Problematyka miłosna w twórczości Stanisława Lema

Piotr Krywak


[The Problems Related to Love in the Works by Stanislaw Lem]

The author of this article refers critically to the opinions proclaimed by literature specialists that Stanislaw Lem is a writer who deals solely with "manly" issues and avoids love problems. According to him, the discussed writer draws upon them more frequently than it would appear. However, in the hierarchy of issues, which he touches upon, love occupies a more remote place, indeed constituting one of the many pretexts to philosophise about the limitations of Reason.
An analysis of Lem's literary output shows that his views on man's cognitive abilities evolve from optimism to pessimism. Scepticism emerges already in the novel Solaris (1960), which contains the words quoted at the beginning, that science answers the question how things happen, and not why. Therefore, it seems logical that also in the case of love, it is able to describe the phenomenon, but not to explain it. Considering the failure of its efforts, it may turn out that the only form of man's activity giving hope of a full explanation seems to be art, within which, instead of the scientific truth, the author seeks the so-called artistic truth. The review of the most important works by Lem, carried out by the author, reveals that the way in which the writer treats the subject of love is clearly changing over the years. In the first phase, continued until mid-fifties, love proves to be a universal cure for the illness of the soul brought by the conflict between the Reason and the world. The analysis of the mental condition of an individual demonstrates the base on which existential anxieties are generated, and allows effective therapy leading finally to alleviation of pain and acceptance of reality. In the second phase (comprising mainly the sixties), Lem - seeking more original formulation of the problem (Solaris) - demonstrates helplessness of psychoanalysis in extreme situations caused by the complexity of nature of the universe. The analytical processes again prove to be the method, which leads to a correct diagnosis, but is unable to indicate the cure. In extreme conditions, when it cannot be fulfilled, love loses its therapeutic power, because the factors causing the anxiety of Reason are irremovable and fail to submit to its influence. Consequently, it returns to what prevents it from achieving mental comfort that is to asking the fundamental questions, which, however, remain unanswered. The existential fear returns. It happens so in the works in which love issues are treated seriously. Although it functions as a pretext to discuss the powerlessness of Reason, the maintenance of the traditionally literary form of discourse seems to indicate that the writer has not lost his faith in the sense of seeking the truth though art yet. On the other hand, in the humorous stories created parallel to the above, Lem discredits various conventions of describing love set by the tradition, suggesting that none of them allows to answer the question, what love is. Thus, he confirms the faith in the sense of seeking unconventional expressions. A peculiar demonstration of powerlessness of literature is a slightly later story Mask (1974), in which the discussed feeling is presented in several changing conventions, without obtaining answers to any of the questions pervading the Reason. In the third phase, the last one, Lem abandons the story in traditional form; reduced to a summary and distant from the reader thanks to the peculiar narrative perspective (me-ta-language). The theme of love becomes solely a pretext for a pessimistic reflection on the limitations of human cognition. Science and art bring only the description of such phenomena as love, but they are unable to explain them. Thus, neither one nor the other cures the existential anxieties; on the contrary, they augment them.

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Lem Stanisław; twórczość

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