Illusion is not just one of the things we try to protect ourselves from each day; it is also among the various blemishes we need to annihilate. Not out of caprice, much less on orders from the Weltgeist, but simply because illusion is complicit in everything and we are not prepared to forgive this society a single one of its cowardly acts. But if there’s any one “milieu” that has most particularly taken up the position as official janitor of all illusions, even illusion as such, it’s indeed the infamous, suffocating, and noxious “cultural milieu.” In the years to come it should be expected that domination will more and more authorize “art” to give the ukases that it couldn’t otherwise dress up as truth anymore without being ridiculed. That is something that it is somewhat urgent to undermine, before it gets too comfortably engaged. Though people might harbor other, more reprehensible kinds of indifference towards the present production of cultural commodities, this kind is nonetheless probably the most dangerous, for it is our most insidious enemy operating under cover of insignificance.
However repugnant and deeply absurd an idea it would appear to grant even a second’s attention to the case of a man who still claims to make “art” and even “literature,” the critical metaphysicians felt it would be unacceptable to let the wrong ideas spreading around about the para-buddhist Xeroxer Michel Houellebecq go on subsisting. This total abortion is certainly especially deserving of our hostility; after all he was among the first examples of the perfect Bloom to proclaim himself publicly as such, and this, beyond all his exaggerated self-adoration, would alone have gotten him a good place on our black list. Equally contributing to that, moreover, is the fact that he’s constantly spurting from his putrefied buccal meatus the adjective “metaphysical,” and using it as just some unusual synonym for “profound” or “spiritual,” all terms which make for excellent marketing gimmicks on the new-age consumers’ market. But experience has shown us well enough that it is vain to want to do battle with maggots, since the most you can do is crush them. We have no particular plaint against the person of Michel Houellebecq, since no such person exists. “Michel Houellebecq” is merely a pseudonym for nothingness. On the other hand, it was left up to Tiqqun itself, and as well to the efforts of the critical metaphysicians, to draw attention to the brutal outbursts of the language of flattery that the houellebecq’s appearance on the surface of Publicity gave rise to in the “cultural milieu.” The fact that in this matter we saw the journalist “opinion-makers” denounce the dictatorship of “self-righteousness,” and a large publishing house opine that one of its writer-clerks had been the victim of “shopkeepers,” and that the clerk in question, though unanimously praised by the puppet critics, had complained about his being persecuted, in the end was just a question of a difference in degree from the normal self-serving confusionism of the publishing industry. What is not so typical on the other hand is the consciousness with which everyone took their role-playing to the limit, enthusiasts and detractors alike, in faking a passion about it. The air of false absolutes in which the different gestures involved in the “literary comeback event” – which is how the various press organizations announced it, complying with Flammarion’s instructions – took place objectively cried out for us to disturb the course of events a bit, while being careful to never let ourselves fall into the trap of being propelled onto the stage. When the Spectacle is impudent enough to try to glad-hand the masses, that’s what it’s exposing itself to. It wasn’t a smart move for them to try to promote their trash in a “public” space like FNAC [a large French entertainment retail chain], as they did on the Saturday afternoon of October 24th, 1998. Above all because it’s a delicate matter when the Spectacle has to explain to its consumers that it’s fed them false advertising about its commodities, while assuring them that it won’t do any good to complain about it anyway. And so it was not without discomfort that Michel Houellebecq went down to the FNAC that day to confess his point of view. What he said was basically: sure, the book was sold and bought on the pretext that it supposedly “passed judgment on society and civilization,” that is, on the pretext of its political nature, and for the critical element it contained; but that that wasn’t really the author’s concern, since after all he’s just another producer of cultural commodities like any other, who happened to have decided to exploit the quite promising opportunity that the “death of ideologies” – this is the euphemism people use to designate hostility towards thought – has given to bastards like him. Insufficiently trained in the proper use of the language of flattery, the high school kids that happened to be there saw that as a glaring impropriety and didn’t understand why not drawing the consequences of what you write nevertheless had to be called “literature.” Once he’d acknowledged to them all that he was a “worm,” they let him know that they considered him to be more like a “buffoon.” In a word, the houellebecq didn’t manage to render his shame less shameful by offering it up to Publicity, for the kids that were there at least. As for the critical metaphysicians, they began by distributing a tract, which we reproduce here.
Michel Houellebecq, biographical note
(an excerpt from the Encyclopedia of Redemptions, 24th revised edition, Paris, 2074; translated from the future Latin)
Author and know-it-all born in 1958 on Réunion island, then a province of France. We know very little about what he did or what he was, since the newspapers, which set the era’s standards for the literary genre, have all but disappeared in the course of the great conflicts that local historians are today dedicating their efforts to taking an inventory of. None of his works has survived, even in fragmentary form. We have no direct witnesses of his person, but it seems that none of those that he called his “friends” – in the very strange sense that that era understood the word – considered it worthwhile to pay any homage to him. At most we have a short-lived wave of insults, from the years 2004-2005, which either transparently or just plausibly alluded to this obscure personage, among which we have: “houellebecq-for-brains,” “supermarket taxidermist,” “visionary little lapdog,” or the classic, “Houellebecq’s your mom.” It appears however that over a number of years he enjoyed a certain notoriety difficult to explain today, and was the subject of a mass of polemic arguments. One way or another, it is mostly from one of these that we draw the majority of what information is left about this person and his ideas. Thus we find in the archives of the Imaginary Party, entry number H.492-B-58, a tract entitled Michel Houellebecq, biographical note, as well as a text from number 2 of the historical magazine Tiqqun with the title, “Function of the houellebecq.”
From these documents we derive a large number of elements whose comprehension would require a deep knowledge of the sinister Anthracite Age, which lasted from 1990-2005. It should not be forgotten that the Houellebecq era was the backdrop for a formidable social regression in all the territories which at the time were called “developed,” and in all domains. A chronicler of those times thus reports that the confusion that reigned then even gave rise to the formation of a scientist, pro-state “revolutionary” party, headed by a mysterious character named Jean-Paul Bourdieu. Commodity society had long before given its last gasp, and was at the time only surviving thanks to an ever more glaring, ferocious, and spastic tyranny. Since this order with no more justification couldn’t defer the general acknowledgement of its bankruptcy, it needed to develop a kind of language where recognizing the kind of human suffering it engendered wouldn’t imply any kind of a project of liberation from it, but where it would simply be condemned and then put at the service of another new modernization of domination. Various concurring sources indicate that there was such thing at the time, in these “developed” societies, as a kind of “cultural milieu,” – since there were people around back then who really believed, without laughing, in the existence of a phantasmagoric “cultural milieu,” and some of them were even demented enough to claim to be “part of it” – which collaborated in the spread of this language of flattery, which as we know from the venerable Hegel, “knows being for itself as separate from being in itself, or the aims and goal as separate from the truth” – in other words, this “cultural milieu’s” impotent expression was an example of such language. In France, the singularly proselyte role of a certain press organ entitled “Les Inrockuptibles” [glossy French alternative cultural magazine; its name is a play on words mixing ‘rock’ and ‘incorruptible’], can be pointed to as an example of this kind of disaster-aesthetics, or more precisely, an aestheticization of disaster.
It appears that it was said “cultural milieu’s” special assignment to carry out this kind of underhanded repression. Their concrete use of language, symbols, and thought within the modes of production had the effect of reducing literature and art in general to a sadly ridiculous, showy, and weak-willed form of social activity, and they seem to have prided themselves on being cut off from any effectiveness at all. The most remarkable consequence of this state of things was the massive proletarianization of the whole fringe infatuated with that milieu, a fringe which otherwise was particularly averse to supplying the market with its share of spiritual tranquilizers, mundane topics of conversation, and miscellaneous curios, such as was required by the universal need for Entertainment which was the norm in those times. And so that fringe would go on producing this kind of “culture,” totally neutralized because it was separate from everything else, with an irrepressible hint of resentment in the face of its own decline. Because it was not merely that the whole of society no longer had more than a gentlemanly indifference to the miserable agitations of the so called “cultural” milieu and its futile preoccupations; it was above all that it had disintegrated it, declassed it, left it alone, and basically starved it. It’s clear how easy it would be in such conditions for a few soulless thugs, a few infamous failures, to want to make a career out of nihilism and drag it out as long as they could. Michel Houellebecq, it appears, was merely just another one of them.
In this era of absolute darkness, the function of the houellebecqs – and we are not talking about the individual person of the abovementioned Michel, who after all we don’t know much about, but who appears to have been something rather, repugnant, viscous, flaccid, and insignificant, at least according to our sources – was to lift the state of degradation that man was in at the time to the level of a philosophia perennis. They contributed to integrating a fragmentary critique of consumption into the dominant discourse of the time, but only in the interest of making that misery out to be something ontological – that is, of excluding from all reflection the idea of any practice that might destroy this curse, and if possible even exclude the Idea itself. They critiqued alienation not in order to work towards its suppression, but towards depression, which at the time was the subject of the production of whole industrial sectors. At all points, their business was similar to that of the pitiful Huxley, who would certainly have been forgotten had he not been so superbly put in his place by the Super-essential Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno: they eternalize all the reified antinomies, and all the arbitrary inconsistencies, proper to bourgeois thought… Hence the essential thing is not just the fact that in the deceptive choice between the abundance of traditional societies and the cybernetic “best of possible worlds” they’d chosen the latter; indeed, the choice itself and its very falsehood are the essential things, as the history of our century has so clearly demonstrated. Identically, the important thing wasn’t what they said – and everything leads us to believe that they said nothing consistent at all in the end – but the language they managed to get themselves heard by using. And so, the houellebecq chose chimeras for his enemies, i.e., the typical fictions of the bourgeois aberration (the individual, liberalism, sexuality, etc.). And for these, above all, it was a question of making people grant an existence to them by their very faith in them. In so doing, the houellebecq offered to the “Clear Conscience of the Left,” the stupefying hypocrisy of which it is impossible to imagine today, its dreamed-of chance to have a few obscure, hollow, and immensely boring debates – not like the good Boredom of today that we know and love, but the horrifying boredom of those times – to feast upon with total satisfaction, knowing that the lie would remain intact no matter what. Thus it gave the most hackneyed commonplaces from the old bourgeois trash-heap a sophisticated form, and a kind of second youth. Like so many of his contemporaries, he was incapable of imagining that anybody might somehow refuse to be reduced to being either part of the coercive collective system, or to being a contingent individual, and refused to imagine any meaning not totally contrary to life and a consciousness not totally opposed to happiness. In fact, it was a mere matter of sitting at the bedside of domination as it lay dying, soothing it by conjuring up a non-problematic version of reality, and describing society as if it had no contradictions in it which had just been due to a temporary technological backwardness. Michel Houellebecq and his peers did no more than to slightly stave off the unavoidable process of Tiqqun. As for us, we’d known for a long while that “humanity doesn’t have to choose between the totalitarian Universal State and individualism.” (Saint T.W. Adorno)
Too weak to overcome his profoundly ignoble nature, Michel Houellebecq regardless couldn’t even make his abjection durably likeable. And, in the first years of our century, he was swept into the black hole of history. Doubtless having judged that Nothingness wouldn’t let itself be annihilated but would instead contaminate its enemies, its real enemies took care to attack it directly, and abandoned it to its insipid decomposition. Legend has it (cf. Cruel Tales of the Anthracite Era XCVI, 25) that he died some time around the year 2017-2018, thrown out of the window of a Pat Pong whorehouse by an authentic Thai virgin. It is also claimed that the stinking pile of his gangrenous viscera and his broken skeleton were thrown out to that area’s famed wandering dogs to nibble on, and that even they didn’t want to eat them. That at least was the hardly believable doom that was foretold for him by the Imaginary Party’s tract, entitled Michel Houellebecq, biographical note, dated October 24th, 1998.
- A conscious fraction of the Imaginary Party, October 24th, 1998.
The critical metaphysicians didn’t need to let the houellebecq blather on for long before realizing that a dwarf like him wasn’t on their level, and wouldn’t be even if he climbed on the shoulders of his toad of a publisher. So they at first they were just going to limit themselves to verifying whether he still maintained what he’d told Les Inrockuptibles – namely that he liked Stalin “because he killed lots of anarchists (laughs),” a statement which could just have been some kind of a vulgar promotional provocation, intended to get a few impenitent leftists all worked up – and what he’d written in his epilogue to Valerie Solanas’ Scum Manifesto: “in the middle of the sixties, in the middle of an unprecedented ideological mess, and in spite of a few nazi slip-ups, Valerie Solanas had the courage to maintain a progressive and reasoned attitude, which was in line with the most noble aspirations of the western project: man’s establishment of absolute technological control over nature, including his own biological nature and evolution. And that’s part of working towards the long term goal of rebuilding a new kind of nature, on a basis conforming to moral law - that is, establishing the universal reign of love, period.” What we found, however, was a public comprised of around a hundred persons, groveling there to lap up the words of the panicky, bilious little minstrel, talking about how interested he was in freedom, man, meaning, and language, and from the depths of his sophisticated nihilism was trumpeting the advantages of a herd future in an all-encompassing technological dictatorship, something a bit more worthy of us attacking. But this moribund bunch hardly had a chance to react with even a few imperceptible gelatinous vibrations when it was insulted with the qualifier “amorphous.” After we’d shown it the nightmare and the impossibility of such an end of history as that, and asked it whether that was what it wanted, a total silence, a viscid silence of hatred, swept in among the crowd. Finally a lethargic voice came up from some kind of a homunculus lurking in the middle of the room, speculating in a blubbery, resigned tone: “Well, one way or another that’s what’s going to happen, after all!” Upon hearing this, the audience, seeing its right to sleep questioned, hastily clamored that we ought to be talking about the book and only the book. Finally, the privilege of the last word went to a depressing old housewife around sixty years old, an old bag who devoured novels in the insomnia of her retiree’s nullity: “Well, I don’t know whether I’m amorphous or whatever, myself personally, but I’d just like to thank mister Michel Houellebecq. I just discovered his first novel. Me, I don’t care about politics. I read novels from the extreme right, I read novels from the extreme left. And I have nothing to do with ideology. For twenty years I wasn’t allowed to read Raymond Abellio. What’s important to me is the pleasure of reading, letting myself be swept away by the story, the style, etc.” Clearly Michel Houellebecq can pride himself on having gotten himself at least some readers that are as much of flightless little creeps as he is. But as fanatically resigned as they are, and as numerous, the houellebecqs are of no account on the scales of fate, since even in their enthusiastic moments they side with this dead civilization.
Obviously after that there was no lack of stuck up old loonies from the literary milieu cropping up to take advantage of the situation and churn out a few pages full of stupidity, bleating, and bad faith in Le Monde. And after all it’s perfectly understandable: these days no one hardly makes any kind of criticism, so of course it makes people talk. Hence we read about “Houellebecq on trial” – as if it were the real person and not just his function that was attacked here – a trial presided over by some diabolic invisible authority, doubtless by this “group of youths methodically spread throughout the conference room” at the FNAC on October 24th 1998 (Le Monde, Sunday 8-Monday 9 November 1998). The whole thing was related in detail, of course without the writers being able to resist the reflex to falsify the events and propositions at least a little; but they were especially careful not to mention the existence of any tract, which could have hinted that the people from the Imaginary Party were able to engage in discourse articulate enough to shatter “the whole old, cracking edifice.” Other articles followed, all in the same gallant, hysterical mold, all invariably taking up the defense of Houellebecq against his supposed (yet never named) enemies, as is the rule in the Spectacle. They all called everyone’s attention to the urgent need to save “art” and “literature” from “ideologico-political constraints” (Le Monde, November 11th, 1998), even though it’s so painfully obvious that on the contrary it’s art that, since it’s nothing anymore on its own, is now forced to stick its dirty fingers into the “ideologico-political.” It’s only natural that the little decomposed literary milieu chose the moment when cultural commodities show themselves to be the very model of “ideologico-political” production to start whimpering and whining, and to cry out in defense of literature’s inalienable right to insignificance. Oh eternal spinelessness of art! Suffice it to say that we were not very surprised at all to receive, in the days following the incident, a variety of overtures coming specifically from that milieu, not the most harebrained of which was an offer to publish us. If the fact that they’d left it up to Houellebecq to raise a little hell wasn’t enough to prove how shipwrecked of a state they’re in, that right there should prove their total collapse. But we don’t connive with defunct bureaucrats of the mind. Rather, we’re proclaiming the dawn of a new kingdom. Already the vermin are trembling, since they know that sooner or later the enormous task of delousing will begin. And that they’re just part of the ruins.