Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kubrick In My Head

The other night, I was watching the DVD special features for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. I've seen the film more times than I can count, but never these special features. One of them closed with the following words by Kubrick:

"The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light."

I've certainly heard the same phrased differently, but never that eloquently. Definitely inspiring. Words to create by, and live by, I'd say....


Blogger Jack Skillingstead said...

Krubrick said approximately that same thing in a print interview some years ago. It made an impression on me, too, John. Coincidentally, I've been watching 2001 clips the last few nights. It's still a mind boggling movie. And no fucking cgi.

2:34 AM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

Our lives seem to run in parallel lately, don't they? :) Yeah, I found out that quote ran in Playboy back in '68, but I'd never seen it before. Really hit home with me....

10:44 AM  
Blogger William Preston said...

I've long appreciated John Gardner's similar expression of this idea--but given more narrative heft--from his 1978 book On Moral Fiction:

It was said in the old days that every year Thor made a circle around Middle-earth, beating back the enemies of order. Thor got older every year, and the circle occupied by gods and men grew smaller. The wisdom God, Woden, went out to the king of the trolls, got him in an armlock, and demanded to know of him how order might triumph over chaos.
"Give me your left eye," said the king of the trolls, "and I'll tell you."
Without hesitation, Woden gave up his left eye. "Now tell me."
The troll said, "The secret is, Watch with both eyes!"
Woden's left eye was the last sure hope of gods and men in their kingdom of light surrounded on all sides by darkness. All we have left is Thor's hammer, which represents not brute force but art, or, counting both hammerheads, art and criticism. Thor is no help. Like other gods, he has withdrawn from our immediate view. We have only his weapon, abandoned beside a fencepost in high weeds, if we can figure out how to use it.

12:28 AM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

Hey, William --

Wow. That's awesome. Read your post four times, and it gets better every time. That last image is gonna stick with me for a long time. Thanks so much.

7:11 AM  
Blogger William Preston said...

Thank you, John, for continuing to produce outstanding ad surprising work. The Asimov's cover is a delight--also rewarding anew with each look.

Also, I use both 2001 and The Shining in my film studies class. Kubrick is always an inspiration.

5:11 PM  
Blogger William Preston said...

Oops. That's "AND surprising . . . "

5:16 PM  

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