01 September 2010

Michel Houellebecq

[Michel Houellebecq, tr. Frank Wynne, The Elementary Particles, Knopf, 2000]

Generally, the initial reaction of a thwarted animal is to try harder to attain its goal. A starving chicken (Gallus domesticus) prevented from reaching its food by a wire fence will make increasingly frantic efforts to get through it. Gradually, however, this behavior is replaced by another which has no obvious purpose. When unable to find food, for example, pigeons (Columba livia) will frequently peck the ground even if nothing there is edible. Not only will they peck indiscriminately, but they start to preen their feathers; such inappropriate behavior, frequently observed in situations of frustration or conflict, is known as displacement activity. Early in 1986, just after he turned thirty, Bruno began to write.

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