November 29, 2020

Monopffft.

I question whether the monolith has vanished. If you're with me in a room, then you leave and come back a week later, and I am not there, it would be a gross failure to follow Occam's Razor to say that I had "vanished." In all likelihood, I walked out, and I continue to exist. I've gone somewhere else. You just don't know where. The question is who extracted the 10-foot-tall steel slab from its precisely hewn hole in the rock and where have they taken it. 

My guess is that the same art installation folk who set it up in the first place have precision-cut a new hole and moved the slab to a new place so the process of discovering the "monolith" can happen once again. I assume the thing is still in the Utah desert, in a new and different location.

First, there is a monolith/Then there is no monolith/Then there is.

The performance art continues. Perhaps you'll be the one hiking around the Utah desert who'll discover the new location.

It makes me think of the old "Traveling Gnome prank":
The concept of the travelling gnome dates back to the 1970s when Henry Sunderland photographed his own garden gnomes, which he named Harry and Charlie, while he was travelling around Antarctica. 
The earliest record of a prank involving a traveling gnome is from Australia in 1986 when the Sydney Morning Herald reported an "Eastern Suburbs gnome-owner was distressed when she discovered her gnome had been stolen at the weekend. A note was found in its place: 'Dear mum, couldn't stand the solitude any longer. Gone off to see the world. Don't be worried, I'll be back soon. Love Bilbo xxx.'" 
A running prank has developed, which has made national news at times, where people steal a garden gnome from an unknowing person's lawn and then send the owner photos of the gnome and sometimes cryptic messages that were supposedly written by the gnome for a time as a practical joke before returning it....  
The travelling gnome prank was popularized by the film Amélie (2001)....

44 comments:

Whiskeybum said...

I suspect that the monolith is a “performance art” attempt by someone who put it up in a remote place, waiting to see how long it would be before it is discovered. Now that it has been discovered, the ‘artist’ has removed it under cover of night (or just absence of people), and will at some time relocate it to another very remote place, and wait. The remote place may not be in the Utah desert - it could even be in an urban landscape, as long as it’s a location that few would ever come across. Next time it’s discovered, people will see it as a game, and its fame will grow. Everyone will want to try to find it and, of course, take the obligatory selfie with it.

Whiskeybum said...

Also... next time it’s discovered, how long before the statue topplers want to come along and knock it down due to its repressive colonizing presence?

Fernandinande said...

I would quibble with the headline's use of "mysterious" because it's not mysterious, or even interesting, and it's probably not even a "monolith" because it's not stone, and/or not one piece, and/or not big.

MayBee said...

The cult moved on.

Eleanor said...

Josh Simpson is a glass artist. He makes several kinds of things including glass globes he calls "planets". He has a gimmick he calls "the Infinity Project". If you contact him with a compelling story about where or why you'd like to hide one of his planets for him, he'll send you two planets. One for you to keep and one for you to hide. My husband loved his work, and I have several of his pieces, including some of the planets although mine were gifts not finds.

Temujin said...

It went to Detroit to apply for the General Manager position.

J. Farmer said...

I would quibble with the headline's use of "mysterious" because it's not mysterious, or even interesting, and it's probably not even a "monolith" because it's not stone, and/or not one piece, and/or not big.

Yeah, "metal monolith" sounded a little odd. I wonder when "monolith" took on a figurative meaning. I assume it predates Clarke's use, but I have no clue. Speaking of which, I still have no damn idea what they were about in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Rick.T. said...

Also a riff on the traveling gnome in The Wire season 2 with a police surveillance van sent to different ports and pictures mailed back to Major Valchek.

Wince said...

First, there is a monolith/Then there is no monolith/Then there is. The performance art continues... It makes me think of the old "Traveling Gnome prank".

Makes me think of Donald Trump 2.0 if he leaves office in January.

Lurker21 said...

Sure, it got the Utah desert apes too riled up ...

gilbar said...

here's My Prediction
IF it returns, the "Metal Monolith"* will NOT be found sticking out of:
Granite
Basalt
or other material that is hard to cut
protip: sandstone, is REALLY EASY TO CUT



"Metal Monolith"* a piece of metal, made out of a single stone?

mockturtle said...

Well, it did rather spoil the landscape.

boatbuilder said...

“You call that a monolith? We got your monolith, right here!”

ABCCBSNBCPBSNYTWAPOFOXTWITTERFACEBOOKBBC...

Mark said...

It's rather interesting that, in conveying intelligence to primitive mankind, the monolith's first effect was to lead to a murderous military attack on a rival community.

~ Gordon Pasha said...

Maybe the Monolith has been removed and is now part of the wall on our southern border.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

It went to the Moon. Come on, people, haven't you seen the movie?

Howard said...

Quibble sounds like Elmer Fudds primary avocation.

Howard said...

It was a counter attack Mark. The formerly defeated band retooked the swimmin hole with their alien inspired invention.

JAORE said...

If the Chinese moon rock sampling expedition shows it on the dark side of the moon I'll get all wee-wee'd up.

Iman said...

Oh Juanita... oh Juanita... oh Juanita, I call your name...

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

J. Farmer said...

Speaking of which, I still have no damn idea what they were about in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

They were technology from an ancient alien race that was dedicated to fostering life on other worlds. The monolith appeared to the primitive humans who were on the verge of dying out because they were herbivores, there was a massive drought and plant life was scarce. The monolith taught them to use primitive weapons to kill the tapirs and eat the meat to survive, it also taught them to defend their territories (i.e. the water hole fight scene in the film). The monolith then disappeared from Earth. The monolith that was buried on the moon was left there as a gauge of when humans had evolved enough to leave Earth. When they encountered the moon monolith it sent a radio signal to another monolith that was orbiting Jupiter that was actually a star gate, so it would know to expect humans soon.

Clarke retconned it a bit in his sequel 2010, but that's the gist of it.

Big Mike said...

My guess is that the same art installation folk who set it up in the first place have precision-cut a new hole and moved the slab to a new place so the process of discovering the "monolith" can happen once again.

Sasquatch took it back!

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

is it a metaphor for Biden's transient "victory"?

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

...or is it aliens just fucking with us
cuz they know we have a thing for obelisks/monoliths?

mockturtle said...

Boatbuilder @ 7:57, You've got that right! We should just refer to them collectively as TASS and be done with it. Easier to say.

JaimeRoberto said...

Why is NYT propagating the fake news that this is a monolith?

J. Farmer said...

@NorthOfTheOneOhOne:

They were technology from an ancient alien race that was dedicated to fostering life on other worlds.>

Thank you for the reply. I have never read Clarke's fiction, but I trust your summation. That said, I don't believe there is any way to know that from the film itself. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Although I understand its influence, I was never a big fan of the Kubrick film. In my freshman year of high school, I took an Intro to Philosophy class, and the teacher loved it. We watched the film (on laserdisc then) near the end of the school year and then, unbeknownst to us at the time, our final exam was a short essay on the meaning of the movie. I wrote, "There wasn't one."

Although I was being a smartass because I didn't need the exam grade, I still kind of stand by that. I watch4d the movie once more since then and had the same reaction: utter boredom. Despite some stunning technical proficiency, the movie is very alienating. Without much of a narrative or any real characters, there's no real way to get engaged in the film. My reaction to the ending was more annoyed than awed.

Joe Smith said...

Occam's Razor: It is now orbiting Jupiter, Duh.

Readering said...

Mistake to think gnomes are hermits.

Hope AA right about the monolith. But there are a lot of thieves in the world.

Narr said...

2001, book and film, were about Man becoming More-than-Man, with a little prodding. As noted, the monoliths were both prod and lure to a promising species of intelligent ape.

It's a pretty good metaphor for how technology, once unleashed, can lead eventually to better things, but also poses its own inherent dangers. The double-sided nature of tech was a major Kubrickian theme.

Whatever the criticisms of the movie as human story, it was a ground-breaking technical achievement that set the bar for effects. The design as usual was brilliant, but underestimated badly the miniaturization that has been a fundamental trend since before the movie was made.

As an aside, showing films in class is about the laziest option available; I downrated any teacher, instructor, or professor who stooped to such, and even some of the good ones did.
(Except in film class of course, or short excerpts to make a point. Farmer, did you flunk the exam? I had an Algebra II class I couldn't find meaning in, and took the F 'cause I didn't need the credit to graduate.)

Clarke took different approaches to alien visitations in Childhood's End and Rendezvous with Rama, which are (were) quick reads.

I read recently that the composer who was contracted to score the film died; he had done all the work and showed up to the premiere to find that none of his music made it to final cut--and nobody had bothered to tell him!

Narr
Let's call it the Pikachu Pillar!

J. Farmer said...

@Narr:

Whatever the criticisms of the movie as human story, it was a ground-breaking technical achievement that set the bar for effects. The design as usual was brilliant,

Completely agree.

As an aside, showing films in class is about the laziest option available; I downrated any teacher, instructor, or professor who stooped to such, and even some of the good ones did.

It was at the end of the school year during a week that was essentially a study hall. It took us four class days to finish it.

Farmer, did you flunk the exam?

Sort of. I got a zero, but I already knew that exam score wouldn't count towards anything. I pulled a similar stunt a couple years later in an AP English class. Instead of writing from the prompt, I wrote a harsh critique of my teacher. I got it back marked, "0/0. F. Thank you for the feedback." I was surprised she read it. She really was garbage.

mockturtle said...

Farmer purports: Although I was being a smartass...

What?! You, Farmer?! I don't believe it! ;-)

Clyde said...

There is no spoon... er, monolith.

Narr said...

It's a "Do not see me monolith" when it chooses.

Narr
And I'm not entirely sure Utah actually exists

mockturtle said...

Didn't anyone look for tire tracks, take impressions and look for other clues to its removal? IMO, it should be tracked down and examined. Would probably have to have been a fairly hefty truck to haul it away.

Whiskeybum said...

Readering said...

... Hope AA right about the monolith. But there are a lot of thieves in the world.

Paging Joe Biden to the nearest white courtesy phone...

wholelottasplainin' said...

Last year I ran into a short book analyzing "2001" published back in the '70's.

It was filled with Freudianism. That long spacecraft was a penis, of course.

Dave's reentry using explosive bolts to eject himself from the pod back into the spacecraft was ejaculation, of course.

Anyone remember Sigmund Freud?

Anyone?

gadfly said...

Unlike the black monolith in "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the shiny metal monoliths designed by the late minimalist, John McCracken and located somewhere in NYC, the Utah Monolith is triangularly-shaped but McCracken's son Patrick has a tale to tell:

"We were standing outside looking at the stars and he said something to the effect of that he would like to leave his artwork in remote places to be discovered later."

Anyway, that unclaimed 12 foot high piece of aluminum standing in the middle of public land would yield a bunch of cash even at today's scrap prices unless an interested buyer could be found among monied LDS folks looking to invest in previously unknown artwork with a unique history.

mikee said...

The monolith wasn't solid metal. It was a triangular column of sheet metal held together with rivets on the back side.

Easy to transport, install, and remove.

I, for one, expect to see it again somewhere nearby. Or maybe in Central Park in New York City, who knows?

mikee said...

Back in 1990 I amazed my mother by sending her what I said was an ultrasound of her newest grandchild, my first son. It was the final scene of 2001, with the baby Dave stargod floating above earth.

Mom said that for about a half-second, she experienced sheer amazement at the color technology and clarity of the ultrasound, and that then she realized what a stunt I'd pulled on her.

mockturtle said...

Anyone remember Sigmund Freud?

I try to forget him.

c365 said...

If it's performance art, why remove it. If it's a shrine that you don't want attention being drawn to, you remove it. There are all kinds of occult things that it could be involved with. Doesn't have to be sinister, but if you gather around a shrine and chant at the moon, you don't want others to know where it is.

If you put something in the desert for fun, and it gets discovered, you don't sneak in and remove it to somewhere else. You just make another one somewhere else.

gilbar said...

Narr
And I'm not entirely sure Utah actually exists


There Is No Arizona

Narr said...

"There is No Arizona"!

I always suspected that Arizona is a NASA fake, filmed during the moon landings.

Narr
Now, the USS Arizona is obviously real