in memoriam, Stanislaw Lem, 1921-2006
We were are all left poorer today. Stanislaw Lem
will not write another word, will not open any more new doors, will not hold any more mirrors to our society. But he will still make us think, always make us think.
We knew this was coming. Best known for his 1960s novels, (Solaris, Eden, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub), Dr. Lem had ceased writing novels in 84, only to brake that vow with Eyeblink (2000), maybe his last word of farewell, certainly his last world of hope.
Together with Heinlein, K.Dick, and Vonnegut, Stanislaw Lem alone did more for culture and the elevation of the human mind than most national governments ever achieved.
Deep in a way that some find hard to follow, Stanislaw Lem was also the quintessencial European writer, armed with the wit and sagacity that so often populate his works.
During the last 40 years, he taught us to look in the mirror and laugh at ourselves - as individuals and as a species - as the only way to find perspective in a world that has long ago surpassed our boundaries of understanding.
"In my fourth year I learned to write, but had nothing of great importance to communicate by that means. The first letter I wrote to my father, from Skole, having gone there with my mother, was a terse account of how all by myself I defecated in a country outhouse that had a board with a hole."
Together with Borges and Lovecraft, he created worlds that the human mind grasps - and sometimes fails - to understand, showing us, at the same time, how much we have traversed since we left caves, and still how much road lies before us.
Another European, Antonio Machado
"camiñante, no hay camiño; se hace el camiño al andar". Stanislaw Lem showed us a way by walking it. And he will keep on showing it, wherever he is, for as long as we are here to take the steps that make the road.
Professor, for that, we thank you.