Democratic Sexuality and Alienated Capitalism in Houellebecq's Novels

By Petcu, Carmen | Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, July 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Democratic Sexuality and Alienated Capitalism in Houellebecq's Novels


Petcu, Carmen, Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice


1.Introduction

The emphasis in Houellebecq's novels is mainly on persons divested of sex or kept out from the sexual realm (the sphere of sexuality strikes one as notably domineering). Houellebecq's world is inhabited first and foremost by elderly, trapped and companionless individuals, depicting sexual dissatisfaction, unhappiness and hopelessness that occasionally generate aggression, self-harm or criminal conduct. Houellebecq's prose offers a surprisingly incisive depiction of existing office working life (Popescu Ljungholm, 2016a, b), portraying the anxieties of this routine, their connection to clinical depression (Nica and Molnar, 2016), and their disastrous consequence on social and sexual links. Sex is unsatisfactory, unavailable or absent. Current western society is a space where sexuality is a tense, distressing, and unsatisfactory practice for practically an elect few. Women are construed instantaneously and solely by their sexuality and simultaneously seem angered or affronted by it. (Morrey, 2013)

2.The Adverse Consequences of Neoliberalism on the Private and Sentimental Life

Houellebecq's novels provide a convincing zapper of the totalizing process of the market (without disparaging it accurately) with its attending unmatched impact on human life. Detailed in the language of its object of analysis, the fictional components in Houellebecq's prose is interceded with a set of conceivably incisive devices that are incoherently and irregularly employed in manners that often make any critical grasp on the issue tremendously difficult. An inconsistent anti-psychological realism (Edwards and Taliaferro Baszile, 2016) is the default mode of Houellebecq's novels in which essayistic divagations, apothegmatic statements and para-literary exposition cohere within a superficial frame of realist account. Houellebecq's protagonists are inadequate subjects of neoliberalism who struggle and ultimately fail within a system that allows no option, no outside (Cochrane and Block, 2016), to the routine of the production (Nica, 2016a, b) and flow of commodities. Without any outside or area of resistance, the only alternatives are either self-indulgent involvement, or an austere retreat. The invasion of market connections to all spheres of human life is a mechanism of occupation of the lived experience where the substantial qualitative performances of sustenance, the ordinary practices of social dealings, have been incorporated by the quantifying rationality of capitalism. Market criteria of commodification and transaction regulate and characterize the entire lived experience. The subjectifying biopolitical capacities of neoliberalism have expanded the influence of objectification into the every innermost and emotional sphere of human life. (Sweeney, 2013)

Numerous of Houellebecq's bitterest accounts are maintained for older women, their unrelenting requests for a sexual existence uncaringly ridiculed as a dishonor against sensibleness. Maturing denotes participating in an existence of sexlessness and disgrace, particularly for women. If some mature men are still able in having relations with younger women, such individuals are liable to being stigmatized as paedophiles. A woman's future is unmistakably regulated beforehand on the strength of her outward aspect. Women are responsible for discomfort and despondency, whether their own (Fabricio, 2016) or that of the male protagonists. Women characters are chastised by their fictional destiny for generating the sexual indigence of men. The female sex is recurrently condemned and reprimanded for having triggered both the distinct misery of male protagonists and the cultural shift that has led to intricate sexual conditions. Pornography appears as a somewhat sorrowful and imperfect substitution for authentic sexual contact. In a realm where sexual disappointment, barely the privileged domain of men, is the routine, there is a possibility that aggression results. Houellebecq's characters feel entirely assessed in relation to their confined sexual appeal (Petcu, 2015a, b) and find themselves definitively rejected from society consequently. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Democratic Sexuality and Alienated Capitalism in Houellebecq's Novels
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.