An Incomprehensible Intelligence
Photo by Timeastor/Wikimedia Commons

An Incomprehensible Intelligence

On Social Media and Inner Fantasies
Aleksei Morozov
time 11 minutes

“Among the stars we shall face the unknown.” The pathos of Lem’s prose was what people do when they face something they can’t understand. He saw that as civilization advances, these moments would come more and more often. In this, he was right. It turns out that humankind didn’t even need to go deep into outer space to meet alien intelligence it can’t fully comprehend. In fact, you’re probably holding it in your hand right now.  

Solaris is arguably Stanisław Lem’s best known and most influential work, and Andrei Tarkovsky’s film version obviously played a significant part in its popularity, in spite of the fact that Lem was notoriously dissatisfied with the script. To reiterate common knowledge, the Polish writer disagreed with the Russian director’s focus on human characters, their back stories, and interactions (“Crime and Punishment in outer space”), and felt that not enough attention was given to the main hero, the mindful ocean with superpowers: what exactly it was, what precisely it was doing, and why? These questions aren’t easy. Solaris could be seen as a metaphor of God, who is, for a change, there and even answers prayers. If he believed it possible, wouldn’t this be what Kris would be praying for: to have Harey back? But I’m probably too godless to fully comprehend all the


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Illustration by Joanna Grochocka


The Illusory Worlds of Stanisław Lem
Piotr Paziński

But what if the world around us is merely an illusion? On the occasion of the centenary of Stanisław Lem’s birth, we recall a few disturbing visions from the works of this exceptionally gifted writer.

“What can a person connected to a phantomatic generator experience? Everything. He can climb the Alps, wander around the Moon without a spacesuit or an oxygen mask, conquer medieval towns or the North Pole while heading a committed team and wearing shining armor.”¹ When he wrote these words (published in his weighty tome of scientific essays entitled Summa technologiae, 1964) and fantasized about the directions taken by technological development that would allow people to pass imperceptibly into a fictional world, Stanisław Lem already had to his name several novels and short stories, in which he had successfully explored problems of phantomology, and was still to produce several more. Not all of his visions resemble benign role-playing games. For Lem, virtual reality usually had a much darker aspect.

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