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2001 and Counting: Kubrick, Nietzsche, and Anthropology

by Bruce Kapferer Prickly Paradigm Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 100 pages
AU$27.99 NZ$29.56
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey is widely recognised as a cult classic. Despite mixed critical reception, the dark and difficult movie mesmerised audiences at the time of its initial screening in 1968 and went on to become one the highest grossing films of the decade. In 2001 and Counting, renowned anthropologist Bruce Kapferer revisits 2001: A Space Odyssey, making a compelling case for its continued cultural relevance. While the film's earliest audiences considered it to be a critical examination of European and American realities at the height of the Cold War, Kapferer shows that Kubrick's masterwork speaks equally well to concerns of the contemporary world, including the Iraq War, the 2008 financial crisis, and the material and political effects of neoliberalism. Kapferer explores Kubrick's central theme - the ever-changing relationship between humanity and technology - both with regard to current events and through the lens of Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the mythical concept of the eternal return. A thought-provoking exploration of the cultural power of cinema, this volume by one of anthropology's most insightful and imaginative thinkers will appeal to anthropologists and cineastes alike.

1. The Social and Political Context and Intellectual Themes

A Space Odyssey, 1969 and Tropes of the Present

A Space Odyssey and its Mythic Set

Nietzsche and his Centrality in 2001: A Space Odyssey

Kubrick’s Transposition of Nietzsche: From Religion to Technology

2. The Film and its Analysis

A Space Odyssey and its Logic of Structure

A Space Odyssey:  An Analytical Description

Part 1: Opening and Credits

The Monolith

The Events in Earth Orbit

Part 2: The Jupiter Mission: Eighteen Months Later


Part 3: Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite

a) Descent

b) The Final Transition to Rebirth

3. A Space Odyssey and Beyond


“To measure myth – to contain it, even reduce it –with reference to a scale external to its own economy of expression is to cancel its mythical quality. . . . Myth, one might say, is Human, all too Human, in its refusal to submit to externally imposed scales of meaning. The marvel of Kapferer’s book, then, lies in the manner in which it pursues this flow of meaning, giving anthropological expression to the subterranean links between the filmic, the mythic and the human. A book for free anthropological spirits.”
Bruce Kapferer is professor in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen, Norway, and honorary professor at University College London. He is the author of several books, including, most recently, Legends of People, Myths of State.