Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu

The Talking Carp


I don't watch evangelical TV or subscribe to cult newsletters, so I have no idea if signs and miracles have been multiplying out there. So when a Hebrew-talking carp made The New York Times' front page, I paid attention. The carp was about to be chopped up by two fish-mongers, an Ecuadorian and a Jew, when it started spouting prophecies. The Ecuadorian heard it first and couldn't understand what it was saying so he thought it was Satan, but then his Jewish colleague listened and it was saying biblical things. Despite their differences as to the import of the voice, they chopped up the talking carp anyway and sold it. I can understand the Ecuadorian getting a little spooked because the carp wasn't talking Latin or Spanish, the two main languages of non-human miracle messengers, but what's with the Jew? He knew both what the carp was saying and what a talking carp might be worth whole. The New York Times' report was kind of jocular, too, and I didn't like that. Catholics have been receiving messages via tortillas, trees and sheep for years, so the Jews get one turn through a fish and the world laughs? What gets me is that unaware people ate the carp! I mean, there are people out there now with a piece of talking gefilte fish in their bellies! Everybody listens when their stomach rumbles, but now they've got to listen extra-carefully because the message -- which was apocalyptic as I understand it -- has gotten scrambled like a Dada poem and it's all bits and pieces among gurgles and growls. The Jews say that 36 just men keep the world going. Now there are 30 bellies out there, each one holding part of the message, and it's a matter of some urgency that they be found, set next to one another, interviewed by rabbis, put in the right order, deciphered and translated first into Latin, then into English. The Jews don't have a Pope that can certify the message, but we can put it to a vote and then have Joe Lieberman introduce it to the world.

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