The satire of the passage quoted in the previous post only shows the more benign side of Houellebecq’s prose. His distaste for contemporary life goes beyond making fun, and even beyond breaking the strictures of political correctness. His venom goes as far as being sexist, racist, misogynistic and downright misanthropic. Is this just an author wanting to shock? Is it the voice of the characters or his own? Is he giving voice to animosities which many people feel but are usually afraid to voice? Are they attitudes from an earlier age which still course deeply in Western culture, or are they even more deeply rooted in us? Or is it just the resentment of the neglected child, angry at people in the now because they were wronged long ago. Is it the frustration of being locked in a cycle of dysfunction caused by hurt, which leads to more hurt? Continue reading
Houellebecq makes a clear connection between the individualisation, secularisation and rationalisation of society on the one hand, and the growth in New Age beliefs and practices on the other. He describes a centre in rural France which, having started as a place of hedonistic revolutionary idealism in the sixties, has turned by the nineties into a commercialised refuge for middle-aged hippy types, desperately looking for meaning and connection in their empty lives: Continue reading
Read my review of this book over several posts
I couldn’t face the desperate last minute search for Christmas presents this year. The trying to find something for people who want for nothing material, squeezed in amongst a throng of other shoppers driven by the rampant seasonal imperative to consume. So I decided to just go to a bookshop I like. I could face that. And I should be able to find a book for everyone.
As often happens when buying presents though, I also picked up a couple for myself. Holiday reading really. Something to take my mind off work, Christmas, and to cheer myself up. One book I randomly bought for myself was Michel Houellebecq’s Atomised. Well, in a way I chose badly, because this is certainly not a cheerful tome (although there is some dark humour). And although it contains a great deal of sex, it did not make me forget my work, because it happens to be largely about my current research themes. Continue reading