Stanislaw Lem

Stanislaw Lem Quotes Human Existence

“The twentieth century had dispensed with the formal declaration of war and introduced the fifth column, sabotage, cold war, and war by proxy, but that was only the beginning. Summit meetings for disarmament pursued mutual understanding and a balance of power but were also held to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy. The world of the war-or-peace alternative became a world in which war was peace and peace war”.

92 years ago today in Lwów in Poland (but which is now part of the Ukraine, Stanislaw Lem was born.

I was first put on to him by Philip Challinor, who kindly gifted me one of his books. I was immediately taken aback by just how good it was.

When Philip first gave me the book (The Cyberiad) I felt that the quote on the cover “The best writer alive working in any language at the moment” or something like that, was a bold claim indeed. As I continued reading the book it seemed a fairer and fairer assessment.

He wasn’t particularly popular with some other well-known science-fiction writers, probably because he was frequently insulting about them. It would be fair to say that they often responded in kind.

Strangely, he’s probably most famous for something that he didn’t like. His book Solaris was adapted by Andrei Trakovsky into a film that is now regarded as a classic. Lem made quite a few disparaging comments about both film and director…

“I have fundamental reservations to this adaptation. First of all I would have liked to see the planet Solaris which the director unfortunately denied me as the film was to be a cinematically subdued work. And secondly — as I told Tarkovsky during one of our quarrels — he didn’t make Solaris at all, he made Crime and Punishment. What we get in the film is only how this abominable Kelvin has driven poor Harey to suicide and then he has pangs of conscience which are amplified by her appearance; a strange and incomprehensible appearance”.

Stanislaw Lem quotes hitFurthermore, he seemed a little peeved at being left out of the process…

“Tarkovsky reminds me of a sergeant from the time of Turgenev — he is very pleasant and extremely prepossessing and at the same time visionary and elusive. One cannot “catch” him anywhere because he is always at a slightly different place already. This is simply the type of person he is. When I understood that I stopped bothering. This director cannot be reshaped anymore, and first of all one cannot convince him of anything as he is going to recast everything in his “own way” no matter what”.

There are many other adaptations of his work about which we have less information about his approval or disapproval. There are many less well-known films based on his work.

It’s always best to go to source though and I’m writing this just to give you a recommendation for some very good reading, as Philip was kind enough to do for me.

Stanislaw Lem Genius

Steal Away

I was lucky enough to be in this place the other day..

They seem to like him over there and as it happens. I quite like him as well which is why I made quite a few of those pictures I make with the quotes with him. For example…

The point of all this is to say that I have updated the page with all these kind of quote pictures. There are about a hundred of them there and I am sure there is something there for everyone. Feel free to use them but say where you got it please.
They are also available to flick through on Flickr.


Doing The Honours

Too many civil servants, politicians and celebrities are receiving honours, a report by a group of MPs has said.

The Public Administration Select Committee called for a rise in honours for volunteers in the community.

All well and good you might think. Furthermore…

Its report said an independent honours commission should be set up to remove political influence from the process.

The government denied honours were dominated by officials and celebrities, while Labour said it was vital the system’s “independence” was maintained.

The bold on that last word is mine. “Maintained”? Does that mean for New Labour “Independent” now means politically motivated? Political control over the honours system has diminished in recent years but it doesn’t mean it isn’t still there.

Things have moved on a little since this clip…but not that much.

The article goes on to say…

“We believe that no-one should be honoured for simply ‘doing the day job’, no matter what that job is,” the committee said.

“In particular, honours should not be awarded to civil servants or businessmen unless it can be demonstrated that there has been service above and beyond the call of duty.

“It is distasteful and damaging for people who already command vast personal remuneration packages for doing their job to also be honoured for simply being at the helm of large companies. This must stop.”

My problem here is that this all seems like very nice and egalitarian stuff until you remember what the honours system is really all about. Ken Loach described it perfectly when he refused his honour, so I made a little pic to show you all…

Picture It…

You may have noticed, especially if you follow me on twitter, that I have been using a lot of these kinds of pictures with quotes on recently. I have made a few and there are more coming. Please feel free to use them.

They will all be put in the pictures section of this website. At the moment they are under some other ones I made with a different generator some time ago.

I am updating it here regularly but also putting them on twitter.

Hope you like some of them.

Two Memorable Bits

When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. The movement becomes headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush till it is too late.

Frank Herbert (Dune, P441)

Who should we be looking out for next I wonder…

Starting A Fight In An Empty Chambre

Denis Diderot was born today in 1713.

The Chief Editor and co-founder of the Encyclopédie contributed much to the enlightenment and I would recommend that amongst anything else it would be worth reading The  Nun (La Religieuse) if you haven’t already.

I have always suspected though, despite his humanist convictions,  that he was the kind of man who could start a fight in an empty room. I give you some fantastic examples below…

There’s a bit of testicle at the bottom of our most sublime feelings and our purest tenderness.

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. (I know there is some debate about this one).

To attempt the destruction of our passions is the height of folly. What a noble aim is that of the zealot who tortures himself like a madman in order to desire nothing, love nothing, feel nothing, and who, if he succeeded, would end up a complete monster!

The God of the Christians is a father who makes much of his apples, and very little of his children.

There is no good father who would want to resemble our Heavenly Father

To prove the Gospels by a miracle is to prove an absurdity by something contrary to nature.

We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.

The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.

The possibility of divorce renders both marriage partners stricter in their observance of the duties they owe to each other. Divorces help to improve morals and to increase the population.

The blood of Jesus Christ can cover a multitude of sins, it seems to me.

Behind the Times

I am a bit behind the times with this but it still holds well enough…

“The idea of a hereditary ruler is as absurd as the idea of a hereditary mathemetician”.

Thomas Paine

“Majesty and love do not consort well together, nor do they dwell in the same place.”


“Mankind will never be free until the last king is hung with the entrails of the last priest”

Denis Diderot.

“The institution of Royalty in any form is an insult to the human race.”

Mark Twain

“I didn’t accept the OBE (Order of the British Empire – an award given to some british people) because it`s not a club you want to join when you look at the villains who`ve got it. It`s all the things I think are despicable: patronage, deferring to the monarchy and the name of the British Empire, which is a monument of exploitation and conquest.”

Film Director, Ken Loach


There is a funny thing going on on twitter where you have to take a famous quote/song line etc and change only one letter to make a new sentence. There are some funny ones there and I have done a few myself.

This is the second wordplay type post this week so I won’t have another post of this kind for a while. I just want to do this one before I forget.

Anyway,  please leave funny suggestions below and here are some of the ones I did and a couple of others…

Float like a butterfly, sting like a pee.

Fission Accomplished.

A geek is a long time in politics.

I’ve never voted gory before.

We have nothing to hear but fear itself.

To coldly go where no one has gone before.

Read my lies: no new taxes.

It started with a piss.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s lay?

Any beans necessary.

The history of all previous societies has been the history of clams struggles.

All the world’s a state.

The truth is rarely purée and never simple.

God does not play nice.

It is a wide father that knows his own child.

Brevity is the soul of git.

I believe that man and pish can coexist peacefully.

In the more controversial category…

God smelt backwards is dog.

A gay that will live in infamy.

Hoist by his own retard.

In the name of the father and of the sin and of the holy…”

By the Curmudgeon..

Life’s but a wanking shadow.

God helps those who hemp themselves.

A game of two calves.

Chunderbirds are Go!

Shaven, not stirred