The Nightshirt Sightings, Portents, Forebodings, Suspicions

The black monolith

Well, there are many kinds of films. Most of them, nowadays, don’t demand much thinking. That makes me very, very upset. It makes me upset that they think the audiences have grown unused to thinking and that they only want things spelled out for them, in a platter. That’s bullshit, and a big one. People love to think. We are all detectives. We love to observe, we love to deduce. It is great to pay attention. We have a lot of fun this way.” –David Lynch

Dreams often, if you pay attention, contain some element that seems like a symbol of the dream itself, a little representation of the fact, “I am dreaming; this is a dream.” Movies are the same way. Every movie, good or bad, intentionally or unintentionally, contains a symbol of itself. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a perfect example. What is the black monolith but … the film 2001: A Space Odyssey?

Or reverse the formula: 2001: A Space Odyssey is the black monolith. It was made and placed before us by an intelligence that remains mysterious. It was put here for a purpose, possibly to raise us to the next level in our evolution. In pursuing it, we go on a journey. Interpreting the film is that journey.

Again, exactly like dreams.

My dreams often have demonstrations in them. Like someone giving a demonstration of a new appliance in a mall department store. The recurring tableau in 2001, interestingly, is the demonstration. The film begins with the appearance of the slab among the apes—an ambiguous but powerful demonstration—which is followed by the violent use of tools, again, in a kind of demonstration (of violence, power). Then, on the Moon, Haywood Floyd gives a bland talk on the need for secrecy, etc., and is shown the slab. Finally, we might think of the last segment as a kind of demonstration for Dave Bowman.

Those who say 2001 is boring or incomprehensible are like the one ape in the background, at the beginning of the film, who shows no interest. He’s the dolt who will never evolve. You should instead be like the alpha ape who goes up and touches the object, fearfully at first, but with increasing boldness, and then later uses the jawbone of a pig-like creature to kill another pig-like creature.

(We’re killing pig-like creatures here, ape friends. And killing our evolutionary-dead-end ape enemies.)


I am a science writer and armchair Fortean based in Washington, DC. Write to me at eric.wargo [at]

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