Saturday, March 24, 2012

2001 analysis - part 35: The meeting at Clavius; the monolith's shape


Top left: There are twelve people seated in the lecture room at Clavius: three men at Heywood Floyd's table, including Floyd (the men with their backs to us, with Floyd sitting in the middle of the three); three men and one woman at the table to the right; and four men and one woman at the left-hand table (clicking on the images will enlarge them). The religious significance here, in Jungian terms, is that the table with the three men represents the Trinity, which is exclusively male; the right-hand table, with four people (three men and one woman), represents the Trinity and the Virgin Mary; and the five people at the table on the left (four men and one woman) represent the Trinity, the Virgin Mary, and evil, which here is being portrayed as male in character. Top right: The view of the room from the other end, while Floyd is giving his lecture to the others at the meeting: It can be seen that there are two empty seats on the left, and one on the right. The two longer tables are equal in length, and along with the podium, and the shorter table at the other end, they give the whole arrangement the appearance of a rectangle (as viewed from above). Recall that the monolith itself is rectangular. Above left: Earlier in the meeting, when Floyd is ready to begin his lecture, he arises from his chair and walks around toward the podium in a clockwise direction (as viewed from above; denoted by 'cw'). In his Psychology and Alchemy, Carl Jung says, "[A] leftward movement is equivalent to a movement in the direction of the unconscious, whereas a movement to the right...aims at consciousness."[a] A clockwise motion is a movement toward the right, and thus, toward the conscious, which is, according to Jung, a movement toward the "correct" side; and a counterclockwise motion is one to the left, and thus the unconscious, which Jung calls the "sinister" side. Thus, Floyd's movement here is one toward the conscious. Above right: When Floyd is done speaking, he returns to his seat in a counter-clockwise direction ('ccw'), representing a move toward the unconscious. At the same time, the man who was sitting to Floyd's right (prior to Floyd leaving his seat for the podium; denoted by 'other man' in the screencap), approaches the podium in a clockwise direction, which, again, represents a move toward the conscious. Therefore, Floyd's impending entanglement with this man, as they try to maneuver past each other in the narrow passage behind the seats of the left-hand longer table, represents an impending 'collision', or conflict, between the conscious and the unconscious. The actual physical encounter between the two men is not shown, because just prior to its expected occurrence, the movie cuts to the lunar surface. This indicates that the actual conflict between conscious and unconscious in the movie, is to take place on the moon.

A few moments after the above-mentioned cut to the lunar surface, we see this particular view of the moonbus moving toward TMA-1. The conflict, or 'showdown', between the conscious and unconscious, is to take place at TMA-1. The events and meaning of this showdown will be gone into in detail, later in the analysis.

Above left: The monolith at TMA-1. Above right: The monolith in the Dawn of Man segment of the movie. Note that in both shots, the monolith is rectangular.

In Jung, a mandala is the "symbol of the center, the goal, or the [Self] as psychic totality...This is symbolically represented by the circle, the square, or the quaternity, by symmetrical arrangements of the number four and its multiples."[b] (emphasis not in original). A mandala represents psychological wholeness.[c] The above two screencaps show that the monolith is taller than it is wide, and thus, it does not form a square. It represents what Jung calls a "disturbed" mandala.[d] Jung links vertical height with the unconscious, and he links the horizontal (i.e., width) with the conscious.[e] Jung also tells us that in a man, the unconscious has feminine characteristics.[f] (David Bowman is a man, and it's his unconscious that is at work in A Space Odyssey). Therefore, by planting a monolith that is taller than it is wide, the aliens have 'planted' an over-emphasis on the feminine (at the expense of the masculine) at the dawn of man, therefore 'dooming' humanity to a lack of wholeness.

Recall that Bowman had earlier failed to 'save' the feminine, as symbolized by the fact that he failed to save the life of Frank Poole, whom as we said, represents yin. Since the feminine component of humanity was not saved, the alien, representing the 'evil feminine', stepped in with its own (evil) feminine nature and planted the irregular monolith. The movie's being a circular narrative implies that we have been 'trapped' in a never-ending cycle whereby wholeness cannot be attained, until the feminine component of humanity is 'saved' within some context (the 'feminine component' here implying one or more things having to do with the psyches of individual women).

a. Jung, C.G. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 12. Princeton University Press, 1968. para. 166.
b. Jung, C.G. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Recorded and edited by Aniela Jaffé. Trans. Richard and Clara Winston. Vintage Books, 1989. Glossary, "Mandala". Google Books. URL =
c. "Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is:...[T]he wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious, but which cannot tolerate self-deceptions." (--Jung, C.G., Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Google Books, p. 212, URL =
d. Jung, C.G., The Collected Works, Vol. 12, para. 287 and footnote no. 131. Google Books. URL =
e. Ibid., paras. 287, 291.
f. Ibid., para. 320.


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