Houllebecq on H.P.Lovecraft
June 4, 2005 5:07 AM   Subscribe

Great Cthulhu emerges from his slumber. Disaffected, reactionary, pro-sex tourism and anti-Islam, Europe's most controversial living writer Michel Houllebecq lovingly profiles H.P. Lovecraft. [via rw]
posted by Bletch (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
And yes, I just mis-spelled 'Houellebecq'. D'oh.
posted by Bletch at 5:11 AM on June 4, 2005

And he's the subject of that new Gwen Stefani song: "I ain't no Houellebecq girl / Ain't no Houellebecq girl."
posted by chasing at 5:39 AM on June 4, 2005

Is the whore-loving, Muslim-baiting 44-year-old novelist who has stamped his name on a Euro-brand of millennial lassitude really "hunting big game" – as Julian Barnes wrote about his last novel, Atomised? Or is he cynically potting the feeble rabbits of post-Sixties liberal piety to thrill the kind of jaded reader who laps up anything that smacks of "political incorrectness"?

And the answer is: yes.
posted by Drexen at 6:16 AM on June 4, 2005

Those who love life do not read. Nor do they go to the movies, actually.

I think this might be true. The most charitable folks I know don't seem to bother, and art seems a little dark next to them.
posted by bendybendy at 7:52 AM on June 4, 2005

I think the movie part was even more true in his day.
I've seen this book in stores around me this last week, and leafed through his essay before the HPL stories.
The first link seems to have conveyed the gist of it (if not the bulk).

I think reading Lovecraft is a great litmus test for one's temperament. At times I've relished his stories, at others I'd find them awfully slow in pace.

Oh, and I'm very glad this wasn't an instance of Newsfilter.
posted by Busithoth at 9:37 AM on June 4, 2005

I think the point about Lovecraft creating a "founding mythology" is a good one. Much like Arthur Conan Doyle and Dashiel Hammett.

The odd thing about Lovecraft is how poorly he has translated to the screen. Reanimator and In The Mouth Of Madness are two of the better attempts, but neither is very good or very true to the original.
posted by warbaby at 9:44 AM on June 4, 2005

Not convinced that a charitable nature equates to a love of life, or is even necessarily associated with a love of humanity.

As to Houellebecq's analysis of Lovecraft (at least as presented in fragment. And is it just me, or does the translation seem a little clumsy?) I ended up being more convinced than I expected myself to be. Certainly, the people I know who are most keen on Lovecraft do often tend toward that kind of misanthropic dreaminess. I think I'd have to include myself in this.

However, it seems to me that the richness of Lovecraft's dreams is skipped over at the expense of expressing their ultimate nihilism. While his stories are certainly dark, they are still, to an extent, childhood gardens.
posted by howfar at 9:55 AM on June 4, 2005

Here's the SF Chronicle's article.
posted by vporter at 9:58 AM on June 4, 2005

Let's not overlook Metallica.
posted by brain_drain at 11:03 AM on June 4, 2005

brain_drain, I liked this one:
Gwar: The lead singer, Oderous Urungus, wears a spiked prosthetic appendage nicknamed “The Cuttlefish of Cthulhu.”
posted by Bletch at 11:22 AM on June 4, 2005

Now, spurred to rage by the unhappy fate of Lovecraft, he begins to suspect a connection between money, sex, and modernity. “The value of a human being today is measured in terms of his economic efficiency and his erotic potential,” Houellebecq writes, “the two things that Lovecraft most despised.” And there’s no end in sight.

Yeah... it's always a mistake to take your own crap lot in life and generalize. There's always people who are happy and those who are making out like bandits, and viewing them as vapid and lacking substance is just "sour grapes"

If your lot is crap, it's because that's what's been decided for you, and maybe you can be so fortunate to have some function to come out of it, like writing horror books, or writing something, or maybe creating a little crap at the beginning of the day if you are lucky enough to be regular.

Generalizing and saying that its the inevitable result for people in general, given the larger trends X, for people to end up in the bad state you are in, will only subject you to the reasonable criticism that you are just bitter, and can't understand the personalized dimensions of your failure.

In the end I guess the only problems with society, the only problems society has ever had, are the personal failures of some individuals. Because if you are making the dough, and you are getting laid, and you have some people in your life who care about you, or some majority of these attributes are true about your situation, then really everything is OK in the world isn't it.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:27 AM on June 4, 2005

nervousfritz, I won't say much, because I've got to go to work now. To keep it short then:

Your argument is vapid nonsense and completely irrelevant to the article in question.
posted by howfar at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2005

Not convinced that a charitable nature equates to a love of life, or is even necessarily associated with a love of humanity.

I'm not convinced either, and correlation doesn't equal causation. But then, I too am a dreamy misanthrope. I think the realization hit me the other way around: I've found it odd that certain people I've known have no interest in reading, or similar cultural pursuits. It's a disinterest I find hard to fathom. And I've also noticed that they spend time doing stuff like helping the poor and attending the wounded in the Sudan. 'Course, Celine ended up doing the same thing.
posted by bendybendy at 11:34 AM on June 4, 2005

well maybe I stated it wrong, but just to try again, I guess most of the "we're all doomed" ideas come from people who have doomed themselves, since society has many useful things for people to do, especially considering if you make a good record for yourself starting in your mid teens and don't make a lot of mistakes going forward from then. I'm kind of taking up a Holden Caufield perspective on it. Do the right thing kids, do your work, like howfar. Be a filial son. Do your duties. Keep a positive attitude. Look what can happen if you don't. etc.

If what I'm saying has nothing to do with the article, then for that I apologize. Maybe I need to be banned from the site, because this is my reaction to the articles, which I read. I took what stood out to me and responded to it.

I'm sort of half crazy, so I know, I can have the tendency to relate two concepts which are actually unrelated. So, like I said, feel free to ban me, as I'm sure You do.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:48 AM on June 4, 2005

/fails SAN check/
posted by bardic at 2:56 PM on June 4, 2005

Thanks, Bletch. Much appreciated.
posted by shoepal at 9:37 PM on June 5, 2005

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