[An explanation for why HAL has one eye can be found, obliquely, in M. Owen Lee's WAGNER'S RING: TURNING THE SKY ROUND, one of the best introductory text's to Wagner's four-night opera. Lee's view of why the sky god Wotan has one eye illuminates Kubrick's use of the image in 2001. These excerpts are from pp. 39-40 and 55-8.] * * * * So far in these considerations, we've spoken of external nature (or the inner psyche) as innocent and unaware of itself. But gleaming through the waters in the opening scene of RHEINGOLD is a mysterious light, a kind of golden eye. Perhaps it is even the eye of father Rhine, for that is how his daughters, the Rhine maidens, describe it. It is the Rhine's gold, a wonderful symbol of the light of consciousness buried deep within unconscious waters [example 11]. At the end of DAS RHEINGOLD we hear another theme of conscious power latent within the unconscious. This is the theme of the sword that the father god, Wotan, will someday bestow on his chosen hero. It leaps through the rainbow music of the final scene, a shining idea just emerging from the unconscious of the father god. And as we expect, it is a variant of our other theme of emerging light. Both motifs are formed from simple major chords -- the water father's gold [example 11] and the sky father's sword [example 12]. This suggestion of consciousness buried deep within what appears to be unconscious nature brings us to a second great consideration of myth, religion, and philosophy. At one stupendous evolutionary moment in pre- history, one of nature's creatures separated himself from the unconscious flowing and burgeoning of nature and became conscious of himself. Prometheus stole fire. Adam ate the apple. Man sundered his bond with nature and set himself on a course of conscious individuation. In his mythologies, man has forever after felt guilt about that sundering. For when he became conscious of himself, man was able to choose between good and evil, and he realized that he was flawed, striving for good but prone to evil. He had taken a momentous step forward, but something in him, and in his myths, still longed for that half-remembered union with unconscious nature, that innocence lost long ago. So it is that, very soon after Wagner's Rhine has evolved before our wondering gaze, Alberich enters to wrest consciousness from the waves. He steals away the golden eye, and he uses it for evil. The Rhine maidens' joyous cry [example 7] is made the theme of the world's enslavement [example 13], which in subsequent parts of THE RING becomes a terrifying musical depiction of the effect of this original sin [example 14]. . . . Let's say: in the beginning was Wotan. A sky god. He didn't create the world, but he was determined to find what held the world together, and he was ambitious about gaining control over it. . . . Wotan traces the world's secret to a great ash tree, fed at the roots by a clear spring - - the archetypal "tree of knowledge" and "spring of knowledge" familiar from many mythologies. Wotan asks the three Norns who spin the world's fate from the whispers of the spring if he can drink there, and is told he will have to sacrifice one of his eyes to do so. (In mythologies, there is always a price to be paid for wisdom. In some versions of Wotan's story, he hangs suspended in torment on the tree for nine days and nights.) Wotan says he will give an eye to know the secret of the world. In other mythologies, Oedipus and Teiresias and Samson are all given insight when they lose their outer sight. But they lose both eyes. Wotan loses only one. His case is different. Henceforth, he will see, with his remaining eye, what he has asked to see -- the world without. And he will understand it. But he will not see the world within. He will need help to understand himself. So, with his outer-directed wisdom, interpreted for him each night by the Norns in dreams, Wotan comes to understand the natural forces that sustain the world: earth, air, fire, and water, forces he must bend to his will. He reaches up and breaks off a bough from the great ash tree, and makes it into a spear. On the weapon, which henceforth never leaves his hand, he notches in runic script the treaties he makes with the four elements. With his treaties, he establishes dominion first over his own sky people -- Fricka, whom he weds, and her brothers Donner and Froh, and her sister Freia. He is more far-seeing than they, who know only their own domains. He then establishes his rule over fire. Loge, the fire god, is hard to tame, for of his nature he possesses, not Wotan's knowledge of the workings of the world, but quick intelligence of how to put the world to practical purposes. But Wotan soon subdues Loge with his spear. By the end of our projected opera . . . Wotan has not yet bent to his will the lower elements of water (the Rhine and his daughters) or earth (Erda), or those lesser beings of earth, giants and humans and dwarfs. These seem not to present much of a problem though, as we know, they soon shall. Meanwhile, the world Wotan has subdued has reacted against his ambition. The wound he made in the World Ash Tree has begun to fester, and the tree to wither, and the spring to dry up. Who is this Wotan whose story we come so slowly to know? Is he supposed to represent in some way traditional notions of God? It is clear he is not a creator, and he is by no means omnipotent, much as he would like to be. He is not the source of life but a powerful manifestation of it. Wotan represents not so much some notion of God as what there is in man that has godlike potential. Early in the writing of the text, Wagner wrote to Rockel, "Take a good look at Wotan. He resembles us in every way. He is the sum total of our present consciousness." Wagner's ambitious god represents man, taking that first evolutionary step towards consciousness, reaching for it, grasping it, using it for his own ends -- but not understanding himself, and so having to come to terms with intelligence (Loge) and conscience (Fricka) and allknowing intuition (Erda). They are all important to him. But none of them can give him that most important thing that the lost eye would have seen -- his inner self, his Will. . . . [H]e has sired a race of mortals loyal to him. His earthly son is a special hero, begotten for the sole purpose of doing -- his will. He has carefully seen to it that his son is completely free of all the old treaties that he is bound by. A free agent, an outlaw, this son will steal the Ring back for his father, and this time the father will incur no guilt. Wotan has prepared his son with a tough period of training in the forest, and provided a sword that knows no runes, and a sister to be his wife: disregard for all the old laws is an essential condition for this new hero's being free. . . . But poor Siegmund! Is he really free? Blood always tells in mythic stories. However much we love the son when, like his father, he draws his weapon from a great ash tree, we soon see that he is, also like his father, self-destructive and doomed. Siegmund can't understand why he is always at the center of trouble. It is the father's predetermined moral treaties, notched in runes on his spear, that demand that the outlaw son die; one cannot be an outlaw and escape the watchful eyes of Fricka, eager to protect the runes which secure her power too. Siegmund falls . . . [and] Wotan's plan for the future lies in pieces. "I am caught in my own trap," he says when he realizes this has to happen. "I am the least free of all that lives!" Could Wotan not have seen that this would have to be? No. Wotan cannot see to his own self. . . .
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