Upon Hearing HAL’s Song

For the umpteenth time, I watched Stanley Kubrik’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. This occured during a lull in activity this past weekend. The scene in which HAL the computer is being shut down became the prompt for today’s short post. As nearly all of HAL’s memory componants are being unplugged, the computer plays a synthesized version of “Singing In The Rain”. To my ears, this iteration of the song is both beautiful and eerie. It strikes an emotional chord because I have mixed feelings about rain.

Rain brings relief of sorts to the Great Plains in the form of moisture when it is needed following a drought. Unfortunately, spring and summer rains generally occur as the result of severe thunderstorms in the form of cumulonimbus clouds. It seems that we cannot have rain without strong winds and the threat of tornadoes. I’ve endured more than my share of severe thunderstorms–so no thanks to more of them.

Meanwhile, I rather enjoy the less frequent occurances of moderate, continuous rain associated with grey nimbostatus clouds. When those rains occur over the span of one day, I feel less tense and begin work on minor tasks around the house. When the nimbostratus clouds linger longer than a few days, I become moody with low energy. I need to consciously apply more moxie to get anything accomplished.

One central fact about rain it doesn’t exercise consideration for our emotional state nor safety. Rain is just set of atmospheric phenomena. The interaction of cold, heat, moisture, and circulation result in precipitation. We learn these facts in high school. Yet people tend to personalize the lack or presence of rain in our minds. I can testify that rainy conditions affect my mood in the manner that it affects other people’s moods. However, rain is just another meteorological phenomenon. It’s honest and real in the sense that Earth science is real. Our reactions to rain are simply subjective. We may ask ourselves, “Does the rain depress or inspire me?”

We understand that rain is integral to the continuation of life on our planet. Without certain amounts of water, there would be no plant crops nor herbivors, carnivores, nor omnivores. Since we are basically omnivores, there would be no humans, we probably subconsciously know this. Plant seeds or fungus spores depend upon many crucial factors for growth. The fertility of the soil or growing medium to the proper mixture of sunshine and precipitation. For crop plants to be useful to us, other needs come into consideration. Proper timing and human technology make crop harvesting possible. Will there be sufficient rain after planting and will the rain pause long enough afterwards to allow reaping of the grain? This is “agriculture 101”. If we fail, we don’t eat. As a Nebraskan who lives in the “grain belt”, these facts create a blind trust for our local economy. Our towns fail or thrive according to the economic health of farmers and the agribusiness industries.

Meantime, rain is part and parcel of our arts and culture. We find it by walking in the rain or observing the rain within a shelter. Rain is found in music, paintings, literature, poetry, and drama. Today is another day in April–the month devoted to rain. I was tempted to write a poem, but I’m a lousy poet. Instead, I found inspiration during playback of an old digital video disc containing a classic science fiction film. The bittersweet refrain of HAL is the cultural artifact that triggered feelings I wanted to share today.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes fashion designer, Zac Posen. “I was born and raised on ‘Singing in the Rain.’ It’s in my work. It’s in me.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, cultural highlights, Entertainment, Environment, Hometown, Meanderings, music, Science and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Upon Hearing HAL’s Song

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a personal favorite of mine as well. I’m still puzzled by the mysterious ending. Isn’t the song that HAL sings called “Daisy”? It seems that HAL couldn’t handle the contradiction between his error in predicting the fault and his self image of infallibility. I liken HAL’s mental breakdown to America’s experience with the history of its treatment of people of color, women and others and its core self-image of equality and justice for all. I usually like rain as long as there is no flooding or I want to do something outdoors.

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