As with all Mercedes above a certain power, with the exception of the SLR McLaren, the speed of the 600 SL is electronically limited to 250 km/h. I don't think I dipped particularly below this speed between Murcia and Albacete. There were a few long and very open bends; I had an abstract sense of power - that, no doubt, of a man indifferent to death. A trajectory remains perfect, even one that concludes in death: there can be a truck, an overturned car, an imponderable; this takes nothing away from the beauty of the trajectory.
As much as I love Michel Houellebecq (I have a poster of him in front of my typewriter), I can't help but feel that all his books are derivatives of the same themes explored so perfectly in The Elementary Particles. The above quote is from The Possibility of an Island, a book that I enjoyed, but one that wasn't nearly as pleasurable as The Elementary Particles (I suppose his themes are starting to feel a bit repetitive).
That said, Houellebecq continues to make interesting observations, and he makes a good point about religious faith - liberals just don't really get that people can believe in these crazy metaphysical propositions:
My atheism was so monolithic, so radical, that I had never been able to take these subjects completely seriously. During my days at secondary school, when I would debate with a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew, I had always had the impression that their beliefs were to be taken ironically; that they obviously didn't believe, in the proper sense of the term, in the reality of the dogmas they professed, but that they were a sign of recognition, a sort of password allowing them access to the community of believers - a bit like grunge music was, or Doom Generation for fans of that game.
This has obvious implications for the way in which liberals view phenomenon like Islamic terrorism - from their perspective, surely some underlying political or social problem is at the root of this behaviour, which is otherwise inexplicable - and to someone who's never experienced the true ecstasy of religious experience (as I have), violence in the name of God alone seems inconceivable.
One of the core themes that runs through Houellebecq's work is the idea of reductionism as something that takes away from the meaning of our lives. This is a theme I've personally been pre-occupied with and comes up recurrently in Beta Male - indeed, having written a similar passage to the following, I'm almost shocked at the parallels (I finished the novel before I read these particular quotes):
"She is so young, so beautiful... ," murmured Vincent in a pleading tone.
One of the implications of reductionism (and frankly, of modern physics more generally) is that all true causation ultimately occurs at the level of subatomic particles. It follows, then, that insofar as humans make choices, they are no more free than the interactions between these particles, which take place in a rigorous, law-like fashion. From this, determinism follows, which the protagonist of the novel finds absolutely horrifying:
...I was too old, I had no strength left; this observation did not, however, diminish my sorrow, because from the place I now found myself in there was no way out other than to go on suffering right to the end, I would never forget her body, her skin, nor her face, and I had never felt with such clarity that human relations are born, evolve, and die in a totally deterministic manner, as inexorable as the movements of a planetary system, and that it is absurd and vain to hope, however slightly, that you can modify their course.
Contrast this perspective with that of one of the neohumans living in the post-apocalyptic landscape of the earth:
The idea that things could have been different did not cross my mind, no more than a mountain range, present before my eyes, could vanish to be replaced by a plain. Consciousness of a total determinism was without doubt what differentiated us most clearly from our human predecessors. Like them, we were only conscious machines; but, unlike them, were were aware of only being machines.
Does regret even make sense if this is true?
Something to think about.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis