2001: A Metaphorical Odyssey


Myths are created for the purpose of conveying a message with an
interesting medium with which to do so. Many cultures use myths to teach their
young about the past. Through time, however, these myths become impractical due
to discovery. This is when a new myth must be introduced to take the place of
the obsolete one. Stanley Kubrick shaped 2001: A Space Odyssey as a new myth to
crack the archaic view of space, by using a hero, a dilemma, and a new
revelation to fuel his cause.

Every myth has a character that breaks the mold of the ordinary. In
Homer\'s The Odyssey, Odysseus is the character that broke the mold of the other
mortals. He displayed character traits that superseded those of his crew mates.
Much in the same fashion, Bowman breaks the mold of the astronauts aboard the
Discovery. He and Poole are share duties aboard the Discovery, but he
demonstrates a higher level of thinking by sensing and interpreting what is
happening before him. He is the one that realizes exactly what HAL is doing,
and he puts a stop to it. He sees problems, analyzes them, and then proceeds to
diffuse the cause in the most efficient manner possible. He uses his character
traits of intelligence, persistence, and adroitness to overcome the dilemmas put
in front of him. By using his intelligence, he realizes that HAL has figured
him out, and he must find a way to get back into the discovery in order to
survive. In using persistence, Bowman does not give up when it seems that HAL
has won the battle. Instead he takes the rough way in, and he then disables HAL.
Bowman shows how adroit he is with dilemmas by handling the entire HAL
situation with calm and intelligence.

While on the mission, Bowman is faced with many dilemmas. The first
dilemma, is that he is in the dark about the purpose of the mission. He has
only been supplied with the vital information that he will need to perform
routine operations until the site of the mission is reached. HAL is responsible
for informing him when the place has been reached and time is right to complete
the mission. He decides that he must do what he can without actually knowing
the exact purpose of the mission. The next dilemma is that HAL has been
reacting to his instincts in a negative manner. He realizes that Bowman and
Poole are having doubts about the mission. Bowman decides that he must hide his
emotions and plans from HAL in order to proceed successfully. HAL, on the other
hand, figures out that Bowman and Poole are planning to unplug him by reading
their lips while they are conversing in the pod, and finds a way to get them
where he can control them. He fakes a failure in the communications satellite
dish, and Poole goes out to repair it, never to return. After Poole is disposed
of, Bowman finally realizes that HAL has turned on him. This is the ultimate
dilemma that Bowman must face. He is locked out of the Discovery, and he must
find a way to get back in and disable HAL before he dies, and the mission is
unsalvageable. He finally succeeds in re-entering the Discovery and disabling
HAL as the ship nears Jupiter and the pre-recorded message plays on the video
screen. His decision to unplug HAL and run the mission solo is the deciding
factor in the new revelation that he encounters.

With the approaching of the climax of the movie, Bowman realizes that
the mission was far beyond the comprehension of any human being. He realizes
why the mission had been kept confidential even to him, as a pre-recorded
message gives him a debriefing of the purpose of the mission. The ever present
question of whether or not there are other intelligent beings in the universe is
answered as Bowman enters the stargate. As he descends into the stargate, the
many colors and patterns show that he is proceeding into a realm that is a
paradox of powers. When Bowman sees that he is being protected from forces
that are far beyond the control of any mortal, he knows that these other beings
are far superior to humans. With his experiences, the enlightened Bowman
returns to earth realizing that society dwindling.

Using Bowman as a hero that faces dilemmas to reach the target moment,
Stanley Kubrick uses 2001: A Space Odyssey as a new myth to replace the old
myths about space. This redefined what people thought