Shadow of the Groundhog # 13: Becoming Kubrick

maze

Right now I am excited. I have had a series of small “wins” and the result is a feeling of surfing a giant wave and wanting to hoot and wave to get the attention of my surf buddies on the beach so they will catch my glorious “moment.”

In the midst of the flurry of writing and Internet activity, I’ve also been finishing the attic space in the house. It’s the last major job in the living area (commercial front still untouched) and what it means is that I will have my own personal space for writing and sleeping and whatever else, for the first time since I got married pretty much (not counting my stint in Guatemala). My man cave. The last time I had an attic room was when I was a teenager, the period between fourteen and seventeen, the crucial years (covered in Seen & Not Seen) when I first got into movies and started writing about them.

It is like a circle is being completed in time, and in my psyche. (Or perhaps the circle is my psyche?) The end of something old, the beginning of something new.

It’s also a literal case of me leveling up, going up in the world.

And then there’s Kubrick.

This present writing gig is one in a series of explorations of public figures (Sam Peckinpah, Castaneda, Strieber, John de Ruiter, my brother, Philip K. Dick), but it’s the first time I have chosen one—had him thrust upon me—who was never an influence, and certainly not a mentor or a guru. I always hated Kubrick!

In all previous cases (with Dick a partial exception), the men I wrote about were father/brother figures whose blessing I wanted, in one form or another, and couldn’t get, and about whom I got busy uncovering all the ways they weren’t worthy to bless me anyway. In contrast to them, I never wanted anything from Kubrick. Yet for the first time, I feel like I am forging an alliance with my subject, and discovering a love I had no reason to ever suspect was there.

While this seems to inspire me at a deep, soul level, I am also observing the telltale signs of ego inflation. Excitement, over-confidence, a sense of purpose and urgency, a feeling of discovering something great, and of being great—of being both the discoverer and what is being discovered.

Kubrick had a 200 IQ and the thing about an intelligence of that sort is it requires an unusually high level of intelligence even to imagine how that kind of intelligence might operate. People tend to think that it just means double deluxe intelligence, with fries. But what if the difference is not so much quantitive as qualitative?

As I said on the recent Sync podcast, I see myself as Kubrick’s equal, in terms of intellect at least. If I didn’t I would never dare to try and put myself in his head and imagine what he might have been attempting to achieve. Or to try and match him in this Game of Wits he is playing—even from beyond the grave. But that’s not an easy thing to admit to.

In The Shining, Jack Torrance ends up possessed by the soul of the Overlook and by the previous caretaker—who it turns out—incoherently—was Jack all along. Lately, I think I have been acting more and more like Kubrick: playing games, dangling clues in front of people, testing who is paying attention, thinking strategically, seeing the world and others as opponents on a kind of psychological chess board. I seem to be becoming Kubrick!

Yet in terms of real-world status and even accomplishments, this is sheer hubris—another Kubrickian quality, perhaps the defining one. Compared to Kubrick, I am the equivalent of some underground filmmaker I can’t even name because I have never heard of him, someone who works diligently away at his thing and is known in small circles, mostly by other artists, and who is well-respected but has next to zero social influence or power. A cultural pipsqueak, a mosquito on Kubrick’s elephant ass.

But the view up here is pretty awesome. I highly recommend it.

29 thoughts on “Shadow of the Groundhog # 13: Becoming Kubrick

  1. “Yet in terms of real-world status and even accomplishments, this is sheer hubris—another Kubrickian quality, perhaps the defining one. Compared to Kubrick, I am the equivalent of some underground filmmaker I can’t even name because I have never heard of him, someone who works diligently away at his thing and is known in small circles, mostly by other artists, and who is well-respected but has next to zero social influence or power. A cultural pipsqueak, a mosquito on Kubrick’s elephant ass.

    But the view up here is pretty awesome. I highly recommend it.”
    For some strange reason after reading that last paragraph of yours I just imagine you being the guy at the ending of Trainspotting with that growing smirk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItMF3GiRYxk

  2. You’re mistaken for thinking that Kubrick had an IQ of 200. His IQ was actually around 70—similar to that of Forrest Gump. He did, however, have a wanking score of 200; meaning he was capable of masturbating nonstop for an incredible 200 minutes. Indeed, Kubrick was a phenomenal masturbator. Apparently he masturbated during the making of all his films…

  3. To be honest, I cannot fathom the whole Kubrick-mania, neither yours nor anybody else’s.

    When I told you a few months ago that I thought you were already enlightened, it was with reference to statements similar to the one you made at the end of the interview part 2 (1:12:50):

    “For me that’s all second matrix, because we are already free. We are just perception. We even don’t exist other than as perception. .. The whole journey that is mapped into 2001 that is so captivating and fascinating and seems so archetypal – from a certain perspective, it seems to me, it’s a complete con.”

    Of course, it’s a free country. Why not obsess about Kubrick?

    “Something has to be done; this is entertainment – whiling away the time, the life span.” (N. Maharaj)

  4. By the phrase “I dont get how someone cant fathom Kubrick-mania.” I mean that I dont understand why people dont get why others might be fascinated by Kubrick and his movies. Put 2001 in any list of 60’s movies and it is an oddity. As for Kubrick himself, he had power and was happy to flex that power on occasion. People are attracted to figures with power, why wouldnt some people be interested in Kubrick? Talk of emperors new clothes in this instance is erroneous, via basic cultural awareness and contextualisation.

    And no, I dont think 2001 is what it seems, amongst other things to some extent it may have been the powers-that-be’s attempt to re-direct the transcendent undercurrents in 60’s counter culture and establish a didactic through-line in the mass psyche, for various reasons…

  5. There’s a wealth of Kubrick material out there, but I’d love it if any of it engaged with the following topics:

    ◇ Inter-penetrating ages (or eras, or aeons), Just as the mammalian age touched the pre-historic age via wooly mammoths and sabre-toothe tigers, so does the post-human age with now (the human era). The 3 movies to underline this are; 2001, The Shining and A.I. All of these movies end with a form of time-transcendence .

    ◇ The Kubrick stare. Why is this in 8 of his movies? What does it mean?

    ◇ Does aligning with the agenda of a time-piercing solar will grant power?

  6. As far as I can see, the energy that goes into the Kubricon mainly goes into areas of pattern recognition, synchromysticism and conspiracy all of which provide mental growth and creativity (albeit of a paranoid sort) in some form or other. Where would those energies be better channeled?
    As for why did Neo want to end the Matrix, partly because he was told to. Morpheus, the Oracle and Trinity told him that was his purpose and he obliged, he was given a basic mandate of real=good and non-real=bad and went to work, there’s not much evidence of Neo grasping the complexities of the situation, he took the ego-bait of being the one and fulfilled a role that was, at least in part, dictated by the machines he was opposed to (according to the 2nd movie).

  7. Is there an end in sight? It ^^^ sounds like trying to leave the Overlook maze by studying the foliage.

    That’s a rather liberal interpretation of the movie. I’d say the answer is that until you are all the way in your body, you can’t even begin to live, and that Neo’s purpose was innate, not programmed. (I dont refer to the sequels coz they were crap)

  8. No, there’s no end in sight, but thats the idea; grasping infinity. Knowing how deep the rabbit hole goes (really deep).

    Going on the dialogue uttered in the movie, Neo has little agency, pretty much the only pro-active decision he makes is to save Morpheus (and that was suggested by the Oracle). Neo does choose the way of the body, but not in the embodiment sense, he chooses to gaze at the woman in the red dress, he chooses co-dependency via Trinity and he chooses to live up to the ass-kicking role of The One. Yes the sequels had crapness in them, but also some interesting ideas, one of those was that Neo’s purpose was innate, like chaos. There’s that idea of letting the devil loose for a season, Neo was the machine’s devil.

    But I dont get how Kubricks films are like the Matrix. If anything they’re more like the splinter in the mind that motivates Neo to break free of the Matrix.

  9. In one of your cartoons you write that “the medium is the message”, but in the Playboy interview Kubrick said “the message is the medium”.

  10. I hate to “necro” a thread, but I’ve just discovered your blog and have been avidly reading the old articles, and could not resist making the following (mostly random) observations:

    I saw 2001 for the first time in the theater when I was ten years old at my best friend ‘s birthday party on March 16, 1968. I remember the date for two reasons : 1) my cousin was born that day, and 2) because I found out years later that the My Lai massacre took place that day, probably as we watched the film. Not really relevant, but interesting.

    At the end of 2010, the sequel, when the second sun appeared I thought “Great! Now global warming is doubled!”

    And as to the Matrix, I wondered about Neo-Nazis and the others having to confront a very pissed-off crowd who just got forcibly sprung from a pleasant fantasy to be plunged into ecological hell where they got to eat gruel.

    I’m a real hit at parties.

    • That is true. It might be a kind of synchronicity. As a matter of fact, I’ve been slowly gaining a rudimentary feel for the sort of cultural programming you talk about in the words autocorrect knows and doesn’t know, or some of the zany things it turns intended words or expressions into. I notice it has no database pertaining to Marxism or revolutionary terms (not that I’m either of those, really). I think this instance was probably just a result of me discussing Neo-Nazis a lot. Anyway, your blog is fascinating, Jasun. I like the way you think. Keep it up and you’ll make the Propornot list in no time! Thanks for your reply.

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