Notes on 2001: A Space Odyssey

David McCooey |

This poem is from ‘After Kubrick’, a loose sequence responding – sometimes obliquely, sometimes directly – to various films by Stanley Kubrick. It is a companion piece to Maria Takolander’s ‘Alien Signals: Poems After Stanley Kubrick’ in her Ghostly Subjects (Salt, 2009).


Notes on 2001: A Space Odyssey

Inside, there is the sound
of technology.
Outside, there is the sound
of nothing.

Inside the space suit,2001-Space-Od-Dave_02
there is the sound
of respiration.
There is no

outside the space suit.


The film essays
the gap:
the slight delay
on the phone

when a father
talks with his daughter;
the hours it takes
some signals

to reach a space ship;
a message
buried in a computer’s

Even light
has a history.
(The light in the sky,
the light on the screen).


HAL is one-eyed
(like a camera).
Bowman, so otherwise
calm, has a

murderous stare,
stored ghosts ago, sunk
within the base of2001-Space-Od-Dave_01
his prehistoric brain.


The ambitious imagination—
a universe of analogy.
A famous montage,
from bone to space station.

But also the movement
across a stream
and across space;
the rotation of

that space station,
and the rotation
of the planets;
the early humans

in their ape suits,
and the moderns
in their space suits—
the literal-mindedness of creation.


How many science-fiction
films have focused
so resolutely on the soft,
primitive violence of eating?

The primates and their flesh
(of fruit, of pigs);
the in-flight food;
the astronauts

with their TV dinners.
And Bowman,2001-Space-Od-Dave_03
having crossed galaxies,
spends his final

days eating and sleeping,
showing that every chamber
is an antechamber,
that every inside entails

a wild, unfathomable outside.


David McCooey is a prize-winning poet and critic. His latest book of poems, Outside, was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards and was a Finalist of the Melbourne Prize for Literature’s ‘Best Writing Award’ in 2012. His album of ‘poetry soundtracks’ (original poems, music, and sound design), Outside Broadcast, was released as a digital download in 2013. David is Personal Chair at Deakin University, Geelong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *