The Unparalleled Educational Value of Michelle Houellebecq

Happy 2018, dear readers. All the best for this new arbitrary amount of time, and may your resolutions stick this time. 😉

A much discussed and controversial writer named Michelle Houellebecq has crossed my path many times and my mind even more frequently. Many say he is misogynistic and hateful, but I believe him to be extremely educational and important for today’s society. So here is my case in favor of the author.


Houellebecq writes well, his style is fluent, entertaining while educated, bold while thought out, and his topics well researched.
While many of his topics remain controversial and his way of viewing many people as bodies or functions, not humans, can differ from one’s personal viewpoint, the how of the writing is definitely excellent. Houllebecq has a flow to his writing and knows how to use his words in a well-built sentence and story. Many writers whose topics may be more of what the Minivan Majority and the Bono Cult prefer, a.k.a. making-the-world-a-better-place and/or raising-awareness-on-politically-important-topics, lack skills in the actual writing department.


submission cover

He talks about current topics and reflects immediate affairs.
Moreover, Houellebecq does address those topics but in a way which requires actual thinking capabilities in order to get past the somewhat scandalously clad first layer of words. But not only in his newest novel “Submission” (Soumission, 2015) where the sociological nature of the subject matter is obvious – all of his novels have a very specific, witty analysis of the current state of man and what recent developments in western society might cause for our near future.


Houellebecqs complete œuvre depicts his witty sociological analyses.
For example, “Platform” (Plateforme, 2001) includes an excellent chapter about the egoistical social and sexual behavior of the western individual and the resulting lonelyness. 


He forewarns about very real things we should be aware of.
Houellebecq’s novel “The possibility of an island” (La Possibilité d’une île, 2008) tells about an emotionless future human hybrid who is just re-living himself over and over again, thus becoming immortal but also becoming a non-individual. Again the author constitutes a brilliant commentary on today’s society.


island cover

His protagonist is brutally honest – regarding others as well as himself.
In “Platform”, the older male protagonist is theoretically looking for love, acceptance, and a connection with another human, but in reality just having all kinds of freaky intercourse with – often paid for – females. He also describes numerous females just as functional vaginas. However, this is not a description exclusive to his sexual partners: Next to those chapters are descriptions of him being a weak and unworthy individual, and when he finds an actual mate, his tone changes. He sees himself as not deserving of this person. A very honest analysis of the psyche and body of a human being ensues.


platform cover

Houellebecq shows how a well-educated, critical-thinking, academically or artistically respectworthy individual can be very perverse and still a functioning member of society.
In my opinion, and in light of the recent #metoo movement, it is important to look at the world in it’s real colors, let’s say, metaphorically, without filters and photoshop, so uncovering the ugly side of things is of essence to achieve awareness and possibly remove a weed by it’s root. Houellebecq is one of the few writers who show the high-up positioned as just men, morally ambiguous or amoral, thinking with their penes, viewing other human beings as pieces of flesh. Many people in various positions do, as I have pointed out in my previous essay (link), and the fact that Houellebecq has no filter whatsoever regarding any type of conventions, makes him so interesting and refreshing to read.


In conclusion – please get yourself a novel by Michel Houellebecq immediately, read it, wait a second, think about it – and you will experience something absolutely valuable.

(images from here, here, here and here)


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