The Punk-Prophet Philosophy of Michel Houellebecq

Justin E. H. Smith in Foreign Policy:

Many people, even in France, have by now forgotten a small detail of the fateful day of Jan. 7, 2015, when members of a Paris al Qaeda cell stormed the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and murdered 12 cartoonists, writers, and editors. A new issue of the publication had just hit the newsstands, and all over the city, on its cover, was the caricatured image of a sickly, haggard Michel Houellebecq with a pointed magician’s cap, smoking a cigarette, looking like some untouchable warlock. “Predictions of the Magus Houellebecq”, the cover read.

The occasion for this satirical treatment was Houellebecq’s new novel, Submission, whose official publication date was the very day of the attacks. In it, Houellebecq imagines a France of the near future in which the citizenry, atomized and starved of meaning in their post-Christian anomie, elect a Muslim leader into power and are converted en masse for life in a French Islamic theocracy.

Of course, what Houellebecq describes has not in fact come to pass.

More here.