Exploring the Self-Destructive Potential of Humanity Essay example

Exploring the Self-Destructive Potential of Humanity Essay example

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Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Herman Melville's Moby Dick, two separate and radically different compositions that both explore the self-destructive potential of humanity. Moby Dick, set in the New England region of North America during the mid to late 1800s, tells the story of Captain Ahab's quest on the whaling ship, The Pequod, to slay the white whale that crippled him on his last voyage. Throughout their trek the crew are faced with many warnings to turn back, ultimately Ahab must make the decision between saving multiple lives, and exacting his revenge. Ishamel, a well educated traveler and crew member of the Pequod, narrates the story several years after these events have transpired. 2001: A Space Odyssey, is the story of humanity's actions following first extraterrestrial contact. Dr. Dave Bowman sets out on a journey to Jupiter to discover the source of a signal emanating from an obelisk buried beneath the surface of the moon. By the end of his trip, Bowman is the sole survivor of his ship's crew, and must destroy the computer that guided them, HAL, in order to survive.
Moby Dick is set in Massachusetts where “nearly a third part of the population are Quakers” (Chase 9). The heavy religious influence of the time period likely made characters more morally right than people today. Whaler's were often out on the sea for extended periods of time, and had to be resourceful. It was not unheard of for a whaling ship to scavenge parts and whole lifeboats from a beached ship (Chase 12). Ships often faced dangers from the environment in addition to the dangerous nature of their trade. While traveling a ship would occasionally have to “abandon the idea of keeping any correct longitude” (Chase 39).
2001: A Space Ody...

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...an better ourselves.
In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the betterment of mankind ultimately is his undoing. The first true AI, HAL. Considered to be 100% error proof fails and murders several humans whose lives he was entrusted with. 2001: A Space Odyssey continues to demonstrate the theme of man vs. nature through the scientists interaction with the obelisk, and Bowman's travel through the solar system. It is considered to be a classic because of the very stylistic camera shots and odd yet entirely working film score.
What must be asked of ourselves, then, is why has human nature guided us in such a way that our own reward-seeking tendencies will ultimately be the cause of destruction. And how should we go about changing it? It seems that man is constantly fighting with his own subconscious with Both the conscious man and unconscious mind thinking they know what's best.

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