Federman Inner-View

“Here lies RAYMOND FEDERMAN who thought himself immortal until he was proven wrong.”

Federman’s self proclaimed epitaph from Smoke Signals 1982 Fools’ Day jam issue.

Interviewer - When you’re discouraged or feel like quitting on your path, what tricks/activities do you use to put you back on the track?

Interviewee - I masturbate. Depending on how discouraged I am, I use either gloves or bare hands.

Interviewer - With all the different scenarios possible for the end of planet, what do you envisage, and how would you cover the event if you were a reporter?

Interviewee - There is only one scenario possible for the planet: IT SHOULD AVOID THE FUTURE. However, since it cannot regress to the past, in spite of what most people wish, then it should rush full speed towards the apocalypse so that we can at least watch the greatest show on Earth LIVE, and not on television. Entrepreneurs should start selling tickets for the show.

Interviewer - Draw/describe this entity called God?

Interviewee - God! a huge pimple on the ass of the universe. Like this: •”

Interviewer - If you died right now, what would you want to be inscribed on your tombstone?

Interviewee - My epitaph? Good question. Here lies a man who thought himself immortal until he was proven wrong!

On second thought, I think I would prefer what my lovely daughter once suggested when I was bitching that my books go out of print even before they are published. Yes: OUT OF PRINT!

As a bilingual writer perhaps my epitaph should be in the two languages that have struggled to come out of me the day I opened my mouth. In French it would be épuisé! How perfect.

When a book goes out of print in France they say it’s épuisé!. Exhausted!

My epitaph then — OUT OF PRINT / épuisé!

Interviewer - What is the biggest lie that is perpetrated on us?

Interviewee - The biggest lie! Well of course, the universe. The ex istence of the universe. How do you know when you look at the sky at night and you see al these stars out there that it’s not fake. That maybe somebody, when back then, painted that sky for us. Maybe somebody like Michael Angelo.

Interviewer - With the state of the world so obviously out of control, how do you go about planning for the future?

Interviewee - I plot the future in the conditional. Or, even better, I always try to anticipate what would happen IF… If I were to do this or that. But most of the time I don’t do this or that, but always do the contrary, I’m never wrong in the future. Or to put it in simpler and more direct terms: you cannot fuck the future! The future fucks you! I think I heard that in a movie. Yes! Now I remember, it was in Saturday Night fever.

That’s the scene: Travolta tells his boss in the hardware store where he works that’s he’s quitting to become a famous dancer. The boss tells him, Think of your future. And Travolta replies, Fuck the future! No, the boss tells him, you don’t fuck the future, the future fucks you!

Well, to get back to your question. This does not mean that I am a pessimist. On the contrary. If the future is going to fuck me that means at least the future will give me some pleasure. Blissfulness. Jouissance, the French say.

But you know what. I think the best thing to do to avoid the future is to do nothing. And that’s what I do most of the time. Do nothing. Or as I once explained, in a poetic form, to someone who was criticizing me for doing nothing:

To Do Nothing

Having oscillated all my life
between the torments
of superficial idleness
and the horror
of disinterested action
I find myself at last
where to do nothing
becomes an act
of the highest value!

Interviewer - What one question makes you most uncomfortable?

Interviewee - No question ever makes me uncomfortable because there are no false questions, only dumb questions. To ask if the moon is made of green cheese is not a false question, it’s a dumb question. Now if you were to ask me what makes me the most unconformable, I would have to reply: The answer to a question. All the answers!

Interviewer - What is the worse rejection you ever had as a writer.

Interviewee - Oh, do I have a good one of for you.

One day I get this letter from the editor of an expensive glossy rich literary magazine saying that it would be an honor for him to publish a piece of mine in the next issue he is preparing because there is so little good avant-garde stuff that comes his way blah blah blah! So I sent this guy-editor a nice piece of my avant-garde stuff, and a week later he sends it back saying: I really like this piece, it’s very good, very original, very innovative, but there are seven fucks in it, and I have already accepted a piece by another writer, and in it there are five fucks. Twelve fucks in one issue might be too much. Imagine that. Talk to me about editorial policy and literary taste. I have never felt so rejected.

Interviewer - Thank you for your time and your fine answers.

Interviewee - You forgot to ask the most important question.

Interviewer - Which one?

Interviewee - Damn! I forgot what it was.

Leave a Reply


What's Happening In:

Little Rock - Arkansas Times
Buffalo - Artvoice
Athens, OH
The Athens NEWS
Austin, TX - Austin Chronicle
Baltimore - Baltimore City Paper
Birmingham - Birmingham Weekly
Black & White
Boise Weekly
Boston Phoenix
Boston's Weekly Dig
Boulder - Boulder Weekly
Charlottsville, VA - C-Ville Weekly
Chicago Newcity
Chicago Reader
Chico News & Review
Cincinnati - Cincinnati CityBeat
Rochester - City Newspaper
Minneapolis - City Pages (Twin Cities)
Lansing - City Pulse
Des Moines - Cityview
Halifax, NS - The Coast
Colorado Springs - Colorado Springs Independent
Columbia, SC - Columbia Free Times
Atlanta - Creative Loafing (Atlanta)
Charlotte, NC - Creative Loafing (Charlotte)
Sarasota, FL - Creative Loafing (Sarasota)
Tampa, FL - Creative Loafing (Tampa)
Dallas - Dallas Observer
Dayton - Dayton City Paper
Oakland - East Bay Express
Hermosa Beach, CA - Easy Reader
Eugene, OR - Eugene Weekly
New Haven - Fairfield County Weekly
Calgary, AB - Fast Forward Weekly
Athens, GA - Flagpole Magazine
Jacksonville, FL - Folio Weekly
Fort Worth, TX - Fort Worth Weekly
New Orleans - Gambit
Vancouver, BC - The Georgia Straight
Hartford, CT - Hartford Advocate
Honolulu - Honolulu Weekly
Houston - Houston Press
Springfield, IL - Illinois Times
Durham, NC - Independent Weekly (NC)
Corona, CA - Inland Empire Weekly
Madison, WI - Isthmus
Ithica, NY - Ithaca Times
Jackson, MS - Jackson Free Press
Los Angeles - L.A. Weekly
Las Vegas - Las Vegas CityLife
Las Vegas Weekly
Louisville, KY - LEO Weekly
Long Island, NY - Long Island Press
Maui, HI - Maui Time Weekly
Memphis - The Memphis Flyer
Knoxville - Metro Pulse
San Jose - Metroactive


painting collage of UBU, THE DECIDER by aka
Fred Wistow introduces Malcolm Gladwell

Coming soon

  • Marlaine Glicksman
    Robert Frank first hit the road when he emigrated from his native Switzerland to New York in 1950 as a fashion photographer. In 1955, he traveled the American asphalt as a Guggenheim fellow for photography, and the resulting book of stills, The Americans, published in 1958, gained him both fame and infamy....
    more coming...
  • Victor Harwood
    Four days after the death of the mythic Argentine revolutionary figure Che Guevara, Régis Debray, a French journalist in his twenties, sat in a Camiri, Bolivia jail sentenced to 50 years for attempting the revolutionary overthrow of the Bolivian government... more coming...

  • 1965 collage by d.a. levy

  • Before you leave...
    visit Lally's Alley