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StanisЕ‚aw Lem

My pass had disappeared. Not that I believed for a moment that this was an accident; in fact, I had suspected for some time now that the Cosmic Command, obviously no longer able to supervise every assignment on an individual basis when there were literally trillions of matters in its charge, had switched over to a random system. The assumption would be that every document, circulating endlessly from desk to desk, must eventually hit upon the right one. A time-consuming procedure, perhaps, but one that would never fail. The Universe itself operated on the same principle. And for an institution as everlasting as the Universe — certainly our Building was such an institution — the speed at which these meanderings and perturbations took place was of no consequence.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem time
Either something is authentic or it is unauthentic, it is either false or true, make-believe or spontaneous life; yet here we are faced with a prevaricated truth and an authentic fake, hence a thing that is at once the truth and a lie.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem life
He is no parasite on anything, whose work is real: a mechanic, a doctor, a builder, a tailor, a dishwasher. What, in comparison, does a writer produce? Semblances. This is a serious occupation?
StanisЕ‚aw Lem work
Faith is, at one and the same time, absolutely necessary and altogether impossible.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem time
The whole plan hinged upon the natural curiosity of potatoes.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem curiosity
Not only does God play dice with the world—He does not let us see what He has rolled.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem world
Good books tell the truth, even when they're about things that never have been and never will be. They're truthful in a different way.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem truth
Oh, I read good books, too, but only Earthside. Why that is, I don't really know. Never stopped to analyze it. Good books tell the truth, even when they're about things that never have been and never will be. They're truthful in a different way. When they talk about outer space, they make you feel the silence, so unlike the Earthly kind — and the lifelessness. Whatever the adventures, the message is always the same: humans will never feel at home out there.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem life
"And do you believe in God?" "I do." "But you didn't think a robot would, right?" "Right."
StanisЕ‚aw Lem believe
In an extreme instance, in which there is a Propervirt of less than 0.9%, the TEXT OF THE PRESENT PROSPECTUS may likewise undergo an ABRUPT change. If, while you are reading these sentences, the words begin to jump about, and the letters quiver and blur, please interrupt your reading for ten or twenty seconds to wipe your glasses, adjust your clothing, or the like, and then start reading AGAIN from the beginning, and NOT JUST from the place where your reading was interrupted, since such a TRANSFORMATION indicates that a correction of DEFICIENCIES is now taking place.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem art
For moral reasons I am an atheist — for moral reasons. I am of the opinion that you would recognize a creator by his creation, and the world appears to me to be put together in such a painful way that I prefer to believe that it was not created by anyone than to think that somebody created this intentionally.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem pain
It is not good for a man to be too cognizant of his physical and spiritual mechanisms. Complete knowledge reveals limits to human possibilities, and the less a man is by nature limited in his purposes, the less he can tolerate limits.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem knowledge
The war of good and evil present in all religions does not always end, in every faith, with the victory of good, but in every one it establishes a clear order of existence. The sacred as well as the profane rests on that universal order...
StanisЕ‚aw Lem faith
Even a fool could see that one didn't need a war, nuclear or otherwise, to destroy oneself; the rising cost of weaponry could do that quite nicely.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem war
The twentieth century had dispensed with the formal declaration of war and introduced the fifth column, sabotage, cold war, and war by proxy, but that was only the begining. Summit meetings for disarmament pursued mutual understanding and a balance of power but were also held to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy. The world of the war-or-peace alternative became a world in which war was peace and peace war.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem war
The number of one's possible fantasies is inversely proportional to the amount of one's liquid assets. For him who has everything dreams are no longer possible.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem dreams
A man who for an entire week does nothing but hit himself over the head has little reason to be proud.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem self
Translation by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox, 1970. Page numbers refer to the 1987 Harcourt Brace "Harvest" edition,
StanisЕ‚aw Lem art
Where there are no men, there cannot be motives accessible to men.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem men
Man does not create gods, in spite of appearances. The times, the age, impose them on him.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem god
We arrive here as we are in reality, and when the page is turned and that reality is revealed to us — that part of our reality which we would prefer to pass over in silence — then we don't like it any more.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem art
We don't want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem art
We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don't know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can't accept it for what it is. We are seaching for an ideal image of our own world: we go in quest of a planet, of a civilisation superior to our own but developed on the basis of a prototype of our primeval past. At the same time, there is something inside us which we don't like to face up to, from which we try to protect ourselves, but which nevertheless remains, since we don't leave Earth in a state of primal innocence. We arrive here as we are in reality, and when the page is turned and that reality is revealed to us — that part of our reality which we would prefer to pass over in silence — then we don't like it any more.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem time
The fate of a single man can be rich with significance, that of a few hundred less so, but the history of thousands and millions of men does not mean anything at all, in any adequate sense of the word.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem history
You are only a puppet. But you don't realize that you are.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem you
Any attempt to understand the motivation of these occurrences is blocked by our own anthropomorphism. Where there are no men, there cannot be motives accessible to men.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem motivation
Really, one of us ought to have the courage to call the experiment off and shoulder the responsibility for the decision, but the majority reckons that that kind of courage would be a sign of cowardice, and the first step in a retreat. They think it would mean an undignified surrender for mankind — as if there was any dignity in floundering and drowning in what we don't understand and never will.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem war
If man had more of a sense of humor, things might have turned out differently.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem humor
Just you think, in a rocket a man takes the risk of bursting like a balloon, or freezing, or roasting, or sweating all his blood out in a single gush, before he can even cry out, and all that remains is bits of bone floating inside armored hulls, in accordance with the laws of Newton as corrected by Einstein, those two milestones in our progress. Down the road we go, all in good faith and see where it gets us. Think about our success Kelvin; think about our cabins, the unbreakable plates, the immortal sinks, legions of faithful wardobes devoted cupboards . . .
StanisЕ‚aw Lem faith
Man does not create gods, in spite of appearances. The times, the age, impose them on him. Man can serve his age or rebel against it, but the target of his cooperation or rebellion comes to him from outside.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem god
Everything is explicable in the terms of the behavior of a small child.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem child
The age-old faith of lovers and poets in the power of love, stronger than death, that Finis vitae sed non amoris, is a lie, useless and not even funny.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem love
That human existence should repeat itself, well and good, but that it should repeat itself like a hackneyed tune, or a record a drunkard keeps playing as he feeds coins into the jukebox . . .
StanisЕ‚aw Lem self
I hoped for nothing. And yet I lived in expectation. Since she had gone, that was all that remained. I did not know what achievements, what mockery, even what tortures still awaited me. I knew nothing, and I persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem hope
The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age (1967), translation by Michael Kandel (1974),
StanisЕ‚aw Lem age
One day Trurl the constructor put together a machine that could build anything beginning with the letter 'n'.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem wit
Take a good look at this world, how riddled it is with huge, gaping holes, how full of Nothingness, the Nothingness that fills the bottomless void between the stars, how everything about us has become lined with it, how it darkly lurks behind each shred of matter. This is your work, envious one! And I hardly think the future generations will bless you for it...
StanisЕ‚aw Lem work
Cancel me not — for what then shall remain? Abscissas some mantissas, modules, modes, A root or two, a torus and a node: The inverse of my verse, a null domain.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem man
Come, let us hasten to a higher plane Wheretread the , Their indices bedecked from one to n Commingled in an endless ! I'll grant thee random access to my heart, Thou'lt tell me all the constants of thy love; And so we two shall all love'sprove, And in our bound partition never part. Cancel me not — for what then shall remain? Abscissas some mantissas, modules, modes, A root or two, a torus and a node: The inverse of my verse, a null domain.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem love
He who has had, has been, but he who hasn't been, has been had.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem
He who must be what he is, may curse his fate, but cannot change it; on the other hand, he who can transform himself has no one in the world but himself to blame for his failings, no one but himself to hold responsible for his dissatisfaction.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem change
Plentitude, when too plentitudinous, was worst than destitution, for—obviously—what could one do, if there was nothing one could not?
StanisЕ‚aw Lem
Each civilization may choose one of two roads to travel, that is, either fret itself to death, or pet itself to death. And in the course of doing one or the other, it eats its way into the Universe, turning cinders and flinders of stars into toilet seats, pegs, gears, cigarette holders and pillowcases, and it does this because, unable to fathom the Universe, it seeks to change that Fathomlessness into Something Fathomable.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem death
Translation by Michael Kandel (1983),
StanisЕ‚aw Lem
Psychoanalysis provides truth in an infantile, that is, a schoolboy fashion: we learn from it, roughly and hurriedly, things that scandalize us and thereby command our attention. It sometimes happens, and such is the case here, that a simplification touching upon the truth, but cheaply, is of no more value than a lie. Once again we are shown the demon and the angel, the beast and the god locked in Manichean embrace, and once again man has been pronounced, by himself, not culpable.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem truth
is not so much a light as it is a constant awareness of the surrounding gloom.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem war
Man's quest for knowledge is an expanding series whose limit is infinity, but philosophy seeks to attain that limit at one blow, by a short circuit providing the certainty of complete and inalterable truth. Science meanwhile advances at its gradual pace, often slowing to a crawl, and for periods it even walks in place, but eventually it reaches the various ultimate trenches dug by philosophical thought, and, quite heedless of the fact that it is not supposed to be able to cross those final barriers to the intellect, goes right on.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem truth
Science is turning into a monastery for the Order of Capitulant Friars. Logical calculus is supposed to supersede man as moralist. We submit to the blackmail of the 'superior knowledge' that has the temerity to assert that nuclear war can be, by derivation, a good thing, because this follows from simple arithmetic.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem knowledge
Futurologists have been multiplying like flies since the daymade 's profession "scientific," yet somehow not one of them has come out with the clear statement that we have wholly abandoned ourselves to the mercy of technological progress. The roles are now reversed: humanity becomes, for technology, a means, an instrument for achieving a goal unknown and unknowable.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem humanity
Skepticism is like a microscope whose magnification is constantly increased: the sharp image that one begins with finally dissolves, because it is not possible to see ultimate things: their existence is only to be inferred.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem existence
I have fundamental reservations to this adaptation. First of all I would have liked to see the planet Solaris which the director unfortunately denied me as the film was to be a cinematically subdued work. And secondly — as I told Tarkovsky during one of our quarrels — he didn't make Solaris at all, he made Crime and Punishment. What we get in the film is only how this abominable Kelvin has driven poor Harey to suicide and then he has pangs of conscience which are amplified by her appearance; a strange and incomprehensible appearance. [...]
StanisЕ‚aw Lem science
The whole sphere of cognitive and epistemological considerations was extremely important in my book and it was tightly coupled to the solaristic literature and to the essence of solaristics as such. Unfortunately, the film has been robbed of those qualities rather thoroughly. [...]
StanisЕ‚aw Lem literature
My Kelvin decides to stay on the planet without any hope whatsoever while Tarkovsky created an image where some kind of an island appears, and on that island a hut. And when I hear about the hut and the island I'm beside myself with irritation... This is just some emotional sauce into which Tarkovsky has submerged his heroes, not to mention that he has completely amputated the scientific landscape and in its place introduced so much of the weirdness I cannot stand. [...]
StanisЕ‚aw Lem hope
I have to make it clear, however, that I haven't seen the whole film except for 20 minutes of the second part although I know the screenplay very well because Russians have a custom of making an extra copy for the author.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem art
Tarkovsky reminds me of a sergeant from the time of— he is very pleasant and extremely prepossessing and at the same time visionary and elusive. One cannot "catch" him anywhere because he is always at a slightly different place already. This is simply the type of person he is. When I understood that I stopped bothering. This director cannot be reshaped anymore, and first of all one cannot convince him of anything as he is going to recast everything in his "own way" no matter what.
StanisЕ‚aw Lem time

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