as i believe in authorial intent despite its lack of existence (Barthes 1967), i generally observe and appreciate authors and then works. so, to get straight to the point, here is the list in no particular order:
works read: Atomised, Whatever, Serotonin
i consider michel houellebecq as one of the greatest if not the greatest living writer. he continues the tradition of french moralists (as in de la Rochefoucauld, Pascal, etc.) and is direct in his criticism of modernity and its philosophical entanglements. his complete sincerity and directness on controversial topics is a great source of reconcilement and helping with suffering in the overly optimistic and shit world. there are many topics with which i struggle in terms of discourse, but he states his views directly, and it is great to be aware that one is not alone in the dislike of the state of things.
he does not provide a bullshit nostalgia in his critique of modernity, as (i think) he is aware that nostalgia is based on limited knowledge on the actual experience of a historical period. again, the topics avoided of certain eras would probably provide a different picture than we have through various historical narratives.
his commercial success and the hatred given by various critics nicely shows his position in the milieu and his importance. inasmuch as with most contemporaries i consider them as historically unimportant, with houellebecq i am sure of that he will be read as description of contemporary europe same as dostoyevsky of 19th century russia.
my only criticism of him is a deleuzian one as he does not develop much new concepts of his work. he is more of a rewriting the same book author, but the concepts explored are of highest value. thus, i consider Atomised to be so far the best of his works in that action, as its dual narrative and resolution show issues which are over the entire post-war era and are not related to the particularities. it offers a deep sense of hope which sometimes is lacking in his work.i would then consider serotonin, mostly on his painful and borgesian reading on the exploration of the past and decay, which are easily the biggest sources of pain possible.
On the subject, it's amusing to note that two highly respected fin-de-siecle intellectuals, Gilles Deleuze and Guy Debord, both committed suicide for no reason other than that they could not bear the idea of their own physical decline. Their suicides provoked no surprise and no comment; in general, the suicide of elderly people - by far the most commonplace — seems to us perfectly rational. It is perhaps also useful to cite public reaction to the prospect of a terrorist attack as symptomatic: the overwhelming majority of people would prefer to be killed outright rather than tortured, maimed, or even disfigured. In part, this is probably because they are somewhat tired of life; but the principal reason is that nothing - not even death - seems worse than the prospect of living in a broken body. (Atomised)
'In this space of which they are so afraid, human beings learn how to live and to die; in their mental space, separation, distance and suffering are born. There is little to add to this: the lover hears his lover's voice over mountains and oceans; over mountains and oceans a mother hears the cry of her child. Love binds, and it binds for ever. Good binds, while evil unravels. Separation is another word for evil; it is also another word for deceit. All that exists is a magnificent interweaving, vast and reciprocal.' (Atomised)
After selling her loft, and taking into account the market price, she would end up with three times as much money as me. A single property purchase enabled her father to earn so much more than mine had in forty years of struggle, writing authenticated deeds and recording mortgages, where the money had never been an adequate recompense for the work, strictly speaking there was no connection between the two, no human society had ever been based on the fair remuneration of work, and even a future communist society was not supposed to be based on it; for Marx, the principle of wealth distribution was reduced to this entirely hollow formula: ‘To each according to his needs’, an endless source of carping and quibbling if by some misfortune someone tried to put it into practice, but luckily that had never happened, no more in the communist countries than anywhere else; money went to money and kept company with power, that was the final word in social organisation. (Serotonin)