Read ➪ Memoirs Found in a Bathtub Author Stanisław Lem – Bassgrotto.co.uk

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub The Year Is , And A Vast Paper Destroying Blight Papyralysis Has Obliterated Much Of The Planet S Written History However, These Rare Memoirs, Preserved For Centuries In A Volcanic Rock, Record The Strange Life Of A Man Trapped In A Hermetically Sealed Underground Community Translated By Michael Kandel And Christine Rose


10 thoughts on “Memoirs Found in a Bathtub

  1. says:

    When you jump for joy, beware that no one moves the ground from beneath your feet Stanis aw LemIf you are up for writing with ample helpings of the polyglotomatic and metapsychodelic, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, Stanislaw Lem s 1961 novel of screwball bureaucratic misadventure will most certainly stir your brainwaves and set your neural neurons fizzing What a polyglot and metaphysician was our author fluent in Polish, Latin, German, French, English, Russian, Ukrainian, Lem s expertise ran When you jump for joy, beware that no one moves the ground from beneath your feet Stanis aw LemIf you are up for writing with ample helpings of the polyglotomatic and metapsychodelic, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, Stanislaw Lem s 1961 novel of screwball bureaucratic misadventure will most certainly stir your brainwaves and set your neural neurons fizzing What a polyglot and metaphysician was our author fluent in Polish, Latin, German, French, English, Russian, Ukrainian, Lem s expertise ranged from medicine and biology, physics and astronomy, mathematics and robotics to philosophy, literature and linguistics And added to this intellectual mix, such a protean imagination numerous collections of highly provocative essays, dozens of short stories and seventeen science fiction novels, many judged among the best within the genre A twelve page Introduction part of the novel written hundreds of years into the future outlines how this manuscript, Notes from the Neogene, or itscommonly known title, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, is a precious relic from Earth s ancient past, a period of decline which directly preceded the great Collapse, a time when paper was used extensively for writing Among the numerous documented facts alluded to by this archaeologist of the future in his quest to discover the reasons behind the demise of that paper centered, bathroom centered, ancient civilization is a thriving cult revolving around Kap Eh Taahl, a deity denied supernatural existence Yes, Kap Eh Taahl is Capital, one example of how the Introduction, scholarly and authoritative in tone, is a Stanislaw Lem ish tour de force of word play, word blending, punning, spoonerisms, neologisms, double entendre, tongue twisters and tongue in cheek Nevertheless these introductory remarks are picture perfect as a set up to frame the narrative that follows, an extensive firsthand report authored by a newly assigned secret agent caught in an unending network of offices, corridors, stairs, elevators and bathrooms forming part of a vast underground military compound If this strikes you as a Kafkaesque parable of little guy versus big bureaucracy, you hit the bulls eye much of the spirit of Lem s novel is captured in the above Jaroslav Rona sculpture located in Prague with natty Franz Kafka atop a headless, handless giant In the very first paragraph our disoriented narrator tells us he can t locate the proper room amid multiple levels of departments and offices in this Pentagon like Building as he attempts to press through crowds of marching military personnel, disguised agents and preoccupied secretaries Kafka s An Imperial Message comes immediately to mind, a tale where a messenger sent by the Emperor is trying to bring a special message for you alone but the messenger must push through a solid mass of humanity in an outer courtyard only to find another horde of people in the next courtyard blocking his way and so it continues, such that, alas, you will never receive your message Anybody who has ever been obliged to deal with a bloated administrative system will hear a familiar ring The narrator wends his way to the office of powerfully built, bald, old General Kashenblade, Commander in Chief, only to be given an unidentified special mission Thequestions he asks about the specifics of his mission, theindecipherable the explanations, even moving out to the stars, as when the old man pontificates, And the spiral nebulae Well Don t tell me you don t know what that means SPY ral And the expanding universe, the retreating galaxies Where are they going What are they running from And the Doppler shift to the red Highly suspicious noA clear admission of guilt Such decidedly cerebral passages are reminiscent of another classic where imagination and erudite fancy mix with elements of physics, mathematics, astronomy and other sciences t zero by Italo Calvino Lem s polyglot background frequently shines through with a light touch, a real treat for readers who enjoy heady subjects and brain teasers mixed in with their fiction Next stop, we follow our earnest special agent, now a man on a mission, to the main office where he is approached by a young officer who introduces himself as Lieutenant Blanderdash, the Chief s undercover aide Whoa, Stanislaw Was that Blanderdash or Balderdash Blanderdash proceeds to ask the agent if he yawns or snores the department lost many people by snoring before leading him to the Department of Collections to view, along with a multitude of other absurdities, cabinets with millions of cuff links and glass cases filled with artificial ears, noses, bridges, fingernails, warts, eyelashes, boils and humps Given such a display no pun intended of government and military intelligence brings to mind Moscow 2042 and other comic masterpieces by Vladimir Voinovich Such a sharp satirical needle too bad the archaeologist examining these memoirs assumes the narrator is entirely serious and completely reliable He s missing out on much of the irony and dark humor I m reminded yet again of another author, Lewis Carroll and his Alice in Wonderland, most especially the Mad Hatter s tea party For theI turned the pages, theI had the feeling special agent Undereavesdropper Blassenkash in Chapter 2 he answers to this title and name is trapped in a building filled with a stream of Mad Hatters spouting sheer indecipherable nonsense I actually found this one of theamusing andtelling aspects of the tale since the madness is accentuated by our unfortunate narrator forever remaining the serious, formal straight man Perhaps agent Blassenkash finally comes to understand the underlying meaning of what s going on either all of this is a test for him to pass in his capacity as agent, or fanfare tooted by Alice s White Rabbit on his tiny trumpet everyone is a raving lunatic Or, maybe he has been misled by enemy spies that have infiltrated the Building Or, then again, his very presence in the Building is, in fact, his mission Or a dozen other possibilities You will have to read for yourself to decipher the code However, be aware there could bethan one code As a head Building official explains, Now, there are calling codes, stalling codes, departmental codes, special codes, and you ll like this, he grinned, they re changed every day Each section, of course, has its own system, so the same word or name will have a different meaning on different levels Stanis aw Lem, age 50, at his typewriter in Krak w, Poland, 1971


  2. says:

    Madness it s ALL madness.I imagine all fans of this book to look something like this The question now becomes, am I a fan I really don t know how to rate this book After finishing this book I wanted to chuck it out the window 2 days wasted I thought Nothing but madness andmadness Then todayof it made sense, by of course, not making sense you re picturing the crazy cat as my face now, aren t you I do understand the book however, and I suppose this is why I am writing t Madness it s ALL madness.I imagine all fans of this book to look something like this The question now becomes, am I a fan I really don t know how to rate this book After finishing this book I wanted to chuck it out the window 2 days wasted I thought Nothing but madness andmadness Then todayof it made sense, by of course, not making sense you re picturing the crazy cat as my face now, aren t you I do understand the book however, and I suppose this is why I am writing this review I felt no one has understood it deeply enough, only barely skimming the surface This is the point in this review where you raise your left eye brow, look at me and ask oh really now smarty pants what is the meaning then.I ll tell you what it is Looks around paranoid and whispers there is no spoon.In the movieThe Matrix Neo enters the apartment of the Oracle, where he spots a child bending spoons with its mind When Neo picks up the spoon, the child saysDo not try to bend the spoon, that s impossible Insteadtry to realize the truth There is no spoon Then you will see that it is not the spoon that bends, only yourselfHuh I hear you say Exactly I nod keep reading my friend __________________________________________________________The PlotThe plot on the surface is quite simple yet completely maddening It is a story of a confined universe, aka The Building, an underground secret facility where all the American elites and their body guards the army have hid themselves following a world crisis Humourously, Lem writes this world stopping crisis as a disintegration of all paper in the world, but it could very well have been a plague, an economic collapse, or a revolution I m glad he s chosen paper, it makes the book a bit less heavy than it could have been Being completely closed off and forgotten, the people in the building became a universe onto itself, a world within a world Naturally, because they were paranoid their paranoia in a confined space begins to consume itself, like a snake eating its tail, the Ouroboros of total insanity and claustrophobic madness The protagonist of this mad world is a nameless person, most likely a man who s spy adventures and misadventures we follow throughout the building The man s mission is so secret that even he himself doesn t know what it is He attempts to unravel the mystery but he cannot, as everyone is a spy like him, on a senseless mission to keep everyone occupied.At the end of the book view spoiler he finds a man he once met, dead in a bathtub The protagonist himself grabs the razor that was used on the other man, and presumably, commits suicide Does he actually do it, or does the catastrophe get him first That is up to the reader to decide Like I said, there is no spoon hide spoiler.____________________________________________________________ What does it all mean When I say that there is no spoon, I mean that the point of this book is that there is no meaning The point is that all there is, is items and we are trapped in this world, making our own meaning out of itDo not try to bend the spoonfind meaning , that s impossible Insteadtry to realize the truth There is no spoon. meaning.Only when we understand that meaning is all interpretation, a completely individual experience, then we realize that there is no meaning because it s all made up individually as we go along based on our assumptions and experiences much like the missions in The Building Only then can we abandon the search for meaning, which is the only liberation from the madness of meaning itself and hence, the world.What I think happens view spoiler I think this book is about a gay man who falls in love with the rebel spy he meets in the bathroom He eventually goes on on further missions where he meets a priest who proposes they have their own conspiracy of 2 i.e have a relationship but the protagonist cannot go through with it because he can t let go of the first man He tries to free himself of his world by attempting to go out the front door but he ultimately fails and goes back trying to find the first man He finds him nude in the bathtub with the throat slashed i.e murdered, possibly due to homophobia Being unable to cope with this, the protagonist writes his suicide note the whole story in his mad, psychotic narrative and commits suicide himself hide spoiler Interesting Stray Observations I think this book is not about cold war, it s too easy to say that I think it s interesting how women are like furniture in this book or probablylike coffee makers in skirts I didn t like the analogies to nature I felt these people were trapped in this enormous bunker for a long time, most likely even born there, hence they would not be able to relate to this living world.But then again, what do I know After all, there is no spoon view spoiler update 03 05 12 after much thought I realised that I often think back to this book, hence despite me wanting so passionately to destroy it when I was reading it, I now often think fondly of the madness I know, I became the cat meow P Oh well 4 stars it is hide spoiler


  3. says:

    Kafka on ProzacMemoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanslaw Lem follows the adventures of an agent in training as he wanders in search of a mission through the vast bureaucracy of a purposeless intelligence agency.The agent is anonymous But we can call him K because the story, the style, and the absurdist message are drawn directly from Kafka esp The castle K is an everyman, and his agency is an allegory for society Ostensibly, the agency is the post apocalyptic remnant of America, but it feel Kafka on ProzacMemoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanslaw Lem follows the adventures of an agent in training as he wanders in search of a mission through the vast bureaucracy of a purposeless intelligence agency.The agent is anonymous But we can call him K because the story, the style, and the absurdist message are drawn directly from Kafka esp The castle K is an everyman, and his agency is an allegory for society Ostensibly, the agency is the post apocalyptic remnant of America, but it feels entirely European.The theme of the Memoirs is that one s search for individual identity i.e the mission is distracted by reflections of the self in other people Social interaction discloses layer upon layer of identity like the numberless floors of the agency s building but no essential purpose Such a search wraps the individual tighter and tighter in a web of conformity.In the end, K can no longer imagine leaving the building He becomes incapable of even attempting a mission, should he ever find one Even his human rebelliousness turns into tragically reflexive conformity.Lem s narrative style conveys serious ideas using a simple narrative prose and pervasive, but understated humor In this respect, Lem writes like Kafka on Prozac with clearer ideas, faster pace, andfun For me, this is the best aspect of the book.The worst aspect of the book is the introduction I advise the reader to skip it with the intro included, my recommendation drops by at least one star It places the Memoirs in a sophomoric and entirely unnecessary SciFi context and draws the connection with America I speculate that the introduction was added to satisfy censors in 1961 Poland


  4. says:

    This book blew my mind I had to scream after I put it down It is the story of a man who doesn t know his mission, who is on the outside of an inside joke Everything is in code, even the code is in code, and everybody is a double, triple, quadruple oragent Or maybe they just make up their jobs and go about doing them there is no way to know.This book is a tragedy in the sense that it is a comedy about someone who ultimately fails In comedy, the hero always succeeds at the end, in greek This book blew my mind I had to scream after I put it down It is the story of a man who doesn t know his mission, who is on the outside of an inside joke Everything is in code, even the code is in code, and everybody is a double, triple, quadruple oragent Or maybe they just make up their jobs and go about doing them there is no way to know.This book is a tragedy in the sense that it is a comedy about someone who ultimately fails In comedy, the hero always succeeds at the end, in greek theater.Highbrow science fiction, so far beyond genre that it is actually literature


  5. says:

    With the Futurological Congress the most outlandish and grotesque novel of Lem i have read and perhaps the most of all i have read in my life.What a mix,surpassing all them,of Lewis Carroll,Kafka and Dick,he takes the logic to the absurd extreme as Caroll,builds a grotesque senseles burocratic world as Kafka and transmits a sense of nigmarish irreality as Dick,a real irreality without the need od drugsAfter a ancient plague that have destroyed all the paper and by that the histhory records ,in n With the Futurological Congress the most outlandish and grotesque novel of Lem i have read and perhaps the most of all i have read in my life.What a mix,surpassing all them,of Lewis Carroll,Kafka and Dick,he takes the logic to the absurd extreme as Caroll,builds a grotesque senseles burocratic world as Kafka and transmits a sense of nigmarish irreality as Dick,a real irreality without the need od drugsAfter a ancient plague that have destroyed all the paper and by that the histhory records ,in near the 4000 year the histhorians have a fragmentary record of the near to day civilization named the Neogene.After a hilarant historian satyra over the ideologic fight between capitalism and comunism the histhorians find in a big bunker in the Rocky Mountains named the Last Pentagon flooded by magma a memoirs written by a inhabitant of the building closed to the rest of the world in a claustrophobic militaristic extreme burocratic society.Narrated in first person by a man without name in a unfrutuous search of the class and meaning of a mission ordered to him, he makes a narration of a world where the characters each oneabsurd ,each one in search of his existential meaning,in a chaotic organization.Lem carries the reality to the most extreme senseles,create delirant neologisms,create outlandish concepts as the desemantizacion of the words,the nested layers of encripted normal languaje,the nested layers of truth and spy in a paranoic esquizofrenic paradise.There is a duality beween the Building and a next Antibuilding with simetric interchangeable roles with perhaps a deeper open meaning.The building is the absolut maze where the characters are lost in search of his existential meaning.The book is open to several interpretations,possibly a alegoria of the despersonaliced , paranoic and senseles world of his sovietic orbit natal Poland.A unique original, nigmarish,grotesque and full of bleak humor postapocaliptic distopia.A strongly recomended masterwork in its genre


  6. says:

    this book is fucked up i don t usually say that about books but this one is wicked fucked up i listened to an audiobook version that left the introduction out and that made it even weirder basically this dude comes into existence in a cold war era underground government bunker and has to find out what his mission is but he s stuck in the place that drives you mad from that asterix movie so he just runs around for a while trying to navigate the insane mazes of political intrigue before realizi this book is fucked up i don t usually say that about books but this one is wicked fucked up i listened to an audiobook version that left the introduction out and that made it even weirder basically this dude comes into existence in a cold war era underground government bunker and has to find out what his mission is but he s stuck in the place that drives you mad from that asterix movie so he just runs around for a while trying to navigate the insane mazes of political intrigue before realizing that the structure of the building has completely sealed it off from the world and nothing within the bunker relates to anything outside at all and nothing that anyone says has any particular meaning i listened to most of this on a train in germany and at the end of the trip i wanted to throw myself on the tracks 4 5


  7. says:

    Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is a strange novel, but its strangeness feels somehow familiar It reminded me of Ishiguro s The Unconsoled, Kadare s The Palace of Dreams, the Terry Gilliam film Brazil , and Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There It would probably also remind me of Kafka s The Trial, if I d read it I am going to the library s copy never seems to be on the shelf First published in 1971, Lem s novel is an unsettling satire on the Cold War, in which an intellige Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is a strange novel, but its strangeness feels somehow familiar It reminded me of Ishiguro s The Unconsoled, Kadare s The Palace of Dreams, the Terry Gilliam film Brazil , and Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There It would probably also remind me of Kafka s The Trial, if I d read it I am going to the library s copy never seems to be on the shelf First published in 1971, Lem s novel is an unsettling satire on the Cold War, in which an intelligence agency the CIA has retreated into a massive underground bunker The narration begins abruptly, in the middle of a sentence, without introducing the narrator He seems to be an agent of some sort, tasked with an important mission that no one is willing or able to explain to him He travels from office to office, encounters a bizarre array of obfuscating persons and attempts to discern what the hell is going on There are some recurring themes relating to astronomy and free will, as well as a framing conceit of the memoirs as a rare document recovered thousands of years later By this point almost all paper has been obliterated by an epidemic of some sort, so historians struggle to understand what was going just on much as the narrator does.The narrative has considerable momentum, closely resembling an anxiety dream in which you re late, lost, and obscurely to blame for something Thus it isn t the most pleasant thing to read, although some of the writing is beautiful Certain incidents are merely farcical or grotesque, but others feel profound My favourite moment was this, towards the end A priest You turned me over to Major Erms You only wear a cassock to hide the uniform And do you only a wear a body to hide the skeleton Try to understand I am hiding nothing You say I betrayed you But everything here is illusion betrayal, treason, even omniscience for omniscience is not only impossible, but quite unnecessary when its counterfeit suffices, a fabrication of stray reports, allusions, words mumbled in one s sleep or retrieved from the latrines It is not omniscience but the faith in that matters I wasn t entirely satisfied with the ending, though


  8. says:

    This book is NOT science fiction It is Kafka meets Lewis Carroll meets Alain Robbe Grillet A story of a nameless man, seemingly trapped in an underground Building of many levels, with all of the attributes of a long, long suffocating dream, a tale with its own internal logic but utterly outside anything rational or real Written and published in Polish in 1961, translated into English in 1973 and dismissed by yours truly in 2016 as a WTF entry on my bookshelves with a hallowed place betw This book is NOT science fiction It is Kafka meets Lewis Carroll meets Alain Robbe Grillet A story of a nameless man, seemingly trapped in an underground Building of many levels, with all of the attributes of a long, long suffocating dream, a tale with its own internal logic but utterly outside anything rational or real Written and published in Polish in 1961, translated into English in 1973 and dismissed by yours truly in 2016 as a WTF entry on my bookshelves with a hallowed place between Zen and the Art of Diesel Typewriter Maintenance and 20,000 Wanks Under the Sheet Hands down, this is the craziest novel I have ever read The introduction or prologue, such as it is, is a teaser that is clumsily grafted onto the main story Ostensibly written in 3149, the prologue introduces the memoirs as having been found in a bathtub in an ancient underground military like facility destroyed by a volcanic eruption roughly 1600 years previous to their find The prologue dwells on a cataclysmic event in earlier millennia in which a virus, accidentally introduced by space travelers returning from one of the moons of Uranus, destroyed all of the paper on Earth and all of humanity s knowledge, bringing chaos, anarchy and a new Dark Age The memoirs and their discovery are mentioned almost as an afterthought Written in 1961, the fictional paper cataclysm is eerily prescient of what would probably result in the wake of an electromagnetic pulse following one ornuclear detonations over one orcontinents I have wanted to read this book for several decades, after I had read Solaris I wanted and expected to be entertained, enlightened, and that I would walk away a better person for the experience Unfortunately, I am none of these, although, looking on the bright side, I can at last check this one off my bucket list 3 stars here, because I know it took considerable talent to conceive and execute the novel, and craftsmanship deserves a respectful nod However, I suspect Lem s editor was a catatonic by the time the manuscript went to print Everything has its cost


  9. says:

    Funnier than Kafka,flippant than Heller, Lem mocks and satirizes a bloated bureaucratic military complex where nobody knows what anybody is doing, not even themselves All told, it s a pretty brilliant solution to prevent espionage if everything is misinformation, then nothing can fall into the enemy s hands Right SoI had considered myself the center of the universe, the bull s eye, so to speak, for all the slings and arrows the Building had to offer and all along I was nothing, j Funnier than Kafka,flippant than Heller, Lem mocks and satirizes a bloated bureaucratic military complex where nobody knows what anybody is doing, not even themselves All told, it s a pretty brilliant solution to prevent espionage if everything is misinformation, then nothing can fall into the enemy s hands Right SoI had considered myself the center of the universe, the bull s eye, so to speak, for all the slings and arrows the Building had to offer and all along I was nothing, just one of a series, another copy, a stereotype, trembling in all the places my predecessors trembled, repeating like a record player exactly the same words, feelings, thoughts My melodramatic actions, the sudden impulses, false starts, surprises, moments of inspiration, each successive revelation all of it, chapter and verse, including this present moment, was in the instructions no longer my instructions, they weren t made for meSo if this was neither a test nor a Mission, nor chaos what was left Were they all crazy Were they out to make me crazy too Then everything would be fine, for if everyone s crazy, no one s crazyBut where was it all heading 124 5 stars out of 5 Yeah, it s a little bit juvenile, mostly goofy, and very over the top And the whole paper blight introduction didn t really need to be there But if you think about it you ll realize it s really a secretly coded message about life and living in an over informed, media saturated society I swear And all that stuff is right up my alley


  10. says:

    Somewhere between Kafka and PKD by way of Pynchon s Tristero style conspiratorialism a fever dream of the eternal Cold War between the individual and the mass of the universe pressing down on them in all its chaos, meaningful or not.