“A world unto itself, a being unto itself”
“Human beings set out to encounter other worlds, other civilizations, without having fully gotten to know their own hidden recesses, their blind alleys, well shafts, dark barricaded doors”
“We head out into space, ready for anything, which is to say, for solitude, arduous work, self-sacrifice, and death. Out of modesty we don’t say it aloud, but from time to time we think about how magnificent we are. In the meantime—in the meantime, we’re not trying to conquer the universe; all we want is to expand Earth to its limits. Some planets are said to be as hot and dry as the Sahara, others as icy as the poles or tropical as the Brazilian jungle. We’re humanitarian and noble, we’ve no intention of subjugating other races, we only want to impart our values to them and in return, to appropriate their heritage. We see ourselves as Knights of the Holy Contact. That’s another falsity. We’re not searching for anything except people. We don’t need other worlds. We need mirrors. We don’t know what to do with other worlds. One world is enough, even there we feel stifled. We desire to find our own idealized image; they’re supposed to be globes, civilizations more perfect than ours; in other worlds we expect to find the image of our own primitive past. Yet on the other side there’s something we refuse to accept, that we fend off; though after all, from Earth we didn’t bring merely a distillation of virtues, the heroic figure of Humankind! We came here as we truly are, and when the other side shows us that truth—the part of it we pass over in silence—we’re unable to come to terms with it!”
“But I had no home. Earth? I thought about its great crowded buzzing cities, in which I would become lost, almost effaced, as if I’d gone through with what I wanted to do that second or third night—thrown myself into the ocean where it rocked sluggishly in the darkness. I’d drown in people.”
“If we had more of a sense of humor as a race, things might not have gone this far”
– From Solaris, Stanislaw Lem (1961).