The following is a collection of things he said during his interviews that can be found on the web. Most of them are taken from the following:
- Interview in Denmark
- QA after the interview
- His lecture on Frontieras de Pensamiento and other interview excerpts
- Book on Schopenhauer
- Latest interview at the University of Sorbonne
I will be also using excerpts from his essay Rester Vivant (abbr. RV) in brackets to emphasize thoughts from his appearances linked above.
Starting of with the most important phrase from RV:
Vous devrez au moins une fois par jour vous répéter que l'essentiel est de faire son possible.
(You must at least once a day repeat to yourself that the essential thing is to make it possible.)
List of advices that could help you with that
- Have a great appetite for knowledge. Curiosity. Desire to know. (starting from childhood). MH adores Schopenhauer who stated that the intellect is the ultimate source of cheerfulness. Knowledge for the sake of knowing does not help (Do not study knowledge for its own sake. Anything that does not proceed directly from emotion is, in poetry, of zero value.). The knowledge of Michel is the one that comes from the gap which is the term that Schopenhauer uses to explain the source of art and creativity. The gap is w state when one realizes that being and life is more inexplicable and cruel than just not being, therefore death losses it's importance as a source of creativity.
- Always have a book with you. Life is not interesting enough but you can compensate it with reading. Start writing to feel good. In 'this universe of writers' be constantly reading. Human life is too simple for the complexity of human's brain, thus importance of having parallel lives. Reading becomes a question of survival. In one of his essay he says that he came to know about Schopenhauer at the age of 27 which is really late for such discoveries. By that time he has read so much that he felt like every next author was just repeating things - (I already had the impression, I was rereading, rather than really reading;)
- On the beginning there is a tendency to imitate, just like in animals. Don't be afraid of imitating.
- Process of maturing can take a long time. It took him 50 years to imitate Graziella. Be patient.
- To be an author means you can earn some money from writing a book. It's public who decides, not an author. He was 40 when he started earning money from The Elemental Particles. Don't think about money. You don't have to have a job - The poet is a sacred parasite. and The problem of where to live will in general not arise; you will go where you can.
- You need to be a megalomanic to publish. Published book can be a terror. "if they ask me 36 000 questions about how to construct the universe, I will give them 36 000 answers no problem" (quote taken from video)
- To write a book is like cultivating a parasite in your brain.
- Use invented stories, arts and events along with the real once. That increases the probability of believing. It's good to use far-distant future stories, even without having a lot of skills in in, because it brings a bit of light to this world of present.
- Collections, Nobel prices, Awards. It's all fake. In order to not be forgotten as a writer you need to have younger disciples who are themselves good writers. You are validated by your peers.
- Success can change your social circle.
- When writing and staring into the blank sheet of paper he looks at a wall. White wall and never outside. Sometimes he looks at the photos that he puts on that wall to visualize his scenes better.
- Spinning stream of thoughts can be hurtful. In those moments you need to stop. There is too much tension and you need to find a way to calm down.
- If you find yourself staring at a blank page, you can always go back and work a bit on what you have already written.
- In order to be free when writing imagine that before publishing a book you are already dead.
from the latest interview
- It's the others that make you a writer, not yourself.
- Choose your public, who are they, what they are capable of feeling. Public and subculture change. What is it right now?
- What is a structure when you are writing a novel? It's less evident.
- Generally to start writing there needs to be a trigger. Usually it's a person and it's a place.
- Place doesn't matter. Good time for writing is total awakening. Just after waking up.
- When you can't stand more what you write - you should finish.
Souvenez-vous-en : fondamentalement, vos etes déjà morts. Vos etes maintenant en tete à tete avec l'éternité. RV
translated: Remember this: fundamentally, you are already dead. You are now face to face with eternity.
- To write a character you can use a method: Take a real event from your life and try to imagine what could have happened if you had chosen a different path. I was always imagining myself in the future. Sometimes doing a particular job, having a particular profession, sometimes with a women. I knew what would happen between us in 10 years into the future. You don't need to live. You can imagine. Imagination is more important than memory.
- Trick to build up your story can be taken from listening to [Child in Time] where the song builds up characters and melody, rises and suddenly breaks. Then after the break, mounting beings again. "That's the trick"
- Interesting ideas are remitted nowadays by writers, so it's important to have an idea but they are not essential. They can be brought down to a couple of lines, the story is the rest.
- Be an observator and commenter involved in society's life. There is no modern philosophers like in the past, thus importance of being a writer, who can produce interesting thoughts like Maurice Dante or Philippe Muray.
- Have a superior literary talent. It counts but it is not everything. What matters is not taking conveniences and consequences into account. Do not even fear of being categorized. Freedom is liberating.
- Don't put too much information about the decoration and the places. It's of no one's interest.
- Natality averages will decide of Europe's fate. Thus politics or intellectuals are not important. Writers are the most important. It is they who talk about human life of everyone, of those who are part of the fertility rate's statistics.
- First month of writing can be influenced by the exterior but after that, novel takes it's own life. It creates itself perpetually.
Writers Michel mentions in the above interviews and books:
- Thomas Mann
- August Compte
- Nietzsche (which he despises)
- Clifford Simak
- Baltasar Gracian
- Maurice Dantec
- Graziella la Martine
- Alexandres Dumas
- Julius Verne (his type, technice, scientific etc. stuck with him)
- St Paul
- Bernard Henri Levy
- Olivier Maulain (critic that talked about women in his books)
- Kaspar Colling Nielsen (was inspired by MH, Les Outrages)
- Agathe Novak-Lechevalier essay - Houellebeq, l'art de la consolation.
- Francois Mauriac
- He's spent 10 years telling people to read Schopenhauer
- Baudelaire is my God
- Poets: Verlaine, Lamartine, Novalis, Hordelin (Poets)
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Confessions