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2001: A Space Odyssey - Stanley Kubrick's Alchemical Magnum Opus

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posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 01:16 AM
"I'm sure you are aware of the extremely grave potential for social shock and disorientation caused by this information. We can't release it without proper conditioning." - Heywood Floyd

The idea of this thread came from reading Alchemical Kubrick on the Alchemy Lab website, a love for Kubricks 'Work' and an interest in Alchemy. Let me disclaim now that I am no initiate or adept, so go easy huh.

The credit must go to the author of the article Jay Weidner, as most of the work included here is his. To me, he cracked this enigma wide open. The story matches my avatar too, funny how things work out.

Many poets, philosophers, artist, sculptors, scientist, builders, and a few movie producers have hidden the 'Great Work' within their creations so as only if you have the eyes to see, you will.

William Shakespear(who was most likely Francis Bacon), Victor Hugo, Isaac Newton,Leonardo da Vinci, and as Fulcanelli brought before our eyes, In Le Mystère des Cathédrales (notice: this is a .pdf link) , gothic or goetic, (see cant language speculation by Fulcanelli) cathedrals such as Notre Dame that conceal the secrets in stone bas-reliefs, just to name a few.

This is about Stanley Kubrick (Cube-Brick Hexahedron?) and his probably well concealed Alchemical Magnum Opus that is 2001:A Space Odyssey.

There are three recognized types of practical Alchemy, Spagyric (plant), Mineral, and Animal. Kubrick's film dealt "souly" with the Alchemy of Self transmutation, or Spiritual Alchemy.

Interestingly enough Kubrick died right after completion of the occult classic 'Eyes Wide Shut' and he has also been tied to many moon landing conspiracy theories.

Stanley was notoriously famous for not discussing what the movie was about, causing the endless frustration of generations of people. As a friends signature line says "Silence is the Virtue of Fools - Sir Francis Bacon". Don't take that literally non-fools, tricky tricky.

I am going to ext-text much of the article from the original source and emphasize with videos and images to get a bigger picture.

In some circles there are three steps of the Magnum Opus, but we will stick with the four used here.

Thee Four Stages of the Internal Alchemical Magnum Opus:

Nigredo - Blackening, Putrefaction, Dissolution, The Chaotic Spiritual Death. Confronting your shadow

Albedo- Whitening, Ablutio, burnout of impurity. Inflated ego and unneeded conceptualizations are removed.

Citrinitas- Yellowing , spiritualization, enlightenment. Dominate character removed, initiator and guardian.

Rubeo - Reddening, final stage, Unification of man with God. Unification of the limited with the Unlimited. Discover his/her true nature

Solve et Coagula

fire, AIR, water


The Three Essentials are the alchemical principles of Sulpher, Mercury, and Salt. Like the “Elements” these principle concepts are to be thought of a “Philosophical” and not literally as chemical elements or compounds. The Alchemical Sulphur, or Soul, of a things predominates in the animating principles of energy (Fire) and intelligence (Air); Alchemical Salt, or the physical body of a thing, predominates in unconscious forces, psychic, and instinctual intelligence (Water) and solid matter (Earth); Alchemical Mercury, or general life force, predominates in intelligence (Air) and instinctual forces, and psychic energy (Water), as such it is the link, or bridge, between the higher forces of Sulphur and the lower body of matter.
Source ~ Secret Fire: The Relationship Between Kundalini, Kabbalah, and Alchemy - Mark Stavish, M.A.

The procedures of alchemy sometimes consist of seven, twelve or fourteen steps.

Monolith - The One Stone

2. monolith [mon-uh-lith]
3. noun
4. obelisk, column, large statue, etc., formed of a single block of stone.
5. 2.a single block or piece of stone of considerable size, especially when used in architecture or sculpture.
6. 3.something having a uniform, massive, redoubtable, or inflexible quality or character.
7. Origin:1820–30; < Latin monolithus < Greek monólithos made of one stone. See mono-, -lith

1. Websters:
2. mono·lith
3. noun \ˈmä-nə-ˌlith\
4. Definition of MONOLITH
5. 1: a single great stone often in the form of an obelisk or column
6. 2: a massive structure
7. 3: an organized whole that acts as a single unified powerful or influential force

Let's begin with a description of the film so that we can place everything in context. The film opens with a magical sun-earth-moon alignment. We are just at the end of a lunar eclipse. The sun is pulling away from the alignment. The shot is taken from just beyond the moon's point of view. It shows the earth rising over the moon, with the sun rising over the earth. The soundtrack is the 'World Riddle' theme from Strauss' 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra'. Right away Kubrick is showing the viewer the relationship between the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the film, between transformation and extinction. The Zarathustra essays by Nietzche are his most revealing and magical.

Nietzche' philosophia included the Übermensch or Overman.

Alchemy the process of transmutation of the spirit goes through four stages or realms. Kubrick also breaks the film into the four aspects. In the 'green language' or the 'language of the birds' of alchemy, many of the messages and writings can be broken down into this type of four-part transmission.

Now 4 the Four Acts of the film:

ACT I - The Dawn of Man - Nigredo

One of the most dramatic of alchemical alignments are solar and lunar eclipses. From the very beginning of the film there is this magic moment when three worlds line up. Something amazing is about to happen.

The Chapter starts with a band of apemen/women who are quite innocent only knowing how to scavenge for food and water. They do not know violence yet and convey their concerns with invading tribes only with grunts and gestures, "Get away from my watering hole fool" ~ Shakes fist.


posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 01:17 AM

The soundtrack is playing Ligeti's 'Requiem' and 'Lux Aeterna', which sounds like a psychedelic Gregorian chant. This is a religious and spiritual moment of great importance. Kubrick is not hiding this in any way.

Upon contact with the Monolith, the clan leader apeman now realizes something has changed within. It now has recognition that the bones can be used as a weapon against the other invading clans of apemen. Life was forever changed from that point on. They now had the use of tools and knew that violence could get them what they want. Ironically, saving the species from certain extinction over the ages. For without it something bigger and hungrier than they were would surely eat them. Survival of the fittest.

The leader of the ape men, the first murderer, howls victoriously and throws his bone into the air. This is where Kubrick magically transforms the bone into a spaceship and rejects all of human history in one-twenty-fourth of a second. In his audacity, Kubrick is telling us that all of history is meaningless. He dispenses all of civilization as if it were insignificant. And, in a way, that is the complete point. He is telling us that the ape men's encounter with the monolith and whatever is about to happen in this film is vastly more important than all of the wars, famines, births, marriages, deaths, disasters, discoveries and art of the last 4 million years.

Act II - TMA-1 - Albedo

We now are 4 million years into the future where technology has taken the place of all nature, leaving man in a sterile and void environment and without a soul. Sounds familiar? Reminds me of the path our civilization seems to be heading towards as more and more of us leave nature behind for our concrete jungles.

He shows us that this humanity, imprinted by technology, television and the disappearance of nature, is also now void of emotions or feelings. Humanity has become the same as the machines that surround them.

The Americans have found an electromagnetic anomaly on the moon and have stumbled upon the monolith buried under the surface causing the signal. This begins the next stage of the evolution of man only after he has gained the knowledge and means to travel to our closest celestial body. The time was right and something had left the monolith for us to find one day. In fashion of the TBTB, they conclude that this discovery is beyond the psychological thresholds of the human population and decide to "condition" mankind before making the discovery known.

The scene on the moon has been cloaked in the darkness of night until now. But now the sun rises just over the horizon. It's light strikes the black monument for the first time since it has been buried, presumably four million years ago. As the light strikes the monument it suddenly emits a high pitched signal that pierces through the ears of the men. Interestingly Kubrick has shown the earth setting opposite of the rising sun. It is subtle, but there is a lunar eclipse going on at the precise moment that the monument begins to emit it's signal

My take on this second act is that the monolith has once and for all stated that it meant business and was not to be messed with, thus burning away the impure human thought mechanism of they are in control of all. Not! No longer the smartest entities in the Universe.

Act III - The Discovery Mission to Jupiter - 18 months later - Citrinitas (HAL)

We are now on a deep space mission to Jupiter. Originally Kubrick wanted to use SATURN but the special effects were not up to par to create the rings in a realistic manner.

The human occupants on board do not know the exact mission that they are on and do not ask questions, being the non-autonomous robot like meat sacks without a soul that they have become, question not.

Technology has become so self aware that the on board computer that runs the show, Hal, starts acquiring a consciousness and asking the questions that the humans would not. A role reversal, as the human soul is being snuffed out, the technology that they created becomes more alive than they are.

Turns out Hal has the real mission plan embedded in his hardware brain and starts murdering all the human occupants on board one by one except for Dave. It was revealed that the monolith was discovered on the moon and was sending the signal to Jupiter and the mission was to see what's up with that. As it is, the plan is revealed when David "murders" HAL. Thus doing away with logic and perusing a quest of something new and unknown. (see lateralization of brain function)

Perhaps Hal knew 'The One' most capable of the final outcome of the movie? Divine intervention through the digital kind?

And so the gamble of the monolith has paid off to a certain degree. It intervened in our history to teach us about tools. Now at the very end of the age, at the very end of the millennium, mankind has accomplished much. But at what cost? Kubrick is content to show that the cost of this gift is our souls. Whatever we have gained from the gift of toolmaking, we have lost just as much through the slow death of our souls. As we replace nature with technology, we also replace our souls and individuality with a hive-like mentality.

Act IV - Jupiter, and Beyond the Infinite - Rubedo

Bowman is now Odysseus, like the title assumes. Like Odysseus, Bowman must go as far away from home as is possible. He must face monsters and experience things that he does not understand. All of this must be done before he can return home. Earth, or home, is a long way off now. Bowman is just following orders and he must now investigate the strange monolith that is circling Jupiter. Like Odysseus, Bowman will be transformed by this voyage beyond all recognition. When, and if, he does return, Bowman will be the wisest of all - for he was the one brave enough to enter the waters of eternity - and come back home to tell us about it.

Now in the orbit of Jupiter, Dave sees the monolith and is drawn to it and abandons ship in a capsule and heads towards the enigma without fear of probable certain death. Again there is a line up with the monolith in view with Jupiter and it's moons.

So the show begins. "My God, It's Full of Stars"

This is humanity's initiation. Bowman is our representative in this process. He is the first man through. In this experience of passing through the monolith, or the single stone, Bowman is shamanically transformed by a completely psychedelic experience. Real information is being passed to Bowman by the monolith. This information is experiential and shamanic.

edit on 20-9-2011 by timewalker because: (no reason given)

edit on 20-9-2011 by timewalker because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 01:17 AM
Now Dave has passed through the monolith once and gained knowledge of the universe but still does not understand, he has not become wise. He spends much time, three transformations, growing very old in the process in the creepy 'hotel' until, viola. He points to the monolith as if understanding and starts to turn into the Starchild in his glowing auric egg. Rebirth, The Phoenix, Birth of the Starchild. He passes again through the monolith once again to come back to Earth to start a new evolution for mankind with total gnosis of the Multiverse.

The fourth and last sequence in the movie concerns the voyage to the infinite. In this chapter Bowman experiences a universe far more vast and unbelievable than any mortal man has ever conceived. In the final realm of the Kabbala the seeker can swim in the ocean of the mind of God - which is represented by the sephireh named Kether. This state of awareness is a Sammadi-state from the yogic tradition. It can only be attained by very few people. In the case of the film, the final realm of the Tree of Life can be only attained by one man and this can be done only with the help of the monolith, or the stone. Bowman - the furthest out and the loneliest person in the universe - is that man.

This is what it's all about....

Bowman has been to the end of the universe and back. He knows that he is in a prison of his own design, which is the meaning of the last few scenes in the hotel-like room. Bowman's ultimate realization that he is trapped is made symbolically by Kubrick with the breaking of the wine glass. Even after all that he has been through Bowman still makes mistakes. The wine glass is like a zen koan that illuminates the mind in a flash. His own fallibility thrusts the scene towards it's climax as the old man dies on the bed and sees the monolith for the last time. The Great Work of the stone is complete. There is now a man, a human, who understands the greater universe. This man also understands that he is trapped in a jail that his own consciousness has designed. With the realization of his own fallibility, and his own trapped spirit, he is finally liberated from the realm of the hotel prison, or the world of illusion. In that instant he understands what the book of stone is trying to tell him. He lifts his hand in a gesture of understanding. And in that moment he is transformed - without dying - into the Starchild.

In conclusion, The Rise of the Phoenix only comes from it's own ashes. To transform or transmute, Solve et Coagula, total destruction of the old materia must occur before a new evolution can occur. Perhaps we are on the verge of this total destruction on a planetary level of the new ways. It's always darkest before the dawn. It seems that mankind is headed for this loss of the soul for the gain of technology and materialism. We just have to maintain the ability to "murder" Hal, lest we perish at the circuits of our own creation. Maybe, this is a seemingly soulless void we are going through is necessary evil to get us to the next level of transformation as a species so we can live. Change does not come from complacency. The pendulum always swings.

A natural balance of things.

An interseting note:

The monolith makes an appearance in every scene with the planetary line up except for one, the opening sequence of the film. Is it there? Yes! The monolith is the movie screen itself. The monolith is the exact aspect ratio of the older Cinerama screens on which the film was originally shown. The screen itself is the monolith. Kubrick concealed this to show that the film you are about to watch is an awakening device, if you can see through the veil!

The author goes onto explain much of the esoteric connections with the Qabbalah and Fulcanelli in the article. A good read.

This has been a another timewalker production. See Ya!

Source: Alchemical Kubrick 2001: The Great Work On Film by Jay Weidner

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 01:31 AM
wow! amazing post! i've been a fan of kubrick forever and i love uncovering the layers of his unbelievably complex works.
'eyes wide shut' and its hidden meanings has been a recent obsession of mine.
thanks so much for your post and the links!

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 02:47 AM
Awesome information

I only just watched the movie again recently and was taken in by the glass floors at the end. I just felt like there was some meaning there- maybe Masonic?


posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 08:48 AM
reply to post by timewalker

I confess I didn’t read your entire argument. I read enough to see you had a valid interpretation of the film, even without the alchemical stuff.

You won’t convince me that Kubrick was the grand master of some secret alchemical brotherhood; but I bet he read a lot of the same books you have, plus a library of others, and I’m sure he crammed this film, and others too, with allusions and symbols culled from his reading.

Artists are keenly aware of the psychological and emotional power of certain symbols, which turn up repeatedly in the myths and religions of mankind. They make free use of these symbolic materials to add layers of depth and mystery to their own work. But rarely, in art or fiction, does this symbol-play add up to a serious message embedded in the work and left there for only adepts to read. It’s mainly just decoration.

The story of 2001 is easily told: we are first shown how human intelligence began evolving under the discreet guidance of extraterrestrial entities of some kind, then get to watch how the climax or a new phase of this evolution is arrived at (in the movie) in the year 2001AD. But Kubrick makes nothing explicit. We never catch a glimpse of our alien mentors; all we see are their mechanical servitors, the monoliths. Or are the monoliths themselves the aliens? Are the aliens material beings, or are they spirits or divine entities of some sort? Your guess is as good as mine, because Kubrick refuses to let on.

Similarly with other things we’d like to know: what and how are the monoliths ‘teaching’ the apes? What actually happens around the orbit of Jupiter with Dave Bowman and that space-pod? What is the ‘trip’ sequence meant to illustrate? We are never given much of an explanation for anything; indeed, we are told barely enough to allow us to follow what is happening on the screen.

This, apart from its visual quality, is the great appeal of the film: the story fascinates not by answering questions but by raising them. People have been arguing about its interpretation ever since it came out. Kubrick knew just what he was doing in refusing to ‘explain’ the movie; he knew that if he ever offered one, his magnum opus would lose all its power to provoke and mystify, and shrink to the dimensions of a comic book or religious pamphlet.

Besides, I am sure, there was nothing to explain. All that Kubrick had to say on the subject was said in the movie, and any further commentary would improve neither our understanding nor our appreciation of the film, but detract from both.

edit on 20/9/11 by Astyanax because: of eyes wide shut.

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 09:20 AM
That was good.

No doubt, the story is one of transcendence. The alchemic connection not quite so certain.

* The apes, are transformed by encounter with something greater-- something of awe, a simple bone becomes used as a weapon, an inkling of creativity; yet, also, murder and the end of Eden-- the monolith is seen no more-- the time of "walking with God" at an end.

* The future indicates man's near completion of the first transcendence. The creativity of wonders. Man has, unknowingly, transformed from merely creative to Creator.

* The first hint that the machines are undergoing their own primal awakening, is in the two docking sequences set to the the romantic (and erotic) Blue Danube Waltz: The phallic Pan Am shuttle docking with the orbiting station for the male, and again the moon lander entering the accepting female moon base.

* Man and his creatures (technology on the edge of self-awareness) now encounter the awing "Other" each drawn into transcendence by these encounters.

* HAL, self-aware-- the equivalent of that first self-aware ape, likewise begins with striving against the Creator's ultimate intent -- acting on that, first, with murder; and with HAL's disconnection by Bowman and Bowman's departure, HAL is cast cast out of Eden, and the time of "walking with God" is, again, at an end.

* Bowman's departure is now his own willful transcendence-- determined to join with the "Other." Into the Other, he journeys.

* The transcendence sequence-- the hotel room (both death and Paradise?)-- all a part of what we know is required.

* The rebirth, the transcendence: Bowman, a fetus drifting "over the face of the deep"-- the Earth near, unable to contain him. Man has become god. Hal, the first machine-creature, the new man, follows an age behind that of God-man.

edit on 20-9-2011 by Frira because: typo & short addition

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 09:44 AM
reply to post by Frira

Nicely analyzed, though I’m not sure you didn’t take it a bit too far with that ‘machines undergoing primal awakening’ bit. What is true about 2001, though, is that the machines are a lot sexier than any of the humans in the story.

edit on 20/9/11 by Astyanax because: of if.

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 11:55 AM
reply to post by timewalker

Good movies, the two series. I enjoyed them very much. I advice anyone to see these two movies who holds interest in their spirituality.

I also must say you made a very nice thread about all of this.

edit on 20-9-2011 by pepsi78 because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 12:05 PM
Nice presentation and good read this morning

Kubrick's style of utilizing space and stillness has a a haunting effect at times and it goes so well with this movie.
Your post makes me want to revisit the movie, for I have not watched in years. As to the notion of connection to alchemy, it kind of makes sense to me, and it seemed to fit his personality and works. Regardless, he was a master of his craft and certainly left his mark on the world.


posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 12:09 PM

Originally posted by pepsi78
reply to post by timewalker

Good movies, the two series. I enjoyed them very much. I advice anyone to see these two movies who holds interest in their spirituality.

I also must say you made a very nice thread about all of this.

edit on 20-9-2011 by pepsi78 because: (no reason given)

Also, read the books! Don't forget dear old Arthur. The books go into a lot of detail
& much is revealed. Arthur was heavily involved with the production of 2001.
I recomend reading Sunstorm (Time Odyssey) by Arthur C Clarke & Stephen Baxter.
It's in the same "universe" as 2001 & envolves "the old ones".

Great post btw, it's a fresh angle behind the concept.

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 12:24 PM
reply to post by timewalker

What a fantastic take on one of my favorite ever films!
I will have to watch it again soon now that I have read your thread.

Not the first time Ol'Stan has come up on the boards of conspiracy either-sure I read something about him working on "moon sets" for NASA or something...Hmm I forget.

He also made another of my favorites-Dr Strangelove,but that's another story.


posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 12:48 PM

Originally posted by Astyanax
reply to post by Frira

Nicely analyzed, though I’m not sure you didn’t take it a bit too far with that ‘machines undergoing primal awakening’ bit. What is true about 2001, though, is that the machines are a lot sexier than any of the humans in the story.

edit on 20/9/11 by Astyanax because: of if.

Ha! I saw 2001 when it first was in the theaters and I was eight. Flew right over my head, that part did!

As an adult, I watched it again and started laughing. My, how I had changed!

Note what visually accompanies the music changes. Kubrick "gets" Strauss. Kubrick didn't just put on any music-- it was probably a choice between The Blue Danube and a Barry White song!
There is no missing the erotic intent Kubrick provides in the two sequences-- I dare you to watch it and try to ignore it. Yes, sometimes a space shuttle is just a space shuttle and landing bay doors (on the moon) are just landing bay doors; but in this case, they are not just those.

Likewise, opening rose buds, in art, are almost never about roses. I am fairly certain that Kubrick's scene of the multi-petaled, slowly parting, landing bay doors was not created so that we would have thoughts of flowers blooming in Springtime.

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 12:56 PM
Great Post S&F.

I have always wondered, when Dave is going through the film vortex, and sees the seven stars, would those be linked to the 7 chakras? I always thought that was fitting.

Amazing Filmaker. fun post!


posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 01:27 PM
I found this interesting,

How Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landings

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 01:57 PM
reply to post by timewalker

Thank you my friend.... I am fascinated with the works or Mr. Kubrick and I appreciate all the work you put into this thread. Now I'm off to feast on all this tasty information.

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 02:41 PM
I'm glad everyone has enjoyed it. Thanks!

I'll add that anybodies translation of the movies is as good as this, Stanley left a mystery.

Like astyanax said, if he would have explained we wouldn't have much to discuss. Was he an alchemist? I have no idea, but the use of the psychological symbolism strikes a chord in people. Always does, as we see in our commercials and television everyday. "Buy my product". You don't know why you want to buy it but you do.

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 03:41 PM
excellent thread! Hadn't considered the movie screen actually being the monolith in the beginning but it makes mind blowing sense and makes me go hmmm. Gonna watch it again this weekend with an eye on the context you put forth.

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 04:31 PM
That's all very interesting and all but Stanley Kubric didn't even write the story. The book was written by Arthur C Clark. Kubric only interpreted it.

posted on Sep, 20 2011 @ 04:59 PM
reply to post by karen61057
I will be honest that I have not read either book from Clarke, but I will include another excerpt from the page.

t is important to not underestimate Arthur C. Clarke's important contributions to 2001. After all the script is ostensibly based on his short story The Sentinel. Written in 1953, it tells the story of a group of astronauts who discover an artifact on the moon that is left by an alien race. Truthfully though the movie is more properly based on Clarke's novel Childhood's End. This fabulous novel is a science fiction treatment of an essential Gnostic ideal. There can be no doubt that Kubrick had read Childhood's End and understood it's significance. By aligning himself up with Arthur C. Clark, Kubrick was able to bring in these Gnostic, alchemical ideas through the convention of science fiction.

It has always been a mystery as to where Arthur C. Clarke came up with the idea for Childhood's End. He insists that he knew nothing of gnosticism or ancient magical traditions when he wrote the book that many have proclaimed to be the best ever in the genre of science fiction. Whatever Clarke wants us to believe is not the subject of this essay. Suffice to say that Clarke was a well read individual. It appears odd that he wouldn't have known of the Gnostic traditions. Kubrick, however, proves that he knows what he is doing at every step and this is the real reason why he is not talking about the film to anyone.

Alchemical Kubrick

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