Michel Houellebecq is somewhat disturbing, religious, anti-religious; he is a hard-core moralist without moralising. He loves the Catholic mass and has fallen off the devil's wagon......
And in Submission, three extremely relevant aspects in particular stand out for me:
The protagonist, a literary scholar from Paris, deals nostalgically and dreamily with the French Art Nouveau writer Joris-Karl Huysmans, whose literature and also literary climate, a peculiar Art Nouveau world, is related to Michel Houellebecq's literary core, shape the book and give it separate depth of field through historical distance.
As always in Michel Houellebecq's great novels, there's also a major political theme, which is particularly explosive and also red-hot here. The Front National with Marine Le Pen is not going to win the elections in France in the near future, as expected, but instead an Islamic party will. This party, specifically its president Mohammed Ben Abbes, is now leading the country and is efficiently reorganising it in a short period of time. For me, this is also a logical and invasive takeover process on the surface, but seen from a little further away, it is a kind of internal capitulation of the West. Personally, I read into it that we Western countries assume that the whole world must follow our values and that our values are actually the right ones worldwide (quasi "superior"). We aren't prepared to accept other models of thinking. In a way, with a lot of Western tolerance, you can synchronously witness the downfall of the West. Personally, I believe that Western values aren't automatically superior to those of the rest of the world, but one of a number of possible paths. There is still, in my opinion, a lot of residual colonialism in our systems of thought.
The third level, as with Michel Houellebecq, is always the pornographic and relationship level. Ultimately, however, his sexual partners are nothing more than projection surfaces for his loneliness and aren't fleshed out as independent figures in their own right.
Michael Pelzel, 2022