Soon we will all have to learn to lipread if we want to understand each other
our ears will become useless to us since all we will hear will be our buzzing…”


by raymond federman


a friend of mine is writing a book about Auschwitz — I told him he should be angry about Auschwitz —

he says that I once told him that one should never write in anger

I told him

angry not in the writing

angry being there having been there

angry at the word Auschwitz

the writing happens after having been there

on another matter my friend who is writing

the book on Auschwitz asks why I seem preoccupied

I must have given that impression in my last message

so I told him

you ask why I seem preoccupied these days

I am preoccupied because

the trip to France in March coming up — always a bit anxious about going there — a busy trip it will be — a happy trip too —

occupied and preoccupied with Moinous in Tokyo – it’s not going anywhere right now — it’s sort of turning in self-reflexive circles —

undecided if it should be written in French or in English or both at the same time

I tried that before — drove me to mild insanity

preoccupied with golf

season of the new tournaments

we take advantage of the perfect weather

here in golf paradise

preoccupied with the fucking leak in one of the bathrooms and the fucking plumber had to come twice because he fucked up the first time but still insisted on wanting to be payed to come back and repair his fucking mistake

twice 95 bucks

preoccupied also with the sliding door to the garden the fucking door refuses to slide so we had to bring in a doorman who would make our fucking sliding door slide again so that we can slide out into the garden and enjoy the view

195 bucks

on top of that I am suddenly bombarded by things to read — things that must be read —

and Starcherone Press in Buffalo is getting ready to publish My Body in Nine Parts [yes the English Version] with enlarged texts and enlarged photos of the nine parts and this requires a number of email exchanges to publishers and photographers and etc etc.

plus doing the dishes

plus helping make the bed because the bed is so big it takes two to make the bed correctly

plus taking out the garbage

plus watching football on tv

plus looking out of the window

plus I forget what else

but I am here

I can prove it — I just cut my little finger and it bleeds — nothing serious – but a little reminder that I am still alive — promising lag — as Malone put it of his own situation —

I wouldn’t put it past me that I will still be here after I come back from France in march and even after I come back from France in July and even after the French translation of The Farm comes out and even after I go back to France again and after that —

no I wouldn’t put it past me — as Malone said while outsmarting his death —

old sam is on my mind these days

I would like to put some order in the Sam Book

make it read more like a single piece of ranting about sam rather than just a clumsy collage

not that I think this book will ever be published and why should it be

it’s a book for me

for a few friends

the happy few

or the happy fous

so it goes

and I lost another 12 more hairs this past week

and my head itches and my toes nails need cutting

and the buzzing in my ear is getting so loud it’s taking over

I am told that there are 55 million people in America who have buzzing ears

that’s why there is so much noise in America and people don’t hear anymore what other people are saying

soon we will all have to learn to lipread if we want to understand each other

our ears will become useless to us since all we will hear will be our buzzing

who knows maybe that’s an inevitable part of human evolution

evolution towards our decomposition as sam would put it

a time when language will be taken away from us by nature

after all — as it was said — I think by Bataille — or maybe Artaud — le langage est une erreur de la nature —

yes nature made a mistake the day she gave us humans language

look where it has gotten us

now imagine a world not far ahead of us without human language

I mean language of the mouth

we will still have the language of the body even if we cannot talk to each other

and hear each other

our body will have to learn to become more fluent

but imagine for an moment humans roaming around this devastated planet —

that also inevitable the way things are going — without ears and without mouths since these parts of human anatomy will have become useless and superfluous — and therefore reclaimed by nature

well one could pursue this further and imagine all the animals — all the other living species also having become silent — and therefore without noses and ears —

for nature has now reclaimed the little noises she gave to the animals —

all that is left now to the survivors of this planet are eyes to see and limbs — hands or legs — to feel

to see and feel that is all that will be left to us

without a mouth taste becomes irrelevant and vanishes without the nose smelling also becomes irrelevant and vanishes

and I wouldn’t put it past me to believe that nature would also want to reclaim our eyes and our hands and feet

and so one day we would be standing on the edge of the precipice of human history deft and mute

naked of course because unable to function we could no longer earn a human living

hairless from head to toes

toes now reduced to stumps

just as arms and hands have

also been reduced to stumps

nature having long ago reclaimed what had become useless to us

we would stand erect shapeless figures barely mobile bumping into each other clumsily

seen from above we would look like giant fish

but one day fed up with the firm ground of this planet all the survivors having managed to make it to the edge of the ocean — all of us still left standing would plunge into the water —

and there frolic again freely joyfully aimlessly like in the good old time when nature was but water

unaware of our sordid past

oblivious to what we had been

and to what might be again

our past-future

that’s how it goes on this bitch of an earth as Pozzo once put it

or was it Hamm who said that

doesn’t matter since even when we rise again from the water to stand on solid earth as humans

and nature makes an error again

and we start babbling our blah blah

even if we manage to make sense

of why we had to come out of the water

to explain the universe

Godot will not come

Godot will never come

He didn’t come the first time

He will not come the second time

nor the next time nor the time after that

as far as the unthinkable end as far as the final little pouff

when everything in the universe will go back to what it was before it became…

Originally published:
Issue Thirty-Seven
June 2005


(illustrations: troy dockins)

Born in France in 1928, Raymond Federman emigrated to the U.S. in 1947. His many books include Double or Nothing (1971), Take It or Leave It (1976), Smiles on Washington Square (1985), To Whom It May Concern (1990), and My Body in 9 Parts (2005). Federman’s novels have been translated into German, Italian, French, Hungarian, Polish, Serbian, Rumanian, Hebrew, Dutch, Greek, Japanese, and Chinese.


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