Thursday, February 5, 2015

the last book I ever read (Michel Houellebecq's The Map and the Territory, excerpt five)

from The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq:

“I’m inviting you,” said Franz with a mocking grimace. “Don’t reply, there’s no point, I know exactly what you’re going to say. You’ll ask to have time to think; and in a few days you’ll phone to tell me you’re saying no. And then you’re going to stop. I’m starting to know you, you’ve always been like that, even at the time of the Michelin maps: you work, you work away in your little corner for years; and then, once your work is exhibited, as soon as you get recognition, you drop it all.”

“There are small differences. I was at a dead end when I gave up Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons Dividing Up the Art Market.”

“Yes, I know; that’s what made me organize the exhibition. Besides, I’m happy you didn’t finish that painting. However, I liked the idea, the project had a historical relevance, it was quite an accurate reflection of the art world at a given time. There was, indeed, a sort of dividing up; on the one hand, fun, sex, kitsch, and innocence; on the other, trash, death, and cynicism. But, in your situation, that would inevitably have been interpreted as the work of a minor artist, jealous of the success of his richer counterparts; anyway, we’re at a point where success in market terms justifies and validates anything, replacing all the theories. No one is capable of seeing further, absolutely no one. Now you could indulge in this painting, because you’ve become the best-paid French artist of the moment; but I know you won’t paint it, you’ll move on to something else. Maybe you’ll simply stop doing the portraits, or stop figurative in general, or stop painting completely, and perhaps return to photography, I don’t know.”

Jed kept his silence. At the neighboring table the old man roused himself from his slumber, got up, and went over to the door; his dog followed him with difficulty, its fat body bobbing on its short legs.

“In any case,” Franz said, “I want you to know that I remain your gallerist. Whatever happens.”

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