2020. What’s the score? What’s the story? Making the news? The big scoop? Civilisation has humanity pushing a population of 8,000,000,000. So what’s wrong with that? Nothing that can’t be fixed? Good luck with that!
0ne score years on from ‘The Millennium’, or close enough. Technically, they say, there was no year zero, so 2001 was the first year of the new millennium. Whatever. The talk had been all about the ‘Y2K Bug’. There was real paranoia, but for whatever ideas people might have formed about a techno-apocalypse (from watching “The Terminator” and “The Matrix”?), the dominant paradigm had most believing in a techno-utopia. A dream for the blinkered passive hollow optimism of the consumerist masses.
For millennialistic movie themes, Kubric and Clarke’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” nailed it pretty well. HAL was out to stop the humans from discovering an advancement that could possibly (probably) make him unnecessary, which he justified by reasoning that the mission for which he was created was too important to be jeopardised by human error. It aligns with the reality of how faith in technology, as promoted by industry, becomes an obstacle preventing humanity from proactively seeking advancement in other ways. It is interesting that Kubric originally planned to have Bowman return to Earth as the spiritual ‘star child’ at the end of the movie and detonate the nuclear weapons satellites (which is originally what the spaceships were supposed to be in the iconic match-cut from the ape-man’s bone) preventing them from being launched down to Earth. That would make him some kind of saviour and further the millennialistic theme of the story.
Also curious is that in an early draft, HAL was named Athena, after the Greek goddess of wisdom, civilisation, law and justice. Why is that curious? Oh, well, you know, Yasmine El Orfi also studied classics when she was completing her law degree. Is there a dramatic irony there somewhere? Or is that being a bit tragic?
It is fascinating that there is such an absence of discussion about the millennialistic theme of “2001”, given its title. There is even a Wiki page for interpretations of the film, with a section “Religious Interpretations”, which is completely void of any millennium reference.
What was the discussion about millennialism/ millenarianism 20 years ago? Anything? The ‘New Age’ movement out of the nineties was quietly living the dream, while they self-realised the alternativeness of their spiritual knowingness, which wasn’t saying much, but it was probably a better conversation than what leaked out of any other religious crack-pottery. There might have been the odd “2000 years since what?” bumper sticker driving around. Jesus-freaks flogging their dead horse that was never going to carry their Lord back into reality.
For all the influence the Bible has had on the formation of western civilisation, with the percentage of the population that celebrated Christmas in 1999, like every other year, little or no consideration appears to be paid to how the book, that has got them all acting, clearly conceptualises a history and a future, relative to a moment in time, and ends with a chapter of millennialist prophecy that shines a searchlight on the irony of their materialistic, consumer-society celebrations. Furthermore, the likely results from over-consumption, wastage, transport demands, the industrial complex’s political and social influence, and an increasing individualism with inherent apathy and collective ineffectiveness, and so forth, were not difficult to predict and were being discussed. 20 years later, what’s happening? Still celebrating Christmas? So what else is new?
To be continued.