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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"

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

Paradoxically, culture is subject to collapse upon recognition. "Golem XIV"

Were we not able to reshape the monstrous into the correlates of the angelic, we could not endure. "A Perfect Vacuum"

To prove belief is to destroy it. "Summa Technologiae"

The world needs to be changed, otherwise it will start to change us in an uncontrolled way. "About Myself"

If anything, from an atom to meteorites, is suitable for use as a weapon, then it will be used in this way. "The Megabyte Bomb"

Stupidity is the driving force of history. "Sex Wars"

The means can easily obscure the ends and themselves become the ends. "Fiasco"

Death is the province of the living – it is the loss of someone near. "The Star Diaries"

Plenitude, when too plenitudinous, was worse than destitution. "The Cyberiad"

He who explored space would perish in space. "Fiasco"

Children should not be subjected to daily imprisonment and the psychological torture called learning. "Peace on Earth"

In dealing with cosmogony, astrophysics proceeds like a detective gathering circumstantial evidence. "One Human Minute"

You can’t reach the truth without crossing a sea of mistakes. "The Chain of Chance"

While he is an authority on earthly matters, Man is no authority on the whole Cosmos. "To My Readers"

Science takes the world as it is, whereas philosophy or theology debate whether it might not be otherwise. "Golem XIV"

Intellectual masturbation is the contenting of oneself with the promise in place of the delivery. "A Perfect Vacuum"

Death is the province of the living – it is the loss of someone near. "The Star Diaries"

The world becomes useless if you don't share it with anyone. "The Magellan Nebula"

No machine will make human beings superfluous. "The Astronauts"

The less reason God gave them, the more they demand positions at the helm of the state.

Language both reflects and shapes the human world. "Fame and Fortune. Letters to Michael Kandel"

The only doctor who can cure the future is science – or no one.

In science we cast hypotheses into the fire of experiments, which is why poor hypotheses, rather than people, perish. "Sex Wars"

As our knowledge expands, we recognize the vastness of our ignorance.

I am perplexed by the perplexity of those who are perplexed.

Technology is not contagious, but it spreads faster than an epidemic. "Thus Spoke Lem"

Man's principal opponent, enemy, and pest turns out to be man himself.

Information without falsehoods is unfortunately a fiction. "The Mystery of the Chinese Room"

One can master a language in order to proclaim and think nonsense. "Sex Wars"

We are the species that destroys all the others and then places them under protection.

What else is mathematics, if not logic sung loud? "The Journal"

We waste half our life studying, only to discover in the second half that three-quarters of what we’ve stuffed into our heads is unnecessary ballast. "Lymphater's Formula"

Dreams are never a shared experience. "Rat in the Labyrinth"

It’s ugly to arrange a public end of the world to organize your personal affairs.

Heroism is when there are two paths: escape and attack.

What is ultimate truth? It's the end of the road, where there is no more mystery, no more hope. And no more questions to ask, since all the answers have been given. But there is no such place. "Fiasco"

For him who has everything dreams are no longer possible "Peace on Earth"

Evil is far more polymorphous than good. "Provocation"

The impartial are either impartial or just. The impartial give everyone an equal chance and the just measure everything by the same yardstick. "Inspection at the Scene of the Crime"

No one is more sensitive than a child. "The Chain of Chance"

We live in a world where nothing is so sure as that tomorrow will not be a repeat of today.

Art cannot stand still or go round in circles: precisely because of this, it cannot merely please. "Imaginary Magnitude"

The writer loses his freedom in his own book, the critic in another's. "A Perfect Vacuum"

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

Culture's resistance to progress is itself a part of that progress. "The Philosophy of Chance"

For lack of time and by reason of unfavorable circumstances, most people depart this world without ever stopping to think about it. "One Hundred and Thirty Seven Seconds"

What is ultimate truth? It's the end of the road, where there is no more mystery, no more hope. And no more questions to ask, since all the answers have been given. But there is no such place. "Fiasco"

The question is poorly phrased. "Peace on Earth"

Good never justifies itself by appealing to evil, but evil always uses some good as its rationalization. "Provocation"

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

The world is not just, because it makes it easier to destroy than create, easier to mistreat than make happy, easier to ruin than to save, and easier to kill than to bring back to life. "Inspection at the Scene of the Crime"

Literature in an age of faith does not lie, it only serves. "A Perfect Vacuum"

Everyone is superstitious, though not everyone is aware of it. "The Chain of Chance"

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

Culture is the survival strategy of reasonable beings. "The Philosophy of Chance"

Placing Reason on the throne as ruler is equivalent to putting oneself in the hands of a logical madness. "His Master's Voice"

Remarkable, really, the lack of sense displayed by an intelligent being, particularly when beset by circumstances. "Mortal Engines"

A civilization does not act the way it wants but rather the way it has to act. "Summa technologiae"

We do not consider God a manufacturer, who waits for approbation from His product. "The Star Diaries"

When people adapt to a system, rather than the system to people, the compulsion that gives birth to lies is required to reconcile theory with practice. "Dialogs"

A man becomes greater the more he encounters obstacles. ["The Magellan Nebula"]

If you proceeded gradually, you could lead anyone – even the College of Cardinals – into the practice of cannibalism. "The Investigation"

Millions of brain cells combine in layers, the layers form fields, the fields make up regions and projection fibers, communicating with each other using harmonic and sub-harmonic currents, and this whole mind-boggling construction full of the play of whirling and alternating currents in concert like music – that's the soul for you. "The Astronauts"

There is no such nonsense that people would be incapable of believing it.

People are rather stupid than evil, although the results can be uncomfortably similar. "Fame and Fortune. Letters to Michael Kandel"

Be in a good frame of mind, because why should it be bad?

A statesman is a helmsman who attempts to see beyond the horizon of his term of office.

The most terrifying trait of evil is its unselfishness. "Sex Wars"

Science, as a whole, does not err. "Thus Spoke Lem"

We only know the value of anything at the moment we lose it. "The Astronauts"

Consciousness is like the wind. You can say that it is blowing, but there is no sense asking where the wind is when it is not blowing. "The Megabyte Bomb"

All technology has its good and bad sides, and the use people make of the fruits of knowledge is up to them.

The lack of conciseness is the lack of cogency. "Sex Wars"

Global television has turned into a gigantic funeral home that sweeps up misfortunes and catastrophes from the most far-flung places. "Delightful Times"

The Universe is a labyrinth made of labyrinths. "Fiasco"

Lightning-fast systems made lightning-fast mistakes. "One Human Minute"

A man should know more about himself, his history, and his nature than is comfortable for him and useful in his practical affairs. "Provocation"

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!
["The Cyberiad"]

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"


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"