Monday, September 11, 2006

September 2006: Stanley Kubrick and taking back 2001

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There were no strange monoliths dug up on the moon in the year 2001. No missions to Jupiter. No glowing star children looked down from orbit upon the blue orb of Earth.

2001 was far from the "2001" of Stanley Kubrick's monumental film and Arthur C. Clarke's novel. I wasn't even alive when "2001" premiered in New York City in April 1968, only a few months before construction began on the World Trade Center.

I saw Kubrick's 2001 on TV as a child. It was too much for my childish brain to absorb, but I didn't care. The spaceships were cool.

So was the idea that I was going to be in the prime of my life when the real 2001 arrived. Maybe I would grow up to be one of the crew of a giant space station, or fly shuttles to distant moonbases.

But as the first space shuttles lifted off in the 80s, I knew already that reality would fall short of the sci-fi movies and novels. Moonbases and manned missions to Jupiter were still to be distant fantasy. But who cared? Real life was going to be exciting anyway.

Space probes sent back pictures of erupting volcanoes on the moons of Jupiter. The home computer was becoming a common tool. The Internet was promising a new frontier.

When the real 2001 arrived, I wasn't flying space shuttles or living in space, but I had built a good life. 2001 wouldn't be "2001", but we still had plenty of century to use. Who knows what might happen?

A day in September 2001 took the year away from Kubrick and Clarke. We did not have to fear insane computers in the real 2001, insane people were enough. Space seems safe compared to Earthy perils.

The year 2001 now belongs to images that conjure fear, not hope. Five years later, a button seems to have been pressed that has frozen many of us in time, like a magical stopwatch from the Twilight Zone. Time moves on, yet so much seems to be held prisoner to 102 minutes that keep looping forever.

I have had my share of fear and anxiety during the last five years. As September 11, 2006 arrives, I have decided to take back the year 2001...and all the years to come.

I remember how the year 2001 began, with the acts of creative pranksters, not thugs and terrorists. Brave and creative people are my heroes, and I will make it my mission to seek them out and celebrate them.

I also came upon this rare video of Stanley Kubrick at the "2001" premiere on YouTube.

As I write this, the space shuttle Atlantis is on its way to the International Space Station...part of that "2001" that was dreamed of by a child who was up way past his bedtime.

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