Many of us in the geek continuum have been excited to learn about a giant steel monolith being discovered in the Utah desert. It gives me chills, though only because I, as many others, believe Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” is the best movie ever made, and has encoded within it some highly important ideas about who we are within this cosmos.
I’m not going to get into the Utah story now, but this is a good opportunity to post a little side project I had been working on — that of the astrology of HAL 9000, the AI computer, and antagonist of “2ASA.”
Firstly, it should be noted that 2ASA was an original collaboration between Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. Both devised the plot with the goal of Kubrick making a movie, but Clarke also published his own rendition of the story as a sci-fi novel at the same time, more or less.
It has been noted that one seemingly minor variation between the two works is with the “birth date” for HAL 9000. In the movie, HAL claims to be “born” on January 12, 1992, at Urbana, Illinois. (Urbana is the adjacent town to Champaign, Illinois, where the University of Illinois is located. The U of I is a premier engineering college in the USA.)
In the novel, HAL is born on January 12, 1997, also at Urbana.
What gives with this? Well, of course, it’s the astrology, but it’s an astrology with a mind toward astrogation, or the navigation of space.
Here are the two charts, for comparison, defaulted to high noon:
It appears that Clarke’s date for HAL was possibly chosen with astrology in mind. For the uninitiated, it has to do with the triangle in the middle. It is what we astrologers call a “T-Square”, and in this case it is quite mathematically precise.
At the apex of the triangle we find a close conjunction of the two inner planets: Mercury and Venus. Those two are in 90° angles to Saturn, and also Mars, which is on the north lunar node.
In modern parlance, we would express this planetary circuit as:
[ME-0-VE] = [SA-180-(MA-0-NO)]
Why might this be something that would produce a killer AI computer that was designed to run a space ship? More importantly, was Clarke trying to tell us something about the dangers of AI, way back in the 1960’s? Well, yes!
Mercury in astrology is the planet of communication and flight. In the ancient world, nothing was faster than the word, which is information transfer, and computers are, after all, simply glorified information crunchers. Venus, of course, is art, beauty, and good fortune.
Mercury in conjunction with Venus is a very special classical pairing called a “Shekinah.” The ancient astrologers, and those from antiquity, noticed that Mercury and Venus did a special “dance” in the heavens — they are rarely “conjunct,” as they are in this chart, but when they are, the often spend many days together before separating again, from the point of view of the observer on Earth.
And, a conjunction of Mercury and Venus was considered very propitious, and very regal, the stuff of kings and the finest gifts.
However, this Shekinah is at the mercy of a Mars/Saturn opposition. Mars and Saturn are, as a pair, the most destructive and evil influence in the heavens, being destructive, crushing, and unhappy all around.
It’s just hard for me, as an astrologer, to see Clarke’s chart as some sort of coincidence or accident. Clarke’s career as an intellectual was basically bereft of the “silliness” of astrology, but if there is one thing I’ve learned in the past 25 years, the major players in our world have always had an eye on astrology, and have had to use it in cloaked ways.
Think about it … why even give HAL a birthdate at all? Is that somehow central to the story? NO! We don’t know of any other dates in the entire saga, as none were mentioned. Thus, this date for HAL has to mean something, and that something has to be in the astrology.
2ASA was written in a time when there was much fear about computers, and how they might “take over the world.” Isaac Asimov also grappled with those futuristic concepts. We are, in this current time, on the cusp of the age of AI. This is serious business. If I was to guess at what Clarke’s astrological message was, it was definitely that the promise of AI is fraught with all kinds of dangers. And, it is!
Back to the movie, and the monolith. The monolith is a character of the saga, and there are a few of them. The first one appears in the sequence with the monkeys and bones. The second is on the Moon. The third is around Jupiter.
I’ve probably seen 2ASA 20 times in my life. The first time was when I was a child, and couldn’t understand it. The most recent was when Netflix had it available in 2015. (The wife an I got a new 50″ HDTV for the bedroom, and I watched it a few times.) I was finally learned and mature enough in 2015 to actually believe I understood the film entirely.
Then, I watched a film about Kubrick’s movie “The Shining,” called “Room 237.” I also heard an extensive interview with the filmmaker, Bill Blakemore, on Art Bell’s show. The film is a must-see. It tries to make the case that Kubrick was enlisted by NASA to help “fake” the 1969 moon landing, or at least, help NASA prepare for filming the 1969 moon landing.
Blakemore’s contention is that the “237” relates to a special building NASA had where a giant stage was constructed, and that the moon landing was faked there by Kubrick. Blakemore even goes to great length to suggest that much of “The Shining” was encoded with symbolic confessions, by Kubrick, that he really did help NASA fake the moon landing. It’s an outlandish theory, as the only people who think the moon landing was faked are also morons who think pro wrestling is real.
For all the wonderful insights about Kubrick that Blakemore offers in his film, however, he failed to do one thing: explore the nature of the number 237.
237 is a number that is the product of two prime numbers only: 3 and 79. 79 is an important astrological number, as it is the number of years that, from the Earth’s point of view, Mars and the Sun will return to their same places in the zodiac, within a small margin of error. This was the “Goal-Year” value for Mars that the ancient Mesopotamians discovered thousands of years ago.
And, given that Mars has a very eccentric orbit, meaning that it swings far from the Sun at times, and then much closer, the distances between Earth and Mars vary quite widely. If indeed we are to send humans to Mars, we would want to do so at times when the journey would be as short as possible in distance. We can’t just go to Mars at any ol’ time. We have to go when there are “opportunities,” and the best opportunities happen when Earth and Mars are at minimum distances. Those oscillate on a 79-year cycle, divided into 15- and 17-year increments.
And, this brings up a somewhat obvious observation about Kubrick’s sequence with the monkeys and the monolith, which is subtitled “The Dawn of Man” … is that really Earth? Why choose to set those scenes in the desert, when we all know that early life like that came from the jungle? Could it be that “The Dawn of Man” took place on Mars? Watch the scene for yourself here:
You may say, “Well, Ed, it’s pretty obvious that the Sun and a crescent Moon are in the sky above the monolith, and that would not be the scene on Mars.” Ok, cool, but the whole theme of the monolith is that of leaps of evolution, of life. There were many theorists in the 1960’s, and before, who envisioned that life really began on Mars and was transported to Earth billions of years ago. Or… maybe life was co-evolving on both planets, but as Mars was becoming less habitable for life, which was depicted with the shrinking water hole that the apes were jealously guarding, the monolith, or the “intelligence” of the cosmos, chose to transport them?
I’m not sure on how to communicate such ideas in 1960’s sci-fi film language, but this seems plausible to me.
In the Shining, Room 237 is the room where the spirits and the horror emanate. It is the forbidden room, where the ghosts of the past are waiting to haunt the future. We’re in one of those times now in human history, and as we get better and better and discovering our past through anthropological technology, the demons of the past will arise to challenge our conventional constructs.
That’s the whole plot of 2ASA in the first place. We … yes we … are the aliens! Or something like that.
On a final note, I offer a brief piece I published in 2015 about this topic, as a download. In it I remind us that 2001 is 33 years beyond 1968, when 2ASA came out. 33 is a Goal-Year value for Mercury, as is 46. Add those two together and we get 79. And, we can see that any conjunction of Mercury and Mars will repeat every 79 years as well. Thus, there is a special resonance between those two planets, and Clarke may have been astrologically alluding to that as well.