By Ben Jeffery

Michel Houellebecq, writer of 5 novels including Atomised and Platform, has turn into almost certainly the world’s most famed literary pessimist. His paintings pronounces that lifestyles is painful and disappointing, demise is terrifying, and the human is a foul kind of shaggy dog story. He has been wildly profitable – translated into over 25 varied languages and hailed because the voice of a iteration. starting with Houellebecq’s novels, this publication explores the concept that of ‘Depressive Realism’ in literature and philosophy – the proposition that the evidence of existence are bleak and unkind. Ranging over paintings through David Foster Wallace, Susan Sontag, Fredric Jameson and Margaret Atwood, Anti-Matter surveys the case for pessimism, asks how a mass tradition rooted in sentimentality and trivialisation manages to supply rather a lot cynicism and apathy, and hunts for the gap that continues to be for severe, life-affirming paintings.

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Additional resources for Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism

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And, among the Surrealists, Rene Creve\ . Like Artaud , Creve! " Dada held up a mirror to survival as an absence of real life and as a directly apprehended reality, thus "making its shame more shameful"; suicide constituted a condemnation, by way of the negative, of sur­ vival's logic of death. Being an ideology, Surrealism was a strictly static vision whose impression upon history could never surpass the weight which his­ tory itself accorded it (as distinct from revolutionary theory, which starts out from history, then returns to history and moves it forward) ; for Surrealism, survival, suicide and death were the starting point which life was supposed to negate, but which it could not transform without first achieving a state of "absolute deviation".

And throughout his work Breton repeatedly emphasize s the i rreducible aspect of each i ndividual, the 51 magic of the surrender to chance, the pursuit of adventure real or imaginary, and the revelation of unsuspected desires. " Yet neither this prescription of Batail le's nor Breton's meditation s o n chance (which Nietzsche defined as "yourself bringing yoursel f to yoursel f") opens the way to a practical investment of the riches of subjectivity in the collective struggle for the total liberation of the individual .

Dressed in a most elegant white robe, bent under the weight of his cross, Jesus o ffers his back to whatever blows might be forthcoming. As soon as Pontius Pilate has washed his hands of the accused, the sexual symbolism becomes crystal-clear. Jesus falls, then gets up again: in other words, he has come, and is ready to come again under the whips of the athletic types with their skimpy costumes . And, just a s the young newly-wed wife call s for her mother, so frightened is she so of voluptuous pleasure , so Jesus continually calls out for his father.

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Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism by Ben Jeffery

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