Learning Module 6 Discussion 1: Mystery
When discussing the first two chapters of Solaris, it should be noted that elements of both science fiction and mystery can be found. Yet, it is remarkable that in these chapters science fiction just creates the background for the mystery of the plot that unfolds in this part of the novel. So, for example, the futuristic setting of space stations and space travel clearly suggests that the genre is science fiction. Yet, the focus is not on the setting but on the events that took place in the station before Kelvin's arrival. So, there is an element of mystery as the question "what has actually happened in the location?" is posed by the narrator and is now the reader's concern too. The character discovers some facts to which he cannot find answers, like for instance how exactly and why Gibarian died and what happened after that. This kind of plot structure is based on elements of detective story and its investigation, so despite the futuristic setting mystery is more visible in these chapters. Besides, there is an air of suspense, for instance, it is easy to see it in the dialogue between Snow and Kelvin:
- "Nothing will happen. But don't forget I warned you"
- "Don't be mysterious. What's all this about?"
- "Keep a hold on yourself. Be prepared to meet..anything"( Lem 10)
The mystery of the story is reinforced by the idea that the narrator faces informational vacuum, which creates the atmosphere of suspense. He has to deal with little pieces of facts and hints, so to a large extent, he should act like a detective, which is typical of the mystery genre.The tension reaches its peak by the end of the second chapter when the unknown is trying to open the door and Kelvin prevents them from doing so.
Learning Module 6 Discussion 2: Responding to "Rheya"
The arrival of Rheya is the actual incarnation of Kelvin's guilt and remorse about his own role in her suicide. It is natural that her first arrival is more extreme and shocking for Kelvin, so when he discovers that what he thought was a dream is quite real his strategy is to defend themselves of the painful visit of the ghost is to escape or to get rid of her. As he confesses, " I am a prisoner, caught in an absurd trap from which at all costs I was determined to escape" (Lem p.60). He is unable to deal with her as a real person, even though she does not remember any circumstances of her death and negative episodes from their relationship. Kelvin is scared because the supernatural events are beyond his control, so he finds nothing better to do than to deceive her and to let her fly alone into space by launching a rocket. Yet, her another incarnation is what he has to face during her next visit when her memory is erased but when she is better aware of her new nature. In his turn, Kelvin recovers from the shock and he realizes that he is still in love with his wife no matter who she is. This time he does not want to get rid of her but wants to explore her, so she takes her blood for analysis. In fact, the response of Kelvin to Rheya's second visit is insane in many ways but at that same time, it is more humane.
Learning Module 6 Discussion 3: Berton and the Station
According to Messenger, Fechner was the first victim of the Ocean. He was the first who faced the phenomenon of reconstruction: his own memories and elements of the subconscious were reproduced by the Ocean, which embodied them into materialized creatures. The same situation was for Kelvin and his companions, each of whom had to face the incarnation of their own emotions or desires- in other words of strong, suppressed impulses that gave energy to protoplasmic Ocean to reconstruct them in reality and to attach extreme power to them. In a sense, Kelvin was luckier than other members of the Station because his challenge was a woman he once loved, so eventually, his love recovered and ousted the pain that was the case at the beginning when he saw the new Rheya as a tool for torture. Yet, it was a different case for other members of the crew who continued their attempts to destroy their guests because they were incarnations of their erotic desires, which could never be fulfilled. When exploring the nature of the phantoms, the researchers come to the conclusion that their atomic structure is quite different from the human one, and this makes them so powerful and practically immortal in the scope of the Ocean's sphere of influence. They are said to consist of neutrinos, different types of particles. The question is whether this Ocean's activity is intentional or accidental, which would mean that people's mind is the source of hallucinations and creating phantoms based on people's hallucination is just a natural reaction for the Solaris.
Learning Module 6 Discussion 4: Hypotheses?
Based on the previously discussed information, the hypothesis about the protoplasmic influence of the Ocean is true. There is an idea that this protoplasm is still of intellectual nature and that its influence on human beings is not accidental. In fact, when Kelvin believes that it would be right for them to stay longer in the station because even though they would not learn more about the Ocean, they would definitely discover more about themselves, might reflect the purpose of the Solaris' intelligence. So, it can be suggested that the purpose of sending "visitors" to the crew is to challenge them with an opportunity of exploring the limits of their own nature. The Phantoms are indeed based on their most secret and painful memories and wishes, so the Ocean gives them another chance to deal with their own phantoms and to explore their limits. Not all of the station can cope with the task, yet they go a long way in dealing with the challenge. It is also remarkable that eventually, Snow realizes that the intentions of the Ocean were positive and he tries to convince Kelvin of this as well. He believes that it was the purpose of the Ocean to present the dearest and the most intimate gifts to people by exposing their memories and materializing what had otherwise had no chance to be materialized.