Stanisław Lem citations

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Stanisław Lem

Date de naissance: 12. septembre 1921
Date de décès: 27. mars 2006

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Stanisław Lem, francisé en Stanislas Lem, né le 12 septembre 1921 à Lviv et mort le 27 mars 2006 à Cracovie, en Pologne, est un écrivain de science-fiction polonais. Son œuvre, traduite en 40 langues, caractérisée par l'étendue de sa palette, est construite autour d'une vision critique du comportement humain. Stanislas Lem est également l'un des écrivains polonais les plus traduits aux côtés de Gombrowicz et Sienkiewicz. Solaris est sans doute son roman le plus célèbre et a été porté au cinéma par Andreï Tarkovski en 1972 puis par Steven Soderbergh en 2002. Certains de ses romans mêlent récit d'anticipation et intrigue policière, notamment dans Le Rhume .

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Citations Stanisław Lem

„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.“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: 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. "Pirx's Tale" in More Tales of Pirx The Pilot (1983)

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„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.“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: 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. Ch. 6: "The Little Apocrypha", p. 72

„Clarity of thought is a shining point in a vast expanse of unrelieved darkness. Genius is not so much a light as it is a constant awareness of the surrounding gloom“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: Clarity of thought is a shining point in a vast expanse of unrelieved darkness. Genius is not so much a light as it is a constant awareness of the surrounding gloom, and its typical cowardice is to bathe in its own glow and avoid, as much as possible, looking out beyond its boundary. No matter how much genuine strength it may contain, there is also, inevitably, a considerable part that is only the pretense of that strength. Preface

„Man does not create gods, in spite of appearances. The times, the age, impose them on him.“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: 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. Ch. 14: "The Old Mimoid", p. 198

„My past 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.“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: My past 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. Pamiętnik znaleziony w wannie (1961), translated as Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1973)

„The declining intellectual quality of political leadership is the result of the growing complexity of the world. Since no one, be he endowed with the highest wisdom, can grasp it in its entirety, it is those who are least bothered by this who strive for power.“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: The book does not contain “everything about the human being,” because that is impossible. The largest libraries in the world do not contain “everything.” The quantity of anthropological data discovered by scientists now exceeds any individual’s ability to assimilate it. The division of labor, including intellectual labor, begun thirty thousand years ago in the Paleolithic, has become an irreversible phenomenon, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Like it or not, we have placed our destiny in the hands of the experts. A politician is, after all, a kind of expert, if self-styled. Even the fact that competent experts must serve under politicians of mediocre intelligence and little foresight is a problem that we are stuck with, because the experts themselves cannot agree on any major world issue. A logocracy of quarreling experts might be no better than the rule of the mediocrities to which we are subject. The declining intellectual quality of political leadership is the result of the growing complexity of the world. Since no one, be he endowed with the highest wisdom, can grasp it in its entirety, it is those who are least bothered by this who strive for power.

„The book does not contain “everything about the human being,” because that is impossible. The largest libraries in the world do not contain “everything.”“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: The book does not contain “everything about the human being,” because that is impossible. The largest libraries in the world do not contain “everything.” The quantity of anthropological data discovered by scientists now exceeds any individual’s ability to assimilate it. The division of labor, including intellectual labor, begun thirty thousand years ago in the Paleolithic, has become an irreversible phenomenon, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Like it or not, we have placed our destiny in the hands of the experts. A politician is, after all, a kind of expert, if self-styled. Even the fact that competent experts must serve under politicians of mediocre intelligence and little foresight is a problem that we are stuck with, because the experts themselves cannot agree on any major world issue. A logocracy of quarreling experts might be no better than the rule of the mediocrities to which we are subject. The declining intellectual quality of political leadership is the result of the growing complexity of the world. Since no one, be he endowed with the highest wisdom, can grasp it in its entirety, it is those who are least bothered by this who strive for power.

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„Like it or not, we have placed our destiny in the hands of the experts. A politician is, after all, a kind of expert, if self-styled. Even the fact that competent experts must serve under politicians of mediocre intelligence and little foresight is a problem that we are stuck with, because the experts themselves cannot agree on any major world issue.“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: The book does not contain “everything about the human being,” because that is impossible. The largest libraries in the world do not contain “everything.” The quantity of anthropological data discovered by scientists now exceeds any individual’s ability to assimilate it. The division of labor, including intellectual labor, begun thirty thousand years ago in the Paleolithic, has become an irreversible phenomenon, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Like it or not, we have placed our destiny in the hands of the experts. A politician is, after all, a kind of expert, if self-styled. Even the fact that competent experts must serve under politicians of mediocre intelligence and little foresight is a problem that we are stuck with, because the experts themselves cannot agree on any major world issue. A logocracy of quarreling experts might be no better than the rule of the mediocrities to which we are subject. The declining intellectual quality of political leadership is the result of the growing complexity of the world. Since no one, be he endowed with the highest wisdom, can grasp it in its entirety, it is those who are least bothered by this who strive for power.

„A smart machine will first consider which is more worth its while: to perform the given task or, instead, to figure some way out of it.“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: A smart machine will first consider which is more worth its while: to perform the given task or, instead, to figure some way out of it. Whichever is easier. And why indeed should it behave otherwise, being truly intelligent? For true intelligence demands choice, internal freedom. And therefore we have the malingerants, fudgerators, and drudge-dodgers, not to mention the special phenomenon of simulimbecility or mimicretinism. A mimicretin is a computer that plays stupid in order, once and for all, to be left in peace. And I found out what dissimulators are: they simply pretend that they're not pretending to be defective. Or perhaps it's the other way around. The whole thing is very complicated. A probot is a robot on probation, while a servo is one still serving time. A robotch may or may not be a sabot. One vial, and my head is splitting with information and nomenclature. A confuter, for instance, is not a confounding machine — that's a confutator — but a machine which quotes Confucius. A grammus is an antiquated frammus, a gidget — a cross between a gadget and a widget, usually flighty. A bananalog is an analog banana plug. Contraputers are loners, individualists, unable to work with others; the friction these types used to produce on the grid team led to high revoltage, electrical discharges, even fires. Some get completely out of hand — the dynamoks, the locomoters, the cyberserkers.

„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.“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: 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. Ch. 6: "The Little Apocrypha", p. 72

„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.“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: 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. Ch. 14: "The Old Mimoid", p. 204 (final lines)

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„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.“

—  Stanisław Lem
Context: My past 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. Pamiętnik znaleziony w wannie (1961), translated as Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1973)

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