computer.

    "It reminds us how good human minds, especially smart ones, are at finding patterns in crazy shit."

    So, what you're saying is that this book is an example of how far computing needs to go before it catches up with human pattern-recognition skills?

    "Wheat has the premise that Kubrick was so wicked smart that these long strings of meaning are not only possible, they are a sure thing."

    Then perhaps he should sit down and write his next few books on "Dr. Strangelove," "Full Metal Jacket," and "Eyes Wide Shut." If Kubrik was half as smart as the author suggests, then he might be able to find the meaning of life in these movies.

    "You also come away with the sense that Wheat is a pretty smart man himself."

    Using big words makes you smart. Right. Or should I say "Utilizing unwieldy verbage demonstrates one's superior intellect?"

  • Yeah definitely no coincidence there.

    Especially the sequence between when the tornado comes until Dorothy is transported to Oz (well actually the end of Money). Whew!

    Incredibly cool.

    --
    "Fuck your mama."

  • by Magumbo (414471) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @01:31PM (#242527)
    Are there universal meanings, or is it just symantecs.

    I would say universal meanings. Peter Norton was once "the man" but Symantec is not what it once was.



    --
    "Fuck your mama."

  • by 6EQUJ5 (446008) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @11:06AM (#242529) Homepage

    Spell out the figure '1' and you get TMA-ONE. These letters, like the last nine in Frank Poole, can be rearranged to form an anagram. In this case, the anagram is "No Meat." A wooden horse has no meat on its skeletal framework."

    There's as much truth to that as your average psycic reading. One can make hundreds of true, but random statements about an object, such as a horse, and surely find that some of them are anagrams toward some related idea.

    Firstly, there is no justification for spelling 1 as "One". 1 means 1, and if if Mr. Kubrik really meant "one", he should have spelled it out himself.

    Secondly, the Trojan Horse was NOT a skeletal framework. I suppose its wooden walls could be viewed as "meat", in fact, but this is all just nonsense... The guy's a Quack.
  • This reminds me of decoding Paul is dead messages on Beatles covers in college. None of the general thrust of 2001 is less than 31 years old, although the anagrams and hexagons may be new. It's like Homer's Odessey, and it says so in the title. (But let's not forget Leopold Bloom! Maybe Kubrick was a Joyce nut too). Zarathustra? Gee, ya think? Also Sprach Zarathustra is only the overpowering theme music, played over and over again. Man/machine symbiosis, is again, as plain as the nose on Jimmy Durante's face. It's Frankenstein, Prometheus etc. all over again. All of this is so plainly obvious that it can't possibly be news to nerds. Everyone who paid the slightest attention knew all this three decades ago. 2001 is one of the top movies ever made not because of these out front allegories, but because it uses these allegories to draw a picture that is a contemplation of consciousness, and it means just what you can get out of it, and unquestionably it means different things to different people. HAL is the murdering child/frankenstein. The sequels kinda cheapen the impact of HAL by explaining why he went nuts. Wasn't it a lot better as a Rorasch test to speculate why HAL went bad. (Star Trek TNG did a cute send up of this with Data/Lor) What does the aging of Bowman as he watches himself Buddah-like, evoke?

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