Yesterday’s rarity becomes today’s cliché, and today’s exception becomes tomorrow’s rule. "The Chain of Chance"
In life it's like this: many things result from stupidity, although it's often the other way around. "Inspection at the Scene of the Crime"
The passage of historical time affects literature as wind affects fire: it blows out the small sparks and fans the larger ones. "Microworlds"
The primary obligation of Intelligence is to distrust itself. "Golem XIV"
A journey is a dismal thing when there can be no homecoming. "The Futurological Congress"
The future will probably reside between the extremities of the hells brought to life by technology and harmoniously constructed paradises. "Science Fiction and Futurology"
In admiring a work of art, we admire ourselves for being able to understand it so well. "The Philosophy of Chance"
Knowledge is irreversible; one cannot go back into the darkness of sweet ignorance. "His Master's Voice"
Facts have this about them, that the truth is always on their side. "Mortal Engines"
Empirical systems lose their validity, while mathematical ones never do. Their emptiness guarantees their immortality. "Summa technologiae"
If there were a turd big as a mountain, its summit hidden in the clouds, we would bend the knee and do it reverence. "Memoirs Found in a Bathtub"
And the dough-headed took their acid fermentation for a soul, the stabbing of meat for history, the means of postponing their decay for civilization. "Return from the Stars"
The distance between God and reason increases with the passage of time – everywhere, always! "The Star Diaries"
I’m never more serious than when I’m joking. "The Investigation"
We wish to live, but not to be fleeting, to change, yet remain, to experience all – and risk nothing. "The Star Diaries"
Man brings order to the measureless space of the Universe because he creates values. "The Astronauts"
We have no more knowledge of our bodies than of the most distant star. "Hospital of the Transfiguration"
If you look tasty, better not stroll about in the park at night! "Memoirs of a Space Traveller: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy"
Man hardly ever knows what he is actually doing – at least he does not know for sure. "Summa technologiae"
When I stand and gaze at the stars, what I feel and what I think belong to me alone, not to the world. "Memoirs of a Space Traveller: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy"
We don't want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos. "Solaris"
He’s one of those clowns who will do anything to get some attention, ready to give you his version of the history of the world at the drop of a hat. "The Investigation"
Such abstractions as faith, god, and the soul cannot be analogized in a computer. "Eden"
I believe, and if my belief has basis, the One in whom I believe surely knows this in the absence of my official declarations. "The Star Diaries"
The safest way to conceal a remarkable idea – every word of it true – was to publish it as science fiction. "One Human Minute"
Never regret that you’re in one place and not another. Or that you could have done something but didn’t. Don’t believe it. You didn’t do it because you couldn’t do it. "Hospital of the Transfiguration"
The more distant the goals he sets for himself, the more a man achieves in life. "The Magellan Nebula"
God is an enormous infant that has set its playthings going in the ‘right’ direction, for its own amusement. "The Star Diaries"
If you proceeded gradually, you could lead anyone – even the College of Cardinals – into the practice of cannibalism. "The Investigation"
In order to control the world, one must first name it. "Eden"
Perfection, fullness, excellence are all rare exceptions – they occur only because there is such an excess, so unimaginably much of everything! "The Investigation"
Democracy a rule of connivers elected by cretins. "Tales of Pirx the Pilot"
There is no suffering that cannot be made still greater. "Return from the Stars"
It is not omniscience but the faith in it that matters. "Memoirs Found in a Bathtub"
A mediocre writer will not find a place for himself even in the most remote corner of the Galaxy. "Entry into Orbit"
An artist is not the one who experiences the world in his own way and expresses it as he knows how, but the one who at the same time imposes his vision on others. "Summa Technologiae"
Sex is a fundamental source of conflict between Reason and Happiness; as Sex is wholly unreasonable and Reason by no means sexual. "The Cyberiad"
We really have no idea what a multitude of con men and crackpots inhabit the domain that lies halfway between contemporary science and the insane asylum. "His Master's Voice"
Everything dissolves in time. There is no stronger solvent. "The Cyberiad"
I noticed that he had a new secretary as good-looking as if she didn't even know how to type. "Inspection at the Scene of the Crime"
Nothing like being helpless to get the police all excited. "The Chain of Chance"
Wisdom consists of delegating to someone else the work one is supposed to do. "The Cyberiad"
A dream can only be where there is also a reality to return to. "Mortal Engines"
Nature herself never creates values."The Invincible"
All information assumes the existence of an addressee. There is no “information in general”. "Summa Technologiae"
It's easier to build a church than invent a religion. "Entry into Orbit"
Nothing can compare with the horror of being condemned to solitude for all eternity. "Memoirs of a Space Traveller: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy"
The more fully man learns about the world, the more limitless the horizons that open before him. "The Astronauts"
To live, in other words to possess a future which will become your present. "Mortal Engines"
Should we land everywhere with weapons of annihilation aboard, in order to smash to smithereens all that surpasses man’s power of comprehension? "The invincible"
Now nothing ages more rapidly than the future. "Summa technologiae"
Flu germs are the only beings unfamiliar with worries about housing. "Entry Into Orbit"
If heredity is indeed faultless, the Earth would still be inhabited by nothing but amoebas. "Memoirs of a Space Traveller: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy"
If man had more of a sense of humor, things might have turned out differently. "Solaris"
There can be no Virtue without Vice, no Fair without Foul, no Growth without the Grave, no Heaven without Hell. "The Cyberiad"
The more one has the power to accomplish, the less one knows what ought to be accomplished. "The Star Diaries"
My art rides into battle precisely where scientific sources begin to reveal their inadequacy, where the might of science turns out to be a trap or labyrinth for the human spirit, where Darwin indeed triumphs over Hegel but in a Pyrrhic victory. "Fame and Fortune. Letters to Michael Kandel"
"My time will come!" I told myself. "It cannot be, for someone to cast forth pearls of eternal wisdom left and right, day and night, till the mind is blinded by the surging Light of Final Understanding—and nothing! No, fame will be mine, acclaim will be mine, thrones of ivory, the title of Prime Mentorian, the love of the people, sweet solace in a shaded grove, my very own school, pupils that hang on every word, and a cheering crowd!" "The Cyberiad"
In addition, the sirloin which I threw overboard, instead of drifting off into the void, didn’t seem to want to leave the rocket and revolved about it, a second artificial satellite, which produced a brief eclipse of the sun every eleven minutes and four seconds. "The Star Diaries"
It is not necessary to see that which is before our eyes, all that is needed is a new viewpoint. "Memoirs of a Space Traveller: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy"
If the people of the Stone Age had stuck only to what seemed possible, we'd still be sitting in caves today. "Fiasco"
The number of one's possible fantasies is inversely proportional to the amount of one's liquid assets. "Peace on Earth"
If someone were ready to invest $1,000,000 in publicity, you could make a bestseller out of an old phone book. "Letters to Michael Kandel"
If hell exists, then it is probably computerized. "The Megabyte Bomb"
The beneficiaries of maximum amount of joy behave not quite unlike people undergoing torture. "Microworlds"
A writer should not run around with a mirror for his countrymen; he should tell his society and his times things no one ever thought before. "Thus Spoke Lem"
Engineers have an advantage over philosophers in that they can point to their successes, not only to their defeats and failures. "Blink of an Eye"
Exaggeration is the mother of stupidity. "The Megabyte Bomb"
I don't think anything can behave as unintelligently as intelligence. "Fiasco"
Man is a highly illogical creature and therein lies his humanity. "Peace on Earth"
To learn something, you need to know something. "Inspection at the Scene of the Crime"
Who produces a rocket when intending to make a shovel is a bungler. "Golem XIV"
At the summits of art only the first achievements count, just as, in the history of mountain climbing, it is only the first surmounting of walls unscaled. "A Perfect Vacuum"
A man can control only what he comprehends, and comprehend only what he is able to put into words. The inexpressible therefore is unknowable. "The Futurological Congress"
In places of veneration, such as churches, or in the company of particularly worthy persons, I liked to think forbidden thoughts. "His Master's Voice"
We’re not meant for the cosmos, and for that very reason we’ll never give up. "The Chain of Chance"
I Lem's Law: No one reads; if someone does read, he doesn't understand; if he understands, he immediately forgets. "One Human Minute"
Nothing excites publishers and authors today more than a book no one has to read but everyone needs to have. "One Human Minute"
We come into this world trusting that things are as we see them, that what our senses witness is happening, but later it turns out, somehow, that children grow up and grownups start to die. "Highcastle"
Evolution is a lazy babble, obstinate in its plagiarism until it gets into deep water. "Golem XIV"
Literature always is parasitic on the mind of the reader. Love, a tree, a park, a sign, an earache – the reader understands, because the reader has experienced it. "A Perfect Vacuum"
But even the College of Cardinals can be led to cannibalism, provided only that one proceeds patiently and by small degrees. "His Master's Voice"
Pev't o' tay merlong gumin gots,
Untle yun furly päzzen ye,
Confre an' ayzor, ayzor ots,
Bither de furloss bochre blee!
Human civilization is like a ship that has been built without any design plans. "Summa technologiae"
Cranks and eccentrics are not confined to any one time. "Memoirs of a Space Traveller: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy"
Just because I drift about from one end of space to another and poke my nose into the cosmos, does that mean I'm not allowed to get drunk? "Solaris"
This is the nature of all human enterprise: there is never good without evil. "Return from the Stars"
It was upsetting for people to think that someday they would be no longer, but not equally upsetting for them to consider the fact that earlier they had never been. "The Star Diaries"
What a poet does is suffer beautifully. ["Hospital of the Transfiguration"]
A world compelled to good alone is as much a shrine to compulsion as a world compelled to evil only. "The Star Diaries"
Arguments based on reason are powerless against prevailing customs. "Return from the Stars"
Certain events, which have actually happened, are horrible, but what is more horrible still is what hasn't happened, what has never existed. "Solaris"
The myth of the golem – the machine that rebelled against its creator – was a lie, a fiction invented by the guilty for the sake of self-exoneration. "Tales of Pirx the Pilot"
Unfortunately not everything that is possible makes sense to us. "Eden"
The flaring up of a new star in the firmament, where there have been no stars before, testifies to the recent disintegration of a planet whose former inhabitants had achieved a high level of civilization and discovered the means of releasing atomic energy. "The Star Diaries"
Each of us, after all, is a kind of blueprint for the world. The trouble is that the plan is not always well executed. "Hospital of the Transfiguration"
What was delusion or idleness for one man might be, for another, a life's passion. "Fiasco"
The twentieth century had dispensed with the formal declaration of war. The world of the war-or-peace alternative became a world in which war was peace and peace war. "Peace on Earth"
If something has never been known to happen, the chances are slim that it ever will. "The Chain of Chance"
Three laws of Evolution: THE MEANING OF THE TRANSMITTER IS THE TRANSMISSION; SPECIES ORIGINATE FROM A MISTAKEN MISTAKE; THE CONSTRUCTION IS LESS PERFECT THAN WHAT CONSTRUCTS. "Golem XIV"
The opportunity for evil in itself does not suffice; people need a rationale as well. "The Futurological Congress"
Politicians are too stupid for us to be able to predict their actions through reason. "Hospital of the Transfiguration"
What was civilization ever, really, but the attempt by man to talk himself into being good? Only good, mind you. The rest had to be shoved somewhere out of sight. "The Futurological Congress"
Genius is not so much a light as it is a constant awareness of the surrounding gloom. "His Master's Voice"
It is always easier to confess that one has done something wrong than to prove that one has not. "The Cyberiad"
The intensity of a wish is more important than its fulfillment. "Highcastle"
There are two wisdoms: the first inclines to action, the second to inaction. "The Cyberiad"
What does literature mean to you, then? For the reader it is an attempt to escape. For the creator, an attempt at redemption. "Hospital of the Transfiguration"
I was not mad. The last ray of hope was extinguished. "Solaris"
Knowledge is a restriction placed on diversity; it is greater the lesser the uncertainty of the person expecting something to happen is. "Summa technologiae"
His vessel found itself between two vortices of gravitation called Bakhrida and Scintilla; Bakhrida speeds up time, Scintilla on the other hand slows it down, and between them lies a zone of stagnation, in which the present, becalmed, flows neither backward nor forward. There Heptodius froze alive, and remains to this day, along with the countless frigates and galleons of other astromariners, pirates and spaceswashers, not aging in the least, suspended in the silence and excruciating boredom that is Eternity. "Mortal Engines"
God is Mystery, while Satan represents the personed aggregate of the isolated constituents of that Mystery. "The Star Diaries"
Space travel is the purest expression of man's curiosity. "Eden"
No one can give more than the one who lost everything. ["The Magellan Nebula"]
Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed. "Solaris"
The higher a civilization is, the more dust and refuse it produces. "The Star Diaries"
War is the worst way of gathering knowledge about a foreign culture. "Eden"
long as there are human beings facts don’t exist in a void. Once a fact emerges into consciousness it is already an interpretation. "The Investigation"
When it is possible to duplicate the one you love, there is no more loved one, there is only the mockery of love. "The Star Diaries"
It’s comforting to know, when you think about it, that only man can be a bastard. "The Star Diaries"
The closer one gets to being a scientist, the more one silences one’s humanity to allow Nature itself to speak. "Summa technologiae"
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. "Tales of Pirx the Pilot"
Computerization will tear off the head of civilization, in fact, quite delicately. "Memoirs of a Space Traveller: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy"
Knowledge means expecting a particular event to occur after some other specific events have occurred. "Summa technologiae"
Only he who has sense will take advice that makes sense. "The Cyberiad"
Science is concerned with phenomena rather than causes. "Solaris"
Medicine can offer a pretty good window on infinity. "Hospital of the Transfiguration"
Civilization began with the invention of running water. And there has always been something vaguely symbolic about washing the body. "The Chain of Chance"
Now to make it in the arts, publicize your private parts! Critics say you can't offend 'em with your phallus or pudendum! "The Futurological Congress"
Clarity of thought is a shining point in a vast expanse of unrelieved darkness. "His Master's Voice"
Everyone knows that dragons don't exist. They were all, one might say, nonexistent, but each nonexisted in an entirely different way. "The Cyberiad"
The moral judgments of acts depend first of all on their irreversibility. "Summa technologiae"
People do not want immortality. They simply do not want to die. "Memoirs of a Space Traveller: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy"
At the thought that I had gone mad, I calmed down. "Solaris"
Our human nature is the sum of all our defects, flaws, imperfections, of what we want to be but can’t or don’t know how to be: the gap between our ideals and those same ideals as a reality. "Tales of Pirx the Pilot"
A simplification touching upon the truth, but cheaply, is of no more value than a lie. "His Master's Voice"
Every one of us is a lottery ticket that hit the jackpot: a few dozen years of life, what fun! "Hospital of the Transfiguration"
There is no implement that cannot be put in the service of a goal opposite the one intended by its creator. "Highcastle"
However, there's a good side to everything, including this. "The Cyberiad"
Science explains the world, but only Art can reconcile us to it. "Mortal Engines"
A man who has no goal in life must create one for himself. "Hospital of the Transfiguration"
Donda's Law: Whatever a small computer can do with a large program, perhaps a large computer can do just as much with a small program; hence the logical conclusion that an infinitely large program can work on its own, i.e. without any computer at all. "Memoirs of a Space Traveller: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy"
Arriving is easy – the hard thing is to disembark. "Eden"
Satan is that which we understand the least in God. "The Star Diaries"
Not everything everywhere is for us. "The Invincible"
I think there are times when even God could compromise Himself. "Hospital of the Transfiguration"
There is nothing richer in capabilities than emptiness. "The Magellan Nebula"
A man who for an entire week does nothing but hit himself over the head has little reason to be proud. "The Star Diaries"
The most important for understanding the design of machines is the knowledge of the creatures that built them. "The Astronauts"
No one can be closer to me than I am to myself, and sometimes I am a stranger to myself. "Hospital of the Transfiguration"
We have not only made a pie out of the apple of Eden, but are now sawing down the very Tree of Knowledge. "Fiasco"
Tichy's Law: The first itch occurs in a place on the body you can't possibly reach. "Peace on Earth"
The secret of growing old is having lots of experience you can no longer use. "The Chain of Chance"
Sophisticated transportation technologies made it possible for a degenerate, instead of getting soused in his own backyard, to dress up as a tourist and do the same in the vicinity of Saint Peter's basilica. "His Master's Voice"
For what, after all, is happiness? That’s as clear as a kilowatt. Happiness is an extraction, or more precisely an extension of a metaspace in which projections of n-intentional determinants diverge as omega approaches alpha, provided of course the asymptotes can be mapped onto a continuous, polyorthogonal aggregate of subsets called cerebrons—after me. "The Cyberiad"
Paleolithic man carved stone; Gymnasium man carved his desk-bench. "Highcastle"
Want to hear my favourite definition of a human? A creature who likes to talk most about what he knows least. "Tales of Pirx the Pilot"
A bolt tightened in a dream won’t change things as they are in the sober light of day. "The Star Diaries"
You know if you’re happy only afterward, when it’s over. Man lives by change. "Hospital of the Transfiguration"
Man cannot change the world without changing himself. "Summa technologiae"
A human being must eat, drink, and clothe himself; and the rest is madness. "Return from the Stars"
The mathematical order of the universe is our answer to the pyramids of chaos. "The Investigation"
I had to tell the experts my dreams, which were immediately sorted and classified according to the paragraphs of the penal code. "The Star Diaries"