Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The possibility of a genius

God is speaking again.

Genius in a bitter screwball, Michel Houellebecq, has interupted my pedestrian reading patterns to discuss, with us mortals, The Possibility of an Island.

Most famous for attacking Islam (well, along with hippies, materialism, women, men, sex, lack-of-sex, corporate rhetoric, John Grisham, races, racists, predatory males, people who criticise predatory males, the intrinsic value of the human species and Belgians) and being acquitted of racial hatred charges, his masterwork to-date is Atomised, which follows the miserable lives of Michel the emotionally retarded scientist and Bruno his sex-obsessed half brother.

Atomised sticks blunt knives into the dangling organs of the sexual revolution. But it also veers into science fiction, something that isn't explored further in his next two strokes of genius, Platform and Lanzarotte.

I have been waiting for a long time for this book. Put simply, in my view, regardless of his message, offensiveness, ability to predict Islamic terror attacks on tourists or other notable good or bad qualities, Houellebecq is the finest writer on the planet.

He has absolutely mastered the craft.

And now he returns to science fiction. True science fiction, not the garbage written by simplistic proto-thugs like George Lucas. Science fiction in the vein of We, 1984, and the underated cinematic masterpiece Brazil.

Every free moment I open my christmas present and read the alternating dispatches from Daniel 1, fantastically wealthy comic and screenwriter and Daniel 24, his 24th cloned descendant.

The clones have all successively lived in isolation, apart from a cloned pet dog. They occasionally venture to the perimeter of their self-contained bubble home to kill 'savages' who wander too close. They have not socialised for generations. They attempt to analyse the gap between neo-humans (themselves) and the original, human, Daniel 1.

After several generations they lost the ability to cry or laugh.

He is a depressing writer, or rather, he is depressed. Because I don't share his cynicism towards people, love and happiness - well not to such an extreme degree - reading Houellebecq cheers me up, making me feel blessed to have good friends and the love of a fine woman.

It's kindof like living in Melbourne and visiting Canberra.


Where I spent Christmas drinking and listening to my new CD (Warrant's Greatest Hits!) with beloved, her sister and sister's boyfriend, and my irresistible cream burmese cat. Merry Christmas, happy Unears!


BwcaBrownie said...

Reading the 2-pager on it in The Australian (Saturday Review section) recently, I thought 'HellAndBack' - wasn't armagnac reading this guy a while ago? Sounds like the protagonists have achieved my dream - live remotely (with companion animal) and shoot at all comers. yours truly, Rural Cynic.

PS Canberra DOES have that art gallery though.

BwcaBrownie said...

Hot damn armagnac! I followed the Wiki link, at the end of which is a link to the most wonderful article which is very Tom Wolfe-y:
L’Étranger in a Strange Land
Michel Houellebecq’s Weekend in L.A.
... and I recommend it to everyone.
During the interview, Hwellbeck says he thinks 'shopping has been a neglected literary topic' - now WE all know that women buy zillions of those 'shopping & fkng' novels, so it is funny to be reminded that very clever people, often are unaware of ordinary stuff.

oh, and Armagny? I'm onto YOU - the article details the rampant sex in this guys writing and life, and then the author wonders how Hwelly 'gets laid at all', because he is not Cruise/Pitt pretty (my words) - when the other thing WE all know (don't we?) is that the major female erogenous zone is the brain.

anyhow, thanks for leading me to LA via your Island. xxx

Armagnac Esq said...

I LIKE armagny, I might pilfer it, the maniac thing is a little off my kilter.

As for literature and shopping, I think he sees a particular meaning to the word literature that excludes the books you refer to, I'm afraid.

Ron said...

Now I am going to have go through that GIANT stack (about 2m by 2m and 1.5m high) of books in the loungeroom and find my copy of Atomised - I just KNOW it's there somewhere. I never did get around to reading it and now is perhaps the time.

(I like going through the book stacks around the house as I find books unread books that I have forgotten about - a wonderful treasure hunt.)

Anonymous said...

You should give "Breakfast of Champions" by Kurt Vonnegut a try. Probably the most imaginative sci fi writer ever. Guaranteed like nothing you've ever read before.

Armagnac Esq said...

I must. I've only read Slaughterhouse 5, and certainly it was very good, must have another crack at the Kurtmeister.

BwcaBrownie said...

Slaughterhouse 5 was a film I vaguely recall seeing in the 1970's - did it have Karen Black in it?

Ron - just last night I found stuff unread that has been waiting years. I was enjoying various discoveries and reread something from 15 years ago, but with new eyes.
I hope you all follow the link to that LA article - it really is great.