Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Slouching Towards Mecca?

Mark Lilla has a review of Michel Houellbecq's new book at the New York Review of Books.

Final paragraph:
"For all Houellebecq’s knowingness about contemporary culture—the way we love, the way we work, the way we die—the focus in his novels is always on the historical longue durée. He appears genuinely to believe that France has, regrettably and irretrievably, lost its sense of self, but not because of immigration or the European Union or globalization. Those are just symptoms of a crisis that was set off two centuries ago when Europeans made a wager on history: that the more they extended human freedom, the happier they would be. For him, that wager has been lost. And so the continent is adrift and susceptible to a much older temptation, to submit to those claiming to speak for God. Who remains as remote and as silent as ever."

Michel Houellbecq's own interview about his book was good
Why did you do it?
For several reasons, I’d say. First of all, I think, it’s my job, though I don’t care for that word. I noticed some big changes when I moved back to France, though these changes are not specifically French, but rather Western. As an exile you don’t take much of an interest in anything, really, neither your society of origin nor the place you live—and besides, Ireland is a slightly odd case. I think the second reason is that my atheism hasn’t quite survived all the deaths I’ve had to deal with. In fact, it came to seem unsustainable to me.
 
Personally, I think it doesnt matter. In fact, I have a cheerfuly optimistic pessimistic alternative: Whatever happens, some people will understand the technology and use it better> They will be the ones on top (even if they themselves are consumed by loneliness and unhappiness)...precariously and viciously balanced on top of vast mountains of bodies and civil wars... and masses of unhappy struggling infighting desperately envious Muslims who have no clue they are the ones that are supposed to be so close to submission and true happiness.
So there...
 
Photo by Sylvain Bourmeau