Arash Christopher Eslami's Blog

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The Unconscious Monolith


A lot of you probably remember Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The fascinating thing I found about that movie were the monoliths: < Gr, monos (alone) and lithos (stone).  Those ubiquitous stones floating around in the farthest reaches of space were captivating.

At first, I didn’t know what the heck those things were.  I mean they looked like slabs of concrete somehow emanating infinite power.  One might argue they symbolically represented the stone tablets that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments engraved on them.  I think that is a good guess because if Kubrick imagined the idea, then I would suggest this is its origin either knowingly or not.

I mean to digress with a side note of an old expression known as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”  I was taught, by a college professor in fact, that this law came from the Old Testament.  You can find it in Exodus 21:23-25.  So it does indeed exist in the Old Testament, yet that is not where it first appeared.  The first laws (nomos), still preserved, came from the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia.  The Hammurabi Code was created during the reign of Hammurabi (1772 BC), the sixth king of Babylon.

The connection is that one of the diorite steles we have possession of resembles the exact shape of Kubrick’s monoliths: a tall rectangle stone.  So rather or not this is a Jungian archetype illustrating itself in the director’s work is debatable.  I certainly have archetypes floating around my head, for example, the archetype death is the image of the Grim Reaper in my mind.  I think there can also be several images representing an archetype in your unconscious.

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