ISBN: 1852425849 Global Overview for this book
3 journalers for this copy...
What starts as an ultra-cynical and scathing book about office & sexual politics, the boredom & emptiness of modern life and the IT industry(!?), becomes quite a touching catalogue of a man’s descent into depression, his quiet breakdown and road to recovery. Along the way Houellebecq pays homage to Camus with a senseless murder on a beach…almost; the blurb says, “L’Etranger for the info generation”.
Along this journey in a short 155 pages, MH has some very funny and insightful things to say about…
IT and the ‘information industry’. ‘My entire work as a computer expert consists of adding to the data…It has no meaning…The world has a need for many things, bar more information’.
Women and psychoanalysis, ‘A woman fallen into the hands of the psychoanalysts becomes absolutely unfit for use…Under the pretext of reconstructing the ego [psychoanalysts] proceed to a scandalous destruction of the human being.’
Capitalism and sexual activity as parallel societal differentiators, ‘…unrestrained economic liberalism and sexual liberation [both] produce phenomena of absolute pauperization.’ Hence the sorry tale of the incredibly ugly Tisserand.
Cows on heat (the cover picture), go from a passive ruminant state of ‘profound existential oneness’ to the extreme agitation caused by the ‘inexorable functioning of genetic programming’, she, the Breton cow, ‘…contracts and twitches under the painful effect of an assuredly powerful desire.’
And lastly, depression. When the unnamed narrator is diagnosed with depression, he is moderately content, ‘Officially, then, I’m in a depression. The formula seems a happy one to me. It’s not that I feel tremendously low; it’s rather that the world around me appears high.’
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Taking along to the BookCrossing meet-up to share or leave on the Caffe Nero shelves
I was especially fond of the mockery Houellebecq makes of the excessive intellectualizations of French novelists and social theorists, in particular Michel Foucault. Houellebecq seems more respectful, almost affectionate, towards Camus and an absurd condition. I confess that some of the social commentary make me groan, or laugh in recognition.
Looking backward ten+ years [the book was first published in 1994], it seems history has confirmed his sharp penetrations of the order of things. When Houellebecq jabbed at culture, he exploded it with a disgusting splatter like a festering boil.
I would not recommend 'Whatever' to anyone, largely because it might make them nervous and suspicious of me. But for those who can find their way to it, reading 'Whatever' can come as a strengthening release, like arising from a sickbed.
Thanks BookGroupMan and smallbluepebble! [I am going to make the book available; but as I said, the next reader will have to seek it out.]