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2001: A Space Odyssey and why humans suck

by cyanidesofmarch

Have any of you seen 2001: A Space Odyssey? I saw it ages ago, and I don’t know why I’m suddenly thinking of it, but it basically sums up everything I think that’s wrong with the human race. I do think it’s an amazing film. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. I’ll be saying some mild spoilers below (I’ll warn first).

Ok, so the movie tells the story of humankind’s evolution from ape days to the colonization of space. It’s practically a documentary on evolution but focusing on the fictional future and with cool space ships and stuff.

The recurring theme is how humans survive through the use of tools, and more disturbingly, using tools to kill their enemies. The nifty thing is that the film takes an objective, non-moralizing perspective. So you can see it as either an inspiring story of survival, or like me, a depressing story of kill-or-be-killed.

Next 2 paragraphs contain a mild spoiler.

So the movie first shows how our ape ancestors survived by using tools to kill & eat animals as well as kill enemy apes. Then we fast forward a million years to “civilized society”. Obviously it’s less savage, very clean, polite and awesome looking. But then a problem develops. The artificially intelligent computer develops a slight bug. The humans decide to disconnect (kill) the computer, and the plot shifts to how they can accomplish this difficult feat. So really it’s the same fighting ape story all over again.

In my heart I know that this is how humans will ALWAYS be. We may live in a polite, clean, progressive new world, but if anything poses a threat, we will revert to our ape like behavior and want to kill it, no questions asked. The movie ends on an “inspiring” note, and for years I would’ve told you it’s the most inspiring movie ever made. But suddenly I see it as horribly depressing. Maybe my perspective is screwed up. I don’t know what Kubrick intended the message to be. But it’s funny how something can seem so “right” until one day you see everything as “wrong”.

I used to believe in the progress of humans. I used to admire the pioneers who built the foundation of human survival. I used to think we were “the good guys”. But now the very same thoughts fill me with disgust. And the sad part is that humans at large will never see it. They’ll just keep on living, and killing, and having more babies who will learn to live and kill.

Can anyone convince me I’m wrong? I won’t argue (in fact I wish I were wrong about this), but I don’t think anything can make me believe in the human race ever again.

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clevername 8/25/2013 - 2:34 pm

Convince you you’re wrong about what, exactly?

Why is it wrong to kill something to prevent it from killing you? I don’t think that’s wrong, and i don’t think “no questions asked” is accurate. Lots of people ask the questions and contemplate the notion of killing. It’s just that in the moment when it is required to make the decision: kill, or die; the only “right” answer is to kill, excepting exceptional circumstances.

In a life or death moment, there is no time to ponder. There is no luxury of philosophy. There is Now, i must act, or never act again. I must complete this task, or there will be no more tasks. I must answer “kill” to this question, or never question or answer again.

OTOH, there are a lot of senseless, primitive, seemingly “automatic” things that happen with humanity, and that is certainly rather disturbing in some cases. It’s unfortunate that everything cannot simply coexist, but rather, clash into conflict, that results in extermination of one, the other, or both.

But that’s just part of the nature of existence. That’s just… part of riding the nexus of consciousness, on the waves of time, which ebb and flow with the tides of intersections of matter and energy.

One thing is certain: we have to be alive to figure out what’s going on. So, in order to attempt to make sense of it all, we have to kill anything that poses a threat that cannot be averted or subverted through other means. Sometimes threats show up and require immediate action, and you don’t get time to think of a better way. You have to kill it, because it’s forcing you to choose NOW, before you’ve had time to devise a better strategy. If you win and live on, you get to think about whether or what that better way might be, and prepare to use it if there is another situation where it can be the better option.

cyanidesofmarch 8/25/2013 - 2:48 pm

I hear what you’re saying CN, but it proceeds from the notion that we deserve to live in the first place. I’m suddenly not convinced of that.

For example, I agree with the Allies in WWII. We were stopping a psycho racist murderer and his ongoing torture and unjustified extermination of families. So in that case, I agree that it was fitting to kill. Gandhi never would’ve made a dent.

But in other wars, can we be so sure that we’ve earned the right to kill? Why exactly did we go do Vietnam… did they attack us? Or was it just some stupid human political statement that ended up getting a whole lot more people killed than if we had left their government alone?

More to the point, I don’t think *I* have the right to kill to survive. I’m a big freakin zero, worthless to society, worthless to the animals & trees, done nothing but added misery to the world despite my best efforts to be good. So if some hungry homeless guy busts in here, and my only defense is a gun, do I have the right to kill him? He probably deserves to live more than I do, so why don’t I take the noble route by putting the bullet through my own worthless head?

I guess that’s what makes me think of the movie. In the movie, the computer (at first) is not a threat to anyone. But the humans discover the slight bug and decide to kill it because it could potentially be a threat. Then of course the computer fights to save itself, etc. It’s a never ending cycle of violence. I think at some point, someone has to objectively look at it and determine who should survive before fighting back with deadly force.

Or even willingly end our own lives when we realize that we are not worthy of survival….

cyanidesofmarch 8/25/2013 - 2:53 pm

“In a life or death moment, there is no time to ponder. There is no luxury of philosophy. There is Now, i must act, or never act again. I must complete this task, or there will be no more tasks. I must answer “kill” to this question, or never question or answer again.”

You’re absolutely right. And I know if someone pulled a gun on me, that surge of mindless rage wouldtake control of me, I’ll fight any attacker probably to the death.

Then 5 minutes later I would be back here posting about how I don’t deserve to live and wish someone would kill me. I guess I’m a hypocrite like everyone else… but that’s what it means to be human

lorax 8/25/2013 - 2:59 pm

Reminds me of Tool’s song, “Right in Two”

“Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground
Silly monkeys give them thumbs, they make a club
And beat their brother down.
How they survive so misguided is a mystery.
Repugnant is a Creature who would squander the ability
To lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here.”

lorax 8/25/2013 - 3:01 pm

Maybe the idea that we’re, “the good guys,” is misguided. Our domination of nature is a domination of ourselves, granted we’re the product of natural processes like all other bioforms on Earth. There are no good or bad guys, there are only apes who believe they are not apes. Ignorance of one’s nature is possibly the most dangerous kind of ignorance.

clevername 8/25/2013 - 3:47 pm

Good song, lorax. I find much of MJK’s musical contributions quite appreciable. Right now, go listen to Rosetta Stoned. 🙂

I don’t think life is about what anyone “deserves.”

I didn’t fight the nazis, and i didn’t go to Vietnam. I don’t include myself in that “we.” I think it’s inappropriate for me to do so. I reject your premise that “we” went to vietnam. Someone did, but it wasn’t me.

The only requirement for having “the right to kill,” is that it must occur to preserve oneself. Beyond that is a massive grey area, filled with much contention and controversy. I personally think it’s “wrong” to kill another person when it’s not necessary, or, at least reasonably justified. There are certain instances where it may not technically be “necessary,” but there is a perceived real and present danger, posing a significant threat to one’s life, livelihood, and/or well-being.

It’s not about whether i “deserve to have the right,” but that i am alive, my life is mine, i belong to me, and i do have the right, whether anyone thinks it is “deserved,” to protect myself from harm or mortal injury, up to and including the use of lethal force.

But you don’t murder someone for verbal insults, and you don’t decapitate someone for punching you in the face. “You just don’t.” Such a response would be disproportionately severe and unnecessary, therefore unjustified, UNLESS, the person is obviously aggressive and intent on ending your life. A bad word or single punch is not a threat on life. Finding a stranger has intruded your home, IS. Is it always necessary to kill every intruder? Probably not. But in the case of a suddenly discovered intrusion, you shouldn’t assume you will have the luxury of questions and discourse; someone you don’t know has entered your home without permission; they don’t respect your boundaries, and so it is a reasonable assumption that there is a high probability that such a person also will not respect the value of your life, or even your inclination to protect yourself from a perceived threat.

This is almost never the same case as “War.” IMO, almost all war is conspiracy. I have plenty of reason to justify that opinion, but lots of people don’t like to think about such things, and prefer the comfort of their illusory rose-colored unicorn fantasy world.

I would say that taking initiative against someone attempting to exterminate an entire ethnic group, is certainly justifiable. But i don’t see the so-called “evidence” for the Iraq stuff as valid, and i don’t find those actions justifiable. You can call me crazy, or you can consider all available information and let it show what it shows.

This causes a dilemma, because while i respect the individual ideal that is “protecting this country through military service,” i also despise how TPTB abuses their control of our indoctrinated military personnel. The cause is fabricated, but the lives and losses are very real. I find it incredibly unfair and disgusting. But i am thankful that “real men” out there are willing to lay it all on the line for what they perceive as a good cause. Not all of them are wonderful. Some are just psychopaths who want to get paid to kill people, and many of those people are sub-optimally equipped, or “out-gunned.” Not all, but some. Anyway…

In the “hungry homeless intruding to eat” scenario, does he attack you? If he doesn’t attack you, you could just give him some food, if you think he probably deserves it. No one has to die unless one of you forces the other to choose. If you attack a person with such a clear advantage as gun vs. no-gun, well… that’s just a bad decision. Maybe that guy is hungry and homeless due to bad decisions? Not necessarily, but maybe… and i can’t say that intruding a potentially armed person’s home, is a “good” decision. So maybe just being hungry and homeless doesn’t equate to a superior entitlement to life.

clevername 8/25/2013 - 3:54 pm

It’s like everyone’s always reaching for some mystically imbued, innate sense of entitlement… or that everything has to be fit into some set of parameters that sets who deserves what, and any deviation from such perceptions must automatically be abominable.

Idk.

I think it’s just that an apparent majority of people don’t understand life all that well, and you can’t really blame them, because they either haven’t happened upon, or haven’t been allowed, to encounter the opportunity to learn such lessons, or have been entirely misguided altogether.

Fix the system, fix what it produces.

Go to the source to fix the system… or to discover design flaws, for which we can only compensate with “hacks,” due to some things just being what they are, and unable to be changed, or too entrenched to be altered, without completely destabilizing the support systems required for most people to remain alive.

I don’t think anyone “has the right” to decide to wipe out all of humanity, so in pursuit of a solution, we must accept that there has to be an acceptable method of transition from corrupt to corrected, and do our best to minimize the detrimental impacts of altering the programs. Live-hacking, no down-time. Dev on the fly. We need to find the people who are both willing and able to complete such a task… or, learn how to produce them from what currently exists. Or, learn how to make enough changes to what currently exists, so that we can produce those who can complete the process.

lorax 8/25/2013 - 4:01 pm

When I said, “Maybe the idea that we’re, “the good guys,” is misguided,” what I meant was the idea that we are somehow morally justified to view ourselves as somehow higher on the totem-pole of natural processes – or to assume we’re above nature itself. It’s such a permeating assumption, and so subtle, that it touches on just about every aspect of life that people take for granted every moment of every day.

In line with that thinking, on what grounds is it more morally justifiable to kill a cow so you can have steak for dinner, than it is to kill a man because he looked at you funny? In the animal kingdom, most creatures seem to exist at peace with the fact that distinctions such as those are foreign, alien, and probably quite strange. Yet, if you have a particular kind of genetic material, you’re not allowed to legally sleep under a bush on someone else’s property, while a rabbit or a squirrel can do so without any repercussions. What makes us so special?

clevername 8/25/2013 - 4:18 pm

Cow is food. Killing someone who looked at you cross-ways, is “pride” (and stupid).

I don’t have to believe myself superior to anything, to decide that i value my life enough to protect it from imposed threats, even threats i perceive as superior to myself.

I can decide to continue living. It doesn’t require a right. It doesn’t matter who deserves what. I can choose to live, and you can choose to try to stop me, and i can choose to do whatever stops you from stopping me.

I am mine. I know i exist. Therefore, i can choose to act in my own best interests, regardless of anything, or in accordance with anything.

Just because we possess the capacity to alter our environment, that does not mean we necessarily believe ourselves superior to it, or “above” nature. We are part of nature. Doesn’t that mean that if we alter nature, it’s really just nature altering itself? I think so. And i would also assert that even manufacturing microchips, is “nature,” because humans are natural and doing what humans naturally do.

To assert that “humans believe themselves such and such” is to validate the very notion in question.

Whether or not we are “special,” we are certainly and obviously “different” in some ways, compared to “most other creatures,” and some of those differences are both the cause, and the effect, of us having increased capacity for certain things.

We don’t have to be “the good guys” in order to have the capacity and awareness to choose to protect ourselves from harm. We can decide “i want to eat that” and go eat it. We also have the capacity and awareness to consider the consequences of our actions. If you eat a cow, most people will approve. If you eat a person, most people will not. But hey, if that person gave you permission to end their life and consume their flesh, then why should anyone have a problem with it? If i can donate my body to science, why can’t i donate it to cannibals? I’m sure they’d be just as pleased to receive such a charity.

lorax 8/25/2013 - 4:22 pm

I’ve sometimes questioned the idea of self-ownership – do people really belong to themselves? So they can own other stuff that’s not their self? I didn’t make my cellular bits and pieces, some exploding star billions of years ago provided the material, and time allowed the pieces to fall together in such a way as to produce what I call, “me.” What is this ownership, and where does it come from? Do cows own themselves, too?

clevername 8/25/2013 - 4:34 pm

No, your parents combined each of their reproductive material, and your body *literally* made itself (though with obvious assistance from the womb).

Your body’s cells continue to repair and make more of themselves to replace the used up ones, though at a gradually decreasing rate, which will eventually cease.

You made yourself. You own yourself. That’s that. You don’t owe anyone anything, and neither does the universe owe anything to anyone else.

Yeah, i would say cows own themselves… but i rather doubt they have realized it. But perhaps. Kinda like how dogs own themselves, but choose to submit to being our companions (usually), because they think we’re pretty great. If they hate us, they run away. Cats are just here for the food and world domination.

lorax 8/25/2013 - 4:40 pm

But what is the origin of that reproductive material, and the origin of the cells which my body used to create itself? Material that exists can be combined in synthesis to create new material using components of the original stuff, but at the molecular level, we’re still star-dust. Just rearranged in a more fleshy, poop producing structure.

Persephone 8/25/2013 - 4:43 pm

We belong to the universe. No one owns themselves because we don’t have a clue what’s out there beyond what theoretical physicists and the like have already speculated.

Sure, one can have ‘free will,’ or at least believe they do (every action depends on nature/nurture, so in actuality no one has total free will), but to go as far as to think one is one’s own master? Not true. A person can’t control everything that happens to them. Only if he could would he be able to say he ‘owns’ himself.

lorax 8/25/2013 - 4:47 pm

We “are” the universe, or rather, little bits of the universe that for some reason think we’re separate from the rest of the universe. It’s quite strange to think about. Yet, I don’t think the idea of ownership means anything to the universe – I mean, if we belong to the universe, what does the universe belong to? And if we are bits of the universe, how can we belong to the thing of which we are? O.o Oh, god, I think I just gave myself an aneurysm.

clevername 8/25/2013 - 5:04 pm

I know that and where and how my self began. I know that i will end. I know that there is a limit to what i can control, and i often know exactly where that line is. I know where “self” ends, and “not-self” begins. I know what is me, and what isn’t. Everything inside that realm, belongs to me, whether or not i can fully control it.

I don’t think the universe “owns” anything. I think the universe is just the universe. It just exists as it is, and we’re not really sure why. For now, that’s okay. We have more pressing issues here on earth. For example, lots of people insisting that some imaginary creature created all this, on purpose, to be exactly as it is, and ostracizing and persecuting everyone who disagrees, or even others who believe a slightly different version of this fantasy.

The universe can’t own itself. For this case, i assert that ownership requires sentience, and there is nothing that can discernibly indicate that the universe is actually conscious and self-aware. It could be, but there is nothing obvious to indicate that. It just exists. It’s just an area with lots of empty volume and particles and energy colliding, and everything whipping around and bouncing off each other, creating all sorts of astounding astronomical phenomena.

Whether all things conform to the constructs of either “nature” or “nurture” and/or the more common combinations of varying degrees of Both, negates neither ‘free will,’ nor self-ownership. At best, such a condition of origin-dependence only accounts for varying degrees of influence, and not entire control of the self. The primary controller of the self, is the self. The primary creator of the self, is the self, even though the origin doesn’t begin that way. By adulthood, any person has already produce far more of their own cells than both of the parents, combined, donated during the gestation period.

Nothing is perfect. We cannot have complete control, because we originate from a source that is not us, and are contained in a shared environment, with our natures nurtured to become whatever we become… but at some point, the self can make a choice to be the sole proprietor and supreme, benevolent, benign dictator, philosopher-king of himself.

If you decide to claim ownership of yourself, then you own yourself. If you decide otherwise, then i suppose you are owned only by your environment and the events that lead to your creation and subsequent existence.

I choose to own myself. Therefore, i own myself.

Anyone can choose that, even when heavily oppressed.

cyanidesofmarch 8/25/2013 - 5:04 pm

Really interesting thoughts. About owning ourselves, I’ve sometimes wondered that. We can’t deny that we each have our unique programming. Whether that was put in place by a “god” or by an arbitrary combination of DNA going back 10 million years, we can’t know.

It sure feels like we own ourselves, but who knows, maybe we are the disposable property of something else, just like the computer in 2001 which they decided to disconnect because it had a programming error.

Wars: CN, I agree completely. And I’ve never fought in a war so I don’t have the right to speak either. I agree that they are almost always conspiracies by the rich white men in power. Even in WWII, the USA took its sweet time joining in the fight until it was clear that there was a threat to our turf. But of all the wars I’ve heard about, WWII is the only one that makes sense to me.

About cows: I don’t eat them. I stopped eating all meat when I realized I’m a worthless human shit, and cows/pigs/chickens/fish deserve to live far more than I do. I even try to avoid eating plants because I truly believe a beautiful celery stalk has much more value to this world than I do. So I stick to fruits and nuts and seeds mostly. Don’t worry, I was fucked in the head long before I adopted this weird diet :/

Yes, every living thing from human to ape to tiger to spider to venus flytrap has its right to defend itself and survive. I guess my problem is with humans who take it too far and kill when not necessary. Even lions will only kill as much as they need, and they leave the rest of the antelope herd alone. You’d think with advanced knowledge and evolution would come the power to restrain ourselves. I don’t see it.

We are still savage monkeys. But with assault rifles now.

I gotta check out that Tool song it sounds awesome.

lorax 8/25/2013 - 6:51 pm

@clevername: I just had a thought – people say that the universe is indifferent, but as the universe consists of everything that exists, I’d rather say that we are proof that the universe isn’t completely indifferent, though most of it probably is.

rach 8/25/2013 - 11:40 pm

I would like to see the human race go extinct and at lest leave the animals alone. I do think the human race on the whole is far too barbaric to exist at all. There are a few good individuals. But a few good cannot justify an ocean of evil. Take away humanity and you will take away the factory farms, the serial killers, the rapists, the sadists, the vivisectors, the bullies…..
I have no faith in the human race whatsoever. Never have. I am disabled and will never be having kids but if I were healthy I would certainly abstain from having kids and I abstain from using animal products. It’s the least I can do. Humanity is an evil race, and one day they will destroy themselves

Morlock (Bitter Max) 8/26/2013 - 12:15 am

Bear Bile Calamity

Let my Heart forever cry
For the essence of I
Is the essence of Reality
The Sin of Humanity
A twisted, sickening, and feeble minded malady
The unbalance is Eternity
A sickness that shall remain with I until the day I die
For until then, only God knows I will not rest easy.

Morlock (Bitter Max) 8/26/2013 - 12:36 am

A random piece i wrote a while back ago. I wish I didn’t just share that though lol.

lorax 8/26/2013 - 1:00 am

I liked it. The title is vomitastic. 🙂

Morlock (Bitter Max) 8/26/2013 - 1:41 am

Now I prefer to leave a more brighter input into the things I write down, but still never oblivious to the overlying darkness of it all. The story is darkness and the theme is the ‘Light’, it’s gotta be..

Hey @rach – Can I crash at your place and be your friend and play video game? =)

Morlock (Bitter Max) 8/26/2013 - 1:41 am

Now I prefer to leave a more brighter input into the things I write down, but still never oblivious to the overlying darkness of it all. The story is darkness and the theme is the ‘Light’, it’s gotta be..

Hey @rach – Can I crash at your place and be your friend and play video game? =)

Morlock (Bitter Max) 8/26/2013 - 1:42 am

whoops

cyanidesofmarch 8/26/2013 - 6:58 am

@rach Amen, can I crash at your pad too? I can show you how to make conditioner out of avocado, pears & olive oil. We can eat the leftovers.

Morlock I’m glad you did post that. It’s really amazing.
“A sickness that shall remain with I until the day I die”
Could not have been said better

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