By Ben Jeffery
Michel Houellebecq, writer of 5 novels together with Atomised and Platform, has develop into in all likelihood the world's most renowned literary pessimist. His paintings publicizes that lifestyles is painful and disappointing, demise is terrifying, and the human is a bad kind of shaggy dog story. He has been wildly profitable – translated into over 25 varied languages and hailed because the voice of a iteration.
Beginning with Houellebecq's novels, this e-book explores the idea that of 'Depressive Realism' in literature and philosophy – the proposition that the evidence of existence are bleak and unkind. Ranging over paintings by way of David Foster Wallace, Susan Sontag, Fredric Jameson and Margaret Atwood, Anti-Matter surveys the case for pessimism, asks how a mass tradition rooted in sentimentality and trivialisation manages to supply a lot cynicism and apathy, and hunts for the distance that continues to be for severe, life-affirming paintings.
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Extra info for Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism
The villainy of materialism is that it undermines this: for instance, when it tells us that love is only a disguise for the urge to reproduce. Along this road we lose the use of a very fundamental and comforting terminology, or at least are obliged to admit that it gives a false or misleading account of human behaviour. It emerges that there is basically no getting over yourself, no escaping your skull – and the more you are led to feel this way the more you are inclined to see life as isolated and vanishing.
If what the characters in Houellebecq say is true, 62 it seems to cancel the art’s reason to be; but it’s the author’s skill, his art, that makes them sound true. If their solipsism and self-interest are compelling, it’s only because the reader can sympathise. It’s an inconsistency exhibited within the novels, too, filled up as they are with characters who constantly assert the uselessness of writing but who keep on producing it themselves. The narrator of Whatever writes philosophical parables.
Its identity as an ‘unreal’, imagined thing – artifice. Every kind of art is unreal after a fashion, but the point is particularly obvious with respect to literature. ). So with any sort of literary realism there’s a certain degree of ambiguity about what’s being asserted. By its nature, realism is a state of opposition – it only makes sense in contrast with what’s unreal: fantasy, illusion, myth, lies, and so on. But thought of as a literary virtue, ‘realism’ therefore seems strictly incoherent or impossible or both, because how can fiction ever be real?
Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism by Ben Jeffery