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From the Bone of the Ape to the Technological Man

From Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey we can infer significant and interesting inferences about the world we live in. In Kubrick’s film some apes appear, intended to be read allegorically as our ancestors. But I don’t want to go into vague and useless Darwinian dissertations, but only give a speech of a more general nature.  Returning to the apes,  a mysterious bone appears at some point, whereby one of these apes has a sudden brainwave: namely, the idea of using the bone as a tool  both for hunting, and as a weapon technologically advanced against  other tribes of primitive apes, subjugating them to him thanks to the new technology.

And finally we have evoked the magic word: technology, which helps us to demonstrate how,  as well as symbolically,  the bone of the ape can be foreshadowed as a tool  aimed to impose a certain way of thinking the world, and to perform an ideology which might be a source of immense utility to someone.  It is said somewhere that the ideologies  would now definitely worn off, but, from my point of view (and not only), things could be very different. For example, in Herbert Marcuse’s opinion, we are very far from  the end of ideology. Indeed, advanced industrial societies are  more ideological than in the past, Herbert Marcuse said.

Herbert Marcuse, at least apparently, has nothing to do with Stanley Kubrick and his apes; but that mysterious bone identified by the ape smarter than others, who knew how to exploit the bone for his own ends could be assimilated to the Marcuse’s thought about the man  having only one dimension. Symbolically,  the bone is equal to the dominant thinking promoted by powerful “makers of politics” to subjugate the others. By using incessant advertising campaign, they force people to believe both in their ideology and hypnotic definitions.

So, for example, under hypnosis, the masses  would have been brought to believe those and only those ideas proposed by certain institutions working in the countries of the so-called Free World; while every other form of freedom is equivalent to anarchy or communism or  propaganda, creating a world in which “nature, mind and body are kept in a state of permanent mobilization for the defense of this universe.”

“In a state of permanent mobilization!” And what does this mean?

The conceptual tangle is explained by the same Professor Marcuse, who assures us that our minds and bodies are kept in a state of permanent mobilization simply “for the defense of this same universe.” Read: this particular universe of ideas. The bone of the apes was surely a primitive tool of domination, but it operates as a brilliant and modern technological device.

In fact, the bone handed down us by the ape of Stanley Kubrick corresponds symbolically to the  contemporary suasive techniques virtually immune to all kind of counter-attack.  But, I say, there is always time and an intergalactic space, like that proposed to us many years ago by Stanley Kubrick, before we should have dared to toe the mark.


Herbert Marcuse,  One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. With a New Introduction by Douglas Kellner, Boston, Beacon Press, 1991, p. 11, 14, 18.


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    1. This is really good to hear technology has make know so many things

    2. As Francis Bacon said, technology in itself is neither good nor bad. For this reason people must have sufficient reflective and critical capacities to check technological tools.


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