Sunday, December 2, 2018

Dud Monolith?

I was listening to a podcast about the film "2001" where one of the guests (Dr. Drang, at 17:50) made an interesting point which sailed over the heads of the other guests:
"The monolith isn't magic - or "technology that's indistinguishable from magic". It is just a black solid 1 x 4 x 9. That's literally all there is to it. And the reason it accelerates their evolution is that by merely seeing this thing we would now call "man-made" - not a natural formation - is just enough to kick that one ape's mind into the idea that you can form the world to your desires; that you don't have to accept everything as it is. It's not trees and rocks and grass. This thing is clearly not a tree, or a rock, or grass. It is so unlike anything you've ever encountered that it triggers in your mind a new way of thinking about the possibilities...It's just literally a simple non-natural shape...and that would be enough."
So the first monolith - the one that appeared before our apey ancestors in prehistoric times - might have delivered zero juju. It may have been sufficient to come across an obviously unnatural object to catalyze the realization that we can build and control; that we needn't be unwitting flotsam in the daily life of the world; that our conscious intelligence lies beyond the frame. It's not genetic evolution so much as a contagious expansion of consciousness.

The monolith on the Moon was different. That one (like the one near Jupiter) was a tripwire, beaming home notification that the humans had reached a threshold. But the apes had done nothing especially clever; nothing to indicate a threshold having been reached.

I'll add this thought: if the first monolith had directly intervened to effect some critical change, why hadn't it done so the previous week, century, or millennium? Why had it chosen to appear then and there? It can only be that that one ape was primed to make the leap. It was time. And this particular leap requires only an expansion of awareness - a reframing. Reframing can never be externally imposed (nothing in the universe can alter your perspective for you*; this is the essence - and extent - of your free will), though it certainly can be externally inspired, e.g. by art. For example, by a jarringly smooth and beautifully polished monolith, or by an equally jarring and polished film.

Two Kubrick bonuses (click for legibility):

1 comment:

Display Name said...

we can build and control; that we needn't be unwitting flotsam in the daily life of the world that we needn't be unwitting flotsam in the daily life of the world thanks for this nudge Jim. Just what I needed to venture out to home depot and lowes in search of mini marble chips for my walkway. I so did not want to go but Lowes sucked and home depot was excellent. They even let me bring my elderly chichaha mix rescue dog into the store in a shopping cart!

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