At the "concert" of Houellebecq, it was better not to be depressed

At the “concert” of Houellebecq, it was better not to be depressed

GUILLAUME SOUVANT via AFP

Michel Houellebecq, here in Bourges, during his performance on stage, Wednesday April 20.

MUSIC – When The last day of disco by Juliette Armanet resounded in Bourges, Michel Houellebecq, too, was on stage, within the framework of the music festival. It was this Wednesday, April 20 in the evening. And the least we can say is that it was better to be in a good mood.

A 15-minute walk into the old town, the author ofAnnihilate, seated in profile, on a small platform, received some 120 people in the banquet hall of the Palais Jacques Cœur, a 15th century building. The writer was surrounded by three companions-narrators, with, in soundtrack, the electronic music of Traumer.

Once the audience was well seated, his accomplices took turns reciting poems. The spectators waited religiously for the moment when Houellebecq finally brought the microphone to his lips, still seated. When the time came, he said in his muffled, monotonous voice: “My existence is in your hands. I’m not really human. I would like a troubled existence. An existence like a pond.” This is an excerpt from one of his poems, Show yourself, my friend, my double.

Texts of his own

The staging did not lack minimalism. During the show of a big hour, the novelist finally got up, in front of the monumental fireplace, to approach a microphone on foot. His awkward postures were there, like when he tucked his head a little into his askew shoulders or put his index finger on his lower lip.

The music has gone from soaring electro to more martial rhythms to represent the movement of a train, as the title of his poem foreshadows. The TGV Atlantique glided through the night with terrifying efficiency. The sound architect Traumer, at the back of the room, unrolled his soundtrack, punctuating the stanzas with melancholy strings or disturbing brass.

For the texts, we were well at Houellebecq, tells us AFP, between morbid wandering, decrepitude of the couple or brackish tertiary sector. “The water will slide over my corpse, like a forgotten comet”, we heard him declaim.

“We go out, we commit suicide”

Some fans were overjoyed. “I am very moved, very touched, his poetry, these are my bedside books, and there, read by the master himself, it is quite extraordinary”, as confided a 51-year-old resident of the region at the news agency.

For others, it was more complicated. “I was not more enthusiastic than that, I found it a little sad, we don’t know where he wants to go, says a spectator at the Parisian. It lacked a preamble to know where he wants to take us and, in the end, it’s a universe that we undergo, it’s difficult.

An opinion shared by another spectator. “I never read anything from him, but that didn’t bother me, she explains daily. It’s true that it’s a very dark vision of life, not my vision at all, we go out, we commit suicide. We wonder how he manages to live again. There is little chance that we will see him again.

See also on The HuffPost: “Submission” by Michel Houellebecq, a “gift” for Marine Le Pen? “She doesn’t need this”

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