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MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ

that she counted over, barely moving her lips. And he pulled and his mother resisted, knowing very well what wings are worth cobbled in the shade out of bits of string and feathers from a comforter and by how much they outweigh a mans hope on the winds scales, she who already, how many times over, behind the drawn blinds of her bedroom, gave birth to Icarus screaming. ma rily n ha cke r

Michel Houellebecq 1958


runion, france

against psychoanalysis, against the breed of socialism dened by the student uprisings, and against the bureaucracy of the French university system. Sexual liberation and materialism, he believes, have led to an unraveling of modern society and account for the violence and despair that characterize it. Houellebecq has served as an administrative secretary in the Assemble nationale. In addition to being an internationally known novelist, he is a best-selling poet in France. Principal works: La Poursuite du bonheur, 1991; Rester vivant: Mthode, 1991; Extensions du domaine de la lutte, 1994; Le Sens du combat, 1996; Renaissance, 1999.

ne of the best-known and most controversial of contemporary novelists, Houellebecq has professed disgust for almost all the leading movements in France since the 1960s. He has written passionately

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part 6. 1981 2002: young poetry at the end of the millennium

Dans lair limpide


Certains disent : regardez ce qui se passe en coulisse. Comme cest beau, toute cette machinerie qui fonctionne ! Toutes ces inhibitions, ces fantasmes, ces dsirs rchis sur leur propre histoire. Toute cette technologie de lattirance. Comme cest beau ! Hlas jaime passionnment, et depuis toujours, ces moments o plus rien ne fonctionne. Ces tats de dsarticulation du systme global, qui laissent prsager un destin plutt quun instant, qui laissent entrevoir une ternit par ailleurs nie. Il passe, le gnie de lespce. Il est dicile de fonder une thique de vie sur des prsupposs aussi exceptionnels, je le sais bien. Mais nous sommes l, justement, pour les cas diciles. Nous sommes maintenant dans la vie comme sur des mesas californiennes, vertigineuses plates-formes spares par le vide ; le plus proche voisin est quelques centaines de mtres mais reste encore visible, dans lair limpide (et limpossibilit dune runication se lit sur tous les visages). Nous sommes maintenant dans la vie comme des singes lopra, qui grognent et sagitent en cadence. Tout en haut, une mlodie passe.

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F R A N C K A N D R JA M M E

In the Limpid Air


Some say: look at whats happening behind the scenes. How lovely, all this machinery working! All these inhibitions, these phantasms, these desires reected upon their own history. All this technology of the seductive. How lovely! Alas, I have always loved, with great passion, these moments where nothing works any more. These states of disarticulation of the global system, which presage a fate rather than a moment, which suggest an eternity elsewhere denied. The genius of the species passes on. It is dicult to found an ethic of life on such exceptional presuppositions, I know. But we are here, precisely for dicult cases. We are now living as if on mesas in California, dizzying platforms separated by the void; the nearest neighbor is a hundred meters away, but remains visible anyway, in the limpid air (and you can read the impossibility of any reunication on every face). Now we are living like monkeys at the opera, mumbling and moving about in unison. Up there somewhere, a melody passes by. ma ry a nn c aws

Franck Andr Jamme 1947


clermont-ferrand, france

amme has published widely, and produced several limited editions of poetry illustrated by such artists as James Brown, Olivier Debr, Zao Wou Ki, and Marc Couturier. His work has been praised by Henri Michaux and

Ren Char, who asked him to oversee publication of Chars complete works in the Bibliothque de la Pliade (1983). Jamme, who lives with the painter and poet Valrie-Catherine Richez, works in both Burgundy and Paris. He currently serves as a consulting curator for contemporary Indian art. John Ashbery recently translated his Rcitation de loubli into English. The poets appeared together on

the French television show Canap to discuss what makes a poet modern. Principal works: LOmbre des biens venir, 1981; Absence de rsidence et pratique du songe, 1985; La Rcitation de loubli, 1986; Pour les simples, 1987; Bois de lune, 1990; 577