Cancel me not - for what then shall remain?


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It's almost been a month since the passing of Stanislaw Lem. I'm not even close to scratching the surface of his work, and I've been a follower since 1994. So if the following quote makes you even the slightest bit curious, I suggest you do some further investigation..... "American science fiction, exploiting its exceptional status, lays claim to occupy the pinnacles of art and thought. One is annoyed by the pretentiousness of a genre that fends off accusations of primitivism by pleading its entertainment character and then, once such accusations have been silenced, renews its overweening claims." (from his essay "Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among the Charlatans" - Lem was once a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, but was expelled in 1976 because of comments like this) And here is an excerpt from the scathingly funny The Cyberiad. "On the second moon of the third planet....was a garbage dump....It so happened that Trurl, the Fabulous Constructor, while flying in the vicinity,....[threw out] an old earthenware jug with a crack down the middle. This jug, accelerating in accordance with the laws of gravity and boosted by the comet's tail, crashed into a mountainside above the dump, fell, clattered down a slope of junk toward a puddle, skittered across some mud, and finally smacked into an old tin can; this impact bent the metal around a copper wire, also knocked some pieces of mica between the edges, and that made a condenser, while the wire, twisted by the can, formed the beginnings of a solenoid, and a stone, set in motion by the jug, moved in turn a hunk of rusty iron, which happened to be a magnet, and this gave rise to a current, and that current passed through sixteen other cans and snips of wire, releasing a number of sulfides and chlorides, whose atoms linked with other atoms, and the ensuing molecules latched onto other molecules, until, in the very center of the dump, there came into being a Logic Circuit, and five more, and another eighteen in the spot where the jug finally shattered into bits. That evening, something emerged at the edge of the dump,....and this something, a creature of pure accident, was Mymosh the Selfbegotten, who had neither mother nor father, but was son unto himself, for his father was Coincidence, and his mother - Entropy. And Mymosh rose up from the garbage dump, totally oblivious of the fact that he had about one chance in a hundred billion jillion raised to the zillionth power of ever existing....and was moved to exclaim, 'Truly, I am beautiful, nay, perfect, which clearly implies the Perfection of All Created Things!! Ah, and how good must be the One Who fashioned me!'........"


7 Responses to “Cancel me not - for what then shall remain?”

  1. Anonymous Kelly 

    Oh well THAT explains a lot. Sure. You know, I looked for Stanislaw Lem's book Solaris after seeing the movie, but the library didn't have it and then I forgot. I'll look for it again, thanks to your reminder, FM. Hope you're doing well!

  2. Anonymous Carl V. 

    Reading that second part I have to think that Lem must have been one of the regular writers on the MacGyver tv show! :)

  3. Anonymous jp 

    I'm reading Solaris at present! I also have The Futurological Congress lying around somewhere. I always feel that reading or re-reading their work is the best way to mark a writer's passing. That way, they're still alive in a way.

  4. Anonymous Fence 

    I'm only familar with his work from the recent Solaris, which has really stuck with me. I even bought it on dvd, but haven't rewatched. Like Kelly I meant to check out the book, but *shrug* you know how things are, and I never got round to it.

    But that extract makes me want to go take another look.

  5. Anonymous cardboardjudas 

    Great, now i have something else to read thanks to you and the quote from The Cyberiad. While i'd heard the name before i'm completly unfamiliar with his work i think the last "science" fiction i read was some old Heinlein novels, but there's only some many books featuring cats and sexy broads that i can read.

  6. Anonymous jenn see 

    color me intrigued.
    ooooh, i hope i can find something of his at the little used bookstore with its thousands of not-organized volumes...

  7. Anonymous banzai cat 

    Great excerpt. Must pick this up when I pass by the bookshop one of the days. Not that I don't have enough reasons to pass by the bookshop. *sigh*

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