Solaris – Stanisław Lem

I finished reading Stanisław Lem’s Solaris this weekend and was just so completely drawn into the work.  The Solaris ocean, the idea of encountering life that existed truly outside of human experience, the exploration of man’s coming to some terms with understanding what it is, and through it learning something of themselves… I had seen the 1972 Tarkovsky film adaptation some time ago, but remembered very little of it except that I thought it somewhat surreal.  I’d like to revisit the film now, and perhaps even watch the 2002 version as well.  
One of the things that I am still thinking about now is the ocean as something somewhat unaware of the humans, something that is reacting to but only mildly curious of them.  Something that just is, going on about itself, and the humans there observing, pondering. It made me think too of music, one that was not in dialogue with an audience, but something that moved along freely in time, existing, simply being, and an audience there as observers, listening and pondering the piece. In this the piece could move along in its own time, by its own set of rules, perhaps ones by which listeners may or may not understand.  
I think the music I have found most connection with has had these kinds of qualities. A co-existence in space and time, breathing and moving along, unaware of those around.  A freely living sound. 
I imagine I will revisit Solaris more than a few times in my lifetime.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am still very much deeply contemplating it…


  1. I’ve seen both of the films (the 2002 version has a very interesting soundtrack and a very beautiful woman starring in it, but not much essence in philosophical terms, i think), but have somehow managed not-to-read the book all these years. Your text has inspired me to correct this error of mine, since i feel the same way as you about the main ideas in the story. Mind you, that Lem was not happy with the Tarkovsky adaptation, either.

  2. Thanks for your comments Panos! I figured the 2002 version would not be so great, and I had heard that Lem was not happy with Tarkovsky’s adaptation. If what I remember of the movie is correct, I could certainly understand why! I think I will watch both though when I have a chance, as I’m curious and it will be interesting to compare now that I have read the book.

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