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"2001" AS AN ART FORM

Great art has two qualities. 1) It is enduring, and 2) it has the uncanny quality to bear numerous levels of insight and interpretation. People often ask if Shakespeare, Dylan or the Beatles really had everything in mind that we read into their works. The question, however, is irrelevant. As long as the insight is valid in its own right, even if it turns out that we are just using the artform as a peg on which to hang an idea. That after all is what art is about.

"2001" fulfills both these conditions.

1) It is enduring. In the March 1997 issue of Yahoo Magazine, film critic Roger Ebert stated that "2001" was the greatest science fiction film ever made. Considering that this statement is being made 30 years after the film was produced, it shows that "2001" has enduring value. It is generally agreed that there is no comparison between "2001" and "2010." The zenith achieved in "2001" was never equalled.

"2001" has become part of our culture. The Newsweek Cyberscope add for Cyberfest in the Summer of '96 discussed "2001" under the title "Culture."

2) To see evidence of the plethora of interpretations that have been given to this film, see the "Comprehensive List of 2001 Websites," as well as the abundance of books and articles which have been written about the film since 1968.

On this note, it is interesting to compare Arthur C. Clarke's novel with the screenplay of "2001" that was written by Clarke and Kubrick. The novel, which preceded the screenplay, was classic science fiction with a very specific storyline. The film, on the other hand, left a lot unsaid; it was open-ended, wide open for interpretation. As stated in the booklet accompanying the Compact Disc of the film's soundtrack, "Kubrick and Clarke resisted the temptation to 'explain' the film's speculations about life, intelligence, and meaning. Like all of the greatest filmmakers, Kubrick insisted on letting his images do the work." That this gave the film a much higher level as an art form was the secret of its box-office success. Because it gave people exactly enough to make them wonder why they didn't understand it, they felt compelled to come back -- and they did.

THE "SLEEPWALKERS"

In his book The Sleepwalkers, Arthur Koestler describes some of history's greatest geniuses whose epochal discoveries advanced scientific thinking even though they were largely oblivious of the magnitude of their discoveries. In this sense, Kubrick's "2001" provided a very powerful means of solving an old and important philosophical question though he may not have realized the significance of what he had provided.

We started off by saying that "2001" is an encapsulized story of human civilization. The last shot of the film represents not only the end of Dave's life, but the end of an Epoch, the time when Man will ask himself:

"What was it all about?"

At that moment the "2001" Starchild appears to give the answer. It is an answer filled with cosmic irony. An answer that asks another, rhetorical question. The "2001" Starchild asks: "The monolith was the first evidence of intelligence in the universe other than man. What about me?"

In other words, the Starchild is saying: By the year 2001, human civilization will have been around for many thousands of years. In all those thousands of years,why didn't anybody ever consider "me" -- the quintessential complexity inherent in the coming-into-being of every human being that has ever lived.

We would add that the way this statement is made is especially pointed. The Starchild turns wide-eyed, until it faces the viewing audience. It then calmly stares us right in the face. This is reminiscent of the way a great contemporary thinker described how we would view reality free of cognitive dissonance:

"Suppose a case of books filled with the most refined reason and exquisite beauty were found to be produced by nature; in this event it would be absurd to doubt that their original cause was anything short of intelligence. But every common biological organism is more intricately articulated, more astoundingly put together, that the most sublime literary composition... Despite all evasions, the ultimate agency of intelligence stares one in the face" (Frederick Ferre, Basic Modern Philosophy of Religion, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1967, p. 161).

"Despite all evasions, the ultimate agency of intelligence stares one in the face."

END


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We hope you liked our site. In the list below you will find links to some of our favorite sites, as well as more details and sources for some of the ideas we have touched on.

  1. EXAMPLES OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE

  2. EXAMPLES OF DESIGN IN NATURE

  3. DO WE NEED PRIOR EXPERIENCE OF HAVING SEEN LIVE OBJECTS BEING MANUFACTURED TO CONCLUDE THEY WERE DESIGNED?

  4. HUME'S CRITIQUE OF THE "ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN"

  5. SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND TO HOYLE'S STATEMENT THAT THE LAWS OF NUCLEAR PHYSICS HAVE BEEN DELIBERATELY DESIGNED

  6. THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION

  7. AN ESSAY ON EVOLUTION BY DR. GERALD SCHROEDER

  8. THE "PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE" AND RELIGIOUS BELIEF

  9. ADDITIONAL READING AND VIEWING

  10. WRITE US!


SOME OF OUR FAVORITE SITES

Comments, questions, and general email to 2001@shemayisrael.co.il

If you enjoyed this you may want to explore further:

Discovery Seminar
The world famous eye-opening seminar includes a logical examination of the computer "Codes" in the Torah.

Essentials Program
Experience the most fascinating overview of Judaism available today. The all-star staff includes Dr. Gerald Schroeder, former professor of physics at MIT and author of "Genesis and the Big Bang."

The Jerusalem Fellowships
Award-winning website gives college students the opportunity to register online for the penultimate Israel program. Honorary chairmen are Senator Patrick Moynahan and Senator Arlen Spector.

Aish HaTorah
"Thank you , Aish HaTorah...I could have used you in my life 25 years ago!" Steven Spielberg

HERITAGE HOUSE: This interesting site offers a free Jerusalem Youth Hostel, a "Study-Buddy" service, and "INNERNET" magazine.
HTTP://www.heritage.org.il

IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY: A critical study by Dr Michael Behe, Professor of Biology at Lehigh University, of living systems which he contends could not possibly have evolved because they are "irreducibly complex". http://www.arn.org/behe/mb_ic.htm

EXAMPLES OF IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY: Striking animations of the above phenomena. http://www.arn.org/docs/behe/mb_mm/flagellum_all.htm

MORE ON FINE TUNING OF THE UNIVERSE: An interesting site which includes an extensive list of some of the more impressive "cosmic coincidences". HTTP://www.corp.direct.ca/trinity/design.html

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