The following passage is from Houellebecq’s novel ‘The Possiblity of an Island’. The main character is recounting the gradual break-up of his marriage, due largely to declining sexual attraction. His wife is the editor of a women’s fashion magazine entitled ‘Lolita’ – ostensibly aimed at teenage girls but read mostly by women in their 30’s and older :
“A few months passed. Summer returned then autumn; Isabelle didn’t seem unhappy. She played with Fox, and tended the azaleas; I devoted myself to swimming and re-reading Balzac. One evening, while the sun fell behind the residence, she looked me straight in the eye and told me softly: ‘You are going to ditch me for someone younger…’
I protested that I had never been unfaithful.
‘I know…’ she replied. ‘At one moment I thought you were going to be: that you’d shag one of the sluts that hung around the magazine, then come back to me, then shag another slut, and so on. I would have suffered greatly, but perhaps it would have been better like that, at the end of the day.’
‘I tried once: the girl turned me down’. I remembered passing the morning in front of the Lycee Fenelon. It was between classes, the girls were fourteen, fifteen and all of them more beautiful and desirable than Isabelle, simply because they were younger. No doubt they themselves were engaged in a ferocious narcissistic competition – between those considered cute by boys their age, and those considered insignificant, or frankly, ugly; all the same, for any one of those young bodies a fifty-something would have been ready to risk his reputation, his freedom, and even his life. How simple, indeed, existance was! And how devoid it was of any way out! Once, on passing by the magazine’s offices to pick up Isabelle, I had chatted up a sort of Belorussian, who was waiting to pose on page eight. The girl had accepted my invitation for a drink, but had asked for five hundred euros for a blowjob; I had declined. At that time, the judicial arsenal aimed at repressing sexual relations with minors was getting tougher; crusades for chemical castration were multiplying. To increase desires to an unbearable level whilst making the fulfilment of them more and more inaccessible: this was the single principle upon which Western society was based. I knew all this, I knew it inside out, in fact I had used it as material for many a sketch; this did not stop me from succumbing to the same process. I woke up in the middle of the night and downed three glasses of water. I imagined the humiliations I would have to endure to seduce any teenage girl; the painfully extracted consent, the girl’s shame as we went out together in the street, her hesitation to introduce me to her friends, the carefree way she would ditch me for a boy of her own age. I imagined all this, over and over again, and I understood that I could not survive it. In no way did I pretend to escape from the laws of nature: the inevitable decrease of the erectile capacities of the penis, the necessity of finding young bodies to jam that mechanism….I opened a packed of salami and a bottle of wine. Oh well, I told myself, I will pay; when I reach that point, when I need tight little asses to keep up my erection, then I’ll pay. I’ll pay the market price. Five hundred euros for a blowjob, who did that Slav girl think she was? It was worth fifty, no more. In the vegetable drawer, I discovered an opened chestnut mousse. What seemed shocking to me, at this stage in my reflection, was not that there were young girls available for money, but that there are some who are not available, or only at prohibitive prices; in short, I wanted a regulation of the market.”