Others say he only tells us what we do not really want to know: what the world and humanity are really like, and where they are going.

He has met the lesser sides of life: disinterest from his divorced parents, unemployment, failed marriage, depression and therapy. Trained as an agronomical engineer, he worked as a civil servant and co-founded the literary journal Perpendiculaire before turning to poetry and literature for good. His debut was an essay, H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life (1991). But it was his first two novels, Whatever (1994) and Atomised/ The Elementary Particles (1998) that made him the star he is today, though especially the latter was both praised and criticised. After having had to deal with a racism lawsuit concerning his book Platforme (2001), for which he was acquitted, he swapped Paris for Ireland and later Spain.

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY – REINIER VAN BRUMMELEN

Houellebecq’s book The Possibility of an Island was published in 2005 and tells the story of a man and his two clones, all named Daniel. Number 1, the real one, is a contemporary comedian fed up with his wealthy hedonist life. The other Daniels, numbered 24 and 25, live somewhere in the future, in a world destroyed by man itself, by war and disaster. So Daniel has post-human eternal life, but what does that really implicate?

Houellebecq’s own feature film adaptation of the book focuses on the lost love of the post-human clones, and the possibility to regain it. A dog seems to be the catalyst. Or, as Iggy Pop says: “Through dogs we pay homage to love and to its possibility.” A poster with Iggy Pop used to decorate the wall in Houellebecq’s room in Paris, and Iggy agreed to write the music for the documentary. The seven new songs were released on the album, Prélminaires. The music suits the documentary. It all seems to come together. And yet, the film is somewhat intangible too. It has many distinct elements that are not subservient to a single storyline.

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The novelist Michel Houellebecq in 2010. Photo: Alessando Albert/Getty Images

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