Highlights from the Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq

This was an interesting read and only strengthens my resolve to read most of the things Houellebecq has written.

It required no creativity, no imagination and only the most basic second-rate intellect.

It would be true to say that in the last years of Western civilization it contributed to a general mood of depression bordering on masochism.

Happiness is an intense, all-consuming feeling of joyous fulfillment akin to inebriation, rapture or ecstasy.

The girls who arrived at Big Sur were, for the most part, stupid little WASP bitches, at least half of whom were virgins.

Young, good-looking, famous, desired by women and envied by men, rock stars had risen to the summit of the social order.

In truth, he had always thought of Americans as idiots.

By the end of the first day, it was apparent that Catherine’s personality had aspects of the witch, but also of the lioness, which usually pointed to a career in sales management.

He doesn’t know it yet, but the infinity of childhood is brief.

The vibrations drove the snake wild and it would throw itself against the glass until it knocked itself unconscious.

What had to be endured, he would endure.

She was forty-five years old and her vulva was scrawny and sagged slightly, but she was still a very beautiful woman.

All in all, nature deserved to be wiped out in a holocaust—and man’s mission on earth was probably to do just that.

The ambulance drove off in a howl of sirens. So ended Bruno’s first love.

Though unimpressed by the philosopher’s work, she was struck by his ugliness, which almost amounted to a handicap;

I tell you, I saw women with their legs wide open, wet and up for it, spending the whole evening masturbating because no one would fuck them.

If ever a country were loathsome, that country, specifically, was Brazil.

Tenderness is a deeper instinct than seduction, which is why it is so difficult to give up hope.

All around him human beings were living, breathing, striving for pleasure or trying to develop their personal potential.

Was she masturbating while listening to Brahms?

customarily, after a number of hours, some of them would go into a trance—or pretend to.

He was the first of his generation to see beyond the ridiculous, contradictory and outmoded superstitions it adopted to the fact that New Age thought appealed to a very real suffering symptomatic of psychological, ontological and social breakdown.

He sometimes managed to coax a tit-job out of a girl, but as far as Bruno was concerned there were not nearly enough to go around.

He found in mathematics a happiness both serene and intense.

The broadcast, which lasted three or four hours, probably represents the culmination of the first stage of the great Western technological dream.

Children suffer the world that adults create for them and try their best to adapt to it; in time, usually, they will replicate it.

It has been surprising to note the meekness, resignation, perhaps even secret relief with which humans have consented to their own passing

I love that kid more than anything, but I’ve never even been able to accept his existence.

He wasn’t unhappy; the medication was working, and all desire was dead in him.

He had a sudden premonition that all his life would be like this moment. Emotion would pass him by, sometimes very close.

They would come to be rivals—which was the natural relationship between men. They would be like animals fighting in a cage; and the cage was time.

Their egotism knows no bounds—such is the nature of the individual.

Physical violence, the most perfect manifestation of individuation, was about to reappear.

He felt as though what was between his legs was a piece of oozing, putrefying meat devoured by worms.

Without beauty a girl is unhappy because she has missed her chance to be loved.

His eyes were wide open, but his expression was not one of grief, nor of any recognizable human emotion. His face was filled with abject, animal fear.

Cohen had no illusions about the depths to which the human animal could sink when not constrained by law.

She lost her virginity at the age of thirteen—a remarkable achievement given the time and place.

Oh, there are little moments of depression, of sadness or doubt, but they’re easily dealt with using advances in antidepressants and tranquilizers.

From the point of view of the good of the species, they were a couple of aging human beings of middling genetic value.

Ultimately, a society governed by the pure principles of universal morality could last until the end of the world.

Huxley, he would always remember, had seemed detached about the prospect of his own death, though perhaps he was simply numbed or drugged.

In the midst of nature’s barbarity, human beings sometimes (rarely) succeed in creating small oases warmed by love. Small, exclusive, enclosed spaces governed only by love and shared subjectivity.

After a couple of years of working, sexual desire wanes and people turn their attention to gourmet food and wine.

Metaphysical mutations—that is to say radical, global transformations in the values to which the majority subscribe—are rare in the history of humanity.

The couple quickly realized that the burden of caring for a small child was incompatible with their ideal of personal freedom

This vile, unhappy race, barely different from the apes, which nevertheless carried within it such noble aspirations. Tortured, contradictory, individualistic, quarrelsome and infinitely selfish, it was sometimes capable of extraordinary explosions of violence, but never quite abandoned its belief in love.

Despite the nights they spent together, each remained trapped in individual consciousness and separate flesh

Now and then the wind dies away and the silence is almost total, broken only by cries of pleasure.

Thirty years later he could not come to any other conclusion: women were indisputably better than men. They were gentler, more affectionate, loving and compassionate; they were less prone to violence, selfishness, cruelty or self-centeredness. Moreover, they were more rational, intelligent and hardworking.

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