If you’ve been rooting around the weirder areas of the internet for any length of time, it’s likely that you’ve heard the oft-repeated ‘coincidence’ surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s death on March 7, 1999:
STANLEY KUBRICK DIED 666 DAYS
BEFORE JANUARY 1ST, 2001
If you have found your way to this blog & somehow hadn’t already heard this, then yes, it is my pleasure (kind of) to inform you that this is in fact the case. Stanley Kubrick, most famous for his film 2001: A Space Odyssey, died 666 days before the first day of the very year he depicts in his film. In addition, the day on which he died—March 7th—also happened to be the 66th day of the year! A strange coincidence, & a nice soundbite. I’m not sure who first pointed this out, but it didn’t take long for someone to notice, as this archived page by Mark Seely from way back in 2002 can attest.
Judging from his website—or the fragments of his website still available via the Wayback Machine— even before 9/11 happened, Mark Seely was an insane, racist, homophobic lunatic entrenched in a reactionary, fundamentalist-Christian reality tunnel, bolstered by fears of impending global enslavement by the New World Order. That was his ‘set’ & therefore 9/11 was his ‘setting,’ which seems to have made for one really bad trip. As the towers fell, it must have seemed to him—& many others—like the entire edifice of Reality was crumbling (‘dustifying’) right in front of his eyes, & that’s because it was. On the most prosaic level, at least, the notion of the United States as impenetrable fortress/beacon of freedom did come crumbling down, as we realized the hard way that we had an Enemy: someone out there hated us, & wanted us dead. So went the narrative, anyway. But for Seely, & others of his ilk, this enemy was none other than the Lord of Darkness, Satan himself, & his unequivocal calling-card, the number of the Beast, 666, was sitting there in plain view, & nowhere plainer than in the works of Stanley Kubrick.
As Seely demonstrated in 2002, & as have many others since then, the number is all over Kubrick’s films. In A Clockwork Orange, when Alex de Large has been reintroduced to his two old droogies Georgie & Dim, only to find that they have become police officers, their badges are visible, & we see that one of them is #665 & the other is #667, implying that Alex is the missing #666:
Or take the space-ship Discovery from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as seen from the rear:
The ship’s engines are ensconced in three separate hexagons, or six-sided figures. There it is, 666, the number of Kubrick’s magickal son/sun, right there, smack on the ass of Kubrick’s cosmic spermatozoa, staring you right in the face as it drifts out to fertilize the Egg of Space & conceive the New Man. Kubrick is virtually taunting the viewer with this arrangement throughout all of his films, just daring you to see it, & laughing as you miss it completely. The fact that Kubrick died 666 days before the actual year 2001 just seems like icing on the cake, one final sneer from beyond the grave of the Master Magician who relished the notion that nobody ever really understood him, or his work. Something akin to a cosmic giggle. End of story. Or is it?
Not quite. There’s something else. Something nagging at me. It’s a question, an important one. Very important, in fact. It seems like the whole mystery of Stanley Kubrick & what he was all about might hinge on the answer to this question. If I’m wrong, I’ll eat crow, but it’s a question that I don’t think anyone has actually asked before, at least not in a public forum. Here, my friends, is the question, as posed to me by my illustrious partner-in-life upon hearing about the Kubrick/666-days-before-2001 death anomaly:
SO THEN WHAT HAPPENED 666 DAYS BEFORE STANLEY KUBRICK’S DEATH?
That’s a damn good question. So we get in our Time Machine & we do the due diligence. If we start on March 7, 1999, counting that day as Day One, & count backwards all the way up to 666, we land on May 11, 1997. Hmm. 5/11/97. Nothing memorable comes to mind immediately. I was 9 years old, doing god-knows-what. Whatever 9-year-olds did back then. It was a Sunday, so probably not much. Maybe ate some Bagel Bites, watched some TV. There was a new episode of The Simpsons that night, back when it was still worth watching. Timecop was the NBC Sunday Night movie, but I doubt I was able to watch it. Same goes for the premiere mini-series event of the evening, Mario Puzo’s The Last Don.
Both of those pieces of media are interesting in this context, & maybe I will return to them one day, but enough stalling. Here’s what really happened on May 11, 1997, 666 days before Stanley Kubrick died:
The significance of this cannot be overstated. This was the first time an Artificial Intelligence was able to defeat a Human Intelligence in a professional-style chess match. It made headlines the world over. Kasparov had beaten Deep Blue the year before, & this was the rematch. Kasparov lost, but he didn’t just lose, he lost to this:
Where have I seen thatbefore?
Entire books have been written on the subject of just this Machine, just this match. One of them is called “HAL’s Legacy: 2001′s Computer as Dream & Reality.” There is a chapter in this book which compares the play-styles of HAL & Deep Blue, which sounds kind of ridiculous if you ask me, given how little information we have about HAL’s play-style, but that’s Chess-fanatics for you. More words have been written along similar lines noting the interesting parallels between Chess AI as presented in 2001 & AI playing Chess in real life, but in my cursory research it appears to me that nobody has pointed out the insanely obvious fact that Deep Blue looks exactly like the Monolith, & by extension HAL itself. There’s not even a little tidbit somewhere (that I can find) noting that “Deep Blue’s design was inspired by the film 2001.” Nothing, just the picture. Oh, & a one-sentence comment on chess.com from 7 years ago, noting the similarity in appearance. Note also the prominent IBM logo on the upper face of Deep Blue, & the well-known fact that HAL is a cypher for IBM, a company which features prominently throughout 2001: A Space Odyssey & which it is very strongly implied were the original builders of the HAL 9000. Clarke & Kubrick chalked this up to coincidence, but come on, yeah right.
So what do we have here? What are we looking at?
We have the world’s most advanced (at the time) chess-playing computer, Deep Blue, decisively defeating a human being for the first time. The computer itself is clearly modeled after the Monolith & the AI computer HAL (which is itself a rendering of the Monolith) & which also plays chess & defeats a human being (via deception). Deep Blue was built by IBM, the company from which the name HAL was derived, & which built HAL in the first place. And it happened exactly 666 days before Stanley Kubrick’s death, which itself occurred 666 days before January 1st, 2001. I ask you, how can this be? Extraordinary claims may require extraordinary evidence, but what of extraordinary facts? What do they require? Something different, I suppose.It is in the humble opinion of this narrator that this is not just “Something That Happened.” This cannot be “One of Those Things… ” This, please, cannot be that. And for what I would like to say, I can’t. This Was Not Just A Matter Of Chance. Ohhhh. These strange things happen all the time…
P.S. One final item of note on May 11, 1997. The WWF (World Wrestling Federation) held a pay-per-view that night: In Your House 15. Its subtitle?
A COLD DAY IN HELL. Or was that A Cold Day in HAL?