Sex, in short, can be a threat—and not simply an aide—to intimacy and love. 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. Submission (French: Soumission) is a novel by French writer Michel Houellebecq. Constantly enticed by the promise of relief, which in the end never really re­lieves, we keep hopelessly searching for the thing that “truly” makes us, as “individuals,” “be ourselves.” In Houellebecq’s view, the very philosophical concept of “the individual self” is wrong. . The new Michel Houellebecq novel, Serotonin, is an exhausted and exhausting book. Houellebecq blames the Flower Power generation that spawned the revolution of 1968 for bringing that vision to fruition. 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. 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. Yet even these delights finally fade amid the loneliness, the isolation, and the pointlessness of it all—and that is why Houelle­becq’s books generally culminate in a kind of religious vision. Houellebecq does not really reach a conclusion. . Anyway, they fuck their way through two or three, maybe more if they’re really pretty, and wind up with a kid. 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. 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. Liberation, once again, hardly liberates. Gradually something akin to a will to live begins to resurface: he notices skirts by the bar in a café, girls, facial expressions, emotion, desire, and irritation at the mind-numbing TV programs he had been watching every day. 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… This desperate moralism opens the doors to massive num­bers of immigrants, undermines real political communities, and makes distinctive national and civilizational aspirations impossible. 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. Like all Houellebecq heroes, Michel only finds relief in sex (.....) The book has been translated into rather polite English, which is a pity. 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. Et je comprends, aujourd’hui, le point de vue du Christ, son agacement répété devant l’endurcissement des coeurs: ils ont tous les signes, et ils n’en tiennent pas le compte. I’m practically one myself. The final struggle between Godefroy l’Empereur and the Islamists remained undescribed—and in our world, too, the future remains undecided and our vision is often warped by the frame of liberal individualism. have outed critique on Christianity and on the Islam. To have a position of power would mean to convert to the Islam. They only think about themselves and if there is something profitable in it, then they’ll convert to whatever they need to convert into. No mercy, no comfort: the project of our civilization has come to an end. People who critique the Islam can get death threats or drawing Muhammed might mean blasphemy and the loss of Muslim friends. It’s a book that’s quite topical and I believe it’ll be this way for some time still. To recreate embeddedness in society, the individual himself has to be embedded again. He has affaires with his students and drinks until he isn’t able to stand straight. For a short while he seems to recover his lust for life. 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. Why, then, has Houellebecq, for his latest book, chosen a pro­tagonist who belongs to the nihilistic 1990s rather than the asser­tive 2010s? Véronique had known too many discothèques, too many lovers; such a way of life impoverishes a human being, inflicting sometimes serious and always irreversible damage. The Muslim party claims victory and now intends to bring in Sharia law and the Quran as highest power of law. Does he then sacrifice himself and plummet to the ground in a desperate attempt to save us all? But it doesn’t last. They would be allowed to have multiple wives. 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. Soumission ended in a vague conditional tense, like a dream, with a distant vision of an Islamized Europe. 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. They just don’t give a shit. It did get me interested in learning more about the Islam and the Quran. . always going on about washing dishes and the division of labor; they could never shut up about the dishes. He is the author of The Significance of Borders (Brill, 2012). . 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. If they continue to work full hours, building a family becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible. . Pas de se suicider, enfin pas tout de suite car il ny aurait pas de roman, mais de disparaître, de sévaporer. This frustration is expressed directly by the character Christiane in Les particules élémentaires: Never could stand feminists. 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. However, once you've diagnosed the pathology you can't just surrender to it. . Oh, sometimes they’d talk about cooking or vacuuming, but their favorite topic was washing dishes. Television, internet, and pornography have replaced organic social intercourse and physical intimacy. 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. But has this been an autonomous process? Il est de bon ton de critiquer le dernier Houellebecq. Oct. 28 2015. The extreme right party and the Muslim party. . 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. LE PLUS. What hap­pens when they hit thirty? This simple idea forms the fundamental conviction of Houellebecq’s work. When did we go astray? So yes, the modern world brought liberation. In Plateforme, the limitless supply of sex in Thailand’s coastal resorts leaves the author’s subjects on a temporary high. Critiques (455), citations (411), extraits de Soumission de Michel Houellebecq. The novel is narrated by François, a 44-year-old professor at the Sorbonne interested in little more than food, alcohol and sex. ... and surrounds his critique of society with a … We are profoundly incapable of defining ourselves as individuals (although we think we can). Michel Houellebecq's novel follows the career of a French academic during a future election in France in which a Muslim party wins. Nowadays (definitely in Belgium) there is a lot of debate concerning the immigration of people from Muslim countries. I know what the veterans of ’68 are like when they hit forty. Sérotonine, too, ends in a quasi-religious meditation. For a brief moment, just before the end of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel Sérotonine, a ray of hope seems to galvanize its protagonist. In desperation, the resistance leader commits suicide at a demonstration not unlike today’s gilets jaunes protests. REVIEW ESSAY Sérotonine by Michel Houellebecq Flammarion, 2019, 352 pages. Having languished for years without a sense of purpose, Florent-Claude resolves to end his reliance on antidepressants. So they have crying fits. Once they’d done that, it was always the same story—they started going on about how there were no real men anymore. . 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. Francios, the novel's main character, is a scholar of the nineteenth-century French writer J.K. Huysman. And everything melts away into an all-encompassing void. Michel Houellebecq (prononcer [wɛlˈbɛk]), né Michel Thomas le 26 février 1956 à Saint-Pierre (La Réunion), est un écrivain, poète et essayiste français. It is also more subtle than you might expect. Many of the ‘new Atheists’, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, etc. The book instantly became a bestseller in France, Germany and Italy. The sun doesn’t rise. Do I really have to be so explicit? I think Houellebecq has a very powerful critique, it s a very powerfully felt critique. The feminists will not be able to, if we’re being completely honest. Enter Michel Houellebecq and his book Soumission or Submission (which is the meaning of the word Islam). Even if you don’t share his view on the matter, it is definitely worth the read. The remedy for this collapse of the modern promise is clear. . 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. It has started to consume itself. The Times [Houellebecq’s] latest, and perhaps most devastating, critique of the disastrous swerve in Western culture. 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. We are free, and we are glad we are free. So, while the Islam is presented in a bad daylight, the true critique is on our society and our intellectuals as a whole. 7 Sylvain Bourmeau, “Scare Tactics: Michel Houellebecq Defends His Controversial New Book,” Paris Review, January 2, 2015. So the paradox is this: the freedom we desire eventually makes us unfree and unhappy, while the constraints that we reject eventually make us happy and free. The Elementary Particles was and continues to be a cause célèbre in France. ( Log Out /  Véronique avait connu trop de discothèques et d’amants; un tel mode de vie appauvrit l’être humain, lui infligeant des dommages parfois graves et toujours irréversibles. He has a series of relationships, all of which ultimately fail. Both would mean a huge shift in the political landscape and society as they know it. Il semblerait que oui.” Houellebecq, Sérotonine (Paris: Flammarion, 2019), 347 (my translation). One reason may be that Houellebecq is not just a reactionary, he’s also a critic of modern capitalism. 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. His latest novel, Serotonin , was published in an English translation earlier this year, and was promptly analyzed by numerous critics and public intellectuals across the country. But this in itself is not enough. True, the Islam has some unacceptable laws, but it’s we as a society who are willing to let those unacceptable laws exist as long as we get some profit from it (here: multiple women). Erratic consumer preferences, capricious fashions, and an unpredictable herd instinct dictate the opinions (or the whims and fancies) of most of us who no longer have a family, a home, a church, and a nation to reinforce our sense of identity. Michel Houellebecq’s Critique of Western Anomie. 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. Are the cards then dealt? 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. REVIEW ESSAY Et c’était voulu ! In Les particules élémentaires (1998), the pursuit of knowledge itself assumes religious proportions that raises mankind to a divine perspective through genetic manipulation. 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. Work and children then often limit the time available for the maintenance of a committed relationship, and rare are the lovers that both work full hours, rear children, and invest sufficiently in each other for the marriage to remain healthy over time. So, while the Islam is presented in a bad daylight, the true critique is on our society and our intellectuals as a whole. The new Michel Houellebecq novel, Serotonin, is an exhausted and exhausting book. They care a bit too much, but French people? Change ), on Soumission by Michel Houellebecq – Book Review, Factfulness by Hans Rosling – Book Review, Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins – Book Review. Especially after the Zen workshops. Paru en 2009, aux éditions Flammarion, Interventions 2 n’avait pas manqué de faire réagir la critique. 4 “La Vierge attendait dans l’ombre, calme et immarcescible. 91–110.De Mul, J., Destiny Domesticated. Par exemple, on peut citer l’apparition du christianisme. In this age of instant hookups and online pornography, renewed chastity seems very far off. Houellebecq is a one-off and his worldview is bracingly unwoke. 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. E urope is old, decrepit, and suffering from fatigue, as though conscious that its life is drawing to a close. 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. As we once worshipped the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we today venerate liberty, equality, and fraternity. So far, a typical French novel. Wed 21 Sep 2011 04.00 EDT. The latter is the case for the controversial French writer Michel Houellebecq. Tiré chez Flammarion à 320 000 exemplaires, c'est la sensation de la rentrée littéraire. by Michel Houellebecq The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology (New York 2014). Most of the Christian can tolerate criticism and jokes nowadays, but for Muslim countries this is not the case. This naturally implies a powerful nation-state that protects the social fabric, along with a high degree of skepticism towards immigration and free trade. He questions the sacred trinity of the modern worldview. Les idées incongrues voisinent ici avec les longues réflexions muries. 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. All of Michel Houellebecq's usual concerns and areas of interest, that is: the protagonist fed up with and disappointed by contemporary civilisation, the exotic foreign locale, the nutty cult, contemporary tourist-culture, cloning and other age-defying attempts, the sex. I believe Houellebecq plays with these two critiques and themes beautifully. Houellebecq's critique of modern man's isolation from his fellows is certainly accurate. Lovecraft his first novel, and though it was published in 1991, four years before Whatever , it’s a work of nonfiction. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your account. 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. E ver the deadpan comedian, Michel Houellebecq … 2 “Dieu s’occupe de nous en réalité, il pense à nous à chaque instant, et il nous donne des directives parfois très précises. | Sign In with Blink, Scare Tactics: Michel Houellebecq Defends His Controversial New Book. But this liberation has not made us happy. Now this may be true, or partly true, or there may at least be some truth to it. His latest novel, Serotonin, was published in an English translation earlier this year, and was promptly analyzed by numerous critics and public intellectuals across the country. Yet, it is also critique of the intellectual world. Europeans are having fewer children, burdened by shame, guilt, fear. 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. French novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter, and critic. Or perhaps he finds himself as an author unable to rid himself of that sense of defeat which characterizes his generation (Houellebecq was born in 1956—the truly lost generation). Obviously, this is critique on the Islam of the highest order. . Michel Houellebecq enflamme la rentrée. Review: Submission, by Michel Houellebecq - The Irish Times Michel Houellebecq's novel follows the career of a French academic during a future election in France in which a Muslim party wins. From disappointment (at the lack of an all-embracing cultural ideal, romantic love, meaningful social intercourse) to depression. 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. In a few short years, they managed to turn every man they knew into an impotent, whining neurotic. Interview met Michel Houellebecq’, in: NRC Handelsblad, (September 23, 2005) 27. Having languished for years without a sense of purpose, Florent-Claude resolves to end his reliance on antidepressants. But whatever the case, it is not easy to see how we could possibly constrain the forces that we have unleashed.