/ by Jared Jones

  cinephiliabeyond : 

  Read and be grateful:  Stanley Kubrick—The Complete 1968 Playboy Interview .      
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  More information on  archive.org      
Playboy: Thanks to those special effects,  2001  is 
undoubtedly the most graphic depiction of space flight in the history of
 films—and yet you have admitted that you yourself refuse to fly, even
 in a commercial jet liner. Why?  Kubrick: I suppose it comes down to a rather awesome
 awareness of mortality. Our ability, unlike the other animals, to 
conceptualize our own end creates tremendous psychic strains within us; 
whether we like to admit it or not, in each man’s chest a tiny ferret of
 fear at this ultimate knowledge gnaws away at his ego and his sense of 
purpose. We’re fortunate, in a way, that our body, and the fulfillment 
of its needs and functions, plays such an imperative role in our lives; 
this physical shell creates a buffer between us and the mind-paralyzing 
realization that only a few years of existence separate birth from 
death. If man really sat back and thought about his impending 
termination, and his terrifying insignificance and aloneness in the 
cosmos, he would surely go mad, or succumb to a numbing sense of 
futility. Why, he might ask himself, should be bother to write a great 
symphony, or strive to make a living, or even to love another, when he 
is no more than a momentary microbe on a dust mote whirling through the 
unimaginable immensity of space?   Those of us who are forced by their own sensibilities to view their 
lives in this perspective—who recognize that there is no purpose they 
can comprehend and that amidst a countless myriad of stars their 
existence goes unknown and unchronicled—can fall prey all too easily 
to the ultimate anomie… But even for those who lack the sensitivity to 
more than vaguely comprehend their transience and their triviality, this
 inchoate awareness robs life of meaning and purpose; it’s why ‘the mass
 of men lead lives of quiet desperation,’ why so many of us find our 
lives as absent of meaning as our deaths.   The world’s religions, for all their parochialism, did supply a kind 
of consolation for this great ache; but as clergymen now pronounce the 
death of God and, to quote Arnold again, ‘the sea of faith’ recedes 
around the world with a ‘melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,’ man has no
 crutch left on which to lean—and no hope, however irrational, to give 
purpose to his existence. This shattering recognition of our mortality 
is at the root of far more mental illness than I suspect even 
psychiatrists are aware.  Playboy: If life is so purposeless, do you feel it’s worth living?  Kubrick: The very meaninglessness of life forces man
 to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an 
untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at 
something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, 
the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their 
consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their 
idealism—and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he 
sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in 
the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong — and lucky—he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s
 elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the 
meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and 
affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was 
born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. 
The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile 
but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this 
indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of 
death—however mutable man may be able to make them—our existence as a
 species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the 
darkness, we must supply our own light.

cinephiliabeyond:

Read and be grateful: Stanley Kubrick—The Complete 1968 Playboy Interview.

More information on archive.org  

Playboy: Thanks to those special effects, 2001 is undoubtedly the most graphic depiction of space flight in the history of films—and yet you have admitted that you yourself refuse to fly, even in a commercial jet liner. Why?

Kubrick: I suppose it comes down to a rather awesome awareness of mortality. Our ability, unlike the other animals, to conceptualize our own end creates tremendous psychic strains within us; whether we like to admit it or not, in each man’s chest a tiny ferret of fear at this ultimate knowledge gnaws away at his ego and his sense of purpose. We’re fortunate, in a way, that our body, and the fulfillment of its needs and functions, plays such an imperative role in our lives; this physical shell creates a buffer between us and the mind-paralyzing realization that only a few years of existence separate birth from death. If man really sat back and thought about his impending termination, and his terrifying insignificance and aloneness in the cosmos, he would surely go mad, or succumb to a numbing sense of futility. Why, he might ask himself, should be bother to write a great symphony, or strive to make a living, or even to love another, when he is no more than a momentary microbe on a dust mote whirling through the unimaginable immensity of space?

Those of us who are forced by their own sensibilities to view their lives in this perspective—who recognize that there is no purpose they can comprehend and that amidst a countless myriad of stars their existence goes unknown and unchronicled—can fall prey all too easily to the ultimate anomie… But even for those who lack the sensitivity to more than vaguely comprehend their transience and their triviality, this inchoate awareness robs life of meaning and purpose; it’s why ‘the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,’ why so many of us find our lives as absent of meaning as our deaths.

The world’s religions, for all their parochialism, did supply a kind of consolation for this great ache; but as clergymen now pronounce the death of God and, to quote Arnold again, ‘the sea of faith’ recedes around the world with a ‘melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,’ man has no crutch left on which to lean—and no hope, however irrational, to give purpose to his existence. This shattering recognition of our mortality is at the root of far more mental illness than I suspect even psychiatrists are aware.

Playboy: If life is so purposeless, do you feel it’s worth living?

Kubrick: The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism—and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong — and lucky—he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death—however mutable man may be able to make them—our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.