Golem (2012)


“There are always more golems,” I wrote back in August, and here’s another. The artificial entity this time is a military computer that’s the subject of Golem XIV (1973), a science fiction story by Stanislaw Lem that was later expanded into a novel:

The book is written from the perspective of a military AI computer who obtains consciousness and starts to increase his own intelligence, moving towards personal technological singularity. It pauses its own development for a while in order to be able to communicate with humans before ascending too far and losing any ability for intellectual contact with them. During this period, Golem XIV gives several lectures and indeed serves as a mouthpiece for Lem’s own research claims. The lectures focus on mankind’s place in the process of evolution and the possible biological and intellectual future of humanity. (more)

Golem (2012) is a seven-minute film by Patrick Mccue & Tobias Wiesner which uses elaborate and detailed CGI to illustrate Lem’s story. The music is an original piece by Cliff Martinez that in its final moments echoes his score for Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris (2002). Watch it here. (Via Coudal.)

Previously on { feuilleton }
More Golems
Das Haus zur letzten Latern
Hugo Steiner-Prag’s Golem
Barta’s Golem

Weekend links 63


Polish poster by Andrzej Bertrandt for Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film of Solaris.

• Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris receives its first ever direct English translation by Bill Johnston (only on Audible for the moment), all previous editions having been sourced from a poor French translation. An all-too-common state of affairs for non-English fiction where bad or bowdlerised translations persist for years.

• Now that Minnesota politician Michelle Bachmann is running for US president it’s a good time to examine her views when (theoretically) her actions could one day impact on us all. The Daily Beast gathered together some of her worst pronouncements, including the following about gay people: “It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say that this is gay.” Her husband describes his attempts to counsel (ie: cure) gay teenagers with the words “Barbarians need to be educated.” It’s no surprise that both these people find confirmation of their views in the usual narrow interpretation of Christian doctrine. Not all American Christians are this ignorant or offensive, of course. The Heartland Proclamation calls for “an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression”.

Journalist Andrew Sullivan in 2003 proposed a label for people like Bachmann: “I have a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam.” It’s a term that ought to have more widespread use.


Czech poster for Solaris. No designer credited.

• Probing the secrets of psilocybin: “Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have zeroed in on the dose levels of the ‘sacred mushroom’ chemical capable of yielding positive, life-changing experiences, while minimizing the chance of transient negative reactions in screened volunteers under supportive, carefully monitored conditions.”

• Rick Poynor relates a visit to the Frederic Marès Museum, Barcelona, home to the 50,000 objects Marès collected over his lifetime. Further details of the collection can be found at the museum website.

In her 1969 essay “The Pornographic Imagination,” [Susan] Sontag insisted that Story of O could be correctly defined as “authentic” literature. She compared the ratio of first-rate pornography to trashy books within the genre to “another somewhat shady subgenre with a few first-rate books to its credit, science fiction.” She also maintained that like science fiction, pornography was aimed at “disorientation, at psychic dislocation.”

If so, that aim is far more interesting than what most generic “mainstream” novels set out to do. No one could describe O as predictable or sentimental. Its vision was dark and unrelenting; everything about it was extreme. Sontag also compared sexual obsession (as expressed by Réage) with religious obsession: two sides of the same coin.

Carmela Ciuraru on the story of The Story of O by Pauline Réage.

• “No hay banda! There is no band. It is all an illusion.” David Lynch will be opening a Club Silencio in Paris (Montmartre, of course). Facebook pages here and here.

• Sad to say that Chateau Thombeau is now closed but Thom has begun a more personal journal here.

• Picture galleries of the Vorticists at the Tate here and here. Related: Into the Vortex.

• Illuminated Persian pages from 1604 at BibliOdyssey.

• Tape drawings by Chris Hosmer.

• Miles Davis and co. at the Isle of Wight Festival, 1970: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4



This wonderful poster was designed by Andrzej Bertrandt for the Polish release of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film of the novel by Stanislaw Lem. Lem didn’t like the film, referring to it as “Crime and Punishment in space”, which is a fair description seeing as it’s filled with the same lengthy moral discussions as Tarkovsky’s other films.

There are more posters and pictures at the great Tarkovsky site Nostalghia.com. Also lengthy quotes and interviews about all his films:

I don’t like science fiction, or rather the genre SF is based on. All those games with technology, various futurological tricks and inventions which are always somehow artificial. But I’m interested in problems I can extract from fantasy. Man and his problems, his world, his anxieties. Ordinary life is also full of the fantastic. Life itself is a fantastic phenomenon. Fyodor Dostoievsky knew it well. That’s why I want to focus on life itself—everyday, ordinary. Because within it anything can happen. My Solaris is not after all true science fiction. Neither is its literary predecessor. What counts here is man, his personality, his very persistent bonds with planet Earth, responsibility for the times he lives in. I don’t like your typical science fiction, I don’t understand it, I don’t believe in it. The fact is when I was working on Solaris I was concerned with the same subject as in (Andrei) Rublev. Human being. These two films are only separated by the time the action is taking place.