Monday, November 9, 2015

"Chesterton and Belloc and their ideas appear in “Submission” as a kind of secondary sound, a Greek chorus."

Houellebecq takes very seriously the enterprise, in which Huysmans is also implicated, of rejecting Enlightenment modernity in favor of some kind of mystical-spiritual nation reëstablished on a foundation of faith. There is a passage in “Submission”—by Houellebecq’s own account the key scene in the book—in which the narrator goes south to contemplate the Black Madonna of Rocamadour and has a moment of blissful vision, one that he wishes to sustain but can’t. Islam rushes in to fill the absence. Houellebecq makes the entente of Islam and Catholicism attractive. “My book describes the destruction of the philosophy handed down by the Enlightenment, which no longer makes sense to anyone, or to very few people,” he said in an interview. “Catholicism, by contrast, is doing rather well. I would maintain that an alliance between Catholics and Muslims is possible.”