Tag Archives: Michel Houellebecq

The most misogynist joke ever

I finished reading The Possibility of an Island a week ago.

Some recollections:

There is a great and almost childish emphasis on the bliss of the insertion of the phallus in the vulva.

The most misogynist joke ever is in the novel:

“How do we call the fat around the vagina? Woman.”

Another dictum:

“The sexual life of man can be broken down into two phases: the first when he prematurely ejaculates, and the second when he can no longer manage to get a hard-on.”

Above: a clip from the film based on the novel, directed by Houellebecq himself. It show the bikini contest at the beginning of the film. The film has the meager IMDb score of 3.5. Nevertheless I’d very much like to see it.

‘The Possibility of an Island’ is world literature classic #110

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The Possibility of an Island is very much a philosophical novel, as is most of Michel Houellebecq‘s fiction. In this particular novel Houellebecq juxtaposes Plato’s soulmate theory to Saint Paul‘s ‘one flesh’ remark in the Epistle to the Ephesians, remarking that this ‘love craving’, this need for emotional symbiosis is the origin of much unhappiness.

In the words of Houellebecq:

“It was [Plato’s Symposium] that intoxicated Western mankind, mankind as a whole, which has inspired in it disgust at its condition of a rational animal, which had engendered in it a dream that it had taken two millennia to try and rid itself of, without completely succeeding.”

Below is Plato’s soulmate theory in which Zeus split the four legged and four armed primeval humans in two parts, giving birth to creatures who are forever searching for the other half, the soul mate, to reunite their flesh:

“[Primeval man had] … four hands and four feet, eight in all … they made an attack upon the gods … Zeus discovered a way [to punish them] … I will cut them in two … after the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half … longing to grow into one … when one of the halves died and the other survived, the survivor sought another mate, man or woman as we call them … and clung to that … so ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of man … each of us … is always looking for his other half. Suppose Hephaestus … [was] to come to [a] pair who are lying side by side and to say to them … ‘do you desire to be wholly one … I am ready to melt you into one and let you grow together, so that being two you shall become one … if you were a single man?’ … there is not a man … who when he heard the proposal would deny … that this meeting and melting into one another, this becoming one instead of two, was the very expression of his ancient need … and the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.” —Plato’s Symposium

And this is Saint Paul’s remark in the Epistle to the Ephesians:

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”

This is not the new flesh but the old flesh.

Michel Houellebecq in ‘Near Death Experience’

Near Death Experience is a 2014 French film directed, produced and written by Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern coming to local screens from September onwards.

The film stars French writer Michel Houellebecq as Paul, a burn-out man who escapes to the mountains on his racing bike with the plan to commit suicide.

Some of Houellebecq’s work has already been filmed.

Several years ago I saw the decidedly philosophical film Extension du domaine de la lutte (also known as Whatever) which is now on YouTube in its entirety.

The “our hero” of Whatever reminds me of Paul.

Houellebecq’s debut as protagonist has been acclaimed.

He is part of my canon.