The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq was our novel up for conversation this December, and you can hear Nathan, Dan and Kimberly discuss the story in Philosophical Fiction from PEL’s Not School, on the Free Stuff for Citizens page (under "Not School Discussion Group Audio"). We sum up the plot, quote key passages, and discuss the story of Jed Martin; a man at the “at the beginning of the third millenium” whose successful life as an artist pales against his lonely life as a human.
"You can work alone for years, it's actually the only way to work, truth be told; but there always comes a moment when you feel the need to show your work to the world, less to receive its judgement than to reassure yourself about the existence of this work, or even of your own existence, for in a social species individuality is little more than a short piece of fiction." (77, Knopf 2012)
Usually sad, often brilliant and occasionally hilarious, there was a lot to discuss in The Map and the Territory.
"Never had he contemplated an object as magnificent, as rich in emotion and meaning, as this 1/150,000 scale Michelin map. The essence of modernity, of scientific and technical apprehension of the world, was here combined with the essence of animal life. The drawing was complex and beautiful, absolutely clear, using only a small palette of colors. But in each of the hamlets and villages... you felt the thrill, the appeal, of human lives, of dozens of hundreds of souls- some destined for damnation, others for eternal life." (28)
We also collected other thoughts on Michel Houellebecq from:
Slavoj Zizek 'No Sex, Please, We’re Post-Human'
and, Sam Lipsyte 'The Mooing of the Ruminant'.