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Old 16.01.2008, 17:53   #46
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Sunday, January 13, 2008
************************************************
DISCRIMINATION
***********************************
One reason we find it difficult to come to terms with reality is that our reality is grim. Hence our tendency to take refuge in propaganda, which is as real as a castle in the air. As an Armenian, the hardest thing for me to stomach was the fact that I came from a long line of people whose masters were Turks.
If we like to brag about our celebrities it may be because, unlike us, they were successful in breaking their Ottoman mold and emerging as individuals who did not allow their past to shape their future. In Biblical terms, they ceased being pillars of salt and were born again as human beings.
Nothing can be more misleading than to judge a nation by relying on the words of their politicians. And yet this is what the average Armenian and Turk do. To the average Turk, Armenians are “infidel bastards,” and Turks “the most civilized people on earth.” To the average Armenian, Turks are bloodthirsty savages who will never change their ways as Asiatic barbarians. It is now time that we abandon our respective brands of nationalist fundamentalism and allow the moderates to be heard. Let us follow the world’s example and learn to discriminate Germans from Hitler’s Nazis, and Turks from Talaat’s butchers.
#
Monday, January 14, 2008
*********************************************
A SCI-FI SCENARIO
**************************************
Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that a future pro-Armenian Democratic administration in Washington convinces a moderate Turkish regime in Ankara to accede to all our financial and territorial demands. Will that be the end of the story or the beginning of another dark chapter?
Here is what I suggest will happen: The moderate regime in Ankara will be toppled by a coalition of angry fundamentalists, ultra-nationalists, and displaced Turks and Kurds, and Armenia will become the target of terrorist attacks or even wars on three fronts: Azeris, Kurds, and Turks. In short, Armenia will become another Israel.
That’s not all. To recover the money depleted on reparations, the not-so moderate and definitely not-so pro-Armenian regime in Ankara will tax the Armenians within Turkey, whose life will become so unbearable that they will emigrate to foreign lands – anywhere but Armenia, the source of all their troubles.
Who will come to our aid this time? Who can? Only the Good Lord; and if we adopt the past as our guide, He has at no time shown an inclination to do so.
*
To speak of actions and to ignore their backlash is the very same mistake our revolutionaries made at the turn of the last century. We are brought up to believe we are smart, but I suggest to follow the dictates of our gut and to ignore the warnings of our brain is just about the dumbest thing we can do.
*
Let me conclude this excursion into science fiction with a quotation from Shahan Shahnour, who was born and raised in Istanbul and knew Turks better than all our present-day Turcocentric pundits combined: “We may think of Turks as backward slobs, but make no mistake about that: when it comes to Armenians, they can be very, very calculating and methodical.”
*
There is an old saying: “When dreams come true they turn into nightmares,” and another about answered prayers, which I can’t remember at the moment…
#
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
*********************************************
BETWEEN WAR AND PEACE
********************************************
It may not happen in our lifetime but sooner or later it will happen. No doubt about that. Africa will follow Europe’s example and realize that coexistence leading to union is better than endless internecine conflict, tribal wars, revolutions, counter-revolutions, coups, massacres, and genocide. Closer to home: what about the Middle East? Does anyone think people in the Middle East are so backward, bloodthirsty, fanatical, and irrational that they will opt for endless conflict? And if they do so, who will be the beneficiary? Does anyone think Turks will go on calling Armenians infidel bastards and Armenians will reciprocate by calling them Asiatic barbarians? How much more blood will have to be shed before political leaders in Africa and the Middle East realize that peace is better than war, coexistence and cooperation are more civilized than mutual hostility, and in the long run economic barriers and protectionism protect no one. Next time you think of Turks try to think of them less as past enemies and more as future friends. Think of them too as part Armenian because that’s what in fact they are. Turks and Armenians, Palestinians and Israelis, Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians, and Kurds: they will choose to follow either Europe’s or Africa’s example; and who in his right mind will say the morally superior and more progressive role model is Africa?
*
All wars are blunders. No one wins a war. Consider the recent case of two mighty empires fighting and losing a war against two tribal nonentities – Vietnam in the case of the United States and Afghanistan in the case of the USSR. We like to say the Allies won World War I and World War II, and we would like to forget about the fate of Armenians and Jews. What kind of victory is it when the innocent victims number in the million? This is clearly seen and understood by anyone with the minimum of common sense and decency, except some political leaders and our own ubiquitous Turcocentric pundits.
#
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
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NOTES / COMMENTS
********************************************
“The stranglehold of bureaucracy is becoming unbearable, the battle against corruption has yet to start. The authorities are not doing enough to fight organized crime.” That’s Gorbachev speaking of present conditions in Russia. If any one of our panchoonies (“Mi kich pogh oughargetsek”) were to speak like that, his sources of income would dry up.
*
What does the average Armenian know about our millennial history beside the Genocide? My guess is, the names of a handful of kings, most of whom were not even Armenian, and Vartanants, which, according to some historians, never happened.
*
Common sense and decency are not marketable products because everyone thinks he already has more than enough of both.
*
Truth and politics are mutually exclusive concepts. The closer to the truth a politician gets, the more dupes he alienates.
*
To be consistently positive about Armenians and consistently negative about Turks is the most effective way of undermining our credibility.
#
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Old 19.01.2008, 19:02   #47
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Thursday, January 17, 2008
**********************************************
SMOKE & MIRRORS
***************************************
Nigoghos Sarafian (1905-1973): “Our history is a litany of lamentation, anxiety, horror, and massacre. Also deception and abysmal naivetй mixed with the smoke of incense and the sound of sacred chants.”
*
In the Preface to his ANECDOTA or SECRET HISTORY, the Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesaria (500-565 AD) writes that, by exposing past blunders, historians warn future leaders not to repeat them in the hope their incompetence will never be exposed and their reputation will remain unblemished. If it weren’t for historians, he goes on, we would never have known about “the dissolute career of Semiramis and the frenzy of Sardanapalus and Nero…”
*
Nothing comes more naturally to a blundering leader than to cover up his incompetence and to misrepresent his liabilities as assets, and his military defeats as moral victories. To this type of frauds parading as statesmen, and to their hirelings and dupes, honest observers will be branded as hostile witnesses and even enemy agents to be silenced, ostracized, and persecuted.
*
If you listen carefully to our sermonizers, speechifiers, and dime-a-dozen pundits, you will notice that their central message is always the same, namely, we are in good hands -- our leaders have done nothing wrong – it’s all someone else’s fault – the West betrayed us and the Turks are bloodthirsty savages, thieves, rapists, and liars. Hitler blamed the Jews. We blame the world, after which we expect its sympathy and support.
*
After experiencing centuries of oppression and degradation under ruthless alien despots, we cling to the absurd notion that God is on our side, there is justice in this world, and sooner or later victory will be ours. All we have to do is trust the judgment of our bosses and bishops, and support them by sending “mi kich pogh.”
*
Where there is leadership without accountability there will also be taxation without representation.
#
Friday, January 18, 2008
************ ********* ********* ********* ********
AMOT!
************ ********* ******
“I love mankind,” Baronian once said, “but I hate men.” Born and raised in the Ottoman Empire, Baronian was in an excellent position to know that men are either executioners or victims, masters or slaves (Hegel), exploiters or workers (Marx); and the secret ambition of all underdogs is to be top dogs, exploiters, masters, or executioners. He also knew that when victims cannot victimize their executioners, they victimize one another. Baronian did not live long enough to be victimized by Turks, but he was betrayed to the Turkish police and victimized by his fellow Armenians.
*
We love literature but we hate writers. No, not quite. If truth be told, it’s much worse. We don’t give a damn about writers and what we really hate is free speech. And we hate free speech because it threatens to expose us as potential executioners not of our enemies but fellow Armenians who dare to disagree with us. I speak from experience.
*
Like all nations we have our share of skinheads, philistines, and hooligans, with one difference: they are now our masters. Or, in the words of a wiser man than myself: “Once upon a time we were slaves. We are now slaves of former slaves.”
*
To silence someone whose sole intent is to share his understanding of reality is to choose to be on the side of executioners, assassins, and some of the worst serial killers in the history of mankind – Hitler and Stalin being two recent cases in point.
*
To our hooligans I say: For once, reality is against you because we live on a continent where free speech happens to be a fundamental human right. You have two options: get out or stop reading, or if you can’t give up reading, read only chauvinist crapola, partisan editorials, and our dime-a-dozen Turcocentric pundits. But if you insist on reading me, it may be because deep down somewhere – assuming such depths exist – you find truth irresistible. Either that or you are fed up with your own lies which are not even yours but that of our crиme de la scum parading as our crиme de la crиme.
*
Only people who can’t tell the difference between literature and propaganda assert truth is on their side. Only fanatics who can’t tell the difference between god and the devil dare to assert god is on their side.
#
Saturday, January 19, 2008
***********************************************
WRITERS & POLITICIANS
******************************************
Hagop Baronian (1842-1891): “Truth is a language that if not spoken is forgotten.”
*
Derenik Demirjian (1877-1956): “Every Armenian has another Armenian whom he considers his mortal enemy.”
*
Shahan Shahnour (1904-1974): “For my generation of Armenians, the enemy is not the Turk but us.”
*
The pen is mightier than the sword? Our writers and poets were Talaat's and Stalin’s first victims.
“Writers are the architects of the soul,” one of our bosses once said to me and I believed him, until I read a similar statement by Stalin.
*
We are all born dupes but inevitably we run across another dupe who stands in direct contradiction to us. At which point we wonder: How can anyone be so wrong and so sure of himself? What if he is right and I am wrong? What if we are both wrong? Why would anyone lie to us?
*
We either believe our politicians or our writers. I am not saying all writers speak the truth and all politicians are compulsive and habitual liars. What I am suggesting is that, when it comes to lying, politicians are better at it because they have had more practice.
*
I don’t write against Armenians. I write against charlatans and dupes. Only readers who can’t tell the difference between one and the other accuse me of being anti-Armenian.
*
Shirvanzadeh (Alexander Movsessian: 1858-1935): “The narrow partisan propaganda line that is espoused by our press is the enemy of all literature.”
*
Siamanto (Adom Yerjanian: 1878-1915): “Our perennial enemy – the enemy that will eventually destroy us – is not the Turks but our own complacent superficiality.”
*
Hagop Garabents (Jack Karapetian: 1925-1996): “Once upon a time we fought and shed our blood for freedom. We are now afraid of free speech.”
#
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Old 19.01.2008, 19:14   #48
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CONFESSIONS OF A FAILURE
***********************
***

When I went into this business I thought my readers would like to be analyzed. (After all, Hollywood stars sometimes spend countless hours and millions of dollars on shrinks.) I was wrong. I know now that what my readers want more than anything else is to be flattered and loved. That’s because they are not lovable and they know it. To them literature should be a feel-good enterprise and writers brown-nosers. First nation to accept Christianity. Yes im anoush Hayastani. The eternal snow of Mt. Ararat. The holy waters of Lake Sevan. Khachaturian, Saroyan, Mikoyan. And let’s not forget Krikor Ipekian,Yeghisapet Terzakian, and Hagop Palanjian (Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, and Jack Palance). They can never have enough of these names. They are repeated over and over again like mantras. They represent success and everything else that is good in life. As a child I too was brought up to be proud of them. I was led to believe, if they can make it, so can I. Well, they were wrong and I was wrong too. I didn’t make it. I speak as a failure. You may now ignore everything I have said so far and go to bed with an easy conscience. Mamoulian, Aznavour, Cher.
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Old 23.01.2008, 18:03   #49
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Sunday, January 20, 2008
***********************************************
CROCODILES
*********************************
Readers who disagree with me and engage in verbal abuse are not my enemies. They are enemies of free speech, and enemies of free speech are fascist bullies who have no place in civilized discourse for the simple reason that they are against discourse.
I did not create free speech. Free speech has been around for a long time. So have been its opponents and victims, of course. Greeks, who 2500 years again disagreed with Socrates, also rejected the concept of free speech and dialogue by silencing him permanently. We have come a long way since then. Heidegger, one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, was also a Nazi, and as a Nazi he deserved the hangman’s noose. But he was left alone, probably because Americans, like Armenians, don’t think highly of philosophers because they favor philomorons, like Senator McCarthy, Kennedy’s “best and brightest” of Vietnam fame, Bush and his gang of neo-cons, and televangelists and their “moral majority.” As for Russians, our “Big Brothers”: they are worse. My guess is, Russians have silenced, exiled, and exterminated more intellectuals (including our own) than all other nations combined. Chekhov was right when he predicted that 20th-century Russia would be at the mercy of “crocodiles,” that, unlike their jungle counterparts, would engage in cannibalism.
#
Monday, January 21, 2008
*******************************************
THE LAMENT OF A WRITER
****************************************
“I am ashamed to call myself an Armenian,” Vahй Oshagan is reported to have said when one of his books was given a negative reception in our weeklies. Once upon a time I too identified myself with my fellow Armenians to such an unreasonable degree that I was embarrassed when any one of them behaved badly. I know now that Armenians, all Armenians without exception, are first and foremost individuals before being members of a tribe or nation; and as individuals, they should be judged as individuals. If an Armenian chooses to make an ass of himself in public, so be it, that is his choice, not mine or anyone else’s. If, as an individual he is free, so am I, and I freely choose not to be responsible for his actions.
*
Only dumb people assess themselves as smart, believe in their own assessment, and brag about it. And it doesn’t take much to be a victim. It takes even less to wallow in victimhood. Now then, go ahead and say, I am proud to be an Armenian because I am smart and because I come from a long line of perennial victims who have harmed no one but themselves and one another.
*
Whenever odars are given the opportunity or care enough to judge us, they will do so not by what we say about ourselves but our history; and no matter how you slice it, our history is a sad one, or, to put it more bluntly, it is nothing to brag about. If we have anything to brag about, it is our literature. But who reads Armenian writers these days? Not even Armenians. If Vahй Oshagan were alive today, I would tell him he has nothing to be ashamed of. After all, his book was read and reviewed by a handful of Armenians, which means, he was better off than most of our classics.
#
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
**********************************************
MEMO TO OUR PUNDITS
*************************************
Being popular by writing what the people want to read means pandering to the lowest common denominator, and as such it is to be avoided because it is the surest symptom of unprincipled mediocrity.
*
To speak of massacres is to relive them, and to speak of Turks means to reassert them as our masters even if the assertion is made in a remote corner of our subconscious. Our aim ought to be recovering our humanity and with it our creative impetus, which will allow us to make contributions to the welfare of our fellow men regardless of race, color, and creed. Then and only then we may deserve universal support.
*
Our writers are not our enemies, and yet this is how we have treated them. Being the offspring of victims does not justify us victimizing one another, especially those among us who dare to speak honestly and objectively about our failings. We all sympathize with victims, but if they insist on it day in day out, compassion fatigue may set it and sympathy may turn to annoyance and irritation.
*
To our Turcocentric pundits I say, it is now time that you downsize your Turcocentrism and emphasize Armenianism by writing more about our present problems and contradictions, of which we have more than our share.
#
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
********************************************
HISTORY AS THE PROPHETESS OF TRUTH
& WELLSPRING OF PHILOSOPHY
*********************************************************
Diodorus of Sicily (first century B.C.), Greek historian: “Even the entirely fictitious legend of Hell is a mighty instrument for turning the hearts of men to righteousness and the fear of God. How much greater, therefore, must we conceive to be the potential ennobling influence upon character of History, the prophetess of truth and the wellspring of philosophy?”
*
Nothing stays the same. Suppose in a future post-global warming and post-World War III America the Constitution is amended and the laws of taxation re-written, so that instead of collecting taxes from ethnic minorities, bureaucrats from the IRS visit homes and collect our children – boys for the army, and girls for “comfort,” that is, legalized prostitution. How long before we emigrate? It took us 600 years to get out of the Ottoman Empire and even then we had to be driven out at the point of a yataghan. Our pundits are unanimous in saying Turks are butchers, rapists, thieves, and liars. I wonder, why is it that it took us 600 years to figure that out? If my better-informed readers know the answer to that question, why is it that so far they have kept it to themselves? At least let us have the honesty to admit that we may not be as smart as we think we are, and our greatest deceivers have not been the Great Powers of the West but our own speechifiers and sermonizers parading as statesmen and pundits.
*
Once upon a time we were free. Then we ceased to be free. We forgot what freedom meant. We had to be taught what freedom meant by the West, and we are still learning. Some day we may even begin to appreciate the value and importance of free speech.
*
Samuel Butler (1835-1902), English author: “Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.”
#
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Old 26.01.2008, 19:01   #50
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Thursday, January 24, 2008
************************************************
FROGS
************
Speaking of our revolutionaries, one of our elder statesmen once compared them to “frogs trying to rape an elephant.”
*
Save the nation? Part the Red Sea? Change water to wine? Raise the brain-dead? I leave these things to better men than myself. I write. That’s the only thing I do because that’s what all writers, including our own, have always done. I write to express my thoughts and sentiments as honestly and objectively as I can. Let others do what they will with them.
*
Where honesty and objectivity are equated with self-hatred and betrayal, free speech will be violated in the name of God and Country.
*
To say my country, right or wrong, is less nationalism and more narcissism, and as such, less ideology and more pathology.
*
Our pundits are more interested in settling old scores than in the welfare of the nation. Perhaps because, in Einstein’s words: “The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” Or, frogs cannot solve problems created by elephants.
*
Instead of trying to solve problems created by others, let us begin with problems created by us, such as: respecting one another’s fundamental human right of free speech, engaging in dialogue, and developing a consensus. I wonder why is it that these problems are ignored by our “betters.” Is it because they don’t require any capital investment and no letters that end with their favorite mantra, “mi kich pogh…”
#
Friday, January 25, 2008
*********************************************
DEFINING FASCISM
******************************************************
One reason why I write about our problems is that I don’t know much about Eskimo and Patagonian problems. As for Canadian problems: once, when I dared to say something on the subject, I was told to go back where I came from. That put an abrupt end to my career as a Canadian critic.
*
We are all born fascists. But whenever we confront another fascist unwilling to relinquish his infallibility, we are given a chance to reconsider our political convictions.
*
I once asked a Turcocentric pundit if he had read a single Armenian writers and he said he had not, after which he advised me to write more about Turkish atrocities. I didn’t ask him to define patriotism, but if I had, my guess is he would have said “hatred of Turks,” which may suggest there is more Ottomanism and less Armenianism in his worldview.
*
Bad things happen to good people because when bad people do bad things to bad people, they don’t give a damn about collateral damage. That’s how Turks see the Genocide – as collateral damage, which is something that happens in every war, beginning with Homer’s ILIAD.
*
We have a better chance to reach a consensus with the Turks if we tell them, we understand why they did what they did and we would like them to understand us when we say what they did was not right.
*
Our bosses, bishops, and benefactors are convinced they are saying what must be said and doing what must be done, and they resent usurpers like me who try to muscle in their territory.
*
It would be a mistake to underestimate the power of our hoodlums. They may seem to be a harmless and non-representative minority, but all they need to become a murderous majority is someone like Hitler and Stalin.
*
“Hoodlumism in the name of patriotism,” is as good a definition of fascism as any.
#
Saturday, January 26, 2008
***********************************************
ALIEN TRASH
********************************
You cannot tell people what to think and how to feel. You can only speak of your own thoughts and feelings and all the mud that is flung in your direction by dupes simply because you refuse to subscribe to their lies, which are not even theirs; or, as Zarian puts it: “even their trash is picked up from alien streets.”
*
I cannot adapt. I cannot change colors like a chameleon. Call it an evolutionary failure. My kind may well be headed for extinction. That doesn’t mean I will exit in silence.
*
To how many of my critics (if you will forgive the overstatement) I could say: When I was your age – and it makes no difference if you are nine or ninety – I too pretended to know and understand things that I didn’t, and succeeded only in making an ass of myself.
*
No man can be said to be an authority on his fellow men, let alone himself, because most of our real self is buried in our subconscious. We can only speak of unverified and unverifiable theories and guesses.
*
No need to contradict someone who lives in a world of illusions because reality will be his most effective and persistent contradictor.
#
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Old 31.01.2008, 17:30   #51
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Sunday, January 27, 2008
***********************************************
FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
******************************
It would be useful for all Armenians to be reminded once in a while that we live in a world where wars and massacres are dime-a-dozen routine occurrences.
*
Leaders, all leaders, even the most enlightened and progressive, share in common the conviction that the less the people know the better.
*
Sooner or later every Armenian writer must resign himself to the fact that there isn’t much he can say to readers who know better and have all the answers.
*
We like to say that Jews go out of their way to support their own and that we go out of our way too but only in the opposite direction. But I am suspicious of all ethnic or racial generalizations. In my view, it is a fact of human nature that envious mediocrities will do their utmost to obstruct the path of anyone that threatens to expose their mediocrity.
*
Reason alone is not enough, but reason is all we have in a world where faith, dogma, and subservience -- that is unreason -- are synonymous.
*
Breakdowns occur because we cannot go on deceiving ourselves, others, and least of all, reality.
*
When a man says God is on his side, he is sure to be closer to the Devil.
#
Monday, January 28, 2008
**************************************
ON TURKISH LOVE & ARMENIAN HATRED
*******************************************************
If Turks love me and Armenians hate me (this according to one of my gentle anonymous readers on the Internet) it may be because Turks are not always wrong and Armenians not always right -- especially when it comes to judging their fellow Armenians.
To avoid recognizing the devil in us we demonize others –i.e. we project. In the same way that Jews demonize anti-Semites, and some blacks demonize white men (“White man is the devil”), we demonize not only Turks and the Great Powers of the West, but also anyone who dares not to be on our side. On more than one occasion I have myself been demonized by fellow Armenians simply because I refuse to parrot their favorite brand of propaganda. Hence my skepticism of all blame-games.
Playing the blame-game might as well be synonymous with being infallible, and being infallible means an inability to learn from one’s mistakes, because in order to learn from them one must first admit them.
An addict of the blame-game is a morally bankrupt man because he’d rather lose his reason than give up his addiction.
As for Turks loving me: as far as I know, Turks don’t read me, and if they read me, they don’t comment on what I write. The only Turk who has written me agrees with me that Armeno-Turkish relations will have a better chance to improve on the day extremists on both sides are marginalized thus allowing the moderates the upper hand.
As for Armenians who hate me: I also have a good number of Armenian readers who agree with me, and others who are critical only because I don’t go far enough in my criticism. My comment on Armenians who hate me: their verbal abuse is such that it does not require any comment on my part.
#
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
*******************************************
THE BARBARIANS AMONG US
************************************************
After reading Plato’s dialogues, Shaw’s plays, and countless letters to the editor in foreign newspapers and magazines, I have discovered that every assertion can be contradicted and every generalization questioned without resorting to verbal abuse. Verbal abuse not only detracts from the merit of the argument but also exposes the writer’s character, IQ, and level of upbringing.
*
It is not true that I criticize Armenians, or only Armenians, or all Armenians; I criticize only charlatans and their dupes regardless of nationality – dupes who have dug themselves into a hole so deep that they can no longer see the light of reason.
*
It has been said that suffering is one of the very best ways to learn to know oneself. But I guess, when given the opportunity to learn, some people will choose the bliss of ignorance.
*
The trick in good writing is to convince the reader that you write to express not your own sentiments and thoughts but his.
*
We are not a nation but a mosaic of tribes and products of different environments and cultures. Unless we stress what we share, learn to explain ourselves in a civilized manner, and understand one another – none of which can be achieved by means of insults and verbal abuse – we are doomed.
#
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
********************************************
REASON AND AUTHORITY
**************************************
Theophylactus Simocatta the Egyptian (500-630 A.D.): “By reason, men converge toward one another and advance from the outer surface to the inner mind. Reason has showered innumerable blessings upon men and is an admirable collaborator with nature.”
*
If one is brought up to respect authority, those in authority are brought up to deceive and intimidate. Authority and subservience produce dogmatism, intolerance, and ultimately war and massacre. Is anarchy the answer? No. Skepticism? Yes. Don’t believe everything you are told. Authority is a double-edged sword that speaks with a forked tongue. Its main concern is to legitimize its own power at all cost even if it means the conscious avoidance of truth and the destruction of the world.
*
The best way to achieve immortality is to speak the truth to liars, for liars have the memory of elephants.
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Old 02.02.2008, 17:43   #52
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Thursday, January 31, 2008
********************************************
FRAGMENTS
**************************************
Theophylactus Simocatta the Egyptian (500-630 A.D.) in the preface to his UNIVERSAL HISTORY: “History [is] the universal teacher of mankind, who lays before us what we should attempt and what we should leave alone as being unlikely to succeed. I am resolved to throw myself into her embraces, even though the enterprise be greater than my powers in view of the vulgarity of my style, the imbecility of my ideas, the awkwardness of my phraseology, and the unskilfulness of my composition. If any reader should find here and there a touch of felicity in my narrative, he must attribute it to chance, for most certainly it will not be due to the competence of the writer.”
*
The only morally superior Armenian I can name with any degree of certainty is Naregatsi and he represents himself as the most corrupt and evil of men. As for the others: the higher they rise, the lower they sink. To our ghazetajis and all dealers in chauvinist crapola, I say: Read Naregatsi’s LAMENTATION from beginning to end and if that does not have any effect on you, declare yourself a dangerous offender and place yourself under constant surveillance.
*
Self-righteous fools and fanatics are more prone to spew venom than moderates and middle-roaders.
*
I am afraid to say this but it must be said: It is not unreasonable to speculate that the constant harping on Turks in our press and internet forums, and the proliferation of massacre books and videos runs the risk of being classified as hate paraphernalia.
#
Friday, February 01, 2008
********************************************
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS
*********************************************
On the day a belief system is established, it begins to degenerate. A religion or an ideology may not lobotomize or moronize its converts but it takes them a step away from their individuality by depersonalizing them. That may explain why the inevitable movement in all institutions, organizations, and mass movements is towards the lowest common denominator. Christianity resulted in religious wars, the persecution of heretics, and serial child molesters; Islam in suicidal fanatics slaughtering innocent civilians; Marxism in commissars and the cold-blooded murder of millions; and nationalism in genocides.
Jesus and Mohammad were not historians, but Marx was. Hence his declaration: “I am not a Marxist.” Had Jesus known about the future abuses of Christianity, my guess is he would have given up preaching for carpentry.
To say my brand of ideology or orthodoxy is better than yours or someone else’s, raises the question: Has anyone ever said the opposite? Namely, My orthodoxy is polluted, my religion is second rate, my ideology is not the best, or my belief system is of an inferior brand? To believe also means to believe that one’s belief system is la crиme de la crиme even when it is la crиme de la scum. Hence the phenomenon of skinheads, fascist thugs, and nationalist hooligans.
And now a question: if our nationalists engage in hooliganism against their own kind, what are they capable of doing to an unfriendly, alien, and defenseless minority in their midst when the law is on their side? Answer that question honestly and you may have a better insight into the Turkish mindset during World War I when the whole world was against them and when their own existence was in peril. I said “Turkish mindset.” I should have said “human nature,” and even better, “yourself.”
#
Saturday, February 02, 2008
***********************************************
HOW TO WRITE HISTORY
************************************
Lucian of Samosata (125-200 A.D.): “My own ideal historian is fearless, incorruptible, high-minded and a frank exponent of the truth. The impartiality of his judgment will not be affected by sympathy or antipathy, good feeling or sentiment, shame or shyness. He will do his best for all his characters so far as he can do it without favoring one at the expense of another. He will be a law unto himself acknowledging no allegiances. He will not stop to consider what A or B will think, but will state the facts.”
*
Something is bound to go wrong in everyone’s life. A great many things have gone wrong in mine. The temptation to blame it one others has been overwhelming. But I am now old enough and objective enough to see that my contribution to my misfortunes has been infinitely greater than the combined hostility of all my adversaries of whom I have had my share, perhaps even more than my share.
*
Mother Teresa, “the saint of the gutter,” is a proof of the fact that you don’t have to be a believer to be a saint. Likewise, you don’t have to be wise to see the truth. All you need is a touch of humility, honesty, and objectivity.
*
A victim may be as deficient in grasping reality as his victimizer.
*
After defining themselves as good Armenians, some of my readers call me a bad Armenian, and worse, anti-Armenian. I am nothing of the kind. I am not even anti-Turkish. I want to be friends with everybody, and some day I may even acquire Turkish friends. As for acquiring Armenian friends: that may prove to be a more demanding enterprise.
#
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Old 06.02.2008, 17:19   #53
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Sunday, February 03, 2008
****************************************
REFLECTIONS
*******************************
When told non-violence is for cowards, Gandhi replied: “I prefer violence to cowardice. A coward has no right to call himself a member of the human race.”
*
A nation whose rulers are ignorant philistines, both ignorance and philistinism will be the norm and anyone who refuses to conform will be an enemy of the people – not an enemy of ignorance and philistinism, but a traitor to the cause.
*
There are honest men and there are liars, and i prefer an honest Turk to a lying Armenian.
*
In his efforts to assert his Armenianism, one of our nationalist leaders claimed to have traced his ancestry all the way back to the Mamikonians (Chinese) -- or was it the Bagratunis (Jews)?
*
“There is no such thing as a Turk,” a Turkish friend once informed me. “We have all been bastardized and mongrelized. We are all the offspring of mixed marriages that go back hundreds of years. There is a Greek, an Armenian, a Jew, a Kurd, and an Albanian in all of us.”
*
In the Armenian ghetto where I was born and raised there was a blond barber called Alaman (German in Turkish) and a greengrocer named Kurdoghlanian (Son of a Kurd). They were accepted as Armenians and no one questioned their pedigree, perhaps because everybody was too busy trying to survive in an alien environment to care about such impure concepts as “pure blood.”
*
No matter how hard they try, they will never convince me that honesty and objectivity are anti-Armenian, or that the statement “All men are brothers” is pro-Turkish.
*
To brainwashed dupes who question my Armenianism on the grounds that I am critical of fellow Armenians, I ask: If I speak the truth and in doing so I expose liars, am I good or bad? After long centuries of living in fear, aren’t you tired of lies? Why should truth be a source of dread? What if in treating an honest Armenian as if he were a Turk, you succeed only in exposing your Ottomanism?
*
A historian is not judged by the degree of his patriotism, nationalism, loyalty or subersvience to a power structure, but by his honesty and impartiality. For more on this subject see Michael Grant’s GREEK AND ROMAN HISTORIANS: INFORMATION AND MISINFORMATION (London, 1995).
#
Monday, February 04, 2008
***********************************************
RANDOM THOUGHTS
***********************************
If you speak the truth to liars, they will call you a liar. What else can they do? If you are an honest man among crooks, they will call you a crook. That’s their only line of defense and they will take it for all it’s worth.
*
To deprogram someone against his will can be a formidable undertaking and it doesn’t always work. The alternative – to hope that he will deprogram himself – may take years and sometimes decades, depending on a number of variables which are not worth going into. The fact remains that because we are all products of a cultural milieu with its own specific and clearly defined educational system and dominant ideas, we cannot claim to be who we are in the same way that a wooden table of chair can no longer claim to be a tree in a virgin forest.
*
Crooks and liars are relatively easy to deal with because they are aware of who they are and they feel vulnerable to exposure. Dupes who have been brainwashed to believe they are honest men are infinitely harder to deal with because the lies they recycle are not theirs but someone else’s. This fact makes them invulnerable to reason because there exists between them and reality an impenetrable wall of illusions, and nothing comes more naturally to us than to confuse illusions with reality. Consider what happened to us at the turn of the last century when our revolutionaries thought the Great Powers cared for us. And consider what happens to us today whenever a political candidate, for obvious reasons of his/her own, promises to recognize the Genocide.
*
It is said, investigative reporters are the eyes and ears of a nation. Where are our investigative reporters? Do we have them? Did we ever have them? Why is it that we have dozens of papers but not a single investigative reporter? Are we afraid of what they will uncover?
*
Turks worry me less than the Turk within us.
#
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
********************************************
TURCOPHOBIA
**************************************
Dionysius of Halicarnassus (first century B.C.), in THE ANCIENT HISTORY OF ROME: “The majority of the Hellenic public have been misled by the false view that founders of Rome were uncivilized vagrants and outlaws who were not even freeborn; and that the secret of Rome’s gradual advance in world dominion has not been her righteousness or her fear of God or any moral quality, but some blind, mechanical and immoral operation of Fortune, who has bestowed her greatest gifts upon her most unprofitable servants, and the lowest of savages…It is my hope that the discovery of the truth may induce a proper appreciation of Rome, unless they are her fanatical and irreconcilable enemies.”
*
Istanbul is not Rome, granted; but neither is Armenia the Garden of Eden.
*
A reader born and raised in Turkey tells me, “Turks can be very nasty if you ever dare to say anything remotely critical about them in their presence.”
Are we different?
“Maybe not, but they massacred us, we didn’t massacre them.”
According to impartial witnesses whenever we had the upper hand, we did to them what they did to us.
“They massacred two million; how many did we massacre, two thousand or two hundred?”
That doesn’t make us more civilized or morally superior. To say otherwise is to confuse military inferiority with moral superiority. You cannot live under a ruthless master for six hundred years without assimilating part of his ruthlessness. Neither can you say to a man, “I want to be friends with you but only on condition that you admit to being a cold-blooded murderer, a thief, a liar, and a bloodthirsty barbarian who should have stayed in Mongolia and never ventured westward where you will never be accepted as a member of a civilized community.” But if you do, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t respond with expressions of gratitude and joy.
*
Do you want to know why sooner or later Hitler’s name props up in Armenian arguments? The following easy-to-remember formula may be as good an explanation as any:
nationalism + antiSemitism + anti-intellectualism = fascism.
#
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
*************************************************
OUR BETTERS OR OUR WORST?
**************************************************
Since time immemorial man has known that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” And yet, the only enterprise in which our leaders have been consistently successful throughout our millennial existence has been in dividing us and in keeping us divided.
Our writers have called them “useless” (Zarian) and “brainless” (Issahakian), and if you think they overstated their case, you should hear what they (our leaders) call one another.
Once, many years ago, when I published an interview with a Tashnak leader, which dealt not with politics or history but with childhood reminiscences and the personalities that had shaped his character and worldview, a Ramgavar leader published an attack so nasty that I was left speechless. This may explain the gutter mentality of some of my brainwashed partisan critics.
*
When things didn’t work out for them, the Bagratunis moved to Georgia, and from Georgia to Russia. When our revolution in the Ottoman Empire failed, our revolutionaries abandoned the people at the mercy of butchers and kept themselves busy by writing long-winded memoirs. They had a Plan B for themselves but only a Plan A for the people.
*
They flatter us by bragging about our survival in an environment where many others perished. They are right: “they” survived all right while countless others did not. They survived to what end and for what purpose? To divide us, of course, and to make sure we stay divided. That’s because that is the only undertaking in which they excel – after all, they had millennia of practice in which to refine and master the technique.
*
Are they our betters or our worst? I will let you answer that question in the hope you will come up with the right answer not because you are smart (I will let them use the maneuver of treating you like fools after flattering you to believe you are just about the smartest people on earth) but because I trust you are capable of using your common sense, which, it has been said, is the least common of all faculties.
#


"Intellect is invisible to the man who has none."
Arthur Schopenhauer
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Old 09.02.2008, 17:46   #54
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Thursday, February 07, 2008
*********************************************
THE UNMENTIONABLE IN PURSUIT
OF THE UNEATABLE
***************************************************
If I am to believe my critics, I am a self-hating narcissist. To which I can only say, “No comment.”
*
One can master the demanding discipline of suffering fools gladly only with the help of the Good Lord. Which is why this particular discipline is less accessible to agnostics and atheists.
*
We all labor under the inflexible law of demand and supply, and the demand these days is for flattering and chauvinist crapola. That’s why everybody speaks about Turkish criminal conduct and no one even dares to mention our “brainless” and “useless” leadership. And because I stress that aspect of our history and status quo, I have become persona non grata and I am called a self-hating s.o.b. with illusions of grandeur, one of which is that I think of myself as a writer. If I am not a writer, why bother reading me in a world that is abundant in unread masters, including our own? Instead of reading our great writers, they read massacre books, which reinforce their image of themselves as perennial victims, after which they wallow in self-pity.
*
Two of the dangers of Turcocentrism is (one) allowing ourselves to be defined by our enemies, and (two) offering them a rent-free permanent residence in our psyche -- which also means allowing them to carry on re-creating us in their own image. Hence the ubiquitous presence of anonymous borodakhos and anpardavan srigas in our internet discussion forums whose idea of criticism is slinging mud hoping some of it will stick, and when none of it even hits the intended target, they keep slinging hoping they will have better luck next time – just like our revolutionaries, who, after repeated massacres, refused to reconsider their tactics, in the same way that now they refuse to acknowledge any responsibility. Learning from our blunders? No time for that. We are too busy trying to educate our enemies who have made it abundantly clear they do not intend to be educated by their former slaves.
#
Friday, February 08, 2008
*********************************************
ON ARMENIAN ANTI-ARMENIANISM
***************************************************
Krikor Zohrab (1861-1915): “Oppression corrupts everything it touches, even the highest moral virtues.”
*
Derenik Demirjian (1877-1956): “Every Armenian has another Armenian whom he considers his mortal enemy.”
*
Lucretius (98-55 B.C.): “Differences among men, which reason is unable to expel, are so exceedingly slight that there is nothing to hinder us from living a life worthy of gods.”
*
The anti-Armenian Armenian is as real as the anti-Semitic Jew; but whereas the anti-Semitic Jew is an exception, an anomaly, and an aberration, the anti-Armenian Armenian is the rule.
The anti-Armenian Armenian is against any Armenian who does not subscribe to his definition of Armenianism – a definition that is as authoritarian, inflexible, dogmatic, and narrow as himself. In his view, abstractions like tolerance, free speech, fundamental human rights, dialogue, compromise, consensus, and solidarity are degenerate Western concepts whose sole intent is the destruction of the nation; and when he speaks of the nation or nationalism, what he really means is his tribe and tribalism. Fully aware of this collective complex, our leaders have done their utmost to exploit it to their advantage and in defense of their tribal powers and privileges.
Left to their own devices, people do not divide themselves. Divisions are introduced and legitimized by leaders for the simple reason that the average Armenian has no interest in subtle ideological and theological theories. He is too busy trying to survive in an alien, and sometimes even hostile and despotic environment to waste any time on metaphysics.
The Turks have a law (article 301) that says it is a crime to insult Turkishness. We don’t have such a law not because we are more civilized or progressive but because every Armenian is a prosecutor with his own article 301, and if anyone dares to violate it, he runs the risk of being buried beneath an avalanche of verbal abuse. I speak from experience.
#
Saturday, February 09, 2008
**********************************************
A WRITER AND HIS READERS
*****************************************************
If I understand some of my readers correctly, the function of a writer is to know and understand his readers in order that he may better pander to their needs. If his readers are prejudiced, he should legitimize their prejudices. If his readers hate Turks, he should say they love everybody, they only want justice. A writer who fails to cover up or justify his readers’ failings and limitations ceases being a writer and becomes – in the words of these readers -- a fool and an s.o.b.
I am flattered. I am read by readers so smart that compared to them I am a fool. I must therefore conclude that, if they continue to read me, I must have a special gift, a gift that all writers dream to have, namely, that of being irresistible. Which amounts to saying I am on my way to achieving immortality.
#
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Old 13.02.2008, 17:38   #55
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Sunday, February 10, 2008
**********************************************
MEDITATIONS
**************************************
Nothing comes easier to an Armenian than to overestimate himself to the same degree that he underestimates his fellow men. Hence the familiar phenomenon of the inbred moron who assesses himself as a genius.
*
You may think you know more about yourself than anyone else, but the truth is, what you know is so biased that it might as well be devoid of all value.
*
Sometimes you are judged less by what you know, what you can do, or who you are, and more by your underarm deodorant.
*
The aim of propaganda is to mislead and deceive not the enemy but ourselves.
*
Patriotism is invariably connected to militarism, and the end of militarism is the slaughter of the enemy – in the name of self-defense, of course.
*
It’s when you think you can do no wrong that you commit your greatest blunders.
#
Monday, February 11, 2008
*********************************************
TURKISHNESS & ARMENISHNESS
***************************************************
A nearby university town plans to build a 75-foot tall tower proclaiming its “intelligence.” In a letter to the editor I read the following comment: “If we go ahead with this foolishness, most thoughtful people will regard our city as a bunch of idiots.” I agree. Nothing can be as idiotic as bragging about how smart we are.
*
In the Ottoman Empire our daughters were forced into harems. Today they are driven into prostitution, as our sanctimonious benefactors spend millions building churches and museums, which are nothing but monuments proclaiming their greed, wealth, big egos, and arrogance rivaling that of sultans.
*
That some of my readers hate me (and they never lose an opportunity to say so) I know. What I don’t know is whether they hate me more than they hate Turks.
*
The more I deal with Armenians the better I understand Turks.
*
To use love of country as a license with which to hate fellow countrymen is thought of not as a perversion and a liability but as a virtue and an asset called patriotism.
*
We are united by hatred of the enemy but divided by hatred of one another. You may now guess which hatred is more damaging to the nation.
*
The ugly Armenian is convinced that Armenishness is superior to Turkishness.
*
Our second greatest tragedy, which we don’t even mention, is the fact that they had 600 years during which to successfully re-create us in their own image.
#
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
**********************************************
PARADOXES AND CONTRADICTIONS
*******************************************************
In his NATURAL HISTORY, Pliny writes, “Not even for God are all things possible – for He cannot commit suicide.” Maybe not, but He can walk out on us, as He has done on more than one occasion. The question we should ask is: What if we gave Him more than one good reason to do so?
*
The Armenian paradox: we don’t support one another but we demand the support of the world.
*
With us, friendship is a sometime thing. Whenever I make an Armenian friend, I think of him as a future enemy and I am seldom disappointed.
*
After deceiving himself, he deceives others with a clear conscience.
*
We have been so thoroughly tribalized that sometimes the distance between two Armenians is as great as the distance between an Armenian and a Turk.
*
Whatever understanding I have acquired of Turks it has been through my fellow Armenians.
*
Armeno-Turkish friendship will be possible only on the day Armeno-Armenian friendship becomes a reality.
#
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
***********************************************
PROBLEMS
*****************************
As soon as you solve a problem you are faced with another. That’s life – an endless succession of problems the last of which no one can solve.
*
A good story cannot be the whole story, and a happy ending is only a beginning.
*
Dupes can be easily manipulated to think they are too smart to be duped.
*
I don’t write for Armenians as an Armenian. I write as a human being for fellow human beings.
*
Academics write in a jargon-ridden turgid prose because they don’t want to be read and “understood” by laymen. Criticism by fellow academics is bad enough. What’s unbearable is verbal abuse by idiots.
*
Studies show that getting involved in Armenian affairs can be as hazardous to your health as smoking four packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day.
#
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Old 16.02.2008, 18:03   #56
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Thursday, February 14, 2008
*****************************************
CLICHÉS
****************************
The starving Armenian writer is as much a cliché among us as “the starving Armenian” was to the world during World War I. On more than one occasion my anonymous detractors, whom I suspect to be either bishops or sons of bishops, have accused me of living on welfare. It is an undeniable fact that in a barbarian environment writers either starve or have no choice but to depend on the charity of swine. But in a civilized society writers enjoy the support of the state by means of literary prizes, grants, royalties, public lending rights, and copyright laws, which means, whenever a book is borrowed from a public library or even a single page is xeroxed, a writer gets his cut. To my detractors I therefore say: I may write for barbarians like you but I live in Canada, which happens to be a civilized country. I say this for another reason, namely, to let boys and girls with literary ambitions know that there is life before death even for Armenian writers, provided of course they avoid living and working among philistines with a forked tongue who praise writers only after they are safely dead and buried.
*
Once, when I addressed one of my persistent and anonymous critics as “Your Eminence,” he was never heard from again.
*
Even when not bishops, my detractors share with them two important features: dogmatism and infallibility.
*
A definition of dogmatism: “50% wishful thinking and 50% dishonesty.”
#
Friday, February 15, 2008
*********************************************
THE REAL STORY
**************************************
We speak about our genocide in order to avoid speaking about a greater tragedy: our leadership.
*
When it comes to writing and reading, I prefer the stench of reality to the perfume of imagination.
*
Even the smartest man on earth is no match for “the cunning of Reality” (Hegel) with an infinite number of tricks and traps up its sleeve.
*
Changing water into wine – that’s nothing. The fact that water exists is the real miracle.
*
After saying something, have you ever wondered why you said it? What that means is that our words spring from a source that is beyond our understanding.
*
The beauty of free speech is that it allows a fool to make a bigger fool of himself.
*
They tell me I am consistently negative. What nonsense! To write is to hope. I will stop writing only on the day I give up all hope.
*
To those who demand solutions, I say: History provides us with an infinite number of precedents and solutions; and by history I don’t mean the history of nationalist historians. Nationalist historians are to real historians what Inspector Clouseau is to Sherlock Holmes.
#
Saturday, February 16, 2008
********************************************
THE WRONG SORT OF PEOPLE
***********************************
Jon Wynne Tyson: “The wrong sort of people are always in power because they would not be in power if they were not the wrong sort of people.”
*
Nothing can be more naïve than to say, since someone’s words, ideas, or actions are motivated by patriotism, they must be good; and nothing can be more infantile to the point of being idiotic than to confuse dissent with treason. Against how many innocent men has the charge of treason been leveled by the likes of Hitler and Stalin?
*
Because I try to be objective, they tell me I am motivated by self-loathing. It is true, I am not particularly fond of myself. To those of the opposite disposition, I say: No honeymoon under heaven is endless. Let’s talk when your honeymoon with yourself is over.
*
I am reminded of our revolutionaries in the Ottoman Empire and their ideals and dreams. Their infatuation with themselves and the righteousness of their cause was such that they had a Plan B only for themselves. They made the same mistake Hitler did, with one difference. At the end of the story, Hitler committed suicide.
*
Charlatans come in groups because there are so many of them.
#
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Old 20.02.2008, 17:40   #57
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Sunday, February 17, 2008
*********************************************
MEMO:
TO OUR TURCOCENTRIC PUNDITS
************************************
If you treat them as enemies, you should not be surprised if they behave as enemies. One way to define diplomacy is to say that it consists in treating an adversary as if he were a future ally. History provides us with many instances of past enemies who are now the best of friends. Another point worth emphasizing: it is a tragedy not an unsettled score. To treat it as if it were an unsettled score is to make of it a political football game. But perhaps before we teach ourselves to treat them as potential friends, we should learn to treat one another, if not as brothers, than at least, as human beings, who like all human beings may not always see eye to eye with us. Am I making too many unreasonable demands on you? If so, then please accept my heartfelt apologies.
*
FURTHER READING
*************************************
The literature on the subject is vast to the point of being limitless. If you are interested, I suggest you begin with the Gospels. I am not suggesting taking the Gospels literally and loving them. What I am suggesting is that we treat them less as once bloodthirsty Asiatic barbarians always bloodthirsty Asiatic barbarians, but as fallible human beings with their own share of blind spots, prejudices, and failings, always keeping in mind that very probably half of them may well be half-Armenian.
#
Monday, February 18, 2008
*******************************************
HONESTY
***************************
Most of my readers are smarter than I am. If they were as honest, they would be far ahead of me.
*
Events in history are like the final paragraphs in mystery novels, or like plants with very deep roots. We planted the seed of our genocide on the day we surrendered our destiny into the hands of the Sultan.
*
I once heard David Suzuki, a well-known Canadian dissident, identify himself as a “****-disturber.” Writes Carlos Fuentes, a prolific Mexican writer and diplomat: “You can only live by sticking your neck out, dirtying your fingers, exposing yourself.” I prefer the Canadian’s version of the story.
*
When it comes to belief systems, objectivity may be difficult, even impossible to achieve. But honesty is not. An honest Christian or Muslim will have to concede that his religion has been a mixed blessing and, for countless innocent victims, an unmitigated curse.
#
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
*****************************************
HOMELAND & DIASPORA
***********************************************
According to foreign observers, there is freedom of the press in Armenia. If true, that means our brothers in the Homeland have been more successful in de-Stalinizing themselves than we in the Diaspora have been in de-Ottomanizing ourselves.
*
Why should I, or anyone else for that matter, be on the side of a victim whose secret ambition is to be a victimizer?
*
An important part of life consists in being assessed by individuals who have assessed themselves as competent judges.
*
One good thing about alienation is that it allows one to be more objective.
*
Education allows the educated classes to acquire more ways to mislead and deceive the uneducated.
*
To be a nationalist in the Diaspora amounts to living where the money is and saying your heart is on Mt. Ararat. The true definition of homeland is not where your ancestors were born but where you are allowed to work and provide for your family.
#
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
*********************************************
STRAIGHT TALK
*****************************
If you think my approach to Armenian issues is blunt and undiplomatic – too much vinegar and not enough honey – it may be because my target is not the general reader but myself. Once upon a time, when I was young, I too thought like a dupe, spoke like a moron, and behaved like a prick. I know now that you cannot expose double-talk with a forked tongue. Diplomacy doesn’t work with white men with black hearts.
And speaking of straight talk: I just read a brief memoir of an Armenian writer by her son who says his mother contracted cancer and died because her readers made her life a misery. Nothing further, your Honor.


"Intellect is invisible to the man who has none."
Arthur Schopenhauer
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Old 23.02.2008, 17:42   #58
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Thursday, February 21, 2008
********************************************
GETTING WISDOM
***********************************
If your aim is the acquisition of wisdom, real time-tested wisdom, rely on popular sayings by Anonymous, the greatest philosopher of all time.
“Don’t believe everything you are told.” “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers.” “Believe what you see, ignore what you hear.” “Drumbeats sound better from a distance.” “Don’t stir the pot too much, you may expose the manure.” “Some people will say and do anything for money.”
Cases in point: During the Soviet era, a highly respected Armenian academic taught “scientific atheism” in Yerevan. But when the Kremlin collapsed, he immigrated to America, saw the light, was born again, and is now making a comfortable living as a professor of theology.
After being paid a goodly sum by the Gulbenkian Foundation, a British academic and notorious drunkard, wrote a lavishly illustrated book titled ARMENIA: CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION.
When another one of our brilliant academics, whose education and political career were subsidized by one of our political parties, was made a more attractive offer by the opposition, he promptly switched loyalties.
Moral: Our “betters” may well be our worst.
If you find all this depressing, remember, “Better to sob with the wise than to laugh with fools.”
#
Friday, February 22, 2008
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ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM IN ARMENIAN LIFE
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In his REPUBLIC, Plato writes that in an anti-intellectual environment, a philosopher cannot but be like “a man who has fallen among wild beasts, who is unwilling to share in their misdeeds and is unable to hold out singly against their savagery.”
*
Our bishops represent the Almighty, our benefactors represent another Almighty, and our bosses represent their respective little mafias. Who represents the people? The voice of the people continues to be an absent factor in our collective existence.
*
Albanians are ahead of us. They are now willing to concede that they allowed themselves to be manipulated and moronized by a petty dictator like Enver Hoxa because he was successful in convincing them they were just about the smartest people on earth. (For more on this subject, see Paul Theroux’s THE PILLARS OF HERCULES.)
Something similar happened to Germans under Hitler: by convincing them they belong to a superior race, Hitler was successful in making them behave like swine. Mussolini, Stalin, and Mao – the secret of their success was flattering the masses by brainwashing them to believe a glorious destiny awaits them.
*
What happened to our intellectuals? Even after Talaat and Stalin slaughtered two generations of our ablest writers, we had giants like Shahnour, Zarian, Oshagan, and Massikian. We don’t even have midgets today. And why? The answer is obvious. Consider the way we treated Zarian. Insulted, abused, and ignored in America, he was lured behind the Iron Curtain with promises none of which were kept. Shahnour was forced to write in French in order to survive as a ward of the State. Oshagan spent an important part of his life flattering idiots. And when Massikian offered to give away his books free of charge, there were no takers.
*
Somewhere Antranik Zaroukian writes: “Even as they speak of crucifixion, they nail us to the cross.” And by “they” he didn’t mean the people, but their “betters” and their gangs of dupes, who, even as they praise dead writers, they bury living ones.
#
Saturday, February 23, 2008
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BITCHING
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What have we learned from our genocide? “All you do is bitch,” a Turcocentric ghazetaji tells me. “Isn’t that what you do too?” I wanted to know. He replied with an insult. End of discourse.
*
“After reading four or five of your posts, I can guess what you are going to say next,” a reader informs me. “Why bitch, if you can stop reading me?” I am tempted to ask. Instead I say: “Sorry to be a source of disappointment to you, my good friend.” Perhaps from now on I should append the following lines after everything I post: “If not perfectly satisfied, your money will be cheerfully refunded.”
*
We see the best in ourselves and the worst in others. Or perhaps what we really do is project the worst in us on others, and it makes no difference who the other is – a Turk, an Armenian, or, like Sultan Abdulhamid II, a half-Armenian. If only we could see the worst in ourselves and the best in others! Am I bitching again?
#
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Old 27.02.2008, 17:32   #59
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Default as i see it

Sunday, February 24, 2008
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A PROBLEM EXPOSED
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A clearly stated problem has a better chance to be solved than one that is covered up, ignored, or explained and justified as an integral part of the human condition, like death and taxes. Perhaps one reason we have so far failed to solve our problems is that we consider them to be so complex that they might as well be insoluble, when all we need to solve them is a touch of honesty, such as a more or less independent judiciary. I am not talking here about total honesty, which in a political context may well be a utopian daydream, but only a touch or even a willingness to move in that direction. What is so complex to the point of being insoluble about an independent judiciary? Have all honest Armenians been systematically eliminated by Stalin and his neo-Stalinist and crypto-Stalinist successors? These gentlemen are neither invisible nor grey eminences working behind the scenes. Their names and the names of their victims are not buried in inaccessible archives written in invisible ink. They are familiar figures to the natives. Let’s talk to them. Let’s publish their stories. Let’s expose the crooks instead of allowing them to make headlines in our diasporan press as if they were statesmen or servants of the people. And if so far we have failed to do that, is it because they enjoy the full support of our equally corrupt and incompetent diasporan leadership? What else? And if we can’t take care of our own backyard, how can we ever hope to clean up the mess in Yerevan?
#
Monday, February 25, 2008
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THE ROAD TO HELL
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It is not easy for a human being to kill another human being, but much easier if one of them hangs a label on the other. Labels are useful because they reduce, simplify, and dehumanize. Facing an enemy (a useful label) you don’t feel the need to think of him as a fellow human being or someone’s son, husband, brother, friend, or even uncle or neighbor. If it weren’t for labels, nations would not declare war on other nations, religious leaders would lose an important fraction of their powers and privileges, and prejudices would be exposed for what they really are -- extensions of ignorance. Labels are good for the few (the men at the top) but bad for the overwhelming majority. The road to hell is paved with labels.
#
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
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DUPES
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Pro-establishment arguments travel with the speed of light, become common currency, and are repeated ad nauseam. By contrast, anti-establishment arguments are immediately buried, ignored, and forgotten. An example of pro-establishment argument: It may take two or three generations before our brothers in the Homeland are de-Sovietized. Examples of anti-establishment arguments: Avedik Issahakian’s reference to our leaders as “brainless” and Zarian’s as “useless” -- and more precisely: “Our political parties have been of no political use to us. Their greatest enemy is free speech.”
The absence of free speech may explain why our pro-establishment bias has become a permanent condition. When the establishment controls the press, the podium, and the altar, the result will be a brainwashed community that will behave like sheep even when the sheepdogs behave like ravenous wolves.
Where everyone thinks alike, no one thinks. And when our panchoonies say “mi kich pogh oughargetsek,” they will never add, “to support the status quo, that is to say, number one,” but “to help the needy.”
As for those who ascribe our present condition to factors beyond our control, I ask: Why should war, earthquake, and the collapse of a morally and politically bankrupt regime promote profiteering, corruption, incompetence, lies, and cannibalism? When Zarian said, “Armenians survive by cannibalizing one another,” he did not have in mind hard-working stiffs who survive by cheating and exploiting no one, but our sermonizers, speechifiers, and holier-than-thou parasites, charlatans, and blood****ers.
A final note on free speech: If Armenianism (whatever the hell that means, because as far as I know, so far no one has bothered to define it)…if, I say, Armenianism cannot be reconciled with human rights, then it is time that we consign it to the dustbin of history.
#
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
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AN ARMENIAN PROPHET
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The only way to survive during the Soviet era was to be critical of the world but not the commissars and everyone connected with them. We don’t have commissars in the Diaspora. What we have instead are bosses, bishops, and benefactors – a holy trinity as untouchable as Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Hence our academics and dime-a-dozen Turcocentric ghazetajis whose number two concern is Turks -- number one being number one. As for the welfare of the nation: Nothing could be further from their thoughts. That’s as good a definition of Armenianism as any. And if you think what I am saying is new or unpatriotic, listen to Raffi: “Every man for himself: that’s the prevalent mentality among us. As long as I can take care of myself, why should I give a damn about anyone else?”(English translation: “I’m all right, Jack!”)
Here is Raffi again, in a prophetic message to our academics and ghazetajis: “What’s done is done. What we must do now is assess the damage and figure out how to avoid the next catastrophe.”
And here is Raffi again on our leadership: “We are like sheep without a shepherd…We have no leaders. What we have are merchants and clergymen. Merchants are trash. As for the clergy: they have always been against individual freedom.”
*
Shaw once said that he had solved all of mankind’s problems but people went on speaking about their impenetrable complexities. To those who speak about the complexities of our problems, I say, “Read Raffi!”
*
What to do about our problems? You have a number of options: (one) Shut up about them; (two) pretend they don’t exist; (three) blame them on everyone else but our leadership; and (four) speak of massacres.
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Old 01.03.2008, 18:07   #60
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Default as i see it / march 1, 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008
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AGHBER
***********************
There are Armenians who think they are better Armenians because they speak, read, and write in Armenian. They may speak nonsense, read only ghazetajis, and write b.s., but they feel fully qualified and authorized to rate themselves as superior types. Others rate their patriotism by the number of times they have visited the Homeland or the amount of money they have invested there (not always for altruistic reasons); still others because they are members of this or that political party, congregation, or club.
One of the most repellent aspects of Armenianism is the very ease with which some Armenians rate themselves as better. Ours is an environment in which even garbage-mouth skinheads assert superiority.
Only arrogant fools assess themselves as better and expect to be believed.
I have never visited Armenia. I am told if I ever do, the natives will call me “aghber,” meaning brother. The fact that aghber also means trash in Armenian may well be a pure coincidence, of course, but being a skeptic, I am not always disposed to believe everything I am told.
Speaking of patriotism: Charents is one of our greatest patriotic poets, and his “Yes im anoush Hayastani” (To my sweet Armenia) is one of his most beloved poems. Even children of five are taught to learn and recite it by heart. All this is well known. What is less well known is that Charents was driven to commit suicide in a Yerevan jail by banging his head against the wall. In addition to being a great poet, Charents may also have been an alcoholic, a drug addict, a womanizer, and an attempted murderer. Socrates and Christ were none of these things. But in the eyes of their morally superior fellow countrymen they were judged to be criminals guilty of capital offenses. I mention this to point out the fact that some of the worst crimes in the history of mankind were committed by self-righteous, holier-than-thou superior scum.
What about me? Am I a good Armenian? Am I even an Armenian? I don’t know and I no longer care to know. Trying to be an honest man among crooks and charlatans keeps me so busy and requires so much effort that I have no other ambition in life.
#
Friday, February 29, 2008
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ON A FAMILIAR MISCONCEPTION
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Sometimes we forget that as products of authoritarian -- sometimes even brutally despotic – regimes, we are predisposed to view all criticism as negative, unnecessary, and dangerous. Hence the frequently leveled charge against me that I am too tough on my fellow Armenians, which of course is not just a lie but also a Big Lie. If I am tough, it’s not against my fellow Armenians but only against our non-representative leaders and their dupes, which happen to be a minority for the simple reason that the overwhelming majority of Armenians are non-partisan, anti-partisan, alienated, and either assimilated or on their way there. Not to be critical would amount to adding hypocrisy to our previous list of failings by pretending to be we are in good hands and perhaps even we never had it so good.
If you still think I am unfair to Armenians, I suggest you read Tolstoy on Russians, Mann on Germans, Sartre on his fellow Frenchmen, Raffi, Odian, Zarian, and Massikian on Armenians, and Naregatsi on himself. Here is another explanation as to why I am perceived as negative to the point of being anti-Armenian: We are all brought up to believe our leaders are our masters. But that is a misconception that our leaders have done their utmost to perpetuate. It is therefore up to us to remind them that far from being our masters they are our servants and they are there not to be feared or respected but to serve our interests. If we cannot do that, then we deserve to behave like sheep, and like sheep to be occasionally butchered.
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Saturday, March 01, 2008
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AGHBER (ii)
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Where there is prejudice there will also be a power structure that either legitimizes it or ignores it.
*
I don’t write to entertain. I write to understand and explain reality, especially when reality is against us.
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Nothing astonishes me more than the ease with which an Armenian thinks he is smarter or better informed than his fellow Armenian.
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If you think you are smart, you will be disposed to think of others as less smart even when they are smarter than you.
*
Most Armenians respect bosses, bishops, and benefactors much more than intellectuals, poets, and academics. As for our academics, writers, vodanavorjis and ghazetajis: they do their utmost to deserve their contempt.
*
Frederick the Great once described a nation as “a beast with many tongues and many eyes,” and he is generally recognized as an enlightened king. He counted among his friends J.S. Bach and Voltaire, who, as far as I know, neither knew nor cared about each other. As for Frederick the Great: he loved music and literature, but he loved war and conquest even more.
*
Whenever I am told Armenians were the first nation to convert to Christianity, I am reminded of the saying, “A converted cannibal is one who, on Friday, eats only fishermen” (Emily Lotney).
*
To those who complain that I repeat myself, I have a suggestion. Read me only once a week, or even better, once a month. And if that doesn’t work, make it once a year. If you still catch me repeating myself, let me know and your money will be cheerfully refunded.
#
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