Houellebecq, in the end, does not really answer the question. Any reader, in my view, will be hard-pressed to deny that Houellebecq has identified—in passages such as this one—a crisis we all recognize. Other negative impacts would be instated for women. But, having said all this, is there any hope in Houellebecq’s oeuvre? The Elementary Particles was and continues to be a cause célèbre in France. The book instantly became a bestseller in France, Germany and Italy. Yet, it is also critique of the intellectual world. Liberalism and socialism differ when it comes to the most effective way to achieve that objective, but they do not differ in the objective itself. Because individualism makes our societies so weak (resulting, as we have seen, in an unwillingness to defend our civilization, to resist mass immigration, and even to reproduce, among other things), our society shall either regress and regenerate, or it will be replaced. Where does this liberal view of man, which has ushered in the rapid decline of Western civilization, originate? Flammarion, 2019, 352 pages. Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel acquired an air of urgency when its publication in France, at the beginning of this year, coincided with the emergence of the anti-metropolitan agitators known as les gilets jaunes. So far, a typical French novel. People who critique the Islam can get death threats or drawing Muhammed might mean blasphemy and the loss of Muslim friends. Yet we are also sad, fundamentally uprooted, always wandering, never at home, never safe—exiled, in effect, from the garden we still vaguely remember having once inhabited. To recreate embeddedness in society, the individual himself has to be embedded again. At some point in the course of their lives, all of Houellebecq’s characters are forced to acknowledge that their romantic ideals have become untenable in the modern age, since individualism has made profound, long-term relationships impossible. Michel Houellebecq was born in 1958 in La Reunion. He questions the sacred trinity of the modern worldview. Then, via desperate consumerism and sexual hedonism, to a futile, feeble cry for help into the cosmos. . In contrast to such movements stands the alternative: the conquest or replacement of our civilization by a new “metaphysical mutation.” Such a metaphysical mutation also conforms, though in a different way, to some traditionalist standard and involves the sacrifice of the individual’s desires and liberation in favor of the group. We are profoundly incapable of defining ourselves as individuals (although we think we can). Liberation, once again, hardly liberates. Sign In With Your AAJ Account For a short while he seems to recover his lust for life. 4 “La Vierge attendait dans l’ombre, calme et immarcescible. And both base their vision of society on the (unfounded but supposedly “self-evident”) principle that every individual enjoys certain “inalienable rights,” which by definition eclipse all other claims, and to which all other ties, loyalties, and connections must ultimately be subordinated. Obviously, this is critique on the Islam of the highest order. . Elle avait certainement été capable d’amour; elle aurait souhaité en être encore capable, je lui rends ce témoinage; mais cela n’était plus possible. In all of his work, from the early poems of the 1990s to his recent novels, there exists a sustained critique of contemporary neoliberal society, free trade capitalism, and radical individualism. To have a position of power would mean to convert to the Islam. Especially after the Zen workshops. Sérotonine tells the story of Florent-Claude, who grows up somewhere near Paris, trains as an agriculturalist, finds a job with Monsanto, and later works in Normandy’s cheese industry before ending up in the French Ministry of Agriculture. Slawomir Sierakowski interviewing Slavoj Žižek back in 2015 after the Charlie Hebdo murders. She had sovereignty, she had power, but little by little I felt myself losing touch, I felt her moving away from me in space and across the centuries while I sat there in my pew, shriveled and puny. Indeed, apart from implying the indispensability of a strong national state, Houellebecq indicates that two much more fundamental challenges must be overcome: our sexual and spiritual liberation. Les idées incongrues voisinent ici avec les longues réflexions muries. Dès lors qu’une mutation métaphysique s’est produite, elle se développe sans rencontrer de résistance jusqu’à ses conséquences ultimes.” Quoted from Houellebecq, Atomised, 4. Thus, the freest people who have ever lived have also come to live the least meaningful lives. Religion is not something people are able to critique easily. Et c’était voulu ! 6 “Les mutations métaphysiques—c’est-à-dire les transformations radicales et globales de la vision du monde adoptée par le plus grand nombre—sont rares dans l’histoire de l’humanité. At its best, it s like a kind of scorched-earth, and that s where the Anselm Kiefer comparison came in, the sort of ravaged canvases which just represent the terrible disruption that … Should they adapt our values and standards or is it okay to live in a multicultural society? Nowadays (definitely in Belgium) there is a lot of debate concerning the immigration of people from Muslim countries. It makes you wonder if he has played out his string as a fiction writer ... Like nearly every Houellebecq novel, Serotonin should be stamped on its spine with a tiny skull and crossbones, like you used to see on bottles of poison, to keep away the devout, the unsuspecting and the pure of heart. So yes, the modern world brought liberation. But it doesn’t last. Indeed, he actually throws out his screen and begins to think again about Thomas Mann, about Proust—about the fate of our civilization. Michel Houellebecq: a terrific fictional character. They feel the presence of the Angel or the flower blossoming within but then the workshop’s over and they’re still ugly, aging and alone. Ce quil fait en sinstallant dans un hôtel Mercure (où lon peut encore fumer) à la porte dItalie, après avoir quitté sa compagne du moment, Yuzu, une japonaise qui copule, entre autres, avec des chiens, c… The glow on the horizon fades—just like in the closing passage of Houellebecq’s first novel, Extension du domaine de la lutte, in which the subject’s hope similarly vanishes after a delightful, optimistic afternoon in the country: “It will not take place, the sublime fusion,” he reflects, “the goal of life is missed.”1. . How encouraging to finally read a modern writer who takes the problem of sex seriously! They’ll critique and humor anything and the more taboo surrounds the topic, the quicker they’ll be to do it. Michel Houellebecq (prononcer [wɛlˈbɛk]), né Michel Thomas le 26 février 1956 à Saint-Pierre (La Réunion), est un écrivain, poète et essayiste français. It contains a scathing critique of the European Union and imagines farmers blocking roadways … Par exemple, on peut citer l’apparition du christianisme. I know what the veterans of ’68 are like when they hit forty. Francios, the novel's main character, is a scholar of the nineteenth-century French writer J.K. Huysman. Submission (French: Soumission) is a novel by French writer Michel Houellebecq. Michel Houellebecq (prononcer [wɛlˈbɛk]), né Michel Thomas le 26 février 1956 à Saint-Pierre (La Réunion), est un écrivain, poète et essayiste français. REVIEW ESSAY Sérotonine by Michel Houellebecq Flammarion, 2019, 352 pages. I think Houellebecq has a very powerful critique, it s a very powerfully felt critique. Many of the ‘new Atheists’, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, etc. The elections are coming up and two parties are taking the front. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. The following entry presents an overview of Houellebecq's career through 2003. I believe Houellebecq plays with these two critiques and themes beautifully. Now this fundamental point which Houellebecq makes time and again deserves further reflection, because it challenges the very fundamentals of both the contemporary “Left” and the “Right.” It challenges modern anthropology as such. ( Log Out / Tiré chez Flammarion à 320 000 exemplaires, c'est la sensation de la rentrée littéraire. So, while the Islam is presented in a bad daylight, the true critique is on our society and our intellectuals as a whole. For a brief moment, just before the end of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel Sérotonine, a ray of hope seems to galvanize its protagonist. But, given the astonishing rise of populists and nationalists in Europe and beyond, the question cannot be avoided. He was brought up in … So they have crying fits. In this age of instant hookups and online pornography, renewed chastity seems very far off. When Florent-Claude realizes soon after that his savings account is about to run dry, the short religious meditation I quoted earlier concludes the calculations about leaping from his apartment to the ground. 1 (2014), Issue 1, pp. I'm a Philosophy student in Belgium, trying to talk and write about ideas of all kinds of sorts. Thierry Baudet is a member of the Dutch Parliament and founder of the party Forum for Democracy. If, as in his view, the modern world is based on a fundamentally flawed anthropology—and has, as a consequence, produced a completely dysfunctional society—then it cannot continue to exist for very long. But this in itself is not enough. We are now at the point where we must begin to think about what comes after—and this will necessarily be some form of traditionalism. Already subscribed? Take, for example, the protagonist of Soumission, who tries with all his might to convert to Christianity in the legendary cliffside city of Rocamadour: The Virgin waited in the shadows, calm and timeless. And in Soumission (2015), the West succumbs to the Muslim creed. In most of his books, Houellebecq refers to some form of identitarian movement, of nationalists and populists, or, as in Sérotonine, a popular uprising à la today’s gilets jaunes. Although Houellebecq, a poet more than a philosopher, shies away from laying out a detailed political manifesto, he tells us on every page that we need to rediscover a territorial, social, and historical connection with others around us, a connection which transcends individual choice, momentary whims, and instrumental interests. have outed critique on Christianity and on the Islam. A crisis of atomization. Michel Houellebecq is a famous French novelist, a student of Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophy, and a controversial prophet of pessimism. In a way his vision reminds me of something my PhD supervisor, the British philosopher Roger Scruton, once (jokingly) told me, that “the discovery of fossil fuels is the greatest tragedy in the history of man.” Whatever he really meant by that (he certainly wasn’t referring to that other modern heresy, the quasi-religion of “climate change”), he seemed to suggest that we have unleashed forces which we are unable to control. It did get me interested in learning more about the Islam and the Quran. To start with sex, in Extension du domaine de la lutte Houellebecq writes: From the amorous point of view, Véronique belonged, as we all do, to a sacrificed generation. Getting what we want does not make us happy; it actually makes us unhappy. Like all Houellebecq heroes, Michel only finds relief in sex (.....) The book has been translated into rather polite English, which is a pity. Europeans are having fewer children, burdened by shame, guilt, fear. Over time, all such institutions that the individual requires to fully actualize a meaningful existence—such as a family and a connection to generations past and future, a nation, a tradition, perhaps a church—will weaken and eventually disappear. He has a series of relationships, all of which ultimately fail. James Buchan finds that Platform, Michel Houellebecq's controversial critique of European culture, doesn't quite add up James Buchan Fri 6 Sep 2002 19.57 EDT … Does he then sacrifice himself and plummet to the ground in a desperate attempt to save us all? What happens when they hit thirty? Yet to recommit ourselves to the embedded life rests on a leap of faith which, according to Houellebecq, simply is no longer tenable in today’s scientific age. While reading, I was struck by the thought that Sérotonine may perhaps have been based on an older manuscript (from the period of Plateforme and La possibilité d’une île) which Houellebecq still wanted to finish. Sérotonine - Michel Houellebecq ***** There's no question that the major publishing event of the new French literary season is the new book by Michel Houellebecq, the now aging enfant terrible of the French literary establishment. And Houellebecq proposes that this new trinity falls short—that the very idea that we should be trying to pursue individual happiness is itself flawed. Il semblerait que oui.” Houellebecq, Sérotonine (Paris: Flammarion, 2019), 347 (my translation). 7 Sylvain Bourmeau, “Scare Tactics: Michel Houellebecq Defends His Controversial New Book,” Paris Review, January 2, 2015. . In La possibilité d’une île (2005), that cry finally brings a new holistic world religion into being, which sublimates desire in an almost Buddhist manner. It is no wonder that many critique Christianity instead when they want to disprove God, the same arguments apply in great lines to the Islam as well. Lorin Stein (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015), 139. And in a famous 2015 interview in the Paris Review, Houellebecq in fact commented: “I accelerate history, I condense an evolution that is, in my opinion, realistic.” He added: “The Koran turns out to be much better than I thought. In Les particules élémentaires (1998), the pursuit of knowledge itself assumes religious proportions that raises mankind to a divine perspective through genetic manipulation. Il est de bon ton de critiquer le dernier Houellebecq. Houellebecq, however, draws upon older intuitions which maintain that the bond which forms through sexual intimacy may reemerge once or twice, but not much more, and that we should therefore be extremely cautious in acquiring amorous experience. Are the cards then dealt? Enter Michel Houellebecq and his book Soumission or Submission (which is the meaning of the word Islam). Karl Ove Knausgaard reviews Michel Houellebecq’s new novel, which imagines France as a Muslim state in 2022. The more we “liberate” ourselves from our social ties, the more we become the slaves of our own distorted self-image. They only think about themselves and if there is something profitable in it, then they’ll convert to whatever they need to convert into. In reality, the successive sexual experiences accumulated during adolescence undermine and rapidly destroy all possibility of projection of an emotional and romantic sort.3. From disappointment (at the lack of an all-embracing cultural ideal, romantic love, meaningful social intercourse) to depression. After half an hour, I got up, fully deserted by the Spirit, reduced to my damaged, perishable body, and I sadly descended the stairs that led to the car park.4. The second part of this title could serve as a summary of most of Michel Houellebecq’s books. But has this been an autonomous process? He has affaires with his students and drinks until he isn’t able to stand straight. Michel Houellebecq, original name Michel Thomas, (born February 26, 1956 or 1958, Réunion, France), French writer, satirist, and provocateur whose work exposes his sometimes darkly humorous, often offensive, and thoroughly misanthropic view of humanity and the world.He was one of the best-known, if not always best-loved, French novelists of the early 21st century. In some of his books (such as La carte et le territoire), Houellebecq allows his characters to achieve a degree of happiness in consumerism—as in the massive hypermarket where one can wander about endlessly in search of yet another self-indulgent pleasure—small comfort indeed. Essays and criticism on Michel Houellebecq - Critical Essays. The new Michel Houellebecq novel, Serotonin, is an exhausted and exhausting book. Est-ce qu’il faut vraiment, en supplément, que je donne ma vie pour ces minables? The intellectuals aren’t really fond of this. This is most concretely seen in the strong internal loyalties of Arabic, African, and Turkish immigrants who follow Islam, which Houellebecq describes in Soumission. 3 “Du point de vue amoureux Véronique appartenait, comme nous tous, à une génération sacrifiée. An inevitable result of all this is the demographic decline of Europe. . Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission—recently translated into English—depicts a dystopian near future in which France undergoes Islamization. Alex Clark. His best friend from college days, a man of aristocratic ancestry currently running the family château near Caen in Normandy, organizes a short-lived protest movement of farmers against free trade—but even this attempt to finally do something meaningful, to resist the slash and burn of modern existence, proves ineffectual. In all these movements, Houellebecq sees (correctly, in my view) an attempt to preserve traditional European culture or indeed to reestablish it: a world in which the family is once again at the center, in which nations are restored, maybe even a form of Christianity is reinstated. When he finds out that his current Japanese girlfriend has been going to orgies behind his back, where she has serviced not only groups of other men but even three dogs (a pit bull, a boxer, and a terrier, as he specifies rather precisely), he resolves to disappear without a trace. Submission (French: Soumission) is a novel by French writer Michel Houellebecq. Encensé avec une générosité excessive par l'establishment de la critique, bénéficiant d'une promotion balayant toutes les autres sorties du janvier, « Sérotonine » confirme que depuis « Soumission », Houellebecq est entré en hibernation, tel un ours suçant sa patte. She had certainly been capable of love; she would have wished to still be capable of it, I’ll say that for her; but it was no longer possible. Michel Houellebecq’s tragic humanism. Houellebecq has become a global publishing phenomenon: his books have been translated worldwide, three film adaptations of his work have been produced, and the author has been the subject of million-euro publishing deals and of successive media scandals in France. H.P. Rudderless. . Michel Houellebecq enflamme la rentrée. The Times [Houellebecq’s] latest, and perhaps most devastating, critique of the disastrous swerve in Western culture. Individualism has reached its final stage and cannot develop any further. The “liberated” status of women is usually celebrated as one of the great triumphs of late-liberal society. The French edition of the book was published on 7 January 2015 by Flammarion, with German (Unterwerfung) and Italian (Sottomissione) translations also published in January. Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish a translation by Shaun Whiteside in September 2019. As we once worshipped the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we today venerate liberty, equality, and fraternity. The book instantly became a bestseller in France, Germany and Italy. have outed critique on Christianity and on the Islam. It makes you wonder if he has played out his string as a fiction writer ... Like nearly every Houellebecq novel, Serotonin should be stamped on its spine with a tiny skull and crossbones, like you used to see on bottles of poison, to keep away the devout, the unsuspecting and the pure of heart. 29 1 Comments Print Email Kindle. Review: Submission, by Michel Houellebecq - The Irish Times His mother was a "sexually liberated" anaesthetist; his father a mountain guide. L'écrivain publie le 7 janvier "Soumission", roman dans lequel il imagine une France dirigé par un parti islamiste. Women wouldn’t be allowed in schools anymore; only men would be allowed to go to university. In the Netherlands (where I live), suicide is facilitated to ensure that here, too, no constraints—such as the duty to care for your parents—are placed on the individual. It has started to consume itself. The new Michel Houellebecq novel, Serotonin, is an exhausted and exhausting book. Another outcome is constant conflict, constant competition—and in the end, fighting, divorce, and social isolation—and a new generation of boys and girls growing up in such disfigured settings. As things stand today, this second scenario clearly represents the most likely future for Europe. Or do we still—despite the Herculean challenge of overcoming modern individualism—have the option of revitalizing our civilization? REVIEW ESSAY Sérotonine by Michel Houellebecq Flammarion, 2019, 352 pages. ( Log Out / Houellebecq's critique of modern man's isolation from his fellows is certainly accurate. Michel Houellebecq is perhaps the single most successful and controversial of all contemporary novelists writing in French. Houellebecq does not really reach a conclusion. Sex, in short, can be a threat—and not simply an aide—to intimacy and love. Perhaps the protagonist remains lying on the sofa in his apartment, crushed, unable even to gather the strength to walk to the open balcony door and hop over the railing? The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology (New York 2014). Au bout d’une demi-heure je me relevai, définitivement déserté par l’Esprit, réduit à mon corps endommagé, périssable, et je redescendis tristement les marches en direction du parking.” Quoted from Michel Houellebecq, Submission, trans. Sérotonine - Michel Houellebecq ***** There's no question that the major publishing event of the new French literary season is the new book by Michel Houellebecq, the now aging enfant terrible of the French literary establishment. Introduction Tomasz Swoboda: Flânerie poétique de Michel Houellebecq Marie Gil: La métaphore « impossible ». Michel Houellebecq's novel follows the career of a French academic during a future election in France in which a Muslim party wins. 5 Quoted from Michel Houellebecq, Atomised, trans. Michel Houellebecq’s satirical novel about France becoming an Islamic state is actually a clever, often very funny read. If you allow yourself a brief moment to view the world from Houellebecq’s perspective, his philosophy is validated all around us. Of course, the cult of virginity lost its credibility in the Western world some time ago, today’s philosophy being that we have to experiment to find the right partner. French novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter, and critic. . This is the tragedy that has befallen us. Love as a kind of innocence and as a capacity for illusion, as an aptitude for epitomizing the whole of the other sex in a single loved being rarely resists a year of sexual immorality, and never two. Serotonin: A Novel by michel houellebecq farrar, straus and giroux, 320 pages, $27. Consider the emancipation of women and the feminist ideology that underpins it (a favorite topic in Houellebecq’s work). Quitting his job, he leaves their joint apartment without a word and decides to carry on anonymously for as long as his savings will allow. Après avoir reçu le prix Goncourt en 2010, Michel Houellebecq revient en librairie le 7 janvier 2015 avec Soumission. In Plateforme, the limitless supply of sex in Thailand’s coastal resorts leaves the author’s subjects on a temporary high. Why, then, has Houellebecq, for his latest book, chosen a protagonist who belongs to the nihilistic 1990s rather than the assertive 2010s? Pas de se suicider, enfin pas tout de suite car il ny aurait pas de roman, mais de disparaître, de sévaporer. However, once you've diagnosed the pathology you can't just surrender to it. Houellebecq masterfully gives critique both to the Islam and to the hypocrisy of the intellectual elite, who don’t really follow through in their beliefs when it isn’t profitable for them to follow them. Or has it been manufactured? C'est dans ce contexte politico-historique orageux que Michel Houellebecq propulse le narrateur de Soumission: un universitaire quadragénaire, spécialiste de Huysmans et des écrivains décadents de la fin du XIXe siècle, par ailleurs personnage houellebecquien par excellence, solitaire, détaché, parfaitement indisposé par son époque – ses élites politiques et intellectuelles, ses idéaux progressistes et ses réflexes bien-pensants, ses mœurs mercantiles – et dont les exécrations, prononcées sans colère, nour… Paul Collier, Times Literary Supplement Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. La critique de Sérotonine, le dernier roman de Michel Houellebecq, par Lettres it be, c'est par ici ! Sérotonine, too, ends in a quasi-religious meditation. It contains a scathing critique of the European Union and imagines farmers blocking roadways … Houellebecq is a one-off and his worldview is bracingly unwoke. Elle possédait la suzeraineté, elle possédait la puissance, mais peu à peu je sentais que je perdais le contact, qu’elle s’éloignait dans l’espace et dans les siècles tandis que je me tassais sur mon banc, ratatiné, restreint. He has to be deliberalized. Then, religion: Houellebecq argues that we will always conceive of ourselves in terms of a metaphysical purpose. Milk, grain, and meat from massive tillages in South America are dumped onto the French market, effectively sealing the fate of the farmers of France. They are both liberation movements; they both want the complete emancipation of the individual. In this novel we follow a university professor from Paris, who specializes in the work of Joris-Karl Huysmans. Existential connections have become almost impossible since few are genuinely prepared to sacrifice short-term pleasure for the commitment required to establish a deep mutual connection. All control of life—and of who we are—is lost. Moerland, R., ‘Ik ben een Romanticus’. The complete review's Review: . The latter is the case for the controversial French writer Michel Houellebecq. L’amour comme innocence et comme capacité d’illusion, comme aptitude à résumer l’ensemble de l’autre sexe à un seul être aimé, résiste rarement à une année de vagabondage sexuel, jamais à deux. His new book imagines a France ruled by Islamists and he has been under 24-hour police protection since the Charlie Hebdo attack. . Here, people can experience instant pleasure but duties—the care of children and elders—are avoided. Le nouveau roman de Michel Houellebecq, "Sérotonine", vient de sortir. So today I understand how Christ felt, his frustration at people’s hardened hearts: they have seen the signs and yet they pay no attention. Ces élans d’amour qui affluent dans nos poitrines jusqu’à nous couper le souffle, ces illuminations, ces extases, inexplicables si l’on considère notre nature biologique, notre statut de simples primates, sont des signes extrêmement clairs. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life by Michel Houellebecq, Dorna … These loving impulses that enter into our hearts to the point of suffocation, these illuminations, these ecstasies which cannot be explained by simple biological nature, by our status as primates: these are extraordinarily clear signals. The sun doesn’t rise. F or a brief moment, just before the end of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel Sérotonine, a ray of hope seems to galvanize its protagonist.For a short while he seems to recover his lust for life. Indeed, Soumission even involves a paramilitary resistance group led by the fascinating Godefroy l’Empereur, who incidentally appears to serve the finest pear liqueur in all of France. If they continue to work full hours, building a family becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible. It echoes, in certain ways, Marxist Verelendungstheorie: as technological innovations have made jobs boring and interchangeable, and as free trade has destroyed traditional farm life and honest labor, we now pass through life as atomized wage slaves in the service of incomprehensible, unfathomable government organizations and overwhelmingly powerful multinational corporations. Once a metaphysical mutation has arisen, it tends to move inexorably toward its logical conclusion.6. Houellebecq actually calls this criticism of H.P. The “metaphysical mutation” that prescribes maximum individual pleasure and materialistic gain reached its logical conclusion, Houellebecq explains, in the liberal vision of mankind found in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. They care a bit too much, but French people? For without the ability to define ourselves in an unbreakable connection with our surroundings, there is nothing for us to derive meaning from and we end up depressed. . Both the social-democratic and the liberal wing of the modern political spectrum (respectively advocating the welfare state and the free market) wish to maximize individual autonomy. En réalité, les expériences sexuelles successives accumulées au cours de l’adolescence minent et détruisent rapidement toute possibilité de projection d’ordre sentimental et romanesque.” Quoted from Houellebecq, Whatever, 112. It also neuters the critique Houellebecq wants to make of the corporations and bureaucracies, or of the range and depth of the contemporary crisis. Photograph: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images. And everything melts away into an all-encompassing void. They just don’t give a shit. . When learning about this all the male intellectuals decide that the Islam isn’t all that bad and become a Muslim.