/ fiction

Submission by Michel Houellebecq

My rating on GoodReads: 3 stars

Brutal, philosophical, terrifying, and bigoted? Houellebecq's "Submission" describes the Muslim Brotherhood's demographic/religious takeover of France.

Published on the same day as the Charlie Hebdo shooting, Submission is a violent condemnation of the moral relativism/bankruptcy of leftist multicultural Europe and its impotence in the face of massive Muslim immigration. Told through the eyes of François, a disillusioned (and sexually ravenous) Sorbonne academic, the novel follows the seemingly unstoppable rise of the Muslim Brotherhood as it seeks to impose its religious views on the morally ambivalent French nation.

Houellebecq's writing is so direct and bitingly cynical that it hurts. Throughout the novel, he compares Islam to Christianity, noting the parallels between man's "naturally dominant" relationship to woman.

Although I was disgusted by his objectification of women and his blatant racism towards the Muslim immigrants, Houellebecq is right on the money when he talks about the idiocy and spinelessness of modern academia. How can those who believe in nothing hope to defend their ideas and culture from strong anti-Western religious ideology?

My favorite quotes below:


Yet the special thing about literature, the major art form of a Western civilization now ending before our very eyes, is not hard to define. Like literature, music can overwhelm you with sudden emotion, can move you to absolute sorrow or ecstasy; like literature, painting has the power to astonish, and to make you see the world through fresh eyes. But only literature can put you in touch with another human spirit, as a whole, with all its weaknesses and grandeurs, its limitations, its pettinesses, its obsessions, its beliefs; with whatever it finds moving, interesting, exciting, or repugnant. Only literature can grant you access to a spirit from beyond the grave — a more direct, more complete, deeper access than you’d have in conversation with a friend.

The academic study of literature leads basically nowhere, as we all know, unless you happen to be an especially gifted student, in which case it prepares you for a career teaching the academic study of literature—it is, in other words, a rather farcical system that exists solely to replicate itself and yet manages to fail more than 95 percent of the time.

What little private tutoring I’d done, to raise my standard of living, soon convinced me that the transmission of knowledge was generally impossible, the variance of intelligence extreme, and that nothing could undo or even mitigate this basic inequality.

Mostly I had mistresses—or rather, as people said then (and maybe still do), I had girlfriends,

The man, destroyed at the moment of his assumption, would utter a few weak words: appallingly weak in the French films (“Oh putain!” “Oh putain je jouis!”: more or less what you’d expect from a nation of regicides), more beautiful and intense from those true believers the Americans (“Oh my God!” “Oh Jesus Christ!”), like an injunction not to neglect God’s gifts (blow jobs, roast chicken). At any rate I got a hard-on, too, sitting in front of my twenty-seven-inch iMac, and all was well.

Western nations took a strange pride in this system, though it amounted to little more than a power-sharing deal between two rival gangs, and they would even go to war to impose it on nations that failed to share their enthusiasm.

It may well be impossible for people who have lived and prospered under a given social system to imagine the point of view of those who feel it offers them nothing, and who can contemplate its destruction without any particular dismay.

I maintained a tactical silence. When you maintain a tactical silence and look people right in the eye, as if drinking in their words, they talk. People like to be listened to, as every researcher knows — every researcher, every writer, every spy.

Especially in Scandinavia. Their multiculturalism is even more oppressive than ours here in France, plus you have lots of seasoned extremists, and a negligible military. Yes, if there’s going to be a general uprising anytime soon in Europe, look to Norway or Denmark, though Belgium and Holland are also zones of potential instability.”

Really, with girls today, all bets are off.

Hidden all day in impenetrable black burkas, rich Saudi women transformed themselves by night into birds of paradise with their corsets, their see-through bras, their G-strings with multicolored lace and rhinestones. They were exactly the opposite of Western women, who spent their days dressed up and looking sexy to maintain their social status, then collapsed in exhaustion once they got home, abandoning all hope of seduction in favor of clothes that were loose and shapeless.

In his own life, he never set up house with one of these “good little cooks” whom Baudelaire considered, along with whores, the only kind of wife a writer should have—an especially sensible observation when you consider that a whore can always turn herself into a good little cook over time, that this is even her secret desire, her natural bent. Instead, after a period of “debauchery” (these things being relative), Huysmans turned to the monastic life, and that’s where he and I parted ways.

The left, paralyzed by his multicultural background, had never been able to fight him, or so much as mention his name.

For these Muslims, the real enemy—the thing they fear and hate—isn’t Catholicism. It’s secularism. It’s laicism. It’s atheist materialism. They think of Catholics as fellow believers. Catholicism is a religion of the Book. Catholics are one step away from converting to Islam—that’s the true, original Muslim vision of Christianity.

The Gulf will have to deal with us as equals. It’s a strange game Ben Abbes is playing with Saudi Arabia and the others. He’s more than happy to accept their petrodollars, but he won’t give up the least bit of sovereignty in return. In a sense, all he wants is to realize de Gaulle’s dream, of France as a great Arab power, and just you watch, he’ll find plenty of allies—not least the petromonarchs, who have swallowed many a bitter pill for the Americans and alienated their own people in the process. They’re starting to see that an ally like Europe, with fewer organic ties to Israel, might be a much better alternative...”

“You must go—truly, you must. It’s just twenty kilometers away, and it’s one of the most famous shrines in the Christian world. Henry Plantagenet, Saint Dominique, Saint Bernard, Saint Louis, Louis the Eleventh, Philip the Fair—they all knelt at the foot of the Black Virgin, they all climbed the steps to her sanctuary on their knees, humbly praying that their sins be forgiven. At Rocamadour you’ll see what a great civilization medieval Christendom really was.”

Marie-Françoise tells me you’re a specialist in Huysmans, but to my mind, no one grasped the soul of medieval Christianity as deeply as Péguy—for all his republicanism, his secularism, his support of Dreyfus. And he understood that the true divinity of the Middle Ages, the beating heart of its devotion, wasn’t God the Father, wasn’t even Jesus Christ. It was the Virgin Mary. That, too, you can feel at Rocamadour.”

All of which is to say, these two escorts were fine. Still, that wasn’t enough to make me want to see them or have sex with them again, or to make me go on living. Should I just die? The decision struck me as premature.

Until I died I was guaranteed a generous income, twice the national average, without having to do any work. And yet I knew I was close to suicide, not out of despair or even any special sadness, simply from the degradation of “the set of functions that resist death,” in Bichat’s famous formulation. The mere will to live was clearly no match for the pains and aggravations that punctuate the life of the average Western man. I was incapable of living for myself, and who else did I have to live for?

The voices of the monks rose up in the freezing air, pure, humble, well meaning. They were full of sweetness, hope, and expectation. The Lord Jesus would return, was about to return, and already the warmth of his presence filled their souls with joy. This was the one real theme of their chants, chants of sweet and organic expectation. That old queer Nietzsche had it right: Christianity was, at the end of the day, a feminine religion.

Under an Islamic regime, women—at least the ones pretty enough to attract a rich husband—were able to remain children nearly their entire lives. No sooner had they put childhood behind them than they became mothers and were plunged back into a world of childish things. Their children grew up, then they became grandmothers, and so their lives went by. There were just a few years where they bought sexy underwear, exchanging the games of the nursery for those of the bedroom—which turned out to be much the same thing. Obviously they had no autonomy, but as they say in English, fuck autonomy.

All intellectual debate of the twentieth century can be summed up as a battle between communism—that is, 'hard' humanism—and liberal democracy, the soft version.

As time went on, I subscribed more and more to Toynbee’s idea that civilizations die not by murder but by suicide.

He was right, of course. In the “art of living” alone, there had been a serious falling-off. As Rediger offered me a baklava, which I accepted, I thought of a book I had read some years before, on the history of brothels. The frontispiece featured a brochure from a Parisian brothel of the Belle Époque. It came as a profound shock when I realized that some of the sexual specialties offered by “Mademoiselle Hortense” were completely unknown to me. I had no idea what a “voyage through the yellow land” or a “Russian imperial soap” could possibly mean. Certain sexual practices had vanished from human memory, in one century—not unlike certain forms of skilled labor, such as cobbling or bell-ringing. How could anyone argue that Europe wasn’t in decline?

“That Europe, which was the summit of human civilization, committed suicide in a matter of decades.” Rediger’s voice was sad. He’d left all the overhead lights off; the only illumination came from the lamp on his desk. “Throughout Europe there were anarchist and nihilist movements, calls for violence, the denial of moral law. And then a few years later it all came to an end with the unjustifiable madness of the First World War. Freud was not wrong, and neither was Thomas Mann: if France and Germany, the two most advanced, civilized nations in the world, could unleash this senseless slaughter, then Europe was dead.

“It’s submission,” Rediger murmured. “The shocking and simple idea, which had never been so forcefully expressed, that the summit of human happiness resides in the most absolute submission. I hesitate to discuss the idea with my fellow Muslims, who might consider it sacrilegious, but for me there’s a connection between woman’s submission to man, as it’s described in Story of O, and the Islamic idea of man’s submission to God.

The past is always beautiful. So, for that matter, is the future. Only the present hurts, and we carry it around like an abscess of suffering, our companion between two infinities of happiness and peace.

Like most men, probably, I skipped the chapters on religious duties, the pillars of wisdom, and child-rearing, and went straight to chapter 7: “Why Polygamy?” The argument was original, I have to say: to realize his sublime plan in the inanimate world, the Creator of the universe used the laws of geometry (a non-Euclidean geometry, to be sure, a noncommutative geometry, but still a geometry). When it came to living beings, however, the Creator expressed himself through natural selection, which allowed animate creatures to achieve their maximum beauty, vitality, and power. And for all animal species, including man, the law was the same: only certain individuals would be chosen to pass on their seed, to conceive the next generation, on which an infinite number of generations depended. In the case of mammals, if you compared the female, with her long gestation period, to the male, with his essentially limitless capacity to reproduce, it was clear that the pressures of selection would fall principally on the males. If some males enjoyed access to several females, others would necessarily have none. So this inequality between males should be considered not a negative side effect of polygamy but rather its goal. It was how the species achieved its destiny.

But I may have been wrong; over the course of the twentieth century, plenty of intellectuals had supported Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot and had never been taken to task. For the French, an intellectual didn’t have to be responsible. That wasn’t his job.

(liberal individualism triumphed as long as it undermined intermediate structures such as nations, corporations, castes, but when it attacked that ultimate social structure, the family, and thus the birthrate, it signed its own death warrant; Muslim dominance was a foregone conclusion).

He quoted Nietzsche’s Anti-Christ: “‘If Islam despises Christianity, it has a thousandfold right to do so; Islam at least assumes that it is dealing with men...’”

As I got older, I also found myself agreeing more with Nietzsche, as is no doubt inevitable once your plumbing starts to fail.

Jesus had loved men too much, that was the problem; to let himself be crucified for their sake showed, at the very least, a lack of taste, as the old faggot would have put it. And the rest of his actions weren’t any more discerning, like when he absolved the adulterous woman, for example, with arguments such as “let him who is without sin,” etc. All you’d have had to do was get hold of a seven-year-old child—he’d have cast the first stone, the little fucker.

Thanks to the simpering seductions and the lewd enticements of the progressives, the Church had lost its ability to oppose moral decadence, to renounce homosexual marriage, abortion rights, and women in the workplace. The facts were plain: Europe had reached a point of such putrid decomposition that it could no longer save itself, any more than fifth-century Rome could have done. This wave of new immigrants, with their traditional culture—of natural hierarchies, the submission of women, and respect for elders—offered a historic opportunity for the moral and familial rearmament of Europe. These immigrants held out the hope of a new golden age for the old continent. Some were Christian; but there was no denying that the vast majority were Muslim.

Existential anguish simply wasn’t his thing, what had really struck him about Grünewald’s famous Crucifixion wasn’t Christ’s agony but rather his physical suffering, and in this Huysmans was just like everybody else. People don’t really care all that much about their own death. What they really worry about, their one real fixation, is how to avoid physical suffering as much as possible.

Max Nova

Max Nova

I love books! My reading theme for 2017 is "The Integrity of Western Science." I'm also the founder of www.SilviaTerra.com.

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