Stanisław Lem · 286 pages
Rating: (5K votes)
“The semanticists maintained that everything depends on how you interpret the words “potato,” “is” and “moving.” Since the key here is the operational copula “is,” one must examine “is” rigorously. Whereupon they set to work on an Encyclopedia of Cosmic Semasiology, devoting the first four volumes to a discussion of the operational referents of “is.” The neopositivists maintained that it is not clusters of potatoes one directly perceives, but clusters of sensory impressions. Then, employing symbolic logic, they created terms for “cluster of impressions” and “cluster of potatoes,” devised a special calculus of propositions all in algebraic signs and after using up several seas of ink reached the mathematically precise and absolutely undeniable conclusion that 0=0.”
“A world compelled to good alone is as much a shrine to compulsion as a world compelled to evil only.
The Twenty-first Voyage”
“Something peculiar is happening to my head. I remember that my father was Barnaby, but I had another named Balaton. Unless that’s a lake in Albania.”
“The Universe is picking us off one by one. Yesterday part of the poop deck went, and with it all the toilets.”
“Reflexiona en lo que significa la muerte. Es una pérdida, trágica por irreversible. ¿A quién pierde el que muere? ¿A sí mismo? No, porque el muerto ha dejado de existir y quien no existe no puede perder nada. La muerte es asunto de los vivos: es la pérdida de un ser querido.”
“La naturaleza se preocupa únicamente por el puñado de células reproductoras de cada individuo, y manda el resto al cuerno.”
“Los seres humanos no desean la inmortalidad. Lo que quieren es, sencillamente, no morir. Quieren vivir (…) Quieren sentir la tierra bajo sus pies y ver las nubes por encima de su cabeza, amar a otras personas, estar con ellas y pensar en ellas.”
“Son dignos de compasión esos genios abortados, titanes de espíritu enano, mutilados desde el nacimiento por la naturaleza, que, en una de sus bromas siniestras, les impuso a la vez la falta de talento y el empeño de crear digno de un Leonardo; lo que la vida les trae es la indiferencia o la burla, y lo único que se puede hacer por ellos es escucharles con paciencia y fingir que su monomanía nos interesa.”
“A sword and a shotgun lay across brackets in the wall, the rhinestones that covered them glittering under the overhanging lightbulb. Ethan startled.”
“The emerging and vital truth isn’t who is more Neanderthal than whom. It’s that all peoples, everywhere, enjoyed archaic human lovers whenever they could. These DNA memories are buried deeper inside us than even our ids, and they remind us that the grand saga of how humans spread across the globe will need some personal, private, all-too-human amendments and annotations—rendezvous here, elopements there, and the commingling of genes most everywhere.”
“If there really is a complete unified theory that governs everything, it presumably also determines your actions. But it does so in a way that is impossible to calculate for an organism that is as complicated as a human being. The reason we say that humans have free will is because we can't predict what they will do.”
“I’d like to quote the lyrics of Rodgers and Hammerstein—something that’s extremely easy to do when you’re in a library near 782.14 and all those magnificent Broadway show tunes—‘I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly!’ ”
“If one is to learn to live with the dead, one must first learn to live with the living!”
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