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Michel Houellebecq is missing.
September 15, 2011 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Novelist and H.P. Lovecraft biographer Michel Houellebecq is missing. Houellebecq was due to give a reading from his new work Le Carte et le Territoire, in the Netherlands on September 12th.

Houellebecq has appeared on the blue before: here, here, here and here.
posted by Kitty Stardust (49 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I read the Possibility of an Island years ago, and it left me in a state of quivering, catatonic fear of mortality and age.

To quote the article:

One of the things that makes Lovecraft so distinctive is the horror he finds in the idea of infinitely deep time and space and the knowledge of a monstrously indifferent universe alien to our little world of humanist values.


And in a more mundane sense, that applied just as thoroughly to Houellbeccq's writing. His writing is strange, and at times confusing, and dare-I-say misogynist, but it has a certain brilliance and insight in with all of that terribly depressing sense of scale and the relentlessness of time.

I hope he's okay.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:28 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Huh. I hope he's all right. Given the details and how completely depressing his work tends to be, my first thought is suicide. :\
But he seems pretty crotchety and reclusive, so hopefully it's something less extreme. I appreciate his perspective, even if I couldn't personally live with it.

Against the World, Against Life is totally great as a Houellebecq book, but totally terrible as a book about Lovecraft, also.
posted by byanyothername at 2:29 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, it's hard not to assume the worst when someone who may suffer from severe depression goes missing. I hope he turns up no worse for the wear, maybe just a little hungover.

(I guess it's doubly hard not to assume the eldritch horrors of the deep are responsible when Lovecraft is involved.)
posted by elizardbits at 2:29 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jesus Christ, I just read a bio of the guy, and I guess I can ease off on the care I wanted to frame "misogynist" with. It's pretty clearly a theme throughout his writing, and not a momentary lapse or a misunderstanding on my part.

He seems to have a great deal indeed in common with Mr Lovecraft.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:32 PM on September 15, 2011


Houellebecq simply forgot he had appointments. So, he hasn't disappeared, it turned out early Thursday evening. Nor has he imitated the plot of one of his novels.

Nothing to see here.

[Read two of his novels, was bored pretty soon by the way he aimed for shock effects. Find him thoroughly overrated.]
posted by ijsbrand at 2:41 PM on September 15, 2011


I can no longer discern sarcasm on the blue. Is he ok?
posted by stinkycheese at 2:43 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Houellebecq simply forgot he had appointments. So, he hasn't disappeared, it turned out early Thursday evening.

Wait, really? I hate to be the guy calling for a cite, but do you have a cite?
posted by penduluum at 2:44 PM on September 15, 2011


Maybe it's a clone of Houellebecq. The original is waist-deep in drug-fueled orginess aboard an alien aircraft.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:46 PM on September 15, 2011


There's nothing the matter. Though these days one never knows if the publisher didn't simply pull a stunt.

[quote]I hate to be the guy calling for a cite, but do you have a cite?[/quote]

All over the Dutch speaking media. Like here.

Just use the Dutch Google News.
posted by ijsbrand at 2:47 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I blame Nyarlathotep.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:49 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hey, great. Thanks.
posted by penduluum at 2:50 PM on September 15, 2011


That's a relief. I was afraid that the guitarist from Journey had struck again.
posted by argonauta at 2:50 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Just use the Dutch Google News.
posted by penduluum at 2:50 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


so . . . he wasn't pulled screaming into a howling infinite frozen abyss through non-euclidean angled corners of a candlelit room by tentacles attached to o̧̍̆ͩͮ͏̱̲̠̗͎̰h̢̨̢̜͚͇̣̪̽̓̾͗̋ͧ̋̾ͅ ͍͕̬̮͖͗ͪ̆͐ͫ̈͢m̠̜̲̗̝͉̓̂̄̑̿͗͌̽̕y̷̢̜͖̝͕ͥ̑͗̔̽ͬͯ̌ͧ ̢̔̌̀ͥͯ̅̊͆ͥ͏̣̗̺̰̻͙͍ͅg̗̘̗̳̩̮̻̏͂ͫ͑̉ͫo̡̱͙̜̱͕̲͛ͨ̌̆̎ͮ͒̉͟d̜̥̹͈̘̪̭͓̝ͤ͐̃͞͡,̳̲̬̦̱̞ͮ͌ ̷̝̙͓͈̜́ͨͪ̒̑ͯ͡I̪̜̦̹̅̅́̕͜ ̪͈̝̺̫̟͑̇̓ͤ͒̐ͬd͙̣͕̦͛̉̐ͨ͐̓i̡̛̝̱̒̋̍̋́ͭ͌͡d̨̺͔̈̅ͮn͗̆̒͂ͬͣͬ͏̧̻͍'̰̤̠͉ͨ͗̂̽̾̃͢͞t͉̖͚͓ͨ͑̽͐ͧ͡ ͇̮̲̯͖̀̈̎ͫ͐ͥ̒̽̾m͙͔͙̥̲̤̤̺͖͒̇ê͔͎͇͖̰͚͈ͩ͗̊̎ͤͯͭ̌̕ă̻͓̜͔ͯ̂͗̊̎ͮ̌͟ņ̧̱̫͍̭̺̾̊͘ ͎͇̥̫͓̗ͦ͆ͮ̐̕͘t̶̗̺̤͍̠̂͑̈́̔ͧ̅͗ͥ͡ö̡̰̖̖̬͍͍̫̻ͭͮͤ̓̊̑͑̄ ̏͏̨̲͓ͅs̤̲̰̟̫̺̬͐̊̆ͨ̋̎̅̇͢͟͝a͎͚̳͑̃ͮ̇y̛̤̦̬̙͍̥ͪ
posted by exlotuseater at 2:51 PM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


. . . aaannnd I'm back! I'm fine, I'm fine. *stares*
posted by exlotuseater at 2:52 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


One of these days I'm going to learn that Zalgo trick. I'm afraid of what I'll be capable of once that happens.
posted by JHarris at 3:04 PM on September 15, 2011


𝔖𝔠𝔯𝔢𝔴 ℨ𝔞𝔩𝔤𝔬- 𝔓𝔩𝔞𝔶𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔊𝔬𝔡 𝔦𝔰 𝔴𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔢 𝔦𝔱'𝔰 𝔞𝔱.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:07 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


So they didn't find his corpse being nibbled on by cats? Huh. That's another five bucks I'm down.

Frankly, until he IS cat food, I don't want to hear any more about this clown.
posted by happyroach at 3:09 PM on September 15, 2011


You know, I was rather shocked when I took dunkadunc's text, copied it into Notepad, and saw it there UNCHANGED.
posted by JHarris at 3:12 PM on September 15, 2011


One of these days I'm going to learn that Zalgo trick. I'm afraid of what I'll be capable of once that happens.

Look here. O̰̪̹h̯̔͐̍̊,͆̃̉ͦͮ ͉̈́͒̀̒ͭͧ̋n̹̥̜͕̟̎͆ͥͫ̂͊o̗,̼͍̦̼̝̜͈̈ͯ̇̒̉ͤ̚ ̼̓ͅẁ̀̓ͦ͒ͣh͇̋ͤa̎͑̄̓̔t̟̰̳ ̜̎̃̉̅h͓̫͎͕͎͚a̤͈̗̖͈ͩͤ̊̋ͬ̀v̩ẻ̜̐̿ ͕̄ͧ̅͋̊̎̏Ỉ̼̞̖͚̃̓̓̽ͅ ̩̹̩͖̯̥̿ͦṳ͙ͧn̫̣ͭ̄ͫ͌l̿ͤ͌̀̓ͨ̎e̖͓̟̦͉ã̟͙̜̣ͭ͆̃̚s̽̅h̤̤̗͕́̋̉̎̋e̠̬ͨ͊̒̓ͦͬ͋d̳̘͉̅͑̊ͤ̈ͅ!̭̘́
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:19 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


JHarris: http://www.eeemo.net/

Someones written a webpage for you if you don't feel like futzing around with Unicode combining charachters yourself.

Which is just as well because b̟̤̲̳̯͈̩̃͋̊ͤ̀̌̇a̎̍̽͊̉dͨ̂ͫͣ̈́̊ ̗͓͙̰͉̀̎̎ͨ́͒ͅt̗̖̝͍̣ͯ͂̒ĥ̥̜̖̬͙̖͒̿ͯ̚i̯͈͚̜͍̮͐͆̆ṅ̡̻̖̦̭͈̻ͭ͊̒g̠s̩̦̠͉̭̓̿ ̱̠̠̖̱̟͇̈́̓ͧ̒͂̃h͈̟̪͓̞̞̼̄̊a̸̮̫̠̘͈̺̲̐ͫ̊̍͗̓p̥͚ͮ̈̂̃ṕ̱̪̹̠̙̳͍ͯͪͣ̐̊e͛̎͒̋̽̃n̠̜̪̺̳̘̥̆̈́ͭͤ̓͠ ̭̜̗ͭ͝w̨̼̤̩͍̤̥̎̉̍̅̄h̨̙̬̬̭͑ͪ́̒ȅ̳n͙̜̥̟͎͡ ̲̻̪̩̫̺̟̎ͩ̑̃̑̐͋ý̘̞͈o̩̰̪̫̼̹̓ͣu̩͔̮̞̺͍̣̾ͥ̒͑̚ ̶ͫ͐ͥ̀̏g̯͖̺o͉͍̦̬̦̭ ̛̝̱̮tͧͧȏ̝͚̟̘̜͍̓̆̇̍̔͟o̞̭͍̤̞̦͕ͤͩͦͨ͝ ̱͚͍d̜̖̹̙͇͓̭̊ͥͫe͍͙̖̠̊ͫẻ̲̄͗̐̇͡p̢̩̙̟͕͙ͅ ͎̗̹̘͜ĭ̟̥̤̲̍ň̩̳̹͔̯͇̻ͧ̔̀ͣ̈̉͜t͉̳̦͙͓̰̜̍ͦ̈̑͒̾͡o̢͇͉͒͋ͩͭ͒͋ͪ ͇̓Û͚̥̘͎͈͈͓̑ͯ̃̈̔͢n͖̽i̲̹̞̳̳̼ͭ̓ͥ͆ͥ̂c̲͕͙̳ͣ̆ͣo̡̪d͕̠̯̹̩e̘̣̫̋͋.̀
posted by Grimgrin at 3:24 PM on September 15, 2011


Yikes, iOS doesn't handle those special characters well at all.
posted by JHarris at 3:32 PM on September 15, 2011


I thought this was going to lead into a reenactment of The Third Man, but with a Lovecraftian writer instead of an author of cheap Westerns.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:49 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's quaint how much Europeans actually care about if their writers are dead or not.

I began reading The Elementary Particles and was simply lulled into complete indifference with whatever happened to any of the characters.
posted by Skygazer at 3:59 PM on September 15, 2011


So how's that apathy working out for ya?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:00 PM on September 15, 2011


Kind of like this whole non-story that became a story and an FPP and Houellebecq (that rascal) simply forgot he was supposed to be somewhere. Zzzzzz.....
posted by Skygazer at 4:01 PM on September 15, 2011


He's a very boring and weird writer so chances are he's doing something boring and weird like sitting in a box on a hill and he's used crayons on the inside of it so it looks like a spaceship command capsule and he's got something up his ass and is jerking off into a sock and counting molecules and hoping his next interview will be with a good looking journalist broad so he can tell her about this cathartic experience while touching her leg and sucking pink gin through a sippy straw.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:05 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't think he's boring at all. I thought Platform was amazing -- I read it last summer. I loaned it to a friend, though, who was like " I uh, I was not expecting THAT."
posted by sweetkid at 4:35 PM on September 15, 2011


Against the World, Against Life is totally great as a Houellebecq book, but totally terrible as a book about Lovecraft, also.

Agreed. During the first seven months of my thesis on HPL I have steadily avoided using it as a reference.
posted by New England Cultist at 4:41 PM on September 15, 2011



Jesus Christ, I just read a bio of the guy, and I guess I can ease off on the care I wanted to frame "misogynist" with. It's pretty clearly a theme throughout his writing, and not a momentary lapse or a misunderstanding on my part.


Is it possible he's more of a misanthrope? Does he just hate women, or does he hate all of humanity?

I really hope he's okay. After reading his Lovecraft essay I've been meaning to read his books.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:46 PM on September 15, 2011


He got caught up with a houellebecq girl.
posted by delmoi at 4:48 PM on September 15, 2011 [27 favorites]


Against the World, Against Life is totally great as a Houellebecq book, but totally terrible as a book about Lovecraft, also.

Yeah, I'm not sure why he's cited as a Lovecraft biographer in the post. ATWAL is an interesting interpretation of Lovecraft, but it's not really a biography. I've only read the L. Sprague de Camp biography. Are there any better ones?
posted by benzenedream at 4:55 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The definitive bio of Lovecraft is S. T. Joshi's Lovecraft: A Life. But the de Camp book, although less factually accurate, gets at HPL's ideas, worldview, philosophy and personality a lot better than Joshi's rather tedious chronicle of his daily activities.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 5:00 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really liked the De Camp biography, though I understand it's considered inferior to Joshi's, which this thread has reminded me to read.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:18 PM on September 15, 2011


Ah, thanks ijsbrand, I didn't see that he'd turned up.

I remember the first time I read Elementary Particles and how struck I was by the one highpoint of the book being the knowledge that humanity eventually gets replaced by something better. Houellebecq's misanthropy results in portrayals that are both grotesque and yet oddly honest. He shares with Martin Amis, IMHO, a complete disregard for the concept of sympathetic characters. Against Life isn't so much a biography as it is an analysis of Lovecraft's work that borders on Freudian. I thought Houellebecq did some interesting work relating Lovecraft's personal prejudices to the types of universes he created in fiction. I'm sure someday we'll see a Michel Houellebecq: Against Humanity, Against Society.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 6:33 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I might also mention that I found this if anyone wants more material on Lovecraft: Walking With Cthulhu: H.P. Lovecraft as psychogeographer, New York City 1924-26
posted by Kitty Stardust at 6:38 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


delmoi, "Houellebecq girl" is the best play-on-words I've seen in a very, very long time. Bravo.
posted by tzikeh at 7:46 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've only read the L. Sprague de Camp biography. Are there any better ones?

I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft (2 VOLUMES) by S.T. Joshi
(2010)
posted by New England Cultist at 8:01 PM on September 15, 2011


Oh, I might also mention that I found this if anyone wants more material on Lovecraft: Walking With Cthulhu: H.P. Lovecraft as psychogeographer, New York City 1924-26

Thank you!
posted by New England Cultist at 8:02 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's one of my favorite living authors, misanthropy and self-hatred included. Glad he's safe.

I'll take _The Possibility of an Island_ over the vague platitudes and middle-class self-pity of Jonathan Franzen any day.
posted by bardic at 9:57 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]



delmoi, "Houellebecq girl" is the best play-on-words I've seen in a very, very long time. Bravo.


What? How? What am I missing?
posted by sweetkid at 10:27 PM on September 15, 2011


delmoi, "Houellebecq girl" is the best play-on-words I've seen in a very, very long time. Bravo.

What? How? What am I missing?
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:09 PM on September 15, 2011


This was the first place I saw it.
posted by delmoi at 1:19 AM on September 16, 2011


I don't think that's how you pronounce his name.
posted by creasy boy at 1:41 AM on September 16, 2011


Wellbeck girl?
posted by Ritchie at 2:52 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah. I don't think that's how you pronounce it either, it's more "wellbeck."
posted by sweetkid at 5:57 AM on September 16, 2011


Is it possible he's more of a misanthrope? Does he just hate women, or does he hate all of humanity?

Well, it's not like he's come up with a likeable character, ever, but his misandry to misogyny ratio is definitely pretty skewed.
posted by monocyte at 6:15 AM on September 16, 2011




Is it possible he's more of a misanthrope? Does he just hate women, or does he hate all of humanity?


Yes. Or rather, he doesn't seem to see all that much special or hopeful about humanity. A whole lot of frustration and ennui there. But he has very gendered ideas about how that dirty hopelessness is expressed.

Or that was my impression from reading Possibility of an Island. I don't really understand all of the hate for the guy's writing here though.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:49 AM on September 16, 2011


During the first seven months of my thesis on HPL I have steadily avoided using it as a reference.

Please post to projects when you're done if it ends up on-line!

Joshi's biography of Lovecraft is available in three sizes: tall, grande, venti. I have the grande (I would have gotten the tall if it hadn't been out of print and outrageously priced.) He also edited an "autobiography in letters" of Lovecraft.

One of these days I'm going to learn that Zalgo trick. I'm afraid of what I'll be capable of once that happens.

A roguelike in which there's a Zalgo monster that infects other creatures?
posted by Zed at 4:45 PM on September 16, 2011


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