The story of HAL 9000 is very much cautionary tale in the mode of Frankenstein. HAL (short for Heuristically Programmed Algorithmic Computer) is a hyper-intelligent computer created by years of research and experimentation. However, he may indeed be too human, and for this reason he must be destroyed. Nature is the only force allowed to create life in our cultural consciousness, so any human attempt must necessarily fail; here, HAL illustrates the role of the monster as the protector of social norms. What is ultimately disturbing about HAL’s demise is that when he dies, he speaks of his parents, creating (just as Frankenstein’s monster does) an uneasy sympathetic relationship with the audience. This is another thesis of Cohen’s; monsters exist in liminal spaces, such as the space between human and robot. The horror of 2001 is also very much a classic example of paranoid horror. The threat comes from within the ship, within the “home” of the crew, and it comes from the technology that has invaded and fused itself with the home. Notice the characteristics of insecure horror present here: the destruction of traditionally reliable authorities such as HAL and the scientists who created him; failure on the part of his human progenitors; a terrifying lack of boundaries between man and machine. The fact that the movie/book was released in 1968, well into the post-war paranoid horror era, further supports the link to this hypothesis. HAL is a terrifying reminder that while technology can improve the future, it can also destroy the present, annihilating our safe social constructions from the inside out. Bibliography:
- Junell, Joseph S. “Intelligence Without Morality.” The Phi Delta Kappan 49.1 (1967): 42-46. Print.
- Kuberski, Philip. “Kubrick’s Odyssey: Myth, Technology, Gnosis.” Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory 64.3 (2008): 51-73. Web.
- Lewis, Tyson, and Daniel Cho. “Home Is Where the Neurosis Is: A Topography of the Spatial Unconscious.” Cultural Critique 64 (2006): 69-91. Web.
- McConnell, Frank. “Rough Beast Slouching: A Note on Horror Movies.” The Kenyon Review 32.1 (1970): 109-20. Web.
- Shatnoff, Judith. “A Gorilla to Remember.” Rev. of Planet of the Apes by Franklin J. Schaffner; Arthur P. Jacobs; 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. Film Quarterly 22.1 (1968): n. pag. Print.