CRITICAL FOOD READER # 2 : MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ BUYS GROCERIES

By EVAN MILLAR


17h46 – People trick themselves into thinking that food choice is the arena in which the lions of agency devour the Christian notion that all is predetermined. For human societies, the misconception that one can develop an individual ‘personality’, an identity distinct from another, is manifested in the decision of what to eat. A sham! All is the same. My choice between ribbed steak and chicken parmesan affects nothing. Oh, stop it Michel, this isn’t one of your idiot novels! No one cares about what you think. Just pick something and get on with it. Fries, perhaps, maybe with soda. Health craze to hell, tonight I will guzzle three liters of cola, caution thrown to the wind! No, Michel, your youth is gone; irretrievably so. Why, through cola, should you wish to return to such a stupid time?

17h51 – Quail Eggs. Ha! I am not fooled by gourmet food; those subtle organic flavors that sate the intelligentsia, the pitiful swap for the waning sexual appetites of the middle-aged and middle-classed. This is the fate of the European, while the stupid American stuffs his stomach with fatty foods to compensate for the hollowness he feel inside. Mac and Cheese. 24 grams of fat, 14 of which saturated. Idiot American, I will never be you.

17h55 –Shall I heed my Doctor’s advice and start eating vegetables to provide my body with the nutrients it needs? “Whole Wheat Bread with Milled Flaxseed.” Stupid hogshit. What is the point. The slow process of decay is already well under way. I eat, so too do the bacteria that feast upon my dying cells. With each passing day my spine contracts and my gut spills out. No New Age hippie health lies should delude me into thinking differently.

18h04 –I feel sweat percolating on my brow. The ultramodern ambience of the city supermarket is oppressive; more so because I am not permitted to smoke indoors.

18h09-How do they shop with such ease? These silly men, pronounced baldness and ballooning stomachs, bee-line to the cheeseburgers which they will purchase and later consume with the reckless abandon of a young homosexual. These hopeless women, sagging tits and floppy labias, instinctively swarm to their cardboard salads, believing that a low-carbohydrate diet and healthy regiment of exercise will halt the natural ugliness that has already morphed their once supple bodies. But age casts a knowing smile on their hideous costumes of youth. Hmm, eggplant.

18h11—I suppose I could settle for lamb and baguette. Lamb and baguette, lamb and baguette! All you fucking eat is lamb and baguette. It is, you say, the most honest choice. A precise mimicry of routine, the human parade. But surely there is some truth to the maxim that variety is the spice of life? Either way you must decide, Michel. Go on, enact your parody of choice. The intense claustrophobia of the supermarket is boring.

18h15—Why did I not write a groceries list? The words of Artaud: “All writing is pigshit”. Ah yes, this is why.

18h17—While walking to the supermarket I saw the splattered remains of a pigeon that had been dealt a sorry hand by a truck or vehicle of some other kind. Primitive societies would have been content to roast the demolished bird over an open flame, with no regard for spice or seasoning. Today, with the delicacies of the world splayed before us and available at the exchange of a note, humans must endure the indeterminacy of what to eat. But such is progress. Enough joking, Michel! Your humor cannot save you. A profound sense of irony allows some to stave off death by laughing through life, but still they hurl towards a nothingness that consumes them; a nothingness that breaks them. It is life, in the end, who makes a mockery of us all.

18h21– Perhaps the problem will be better resolved at the checkout line. Camus has said that if we wish to prolong life, we must spend as much time as possible waiting in lines. Waiting makes us acutely aware of the interminability of moments.

18h25—A wiser man would disagree. There is no escape from death, and withstanding such insufferable stallings does nothing but bring one closer to its grips. The line-stander is but a cow moving slowly down the conveyor belt. And that this trial of groceries must be endured with frequence is the cruelest joke of all. Whatever I buy, it must be enough to escape this madness for another few weeks. Yes, I will approach the pretty negress cashier and, while I imagine plunging four fingers into the depth of her vagina, demand six cartons of Gitanes. And two Oranginas.

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