Monday, July 9, 2012

2001 analysis - part 67: Kubrick believed that all civilizations have a common source


Athanasius Kircher's map of Atlantis, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. From Mundus Subterraneus 1669, published in Amsterdam. The map is oriented with south at the top. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Atlantis' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

Recall that in 2001, Kubrick draws our attention to the idea that The Odyssey and the story of Jonah and the whale have a common source (the Epic of Gilgamesh). This indicates that he believed all civilizations have a common source; and, Kubrick is symbolically depicting the idea of the lost continent of Atlantis in 2001, as a 'metaphor' for this belief.

Atlantis (in Greek, Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος, "island of Atlas") is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC. According to Plato, Atlantis was a naval power lying "in front of the Pillars of Hercules" that conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa 9,000 years before the time of Solon, or approximately 9600 BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean "in a single day and night of misfortune." Scholars dispute whether and how much Plato's story or account was inspired by older traditions.

The possible existence of a genuine Atlantis was discussed throughout classical antiquity, but it was usually rejected and occasionally parodied by later authors. The Timaeus remained known in a Latin rendition by Calcidius through the Middle Ages, and the allegorical aspect of Atlantis was taken up by Humanists in utopian works of several Renaissance writers, such as Francis Bacon's New Atlantis and Thomas More's Utopia. Atlantis inspires today's literature, from science fiction to comic books to films. Its name has become a byword for any and all supposed advanced prehistoric lost civilizations.

Some ancient writers viewed Atlantis as fiction while others believed it was real. Later, Francis Bacon’s 1627 essay The New Atlantis describes a utopian society that he called Bensalem, located off the western coast of America.

In the middle and late 19th century, several renowned Mesoamerican scholars, starting with Charles Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, and including Edward Herbert Thompson and Augustus Le Plongeon, proposed that Atlantis was somehow related to Mayan and Aztec culture.

The Dawn of Man segment of the movie is set in Mexico.

The 1882 publication of Atlantis: The Antediluvian World by Ignatius L. Donnelly stimulated much popular interest in Atlantis. Donnelly attempted to establish that all known ancient civilizations were descended from Atlantis, which he saw as a technologically sophisticated culture, saying that Atlanteans invented gunpowder and the compass thousands of years before the rest of the world invented written language. Donnelly also sought to establish a connection between the city of Aztlán and Atlantis.[a] This city is the legendary ancestral home of the Nahua peoples, one of the main cultural groups in Mesoamerica and, by extension, is the mythical homeland of the Uto-Aztecan peoples. Aztec is the Nahuatl word for "people from Aztlan." Aztlán was historically considered by some to be the place of origin of the pre-Columbian Mexican civilization.[b] Mesoamerica is a region and cultural area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries.[c] By setting the Dawn of Man in Mexico, Kubrick must have been alluding to Donnelly's attempt at establishing a connection between Aztlán and Atlantis.

a. Wikipedia, 'Atlantis'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. Wikipedia, 'Aztlán'. Web, n.d. URL =
c. Wikipedia, 'Mesoamerica'. Web, n.d. URL =


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