Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Song For a Crappy Tuesday (Connective Tissue Edition)

I'm beginning to wonder if all roads in my little brain lead back to 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's not a movie that I want to sit down and watch all the time - it's not a comfort food film. However, it seems to cross my mind on a regular basis.

In 1968, Stanley Kubrick released 2001, the adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction short story. Cultural anxiety seemed to be running at an all time high as we prepared to put a man on the moon in 1969. Since man could conceive a world apart from himself, we had dreamed of space exploration, to share knowledge that only God possessed: Was the Moon indeed made of green cheese?

What a beautiful and terrifying time.

Kubrick's film contains what is to me, the most haunting death scene in all cinema. Perhaps it's the marriage of breath, futile struggle, and oblivion. Perhaps the it's the idea that the Artificial Intelligence we created would eventually kill us (Like we had killed God - another echo of Also sprach Zarathustra - at least in the more lay interpretation. The original was not so much about God's death, but the rituals through which we interpret the meaning of god. This phrase seems to gets interpreted in only the most inflammatory ways.).

At any rate this death scene struck a deep chord in me.

Then in 1969, along with the Moon Landing, came David Bowie's Space Oddity. Bowie's monotone delivery in the first phrases, reflects a sense of robotic distance, then breaking in to greater humanity as he adds more melody. Major Tom's decision to float off into the void of space, whips up a real feeling of longing, like an old sea dog pines for the ocean. Distance and peace.

Space Oddity's title (which comes off like a play on 2001: A Space Odyssey) reminds me of that death scene...but a willful voyage into the endless gulf.

14 years later in 1983, Peter Schilling's pop tune Major Tom, re-imagines Space Oddity for the synth-music new wave. It plays with the same beats of preparation that Space Oddity Does, and breaks free in the chorus. Major Tom still chooses the vacancy of space (and certain death), but he is still at home - in some ways truly free.

1 comment:

Dianna said...

let's be perfectly clear.


"Give my wife my love.....

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