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Ordering Space

The characters of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space

Odyssey have psychological desires for order that are manifested and illustrated by the physical

spaces around them. They try to assert control over their space through the use of technology.

Their neurotic attempts to measure and order space are a reaction to the frightening reality that

the universe is boundless, chaotic, and unfathomable. Human beings’ agoraphobic fear of their

own insignificance within such vast expanses of immeasurable emptiness drives them to impose

an artificial structure or order on space.

In Endgame, Hamm is neurotic about being in the middle of the room, so Clov must

nudge his chair every which way until he is exactly centered. This focal position gives Hamm a

sense of control and foundation over his limited universe, the room. The center’s equidistance

from all four walls implies symmetry, order, and balance. His fixation on centrality is a

defensive reaction against what he fears to be the true nature of the universe: that the neat walls

enclosing a well-defined rectilinear space are illusory, that there is simply vast emptiness in

which no real center can possibly be determined. He does not want to admit that he is simply an

insignificant life within a chaotic and meaningless universe. Hamm describes this fear to Clov:

You’ll look at the wall a while, then you’ll say, I’ll close my eyes, perhaps have a little sleep, after that I’ll feel
better, and you’ll close them. And when you open them again there’ll be no wall any more. Infinite emptiness
will be all around you and you’ll be like a little bit of grit in the middle of the steppe. (Beckett, 36)

Hamm will concentrate on the wall, the object that precisely demarcates and contains space for

the characters of Endgame, to reassure himself of the solid reality of its existence. These walls

give him a sense of security and order. But once he closes his eyes and reopens them, he will

realize that he had been asleep all this time, and that the walls were simply comfortable figments

of his imagination. While Clov constantly tries to create order by cleaning, Hamm imagines he
is grit, a piece of dirtiness that is part of the chaos that Clov seeks to eliminate. Hamm imagines

that he is merely a speck amongst an overwhelming sea of open land. In this segment of the text,

the word, “middle,” no longer implies the objective centrality that Hamm is accustomed to,

seated in the exact nucleus of the room. “Middle” now means “lost in the middle of nowhere.”

This image illustrates the feeling of agoraphobia experienced in the midst of a boundless expanse

where no center can be measured out. Hamm tries to erase this fear by fixating on the artificial

limits that he built to control this space:

HAMM:
Hug the walls, then back to the center again.
(Clov pushes chair.)
I was right in the center, wasn’t I?
CLOV (pushing):
Yes.
HAMM:

Are you hugging?
CLOV (pushing):
Yes.
HAMM (groping for wall):
It's a lie! Why do you lie to me?
CLOV (bearing closer to wall):
There! There!
HAMM:
Stop!
(Clov stops chair close to back wall. Hamm lays his hand against wall.)
Old wall!
(Pause.)
Beyond is the... other hell.
(Pause. Violently.)
Closer! Closer! Up against!
CLOV:
Take away your hand.
(Hamm withdraws his hand. Clov rams chair against wall.)
There!
(Hamm leans towards wall, applies his ear to it.)
HAMM:
Do you hear?
(He strikes the wall with his knuckles.)
Do you hear? Hollow bricks!
(He strikes again.)
All that’s hollow! (Beckett, 25-26)

Hamm needs to physically feel the wall to gain reassurance that his space is tangible and well-

defined. After reasserting his control over this space by circumscribing the room, Hamm wishes

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to return to the center, the pivotal point from which he can rule his dominion. When touching the

wall, Hamm says, “Old wall!” This affectionate tone recalls Hamm's remark to his handkerchief,

“Old stancher!” Such an association implies that the wall, like the bloodstained handkerchief,

simply stanches or slows down the bleeding, which symbolizes each living person's gradual,

ebbing approach towards death. The wall serves to provide Hamm with the comforting illusion

that he knows and controls the limits of his existence. When Hamm says, “Beyond is the other

hell,” he reveals a fear of the measureless and limitless emptiness beyond his walls. He remarks

that the bricks are hollow, alluding to his own feelings of hollowness and meaninglessness.

To impose order upon this essentially entropic space, the characters of Endgame resort to

technology. In this play, there is a measuring tape to make sure that Hamm is in the middle of

the room, an alarm clock to measure time, a thermometer to measure the temperature, and a

telescope to view the space outside of the room. However, neither time nor position in space

matters in this play- nothing happens over time and no one goes anywhere. The position of the

room is completely arbitrary, so Hamm's central position within this room is a completely

random position within the universe, no matter how precisely Clov measures out the center. The

thermometer measures “zero” and when Clov looks out the window with the telescope, he says,

“Zero… zero” (Beckett, 29). This repetition of zero not only re-emphasizes a sense of

nothingness and emptiness, but it also gives the coordinates of the origin, or center, in Cartesian

space. In representations of Cartesian space, the origin is usually the intersection of two axes on

a blank sheet of a paper, the image of void. This origin is a completely arbitrary marker, with no

correlation to the “real” space of the world. Thus, the measurements in Endgame are based on

artificial conventions rather than on true absolutes derived from reality.

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Technology does not valorize man in Endgame. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the ape-

man’s technological discovery of the bone as a weapon puts him above other animals, but the

characters of Endgame are consistently animalistic, caring only about food and relief from pain.

Clov, forced by Hamm to say something eloquent and dramatic, says, “Look at all that beauty.

That order! They said to me, Come now, you’re not a brute beast” (Beckett, 80). Here, Clov

affirms the existence of beauty and order. However, he was forced to utter this inspiring and

heartening remark- in reality, both beauty and order are artificial ideas constructed by Hamm and

Clov to shield them from the frightening truth that they are nothing more than brute beasts.

These noble ideas are the walls that shape and mold a meaningful and measurable psychological

space for the characters of Endgame.

Much of 2001: A Space Odyssey also portrays the impotence of man and his attempts to

order space through the use of technology. In both the film and the play, characters must stay

within an enclosed, artificial space because the expanses of space beyond the walls of

Endgame’s bomb shelter and 2001: A Space Odyssey’s spacecrafts are frightfully deadly. When

Dave does venture out of his spacecraft, we hear the sound of his breathing with no musical

accompaniment. This hollow sound heightens our awareness of the surrounding silence and lack

of dialogue, thus emphasizing the isolation of each individual within such vast, empty spaces.

The sound of breathing also draws attention to the fact that respiration in outer space must be

artificially aided by technology, since breathing is usually a natural activity that passes on

unnoticed.

This theme of isolation and technology is especially conspicuous in the birthday scenes.

When Dr. Floyd calls his daughter on a futuristic visual-phone to apologize that he cannot attend

her birthday party, she asks for a telephone as a birthday gift. Her request for a telephone, even

4
though she already has many telephones, indicates her isolation and desire for communication.

After Dr. Floyd’s conversation with his daughter ends, her image on the screen is replaced by,

“Charge $1.70 Thank you.” This troubling contrast serves to remind us how very far apart the

two conversationalists are. When Frank views a transmission from his parents wishing him a

happy birthday, there is only a one-way dialogue while the slow, cheerless background music is

sets a forlorn and lonely tone. Ironically, the only real “birth” day occurs at the end of the film,

with the appearance of the “star child.” The birthdays of Frank and Dr. Floyd’s daughter are

merely artificial conventions that do not coincide with any sort of creation, change, or new

beginnings.

Like Endgame, the lack of a center is a prevalent motif in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In our

introduction to the Jupiter Mission, we see Dave jogging on a track. However, there is no

establishing shot to orient the viewer with the spatial relationships between the figures and

objects within the scene. The camera is stationary relative to the spacecraft, while Dave looks as

if he is running on the side of a wall. The camera cuts to a position that is stationary relative to

Dave, as if it were following him from behind. It cuts two more times to positions that are

stationary relative to Dave; one looking up at him from the front, another looking up at him from

behind. Because there is no consistent or stable reference point, we cannot tell whether the

spacecraft is stationary while Dave is moving, or Dave is stationary while the spacecraft is

rotating like a hamster wheel. This scene visually acquaints us with the fact that the characters

experience no gravity, which is a general trend or attraction towards a central focal point.

While many scenes of the Jupiter Mission are shot with oblique camera angles, in the

scenes prior to Dr. Floyd’s disorienting and destabilizing encounter with the monolith, the

camera is much more sure of itself. It usually produces the illusion of a definite “up” and

5
“down” despite the meaninglessness of such concepts in outer space. Rather than cutting

between different perspectives, as in the scene of Dave jogging, these scenes have a stable center

or axis that visually organizes the spacial relationships within the image in a consistent fashion.

In any room or tunnel, shots are taken from the middle so that the image is perfectly symmetrical

and all perspective lines, which are made up of the straight lines produced by the edges of

ceilings or tables, converge in the center of the screen (Figure 1).

Figure 1

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Figure 2

Figure 2 shows the future space of human beings in neat, geometrical order. Straight

lines run across the floor and vertically across the walls, while the ceiling is gridded into

identical squares. The room exudes a sterile whiteness that is enhanced by the artificial lighting.

This enclosed and limited space of rectilinear shapes, smooth curves, and white light stands in

stark contrast to ruddy, rugged landscape and reddish-orange sun of the Dawn of Man scene.

The primitive rawness of the Dawn of Man scene vibrates with a violent, dangerous, and creative

potential that is completely absent from the safe, dull, and sheltered spacecrafts of the future. In

slow motion and accompanied by a heroic orchestral overture, an ape-man discovers technology

by smashing a bone against the skull of a dead animal. During this episode, we see a fleeting

flash-cut to a falling animal, indicating that the ape-man realizes that the bone can be used to kill

animals. Here, unlike in Endgame, technology can be a heroic achievement by which human

beings achieve ascendancy over the “brute beasts.”

Though the jump-cut between the ape-man’s bone in midair and the spacecraft in space

links both the bone and spacecraft as instruments of human technology, Kubrick’s depiction of

the technology of the future is entirely different. Technology in the future, characterized by a

waltzing score of placid refinement and harmony, represents humanity’s illusory belief that it has

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successfully organized space. The sophisticated perfection and order they achieve proves to be

delicate and fragile in the face of its confrontation with the monolith.

The cloistered impotence of human beings and their technology is especially evident

during Dr. Floyd’s investigation of Clavius where he encounters the monolith. Just as in our first

encounter with the monolith, the landscape is rugged and ruddy and the music is discordant and

polyrhythmic, implying chaos and disorder. The image of Dr. Floyd’s diminutive spacecraft in

the midst of the vast surface of Clavius recalls Beckett’s image of the human being as “a little bit

of grit in the middle of the steppe” in Endgame. While Clov views the space beyond his walls

using a telescope, Dr. Floyd and his crew “view” the outside space using technologically-

enhanced electronic representations. Shots of computer screens demonstrate how technology

maps out and measures the landscape using gridlines, concentric circles, numbers, and letters, all

in an attempt to impose an artificial geometric order on a chaotic space. Dr. Floyd flips through

multiple pictures of the “geological disturbance” at the site of the monolith. However, none of

these numerous artificial representations of the geological disturbance explains the mystery of

this un-chartable monolith.

Around the monolith, rectilinear structures like walls and large grids of lights have

already been erected in a feeble attempt to contain and illuminate this frightfully dark and

enigmatic object. Dr. Floyd and his crew prepare to take a picture, but an ear-piercing sound

prevents them producing a visual reproduction of the monolith. The monolith cannot be

represented, reproduced, understood, or contained by man's technology.

The monolith cuts through space and time and evokes the same reaction from the

astronauts as it does from the ape-men. The monolith is eternal and conveys a sense of

constancy and prescience. A mixture of fear and awe inspires the humans of both the past and

8
future to gently run a finger across the smooth, straight surface of the geometrically perfect form.

The features of the monolith imply an intelligent designer. The dimensions of this rectilinear

object are the ratios of the perfects squares of one, two, and three. It is the epitome of pure order.

In contrast, the landscape surrounding the monolith is rough and irregular. Thus, we may

be tempted to bracket together nature and chaos in opposition to intelligence and order.

However, this dichotomy is misleading. The monolith represents the natural order underlying

the universe, while the order constructed by humans is illusory and artificial.

Figure 3

The room in Figure 3, from the end of the film, displays the same qualities of artificial

order as those of the spacecraft. The scene is shot directly in the middle, so that the image is

symmetrical. There are complementary pairs of chairs, lamps, vases, and paintings on either side

of the room. Even the poses of the two statues are symmetrical. Both the floor and the blanket

are gridded into identical squares. The eighteenth-century design of the room alludes to the

control-based Victorian era of etiquette and repression. This oppressive artificial order stands in

opposition to the natural order of the monolith. Prior to the scene pictured in Figure 3, when

9
Dave is eating, the stark, isolated clinks of his silverware emphasize the sterility of this space.

The whiteness of the rooms also suggests sterility. But when the glass from which Dave is

drinking falls to the floor and chaotically shatters into numerous jagged, irregular pieces, we see

and hear how utterly fragile this artificial order is.

The pitch-black monolith, by comparison, conveys a sense of depth and constancy. It is

the center, the focal point of the image in Figure 3. The perspective lines of the gridded floor,

walls, and edges of the ceiling all point towards it. The camera slowly approaches the monolith

until the screen is entirely black. After a few moments, we realize that this expanse of black is

the universe, as it fills with stars and planets. This association of the monolith with the universe

reveals that the monolith is universal and all-pervasive, eternal and divine. This association also

implies that the universe is fundamentally like the monolith- perfect and intelligently-ordered.

With this revelation that nature and order are harmonious, we can better understand the

tableaus with the sun at the beginning of the film. The very logo of the film includes the picture

of a perfectly circular sun rising over planet (Figure 4). The illuminated portion of the planet

forms a perfect arc, and the entire image is symmetrical along a central vertical axis. We see a

similar tableau again in the Dawn of Man scene (Figure 5), but the sun is rising over the

monolith rather than a planet. The monolith is the underlying agent behind the geometric

perfection of natural forms like the stars and planets. The sun is important in another respect, in

that its light marks day and night in a natural, rhythmic order whereas the artificial lighting on

the spacecrafts may be turned on or off arbitrarily. Whereas the lighting of the spacecrafts

conveys sterility, the monumental rise of the sun implies a dawning, a new beginning, a brave

leap forward.

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Figure 4

Figure 5

In both Endgame and 2001: A Space Odyssey, human beings try to establish a center

within the confines of their limited, sheltered space. This center is the foundation by which

people build order and measure out their space. Walls in Endgame and straight lines and grids in

2001: A Space Odyssey figure prominently as tools for organizing and enclosing a safe and

psychologically comforting space. These spacial limiters are repressive instruments that shield

people from the truly frightening expanses of immeasurable and unfathomable space beyond the

walls. The characters of Endgame and 2001: A Space Odyssey mediate their relationship with

this frightening outer space through the use of technology. Technology attempts to control or

interpret space, but such efforts prove to be useless. Endgame and 2001: A Space Odyssey

diverge in that 2001: A Space Odyssey portrays another side to technology in which an ape-man

uses it to gain ascendancy over other animals. Here, intelligence is a righteous quality. Whereas

the desire for order is sheer folly in the utterly meaningless and chaotic universe of Endgame, the

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monolith of 2001: A Space Odyssey glorifies intelligence and natural order. 2001: A Space

Odyssey promises renewal upon the lifting of the artificial orderings and repressions condemned

by both Beckett and Kubrick.

Word Count: 3,060

12
PAPER: 2500-3000 words
currently: 2736

• thesis: arbitrary designation of a center by which (or around which) we can charter/measure
(measurement using different technologies, computer screens in 2001 and props in Endgame,
geometry) space, imposition of arbitrary circles and gridlines to establish some sort of
organization of order, grasp the space. establishment of a center is essential for creating
order and meaning. dealing with an empty, unchartered space. feeling of smallness,
insignificance, agoraphobia in such a vast, meaningless, mysterious, overwhelming space.
both emphasize the folly of imposing order and man’s natural isolation. pyschological
fixation on order.
Hamm is neurotic about being in the middle of the room, and Clov must nudge his chair
every which way until he is exactly centered. This focal position in the room, which represents
man’s limited conception of the universe, gives Hamm a sense of control and foundation. The
center is equidistant from all four walls and its position implies symmetry, order, and balance.
Hamm’s psychological fixation on centrality is a defensive reaction against what he fears to be
the true nature of the universe: that the neat walls enclosing a well-defined rectilinear space are
simply an illusion, that there is simply vast emptiness and no real center. Hamm experiences this
emptiness at the core of his own being; he has a sore where his heart is supposed to be. He
describes this fear to Clov:
You’ll look at the wall a while, then you’ll say, I’ll close my eyes, perhaps have a little sleep,
after that I’ll feel better, and you’ll close them. And when you open them again there’ll be no
wall any more. Infinite emptiness will be all around you… and you’ll be like a little bit of
grit in the middle of the steppe. (Beckett, 36)
The image of a little speck in the midst of vast open lands also appears in 2001: A Space
Odyssey, when a spacecraft travels over the surface of the moon, Clavius, accompanied by eerily
discordant electronic music. Both images illustrate the feeling of agoraphobic fear in the midst
of a boundless expanse where no center can be measured out. Hamm tries to erase this fear by
fixating on the artificial limits that he has built to control this space:
HAMM:
Hug the walls, then back to the center again.
(Clov pushes chair.)
I was right in the center, wasn't I?
CLOV (pushing):
Yes.
HAMM:

Are you hugging?
CLOV (pushing):
Yes.
HAMM (groping for wall):
It's a lie! Why do you lie to me?
CLOV (bearing closer to wall):
There! There!
HAMM:
Stop!
(Clov stops chair close to back wall. Hamm lays his hand against wall.)
Old wall!
(Pause.)
Beyond is the... other hell.
(Pause. Violently.)
Closer! Closer! Up against!
CLOV:
Take away your hand.
(Hamm withdraws his hand. Clov rams chair against wall.)
There!
(Hamm leans towards wall, applies his ear to it.)
HAMM:
Do you hear?
(He strikes the wall with his knuckles.)
Do you hear? Hollow bricks!
(He strikes again.)
All that's hollow! (Beckett, 25-26)
Hamm needs to feel the wall to gain reassurance that his space is tangible and well-defined.
After reasserting his control over this space by circumscribing the room, Hamm wishes to return
to the center, the pivotal point from which he can rule his dominion. When touching the wall,
Hamm says, “Old wall!” This affectionate tone recalls Hamm’s remark to his hankerchief, “Old
stancher!” This association implies that the wall, like the hankerchief, simply stanches or slows
down each living person’s slow bleeding approach towards death. The wall serves to provide
Hamm with the comforting illusion that he knows and controls the limits of his existence. When
Hamm says that “Beyond is the… other hell,” he reveals his fear of the measureless and limitless
emptiness beyond his walls. He remarks that the bricks are hollow, alluding to his own feeling
of hollowness and meaninglessness.
To impose order upon this essentially entropic space, the characters of Endgame, like
those of 2001: A Space Odyssey, resort to technology. The characters of Endgame have a
measuring tape to make sure that Hamm is in the middle of the room, an alarm clock for
measuring time, a thermometer for measuring the temperature, and a telescope for viewing the
space outside of the room. However, neither time nor position in space matters in this play-
nothing happens over time and no one goes anywhere. The position of the room is completely
arbitrary, so Hamm’s central position within this room is a completely random position within
the universe. The measurement of time is also based upon conventions. The thermometer
measures “zero” [there zero also implies nothingness] and when Clov looks out the window with
the telescope, he says, “Zero… And zero” (Beckett, ??), which are the coordinates of the center
of Cartesian space. This center is an abitrary marker on a blank, empty sheet of paper. Thus, the
measurements in Endgame is based on artificial conventions rather than natural absolutes.
Technology does not valorize man in Endgame. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the ape-
man’s technological discovery of the bone as a weapon puts him above other animals, but the
characters of Endgame are consistently animalistic, caring only about food and relief from pain.
Clov, forced by Hamm to say something eloquent and dramatic, says, “Look at all that beauty.
That order! They said to me, Come now, you’re not a brute beast…” (Beckett, 80). Here, Clov
affirms the existence of beauty and order. However, he was forced to say something inspiring- in

14
reality, neither beauty and order are simply artificial ideas constructed by Hamm and Clov to
shield them from the fearful truth that they are nothing more than brute beasts.
Much of 2001: A Space Odyssey also portrays the impotence of man and his attempts to
order space using technology. In both the film and the play, the characters must stay within an
enclosed, artificial space because the expanses of space beyond the walls of Endgame’s bomb
shelter and 2001: A Space Odyssey’s spaceshuttles are deadly and frightful. When Dave does
venture out of his spaceshuttle, we hear the sound of his breathing with no musical
accompanyment. This hollow sound heightens our awareness of the surrounding silence and
lack of dialogue, emphasizing the isolation of each individual within such vast, empty spaces.
This sound also draws attention to the fact that breathing in outer space must be artificially aided
by technology, since breathing is usually a natural activity that passes on unnoticed.
This theme of isolation and technology is especially conspicuous in the birthday scenes.
When Dr. Floyd calls his daughter on a futuristic visual-phone to apologize that he cannot attend
her birthday party, she asks for a telephone as a birthday gift. Her request for a telephone, even
though she already has many telephones, indicates her isolation and desire for communication.
After Dr. Floyd’s conversation with his daughter ends, her image on the screen is replaced by,
“Charge $1.70 Thank you.” After being absorbed into Dr. Floyd’s conversation with his
daughter, this troubling contrast serves to remind us that the two conversationists are very far
apart. When Frank views a transmission from his parents wishing him a happy birthday, there is
only a one-way dialogue while the slow, cheerless background music is sets a forlorn and lonely
tone. Ironically, the only real “birth” day occurs at the end of the film, with the appearance of
the “star child.” The birthdays of Frank and Dr. Floyd’s daughter are merely artificial
conventions that do not coincide with any sort of creation, change, or new beginnings.
As in Endgame, the lack of a center is a prevalent motif. In our introduction to the
Jupiter Mission, we see Dave jogging on a track. However, there is no establishing shot to orient
the viewer to the spatial relationships between the figures and objects within the scene. The
camera is stationary relative to the spacecraft, while Dave looks as if he is running on the side of
a wall. The camera cuts to a position that is stationary relative to Dave, as if it were following
him from behind. It cuts two more times to positions that are stationary relative to Dave; one
looking up at him from the front, another looking up at him from behind. We cannot tell whether
the spacecraft is stationary while Dave is moving, or Dave is stationary while the spacecraft is
rotating like a hamster wheel. This scene visually acquaints us with the fact that the characters
experience no gravity, no general trend or attraction toward a central focal point.
While many scenes of the Jupiter Mission are shot with oblique camera angles, in the
scenes prior to Dr. Floyd’s disorienting encounter with the monolith, the camera is much more
sure of itself and usually produces the illusion of a definite “up” and “down.” Rather than
cutting between different perpsectives, as in the scene of Dave jogging, these scenes have a
stable center or axis that visually organizes the spacial relationships within the image in a
consistent fashion. In any room or tunnel, shots are taken from the middle so that the image is
perfectly symmetrical and all perspective lines, which are made up of the straight lines produced
by the edges of ceilings or tables, converge in the center of the screen (Figure 1).
[PICTURE of the tunnel, Figure 1]
[PICTURE of the neat spacescaft, Figure 2]
Figure 2 shows the future space of human beings in neat, geometrical order. Straight
lines run across the floor and vertically across the walls, while the ceiling is gridded into
identical squares. The room exhibits a sterile whiteness, enhanced by the artificial lighting. This

15
enclosed and limited space of retilinear shapes, smooth curves, and white light stands in stark
contrast to ruddy, rugged landscape and reddish-orange sun of the Dawn of Man scene. The
primitive rawness of the Dawn of Man scene vibrates with a violent, dangerous, and creative
potential that is completely lacking in the safe, dull, and sheltered spacecrafts of the future. In
slow motion and accompanied by a heroic orchestral overture, an ape-man discovers technology
by smashing a bone against the skull of a dead animal. During this episode, we see a fleeting
flash cut to a falling animal, indicating that the ape-man realizes that the bone can be used to kill
animals. Here, unlike in Endgame, technology can be a heroic achievement by which human
beings achieve ascendency over the “brute beasts.”
Though the jump cut between the ape-man’s bone in midair and the spacecraft in space
associates both the bone and spacecraft as developments of humans’ technology, Kubrick’s
depiction of the technology of the future is entirely different. Technology in the future,
characterized by a waltzing score of placid refinement and harmony, represents human being’s
struggle to organize and comprehend an immeasurable and unfathomable space. The sophiscated
perfection and order they achieve proves to be delicate, fragile, and illusory.
The cloistered impotence of human beings and their technology is especially evident
during Dr. Floyd’s investigation of Clavius where he encounters the monolith. Just as in our first
encounter with the monolith, the landscape is rugged and ruddy and the music is discordant and
polyrhythmic, implying chaos and disorder. Similar to how Clov views the space outside his
walls using a telescope in Endgame, Dr. Floyd and his crew “view” the outside space using
technologically-enhanced electronic representations. Shots of computer screens show us how
their technology maps out and measures the landscape using gridlines, concentric circles,
numbers, and letters, all in an attempt to impose an artificial geometric order on a chaotic space.
Dr. Floyd flips through multiple pictures of the “geological disturbance” around the site of the
monolith. However, none of these numerous artificial representations of the geological
disturbance explains the mystery of this unchartable monolith.
Around the monolith, rectilinear structures like walls and large grids of lights have
already been erected in a feeble attempt to contain and illuminate this fearfully dark and
enigmatic object. Dr. Floyd and his crew prepare to take a picture, but an ear-piercing sound
prevents them producing this visual reproduction of the monolith. The monolith cannot be
represented, reproduced, understood, or contained by man’s technology.
The monolith cuts through space and time and evokes the same reaction from the
austronauts as it does from the ape-men. The monolith is eternal and conveys a sense of
constancy and prescience. A mixture of fear and awe inspires the humans of both the past and
future to gently run a finger across the smooth, straight surface of the geometrically perfect form.
The dimensions of this rectilinear object are the ratios of the perfects squares of one, two, and
three, implying an intelligent designer. The monolith the epitome of pure order.
In contrast, the landscape surrounding the monolith is rough and irregular. Thus, we may
be tempted to associate nature and chaos in opposition to intelligence and order. However, this
dichotomy is misleading. While the monolith represents the natural order underlying the
universe, the order constructed by humans is illusory and artificial.
[PICTURE, Figure 3]
The room in Figure 3 displays the same qualities of artificial order as those of the
spacecraft. The scene is shot directly in the middle, so that the image is symmetrical. There are
complementary pairs of chairs, lamps, vases, and paintings on either side of the room. Even the
poses of the two statues are symmetrical. Both the floor and the blanket are gridded into

16
identical squares. The eighteenth-century design of the room alludes to the control-based
Victorian era of etiquette and repression. It is this kind of artificial order that stands in
opposition to the order of the monolith. Prior to this scene, when Dave is eating, his the stark,
isolated clinks of his silverware emphasize the sterility of this space. The whiteness of the rooms
also suggests sterility. But when the glass from which Dave is drinking falls to the floor and
chaotically shatters into numerous jagged, irregular pieces, we see and hear how utterly fragile
this artificial order is.
The pitch black monolith, by comparison, conveys a sense of depth and constancy. It is
the center, the focal point of the image in Figure 3. The perspective lines of the gridded floor,
walls, and edges of the ceiling point towards it. The camera slowly approaches the monolith
until the screen is entirely black. After a few moments, we realize that this expanse of black is
the universe, filled with stars and planets. This association of the monolith with the universe
reveals that the monolith is universal and all-pervasive, eternal and divine. This association also
implies that the universe is fundamentally like the monolith- perfect and intelligently-ordered.
With this revelation that nature and order are harmonious, we can better understand the
tableaus with the sun at the beginning of the film. The very logo of the film includes the picture
of a perfectly circular sun rising over planet (Figure 4). The illuminated portion of the planet
forms a perfect arc, and the entire image is symmetrical along a central vertical axis. We see a
similar tableau again in the Dawn of Man scene (Figure 5), but the sun is rising over the
monolith rather than a planet. The monolith is the underlying agent behind the geometric
perfection of natural forms like the stars and planets. The sun is important in another respect, in
that its light marks day and night in a natural, rhythmic order whereas the artificial lighting on
the spacecrafts may be turned on or off arbitrarily. Whereas the lighting of the spacecrafts
convey sterility, the monumental rise of the sun implies a dawning, a new beginning, a brave
leap forward.
[PICTURE, Figure 4]
[PICTURE, Figure 5]

• summary conclusions of 2001: mixed view of tech- man imprisoned within his own tech,
dual potentials of tech"This is what 2001 is about: man, who transcended the animal
condition by means of technology, must free himself of that same technology to arrive at a
superhuman condition" (127).
• resolving rational order’s opposition to nature/God
• total conclusions: in Endgame, the wall, the belief in beauty and order, the belief in a center
that isn’t arbitrary- all illusions meant to act as a shield from the fearful vast emptiness and
nothingness beyond the walls- the safeness of a neat, enclosed, and sterile space.
• everyone loves order, but artificial order is deceptive. order is isolating in 2001.
• ARTIFICIAL ORDER IS REPRESSIVE

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• in Endgame, all impositions of order are pointless. Clov’s cleaning, Hamm’s insistence on
being in the center. Clov: “If I don’t kill that rat he’ll die.” (In 2001, much more
complicated understanding of order)
• empty space of silence and time must be made meaningful with dialogue and rituals: Clov: “I
have things to do.” Hamm: “What, I’d like to know.” Clov: “I look at the wall.” boredom,
waiting to die, fill w/trivial game, meaningless rituals (Nell and Nagg trying to kiss each
other, checking the windows). fill w/useless dialogue, no spontaneous or natural dialogue,
that’s why “pause” is used so often. dialogue’s function is to create meaning. dialogue
creates meaning in memory space by reconstruction of memory.
• madman’s representation of the world vs. Hamm’s. which is reality? (initial representation
of the world vs. Dave’s eye and his psychedelic trip represention. which is reality?)
• lack of light- darkness. constantly referring to light, and how it’s extinguished.
• various spacial metaphors: the room: sterile, empty, barren, bare. “Bare interior. Grey
light.” simmultaneously, the emptiness of the universe, the comfort of four straight walls
• chessboard space: gridlines. Chess-like movement.
• animalistic man: idea of brute beast, technology, and man: “Lick your neighbor as
yourself!” (Hamm, 68). several descriptions of people “crawling,” something animals would
do. All the characters are only interested in the most animalistic things, relief of pain,
hunger, itches, etc.
• nature: natural vs. articial. Hamm daydreams about nature, but only his parents vegetation-
like. no natural order, meaning, or beauty. (as opposed to 2001’s more destabalized
dichotomy between nature and artificial- the possibility of natural order) “What dreams!
Those forests!” (Hamm, 3). “If I could sleep I might make love. I’d go into the woods. My
eyes would see . . . the sky, the earth. I’d run, run, they wouldn’t catch me. / (Pause.) /
Nature!” (Hamm, 18). Hamm, 39. sleep=dream=illusion.
• Clov’s cleanliness and order: impose order on the space. Clov: “I love order. It’s my
dream.” (Clov, 57) dream=illusion.
• E3: meaning of life as a center: people just continue living in the illusory belief that there is
a meaning, a G-d, a life beyond death, a sugar-plum for Nagg, just like Hamm keeps going in
the false belief that there is pain-killer. pain-killer acts like an arbitrary (false, non-existent)
center by which Hamm organizes his day. the promise of help from pain. also, sugar plum,
God. they act as “centers” (explain). life is anticipation of these centers, we crawl towards
and are dragged by the centers as the mini-goals of our life (and God is the ultimate goal).
Excerpt #3:
After trying to pray:
HAMM:
The bastard!! He doesn't exist.
CLOV:
Not yet.
NAGG:
Me sugar-plum!
HAMM:
There are no more sugar plums!

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• beginning and end: complete blackness (associate with the monolith) with music prior to and
following credits
• Hal: his eye is perfection. “Foolproof, and incapable of error.” he is a system, just as culture
and civilization is. it can be drawn using three concentric circles and is bordered by four
straight lines. HAL can beat Dave? at chess. the spacecraft looks like a face: the eyes are the
windows, while the mouth is the pod opening [or whatever it’s called]. HAL’s brain is
completely geometric. he is completely artificial. but the fact that he has feelings is very
forcefully conveyed. [Do we feel compassion for HAL? Does Dave?]
• when the hibernating astronauts die, their biorhythms: rugged and jagged when they’re alive,
become straight lines when they die. reinforcing the artificiality of order, the dichotomy
between natural disorder and artificial order.
• Dave’s final psychedelic journey [see what the brochure calls it]. problematizes
representation and geometry? complex geometrical patterns. constant cuts to the eye.
synthetic recoloring of the eye, of the landscape? Dave’s eye conjures up HAL’s eye. human
sight is as “real” as the synthesized image on computer screens.
• robotic behavior of the crew
• secret mission
“Its central figure, the astronaut Bowman, was an Odysseus, the sole survivor of his expedition,
returning transformed to transform others.”
“Kubrick's astronauts are overtrained, taciturn and almost robotic; the computer HAL is the only
`human' character in the film. The scene when Bowman disconnects HAL is chilling precisely
because we do not know who is the superior intelligence, and who has the right to disconnect
whom.”
The allusion to the superhuman, of course, suggests both Nietzsche and the Richard Strauss
symphonic poem Also Sprach Zarathustra,”
• delicate dialogue regarding Clavius. delicate dialogue. “May I ask you a straighforward
question?”. Going along with the Blue Danube waltz, conversationists are dancing around
the subject. making small talk to work way into the subject of Clavius, change the subject
when things get tense. again, a feeling of isolation arises since everyone must keep their true
intentions secretly and privately locked up within themselves. solitude throughout most of
the movie. speaking Russian.
Dr. Heywood Floyd, Dr. Halvorsen: Clavius
Dave, Frank: Jupiter Mission
• isolation, hollowness: The numerous empty seats of the spacecraft, solitude throughout the
film.
• compare to briefing: camera pivots slightly to the left and then slightly to the right, but
always returns to fixed center. desk, the ceiling, the chairs, all the perspective lines pointing
at the podium perfectly and centrally situated at the end of the room.
Caption: The viewer is surprised to learn that up is not up, and down is not down.
• misc: While order can be artificial and sterile and nature may appear chaotic and disordered,
the film leaves open the possibility that there is a beautiful and divine order underlying
nature. Whereas Endgame is an aggressively nihilistic play, Kubrick called 2001:A Space
Odyssey a “religious” film.
• technology used to access/dominate space. the bone to get water-hole space, discovery
of the cave as a safe space against predators like the leopard. spacecrafts and spacesuits to

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access outer space. inventions and tools- mastery of space. hibernation: slow down
time’s natural toll on human beings. give human beings larger access to time and space
(hibernation for the purpose of traveling to distant spaces).
• The Blue Danube- waltz. sweeping elegance and serendipity. the dance of the shuttle and
the space station. too casual for something so huge, momentous, awe-inspiring as the
special effects of that magnificent spacecraft. delicacy and slow movement of the pen.
so non-violent compared to the bone clubs. tech has lost its bravery, its potential for
evolution, its raw potential as seen in the rawness of the meat in the Dawn of Man scene.
• on the one hand, Beckett would have agreed with this depiction of man as savage animals,
with no real compassion (just as no real compassion exists in Endgame, and all intimacy is
comedic). even when they’re huddling together in the shelter of the cave they squabble
within their own clan over food and hit each other on the head. mean and cowardly.
abandoning the ape eaten by the leopard(?), the violent fighting and screaming between the
two clans of apes over the water hole. [look up Thus Spoke Zarathustra]. brutality, yet glory
of the music, fleeting flash cut to the falling animal: 1) as if the ape were hitting the animal 2)
man’s ascendency over animals- man simultaneously portrayed as an animalistic being as
well as a being that transcends other animals. the music creats an effect that is
simultaneously hideous and triumphant; triumphant because the music is celebratory, hideous
because the music celebrates not only the discovery of technology, but also the perpetuation
of violence. violence vs. creativity.
• tons of framed shots- constantly watching through screens, windows. syncing of the
concentric circles and straight axises. Endgame’s attention given to the center.
“Then comes Kubrick's legendary `jump cut'. To the swelling chords and drumbeats of Strauss's
`Also Sprach Zarathustra' -- the famous `2001 music' -- the killer hominid triumphantly smashes
a mammal skeleton. The bone-weapon flies into the air, turning in slow motion, to become -- an
orbiting spacecraft. It is the longest cut in all of cinema: millions of years of human evolution in
a single frame. We are to understand that bone and spacecraft alike are tools, marking the
beginning and end of a single phase of human evolution which is about to close as mankind
ventures into space.”
“The hallmark of the music associated with the alien is dissonance, atonality, and discordance.
Polychords, chromaticism, tritones, and other avant-garde harmonic and melodic devices
(electronic music especially) as well as irregular metres and polyrhythms characterize the music
of the alien.”: harmony and melody imply order.
“The music of 2001 follows the conventions and themes of science fiction films. It underscores
the conflict between the stable, rational, and well-ordered world made possible and basically run
by science, and the chaos and destruction that attends creativity or experimentation with two
dominant musical impulses: The rational and frankly dull operations of science are accompanied
by conservative "classical" pieces, and the periods of chaos and creativity are accompanied by
the avant-garde and atonal works of Ligeti.”

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