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Michel Renault is a human void. Following the death of the father he barely knew, he endures his civil service job while eking out an existence of prepackaged pleasure, hollow friendships, TV dinners, and pornography. On a group holiday in Thailand, however, he meets the shyly compelling Valérie, who soon pursues an agenda that Michel himself could never have thought possible: his own humanization.

Back in Paris, they plunge into an affair that strays into S&M, public sex, and partner swapping, even as they devise a scheme to save Valérie's ailing travel company by capitalizing on the only trade Michel has seen flourish in the Third World. Before long, he quits his job, and their business model for 'sex tourism' is gradually implemented. But when they return to Thailand, where Michel's philosophy will be put into practice, he discovers that sex is neither the most consuming nor dangerous of passions . . .

From a suburbanized West crippled by hate crime to an East subsumed by materialism, Michel Houellebecq explores, with characteristic provocativeness, but also with surprising tenderness, the emotions that seem most resilient to any influence: love and hate. Platform is, as Anita Brookner has written, "a brilliant novel, casting a prescient eye on the abuses and inequalities that lead to wider trouble."

362 pages, Paperback

First published August 24, 2001

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About the author

Michel Houellebecq

61 books6,947 followers
Michel Houellebecq (born Michel Thomas), born 26 February 1958 (birth certificate) or 1956 on the French island of Réunion, is a controversial and award-winning French novelist. To admirers he is a writer in the tradition of literary provocation that reaches back to the Marquis de Sade and Baudelaire; to detractors he is a peddler, who writes vulgar sleazy literature to shock. His works though, particularly Atomised, have received high praise from the French literary intelligentsia, with generally positive international critical response, Having written poetry and a biography of the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, he brought out his first novel Extension du domaine de la lutte in 1994. Les particules élémentaires followed in 1998 and Plateforme, in 2001. After a disastrous publicity tour for this book, which led to his being taken to court for inciting racial hatred, he went to Ireland to write. He currently resides in France, where he has been described as "France’s biggest literary export and, some say, greatest living writer". In 2010 he published La Carte et le Territoire (published the same year in English as The Map and the Territory) which won the prestigious Prix Goncourt; and, in 2015, Submission.

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Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,215 reviews9,893 followers
November 28, 2013
An 18-rated review of an 18-rated book.

If you don’t want to read about the gory details of fleshy entangulations and of bodily fluid by the bucketful, then you need to steer well clear of M. Houellebecq. He’s all about that.

The sex is like the worst kind of bad cartoon porn and we can’t possibly be meant to take it seriously. I don’t really know what it’s doing in here. He’s trying to make a serious or black-comedy ironic point about the state of first world/third world relationships and how everyone could be made happier if we only just lightened up about sex tourism. And he scuppers his own novel because he includes this stuff :

(Michel – that’s the protagonist, yes, same name as the novelist, and his brilliant girlfriend Valerie are out on the town in Paris. Now read on!)

It was a Saturday night, the place was quite full. We met a really nice black couple; she was a nurse and he was a jazz drummer. …[three sentences later] We finished our drinks and headed up to the rooms. He suggested a double penetration to Valerie. She agreed, as long as I was the one to sodomise her.

So the two guys do the two girls and I must admit I lolled at this :

Everything went smoothly, I was agreeably surprised by my own stamina.

Well, bien sur, mon ami, that’s what happens in porn. The sex is always stratospheric, the orgasms always geyser forth like an Icelandic hot spring, and everyone is able to have about five or six per hour, the gentlemen’s members are always like several iron bars welded together, they never ever suffer from erectile dysfunction, and the girls always regard what comes out of the end of them like normal people regard a glass of Vosne-Romanee burgundy, the girls are always gagging to have everything shoved everywhere, and they always want to do it again ten minutes later, and no one has any diseases.

So Michel and Valerie’s evening struck me as a little unlikely, but maybe I should get out more. Or not, of course.

A few pages before that, they were in Cuba on holiday having sex in their hotel room, and they’ve left the curtains open. A maid sees them.

Valerie got up, walked towards her, and held out her hands.

And that’s all it takes – the maid is young, gorgeous, and completely into the idea of a threesome at the drop of a broom. Mais bien sur, again. She’s not 52, varicose-veined and asthmatic. Well, this is all ridiculous French Swingers A-Go-Go, and it makes it Platform a very silly novel indeed.

This novel is about sex tourism and never mentions drugs, or the miserable lives of the sex workers. In fact, all the sex workers are happy hookers who are glad to be able to work that thing to bring joy to the face of whatever potbellied manbreasted Western male they are lucky enough to have copped off with. I should say that this did not make Platform resound with believability for me.

Anyway, in Platform we get the narrative of a disenchanted loner who goes on a sex holiday to Thailand and hooks up with one of his fellow tourists Valerie and falls in love. And they have great and plentiful sex (see above). He’s in his 40s, she’s 28 with a cleavage to drown in and she likes girls too. Naturellement! So this is standard male fantasy territory (in porn and in Hollywood, all males over the age of 40 are able to captivate a knockout girl in her 20s. Also in arty movies, same thing. Look at all Woody Allen movies. I saw Manhattan recently - in that a late 30s Woody is sleeping with Marielle Hemingway who is 17. Sorry, I digress).

Added to that, and given equal prominence, is a steady stream of piquant miserablist ruminations on the state of life in the West. I cannot deny, these are hysterical.

Men live alongside one another like cattle; it is a miracle if once in a while they manage to share a bottle of booze.

It is in our relations with other people that we gain a sense of ourselves; it’s that, pretty much, that makes relations with other people unbearable.

In most circumstances of my life, I have had about as much freedom as a vacuum cleaner.

Gradually everything becomes too difficult : that’s what life comes down to.

When all’s said and done, the idea of the uniqueness of the individual is nothing more than pompous absurdity.

Anything can happen in life, especially nothing.

And, the aphorism which seems to sum up MH’s jeremiad pretty well :

We have created a system in which it has simply become impossible to live; and what’s more, we continue to export it.

Anyway, MH-the-protagonist goes on at length about how in the West we all run around working like mad and making money and in the process becoming so exhausted that sex – never mind love – becomes far too much trouble. We’ve become so picky and self-centred we wouldn’t dream of devoting ourselves to the pleasure of others, even for 15 minutes. So we have money but we’re miserable, because we still want the sex and the affection. Therefore, we should all – men and women – go to Thailand for 2 weeks every year. There the natives have nothing except their extremely attractive bodies. They love nothing more than to devote their entire working lives to making you – yes you! come on, no false modesty please – achieve the kind of orgasms you never knew were possible. You know you want to!

To sum up the rest of the novel – “and we’d have gotten away with it too, ifn it weren’t for them pesky Muslim terrorists!”

This was a fun novel to read – it was so odd, so ridiculous, so pompous, so off the scale unrealistic, so almost-racist, so insulting to all and sundry including specific Frederick Forsyth and John Grisham novels (he takes a page or so to slag off these books, quoting from them without any acknowledgement anywhere), so downbeat and so raving mad that I should give it 3 stars, except that it really is almost complete rubbish.

Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
August 14, 2009
Plateforme contains a remarkable amount of sex and is inordinately depressing, but it's well-written, engaging and quite often funny. Houellebecq evidently believes that he's watching the last days of Western civilization, if not of humanity as a whole, and he's interested in exploring what went wrong. He thinks that it's something very much to do with how we experience sex, and how the desire for sex acts on us.

So, here we have dull, inert, 40-ish Michel, who hates his job, has no partner or other meaningful relationship, and in fact no interests at all in life. The only thing that he actually enjoys is patronizing the occasional prostitute. When he's able to afford it, he goes off to Thailand for a spot of sex tourism. As he wistfully tells us, Thai prostitutes are the best in the world. I recently read the same thing in another French novel, and for all I know it's true. We get to see a couple of Michel's encounters with Thai massage girls; these scenes were nicely done, and came across as credible. The girls are sympathetically portrayed.

On his trip, Michel meets Valérie, an attractive 28 year old. He doesn't quite manage to respond to her obvious advances, but she gives him her telephone number. Shortly after they get back to Paris, they get together. Things completely click between them.

Michel is at first unsure why Valérie is interested in him. She's young and hot, he's middle-aged and dull. However, she has a secret. She's very successful in her career as a low-ranking executive in a travel agency. After they've been to bed for the first time, she confesses how much she makes; it's a lot more than he does. And she's a workaholic, who puts in eighty hours or so most weeks. This, I imagine, is enough to scare most guys off. But Michel doesn't feel threatened at all. Valérie is enchanted. Though Michel never quite admits it, they are blissfully in love.

So far, I thought the book was surprisingly positive for a Houellebecq, but I should of course have known better. As people do when they're in love, they each try to give each other the thing they want most. Michel's a sex addict, and Valérie, who has a sweet and generous nature, tries to help him live out all the sexual fantasies he's never had a chance to experience. Some of these aren't very tasteful. But, oddly enough, it's what he does for her that's genuinely repulsive. Michel's an insightful thinker, and, as Valérie describes her life working as a strategist at a top-ranking travel agency, he helps her refine a new and logical idea. Many people, like him, really go on the trips to do sex tourism; so why not take the next step, and reorganize the enterprise with that thought explicitly in mind? From now on, you know something bad will eventually happen, and indeed it does.

Houellebecq appears to believe that there is no hope for us at all, but he offers interesting new angles on why that might be. I wish I could immediately say why his arguments were exaggerated and wrong.


So, I feel that no one is buying my arguments about why this book has a worthwhile side to it. Let me give it one last shot.

First, everyone else seems to have read it in English, and I do get the impression from Choupette's comments that the English translation is poor. The French original is elegantly and wittily written. For example, here's a nice passage from an early chapter, which I'm sure will appeal to many GR readers:
Je passai ma dernière journée de congé dans differents agences de voyage. J'aimais les catalogues de vacances, leur abstraction, leur manière de réduire les lieux du monde à une sequence limitée de bonheurs possibles et de tarifs; j'appreciais particulierement le système d'étoiles, pour indiquer l'intensité de bonheur qu'on était en droit d'éspérer.

(I passed my last free day in a few travel agencies. I love the abstract nature of travel brochures, the way in which they reduce the whole world to a finite sequence of possible types of pleasure, and their associated prices; I particularly appreciate the system by which a number of stars is used to indicate the intensity of pleasure one has the right to expect).
You see later that this is not just an empty epigram, but sums up an important part of the book's argument. Similarly, Michel's father's death, though it appears random at the time, is in retrospect important foreshadowing. The novel is in fact quite tightly constructed.

Michel and Valérie are of course monsters, but the poor translation means that you aren't even tempted to sympathize with them. In French, I did want to support them at times. The scene where Michel admits to the other members of his group that he patronizes Thai prostitutes I found for example very funny, and his interlocutor came across as a PC idiot. I'd be interested to know how English readers reacted to this passage.

What I found scary and convincing about Plateforme was the coherent case it made that sex tourism isn't the regrettable exception; rather, it sums up the First World's way of dealing with the Third World. The author also did a lot to show you how the mechanisms worked. Throughout most of the book, I had a hard time accepting Valérie as an evil person. She loves her job, and takes great pleasure in doing it to the best of her ability. Michel loves her, and he wants to help her succeed. But the consequence of that is that they cooperate in building up a gigantic network of prostitution. They know they're doing it, but the logic of the market means that they don't feel they have any choice. They don't see themselves as bad people, and some of the time I found myself accepting their version of reality. I thought that was quite interesting.


I just noticed the ads that Google put next to this review:

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I'm sorry, I must admit that I find that funny.


Some more thoughts. (If a book makes you think this much, can it be all bad?) It seems to me that there is a tight connection between Plateforme and Les Particules Élémentaires, which Houellebecq wrote just before it. In both books, the central theme is an analysis of contemporary sexual behavior from the point of view of Chicago-school economic theory. As another reviewer said, there are many resonances with Naomi Klein's exposition in The Shock Doctrine.

I know, as one might put it, fuck all about economics, but it seems to me that Les Particules primarily takes a macroeconomic view, and argues that Western societies, sexually as well as economically, are becoming stratified, with a substantial proportion of the population relegated to the position of essentially having nothing. Plateforme, on the other hand, appears to be more a micro-economic analysis; it focuses on the individual decisions made by the sexual consumer, and how the aggregate of these many micro-decisions together build up the overall sexual-economic structure.

I find Houellebecq's analysis very interesting, but the assumption I'm least ready to accept is that most men, irrespective of their own age, would now automatically prefer to have sex with young women in the 18-25 age group. Personally, I don't feel that way. I'm afraid, however, that I can't offer any hard evidence against Houellebecq's assertion, and the huge mainstream success of the porn industry does tend to support it.

This does rather take us back to the initial point Choupette made in her review. As she put it:
It reads like the fantasy of some horny middle-aged shit with nothing better to do with his time, like one of those disgusting old men who stares at my legs on the train. It's enough to make a girl wear pants, for goodness' sake.
Well, exactly. Houellebecq's arguing that most men are now like that, except that some of them aren't staring in such an obvious way. But is his claim in fact true? I'd love to see a serious empirical study. Meanwhile, you might want to answer this poll.


Well, I won't pretend that it proves anything... but of the twelve people who have so far answered my poll, not one said that they would prefer their sexual partner to be between 18 and 25. The most popular answers were "25-35" and "Age genuinely doesn't matter to me".

Of course, they could be a very skewed sample. Or they could be lying. Or both. If anyone is able to repeat this experiment using a better methodology, please let me know what you discover!

Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,442 followers
April 28, 2023
„Să trăiești fără lectură e periculos, trebuie să te limitezi la viață și nu e lipsit de riscuri".

Despre turismul sexual în Asia de Sud-Est. I-aș da două steluțe și jumătate-trei. Recunosc că nu e cel mai reușit roman din univers și nici cel mai bun roman scris de Houellebecq:

- Intriga e trasă de păr, neverosimilă.
- Scenele erotice (în doi, în trei) sînt supranumerare, de la un punct încolo nimic nu le mai justifică, plictisesc.
- Multe propoziții ieșite din mintea naratorului sînt niște banalități sforăitoare: „Neîndoielnic, omul nu e făcut pentru fericire”, altele sînt doar scandaloase: există „oameni de prisos”, care fac degeaba umbră pămîntului. Afirmațiile lui Michel sînt adesea contradictorii.
- Sfîrșitul cărții e previzibil, poate fi bănuit de la pagina 13. Sau chiar din titlu.

Și totuși romanul mi-a plăcut întru cîtva (se scrie separat). De ce? Dintr-o pricină foarte simplă. Unele personaje sînt interesante tocmai prin încercarea inadecvată de a simula viața. Robert, de pildă, e un „mort viu”, un spectru rătăcitor printre turiști:
„L-am văzut dintr-o dată ca pe un om înfrînt, sfîrşit; aveam sentimentul că nici măcar nu avea chef să se culce cu fetele acelea. Putem defini viaţa ca un proces de încremenire, vizibil la buldogul francez – atît de jucăuş în tinereţe, atît de apatic la maturitate. La Robert, procesul era avansat; poate că mai avea erecţii, deşi nu era sigur; poţi să faci pe deşteptul, să laşi impresia că ai înţeles ceva din viaţă, cert e că viaţa se duce. Soarta mea era asemănătoare cu a lui, împărtăşeam aceeaşi înfrîngere; dar nu simţeam nici un soi de solidaritate activă”.

De altfel, cam toate personajele se prefac că trăiesc, au o viață străvezie ca un giulgiu funerar de tifon, nici ele nu mai știu dacă-s vii sau au murit deja. Tabăra turiștilor este o adunare de stafii. Femei stridente și buimace, bărbați cu ochii închiși, energii și instincte care au secat de mult, agitație măruntă. Fețele manechinelor afișează o veselie atroce. La portretul acestor paiațe Houellebecq se pricepe.

Taciturna, distanta Valérie salvează romanul. M-a impresionat prin dorința ei frenetică, disperată de a atinge punctul Omega al iubirii. O iubire înțeleasă ca apogeu al senzațiilor. Iubirea dintre Michel Renault și Valérie e partea oarecum interesantă a cărții. Din păcate, relația lor nu durează prea mult. Prozatorul simte nevoia s-o omoare pe Valérie într-un atac terorist musulman cu bombe și explozii. Rămas singur, Michel nu mai are puterea de a o lua de la capăt.

Ca de obicei la Houellebecq, un bărbatul singur e un bărbat mort. Singurătatea anunță sfîrșitul. Valérie a murit. Michel știe precis ce are de făcut...

P. S. E posibil ca titlul romanului să trimită la o platformă situată pe o înălțime de unde poți contempla pînă departe. E la fel de posibil ca el să insinueze aplatizarea indivizilor în societatea actuală.

P. P. S. Să nu uit. Michel Renault comentează un roman de Agatha Christie: The Hollow. Știți ce-am făcut? Am căutat romanul și l-am citit și eu. Nu vi s-a întîmplat niciodată? Din fericire, nu citim doar capodopere...
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,100 reviews7,192 followers
July 25, 2022
[Revised, pictures and shelves added 7/25/22]

I think a good subtitle for this book is Sex and the Self-Centered Man. A self-centered man is incapable of loving anyone except himself and he is not really all that keen on that relationship either. He’s basically a misogynist and a xenophobe. Can you be filled with anomie?

Finally he finds a woman who more or less loves him, or tolerates him, and he apparently ‘kind of” loves her back. She is in the business of working for an international hotel chain that is setting up sex hotels in Thailand. Not all cultures of the world appreciate sex hotels, thus leading to a tragic ending.


There is a lot of local color of urban France and Thailand and, actually, not all that much sex.

There is good writing. Some examples:

“I will have been a mediocre individual in every possible sense.”

“It is in our relations with other people that we gain a sense of ourselves; it’s that pretty much, that makes relations with other people unbearable.”

“When all’s said and done, the idea of the uniqueness of the individual is nothing more than a pompous absurdity.”

“We remember our own lives, Schopenhauer wrote somewhere, a little better than we do a novel we once read.”

“Anything can happen in life, especially nothing.”

You can see our narrator’s problems.


The French author (b. 1958) has written about a dozen novels, all of which appear to be translated into English. Goodreads bio gives a good summary of his work: “To admirers he is a writer in the tradition of literary provocation that reaches back to the Marquis de Sade and Baudelaire; to detractors he is a peddler, who writes vulgar sleazy literature to shock.”

Top photo in Thailand from npr.org
The author from theguardian.com
Profile Image for Alexandra .
886 reviews283 followers
May 14, 2017
Diese widerliche Sexismusphilosophe von Houellebecq ist schwer zu ertragen. Ein ältlicher verbrauchter fader alter Sack von einem Staatsangestellten, der auf einer 10teiligen Attraktivitätsskala eine 0,5 belegt, sudert und philosophiert über die Unlust europäischer Frauen, und beschwert sich, dass sie von ihm verlangen, zumindest intelligent oder witzig zu sein, wo er sich ja so gar nicht anstrengen möchte. Gleichzeitig will er eine Frau mit dem Ranking von 10+2 und fordert im Gegenzug alles von Frauen: Jugend, Schönheit, perfekter Busen & Hintern, gut im Bett...Sehr gut, dass diese weinerlichen Versager, die sich offensichlich noch nie ehrlich im Spiegel betrachtet haben, meist durch die europäische Qualitätskontrolle der Frauen fallen und von der Evolution normalerweise hinweggefegt werden. Denen bleiben dann ja noch die viel besseren so braven Thai-Mädchen. Ich muss immer sehr lachen und begeistert applaudieren, wenn diesen alten Widerlingen anschließend von Thai-Frauen und ihren Familien das kleine mittelprächtige Ersparte komplett weggenommen wird (kenne sehr viele Fälle). Bravo! Gut gemacht! Diese Karrikaturen von Männern glauben doch wirklich, es gibt alles umsonst ohne irgendeine Gegenleistung nur weil sie Gottes Geschenk an die Menschheit sind.

Die erzählerischen Stärken von Houellebecq sind die treffenden Skizzierungen von unterschiedlichen Charaktären und die Beschreibung der thaländischen Rundreise. Auch die ersten Sexszenen, als der alternde Beamte unverhofft auf seine große Liebe Valerie trifft, sind nicht schlecht geschrieben. Leider bleibt es dabei, dass sich der Autor bei dieser offensichtlich tiefen innigen Beziehung im Ausdruck der Gefühle nur auf das Schlafzimmer beschränkt und bald wird das Rein-Raus-Spiel inklusive 3ern und 4ern mit wechselnden Partnern (man will ja nicht prüde sein und braucht ständig einen neuen Kick) - gähnend laangweilig und auch flach. Für einen Autor, der sein Handwerk verstehen sollte, sind die Gefühle dieser Beziehung total armselig fast schon wortkarg beschrieben.

Dann erfolgt die Konzeption der "Plattform", auf der laut Klappentext jeder gibt was er/sie hat, die einen ihren Körper, die anderen Geld. Ja in welcher Zeit ist denn dieser Methusalix von Autor aufgewachsen? Im Jahr 2002 keine Internet Plattform? Diese Konzeption hätte mich wirklich interessiert. Nein Houellebecq ist sowohl in seiner Gefühlsarmut als auch in der Zeit steckengeblieben und hat die digitale Revolution und manches andere verschlafen. Er präsentiert mir als Leserin die Umwandlung von Club Med-artigen Ferienclubs in quasi Bordellclubs tatsächlich als Idee - doppelt laangweilig und genervt.

Das letzte Potenzial der Geschichte verspielt er dann auch noch leichtfertig. Es wäre spannend gewesen zu sehen, wie sich diese auf Sex basierende Beziehung durch den Druck, ständig Neues und Sensationen zu erleben, indem man neue Sexpartner dazunimmt, nach und nach totläuft. Aber nein - die bösen Islamisten auf Krabi kommen und löschen die große Liebe durch einen religiös motivierten Terroranschlag aus. Wie platt und klischeehaft ist das denn? Wundert mich sowieso, dass er in einem riesengroßen 90% buddhistischen Land, in dem sowas normalerweise niemanden kratzt, den Sexclub ausgerechnet in Krabi, einer kleinen Provinz positioniert, die einzige Gegend, in der die Bevölkerung muslimisch ist. So ein dämliches Management existiert wirklich nur in Houelles Kopf-Fiktion und gehört alleine schon aus unglaublicher Dummheit mit einer Kalaschnikov niedergemäht.

Fazit: Ein paar erzählerische Stärken, ansonsten absolut entbehrlicher Roman und höchstenfalls nur als Onaniervorlage geeignet.
Profile Image for Chris_P.
382 reviews269 followers
April 26, 2017
Julian Barnes informs us that Mario Vargas Llosa once described Houellebecq's Platform as insolent. He meant it as a praise and I totally agree. There's nothing optimistic here. No silver lining in reality's dense smog but no degradation either. Only raw misery and a steady pace through modern age's thick shit.

Platform is a good example of form following function. We watch everything through the eyes of a 40-year-old man who seems to be alienated from everything and everyone in a Meursault kind of way. He lives in a world where the western people seem to live robotically (work, spend, fuck, die) in their nests, while the East is merely a punch bag for their neuroses. A fuckland which serves as a medium to blow some steam off through sex with ever-willing girls and/or all kinds of fetishes and perversions. West is the pillar of the world, whereas in the East, women have to sell their bodies in order to make a living. Now, rationalization commands us to adopt some ridiculous beliefs sometimes, like we may very well be doing them a favor. They need money, we need sex. They sell, we buy. One could say that we are their benefactors even. We are the ones that put food to their tables and so on. That's, more or less, the reality Houellebecq depicts in his novel. Yes, the sex scenes are purely pornographic, but is it really any wonder?

The protagonist experiences a certain enlightenment, which is somewhat different than Meursault's. A change that could be radical but is merely subtle, enough, however, to offer him a fleeting glimpse of something that resembles happiness. But can there really be such a thing when consequences need to be paid? It could be that Meursault has evolved and now turns his gun towards a different direction. Afterall, there are many ways of killing an Arab.

While the prose is mostly dry as a wasteland, there is a number of really strong moments where our hero breaks, if only momentarily, his mental boundaries and makes important questions which are directly transferred to the reader. At the same time, the immediacy of the writing style gives the novel an unpleasantly realistic aura that serves as a starting point for several questionings. The fact that what we read is in the mind of an unsympathetic individual but yet seems so true and real causes a certain discomfort that only honesty can exorcise. Honesty and guts.

Houellebecq's Platform has been accused of being misogynic, racist and pornographic. But what if it's not Platform that's all that, but our own society? And what if it's simply time for us to reap what we've sown? That would be something of a start, I guess.
4 stars
Profile Image for Meike.
1,589 reviews2,810 followers
February 4, 2020
This book is a fascinating mess: Houellebecq attacks modern-day capitalism and the atomization of society, dissects the tourism industry, ponders Islamic terrorism – oh yes, and there’s quite a lot of pornographic writing in this text. Our protagonist is Michel (yup, like the author), a guy in his early forties who works for the French Ministry of Culture where he mostly does calculations and sometimes gets confronted with ridiculous artistic projects that get monetized by the state (as we all know, Houellebecq has always been a huge fan of the cultural establishment – not). Michel lives a very isolated life and has a hard time maintaining human relationships, thus being somewhat exemplary for the much-discussed “loneliness epidemic”. In his spare time, he hangs out in peep shows where he is looking for human contact and sexual relief. When his father dies, Michel takes a round trip in Thailand with a French travel agency. It is there where he meets and falls in love with 27-year-old Valérie who herself works in the higher ranks of the French tourism industry. Together with a colleague of hers, they develop a concept for organized sex tourism which becomes a big hit – until Islamic terrorism ruins their plans.

The whole text has a confessional feel and a highly fragmentary character, as Michel often quotes scientists and elaborates on his own ideas about the spiritual and sexual state of the Western world. He also frequently recounts conversations he had with people and shares his impressions and judgements of people. Then we have the narrative arc itself that drives the story and keeps his musings together, plus a lot of very explicit sexual scenes. This makes for a rather disparate result, but I was glued to the text, as it is apparent that this novel was written for effect, as a statement to be discussed.

And this is probably the part of the review where I have to state (and I can’t believe that it has to be stated over and over and over again when it comes to this author) that the protagonist and Houellebecq are not the same person. Don’t fall for simple provocations like naming the protagonist Michel. Rather, one should look for the meaning of this character and face some uneasy facts: The loneliness epidemic exists. People stuck in the hamster wheel of capitalism, battling burn out or bore out, exist. Countries like Japan struggle with the fact that rising numbers of young people don’t have a sex life. The incel movement exists. Sex tourism exists. Islamic terrorism exists. Does that mean that one has to draw the same conclusions as Michel, the protagonist? Absolutely not. But does anyone really doubt that commercially organized sex tourism would be a successful concept if it was allowed? That there is a connection between the commodification of sex and neo-liberal global capitalism? And that all of this is alarming, mortifying, terrible?

Houellebecq is talking about these issues in a provocative, no-holds-barred way. There is no moral judgement, little empathy, there’s a lot of rhetoric aiming to cover the fact that this “industry” is about exploitation, although it is obvious that it is. The reader should look at the characters talking and what they stand for, the meanings this story might convey. Houellebecq always holds my attention and makes me think, and that’s why I appreciate this author.
Profile Image for Jibran.
224 reviews664 followers
October 23, 2018
He's not stupid, but I don't like him. He goes out of his way to shock people, to make himself unpleasant.

I enjoy a juicy controversy. I support writers who show courage to take on controversial ideas and contentious issues and put them to a test of literature, to examine its ins and outs with an honesty and skill required of an artist, without a care for what the easily-offended might say (e.g; I’m incensed when some self-righteous people denounce Lolita solely for the nature of its topic)

Now that out of the way, it seems that Michel Houellebecq modus operandi is to think up cardboard characters (largely indistinguishable from one another) and have them utter the most outrageous things to trigger as many people as possible and see how much of a stir he can make; and while he’s at it, spice it up with a repetition of crass, tasteless, pornographic sex scenes to lure those readers who’d otherwise might not have an interest in reading his books. Say more outrageous things amid the orgasmic din of double penetration and flood of semenic spurts. And let’s repeat that again for the next 50 pages.

In a nutshell, it is a brutal satire of the West, a bitter social critique - which more often than not turns into crude and toneless social commentary - of the continent's self-image and its institutions. The underlying premise is interesting: the West is on the path to irreversible decline, society and culture are on the edge if haven’t already become a caricature of themselves, social breakdown has led to the loss of love and intimacy, and the people have lost the most precious thing in life: true sexual fulfillment and the honesty to seek it. These are fascinating parameters and, no doubt, would ruffle many feathers. The game’s on!

I was sufficiently engaged for one-third of the novel when the protagonist and his group had been travelling in Thailand. I found their reactions to the new experience of Asia, their preconceived notions about culture and people being subjected to satire. So far so funny, but he lost me soon and it became an ordeal to read through the rest of the story.

I might be guilty of over-interpreting if I entertain the view that the writer might have created his namesake protagonist as an inelegant, unpleasant, alienated, dead-faced, mirthless, interesting-in-nothing-whatever, but passably handsome and sex-obsessed, middle-aged French male of middling career as a symbol of the decaying West itself, out there to find sexual-spiritual nirvana by exoticising the nimble, undemanding, submissive, uncomplaining bodies of Asian prostitutes. It is, again, the exotic East where the West finds its own self! If that is so, it makes a lot of sense why he – and his lover Valerie – are the way they are.

But this still doesn’t solve the problem of him failing to get things off the ground. The dry, plotless, flat stretches of text bereft of colour, sudden and unjustifiable shifts of perspective and locations, and an oversupply of porn makes it a cumbersome read. So much so that when I turned over the last page the whole experience of reading it compared with having been come at in the face.

I don’t even need to touch on the so-called controversies he so loves to start up. There is little of the intelligent treatment of any ideas and views his characters have. Whether it’s naked misogyny, borderline racism and bigotry, nouveau Orientalism, thinly disguised Islamophobia – everything is thrown in into the mix, uncooked. Some who have read it in French have commented on the poor quality of the English translation. That might be the case, but I still can’t see how a better translation will salvage the novel from the aforementioned criticisms.

October '18
Profile Image for Virginia.
6 reviews23 followers
September 11, 2013
Graphic sex! Racism! Misogyny! Sex tourism! Are you offended yet?

I don't think I can say anything about the misogyny that hasn't already been said. Yes, it's misogynistic. Boringly, predictably so. We get it; women are stupid, worthless whores. Is it wrong of me to wish for a little more innovation in my morning dose of bigotry?

But look at Valérie, some say. Valérie is perfect (which is a problem in itself). She has it all: youth, outstanding looks, superior skills in bed, a lot of money, a very successful self-made career... which she's more than happy to abandon in order to live in a third-world sex tourism resort sucking some middle-aged, boring loser's cock and sexually exploiting the locals with him for all eternity. (But wait! Isn't it nice how the misogyny and Islamophobia threads are both resolved in one fell swoop?).

And on the topic of cocksucking, apparently it's A-OK as long as the cock in question is Michel's, otherwise it's proof that you're a little worthless slut. Michel knows nothing about Babette and Léa other than they are young and beautiful (like Valérie), they wear revealing clothes (like Valérie) and they went on the same packaged trip as him (like Valérie). But Valérie is sleeping with Michel, while Babette and Léa are not (they might even be -gasp- sleeping with other people!). That makes Valérie a perfect angel of pleasure descended from the heavens, and Léa and Babette a pair of little cocksucking whores. Apparently it's Michel's cock that does the trick.

I agree with Julian Barnes' review in that the sex in Platform is fundamentally pornographic. The women are all exceptionally attractive and skilled, and everyone is always in top form. It's glossy, performative and joyless. And of course the maid joins in.

With all the controversy about the novel's content, before I read it I felt that not enough attention was being paid to the form. Now I know that it's because the writing itself is completely unremarkable (though it does have serious problems, like the poorly thought out and poorly executed point of view shifts). It's as if little thought was given to the actual craft of writing, in the rush of putting forward the "controversial" content (I can imagine Houellebecq's thread of thought as being something like: Pussy. Pussy. Pussy. Have I said "pussy" enough times? Am I outrageous yet? Pussypussypussy. Cock.)

If I had to give a short assessment of Platform, its misogyny and Islamophobia are ultimately so unsubtle and cartoonish that they would hardly merit a mention. The book is so patently meant to offend that I can't bring myself to play into it and be offended. But I do find it criminally self-indulgent and poorly crafted, and that is what makes it not worth your time.
Profile Image for Enrique.
374 reviews111 followers
July 19, 2022
Me ha parecido brutal la propuesta de Houellebec. Para el que sea de una moral o pacatería exagerada, este no es su libro. Para quien le guste la aventura, el riesgo, la sensualidad, el escándalo y la sorpresa en la literatura, aquí hay una enorme oportunidad de llegar creo, que a lo mejor de este autor.
Produce rechazo por momentos, también logra que te adhieras a muchas de sus conclusiones, te escandaliza a veces, te enfada, porque lejos de ser un cínico, que es su apariencia inicial, a mi me parece justo lo contrario, un tipo que ha abandonado los convencionalismos y lo que está bien visto, para sacar un enorme capacidad para sacudir la conciencia occidental. No es casualidad que esté considerado el gran referente de los últimos 20-30 años en su país.
Hay algo aquí que como norma general siempre me gusta: se mete en todos los charcos, religión, sexo, política, prostitución, integrismo etc..da la impresion de ser un enorme ensayo novelado. También hay que reconocer que Houellebecq, aún a pesar de la enorme importancia que tiene el sexo en la vida (por interés o por omisión), siempre parece especialmente obsesionado con el tema.
Por momentos la historia resulta menos creíble, una relación de pareja un tanto utópica, pero logra arrastrarte. La historia de fondo también parece complicada, pero te lleva al huerto. El final es bueno, hubo una pista que me hizo el final previsible, pero no por ello deja de estar bien resuelto y redondear una gran novela.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,489 reviews2,373 followers
September 3, 2023

My third Houellebecq novel, and it sits right smack bang in between the other two with it's dick hanging out. The Elementary Particles (or Atomised as I knew it then) I really liked. It was rude and crude yes, but the story had me hooked and it very well written, whereas Lanzarote I really didn't like. It was cheap and tacky and lazy and featured a narrator I wanted to kick in the balls and push into a live volcano. Regardless what people (mostly women) make of him and his themes, there is no doubt he can write a decent novel, or at least when it suits him. I get the impression had I gobbled up all his novels it would be a case of only liking some of them.

It's widely been said he is the first French novelist since Camus to find a bigger following outside of France. Maybe. But I can certainly think of a few countries that he wouldn't get such a warm welcome, namely the Muslim ones. You know from page one with the words 'fat cock' and 'cunt' just what sort of book it's going to be. He likes profanity, so for those easily offended he isn't the writer for you.

While in Thailand, Michel, the narrator falls in love with Valérie, an employee of the tour company, which is in business difficulties. Back in Paris, they embark on a steamy love affair. With the narrative sometimes in the doldrums, the sex becomes soggy, various, and frantic. Michel persuades Valérie and her boss to convert the company's hotels in Thailand and the Caribbean to sex tourism. The new package holidays are a success with the Germans - a stupid race, apparently, notoriously without culture. The story somehow works, albeit in a preposterous way, as we are not really in the face of reality.

Houellebecq is at pains to exclude any sentiment unless it is banal, ignorant and touristic, and unfortunately he becomes hopelessly distracted by his incontinent love of sexual description.
Michel is prone to flashes of pointless rage, but his biggest characteristic is a fear of Muslims.
Platform for some will seem nothing more than a degrading, lewd, anti-liberal, anti-semitic novel, but there were other aspects to story, like loneliness, and frustration that just about kept me interested.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book935 followers
February 26, 2020
Comme souvent, ce troisième roman de Houellebecq est assez troublant et il est difficile de l’aborder sans préjugés. Le sujet dont il traite est complexe et quelque peu écœurant : le tourisme occidental, en particulier, le tourisme sexuel et la prostitution mondialisée.

On y découvre, comme souvent (comme toujours), un protagoniste-narrateur-auteur qui porte le prénom de l’écrivain : Michel. Comme toujours, il s’agit d’un personnage assez désabusé, un peu mou, mais sujet à des érections fréquentes, décrites avec grand luxe de détails croustillants. Dans la présente aventure, notre personnage, par solitude, par ennui, prend part à un voyage “de charme” organisé en Thaïlande. Il y rencontre une femme, au premier abord sans grand intérêt, mais douce et salope : Valérie. S’ensuit une assez longue aventure amoureuse et sexuelle : les scènes pornographiques un peu naïves alternent de manière répétée, dans un schéma assez “sadien”, avec des conversations sociologiques ou morales diverses (autour de la question du sexe, de l’industrie touristique, ou plus largement de la décadence de la civilisation occidentale en régime libéral), teintées parfois d’une ironie féroce.

En cela Plateforme répète assez le modèle qui fit le succès des Particules élémentaires, mais avec un peu moins de bonheur et sans le bénéfice de la surprise. En tout cas, malgré la prose de Houellebecq, d’une fluidité remarquable, et hormis la toute dernière partie, véritablement dramatique, l’ensemble du récit est assez terne. Le roman suivant, La Possibilité d'une île, lui est, à mon gout, nettement supérieur.
Profile Image for Eliasdgian.
413 reviews116 followers
November 10, 2018
Φυλλομετρούσα την Πλατφόρμα, δεν είχα μπροστά μου περισσότερες από τριάντα σελίδες για να ‘κατέβω’ από δαύτη, κι η εντύπωση πως είχε έρθει η στιγμή που ο Michel Houellebecq θα με απογοήτευε ήταν κάτι παραπάνω από σαφής. Σαν να το έκανε εξεπιτούτου, μιλούσε ακατάπαυστα για το σεξ που απολάμβανε ο σαραντάχρονος Μισέλ (το alter ego του συγγραφέα;), κυριολεκτικά παντού. Στην Ταϊλάνδη, την Αβάνα και το Παρίσι, σε δω��άτια ξενοδοχείων και δημόσιους χώρους, με τη σύντροφό του και χωρίς, ο Μισέλ έκανε διαρκώς (πολύ) σεξ. Στα διαλείμματα δε (από το σεξ) διατύπωνε και μερικές ωραίες επιχειρηματικές ιδέες, καθόλου άσχετες με το σεξ κι αυτές. Εντάξει, δεν είμαι και κανένας πουριτανός (λατρεύω τις ιλιγγιώδεις, ‘βρόμικες’, ηδονικές περιγραφές του Gutiérrez και του Bukowski), αλλά από τον Ουελμπέκ περίμενα κάτι διαφορετικό. Χωρίς να μου διαφεύγει το γεγονός ότι το λογοτεχνικό του σύμπαν έχει πολύ σεξ, εδώ είχα την αίσθηση ότι το παράκανε.

Κι εκεί που (όπως προανέφερα, καμιά τριανταριά σελίδες για το τέλος, κι ενώ παίζονταν οι καθυστερήσεις) ‘άκουγα’ τον Ιάσονα Τριανταφυλλίδη να μου ψιθυρίζει ότι δεν μπορώ να βάλω παραπάνω από ‘τγία’, ο πολύς Ουελμπέκ έκανε την ανατροπή. Μέσα από ένα απροσδόκητο, απόλυτα βίαιο συμβάν, το σεξ έγινε θάνατος, η ηδονή βαθύς πόνος, κι η ευτυχία μακρινή ανάμνηση. Ο καινούργιος κόσμος που ξημέρωσε για τον Μισέλ, στον απόηχο του παραπάνω συμβάντος, δεν θα ‘ναι καθόλου ίδιος, καθόλου θαυμαστός, καθόλου ευτυχισμένος.

"Τον θάνατο, τώρα, τον έχω καταλάβει∙ δεν νομίζω πως θα μου κάνει ιδιαίτερα κακό. Γνώρισα το μίσος, την περιφρόνηση, την κατάπτωση και τόσα άλλα πράγματα∙ γνώρισα ακόμη και σύντομες στιγμές αγάπης. Τίποτε δεν θα επιβιώσει από εμένα, ούτε και θα μου άξιζε∙ υπήρξα άτομο μέτριο, από κάθε άποψη."
Profile Image for Andrei Tamaş.
438 reviews291 followers
November 8, 2020
Dintr-un inexplicabil scepticism, am ținut mereu să stau departe de literatura contemporană, în parte pentru că nu-mi fusese dat să gust, cu foarte puține excepții, ceva ce aș fi apreciat ca fiind de calitate, în parte pentru că subzistă în mine simțământul că numai moartea autorului poate desăvârși opera aia. Până și pe Eco -un geniu incontestabil în materie!- l-am devorat abia după ce a dat ortu' popii. Pudori de-astea...
De vină e consoarta, pe care păcatul a împins-o să-și facă licența pe Houellebecq și care a insistat să-l iau în primire, fără putință de rezistență pentru mine. :)

Într-un fel însă, literatura e indisolubil legată de problemele sociale ale epocii în care este creată. Nu ne putem ascunde la infinit în spatele unor critici punctuale, ca la Balzac, ori în "viața de șemineu" a romanelor lui Dekobra, Wallace & Co.

Houellebecq pune însă în prim plan ceva ce occidentalilor le e greu să recunoască: septicemia ce a cuprins continentul, în căutarea unei anume identități, și care îl face pe europeanul nostru de azi un oblomovist care nu mai poate accede la niciun ideal colectiv. E o societate cuprinsă de egoism -asta observăm cu toții, în care valorile comune reprezintă simple mofturi în față instinctelor dezlănțuite. E tabloul pe care îl privim cu toții fără să găsim ceva stânjenitor în asta, întrucât un individ nu poate fi cuprins de rușine în fața unei așa numite valori morale atâta vreme cât fundamentele acestei valori sunt negate, iar elementele de referință din jurul său - deci ceilalți, niște ceilalți relativi- se complac și ei în această stare de lucruri.

Voi fi, poate, acuzat de radicalism afirmând că apreciez net mai mult societatea interbelică, cu ideologiile ei acerbe (si, implicit, cu toată fervoarea aferentă), întrucât era un "spectacol" de o așa anvergură încât nu i te puteai sustrage, nu puteai să fugi, să fii neutru, pentru că frenezia te împingea, automat, într-o anumită tabără.
Societatea de astăzi este o societate la antipodul tuturor timpurilor. :) Ne lipsesc sau ne sunt răstălmăcite concepte sociale fundamentale. Să piară lumea, dar mie să-mi fie bine! Jucăm acest spectacol sinistru mulțumiți fiind de micile noastre capricii cotidiene, de aprecieri de complezență, de filme porno sau de alte motorașe care ne fac să adormim mulțumiți.

Protagonistul lui Houellebecq este un individ cinic lipsit de orice perspectivă. În fond, un băiat bun, merge la muncă, se uită la TV și trece și pe la curve, într-un ciclu repetitiv ce vine, parcă, să înfățișeze viața multora dintre europeni. Nimic nou sub soare, însă creierii noștri, bată-i vina, se prind de schema asta, după un interval de timp mai mult sau mai puțin îndelungat, și simt nevoia de ceva nou: caută o nouă sursă de căutare (da!) de identitate, în măsura în care suntem dispuși să facem concesii cu privire la capriciile noastre. Ori, epuizarea sensului trăind viață într-un anumit mod, mulțumitor până atunci, e ea însăși o sursă de schimbare. Acest lucru, cred, poate fi analogat de la marile traume -individuale sau colectivă deopotrivă- până la acțiunile noastre de zi cu zi.
A devenit din ce în ce mai rar omul care este dispus să renunțe la propriile sale capricii în favoarea unui interes colectiv, s-o facă dezinteresat, fără să se folosească, să spunem, de mijlocirea unei funcții politice -argumentul cel mai des invocat! E ilustrativ Sacha Baron Cohen într-un film văzut recent și pe care îl apreciez că fiind unul dintre cele mai bune ale ultimilor 20 de ani: The trial of the Chicago 7. Este întrebat la un moment dat, cu privire la acuzația ce i se adusese cu privire la pretinderea unui sume de 100 de mii de coco pentru a opri o manifestație pe care el însuși o pornise:
-Ai fi luat cei 100.000 de dolari?
-Dacă i-aș fi luat? Da! Dacă aș fi împiedicat manifestația... nu știu ce să spun.
-Atunci spune-mi care ar fi prețul pentru a renunța la ceea ce numești tu Revoluție?
(privind în gol, dezinteresat)- ... viața mea!

Replică lui Sacha Baron ilustrează tocmai interesul superior, care anulează instinctele (inclusiv frica de moarte). Și, în acest sens, mi se pare ilustrativ motto-ul lucrării lui Houellebecq, preluat din -ghici cine?!- Balzac: "Cu cât îi este mai josnică viața, cu atât ține omul la ea; viața lui e atunci un protest, o răzbunare de toate clipele".

Mai mult decât atât, în romanul lui Houellebecq este ilustrat și simulacrul pudibund de care dăm dovadă. Știm cu toții că suntem niște perverși cvasiincurabili, fără să ne întrebăm prea mult de ce, și, cu toate acestea, condamnăm cu orice ocazie și având grijă să lăsăm impresia că reprezentăm un adevărat front, orice act de pervertire morală. E un cerc vicios: suntem și acuzăm!

Sigur, autorul nu se da în lături nici de la anumite remarci mai acide, care "ne doare". De pildă, sunt de notat gândurile care sunt atribuite, în roman, unei anumite publicații, potrivit cu care bărbații occidentali au devenit niște "refugiați" în țările de mâna a treia, în căutarea, lato sensu, a plăcerilor sexuale, întrucât femeile occidentale sunt, cumva, intruzive sau selective. Iată, de pildă, un exemplu dat: orice anunț matrimonial cuprinde date fizice despre partenerul căutat, condiția socială, aptitudinile interumane. "Uitați-va în schimb la ce anume vor fetele de aici (n.n. Thailanda). Nimic mai simplu. Ele nu spun decât că ar vrea să se stabilească DEFINITIV cu un bărbat dispus să-și păstreze slujba și să fie un SOȚ și un TATĂ iubitor și înțelegător. Cu aceste calități nu ai convinge o fată din America."

"... mulți bărbați se tem de femeile moderne. Tot ce își doresc e o femeie drăguță care să se ocupe de casă și de copii. Dorința asta, de fapt, nu a dispărut, dar în Occident le-a devenit imposibil să o mărturisească; de asta se însoară cu asiatice." Antiprogresist? Misogin? Da, dacă privim superficial. Dar, pentru a nu dezvălui din narațiune, e de amintit cazul soției lui Jean-Yves.

În fapt, această este tema centrală a romanului, pe un background pesimist, backgroundul Europei aflate la mii de kilometri distanță.

Se caută o identitate fără a se cunoaște premisele problemei și, într-o atare situație, salvarea, care nu e greu de zărit, apare ca o soluție, însă e una iluzorie. Descoperirea de către protagonist a unei occidentale dedicate e o salvare -și una individuală!- iluzorie: "Făcusem dragoste o mare parte a după-amiezii: îmbrățișați în pat, făceam pauze lungi. Apoi mă masturba sau mi-o sugea; începeam din nou s-o pătrund. De fiecare dată când mă atingea aveam o nouă erectie, ea rămânea umedă.

De fapt, cred că este ceva ce caracterizează masculinitatea: dorința de dominație morală. Societatea occidentală nu mai permite însă, din factori pe care nu e necesar să îi prezum, manifestarea acestei porniri. :) E, dacă extrapolăm la un nivel colectiv, tot o căutare de identitate, ceva ce să ne mulțumească, dar și acest lucru trebuie privit tot la nivel colectiv: un bărbat în căutarea unei femei docile nu înseamnă absolut nimic. O Europa în disoluție, ei!, iată, această e o problema!

Romanul se încheie tragic, dintr-o dublă perspectiva.

În primul rând, protagonistului i se confirmă că plăcerea să nu era nimic altceva decât o clipă suspendată iluzorie, atunci când aceasta se spulberă ca urmare a unui atentat. Autorul tratează aici, foarte cinic, problema terorismului islamic, turat de motoarele fundamentalismului religios. "Problema musulmanilor, a spus el, era că Paradisul promis de Profet era deja pe pământ: existau locuri în lume unde fetele disponibile și senzuale dansau pentru plăcerile bărbaților, unde te puteai îmbată cu nectar ascultând o muzică celestă. Pe o rază de 500 de metri în jurul hotelului erau vreo douăzeci de asemenea locuri. În plus, ca să intri nu trebuia să îndeplinești cele șapte îndatoriri ale musulmanului, nici să duci războiul sfânt. Era suficient să plătești câțiva dolari. Iar că să devii conștient de toate acestea nici nu trebuia să călătorești; era suficient să ai o antena parabolică. Pentru el, nu mai încăpea nicio îndoială, sistemul musulman era condamnat: capitalismul va fi mai puternic. Deja, tinerii arabi nu mai visau decât bunuri și sex. Agresivitatea unora dintre ei nu era decât semnul unei invidii neputincioase...(...)".

În al doilea rând, dincolo de o drama individuală, la Houellebecq problema capătă proporții colective. Dacă Miller și Bukowski își pierduseră pe deplin speranța în lumea în care trăiau, devenind ultimii cinci în modul de a fi, ignorând orice idee potențial salutară, fie și dacă se acceptă că această rămâne exclusiv la nivel ideatic, la Houellebecq se întrezărește, dincolo de pesimism, un regret care capătă proporții istorice. Dacă pentru Bukowski totul începea de la celebrul "Go fuck yourself!", fără să aibă însemnătate ceea ce era în spate, la Houellebecq totul se termină cu un gust amar, cu un regret inefabil și inexplicabil, pentru o Europa în agonie: "Voi rămâne până la capăt un copil al Europei, al grijii și al rușinii; nu am de lăsat niciun mesaj de speranță. Pentru Occident nu simt ură, ci doar un dispreț fără margini. Știu doar că toți, până la unul, puțim a egoism, a masochinism și a moarte. Am creat un sistem care a devenit pur și simplu irespirabil; și, pe deasupra, continuăm să-l exportăm."

8 noiembrie 2020
Profile Image for Brendan.
67 reviews21 followers
June 14, 2007
i'm really into this guy right now. he seems to hate everything, which i can appreciate. this had a surprising tenderness to it, in comparison to The Elementary Particles, even though there's plenty of bitter social critique. what i like most is Houellebecq's realization that the we in the West are like the declining Roman Empire. he's able to articulate this thesis through his characters but as well as through interjections on social theory.

this book is not without flaws, in particular its strange, pehaps simply lazy, changing of narrative perspective, but the central themes are uniquely provocative, and not in a leftist or right-wing way. Houellebecq belongs to no party except the Misanthrope Party, which is why he's been able to enrage all elements of the political spectrum. my feeling is, when you're able to do that, you're doing something right.
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,341 reviews316 followers
July 22, 2023
Уелбек има скандална репутация във Франция и по света, напълно заслужена според мен. Не си криви душата и казва много неща директно и без заобиколки, не се старае да е политкоректен или приятен някому.

"Платформата" е интересен роман и голяма част от описаното в него е реалност днес.

Преднамерено непремерените еротика и стил на автора са отблъснали някои читатели, но на мен ми допаднаха, както и много от идеите и изводите му. Струва си да се прочете.
Profile Image for Alma.
657 reviews
December 21, 2020
"Tudo tem um fim, e a noite não foge à regra."

"Viver sem leitura é perigoso, obriga a pessoa a viver a sua vida, o que comporta realmente muitos riscos."

"Há coisas que se podem fazer e outras que parecem muito difíceis. Lentamente, tudo se vai tornando difícil; a vida resume-se a isso."

"As relações humanas nem sempre são tão complicadas como parecem; muitas vezes são insolúveis, embora raramente sejam complicadas."

"Curiosamente, eu tivera uma segunda oportunidade, embora não a merecesse. Na nossa vida, é muito raro que alguém tenha uma segunda oportunidade; é contrário a todas as leis."

"(...) a falta de vontade de viver não é suficiente para sentirmos vontade de morrer."
Profile Image for Nad Gandia.
173 reviews40 followers
March 7, 2022
`Mi voz resonaba en la noche de manera extraña, por encima del rumor del agua y del persistente zumbido de los insectos. Oír el mundo real ya era, en sí, un sufrimiento.´

`Por culpa de su ignorancia, la gente siempre concibe ideas equivocadas y no encuentra el punto de vista correcto; se aferra a su ego y comete malas acciones. Y al final arrastra una existencia ilusoria. ´

Siguiendo la línea del escritor, nos encontramos en Tailandia, como no podía ser menos un hombre d emediana edad que tiene como excusa de vida el sexo, y a pesar de ello lo hace con desgana y de malas maneras.
Supongo que este libro debería de haber sido en su día polémico, ya que aborda el tema del turismo sexual en Tailandia. Sobre todo por ciudadanos europeos, en busca de una mala justificación para una vida que ya no tiene ningún sentido.

Por otro lado, me he dado cuenta de que realmente, vale. Aborda el tema del turismo sexual, pero sin mojarse del todo, lo que me lleva a la conclusión definitiva e inamovible de que al escritor, le gusta levantar ampollas, pero no mojarse demasiado en el tema. Como ya comenté en la reseña anterior, toda la justificación del libro parte de una idea moralista de occidente, una idea que a mi parecer es demasiado equivocada. Básicamente, la moral de occidente se viene abajo, no por occidente mismo sino por otros países tercer mundistas que tientan al destino de Europa a la catástrofe. Vamos, que para mí, demasiado sólidas no son las bases.

Está muy bien escrito y eso no se lo quita nadie, que sea un escritor con un fondo literario brutal tampoco, eso sí, no recomiendo mucho lo que he hecho yo, leerlo de seguido. No solo ya por los paralelismos obvios entre sus obras, sino también porque era jodidamente deprimente, Bukowski, a su lado, es mr. wonderful, os lo aseguro. A pesar de ello, me ha gustado mucho el libro, no voy a negarlo. A pesar de que no esté en absoluto alineado con su idea de occidente, me parece una obra imprescindible de la literatura moderna. Para quien le guste esta línea narrativa, le encantará.
Al final, a lo tonto me voy a leer todas sus obras. Soy así de cabezota, que le vamos a hacer.
Profile Image for Nikos79.
201 reviews29 followers
March 6, 2017
After reading Submission, Platform came to confirm my initial view I had for Michel Houellebecq. Same here the writer is cynical, raw, eccentric in a way, but more than all, an absolutely realist, whether people want to accept it or not. It is easy to see why he shocks with his books, but to me, this is not his point, he just writes down through his plots the reality, no matter how cruel it is. And he deserves congrats, it needs courage and some times audacity to stamp all these to the paper and offer it to a reader.

In platform his main hero Michel, -an alter ego maybe of himself?, is an apathetic figure, a forty year old man with no real interest in life, just living, who after the loss of his father decides to have a trip to Thailand in order to clear his mind. What happens next is something that even himself hardly believe, it changes his life and brings him in front of unprecedented situations and emotions. Houellebecq is a very tough judge of western world of his men and woman not afraid to show us in his words their worst characteristics. He deals a lot with human relationships, underlining how difficult is for people in nowdays to leave themselves fall into love, while on the other side highlighting their need for happiness. He makes also an approach to world economy and especially to tourism, a sector which is so interesting to me. He uses a lot of details which may seem uninteresting or boring to someone. Personally I loved his kind of analysis. He also deals with careers pointing out how important seem to people and how many times if not always, deprave them from the meaning of life. There are a lot of sex scenes in his pages, some times tough, some others kinky, but others from the point of view of real love. There is also a love story growing up in his pages, an intense and powerful affair which keep the attention of the reader and it is something beautiful among all these misery of the reality. The ending has real dramatic and touching character, leaves someone a sad taste but it is real powerful, while it is a kind of attack in Islamic world, in fact the real feelings of someone who blames Islam for the loss of the most prestigious thing happened in his life, feelings of a sore person. Excellent, fast and very smart reading, I enjoyed it so much.
Profile Image for Alberto.
524 reviews38 followers
May 13, 2020
Me ha gustado más que Las partículas elementales más breve, conciso, con más mala leche y sobre todo con sexo más cerdo. Aquí ya encontramos sadomasoquismo y sexo grupal harto descriptivo. El autor se harta de contarnos lo listo que es y lo mucho que folla; si conectas con él lo vas a pasar en grande.

"Las mujeres occidentales buscan a alguien con un aspecto determinado y ciertas "habilidades sociales", como bailar y mantener conversaciones inteligentes; alguien interesante, excitante y seductor.(...) las mujeres tailandesas serían felices sentando la cabeza para siempre con un hombre que sea capaz de conservar un trabajo estable, un marido y padre tierno y comprensivo. (...)Las mujeres occidentales no están hechas para el matrimonio"

Profile Image for Maru Kun.
216 reviews495 followers
August 12, 2015
I admire how French intellectuals can look at the same fundamental issues of the human condition from so many different angles.

In the "Myth of Sisyphus" Camus examines the absurdity of human existence through a careful analysis of whether or not we should commit suicide. He includes references to many great works of literature which I wish I had the time to read.

In "Platform" Houellebecq examines the absurdity of human existence through a careful analysis of the marketing strategy of mid-market club-style French tourist resorts. He includes references to many great pornographic movie scenes which I wish I had the time to watch.

I guessed the "shock ending" to the story, but I used hindsight so, sad to say, these days it can't really be called a shock ending at all.
Profile Image for Uroš Đurković.
622 reviews140 followers
August 10, 2019
'Zaboraviće me. Zaboraviće me brzo.'

Mrtvorođene proročke rečenice samog kraja romana.

'Platforma' je i aljkava i vešto napisana. Uelbekov opus je mrljavo ogledalo današnjih devijacija. Njegov Mišel deo je jednog plastifciranog, hormonskog, potrošačkog sveta, a ni ne trudi se da izađe van njega.

Mislim da greše oni koji vide traganje za spasom u likovima Uelbekovih dela. Sve njegovo pisanje se svodi na jedan izuzetno tražen koktel banalnosti, obogaćen pokojom ironijskom odstupnicom.

Verovatno se neću vraćati Uelbeku više, budući da deluje da sve vreme piše samo jedan roman.

(Prema 'Pokoravanju' sam (nejasno) bio blagonaklon. To jeste roman-pamflet, ali je makar malo fokusiraniji.)
Profile Image for Simona  Cosma.
129 reviews61 followers
March 21, 2019
Fără prejudecăți și false pudori, despre fragilitatea șanselor, despre interrasialitate și despre turismul sexual, despre intruziune și ripostă și, din nou, despre o Europă ipocrită și pudibondă.

După moartea tatălui său, Michel Renault, un funcționar celibatar din Ministerul Culturii, pleacă într-o călătorie în Thailanda, paradisul turismului sexual. Acolo o întâlnește pe Valerie, o ființă care îl va satisface complet, atât sexual cât și spiritual, netezindu-i angoasele, mizantropia și cinismul, însă povestea lor perfectă va sfârși într-un sângeros atentat musulman.

"Am înţeles, acum, ce e moartea; nu cred că mă va face să sufăr. Am cunoscut ura, dispreţul, decrepitudinea şi multe altele, am cunoscut chiar şi scurte momente de iubire. După mine nu va rămâne nimic, şi nici nu merit să-mi supravieţuiască ceva; am fost, sub toate aspectele, un ins mediocru.
Îmi imaginez, nu ştiu de ce, că voi muri la miezul nopţii, şi încă mai simt o uşoară nelinişte la gândul suferinţei ce va însoţi eliberarea din lanţurile trupului. Mi-e greu să-mi imaginez încetarea vieţii ca pe un simplu act reflex, total lipsit de durere; ştiu, fireşte, că mă înşel, dar mi-e greu s-o cred cu adevărat."

"Voi rămâne până la capăt un copil al Europei, al grijii şi al ruşinii; nu am de lăsat nici un mesaj de speranţă. Pentru Occident nu simt ură, ci doar un dispreţ fără margini. Ştiu doar că toţi, până la unul, puţim a egoism, a masochism şi a moarte. Am creat un sistem care a devenit pur şi simplu irespirabil şi, pe deasupra, continuăm să-l exportăm."
Profile Image for maggie.
7 reviews23 followers
November 12, 2008
Houllebecq is a dirty, dirty man. He's dirty, he's cynical and unrelentingly critical (critical is a benign word for his skewering, by the by) of contemporary French (and American) culture and society. It is for precisely these reasons that the end of this novel, a retelling of The Stranger, is so astonishing and incredibly beautiful--perhaps one of the most beautiful and poignant things I've ever read.(That's right--I said "ever." Bring it.) It is both a popular (I will NOT read another book about the malaise of suburban housewives) and a relatively simple task (I submit for your consideration: VH1) these days to illustrate and denounce the emptiness of our materialist, consumer-driven culture (aren't you bored just reading that phrase?) BUT it is an entirely different thing altogether to offer up a meaningful way of living within it as Houllebecq has done. Or. Perhaps this is just a lovely fable. And we are, in fact, fucked. Read it.
Profile Image for Brodolomi.
223 reviews106 followers
May 8, 2019
Moj prvi suret sa Uelbekom je razočaravajući. Bio sam ubeđen da je Uelbek novi Selin, a zapravo je pisac na nivou klikbejta koji bi mogao da stoji pod naslovom Ne biste verovali šta se Mišelu dogodilo na Tajlandu .

Svaki čitalac gaji sopstvenu predstavu šta je književnost. Za mene je, najvećim delom, to tekst koji mi omogućava uživanje u artificijelnosti izraza i verbaloj stilizaciji. Volim dobru deskripciju i stilski zanimljivu rečenicu. Sve ostalo mi nije toliko važno. Kod Uelbeka gotovo da nema deskripcije, a i kada je ima, nezanimljiva je. Kada uvede, recimo, ženskog lika on je opisan isključivo bojom očiju i dužinom kose, eventualno, veličinom grudi. Nedovoljno da stvorim bilo kakvu zamisao u glavi. Sve je tako suvo, neiventivno, otužno i monotono u rečenicama. Mene ovakve knjige ne rade. Gotovo kao da sam čitao novine.
Profile Image for Diogenis Papadopoulos.
40 reviews9 followers
April 18, 2017
Κυρίες και Κύριοι, Μr Michel Houellebecq!
Για όσους αγαπούν τον Πασκάλ Μπρυκνέρ, θεωρώ ότι ο Μισέλ Ουελμπέκ είναι άξιος διάδοχός του, με τη διαφορά ότι δεν προσπαθεί να σε σοκάρει, απλά καταγράφει γεγονότα και καταστάσεις.
Σ' αυτό το μυθιστόρημα, μέσα από την ιστορία του ήρωά του ασχολείται με την αποστειρωμένη σεξουαλική ζωή του δυτικού κόσμου, τον (σεξο)τουρισμό και την βιομηχανία του και κερασάκι στην τούρτα, το Ισλάμ (γεγονός που εξόργισε τις μουσουλμανικές οργανώσεις στη Γαλλία).
Σαν βιβλίο, με κέρδισε από τις πρώτες σελίδες. Ειδικά, το σπαρακτικό τέλος σε αποζημιώνει για την κοιλιά που κάνει κατ' εμέ στο δεύτερο κεφάλαιο.

Υ.Γ. Το μυθιστόρημα μπορεί να διαβαστεί υπό τους ήχους του Amon Tobin, του Bonobo και σαν κλείσιμο τίτλων να πέσει το "Beautiful burnout" των Underworld.
Profile Image for Erik F..
51 reviews211 followers
June 9, 2012

A vicious and incredibly bleak social critique that is as subtle and incendiary as a suicide bomber. Houellebecq’s horror and hatred of our modern world spills from nearly every page; nothing is sacred and no one is spared. The novel is narrated by Michel, a pessimistic middle-aged man who, to his mind, lives in an era so corroded by consumerism, narcissism and terrorism that genuine human contact or happiness can only be obtained through the blissful abandon of sexual orgasm – even if it’s with a stranger who will be accepting your cash afterwards.

While vacationing in Thailand, Michel meets Valérie, a younger woman of a similar disposition, and the two cynics begin an intense love affair. They gradually develop the idea of creating a chain of specialized tourist resorts that double as brothels, hoping to entice the (apparently) huge market of sexually frustrated jet-setters and retirees; in other words: sex tourism as a legitimate business enterprise. Using her executive status in the tourism industry and some clever marketing, among other things, Valérie is able to bring the idea into reality quite easily -- and it turns out to be a tremendous success. However, no one is prepared for the dangers of corporate greed and religious extremism that follow, and the consequences cause everything to spin wildly out of control.

For the most part, Platform is sharply written and morbidly entertaining, so these compliments are enough to earn it at least a cautious recommendation. On the other hand, the large number of explicit sex scenes becomes almost ridiculous after awhile, adding little more than overheated hetero-male fantasy to the proceedings. With all the fornication, was Houellebecq trying to dull within his readers the lascivious lure of sex, thereby strengthening the book’s theme of the commodification of carnality in a discontented modern age? I don’t think so – it came across as a misanthropic-but-lonely author getting his rocks off by jotting down erotic prose, masturbating furiously in the murky theater of his imagination while his projected fantasies flicker across the decaying screen. Along with the book’s blatant anti-Islam sentiments, and its author’s position as recent European literature’s chief provocateur, maybe he just has an inherent need to create controversy any way he can. Still, again, I don’t regret the unpleasant-but-brief time I spent reading this brutal work of his.

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