Michel Houellebecq praises “The World as Will and Wallpaper”

“Artichoke” wallpaper[1], by John Henry Dearle for William Morris & Co.

As I’ve mentioned[1], I travelled to China over the holidays, to visit my daughter Bonnie.

On holiday , and practically only then, I read.

My finest read this trip was Michel Houellebecq‘s De koude revolutie. One of the most enigmatic essays in that collection is “Sortir du XXe siècle” (2000), the title of which translates as “Leaving the 20th Century”, but which has, to my knowledge, not been translated into English.

The essay starts as a diatribe against the left, against 20th century social sciences (Pierre Bourdieu) and thought (Jean Baudrillard). It criticizes the nouveau roman and praises New Wave science fiction (“BallardDischKornbluthSpinradSturgeon and Vonnegut…”).

Most of all it praises American writer R. A. Lafferty and extols the virtues of the short story “The World as Will and Wallpaper” (1973), the title of which references Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation and manages to weave William Morris (English artist, writer, socialist, activist and designer of wallpaper) in the story, both as character and as author of The Wood Beyond the World, which in this story has become a place which cannot be reached.