Stanislaw Lem Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 66 quotes)
Tell me something. Do you believe in God?'Snow darted an apprehensive glance in my direction. 'What? Who still believes nowadays?''It isn't that simple. I don't mean the traditional God of Earth religion. I'm no expert in the history of religions, and perhaps this is nothing new--do you happen to know if there was ever a belief in an...imperfect God?''What do you mean by imperfect?' Snow frowned. 'In a way all the gods of the old religions were imperfect, considered that their attributes were amplified human ones. The God of the Old Testament, for instance, required humble submission and sacrifices, and and was jealous of other gods. The Greek gods had fits of sulks and family quarrels, and they were just as imperfect as mortals...''No,' I interrupted. 'I'm not thinking of a god whose imperfection arises out of the candor of his human creators, but one whose imperfection represents his essential characteristic: a god limited in his omniscience and power, fallible, incapable of foreseeing the consequences of his acts, and creating things that lead to horror. He is a...sick god, whose ambitions exceed his powers and who does not realize it at first. A god who has created clocks, but not the time they measure. He has created systems or mechanisms that serves specific ends but have now overstepped and betrayed them. And he has created eternity, which was to have measured his power, and which measures his unending defeat.'Snow hesitated, but his attitude no longer showed any of the wary reserve of recent weeks:'There was Manicheanism...''Nothing at all to do with the principles of Good and Evil,' I broke in immediately. 'This god has no existence outside of matter. He would like to free himself from matter, but he cannot...'Snow pondered for a while:'I don't know of any religion that answers your description. That kind of religion has never been...necessary. If i understand you, and I'm afraid I do, what you have in mind is an evolving god, who develops in the course of time, grows, and keeps increasing in power while remaining aware of his powerlessness. For your god, the divine condition is a situation without a goal. And understanding that, he despairs. But isn't this despairing god of yours mankind, Kelvin? Is it man you are talking about, and that is a fallacy, not just philosophically but also mystically speaking.'I kept on:'No, it's nothing to do with man. man may correspond to my provisional definition from some point of view, but that is because the definition has a lot of gaps. Man does not create gods, in spite of appearances. The times, the age, impose them on him. Man can serve is age or rebel against it, but the target of his cooperation or rebellion comes to him from outside. If there was only a since human being in existence, he would apparently be able to attempt the experiment of creating his own goals in complete freedom--apparently, because a man not brought up among other human beings cannot become a man. And the being--the being I have in mind--cannot exist in the plural, you see? ...Perhaps he has already been born somewhere, in some corner of the galaxy, and soon he will have some childish enthusiasm that will set him putting out one star and lighting another. We will notice him after a while...''We already have,' Snow said sarcastically. 'Novas and supernovas. According to you they are candles on his altar.''If you're going to take what I say literally...'...Snow asked abruptly:'What gave you this idea of an imperfect god?''I don't know. It seems quite feasible to me. That is the only god I could imagine believing in, a god whose passion is not a redemption, who saves nothing, fulfills no purpose--a god who simply is.
Come, let us hasten to a higher plane Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn, Their indices bedecked from one to n Commingled in an endless Markov chain! 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's lemmas prove, 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. - Love and Tensor Algebra
For some time there was a widely held notion (zealously fostered by the daily press) to the effect that the 'thinking ocean' of Solaris was a gigantic brain, prodigiously well-developed and several million years in advance of our own civilization, a sort of 'cosmic yogi', a sage, a symbol of omniscience, which had long ago understood the vanity of all action and for this reason had retreated into an unbreakable silence.
This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can't accept it for what it is. We are searching for an ideal image of our own world: we go in quest of a planet, a civilization superior to our own but developed on the basis of a prototype of our primeval past.
Wandering across the vast room, I stopped at a set of shelves as high as the ceiling, and holding about six hundred volumes - all classics on the history of Soalris, starting with the nine volumes of Giese's monumental and already relatively obsolescent monograph. Display for its own sake was improbable in these surroundings. The collection was a respective tribute to the memory of the pioneers. I took down the massive volumes of Giese and sat leafing through them. Rheya had also located som reading matter. Looking over her shoulder, I saw that she had picked one of the many books brought out by the first expedition, the Interplanetary Cookery Book, which could have been the personal property of Giese himself. She was pouring over the recipes adapted to the arduous conditions of interstellar flight. I said nothing, and returned to the book resting on my knees. Solaris - Ten Years of Exploration had appeared as volumes 4-12 of the Solariana collection whose most recent additions were numbered in the thousands.
...it gave me a little plastic book with four fold-outs, maps of the city's transit system. When I wanted to go somewhere, I touched the silver-printed name - street, level, square - and instantly on the map a circuit of all the necessary connections lit up. I could also travel by gleeder. Or by rast. Or - finally - on foot; therefore, four maps
Each of us is aware he's a material being, subject to the laws of physiology and physics, and that the strength of all our emotions combined cannot counteract those laws. It can only hate them. The eternal belief of lovers and poets in the power of love which is more enduring that death, the finis vitae sed non amoris that has pursued us through the centuries is a lie. But this lie is not ridiculous, it's simply futile. To be a clock on the other hand, measuring the passage of time, one that is smashed and rebuilt over and again, one in whose mechanism despair and love are set in motion by the watchmaker along with the first movements of the cogs. To know one is a repeater of suffering felt ever more deeply as it becomes increasingly comical through a multiple repetitions. To replay human existence - fine. But to replay it in the way a drunk replays a corny tune pushing coins over and over into the jukebox?
We take off into the cosmos, ready for anything: for solitude, for hardship, for exhaustion, death. Modesty forbids us to say so, but there are times when we think pretty well of ourselves. And yet, if we examine it more closely, our enthusiasm turns out to be all sham. We don't want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos.... We are humanitarian and chivalrous; we don't want to enslave other races, we simply want to bequeath them our values and take over their heritage in exchange. We think of ourselves as the Knights of the Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. (1970 English translation)
We are only seeking Man. We have no need for 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 searching for an ideal image of our own world: we go in quest of a planet, of a civilization superior of our own but developed on the basis of a prototype of our primeval past." -Snow from Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
Have it compose a poem- a poem about a haircut! But lofty, tragic, timeless, full of love, treachery, retribution, quiet heroism in the face of certain doom! Six lines, cleverly rhymed, and every word beginning with the letter S!!” [sic]…. Seduced, shaggy Samson snored. She scissored short. Sorely shorn, Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed, Silently scheming Sightlessly seeking Some savage, spectacular suicide." ("The First Sally (A) or The Electronic Bard" THE CYBERIAD)
The only writers who have any peace are the ones who don't write. And there are some like that. They wallow in a sea of possibilities. To express a thought, you first have to limit it, and that means kill it. Every word I speak robs me of a thousand others, and every line I write means giving up another.