I’ve been reading Houellebecq in French on the subway.

[my translation:]

The problem is, living by the rules isn’t quite good enough. As a matter of fact, you manage (sometimes just so, just barely, but on the whole you manage it) to live by the rules. Your tax returns are up to date. Your bills paid on time. You don’t go around without ID on you (and your debit card in its special little pocket!...).

However, you have no friends.

Extension du domaine de la lutte


The rules are complex and many-sided.

Outside of the hours you spend at work, there are purchases that need to be made, automatic cash machines from which it’s necessary to withdraw money (and at which, so often, you need to wait your turn). Above all, there are the various payments you have to disburse to the organizations in charge of the various aspects of your life. In the bargain, you may get sick, which involves other costs, and new formalities.

Yet you have some free time left. To do what? To use how? Dedicating yourself to the service of others? But, in reality, others don’t interest you at all. Listening to records? That used to be a solution, but over the years you have to admit that music moves you less and less.

Home improvements, in the most general sense, can be one way to go. But in truth nothing can stop those moments from coming back more and more frequently when your utter solitude, a feeling of universal emptiness, and the premonition that your existence is closing in upon a painful and permanent disaster combine to plunge you into a state of real suffering.

But, at the same time, you don’t yet want to die.

Houellebecq, Extension du domaine de la lutte (my translation)


tv eye

Jeff Wall