February 10, 2007



I've been asked to give a reading from my work at the Bernardo Heights Country Club - of which I am a member in good standing -- up to now -- this reading will take place at the end of a gourmet dinner in front of some 100 members -- all of them fanatic golfers -- so this is what I'm going to read -- let me know if you approve -- I'm sending this message to all my friends -- their opinion counts for me --

here is the piece I selected from my oeuvre

[by the way I am not being payed for this reading - -I am doing it at the requests of the membership of BHCC]

Yesterday I bought a new tape recorder – and today I recorded a story on my new recorder – yes when I am alone I often talk to myself aloud – this is the story I recorded – I call it –


I am sitting in my study -- that's how the story I recorded begins -- I am sitting in my study in San Diego California -- close to the sun -- where I moved seven years ago to be with myself and finish my work -- I am sitting in my study looking out of the window at the splendid view before me -- incredible -- the valley the mountains -- the trees -- the sky -- the birds in the sky --beautiful --

I had a good day -- I feel great -- a good round of golf this morning -- shot an 81 -- yes 81 -- remember this is fiction – 38 on the front - I hit seven greens on regulation -- had two birdies -- back nine a 43 -- two lousy double bogies -- dumb mistakes – the mind wanders sometime -- but a solid 81 -- then home to work on my new novel – My Body in Nine Parts with 3 supplements -- today I am working on my scars -- and I look up and there before me the incredible view --

and I think -- when you die all this get extinguished -- nothing more to see -- it's like plunging into a big black hole -- everything becomes dark --

but then it occurs to me that to say that -- to think that -- implies the possibility of an after -- of some kind of existence after you die -- could I have been wrong all my life -- no -- I'm not going to fall into that meta-pata-physical stuff -- no magic trick -- not divine power or intervention -- I am human -- I am conscious of being human and alive --

but let’s say now you are dead -- so here you are among all the dead carcasses -- yes that's what this story is called -- the carcasses -- here they are -- the old ones that have been around for a long time -- the new ones that just arrived -- all piled up on top of one another waiting for their turn to be transmuted -- transmutation does not happen all at once -- does not happen instantly the moment you become a carcass --

carcasses are not reincarnated the moment they become carcasses -- there is a waiting period -- a kind of incubation -- so here you are waiting your turn -- no magic trick as I said -- just that you have to wait for the authorities to decide -- yes let's call them that -- the authorities -- nobody knows who they are -- but they are the ones who decide when it's your turn to be transmuted --

they call you -- hey you over there comme over here -- and they tell you we’re sending you back -- back to wherever you came from -- doesn't have to be the planet Earth -- carcasses come from all sorts of places in the entire universe --

the place where the carcasses are piled up is a separate zone in the great void of the universe -- nobody knows where it is -- but it's like a huge department store -- a bit like Wall-mart -- and there carcasses of all sizes all types all shapes all forms all colors -- most of them formless -- wait for the authorities to call them to be transmuted -- one cannot argue with the authorities -- you have to accept their decision --

and so your turn comes and you are told that you are going back as an insect -- yes -- as a fly -- imagine yourself now living the life of fly -- ok it's a short life -- but still -- what is your main purpose in life - your raison d'être -- to buzz around -- to bug the shit out of the other species -- buzz around the eyes of cows who try to smack you with their tails -- or buzz around humans -- shit on windows panes or T.V. screens -- but one day you land on the arm or the top of the head of a human and – bang -- he slaps you with his hand -- and crushes you -- splashes you -- and you're dead – what kind of a life is that --

so here you are again among the carcasses -- oh you're already back the other carcasses say to you -- I mean those who are still there waiting their turn --

and again you wait to be send back -- well this time your turn comes quick -- no reason given -- you come back as a flower -- a lovely red rose in the suburban backyard of some nouveau rich on the coast of California -- and you're proud because you know you're beautiful and you smell good --

the ladies who come to play bridge look at you and say -- oh what a beautiful rose -- but then one day the lady of the house tells the maid to go get flowers in the garden to put on the dinning room table -- so here comes the maid with her clippers or whatever she uses to cut you off -- then she sticks you in a vase with some water -- and soon the water starts smelling foul and it's unbearable -- and you begin to whiter and the lady of the house says to the maid -- get rid of that dead flower -- and the maid throws you in the garbage can -- and empty the smelly water in the sink -- and here you are back among the carcasses -- what kind of life was that --

now you wait again -- this time a very long time -- maybe a couple of centuries -- even more --

time does not exist in the carcass zone --- so you really don’t know how long you waited – but finally the authorities call you and tell you that you are needed among the lions of Africa -- there is a shortage of virile male lions on the planet earth -- and so they are sending you back to be a lion in Africa -- so here you are in Kenya with three sexy lionesses and a bunch of little cubs -- and it's a good life --

every fifteen minutes -- this has been carefully observed by lion observers -- one of the lionesses comes over and licks you for a little humping -- so you rise from your dreamy slumber -- hump the lioness -- and then go back to the shadow of the trees where you were dreaming of another life -- it’s a good life --- plenty to eat -- the lionesses see to that -- lots of gazelle meat -- and it's fun to play with the little cubs -- but one day a bunch of humans of different colors come along -- the black ones are half naked and danse around -- the white ones wear funny colonial hats and have rifles --- but they are not here to make a carcass out f you -- they want to capture you -- and they do with a big net -- then they stick you in a box and ship you to what they call the civilized world --

lucky for you -- they don't put you in the Buffalo zoo where you would have spend the rest of your temporary earthly life in a cage wallowing in your own shit -- and with no sexy lionesses to hump because now -- for lack of exercise in the wilderness -- you're incapable of getting it up –

yes – lucky for you -- they put you in the San Diego zoo -- and build for you what they call a natural environment -- of course it’s fake -- this is California -- there is nothing natural about this environment they build for you -- it’s pure Hollywood decor – you know that -- you know it's fake -- but you pretend it's really nice just to make the humans feel good and happy so that they don't send you to the Buffalo zoo --

but you're bored in this phoney Walt Disney environment -- most of the time you sleep -- or pretend to be asleep -- especially when they bring the kids to look at you in fear -- they would like you to look mean and act ferocious -- so a human pokes you in the ass with a long stick so you can roar -- what kind of a life is that --

okay they bring you these big chunks of meat -- beef -- but one day they give you a piece of meat that comes from a sick cow and you die -- you die of the mad cow disease -- and you're back among the carcasses --

well I won’t go into all the possible animal or human or vegetable form or whatever you could come back --

imagine yourself as radish -- what kind of a life that would be -- or an artichoke --
okay a tree -- a big majestic tree -- that would be okay for a while -- but then all the other trees around become jealous because you're taller -- or because your trunk is bigger then theirs -- or your leaves more greener --

then one day some humans come with a big saw and cut you down to pieces and burn you -- what kind of a life is that --

and here you are back again among the carcasses -- and while waiting for your turn to come again you think --

I know that dead carcasses are not supposed to be able to think -- but for the convenience of this story let's just say that they are capable of cogitation – so you cogitate --

why can I have a voice in the decision of what I will become next -- why can't I make up my own ...

... I was going to say mind -- but carcasses have no mind –

so let's just say why can I have a little something to say about my next transmutation --

and since you were -- once upon a time -- a writer in one of your previous transmutations -- you compose a very stylish message addressed to the authorities asking if maybe it isn't time for the carcasses to have a say in the process of their transmutation --

this stirs up thing in the carcass zone -- there are discussions -- debates -- arguments – polls – votes – and all sorts of things like that --

but finally the authorities give up and agree --

so now – when the time comes for a carcass to be transmuted -- the carcass in question must appear in front of the authorities to discuss what they would like to become --

it's a very complex and lengthy process but eventually you a joint decision is made -- and you become what you really wanted to become --

for instance me -- I often said that if I were to come back I would want to come back as a roman gladiator so that I could lead a revolt against the roman emperor -- like Spartacus – or come back as a musketeer -- like Dartagnan – or as a French lover -- like le Marquis de Sade –

or – or -- or – as -- as -- as ... it's not easy to decide yourself what you want to come back as --

this is why I think the best thing to do here -- I mean here in this story -- is to let the readers decide themselves what they would like to come back as --

and if this story if ever published --

let's say in the New Yorker --

then I would insist that the last page of the story be a blank page where the readers can write what they want to be in their next life --

of course someday -- the way science is making progress -- carcasses might be able to come back as objects --

imagine coming back as stove or an electric razor -- or a toilet seat – what kind of a life would that be –

or better yet -- come back as a golf club -- that would be an interesting life -- a brand new Taylor Made titanium 607 driver with a graphite shaft -- not a bad life --

well at least until the golfer decide that you're driving him crazy with the way you slice the ball and decides to buy a new carcass reincarnated as a King Cobra 560 driver with an anti-slice shaft -- and throws you – the Taylor Made -- into the garbage -- imagine what kind of a life that would be --

by the time I finished recording this story it was dark outside my window – and the splendid view had vanished into the night –

Raymond Federman

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