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The multiplicity of cultures results from the nature of the world. "The Philosophy of Chance"

Our ability to adapt and therefore to accept everything is one of our greatest dangers. "His Master's Voice"

Chroniclers become extremely honest when they feel that what they have to say about themselves is of monumental importance. "His Master's Voice"

Stupidity multiplied does not cease to be stupidity, only its ludicrousness is increased. "Mortal Engines"

The only way to deal with technology is with another technology. "Summa technologiae"

The future will reject and demolish a great deal of what we assume today to be priceless, irreplaceable, and inviolable. "Entry into Orbit"

The more we try to distance ourselves in thought from the present day, the more future accomplishments will fill us with reflexive objections, protest, anxiety, and distaste. "Entry into Orbit"

What’s treason when truth is but another way of lying? "Memoirs Found in a Bathtub"

Mystery offers a way out, a way out of all monstrous absurdities. With Mystery, one can at least hope... "Memoirs Found in a Bathtub"

If I showed no mercy to others, then I could show none to myself. "Return from the Stars"

The risk might be ever so great, but the very fact of its existence implies the possibility of success. "The Magellan Nebula"

In man is everything: greatness and weakness, love and cruelty, that which is limited and that which has no limits. "The Magellan Nebula"

Don’t listen to my advice. That’s wisdom too. But in that case don’t listen to anybody’s. "Hospital of the Transfiguration"

Only life lends sense to the world. "The Astronauts"

Only when reflected in the eyes that gaze upon them do the shapes of matter take on beauty and meaning. "The Astronauts"

Never be satisfied with what you've done. Always keep going. We find the workings of this imperative in the life of everyone who has accomplished anything. "The Astronauts"

Success is more often accompanied by the pretense of splendor than by authentic

Futurology: a probe into the heaven and hell to come.

Evil generates both evil systems and systems of evil, and only in their results are the
two equal.

I hadn’t realized how indifferent we’ve become to the extraordinary nowadays. "The Investigation"

The one who dies, whom does he lose? Himself? No, for once dead, he has ceased to exist, and one who exists not, there is nothing he can lose. "The Star Diaries"

What is best for society is not always the most profitable. "Dialogs"

A risk-free world is a world without fear – and also without boldness.

Where everything can be attained without effort, all values die.

Space is not “Earth enlarged to Galactic Dimensions”. It is something qualitatively

There are no boundaries to poetry, only boundaries to talent. When somebody great
comes along, you'll recognize him by his voice.

A Wife is generally right because she is a Wife, and not because of the facts in the
case. Not for all the world, however, can the Wife be allowed to know that we observe this Maxim. "Fame and Fortune. Letters to Michael Kandel"

The tragedy of the twentieth century is that there was no way of carrying out a preliminary test of the theories of Karl Marx on mice.

Religions are prostheses that can make it easier to reconcile ourselves to the thought of the displeasing perspective of non-existence.

There is no knowledge without imagination and there is no imagination without knowledge.

Happiness occurs incidentally, accidentally, and cannot be the goal of human desires.

If you force yourself to think up a way of making someone happy, that's the worst method of making them happy.

Science can be reconciled with religious doctrine, but in the long run this is of little benefit to either science or religion.

There is no such thing as a good war.

There were two kinds of anxiety – one high, the other low, the first coming from the imagination, the second straight from the guts. "The Chain of Chance"

The only remedy for technology (for its calamitous effects) is a different technology.

The passage of historical time affects literature as wind affects fire: it blows out the
small sparks and fans the larger ones.

Images formed out of words can never be as faithful as mathematical constructions.

Genius is a bundle of highly concentrated gifts. "Golem XIV"

Everyone has enough fortitude to bear the misfortunes of others.

Culture is an unusual instrument in that it constitutes a discovery which, in order to
function, must be hidden from its creators. "Golem XIV"

Man is a skein of contradictions which cannot be got rid of, not even were the
ridding technologically possible. "A Perfect Vacuum"

Technological progress is like a straight razor: you can shave with it, and you can also cut your throat.

Culture is based on autonomous, and thus unprovable, values; to deprecate this
unprovability is tantamount to destroying culture. "Science Fiction and Futurology"

Even mountain peaks disappear when they are continually surrounded by garbage
heaps. "Science Fiction and Futurology"

What futurology can realistically offer the world is insufficient, while what is
sufficient is not realistic. "Science Fiction and Futurology"

Culture has protected man against the world and, at the same time, the world against
man. "The Philosophy of Chance"

In admiring a work of art, we admire ourselves for being able to understand it so well.
"The Philosophy of Chance"

Knowledge means achieving certainty on any given question. "The Philosophy of

Evolution is, as an engineer, an opportunist, not a perfectionist. "His Master's

Language is wiser than the mind of any one of us, just as the body is wiser than the
discernment of any of its units as it moves, self-aware and many-faceted, through the
current of the life process. "His Master's Voice"

Too much knowledge often is a burden that interferes with action. "Highcastle"

Knowledge eliminates amazement, because someone who knows everything cannot
be taken by surprise! "The Cyberiad"

I regard reason as the ultimate sanction for ethics, and we should follow its dictates above all.

I have created my own minimalistic ethical code: I simply try to behave decently and not behave like a swine toward anyone.

Something tells me that what I hear about awful and repulsive people will probably turn out to be true, whereas what they say about their magnanimity and righteousness will be true to a lesser degree.

I spent so much time at the typewriter that I have typed out 40 books. And the part of the body I sit on bothered me more than my head.

Comparing my futurological imaginings with reality resembles some sort of car crash. What came about was not what I was dreaming of.

I received my first typewriter from my father at the age of 12 because I had such horrible penmanship that they told me at school that nothing good would ever come of me, and from that time on I write only on the typewriter.

The question of when one stops writing is a matter of good manners. You have to get up from the table when you’re still a little bit hungry – that is my motto.

In an unfortunate and uncanny twist of fate, it has turned out that a great majority of what I have fantasized about is hardening into reality.

I’m not such an extreme pessimist, I’m... in general, what I’d call an optisimist, that is, I’m a little bit of an optimist, and a little bit of a pessimist.

I regard classical Latin as one of the most beautiful languages.

I don’t like it when bombing innocent people to death is termed bestial. Beasts don’t do such things.

I am at heart – I say this with a certain exaggeration – both a conservative and a visionary. I can predict certain things, but I do not wish for them.

As my own Archimidean fulcrum, I have chosen intersubjectively verifiable experimentation.

In principle I am an agnostic, but the kind who has practically convinced himself that God is a very positive force.

Of all the possible varieties of censorship, I acknowledge only one. The censorship of stupidity.

In my life and work I have been the cat that walked by himself. I did not belong to any poetic or literary group or school, I have not created any trend or movement, and although I have turned up through my writing in oddly different territories, from cybernetic sociology and philosophy through the invented criticism of non-existent novels, to science fiction, I have always been a newcomer from outside greeted by my readers less often with acclaim than with shock – completely understandably, because in all the genres and themes that I have taken up and practiced, I have been a loner and a usurper.

 For moral reasons 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. (1984, An Interview with Stanislaw Lem by Peter Engel)

The most important parts of my biography are my intellectual struggles. The rest, not mentioned so far, is of a purely anecdotal character. (1983, Reflections on My Life, 1984)

he great humorists were people who had been driven to despair and anger by the conduct of mankind. In this respect, I am one of those people. (1983, Reflections on My Life, 1984)

I began writing science fiction because it deals with human beings as a species (or, rather, with all possible species of intelligent beings, one of which happens to be the human species). (1983, Reflections on My Life, 1984)

Not to look like a poor fool cursed with insatiable curiosity when I finally appear before the All-Knowing Being, I would whittle all of my questions to a single one: What is meaningful and what is only nonsense in the lectures of this AI Colossus created by me, called Golem XIV?

Even if God gave me a special license to bash people in the chops, let me tell you, I would not make excessive use of it.

Solaris is an attack on the anthropocentric mythology that lies at the basis of contemporary cosmogony.

Solaris is an attack on the anthropocentric mythology that lies at the basis of contemporary cosmogony.

I must admit that the effort I put into writing Golem XIV was unmatched by the effort of writing any other book.

Everybody has their own preferences: football, copulation, drinking beer out of the can. As for me, I derive enormous pleasure from learning various grim things from hard books.

I regard myself as a realist writer, because I deal with real matters. I am not interested in problems of such properties of the world as the world does not possess.

I regard science fiction as a twentieth-century literary genre that suits me very well as an author, but less so as a reader.

Regardless of its artistic merit, my literature usually has some kind of Idea painstakingly enfolded in it that cannot be found in the work of Others; that is, it is intellectually original.

I regard science-fiction literature as a branch of hypothesis-generating realistic prose.

As an author, I have a detector: if, after reading a given book, I feel base jealousy over not having written it myself, then I know that I am dealing with something important, interesting, and original.

There is one more important consideration, in my opinion, that ought over time to determine conversion to my creed. That is, the influence of my books is actually cumulative, and the whole makes more of an impact than the separate works.

I can’t deny, though, that my perfidy lies in writing serious stuff while pretending that it’s all a jest. Jesting is my "certificate of insanity", my free-admission pass. (1974.04.05, Selected Letters to Michael Kandel, 2014)

I want neither to be a "difficult" writer nor "only for the elite". Whatever I think, I try to express in as simple a way as possible; unfortunately I do not only always succeed. (1973, To My Readers, 1973]

Golem XIV, in a certain sense, is me, and more importantly, if the lipstick and props are removed, the ideas expressed there are in fact my beliefs.

1. As for God, in all candour, I’m glad he doesn’t exist for, strictly speaking, he would be a being I could not accept – judging by his creation. (1972.11.10, Selected Letters to Michael Kandel, 2014)

Obviously I belong to the tradition of the Enlightenment and am a rationalist, but of a somewhat distorted kind. A Distorted Rationalist is sometimes a close relative of a madman.

ostoyevsky is perhaps the writer closest to me spiritually, even though this is intimacy with disease, mishap, hell, nightmare, and the spectre of a grave, rather than anything else. (1972.03.24, Selected Letters to Michael Kandel, 2014)

I am an atheist, or rather an agnostic. An agnostic with a liberal attitude toward people of faith.

In writing a book, I lay out my knowledge in the most harmonious way. That’s why, whether I want them to or not, my books turn out to be wiser than I am.

I don’t especially value ethics based on reflexes – I rather believe in the ethics of understanding.

The ideal of the fantasist should therefore not be “maximum fantasy”, but only “optimal fantasy” – to the degree demanded by the goal of his work.

In fact I was always most interested in philosophy, and I think that I looked for it not so much among the philosophers as among computer scientists, physicists, and biologists.

I still feel respect for scientific creativity that transcends mere erudition.

As a writer I always prefer to be the prophet of events (even a false prophet) rather than their booster and bard.

I am always ready to revise my opinions, outlook, and judgments in their totality if only I come across convincing proofs of the opposing point of view. Except that I have so far been unable to find any.

I can very quickly distinguish a wise man from a fool or a blind man from a genius, after a few pages picked at random. This is my fulcrum, the same one that Archimedes looked for to move the earth.

5. I possess strength of imagination and I am a slave to logic; it is hard for me to imagine anything that is in no way connected with the real world.

Chance – or a specific arrangement of genes – endowed me with abilities that in the twentieth century correspond to the vocation of writer. And that vocation was located somewhere on the border of art and science.

For literature to be decent, that is, not to lie, is the same as for literature not to be. "A Perfect Vacuum"

No religion can do anything for humanity because it is not an empirical knowledge. "Summa technologiae"

Seven different measures to halt the population explosion, namely: mass media and mass arrests, compulsory celibacy, full-scale deeroticization, onanization, sodomization, and for repeated offenders – castration. "The Futurological Congress"

825. A specialist is a barbarian whose ignorance is not well-rounded. "His Master's Voice"

You climb to reach the summit, but once there, discover that all roads lead down! "The Cyberiad"

Even when on their guard, human beings inevitably theorize. "Solaris"

The world is actually an hallucination of some Superbrain gone berserk in a manner infinite but bounded. "The Cyberiad"

Civilized people use good manners not so much out of politeness but for the sake of simple, comfortable coexistence. "The Investigation"

Where one can do all, the pleasure will pall. ["The Cyberiad"]

It's impossible to talk to people who cannot see the obvious. "Memoirs of a Space Traveller: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy"

I know it will be a hopeless job to convince you, but there's something I have to say: you are doing all you can to stay human in an inhuman situation. Noble it may be, but it isn't going to get you anywhere. "Solaris"

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

There can be no injustice where the law upholds liberty. "The Star Diaries"

Even when on their guard, human beings inevitably theorize. "Solaris"

One cannot simultaneously make discoveries and avoid taking responsibility for their consequences. "Summa technologiae"

Reason was only for realizing that reason ought to be disposed of, and quickly too, seeing as it was the cause of all the calamities in history. "The Star Diaries"

Reason, once perfectly happy, will immediately desire to be perfectly unhappy. "The Cyberiad"

Man desires the most what he cannot have. "Summa Technologiae"

Being is based on an error, corrects an error by an error, returns an error, creates by errors such that chance becomes the fate of the World.  "Memoirs of a Space Traveller: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy"