pg. 73: "She had never loved him, I thought, and as Father had not been rooted in any woman's heart, he could not merge with any reality and was there...morepg. 73: "She had never loved him, I thought, and as Father had not been rooted in any woman's heart, he could not merge with any reality and was therefore condemned to float eternally on the periphery of life, in half-real regions, on the margins of existence."
pg. 118: "As a matter of fact, there are many books. The Book is a myth in which we believe when we are young, but which we cease to take seriously as we get older."
pg. 203: "I cannot answer for my dreams."
pg. 207: "No one has ever charted the topography of a July night. It remains unrecorded in the geography of one's inner cosmos."
pg. 290: "I feel: this is life. Everyone is stuck within himself, within the day to which he wakes up, the hour which belongs to him, or the moment. . . . Time deceived by silence flows backward for a while, retreats, and in these uncounted moments night returns and swells the undulating fur of a cat."
pg. 319: "The spirit of nature was by its very essence a great storyteller. Out of its core the honeyed discourse of fables and novels, romances and epics, flowed in an irresistible stream. The whole atmosphere was absolutely stuffed full of stories. You only needed to lay a trap under this sky full of ghosts to catch one, set a wooden post upright in the wind for strips of narrative to be caught fluttering on its tip."
I'm not the sort of person who dog-ears books (I have been known to pen-mark the text, but dog-ear'ing was never my thing), but I couldn't help but put a few on the corners as I read this, where moments in the prose struck me as especially poignant (found all but one too!). I first read "Cinnamon Shops" back in my sophomore year of college, hurriedly, rather drinking in the text, hoping I could get to the end before they opened house, and then saw a very bizarre movement-heavy play based on Schulz's work. Fortunately, the story stuck with me better than the play (of which I only remember really weird scattered moments and was called something like "Republic of Dreams under the Sign of the Crocodile" or some such amalgamation), and the dreaminess of the text read in haste in the lobby of a rustic barn on a cold winter's night will always stick with me. Even more so than the old man in the white tutu shouting something unintelligible while standing on a wardrobe that was being pushed downstage.
It would be interesting to read this in the original Polish, because the translator did a really fabulous job at keeping the language beautiful, and I wonder what it would "sound" like in the original.(less)
The copy I found at the Strand is not actually the full Manuscript--it's current to the 1950s/1960s when only a few portions had been found, instead o...moreThe copy I found at the Strand is not actually the full Manuscript--it's current to the 1950s/1960s when only a few portions had been found, instead of the full 60-some days in the life of Alphonse van Worden (in fact, the title's a prime example of a mistranslation that you find a lot in older translations, much like the difference in translations of The Stranger). My guess is that this was the edition used in the making of the movie, being contemporary, and that the rest of the tale was found afterward. That being said, I found myself comparing the plot to the movie, trying to see what was similar and what I misremembered, having only seen slightly over half of the movie and that was 3 years ago by now. Can't wait to read the rest of Alphonse's journeys!
Kinda skimmed through the Avadoro, as I was on the bus between NYC and Boston, didn't really know what was going on in the stories or what exactly they related to, where they fit in the Manuscript, and the guy behind me didn't have his headphones in so I had to wear mine in order not to listen to his music. Whatever.(less)
Not exactly what I was expecting. Not that I'm saying I didn't like it, but it definitely was not what I was expecting, being more of a PKD person. Th...moreNot exactly what I was expecting. Not that I'm saying I didn't like it, but it definitely was not what I was expecting, being more of a PKD person. The ideas were interesting, especially the idea of an imperfect god Kelvin puts forward in the end, but his main theme of "it is impossible to understand or even make contact with alien life" seemed redundant (though, this is one of Lem's main themes, anyway). Or maybe it was redundant because I knew that was the theme? Hard to say.
Anyway, the story was interesting as long as something was happening. When things stopped happening, however, then it would start to lose me. This might also be because I read a great percentage of it while backstage, and then sitting in a mechanic's lobby w/ a very loud TV blaring about the Superbowl and all the other people in the lobby giving their two cents about the Saints and "who dat" this and "who dat" that . . . but I digress. There are several moments in the book (two or three times? I don't remember for sure) where Kelvin/Lem goes off on this long explanation of the history of Solaris and Solarist studies, which I found only interesting for the sheer fact that Lem had actually created an entire microcosm of a universe for this book. Just the amount of information he created about Solaris to give backstory or whatever was ASTOUNDING. I'm not even really sure why it was there. I guess backstory? I don't think it really gave away any information about the planet, but maybe supposedly it was supposed to give us an insight into the world of Solaris or something, but for a book that was only 200-some pages long, to have that much of a bibliography that you created, I mean really, that takes a helluva lot of thought and effort. And all very scientific, too, I might add. It almost kind of read like a literature review with some narrative mixed in, except all the literature he reviewed does not actually exist. Because it is part of the story. It's pretty mind-blowing.
And I think it might've been this scientific analysis of Solaris that kinda kept me from being able to identify with Kelvin as the protagonist. He seemed very static, and a good part of the time I think I was being told how he felt about things rather than saw the character react in a believable way; whenever he would talk about his relation to the psi-Rheya I just didn't buy it, it seemed fake and out of character. I also wanted more on Sartorius, because Lem doesn't really show much of him. Also, what are Snow and Sartorius' phantoms? I was more interested in that, and why they didn't talk about them (whereas Kelvin did), than in what Kelvin spent his time reading.(less)
It reads an awful lot like Solaris, in the sense that it is very rather dry hard scifi. So hard, in fact, you could easily hit your head on it, which...moreIt reads an awful lot like Solaris, in the sense that it is very rather dry hard scifi. So hard, in fact, you could easily hit your head on it, which I'm sure I did for probably half of the book. Even the parts that weren't technical descriptions I still kinda spaced out on.
Similar in some respects to PKD's The Zap Gun, what with the actual lack of "over there" enemy. Scary, in a sense, what with the paranoia, the endless...moreSimilar in some respects to PKD's The Zap Gun, what with the actual lack of "over there" enemy. Scary, in a sense, what with the paranoia, the endless corridors and white offices of the Building, the coded coded coded code and the sheer maniacal absurdity of the espionage that occurs for no reason whatsoever. Unforgivingly strange in some places. Yes, okay, there is a Kafka-esque nightmarishness to the whole thing.
What I find really interesting, thought, is where the memoirs (which we never see the protagonist actually write) fit into the story of papralysis. At first you're introduced to this world where there are no books, no receipts, no records, absolutely nothing but oral history that then has to rewrite itself (so to speak) into a digital format, but then you get to read a different history with the same sort of detachment as a scholar of the papralysis period, since what happens to our protagonist is about as foreign (I say about; for me, at any rate, glasnost and perestroika were getting underway by the time I was born, and I was two when the Wall officially started its fall, but for those who experienced the Cold War firsthand, and engaged with it, that type of paranoia would [assumedly:] be less foreign). What impact do the memoirs have on the post-papralysis society? What do they conclude from them? Why did Lem choose a paper blight as the backdrop for an espionage paranoia fable? Bureaucratic, Brazil-esque paperwork reasons? Interesting.(less)
I have to give this book an award for Best Chapter Title:
"The Fourth Sally, or How Trurl Built a Femfatalatron to Save Prince Pantagoon from the Pangs...moreI have to give this book an award for Best Chapter Title:
"The Fourth Sally, or How Trurl Built a Femfatalatron to Save Prince Pantagoon from the Pangs of Love, and How Later He Resorted to a Cannonade of Babies."
While the chapter on dragons is by far my favorite sally, mostly for the beginning theoretical explanations of how dragons cannot exist, except by bizarre partial probability equations. Ingenious.
As for Sally 1A, isn't it a bit bizarre that a robot builds the ultimate poetry machine, and that all the other robot poets are shamed by it? Considering it says, rather specifically, that machines cannot write verse (in that they have no soul, I believe it was--this was rather a lot of sallies ago)? Which is an interesting discussion point on the difference between robot and machine.
Overall, a masterpiece of science, mathematics, imagination, philosophy, theology, satire, robotkind, and humankind. An epic of the future, if Odysseus were a robot.(less)