11 November 2010


"What I think, fundamentally, is that you can’t do anything about major societal changes. It may be regrettable that the family unit is disappearing. You could argue that it increases human suffering. But regrettable or not, there’s nothing we can do. That’s the difference between me and a reactionary. I don’t have any interest in turning back the clock because I don’t believe it can be done. You can only observe and describe. I’ve always liked Balzac’s very insulting statement that the only purpose of the novel is to show the disasters produced by the changing of values. He’s exaggerating in an amusing way. But that’s what I do: I show the disasters produced by the liberalization of values."
"I am persuaded that feminism is not at the root of political correctness. The actual source is much nastier and dares not speak its name, which is simply hatred for old people. The question of domination between men and women is relatively secondary—important but still secondary—compared to what I tried to capture in this novel, which is that we are now trapped in a world of kids. Old kids. The disappearance of patrimonial transmission means that an old guy today is just a useless ruin. The thing we value most of all is youth, which means that life automatically becomes depressing, because life consists, on the whole, of getting old."

Michel Houellebecq, Paris Review No. 194, Autumn 2010


Belle de Ville said...

Great quote.
I might have to take back all the nasty things I said about Houllebecq.

initials CG said...

Interesting point of view.

It's a central issue in Italy, and Europe, in general. A young Italian, no matter how brilliant, how competent, how determined, can aspire to the role of "bank teller" for the rest of his life. Guys in their 70's and 80's are still running this country. Life expectancy is one of the longest in the world. At 40, you might be able to piece together some income and move out of your parents house. Women have postponed childbearing well past their thirties and forties. Cultural memory is transmitted.

Bizarre social behaviour in a country for old people. Then again, weird things happen in a society of youth. Collective cultural ignorance.

The hatred of the "useless ruin"..., and I thought it'd be cool to be the elegant dirty old man with the girlfriend younger than his daughter...

Anonymous said...

Hi there from Paris France,
i like and practice Houellebecq,
i appreciate this quote as an example of his style,
Still... i must say there are other ways in life that nihilism (don't you think, guys ?)