Tuesday, December 9, 2008

2001: A Space Odyssey and HOL: Fnal

Adaptation is the biological characteristic that improves the chance of survival of an animal and its descendants (Dell). An adaptation can be a part or a behavior that makes a living thing better able to survive in its environment. Another definition in the general sense could be something that has been modified to suit different conditions or a different purpose (Adaptation Def. 2). In the book House of Leaves, Johnny Truant adapts Zampano’s book -- that is an adaptation of a film called the Navidson Record -- that is an adaptation of the real life of the Navidson family. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick adapts a book written by Arthur C. Clarke. Even so, both of them wrote the novel and screenplay simultaneously, but Clarke’s book was supposed to be first (DeMet). I think that Danielewski included this movie more than once because of its director, what he did with this movie and the plot of the book. It could be more than just about the film adaptation of the book. 2001 is a story about evolution through adaptation of your resources, just like House of Leaves is an adaptation of its narration. These two films and books can be connected through the adaptation of biology in a narrative.

Through the plot we can see that Danielewski used the 2001 (book and film) to show you can adapt books through biology differences. Clarke and Kubrick had different stances of how to show us 2001: A Space Odyssey. Just like each author of House of Leaves had different stances.

The book 2001: A Space Odyssey begins in two million B.C. with apes roaming the savannah. These ape men are starving because they have never adapted to their surroundings. Even though they are surrounded with plentiful animals to hunt they still do not know how to kill them. Then, the monolith comes (which is a special crystal rock) that cast hypnotic spells on the animals to adapt to their environment and hunt animals, throw rocks, etc (DeMet). The next part of the novel goes to a space exploration where they are they find a monolith on the moon. They have a mission shuttle to go to Saturn (or Jupiter according to the film). On this space craft, we find the computer HAL 9000 that controls everything on the ship. In the end, he kills everyone but one person (Dr. Bowman). Finally, we see that the doctor shuts off Hal with just a screwdriver showing our evolutionary tools of the man apes come in handy after 4 million years. Last, Dave gets in the pod and travels away from the ship to see another monolith that takes him to see his future self and his last meal (Clarke).

Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Arthur Clarke’s novel is more different than you would think. A writer of one of the reviews wrote “gripping and intellectually satisfying, full of the tension and clarity which the movie lacks. All the parts of the movie that are vague and unintelligible, especially the beginning and the end, become clear and convincing in the book (DeMet).” The “spirit” of the film had nothing to do with Clarke and everything to do with Kubrick (DeMet). The beginning of the movie is quiet and actually through out the entire movie you never really hear much talking. It is a slow movie at best. The ape part is confusing at first if you never read the book. It starts out with many shots of the earth for about 20 minutes then finally the monolith shows. After about a minute it goes to the next scene (2001: A Space Odyssey). An interesting part of the movie is there is an actual intermission on the DVD. Another big part of this movie is the music score. We are given repeated confirmation that this music is the singing voice of the monolith and that it sings when it is helping its primitive hosts to evolve (Ager). There is a lot of heavy breathing when they are outside in space and a lot of music that goes with what is happening in the scenes. The movie is more of an art form than a novel interpretation. It looks at different aspects of film making and makes it its own -- especially the visual effects in the movie. In 1968 it was a masterpiece in the art of visual effects and it won an Academy Award for visual effects. Kubrick once states in an interview “…in a film like 2001, where each viewer brings his own emotions and perceptions to bear on the subject matter, a certain degree of ambiguity is valuable, because it allows the audience to ‘fill in’ the visual experience themselves (DeMet)”.

In House of Leaves, Danielewski made different adaptations of each story. First off, Johnny Truant adapts to the story of Zampano. The story is more about him, although he does make some references to the novel but mostly he rambles about his life. Zampano’s adaptation of the film “The Navidson Record” is a lot of footnotes and tells us about the story through research, even though some of it is fake research. Lastly, “The Navidson’s Record” is an adaptation of the family and the house. It takes us through a labyrinth of Karen and Navidson’s problems and also through the labyrinth that is the house it’s self. I think that each of these adaptations is different in their own right just like Kubrick’s adaptation of the book 2001.

There are several plot similarities where biological adaptation is present. The use of these tools in the simple plot show how we adapt to survive or adapt to learn more. To survive and learn are the simplest forms of biology.

When concerning technological adaptation they both have to face a greater power of technology then themselves. I have noticed is the connection between HAL and the actual House in the House of Leaves book. Everyone is being controlled by something that is not human. The House and HAL tell the humans what to do. The House does not speak but it controls Navidson in controlling it and knowing more about it. HAL is supposedly smarter than any other computer and never makes mistakes. This has to do with adaptation; the adaptation of humans to rely on other things for help. Now we have computers to help us find information and electronics to do everything. The house, in Navidson’s eyes, is a form of technology in a sense of how it is bigger in the inside than the outside and his need to explore technology.

Many of the characters in the plot before the end are killed by a force greater than us –technology. HAL kills many of the astronauts by simply telling the computers not to. In House of Leaves, the house is a greater force by killing many of the explorations. Another major theme is the use of things we adapted long ago. For instance, a strong theme in 2001 is the use of the screwdriver to take apart HAL. Also, when Dr. Bowman comes into the space shuttle and does not need help from HAL but uses his physical intuition. They show at the beginning of the movie the ape figuring out tools and how to use them to kill other things to survive. So, even if technology is overtaking you, you can still use your evolutionary tools of intuition and the simplest tools like the screwdriver or wheel. At the end of House of Leaves, Navidson has the simplest tools to arrive at the end of the journey. A bike – which could be the wheel, matches from 10 years ago, and his bodies fight to survive.

There are several different instances where 2001 is mentioned in the book. The first instance is the fact that Navidson’s daughter is named Daisy. I find this interesting that at the beginning of the book in the cover and in the appendix it says “. . .reaches for Daisy, only to arrive a fraction of a second too late, his fingers finding air, his eyes scratching after Daisy as she falls to her death ( Danielewski 522). I think that this is important just because of the Daisy song HAL sings at the end of the movie and book. I find it ironic that his child is named after the song that the house sings to him when he almost dies. This could relate to adaptation to biology. Navidson’s biological child is foreshadowing his death. Even the simplest part of a book or movie can show this. By just stating the name is Daisy could be a foreshadowing of Navidson’s ultimate encounter with death.

The song at the end when Navidson is holding on for life is a strong connection to Dr. Bowman in 2001. “Daisy, Daisy, Daisy. Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy over the love of you. That’s not right (Danielewski 477)”. This could be an obvious connection to the plot. HAL sang this to Dr. Bowman as he used his tools to turn him off. The song that is one of the simplest songs to sing and in 1961 it was the first song a computer actually sang (IBM 7094). So, HAL is singing the song that is the simplest form of computer, even though he is technological advanced. HAL is trying to remind Dr. Bowman what he actually is. I think that the actual House is singing the song to Navidson, just like the computer singing to Dr. Bowman. He is trying to remind Navidson what he is and why the house is there.

The next difference is when Zampano is talking about the monolith in 2001. He states “The monolith in 2001 seems the most appropriate cinematic analog, incontrovertibly there but virtually inviolate to interpretation (Danielewski 60). The monolith is kind of like the hallways in the book. They are just there, but have a deep meaning as to why. They are there because they are the passage to knowledge and the future. In fact, Clarke first talked about the monolith in one of his earlier short stories and said it was pyramid shaped. Kubrick took this idea and made it a rectangle to enhance our viewing of what it should be on screen (Ager). I think this is important because Danielewski is recognizing the biggest difference between the novel and films adaptation.

Zampano’s interpretation of Navidson was a factual one. Johnny’s interpretation was an interesting and random one. I believe that these could be technological differences between them. These also could be biological tendencies to try to adapt a better novel than before by technology. Technology is something you use to try to better your situation in the world. For instance, the ape men thought the tools they made were technology to better them. This is the narration adapting through technology.

In the simplest form, Navidson’s adaptation of the house is a biological one. He searched it for clues as to why it was there and used general tools to try to figure it out. The House also gave him trouble in his marriage and an obsession with the house – which is biological adaptation. This is adaptation because he is adapting himself and no one will stand in his way to try and adapt to the House. The House controls Navidson. I think the House could be technologically talking to Navidson. 2001 could be the same way. As I stated before, HAL controlled the ship because they wanted him to. They were trying to adapt our species to trust computers and technology. This could be like Clarke’s original book, even if they were writing simultaneously, he still was technically the first copy. In the simplest form, Clarke explains what he means by using his technology background and explaining to us why the astronauts trusted computers. Navidson, using his cameras explained to us exactly what he was doing, too. Clarke’s influences were evolution and Navidson was trying to evolve.

Zampano’s novel about the Navidson Record is a biological adaptation to several different things. First, Zampano was blind. If he did write this book, he did it where he couldn’t see and to me that shows he some how biological adapted so he could write. The technology of using many sources to write a book could be another alteration of a narrative. He tried to make it different. This could be like the adaptation of book to film since in the case of 2001 the book came first. Kubrick took the movie and made it his own. He used his different styles of making a movie and added a great movie score and visual effects to make the movie make sense to us in a better way then just reading. Zampano did just this. He took the Navidson Record, and even if he couldn’t see showed us the twists and turns just like Navidson felt in the movie. He took us back and forth with footnotes.

Johnny’s interpretation was biological. We can assume that Johnny could have schizophrenia or multiple personalities as we stated in class. His mother, when she wrote the Whalestoe letters, was apparently the same way. He became the way he was because of the biological adaptation from his past. I think that Johnny can connect with anybody as in terms of adapting. He wrote how he felt and what he actually believed was right. These authors and film makers all did this because of how they felt about a certain subject. They wanted to show the world a different side of themselves that they never knew. They all adapted technology in a sense of biology to show the world how narration can show us things we never seen before. For example, it had to be shocking to people when they read or saw 2001 that it could be the way the earth would be in 2001. Maybe, since the book and film 2001 were written almost simultaneously, Danielewski was giving us a clue to Johnny’s multiple personalities – he could be all the authors at once.

These books and films are connected through various ways. They can be connected through narration. They can be connected biologically. They can be connected technologically. The plots of each book are a biological interpretation of one another. They are growing and adapting to their environments through narration. 2001 is stated in this book because of the way it was adapting biologically to the world and how Kubrick adapted it to make it his own. The book was adapting biologically through different levels and also each author was making it its own.

Works Cited

"Adaptation." Def. 2. Encarta World English Dictionary. 2007. Microsoft. 6 Dec. 2008 .

Ager, Robert. "2001: A Space Odyssey - in-depth analysis." Kubrick: and beyond the cinema frame. 2008. 7 Dec. 2008 .

Clarke, Author. 2001: A Space Odyssey. New York, NY: Signet, 1968.

Danielewski, Mark Z. House of Leaves. New York: Pantheon, 2000.

Dell, Diane. "Vocabulary List for Biodiversity." 25 Nov. 2008 .

DeMet, George D. "2001: A Space Odyssey Internet Resource Archive." 1994-2001. Palantir.net. 2 Dec. 2008 .

IBM 7094. Daisy. Rec. 1961. Max Mathews. Audio and Video. 2008. Vortex Technology. 7 Dec. 2008 .

2001: A Space Odyssey. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Perf. Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood. DVD. 1968.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

This is a tough paper to respond to; it keeps pulling me in different directions. This is fair enough, since clearly your subject matter was also pulling you in different directions.

What's really good here? You have several interesting explanations and short analyses of various ways in which the book relates to 2001. Some of these are really great: the idea of Zampano going through a biological adaptation to his blindness, your discussion of the halls as monolith, etc. These stand out to me, but most paragraphs are mostly a solid, intelligent reading/statement about how the two (or three) works relate. There's a great deal of good material here.

What's indifferent? Your research was ok, but hardly impressive - going to the library would have taken you farther. Your proofreading was sometimes ok, sometimes verging on a problem.

What's problematic? There's no coherent statement of your argument in the beginning, and we never get to one. You have a number of great thoughts about biology, technology, and 2001 vs. HOL. Many of these you defend and articulate in some detail. But you don't do a very good job of explaining how all of these ideas relate. It almost would have been better to do something extremely focused - e.g., focus on the relationship between the monolith and the House itself (incidentally, your intermittent discussion of *control* was excellent - one of the songs on Poe's cd, incidentally, is "Control"). You don't pull all of your ideas together into one coherent, focused whole. Consequently, this paper - which has many virtues - still reads like a tangled draft.

The material is good, but it would have been better if focused and streamlined. I got a lot out of it, though.