Our Old Friend the Monolith: On Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'

Episode 75 · June 10th, 2020 · 1 hr 26 mins

About this Episode

"You don't find reality only in your own backyard, you know," Stanley Kubrick once told an interviewer. "In fact, sometimes that's the last place you'll find it." Oddly, this episode of Weird Studies begins with Phil Ford hatching the idea of putting a replica of the monolith from 2001 in his backyard. As the ensuing discussion suggests, this would amount to putting reality -- or the Real, as we like to call it -- in the place where it may be least apparent. Perhaps that is what Kubrick did when he planted his monolithic film in thousands of movie theatres back in 1968. Moviegoers went in expecting a Kubrickian twist on Buck Rogers; they came out changed by the experience, much like the hominids of great veld in the "Dawn of Man" sequence that opens the film. This is what all great art does, and if you look closely, maybe 2001 can tell you something about how it does it. Because in the end, the film is the monolith, and the monolith is all art.


Stanley Kubrick (dir.), 2001: A Space Odyssey
Arthur C. Clarke, "The Sentinel"
Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey (novel)
Clement Greenberg, American art critic
Stanley Kubrick (dir.), The Shining
Sergei Eisenstein, Film Form: Essays in Film Theory
Weird Studies episode 62: It's Like "The Shining," But With Nuns: On "Black Narcissus"
Ligeti, Atmosphères
Gerard Loughlin, Alien Sex: The Body and Desire in Cinema and Theology
Jay Weidner, Kubrick's Odyssey: Secrets Hidden in the Films of Stanley Kubrick
Rob Ager's analysis of 2001 (Ager was criticized for not citing Loughlin above)
Eric Norton's Playboy interview with Stanley Kubrick
J. F. Martel, "The Kubrick Gaze" in Daniel Pinchbeck & Ken Jordan (eds.), Toward 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age
J. F. Martel, "The Future is Immanent: Speculations on a Possible World"
Henri Bergson, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion
Sid Meier's Civilization V
Stanley Kubrick (dir.), Dr Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Stanley Kubrick (dir.), A Clockwork Orange
Dziga Vertov, Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov
Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media
Martin Heidegger, "The Question Concerning Technology"
Gilbert Ryle, "Improvisation"