Friday, November 26, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 10 (Stanislaw Lem)

Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Lem, Stanislaw

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books.

I'm a huge Andrei Tarkovsky fan, and his version of Solaris rates as one of my favorite films. I remember the first time I saw it. It felt like watching the paint dry and then repainting only to watch it dry again, but the images stayed with me for a long time.

I watched it again. I bought my own copy to watch again and again. It never gets old.

I tried to watch the Soderberg version, but found it almost unwatchable.

It came as a relief when I finally got around to reading the book this past summer to discover that, though it differs in many respects from Tarkovsky's film, it is just as profound, which is saying something.

from Solaris

Out of the enveloping pink mist, an invisible object emerges, and touches me. Inert, locked in the alien matter that encloses me, I can neither retreat nor turn away, and still I am being touched, my prison is being probed, and I feel this contact like a hand, and the hand recreates me. Until now, I thought I saw, but had no eyes: now I have eyes! Under the caress of the hesitant fingers, my lips and cheeks emerge from the void, and as the caress goes further I have a face, breath stirs n my chest--I exist. And recreated, I in my turn create: a face appears before me that I have never seen until now, at once mysterious and known. I strain to meet its gaze, but I cannot impose any direction on my own, and we discover one another mutually, beyond any effort of will, in an absorbed silence. I have become alive again, and I feel is if there is no limitation on my powers. This creature--a woman?--stays near me, and we are motionless. The beat of our hearts combines, and all at once, out of the surrounding void where nothing exists or can exist, steals a presence of indefinable, unimaginable cruelty. The caress that created us and which wrapped us in a golden cloak becomes the crawling of innumerable fingers. Our white, naked bodies dissolve into a swarm of black creeping things, endless, and in that infinity, no, I am infinite, and I howl soundlessly, begging for death and for an end. But simultaneously I am dispersed in all direction, and my grief expands in a suffering more acute than any waking state, a pervasive, scattered pain piercing the distant blacks and reds, hard as rock and ever-increasing, a mountain of grief visible and in the dazzling light of another world.

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