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Quotes of the day: Stanislaw Lem

Published Thursday, September 11, 2014 @ 10:09 AM EDT
Sep 11 2014

Stanislaw Lem (September 12, 1921 - March 27, 2006) was a Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy and satire. His books have been translated into 41 languages and have sold over 27 million copies. His 1961 novel Solaris has been adapted into a feature film three times. His works explore philosophical themes; speculation on technology, the nature of intelligence, the impossibility of mutual communication and understanding, despair about human limitations and humanity's place in the universe. They are sometimes presented as fiction, but others are in the form of essays or philosophical books. Translations of his works are difficult due to passages with elaborate word formation, alien or robotic poetry, and puns. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


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.

Behind every glorious facade there is always hidden something ugly.

Do not trust people. They are capable of greatness.

Each civilization may choose one of two roads to travel, that is, either fret itself to death, or pet itself to death.

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.

Everything is explicable in the terms of the behavior of a small child.

Faith is, at one and the same time, absolutely necessary and altogether impossible.

Genius is not so much a light as it is a constant awareness of the surrounding gloom.

He who has had, has been, but he who hasn't been, has been had.

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.

I do not like the way people use the more and more magnificent fruits of technology to their filthy deeds.

I don't resist progress, but I have a growing feeling that mankind uses it mostly for disgraceful purposes.

I hadn't known there were so many idiots in the world until I started using the Internet.

If a man who can't count finds a four leaf clover, is he lucky?

If man had more of a sense of humor, things might have turned out differently.

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.

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

Not only does God play dice with the world- He does not let us see what He has rolled.

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.

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.

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.

To torture a man you have to know his pleasures.

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.

When smashing monuments, save the pedestals. They always come in handy.

Where do consequences lead? Depends on the escort.

You climb to reach the summit, but once there, discover that all roads lead down.


(September 12 is also the birthday of H.L. Mencken and Louis C.K.)

Categories: Stanislaw Lem


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Over the hill

Published Thursday, September 11, 2014 @ 7:44 AM EDT
Sep 11 2014

Sixty is much better than thirty, if only in the knowledge that I don't have to turn fifty again. And, of course, I no longer have to worry about dying young.

I'm certainly not where I thought I would be at this age. But then, they never developed personal jet packs, either.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes!


I used to dread getting older because I thought I would not be able to do all the things I wanted to do, but now that I am older I find that I don't want to do them.
-Nancy Astor

I take it for granted that I am growing older, although, except for a slight arteriosclerosis and an inability to hear, I would never know it.
-Robert Benchley

I will never be an old man. To me, old age is fifteen years older than I am.
-Bernard Baruch

Old age is not an accomplishment; it is just something that happens to you despite yourself, like falling downstairs.
-Robert A. Heinlein

They tell you that you'll lose you mind when you grow older. What they don't tell you is that you won't miss it very much.
-Malcolm Cowley

At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At 40, we don't care what they think of us. At 60, we discover they haven't been thinking of us at all.
-Ann Landers

Can you picture yourself at the age 60 doing what you do now?
-Dick Cavett

I do not ask to be young again; all I want is to go on getting older.
-Konrad Adenauer

How can they say my life is not a success? Have I not for more than sixty years got enough to eat and escaped being eaten?
-Logan Pearsall Smith

As one gets older, one discovers everything is going to be exactly the same with different hats on.
-Noel Coward

I didn't hate being 60 as much as I had 50.
-Sammy Davis, Jr.

I recently turned sixty. Practically a third of my life is over.
-Woody Allen

The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been.
-Madeleine L'Engle

If life is a journey, then your 60s are the homeward leg when you're hung up in an airport and thinking bad thoughts about your travel agent.
-Garrison Keillor

Now that I am 60, I see why the idea of elder wisdom has passed from currency.
-John Updike

One starts to get young at the age of sixty and then it's too late.
-Pablo Picasso

Our generation are the new old. I remember what someone of 60 looked like when I was a kid. They didn't look like me.
-Jack Nicholson

The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old, servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits.
-Hervey Allen

There has never been an intelligent person of the age of sixty who would consent to live his life over again.
-Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

You must not pity me because my sixtieth year finds me still astonished. To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.
-Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Categories: KGB, Passages


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