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Michel Houellebecq

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party hearty [14 Nov 2010|12:51pm]

larvatus
After winning the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize, for his latest novel, La carte et le territoire, Michel Houellebecq, a self-admitted believer in unlimited, eternal happiness, left the victory party thrown for him by Frédéric Beigbeder with Maria “a blond angel of Russian origin”, said to have served as a model for the character of Olga, described therein by the fictional counterpart of Beigbeder as one of the five most beautiful women in Paris. Thus the flesh-and-blood Houellebecq departs from the literary character murdered and dismembered in his prize-winning opus, repudiating his own counsel, always to anticipate coming home alone, in a taxi.
            La fête
    Le but de la fête est de nous faire oublier que nous sommes solitaires, misérables et promis à la mort. Autrement dit, de nous transformer en animaux. C’est pourquoi le primitif a un sens de la fête très développé. Une bonne flambée de plantes hallucinogènes, trois tambourins, et le tour est joué: un rien l’amuse. A l’opposé, l’Occidental moyen n’aboutit à une extase insuffisante qu’à l’issue de raves interminables dont il ressort sourd et drogué: il n’a pas du tout le sens de la fête. Profondément conscient de lui-même, radicalement étranger aux autres, terrorisé par l’idée de la mort, il est bien incapable d’accéder à une quelconque fusion. Cependant, il s’obstine. La perte de sa condition animale l’attriste, il en conçoit honte et dépit ; il aimerait être un fêtard, ou du moins passer pour tel. Il est dans une sale situation.
    QU’EST-CE QUE JE FOUS AVEC CES CONS ?
    « Lorsque deux d’entre vous seront réunis en mon nom, je serai au milieu d’eux » (Matthieu, 17, 13 [18: 20]). C’est bien là tout le problème: réunis au nom de quoi ? Qu’est qui pourrait bien, au fond, justifier d’être réunis ?
    Réunis pour s’amuser. C’est la pire des hypothèses. Dans ce genre de circonstances (boîtes de nuit, bals populaires, boums) qui n’ont visiblement rien d’amusant, une seule solution: draguer. On sort alors du registre de la fête pour rentrer dans celui d’une féroce compétition narcissique, avec ou sans option pénétration (on considère classiquement que l’homme a besoin de la pénétration pour obtenir la gratification narcissique souhaitée ; il ressent alors quelque chose d’analogue au claquement de la partie gratuite sur les anciens flippers. La femme, le plus souvent, se contente de la certitude qu’on désire la pénétrer). Si ce genre de jeux vous dégoûte, ou que vous ne vous sentez pas en mesure d’y faire bonne figure, une seule solution: partir au plus vite.
    Réunis pour lutter (manifestations étudiantes, rassemblements écologistes, talk-shows sur la banlieue). L’idée, a priori, est ingénieuse : en effet, le joyeux ciment d’une cause commune peut provoquer un effet de groupe, un sentiment d’appartenance, voire une authentique ivresse collective. Malheureusement, la psychologie des foules suit des lois invariables : on aboutit toujours à une domination des éléments les plus stupides et les plus agressifs. On se retrouve donc au milieu d’une bande de braillards bruyants, voire dangereux. Le choix est donc le même que dans la boîte de nuit : partir avant que ça cogne, ou draguer (dans un contexte ici plus favorable : la présence de convictions communes, les sentiments divers provoqués par le déroulement de la protestation ont pu légèrement ébranler la carapace narcissique).
    Réunis pour baiser (boîtes à partouzes, orgies privées, certains groupes New Age). Une des formules les plus simples et les plus anciennes : réunir l’humanité sur ce qu’elle a, en effet, de plus commun. Des actes sexuels ont lieu, même si le plaisir n’est pas toujours au rendez-vous. C’est déjà ça ; mais c’est à peu près tout.
    Réunis pour célébrer (messes, pèlerinages). La religion propose une formule tout à fait originale : nier audacieusement la séparation et la mort en affirmant que, contrairement aux apparences, nous baignons dans l’amour divin tout en nous dirigeant vers une éternité bienheureuse. Une cérémonie religieuse dont les participants auraient la foi offrirait donc l’exemple unique d’une fête réussie. Certains participants agnostiques peuvent même, durant le temps da la cérémonie, se sentir gagnés par un sentiment de croyance ; mais ils risquent ensuite une descente pénible (un peu comme pour le sexe, mais pire). Une solution : être touché par la grâce.
    Le pèlerinage, combinant des avantages de la manifestation étudiante et ceux du voyage Nouvelles Frontières, le tout dans une ambiance de spiritualité aggravée par la fatigue, offre en outre des conditions idéales pour la drague, qui en devient presque involontaire, voire sincère. Hypothèse haute en sortie de pèlerinage : mariage + conversion. A l’opposé, la descente peut être terrible. Prévoir d’enchaîner sur un séjour UCPA « sports de glisse », qu’il sera toujours temps d’annuler (renseignez-vous au préalable sur les conditions d’annulation).
    LA FÊTE SANS LARMES.
    En réalité, il suffit d’avoir prévu de s’amuser pour être certain de s’emmerder. L’idéal serait donc de renoncer totalement aux fêtes. Malheureusement, le fêtard est un personnage si respecté que cette renonciation entraîne une dégradation forte de l’image sociale. Les quelques conseils suivants devraient permettre d’éviter le pire (rester seul jusqu’au bout, dans un état d’ennui évoluant vers le désespoir, avec l’impression erronée que les autres s’amusent).
  • Bien prendre conscience au préalable que la fête sera forcément ratée. Visualiser des exemples d’échecs antérieurs. Il ne s’agit pas pour autant d’adopter une attitude cynique et blasée. Au contraire, l’acceptation humble et souriante du désastre commun permet d’aboutir à ce succès : transformer une fête ratée en un moment d’agréable banalité.
  • Toujours prévoir qu’on rentrera seul, et en taxi.
  • Avant la fête : boire. L’alcool à doses modérées produit un effet sociabilisant et euphorisant qui reste sans réelle concurrence.
  • Pendant la fête : boire, mais diminuer les doses (le cocktail alcool + érotisme ambiant conduit rapidement à la violence, au suicide et au meurtre). Il est plus ingénieux de prendre ½ Lexomil au moment opportun. L’alcool multipliant l’effet des tranquillisants, on observera un assoupissement rapide : c’est le moment d’appeler un taxi. Une bonne fête est une fête brève.
  • Après la fête : téléphoner pour remercier. Attendre paisiblement la fête suivante (respecter un intervalle d’un mois, qui pourra descendre à une semaine en période de vacances).
    Enfin, une perspective consolante : l’âge aidant, l’obligation de fête diminue, le penchant à la solitude augmente ; la vie réelle reprend le dessus.

Michel Houellebecq, Rester vivant, Flammarion, 1997, pp. 70-73      
            Celebration
    The aim of celebration is to make us forget that we are lonely, miserable, and promised to death. In other words, to transform us into animals. That is why the savage has a very well developed sense of celebration. A sound puff of hallucinogenic plants, three tambourines, and he is all done: amused by a trifle. By contrast, the average Westerner achieves a meager ecstasy only in the wake of endless raves, which leave him stupefied and intoxicated: he has no sense of celebration whatsoever. Deeply conscious of himself, radically foreign to others, terrified by the idea of death, he is unable to achieve any synthesis. However, he persists. The loss of his animal condition saddens him; it consigns him to shame and vexation; he would be a celebrator, or at least pass for such. He is in a lousy situation.
    WHAT AM I DOING WITH THESE IDIOTS?
    “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew, 17:13 [18:20]). This is indeed the entire problem: gathered together in the name of what? What could suffice, in the final analysis, to justify such gatherings?
    Gathered together for fun. This is the worst case scenario. In such circumstances (night clubs, village dances, parties) which obviously fail to foment fun, there is only one solution: a pickup. One then abandons the mindset of celebration to return to that of a fierce narcissistic competition, with or without an option of penetration (typically considering that man needs penetration to achieve the desired narcissistic gratification, whereupon he feels something analogous to the chimes of the bonus game on old pinball machines. The woman, most often, satisfies herself with the certainty of being desired as the object of penetration). If this kind of game turns you off, or you do not feel up to winning it, there remains only one solution: to leave at the earliest opportunity.
    Gathered together to fight (student protests, environmentalist rallies, town hall meetings). At first blush, the idea is ingenious: in fact, the happy joining in a common cause can produce a group effect, a sense of belonging, even a genuine collective drunkenness. Unfortunately, the psychology of crowds follows rigid laws: it always leads to domination of the most stupid and most aggressive. So we end up in the midst of a rowdy, even dangerous band of blowhards. The choice is therefore the same as in the nightclub: leaving before it all busts out, or trolling for a pickup (here in a more favorable context: the presence of common convictions, the range of feelings brought forth in the course of the protest being liable to slightly displace the narcissistic shell).
    Gathered together to fuck (sex clubs, private orgies, certain New Age groups). One of the simplest and oldest formulas: uniting mankind in its most common aspect. Sexual acts take place, even if pleasure is not always present. That’s already something, but that’s about all there is to it.
    Gathered together to celebrate (masses, pilgrimages). Religion offers a completely original formula: boldly deny the separation and death by affirming that, contrary to appearances, we are immersed in divine love, while advancing towards a blissful eternity. A religious ceremony in which participants have faith would therefore offer a unique example of a successful celebration. Some agnostic participants may even, during the ceremony, feel overwhelmed by a sense belief; but they risk a painful descent (a bit like sex, but worse). One solution: to be touched by grace.
    The pilgrimage, combining the benefits of student demonstration with those of packaged holidays by Nouvelles Frontieres, all in an atmosphere of spirituality aggravated by fatigue, also provides ideal conditions to troll for a pickup, which becomes almost involuntary, even sincere. The charitable assumption at the end of the pilgrimage: marriage + conversion. Otherwise, the descent can be terrible. Plan to follow up on a water-sporting vacation by UCPA, which could be cancelled at the last minute (ask in advance about the cancellation policy).
    CELEBRATE WITHOUT TEARS.
    In fact, just planning to have fun is enough to ensure getting bored. The ideal would therefore be to renounce all celebrations. Unfortunately, the party animal is a figure so well respected that this renunciation would result in a severe weakening of the social image. The following tips should help to avoid the worst (staying alone until the end, in a state of boredom evolving into despair, with the mistaken impression that the others are having fun).
  • Be well aware beforehand that the party will necessarily fail. Visualize the examples of past failures. This does not mean to adopt a cynical and jaded attitude. On the contrary, humble and cheerful acceptance of the common disaster can lead to success: transforming a failed party into a pleasant occasion of banality.
  • Always anticipate coming home alone, in a taxi.
  • Before the party: drink. Alcohol in moderate doses produces a socializing and euphoric effect which has no real competition.
  • During the party: drink, but lower the doses (the mixture of alcohol with ambient eroticism quickly leads to violence, suicide, and murder). It is more thoughtful to take ½ of a Valium at the right time. Alcohol compounding the effect of tranquilizers will make you sleepy; that’s the time to call a taxi. A good party is a short party.
  • After the party: call to offer your thanks. Wait quietly for the next occasion (an interval of one month, which can shorten to a week during vacations).
    Finally, a consoling perspective: with the help of aging, the obligation to celebrate diminishes; the penchant for solitude increases; real life takes over.

—translated by MZ      

Michel Houellebecq / Vincent Ferrané
Our fondest felicitations and many happy returns, Monsieur Michel. May every dissipated misanthrope connect with his proper match.

Crossposted to [info]larvatus and [info]mhouellebecq.
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La carte et le territoire (Houellebecq's new book) [03 Sep 2010|11:24pm]

chip_squidley
It's out in France...I assume an English translation will be on the way soon!


Présentation de l'éditeur.

Cinq ans après La possibilité d'une île, Michel Houellebecq revient avec un grand roman qui raconte la vie de trois personnages masculins.
Certains y verront un retour aux thèmes d'Extension du domaine de la lutte et des Particules élémentaires, d'autres salueront un texte puissant, à la fois contemporain et profondément classique, d'une admirable maîtrise littéraire.

Si Jed Martin, le personnage principal de ce roman, devait vous en raconter l’histoire, il commencerait peut-être par vous parler d’une panne de chauffe-eau, un certain 15 décembre. Ou de son père, architecte connu et engagé, avec qui il passa seul de nombreux réveillons de Noël.

Il évoquerait certainement Olga, une très jolie Russe rencontrée au début de sa carrière, lors d’une première exposition de son travail photographique à partir de cartes routières Michelin. C’était avant que le succès mondial n’arrive avec la série des « métiers », ces portraits de personnalités de tous milieux (dont l’écrivain Michel Houellebecq), saisis dans l’exercice de leur profession.

Il devrait dire aussi comment il aida le commissaire Jasselin à élucider une atroce affaire criminelle, dont la terrifiante mise en scène marqua durablement les équipes de police.

Sur la fin de sa vie il accédera à une certaine sérénité, et n’émettra plus que des murmures.

L’art, l’argent, l’amour, le rapport au père, la mort, le travail, la France devenue un paradis touristique sont quelques-uns des thèmes de ce roman, résolument classique et ouvertement moderne.
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Possibility of an Island movie [08 Mar 2009|06:27pm]

chip_squidley
I believe that sometime last year the movie, directed by H himself, was released in France. Has anyone heard of it coming to the USA...at least on DVD if not in the theater?
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French traditions [06 Mar 2009|05:28pm]

ekh_78
To keep it short, somewhere online I read the claim that Houellebecq’s works are in a French tradition that goes back to Michel de Montaigne, (who I happens to read at the moment). Any comments, does that makes sense to you? In The possible of an island, Houellebecq compare the protagonist to Céline, could Céline be part of the same tradition?
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[07 Nov 2008|06:04pm]

murdermystery
Hello. Is the following a complete list of Houellebecq in English?

Books by Michel Houellebecq
H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life
Whatever
Elementary Particles aka Atomised
Platform
Lanzarote
The Possibility of an Island

Books feature Michel Houellebecq
Thomas Ruff Nudes (Introduction by Houellebecq)
Collapse Vol IV (featuring English translations of poems by Houellebecq)

I'm fairly sure nothing is missing from the first section (unless I've been completely oblivious to something), but any more to add to the second?
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MH letter to Bernard-Henri Levy [25 Oct 2008|03:03am]

chip_squidley
OK...here we go. This took longer than I thought, so I can't promise I'll translate another. I noticed there are some native French speakers in this community, so feel free to correct any mistakes I made. I'm sure I might have tripped over a tense or two.

Also...there is one French word I didn't know...'pantalonnades'. And a German phrase...since I don't know German. The word I translate as the American slang 'redneck' is 'beauf' in French slang, meaning a man of bigoted and narrow views. Redneck might have more negative connotations than Beauf, but I couldn't think of anything else. Maybe Meathead?

Once again, this was an excerpt from the book _Ennemis Publics_ published in the _Nouvel Observateur_ issue 2291:

Bruxelles, le 26 janvier 2008

Dear Bernard-Henri Levy,

All, as they say, separates us - with the exception of one fundamental point: we are both very contemptable individuals.

Specialist of futile gestures and (pantalonnades mediatique), you dishonor even the white shirts that you wear. Friend of the powerful, bathed from childhood in obscene wealth, you are emblematic of what certain low level magazines like _Marianne_ call the "caviar Left", and what German journalists call more cleverly "Toskana-Fraktion". Philosopher without thought, but not without connections, you are also the director of the most ridiculous film in the history of cinema.

Nihilist, reactionary, cynic, racist, and misogynist: it would be doing me too much honor to say I'm in the unpleasant family of rightwing anarchists; fundamentally, I'm only a redneck. Flat author, without style, I only reached literary notoriety because a few years ago some disoriented critics had an improbable lack of taste. My wheezing provocations have, happily, finished by making everyone weary.

Both of us are perfect symbols of the frightful slump of French intellectualism, as recently pointed out harshly but correctly by _Time_ magazine.

We have nothing to contribute to the renewal of the French scene. We don't even get a credit in _Ratatouille_.

The conditions of the debate are defined.

MH
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New Book [12 Oct 2008|05:25am]

chip_squidley
I don't know if anyone uses this forum anymore...but if so...

I picked up a copy of the _Nouvel Observateur_ today and the cover story features a new book that collects the correspondence of Houellebecq with the philosopher/writer Bernard-Henri Levy. It's called _Ennemis Publics_.

Should be fun!
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[06 Nov 2006|08:40pm]

lqdblckdrkvpr
this is from militantthought. It is about my reading of the elementary particles, the best novel i have read in a long time.
you can get it if you really wantCollapse )

hope to have some lively discussions!
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Sexual apartheid [31 Oct 2006|11:49am]

dreamintruder
A few words on M. Houellebecq's impact upon me personally. Not well thought-out, and just jotted down quickly....

One of Houellebecq's most profound themes, one that has resonated most with my experience and outlook, has to be his notion of a growing 'sexual apartheid'; ie the cleavage of those who are successful on the relatinships market, from those who are not. The notion that 'sexual liberation' has not worked for everbody, in terms of increasing their happiness or bettering there lives.

It is, I think, one of the reasons why rival philosophies on the role of sexuality within society ought to be given a fair hearing. Not least that of the Muslim world, and their covering of the body and of 'modest dress' and so forth.

Around 90% of me is all for sexual liberation, and sort of despises the 'oppression of Muslim women' as we typically perceive it. We would all much prefer, I am sure, to enjoy all of the pleasures that a fully open, unashamed society offers in terms of bodily expression and indulgence etc. (I didn't spend ten years reading Dr. Wilhelm Reich for nothing....). The harsh realities of my own experience and those around me, however, suggest that it isn't all positive this side of the divide.

Perhaps, let's say, the Islamic covering of the body keeps under wraps a cruel Darwinian relity of endless genetic competition and human misery. Unleashing female reproductive organs to rampant competition may, perhaps, take us back closer to the animal kingdom, displacing the frailities and sensitivites of human consciousness in favour of natural selection?

I wonder if anyone could add something here to shift my mind forward on this matter? I am hoping not to become a regrettable reactionary curmugeon anytime soon....
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[31 Oct 2006|12:45pm]

ekh_78
Its a little dead in here, I can crosspost from my own journal:

One critic described the screen adaption off Michel Houellebecqs The Elementary Particles as “one turkey like ‘American pie’ for middle-aged Europeans"¹. The scenery has changes from Paris in the book to Berlin, and the critic didn’t like the portrait of the asexual, scientist Michel, who changes the world. But sooner or later I probably will se this move, I liked the novel, and after all Michel Houellebecq is the only contemporary French author whose read outside France.

Does anyone have any thought about the movie - or any thoughts about my grammar and spelling?

¹Kerstin Gezelius, Dagens nyheter
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introduction [02 May 2006|02:10pm]

larvatus
As a Baudelairian, I have rejoiced in every book Michel Houellebecq has published. I have translated their snippets here and there. I am glad to have stumbled upon this community and look forward to participating herein.
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The Possibility of an Island [05 Oct 2005|01:13am]

goldink
Despite the fact that U.S. publishers are not releasing the English translation of the new Houellebecq book The Possibility of an Island until 2006, one does not have to wait so long. The good people over in the United Kingdom are bringing this promising new book to us in less than a month. If you head on over to this page at Amazon.co.uk, you can preorder the book for £7.99, or about $14 before shipping. If you buy the book from that site or another British publisher, you can get the book once it's released on November 1. Therefore, clear off your pile of books to read, because this one should be read when it comes out in twenty-seven days. From the synopsis on the website, it sounds like it's going to be good. I'm not sure about the page count in this book. According to the British, it has 512, and according to the Americans, it has 352.
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Biography and bibliography of Houellebecq [25 Sep 2005|08:29am]

fihman
[ mood | awake ]

This is taken in its entirety from www.houellebecq.info.

"Michel Houellebecq (pronounced «Wellbeck») was born on the 26th of February, 1958, on the French island of Reunion. His father, a mountain guide, and his mother, an anesthesiologist, soon lost all interest in his existence. A half-sister was born four years later. At the age of six, Michel was given over to the care of his paternal grandmother, a communist, whose family name he later adopted. In France, he lived not far from Paris: first at Dicy (Yonne), then at Crecy-la-Chapelle. He attended boarding school at nearby Meaux for six years. Finally, he took preparatory courses prior to entering the French «grande ecole» system.

His grandmother died in 1978. In 1980, he obtained a degree in agricultural engineering, and, that same year, married the sister of a classmate. A long period of unemployment followed. His son, Etienne, was born in 1981. Four years later, he divorced his wife. Finally, a bout with depression led to several stays at a psychiatric facility. He eventually found employment at the French National Assembly as an administrative secretary.

His literary career began when, at twenty, he started to move in poetic circles. In 1985, he met Michel Bulteau, the editor of the Nouvelle Revue de Paris, who was the first to publish his poems. It was the beginning of a long and enduring friendship. In fact, it was Bulteau who suggested that he write a book for the «Infrequentables» series, which had been launched by Bulteau at the publishing house Le Rocher. This led to the publication, in 1991, of H. P. Lovecraft, contre le monde, contre la vie («H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life»).

That same year saw the publication of Rester vivant, methode («To Stay Alive: A method»), by Difference. Then, in 1992, his first collection of poems, La poursuite du bonheur («The Pursuit of Happiness»), which went on to win the Prix Tristan Tzara.

In 1994, Maurice Nadeau published Extension du domaine de la lutte («Whatever»), Houellebecq’s first novel, which brought him a larger audience, and has since been translated into several languages. A novel of darkness and despair, it is, at the same time, full of humor.

He went on to contribute to many a literary review (including L’atelier du roman, Perpendiculaires, from whose editorial board he was later ousted, and Inrockuptibles).

Since 1996, Houellebecq’s work has been published by Flammarion, where Raphael Sorin is his editor. His second collection of poems, Le sens du combat («The Meaning of the Fight»), obtained the Prix Flore in 1996. In 1997, Rester vivant and La poursuite du bonheur, in revised form, were re-released in one volume.

In 1998, he received the Grand Prix national des Lettres Jeunes Talents for the entirety of his literary output. Later, in the fall, Interventions, a collection of chronicles and critical texts, and Les Particules élémentaires («Atomised»), his second novel, were published simultaneously. The latter went on to win the Prix Novembre, and has since been translated into over 25 languages.

That same year, he married Marie-Pierre Gauthier, whom he had originally met in 1992.

In 1999, he collaborated on the screen adaptation of Extension du domaine de la lutte («Whatever»), with Philippe Harel, who directed the film. He also published a new collection of poems, Renaissance.

The spring of 2000 saw the debut of his first album, Presence humaine, where he sings a number of his poems to the music of Bertrand Burgalat.

Currently he lives in Ireland, near Cork."

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Introduction [19 Sep 2005|07:16pm]

goldink
I covered everything I can think of in the Community Info as far as rules go, so I will use this entry to welcome everyone to this community. I hope that herein we can have some engaging dialogues on this author, as well as criticism of his work. For those who are finding this community but unaware of who exactly this author is, he is French, and has written Whatever, Elementary Particles (Atomised), Platform, and The Possibility of an Island. We are still awaiting an English translation, at the time of this writing, of The Possibility of an Island, as it was published in August, 2005, in the original French. Most recently, his work H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, has been published and has received a good amount of publicity thus far. Due to the nature of this writer, discussion is expected and welcome on not only his work, but also on his well-publicized life. I encourage you to take a look at this man and his work. They are, if nothing else, interesting.
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