7.22.2012

Self-hatred thus appears as a mode of self-protection from the allure of consumerism, which threatens to take our propensity to daydream and use it to trap us on the hedonic treadmill, chasing after goods that always fail to satisfy. Houellebecq works to instill in readers a healthy revulsion toward their explicit desires, the ones that advertising magnifies in their consciousnesses. Repudiating those wants could potentially open the space for other, less conscious desires — yearnings that can’t be articulated in words or encapsulated in products — to flourish. These inarticulate desires, Jeffery suggests, drawing on Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation” among other texts, are the eternal preserve of art, but changing historical conditions require artists to keep coming up with new ways to protect desire from co-optation, vulgarization. Depressive realism, arguably, is a currently viable strategy.


from a review of Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism by Ben Jeffery

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