From the Far Side –“2001 -A Space Odyssey and Ancient Alien Visitation”

 
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The idea proved to be a fruitful hybrid of the mythological and science fiction themes that intrigued Kubrick and Clarke. It essentially involved replacing the roles of divine characters in the film’s namesake—Homer’s The Odyssey—and filling the vacuum with unknowable alien entities. Whether you believe in gods or aliens or neither, the profound feelings that these Odyssean tales evoke seems to spring from a common human premonition that we are not alone in the universe, and that our destinies have been shaped by inscrutable supernatural forces.


Exactly 50 years ago, 2001: A Space Odyssey hit theatres, reports today's Motherboard, blowing the minds of moviegoers around the world. The product of a creative partnership between director Stanley Kubrick and science fiction luminary Arthur C Clarke, the film is widely recognized as one of the most influential works in cinematic history (just think how often The Simpsons has spoofed it; truly one of the best metrics of pop culture staying power).

 

2001 is also among the first hugely successful works based on the so-called ancient aliens hypothesis, one of the weirdest ideas to burst into the mainstream in the 1960s—which is saying something for a decade that collided the Space Age with the Psychedelic era. If you’re aware of the History Channel series Ancient Aliens or are a fan of the Stargate franchise, you probably know the gist: The hypothesis claims there is abundant archaeological and historical evidence to suggest that an intelligent alien civilization made contact with preindustrial humans and aided these societies in their technological and cultural achievements. Whoa dude.

 

 

It’s a viewpoint underpinned by the wild historical revisionism and newfound cosmic curiosity that defined so much mid-20th century science fiction. In 2001, it manifests as a giant black monolith that seems to inspire humans to push past tantalizing frontiers in space, intelligence, and reality (with mixed results for the humans).

“Myths usually contain some kind of fact or reality to them,” space philosopher Frank White, author of The Overview Effect, told me over the phone. “What you see are entities that are more powerful and long-lived than humans, that appear to have the ability to come and go from the Earth at will. The importance of 2001,” he said, is that “it raises these questions without necessarily giving a very linear or simple answer.”

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