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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.)

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