2001: A Space Odyssey

Why do people say they cannot describe why they like this movie — and for the record, I don’t –? I can describe exactly what it is. Strip away all the garbage and you are left with a picture of space itself. The experience is exactly like what you would get by gazing into the night’s sky and pondering the connection of man and universe. The movie just forces you to do that for nearly three hours. You fill in the void with your own dreams. That’s all. Some people fall asleep instead.

The creepy artistry sticks with you a while, but in terms of methodological novelty — and I use that term lightly — John Cage’s 4’33″ from 1952 predates it by 16 years.

I don’t like in general this kind of art, the art of nothing, for two reasons. One, because it’s sleazy to take credit for the audience’s own thoughts. Here we have a movie in which a great number of people are narcissistically rating the quality of their own thoughts and not the movie. And two, because leaving things up to the audience to such an extent is not a belief in their intelligence, but a patronizing insult. It says there is nothing the artist can give except a prompt to think, as if the audience is incapable of doing so of its own accord.

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