Michel Houellebecq: All I Have Are Negative Thoughts

Andrew Marzoni at The Baffler:

WHAT MAKES SUICIDE FUNNY? Rarely in real life, if ever, but under the cover of fiction, abstraction, or anonymity, why do we laugh at the sad man who hates himself? Do we, too, wish that he would die?

Each of Michel Houellebecq’s novels has capitalized on a collective discomfort with these questions. His first, translated as Whatever at the height of the grunge era, confirmed that disaffection was alive and well in Paris, if it had ever left. The French title, Extension du Domaine de la Lutte, expresses in one phrase the argument each of Houellebecq’s books has found an inventive way of restaging: the failure of the sexual revolution to overthrow capitalism has commodified human eros, rendering its subjects so many pieces of entrepreneurial meat in a cold, bureaucratized market. Periodic incels, Houellebecq’s protagonists are racist, misogynistic, alcoholic, and depressed—losers obsessed with their own desire, shielded from oblivion by cowardice, laziness, and the demoralizing conveniences of modernity: sex tourism, New Agery, populism, and in his latest novel Serotonin, prescription pharmaceuticals.

more here.