Monday, April 23, 2012

2001 analysis - part 49: Hindu philosophy; manipulation of Bowman's psyche


In Lynch's Mulholland Drive, Adam (on the left, wearing black clothing), together with the Cowboy, represent the masculine component within Diane Selwyn's psyche, i.e., together they represent her animus. Thus, Diane has a 'split' animus. The Cowboy represents the more ('conventionally') masculine component of her animus, and Adam represents that part of Diane's animus which is 'intellectual'. Her intellect has, in turn, been cross-contaminated with contents from her psychological shadow.

To find out more about what's going on between David Bowman and the alien in A Space Odyssey, we need to look in more detail at the conversation between Adam and the Cowboy in Mulholland Drive.

As suggested by the caption to the above screencap, the Cowboy, in speaking to Adam, is actually interacting with Diane's shadow-contaminated intellect. When Adam agrees with the Cowboy by saying that "a man's attitude determines to a large extent how his life will go" (this being Adam's interpretation of what the Cowboy has told him), the Cowboy says to Adam, "Then, you must be a man who does not care about the good life." A little later in the conversation, the Cowboy tells Adam that he will have done good if he sees the Cowboy once more, and he will have done badly if he sees him twice more. Adam's statement about a man's attitude, and the Cowboy telling Adam that he must be a man who doesn't care about the good life, are both references to certain parts of a philosophical text from Hindu religion, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. In a part of this Upanishad, the sage, Yajnavalkya, says to his wife (Maitreyi), "As a person acts, so he becomes in life. Those who do good become good; those who do harm become bad. Good deeds make one pure; bad deeds make one impure. You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny." In another part of the conversation between Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi, Maitreyi asks her husband, "My lord, if I could get all the wealth in the world, would it help me to go beyond death?" Her husband responds, "Not at all. You would live and die like any other rich person. No one can buy immortality with money." Maitreyi then says, "Of what use then are money and material possessions to me? Please tell me, my lord, of the way that leads to immortality."[a]

Although she is a woman, Mulholland Drive's Diane Selwyn (shown) corresponds, to a degree, to 2001's David Bowman.

The correspondence of the Mulholland Drive scenario with 2001, is that David Bowman has a 'split' anima (the anima being the feminine component within a man's psyche), and he corresponds to Diane (note the gender reversal), with the alien corresponding, to some extent, to the Cowboy. The alien is to 'usurp' Bowman's own anima - it takes over the role of mediator between Bowman's unconscious and his conscious mind. In the long run, the alien is trying to make Bowman believe that he can achieve immortality, by uniting first with HAL, and then with the combined entity uniting with the alien.

Poole represents that part of Bowman's anima that is more intellectual in nature (Poole is a chess player), and that has been cross-contaminated with contents from his (Bowman's) shadow; for recall that in the chess game, Poole gave in to HAL without verifying that he'd been check-mated, symbolizing the fact that Bowman's intellect tends to 'give in' to his own shadow (note that Poole corresponds to Adam in Mulholland Drive). Bowman's shadow contents are, in turn, bound up with some sort of 'evil Jewishness' within him (recall the HAL/bad (i.e., evil) Jew correspondence). The alien, which as we said, has usurped the position of mediator between Bowman's unconscious and conscious, knows that it can achieve its plan for Bowman by communicating with that part of Bowman's psyche that is contaminated, or 'weakened', by evil Jewishness.

Above left: Frank Poole represents that part of Dave Bowman's anima that has been cross-contaminated with contents from his shadow. Above right: HAL, a 'Satan figure', represents an evil Jew.

The alien is communicating with Bowman in order to manipulate his psyche, such that he will eventually come to see a certain solution to the problem (his own internal contradictions, i.e., the tension of opposites within himself) raised by the confrontation between opposites brought about as a result of the events at TMA-1. This solution is to consist of Bowman's own internal reconciliation of opposites, combined with his 'merging' with the alien, to achieve psychological wholeness. This process will ultimately result not only in the Bowman-alien combination becoming Mercurius (the union of all opposites), but will also result in the combined entity having achieved its own atman and having fused with the brahman, as described below.

Brahman and atman are two words that are of paramount importance in grasping the Upanishads.[b] The brahman is the supreme existence or absolute reality. The etymology of the word, which is derived from Sanskrit, is uncertain. Though a variety of views are expressed in the Upanishads, they concur in the definition of brahman as eternal, conscious, irreducible, infinite, omnipresent, and the spiritual core of the universe of finiteness and change.[c] Atman (Sanskrit: "self," "breath") is the universal self, identical with the eternal core of the personality that after death either transmigrates to a new life or attains release (moksha) from the bonds of existence. Atman is part of the universal brahman, with which it can commune or even fuse.[d]

Jung tells us that "Brahman is the union and dissolution of all opposites, and at the same time stands outside them as an irrational factor...Deliverance from...the tension of opposites, is synonymous with the way of redemption that gradually leads to Brahman."[e] Bowman is to see the dissolution of opposites, as the solution to the tension of these opposites within himself. He is thus to see the achieving of 'self-hood' (in both the Jungian and the Hindu senses, the latter represented by atman), followed by his 'merging' with the alien to become fused with the brahman, as beneficial to himself. This specific scenario within Bowman's psyche, by which he is to achieve wholeness, has been placed there by the alien, so that the alien itself can become a kind of ultimate being.

Finishing up with the scenario of Diane's dream of the Cowboy and Adam, Diane goes on to see the Cowboy twice more, implying that she has done badly. The correspondence with 2001 is that Bowman sees the alien twice more (after he sees Heywood Floyd, i.e., the alien, at TMA-1): first, by seeing Floyd on the video monitor on Discovery One after disconnecting HAL, and then he sees it a second time when he sees, in his 'mind's eye', the fetus approaching Earth (the fetus consists of a Bowman-HAL-alien combination). Bowman has not achieved immortality in 'human terms', which corresponds with the fact that he physically dies from his head injury. The alien-Bowman-HAL combination, however, is obviously a living entity.

a. The Upanishads. Introduction and Trans. Eknath Easwaran. Berkeley: Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, 2007. pp. 47, 54.
b. Wikipedia, 'Upanishads'. Web, n.d. URL =
c. 'brahman'. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 04 Sep. 2015. URL =
d. 'atman'. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 04 Sep. 2015. URL =
e. Jung, C.G. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 6. Princeton University Press, 1976. para. 330.


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