Controversial French Novelist Michel Houellebecq Photographs the Beauty of Our Brutal Society – Artsy
Thereâ€™s a description in the French writer Michel Houellebecqâ€™s best novel, The Map and the Territory, that recurs to me often. Jed Martin, a painter and photographer who gets entangled with the famous novelist Michel Houellebecq, is walking down a Parisian boulevard:
A Casino hypermarket and a Shell service station were the only perceptible centers of energy, the only social propositions likely to provoke desire, happiness, or joy. Jed already knew these lively places: he had been a regular customer of the Casino hypermarket for years, before switching to the Franprix in the boulevard de lâ€™HÃ´pital. As for the Shell station, he also knew it well: on many a Sunday, he had appreciated being able to go there for Pringles and bottles of HÃ©par.
I have never been to Paris, but I too already know these lively places. So do you. Fungible temples of the commodity â€œas a force aspiring to the complete colonization of social life,â€ to quote Guy Debord. For most of us, such spaces are dead zones, not worth noticing, pit stops and way stations. (I never noticed the chintzy chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the deli I frequent almost daily until, thinking about Houellebecqâ€™s work, I took a good look at the place.) Houellebecqâ€™s protagonist sees these spaces as the only throbbing hearts in a diseased social body. Of course this means that contemporary societyâ€”French, but the idea extrapolatesâ€”is idiotic and brutal. Jed finds an oddly comforting beauty in it nevertheless.
Write a Reply or Comment:
You must be logged in to post a comment.