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Michel Houellebecq quotes (showing 1-30 of 540)

“Those who love life do not read. Nor do they go to the movies, actually. No matter what might be said, access to the artistic universe is more or less entirely the preserve of those who are a little fed up with the world.”
Michel Houellebecq, H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life
“The absence of the will to live is, alas, not sufficient to make one want to die.”
Michel Houellebecq
“Anything can happen in life, especially nothing.”
Michel Houellebecq, Platform
“People often say that the English are very cold fish, very reserved, that they have a way of looking at things – even tragedy – with a sense of irony. There’s some truth in it; it’s pretty stupid of them, though. Humor won’t save you; it doesn’t really do anything at all. You can look at life ironically for years, maybe decades; there are people who seem to go through most of their lives seeing the funny side, but in the end, life always breaks your heart. Doesn’t matter how brave you are, how reserved, or how much you’ve developed a sense of humor, you still end up with your heart broken. That’s when you stop laughing. In the end there’s just the cold, the silence and the loneliness. In the end, there’s only death.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles
“It's a curious idea to reproduce when you don't even like life.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles
“Love binds, and it binds forever. Good binds while evil unravels. Separation is another word for evil; it is also another word for deceit.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles
“An entire life spent reading would have fulfilled my every desire; I already knew that at the age of seven. The texture of the world is painful, inadequate; unalterable, or so it seems to me. Really, I believe that an entire life spent reading would have suited me best. Such a life has not been granted me...”
Michel Houellebecq, Whatever
“Tenderness is a deeper instinct than seduction, which is why it is so hard to give up hope.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles
“If life is an illusion it's a pretty painful one.”
Michel Houellebecq
tags: life
“I don't like this world. I definitely do not like it. The society in which I live disgusts
me; advertising sickens me; computers make me puke.”
Michel Houellebecq, Whatever
“The world outside had its own rules, and those rules were not human.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles
“Not having anything around to read is dangerous: you have to content yourself with life itself, and that can lead you to take risks.”
Michel Houellebecq, Platform
“Life is painful and disappointing. It is useless, therefore, to write new realistic novels. We generally know where we stand in relation to reality and don’t care to know any more.”
Michel Houellebecq, H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life
“Youth was the time for happiness, its only season; young people, leading a lazy, carefree life, partially occupied by scarcely absorbing studies, were able to devote themselves unlimitedly to the liberated exultation of their bodies. They could play, dance, love, and multiply their pleasures. They could leave a party, in the early hours of the morning, in the company of sexual partners they had chosen, and contemplate the dreary line of employees going to work. They were the salt of the earth, and everything was given to them, everything was permitted for them, everything was possible. Later on, having started a family, having entered the adult world, they would be introduced to worry, work, responsibility, and the difficulties of existence; they would have to pay taxes, submit themselves to administrative formalities while ceaselessly bearing witness--powerless and shame-filled--to the irreversible degradation of their own bodies, which would be slow at first, then increasingly rapid; above all, they would have to look after children, mortal enemies, in their own homes, they would have to pamper them, feed them, worry about their illnesses, provide the means for their education and their pleasure, and unlike in the world of animals, this would last not just for a season, they would remain slaves of their offspring always, the time of joy was well and truly over for them, they would have to continue to suffer until the end, in pain and with increasing health problems, until they were no longer good for anything and were definitively thrown into the rubbish heap, cumbersome and useless. In return, their children would not be at all grateful, on the contrary their efforts, however strenuous, would never be considered enough, they would, until the bitter end, be considered guilty because of the simple fact of being parents. From this sad life, marked by shame, all joy would be pitilessly banished. When they wanted to draw near to young people's bodies, they would be chased away, rejected, ridiculed, insulted, and, more and more often nowadays, imprisoned. The physical bodies of young people, the only desirable possession the world has ever produced, were reserved for the exclusive use of the young, and the fate of the old was to work and to suffer. This was the true meaning of solidarity between generations; it was a pure and simple holocaust of each generation in favor of the one that replaced it, a cruel, prolonged holocaust that brought with it no consolation, no comfort, nor any material or emotional compensation.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island
“Few beings have ever been so impregnated, pierced to the core, by the conviction of the absolute futility of human aspiration. The universe is nothing but a furtive arrangement of elementary particles. A figure in transition toward chaos. That is what will finally prevail. The human race will disappear. Other races in turn will appear and disappear. The skies will be glacial and empty, traversed by the feeble light of half-dead stars. These too will disappear. Everything will disappear. And human actions are as free and as stripped of meaning as the unfettered movements of the elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, sentiments? Pure ‘Victorian fictions.’ All that exists is egotism. Cold, intact, and radiant.”
Michel Houellebecq, H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life
“The problem is, it's just not enough to live according to the rules. Sure, you manage to live according to the rules. Sometimes it's tight, extremely tight, but on the whole you manage it. Your tax papers are up to date. Your bills paid on time. You never go out without your identity card (and the special little wallet for your Visa!).
Yet you haven’t any friends.
The rules are complex, multiform. There’s the shopping that needs doing out of working hours, the automatic dispensers where money has to be got (and where you so often have to wait). Above all there are the different payments you must make to the organizations that run different aspects of your life. You can fall ill into the bargain, which involves costs, and more formalities.
Nevertheless, some free time remains. What’s to be done? How do you use your
time? In dedicating yourself to helping people? But basically other people don’t interest you. Listening to records? That used to be a solution, but as the years go by you have to say that music moves you less and less.
Taken in its widest sense, a spot of do-it-yourself can be a way out. But the fact is that nothing can halt the ever-increasing recurrence of those moments when your total isolation, the sensation of an all-consuming emptiness, the foreboding that your existence is nearing a painful and definitive end all combine to plunge you into a state of real suffering.
And yet you haven’t always wanted to die.
You have had a life. There have been moments when you were having a life. Of
course you don't remember too much about it; but there are photographs to prove it. This was probably happening round about the time of your adolescence, or just after. How great your appetite for life was, then! Existence seemed so rich in new possibilities. You might become a pop singer, go off to Venezuela.
More surprising still, you have had a childhood. Observe, now, a child of seven, playing with his little soldiers on the living room carpet. I want you to observe him closely. Since the divorce he no longer has a father. Only rarely does he see his mother, who occupies an important post in a cosmetics firm. And yet he plays with his little soldiers and the interest he takes in these representations of the world and of war seems very keen. He already lacks a bit of affection, that's for sure, but what an air he has of being interested in the world!
You too, you took an interest in the world. That was long ago. I want you to cast your mind back to then. The domain of the rules was no longer enough for you; you were unable to live any longer in the domain of the rules; so you had to enter into the domain of the struggle. I ask you to go back to that precise moment. It was long ago, no? Cast your mind back: the water was cold.”
Michel Houellebecq, Whatever
“Irony won't save you from anything; humour doesn't do anything at all. You can look at life ironically for years, maybe decades; there are people who seem to go through most of their lives seeing the funny side, but in the end, life always breaks your heart. Doesn't matter how brave you are, or how reserved, or how much you've developed a sense of humour, you still end up with your heart broken. That's when you stop laughing.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles
“I've lived so little that I tend to imagine I'm not going to die; it seems improbable
that human existence can be reduced to so little; one imagines, in spite of oneself,
that sooner or later something is bound to happen. A big mistake. A life can just as
well be both empty and short. The days slip by indifferently, leaving neither trace nor
memory; and then all of a sudden they stop.”
Michel Houellebecq, Whatever
“Et l'amour, où tout est facile,
Où tout est donné dans l'instant;
Il existe au milieu du temps
La possibilité d'une île.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island
“The terrible predicament of a beautiful girl is that only an experienced womanizer, someone cynical and without scruple, feels up to the challenge. More often than not, she will lose her virginity to some filthy lowlife in what proves to be the first step in an irrevocable decline.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles
“It’s hard to understand other people, to know what’s hidden in their hearts, and without the assistance of alcohol it might never be done at all.”
Michel Houellebecq, Submission
“I am persuaded that feminism is not at the root of political correctness. The actual source is much nastier and dares not speak its name, which is simply hatred for old people. The question of domination between men and women is relatively secondary—important but still secondary—compared to what I tried to capture in this novel, which is that we are now trapped in a world of kids. Old kids. The disappearance of patrimonial transmission means that an old guy today is just a useless ruin. The thing we value most of all is youth, which means that life automatically becomes depressing, because life consists, on the whole, of getting old.”
Michel Houellebecq
tags: aging
“...beds last on an average much longer than marriages...”
Michel Houellebecq, Whatever
“I feel as if things are falling apart within me,
like so many glass partitions shattering. I walk from place to place in the grip of a
fury, needing to act, yet can do nothing about it because any attempt seems doomed
in advance. Failure, everywhere failure. Only suicide hovers above me, gleaming and
inaccessible.”
Michel Houellebecq, Whatever
“Only literature can grant you access to a spirit from beyond the grave—a more direct, more complete, deeper access than you’d have in conversation with a friend.”
Michel Houellebecq, Submission
“The past is always beautiful. So, for that matter, is the future. Only the present hurts, and we carry it around like an abscess of suffering, our compassion between two infinities of happiness and peace.”
Michel Houellebecq, Soumission
“To increase desires to an unbearable level whilst making the fulfillment of them more and more inaccessible: this was the single principle upon which Western society was based.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island
“It is interesting to note that the "sexual revolution" was sometimes portrayed as a communal utopia, whereas in fact it was simply another stage in the historical rise of individualism. As the lovely word "household" suggests, the couple and the family would be the last bastion of primitive communism in liberal society. The sexual revolution was to destroy these intermediary communities, the last to separate the individual from the market. The destruction continues to this day.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles
“La solitude à deux est l'enfer consenti.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island
“He doesn't know it yet, but the infinity of childhood is brief.”
Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles

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The Elementary Particles The Elementary Particles
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Soumission Soumission
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