Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008

2001: A Space Odyssey
A scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey (MGM, 1968)

Arthur C. Clarke, perhaps best known as author of the 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, and co-writer, with director Stanley Kubrick, of the eponymous film released the same year, died today in his home in Sri Lanka. He was 90.

2001 is my favorite film of all time, and has been since I saw it in the seventh grade, with commercials, on a 25″ black & white TV, a viewing upon which, even in such primitive conditions, the movie did no less than totally blow my mind.

I don’t think I was ever able to put the reason I felt so strongly about 2001 into words until 2004. I was interviewing Shane Carruth, director of the film Primer, winner of that year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize, speaking with him for my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION.

I asked him about his film, which, though widely hailed, had been criticized as difficult to follow and hard to understand toward the last part of it.

He began by talking about how the subject matter in the film changes, and why. This led right into the question of his favorite film, which, as it turned out, was also mine. Then, reversing interviewer/subject roles inadvertently, he asked me why 2001 was my favorite work.

I reflexively resisted taking the question, as I always keep the questioner/questionee relationship intact during Q&As. However, that moment, I selfishly concluded it was a query I’d always wanted to answer, but never had. Our 2 1/2-minute exchange formed a genuine moment of clarity for me.

Arthur C. Clarke, thank you. Rest in peace.



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