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Thus Spake Zarathustra: Mystery Monolith Found and Lost in Utah



Why do I feel like I’m in 2001: Space Odyssey?

My God, it’s full of stars…

Stanley Kubrick would be proud: On November 18, 2020, the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau found a mysterious monolith deep within the worst of southeastern Utah’s badlands. The metallic plinth, which looks just like the one in 2001: Space Odyssey, appeared in an area so remote that Utah’s DPS isn’t releasing its location for fear that curious citizens would get lost and require rescue. At least, that’s what they’re telling us…

So here’s the story. Utah’s DPS was working with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to conduct a count of big horn sheep in a portion of southeastern Utah. While on this mission, they spotted an unusual object and landed nearby to investigate further. The crew members found a metal monolith installed in the ground in a remote area of red rock.

Can you hear the opening notes of “Thus Spake Zarathustra“?

The crew said there was no obvious indication of who might have put the monolith there. Clearly, it’s much more likely to be a human prankster or artist than an advanced species of alien here to help us evolve to the next stage of existence. So whoever did that–if they weren’t aliens, that is–may wind up in some trouble if they’re caught.

You see, it is illegal to install structures or art without authorization on federally managed public lands, no matter what planet you’re from.

Now, here’s where it gets extra fun! On Saturday, November 28, Utah’s DPS announced that the monolith was gone. They say they didn’t do it, and I believe it…the monolith was 12 feet tall and appeared to be constructed of solid metal.

Puny humans depicted for scale.

Again, it’s difficult to overemphasize just how remote and difficult this terrain is; it’s the baddest of the badlands. As you probably noticed, the DPS had to get there via helicopter. Essentially the only animals that can navigate it safely are birds and the aforementioned bighorn sheep. (If those bighorn sheep start suddenly using tools to beat one another up after having touched the monolith, we can probably go back to the “aliens did it” hypothesis.)

Is this mystery monolith “full of stars,” like in 2001? Probably not. One school of thought feels that this was the type of art installation that only makes sense to the artist and attributes the plinth to the late sculptor John McCracken. Another is that this was an Area 51 prank spurred  by the social-media joke “raid” from September 2019. Either way, simply getting this thing out to where it was found would have been a massive and expensive undertaking. Removing it 10 days after it was discovered without being noticed, even more so.

What happened, who did it, and why? We don’t know, but when we look up at the night sky in Utah’s desert, we’ll see…



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