Stanislaw Lem: The Art of Conjecturing

“In his memoir of childhood, Stanislaw Lem describes the activity that absorbed his attention around the age of twelve. The Polish science fiction writer and polymath invented an elaborate bureaucracy worthy of a pubescent Kafka, complete with passwords and paperwork, requisitions and requests, and above all, documents of authorization. In the center of the bureaucracy’s imaginary hierarchy, ‘a shape began to emerge from nothingness, a Building, a Castle unbelievably High, with a Center of Mystery never named, not even by the most daring — the place where, after passing through all the gates, halls, and guard stations, you could finally receive full authorization!’ The young Lem never tried to produce the blank form granting full authorization hidden in the files of the High Castle, but its inscrutable and ultimately inaccessible power would find many analogs in his mature fiction, from the mysterious, living sea in Solaris to the uninterpretable message from space in His Master’s Voice. But these vacant symbols, which at first seem capable of authorizing anything, invariably end up as the screens upon which characters project the content of their own minds. So it is with the void to which Lem returned again and again, the emptiest and most promising of all — the future. Only prophecy,’ Lem suggests in his volume of mock reviews, A Perfect Vacuum, can provide ‘new terrains for creativity, those in which can be found a resistance that will lend an element of menace and risk — and therewith importance and responsibility — to the situation.’ In his 1964 nonfiction volume of techno-philosophy, futurology, and cybernetic theory Summa Technologiae, newly translated into English for the first time by Joanna Zylinska, he had already tried his hand at the practice. Summa Technologiae, in Lem’s view his most important work, takes its title from Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica. Like its namesake, it attempts to provide a foundation for thought that encompasses, but is not limited to, human experience. …”
The New Inquiry
NY Times: A Century in Stanislaw Lem’s Cosmos

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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