“At first, I couldn’t understand what worried me about it; it was only after a minute or two that I realized: this child was extraordinarily large. Enormous, in fact. Stretched out horizontally, its body rose twelve feet above the surface of the ocean, I swear. I remembered that when I touched the wave, its face was a little higher than mine, even though my cockpit must have been at least ten feet above the ocean…
It was naked — completely naked — like a newborn baby. It was wet, or I should say glossy; its skin was shiny. I was shattered. I no longer thought it was a mirage. I could see this child so distinctly. It rose and fell with the waves; but apart from this general motion, it was making other movements, and they were horrible!”
Wrote Stanislav Lem in his novel Solaris 1961. The scene that appears to be floating between dream and reality highlights the deep psychological nature of a fictive mission in outer space.
While the psychologist was trying to solve the puzzle of an intelligent faraway planet, he encountered the deepest of his fears and traumas of the past. The landscapes appeared to be models made out of yellow plaster. The fog surrounding him looked like cheese and in the center of all that he saw that gigantic infant moving in a robotic and scary manner. In other conditions, the infant would just look adorable and the cheesy fog would be as funny as children’s cartoons, but the fear dominating the scene was not generated by the forms in it, rather by the deception surrounding them.
What emotions may be generated by images and colors, depends entirely on the momentary relationship created between the observer and the observed. We tend to lock forms and symbols into concrete meanings, and while we panic if that house of cards collapses, we feel thrilled when we discover beauty leaking out of traumatic experiences, for we are the source of both of them.