Jeffrey Schultz, Shopping, And The Soul

One need only enter their local Walmart, Kroger, or Safeway to see how distant and convoluted America's relationship to food is. As films like Food Inc. and Fast Food Nation have evidenced, food in this country is, above all, a business; and like so many businesses it has less concern for the substance and integrity of its wares than for their capacity to turn a swift, efficient profit. Thus, the produce and meat in most grocery stores -- so much like our television or popular music "stars" -- has been glossed and Bo-toxed beyond recognition of anything resembling actual nature. Were most coupon-clippers to see a bell pepper growing organically, they would almost assuredly be taken aback by its lack of symmetry and sheen. Afterall, by no fault of their own, these shoppers have become accustomed to buffed and bountiful pyramids of idealized fajita fodder -- green as Irish Shamrocks and glinting back the produce aisle's antiseptic light. Yet, as too few still know, biting into a store-bought pepper is equivalent to listening to Ke$ha on the car radio during your morning commute, whereas biting into the homegrown one (sans chemicals) is hearing Joni Mitchell on a summer evening at Red Rocks in '72. That's always the rub, isn't it? Ease or authenticity? Saccharin, placating lies or honesty? For those who prefer the latter, America can, in many respects, be a maddening place to live. Not simply because of the homogenization of its food, but increasingly of its thought. This homogenization seems largely a product of soundbites, the solicitation of blue, pixelated raised thumbs, and the egoic, "me-first" mandates of Capitalism (despite an age of thinning resources and expanding populations). These, among myriad other tensions, may have been what Wallace Stevens referred to as "the pressures of reality," and they are what any modern psyche, aiming to live an autonomous life, must now confront.

And how easy it is not to confront them; to become lethargic in an age of chemical ease and comfort and hush one's inner opposition to the swelling tide. Yet, there are those who still take issue with the inanity and the excess so prevalent in our country today. Such people are heroes, and have chosen not to opt out of the hard work of creating and changing conceptions of a reality that at times feels ominous. Award-winning poet Jeffrey Schultz is one such hero. Below, you'll find a short film of him reading his poem "The Soul as Episode in the Supermarket" in an abandoned grocery store in Cedarville, MI. It is the second installment of Fogged Clarity's 2015 Les Cheneaux Sessions.