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Old 05.03.2008, 17:15   #61
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Sunday, March 02, 2008
******************************************
OBAMA
*******************
He reminds me of Raymond Chandler’s line, “The room was as dark as the prospects of an honest politician.” If, unlike the Kennedys, he survives, I suspect he will accomplish very little because he and his followers underestimate the power of the establishment to obstruct populist reforms. Those in power, Hegel tells us, will give it up only after “a bloody struggle,” and, one could add, they will never give it up to a ventriloquist’s puppet. Too much exposure does not seem to work in his favor, perhaps because he has no depth, or if he has depth, he knows how to conceal it. He comes across as a one-dimensional do-gooder who knows all the right verbal moves, which make him predictable and ultimately boring. If I were Hillary, I would let him speechify himself to oblivion.
*
GUEDIGUIAN
********************************
A French journalist by the name of Isabelle Daniel has published a book titled CONVERSATIONS AVEC ROBERT GUEDIGUIAN (196 pages, 19 Euros), which LE POINT (Paris, January 31, 2008) describes as of great interest “from the first to the last page.” In the same issue of LE POINT I read the following quotation by a minor celebrity: “My father told me, some day you will fall in love with a woman and you will give her all that you have. Afterwards you will divorce her and give her half of everything else.”
*
KARAJAN
**************************
In a new biography of maestro Herbert von Karajan (from the Greek Karayannis, literally Blackjohn) we are informed that from 1933 to 1945 he was a card-carrying Nazi but that his wife was Jewish and Hitler detested him. While in Italy I remember to have been told the following anecdote. When after a concert at La Scala representatives of the Armenian community of Milan went backstage to shake his hand and tell him how proud they were of his success, he had no choice but to point out the fact that he was not one of them.
#
Monday, March 03, 2008
*****************************************
ARMENIANISM AS PATHOLOGY
**************************************************
If to be human and to be Armenian is not a contradiction, it follows neither is patriotism and fundamental human rights. And yet, whenever I write about Armenians, I feel the need to remind myself and my readers that it is not as an Armenian that I write, but as a human being.
*
Free speech: did we ever have it? Do we have it today in America? Have you ever met a partisan willing to concede our partisan press is not free?
A headline in our local paper this morning reads: “Suspicious vote spurs violence in Armenia.” In the final paragraph we are informed: “The state of emergency decree imposes severe restrictions, including banning all mass gatherings and ordering the news media reports on domestic political matters include only official information.”
So what else is new? Under Levon’s regime, I remember, an editor from Yerevan telling me his office had been vandalized and his reporters beaten up by thugs.
*
In one of his books, Granian says non-partisan Armenians are to blame for all our problems because they refuse to get involved in community affairs. When in my review I pointed out that we had more reasons to blame our partisans because they had been successful only in one endeavor, namely creating, legitimizing, and subsidizing divisions, he called to inform me that I had misunderstood…he had not meant…what he really had meant…and so on. But I knew better. I had heard that cliché line about contemptible chezoks before, many times.
*
Nothing could be more unpatriotic than to assume that as Armenians, it is our duty to cover up our failings or to pretend they don’t exist. To assert superiority, to speak with a forked tongue, to adopt a holier than thou stance, to violate a fellow Armenian’s fundamental human rights… all these things and more may be said to be an integral part of our pathological identity. Listen to Stepan Voskanian (1825-1901): “For thirty-five years I did not write a single word in Armenian. I was treated so shabbily by my fellow Armenians that I could not help hating everything that I held dear as a young man; and since I was starved by my own countrymen, I had to write in French in order to survive.” Elsewhere: “The position of an Armenian critic is very precarious these days. How is he to discharge his duties? If he speaks the truth, he is dismissed as an enemy. If he uses his common sense and says what he thinks to be right, he is rejected as a hostile witness.”
*
And now, Simon Vratsian (1882-1969): “All our religious, political and cultural institutions share a single aim, the survival of the nation. If the nation perishes, neither Etchmiadzin nor Antelias, not even God in His heaven, can be of any help to us.”
How many of our present leaders have had the honesty to say as much?
*
Finally, a detail that so far I neglected to mention. After World War II, repatriated women were also addressed as aghber by the natives. But being called aghber was the least of their problems. They were also bullied and intimidated. So much so that they would warn visitors from abroad not to complain or say anything remotely critical not only in the presence of officials and strangers but also in the privacy of their own homes and in the presence of members of their own families who happened to be native-born. I am not adopting a holier-than-thou stance. I am only suggesting to call some Armenians swine would be an insult to pigs.
*
Am I wrong? If I am, ascribe it to human fallibility. I have at no time paraded as an infallible judge. If only the infallible were allowed to speak, the voice of the Pope of Rome would be the only one that is heard in our environment.
#
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
********************************************
ON BELIEF SYSTEMS
***********************************
How do you convince a believer that what he believes in is false? That’s easy. It can’t be done. Don’t even try. It will be a waste of time. No amount of philosophical arguments or documentary evidence or eyewitness accounts will make him change his mind. That’s because Homo sapiens has a brain that is quintessentially brainwashable, which is worse than saying he is brainless. That’s why Genghis Khan, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had more followers than dissidents.
*
During the Soviet era some very smart people in the West, including famous philosophers like Sartre, denied the existence of gulags. It was all a fabrication of the filthy bourgeoisie, they said. I remember, when I first published a critical commentary on Levon’s regime, I lost a friend who happened to be a historian. If our historians cannot learn from history, what can we hope for from our laymen?
*
Consider a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew and their conviction that theirs is the only true religion for which they are willing to kill and die. It never even occurs to them that it was not they or their religious leaders who chose their religion for them but the fact that they were born and raised on this or that side of a mountain or river.
I am not advocating the abolition of all religions or belief systems. What I am saying is that they should be private affairs. The moment they get organized they become dangerous if only because they assert superiority and legitimize intolerance.
*
When a nation is divided into two hostile groups, most people will be driven to take sides. Very few will dare to say “A plague on both your houses!” And why? Because that would be unpatriotic. It follows as night follows day, civil wars are the sincerest expression of one’s love of God and Country.
*
There is nothing wrong with patriotism provided you keep in mind your enemy too has been brainwashed to believe there is nothing wrong in killing you in the name of God and Country.
#
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
*********************************************
HOOLIGANISM IN THOUGHT AND ACTION
********************************************************
Only naïve souls with an unrealistic view of political leaders and their dupes are shocked over recent developments in Armenia. Speaking for myself, I shall resist the temptation of repeating two of the most hateful (to me) clichés in the English languages: “I told you so,” and “Let that be a lesson to you.”
*
In his book ON MURDER, Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) tells us, the trouble with murderers is that sooner or later they will think little of being late for their appointments. Likewise, the trouble with people who treat their fellow men like trash is that sooner or later they will think little of calling them trash.
*
People don’t judge you by how much you know but by how useful you can be to them, even if the service you provide is flattering their ego by pretending they know better.
*
I am beginning to suspect our genocide has become a favorite subject with us because it is a clearly defined black-and-white story that reinforces our self-assessed moral superiority. What kind of moral superiority is it that allows us to stab one another in the back even when we are not provoked, unless you consider questions like “How dare you expose my prejudices, or question the wisdom of my limitations, or the caliber of my Armenianism (which may well be disguised Ottomanism, Bolshevism, or hooliganism)” as provocations.
#
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Old 08.03.2008, 17:35   #62
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Thursday, March 06, 2008
******************************************
ON POPULARITY
*************************************
Once upon a time I was popular. Everything I wrote was translated and published in a dozen papers in Canada, the United States, and the Middle East; and I wrote what was expected of me so well that even our bosses, bishops, and benefactors wanted to hire me. That’s when I knew I was on the wrong path. Popularity in our context is the kiss of death.
*
The most widely exploited commodity is not labor but ignorance.
*
It should be obvious by now that our problems will not be solved by our politicians for the simple reason that our politicians are our problems.
*
I will be more than happy to be on the side of our ideologues and believers if someone explains to me which one of their dogmas justifies the division, dismemberment, and the ruin of the nation.
*
Nothing comes easier to a loser than to brainwash himself into believing that on a higher plane or in a different dimension he is a winner and those who portray themselves as winners are swine.
*
We may sympathizers with failures and losers but not when they are in denial of their condition.
#
Friday, March 07, 2008
***************************************
READING
****************************
In THE JOURNAL OF JOYCE CAROL OATES: 1973-1982 (New York, 2007) I read: “The power of literature to shatter one’s peace of mind…” She means of course her peace of mind. I doubt very much if most people are capable of having their peace shattered by ideas. When it comes to literature, philistines are like the tone deaf with music and the blind with art. Speaking of music: I like her taste in music – Chopin, Verdi’s REQUIEM, Cesar Franck’s organ works. Her chitchat on her contemporaries (Updike, Susan Sontag, and Cheever, among others) is less illuminating. She writes a great deal about her own works with which I am only marginally familiar. Among the Armenians she mentions (but only in passing) are Saroyan, Arlen, and Nona Balakian.
*
Also reading NATIVE SON by Richard Wright (1940) and READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN by Azar Nafisi (2003). The common theme in both works: the way a state uses the majesty of the law to humiliate, bully, brutalize, and dehumanize its own citizens. What a book one could write on justice in the service of injustice.
*
PARIS MATCH (February 20, 2008) concludes its review of CONVERSATIONS AVEC ROBERT GUEDIGUIAN by Isabelle Danel with the words, “a must for cinephiles, apprentice directors, and moviegoers alike, this book should sell millions of copies.”
*
Poets and intellectuals are generally thought of as dreamers, even mental masturbators. In a commentary in our paper today, titled “American ‘dreamers’ blundered into war,” the ‘dreamers and fantasists’ are identified as Dick Cheyney, Donald Rumsfeld, Bush and their gang of neocons.
*
George Herbert: “Do well and right, and let the world sink.”
#
Saturday, March 08, 2008
******************************************
YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW
**************************************************
Fascists come in all sizes and shapes. There are even genocide and denialist fascists willing to kill and die for their cause. I suspect these fascists will be satisfied only if their counterparts are annihilated. But if for every Armenian fascist there are at least two, perhaps even twenty-two in the opposite camp, it is not unreasonable to imagine which side may experience another genocide or be collateral damage in a future Middle-East war.
*
According to Hegel, the real is reasonable, which means, if something happens there must be good reasons why it happened. It is up to us to understand these reasons. Now tell me, which part of the above scenario you didn’t understand.
*
Two things to remember: (a) We cannot apply yesterday’s solutions to today's problems; and (b) “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
#
****************************************************************************
BOOK REVIEW
***********************
Conversation with Ara Baliozian.
World Literature Today, March, 1998 by Zeytountsian, Stephan
********************************************************************
Nazeli Baghdasarian. Kitchener, Ont. Impressions. 1998. 95 pages. Can$9.95. ISBN 0-920553-24-9. As the title suggests, Nazeli Baghdasarian's book consists of a lengthy interview with the prolific Armenian writer and critic Ara Baliozian. Baghdasarian is a native of Racine, Wisconsin, with an academic background as a university librarian, having worked at both the Arizona State and Fresno State libraries.

Far from being a heavy-duty esoteric dialogue, Conversation is a cozy and intimate chat between two unpretentious people. Baghdasarian's questions are fundamental in nature and are ...
Read the rest of this article with a Free Trial at HighBeam Research.
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Old 12.03.2008, 16:42   #63
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Sunday, March 09, 2008
********************************************
MEGALOMANIA
********************************
When, following the collapse of the regime, the Soviets opened their archives to scholars, it was revealed that Maxim Gorky, the darling of the commissars, did not die of natural causes. For more details, see THE MURDER OF MAXIM GORKY: A SECRET EXECUTION by Arkady Vaksberg (New York, 2007). Vaksberg quotes profusely from Gorky’s private correspondence in which his loathing for Lenin, Stalin, and their gang of Bolsheviks is made abundantly clear (see below). The most frequently mentioned Armenian here is Nina Berberova, whose ITALICS ARE MINE is one of the most outstanding memoirs of the 20th century.
There is no doubt now that even as they went about murdering their (as well as our) greatest writers, the Soviets portrayed themselves as patrons of the arts and lovers of literature. And we are no different. The only reason our bosses and bishops pretend to support literature is to cover up their philistinism. As for our benefactors: their greatest source of esthetic enjoyment is the bottom line. Raffi was right when he said, “Profit is their only homeland.”
Two typical passages from Gorky’s correspondence follow:
“Lenin is not an omnipotent magician, but a cold-blooded conspirator, who has no pity for either the honor or the life of the proletariat. The workers must not allow adventurers and madmen to heap upon the head of the proletariat disgraceful, senseless and bloody crimes, which not Lenin but the proletariat itself will pay for.”
“Having imagined themselves to be Napoleons of socialism, the Leninists rant and rave, completing the destruction of Russia – the Russian people will pay for this with oceans of blood.”
If there is an inflexible law in history it is this: Where the men at the top are “adventurers,” “madmen,” and “Napoleons,” oceans of blood is bound to flow; and as long as these megalomaniacs remain in power, they will continue to portray themselves as heroes, idealists, and statesmen of vision whose sole aim in life is to defend and protect the interests of the people; and needless to add, the majority of the people will believe them.
#
Monday, March 10, 2008
****************************************
GOD SAVE THE ARMENIANS
****************************************************
I doubt if anyone else can.
*
Armenians who have all the answers (and there are very few who don’t) call me an idiot and a liar, even a Turk in disguise. It is beyond me why these paragons of Armenianism waste their time reading me when they can share their answers with the rest of us – unless of course these answers are inanities that so far not only have they failed to solve a single problem but they have also promoted the kind of mindset that sees nothing unpatriotic or morally questionable in treating fellow human beings not as potential friends but as confirmed present and future enemies.
*
Perhaps I have not been lucky in my readers. The civilized ones don’t read me because they have long been alienated by the barbarians. As for the barbarians…but I shouldn’t complain; if it weren’t for them, I would now be busy boring the hell out of you by writing about glorious sunsets and the eternal snows of Mt. Ararat.
*
The difference between our Turcocentric pundits and me is that they try to civilize the Turks and I try to civilize the Turk within us. Only time will tell who has the more difficult task.
*
Since most Armenians and Turks are only part-Armenian and part Turk, the chances are most of them assert their national identity on very flimsy grounds. Some Turks may even be more Armenian than Turk, and vice versa. Nationalism is a political theory. It has no basis in biology. If a Turk and Armenian hate each other unto death, it is due less to their identity or DNA and more to their killer instinct, which does not recognize national barriers. Think of Cain and Abel. Think of civil wars and revolutions. Think of our internecine conflicts and irreconcilable differences. Think of our willingness to cling to any propaganda line that legitimizes mutual intolerance and contempt. Think of March 1.
#
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
********************************************
A DEADLY COMBINATION
****************************************
Millions went up in smoke on March 1. More millions ended in the wrong pockets. Corruption is inevitable. So is stupidity. What’s deadly is their combination.
*
After our kleptocrats alienate and drive out the able-bodied, they will be left with the old and the sick; and when the enemy threatens to invade the land, they will run away with their loot and live happily ever after in Monaco or Rio.
*
What we need is a redefinition of patriotism. How to reconcile love of God and Country with support of crooks and vandals?
*
An English philosopher once said that even the most selfish man harbors altruistic drives. But as an Englishman, he was talking about his fellow Englishmen, who have never been slaves, or so they sing in “Rule Britannia.” It’s different with us. Once upon a time we were slaves. We are now slaves of former slaves. Why is it that this detail is covered up by our historians and philosophers? Do we have them?
*
Fiction: a genre of writing employed by novelists, short-story writers, nationalist historians, and ghazetajis.
*
Life: a succession of imaginary victories and real defeats.
#
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
************************************************
MEMO TO K.
******************************************
People don’t riot for no reason at all. If you expect us to believe what happened on March 1 was vandalism by hooligans, then we have no choice but to conclude that you have become a dupe of your own propaganda, and that you live and operate in a world of illusions and lies. Far more astute observers than myself have called your regime “a mafia democracy.”
Armenians have endured long centuries of brutal oppression and more recently they have suffered a long litany of wars, massacres, starvation, and earthquake. They can take moderate amounts of abuses of power and corruption. What they cannot take is greed and stupidity with no end in sight. And if you expect them to die in defense of their homeland, don’t be surprised if they are also willing to risk their own lives in defense of their homes. You may have the police on your side today but to rely too much on them may succeed only in postponing the final catastrophe, because in the next riot, they may join the rioters.
#
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Old 15.03.2008, 16:58   #64
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Thursday, March 13, 2008
************************************************
FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
***************************************
One can always say the majority is on my side in a community where the majority is either silent or alienated.
*
Nationalist history is to history what military music is to music.
*
Being critical of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors is like conducting a war on three fronts. I don’t have a chance.
*
A popular Armenian writer is first and foremost a cover-up artist.
*
Two occurrences that convinced me to take myself seriously: (one) a long letter by one of our eminent academics to an odar editor saying I am unreliable, untrustworthy, and uninformed; and (two) a unanimous decision by our editors to reject everything I write.
*
Men of power prefer slimy brown-nosers to honest men. In the words of Julius Caesar: “If bandits and cut-throats support me, I will call them friends.”
*
OVERHEARD
*****************************
What’s the difference between an Armenian wedding and an Armenian funeral? One less loudmouth.
*
“After my grandfather was beheaded by the Turks, he made me promise to hate them until I die.”
*
Asked if he experiences shortness of breath when he exercises, the 82-year old John Mortimer, who loves his morning drink and cigar, is quoted as having said: “How should I know? I never exercise.”
#
Friday, March 14, 2008
******************************************
REFLECTIONS ON PROPAGANDA
AND THE PRESENT SITUATION IN THE HOMELAND
*************************************************************
When it comes to someone else’s propaganda, we have 20/20 vision; but when it comes to our own, we pretend to be deaf, blind, and stupid.
*
What an insider knows and what the average citizen thinks he knows may be as different as black and white. Why are we surprised if the average Turk does not know as much as Pamuk and Akcam do?
*
Propaganda: when insiders conspire to manipulate the people with lies.
*
We all know that Gomidas Vartabed was a saintly musician who, as far as is known, never harmed a soul. How many of us know that he operated in a hostile environment in both Etchmiadzin and Istanbul, and that the very same individuals who should have supported him, did their utmost to obstruct his path? Was his breakdown, from which he never recovered, a sudden reaction to the massacres or the last straw that broke the camel’s back?
*
We are brought up to be proud of ourselves even when – or is it, especially when –we have little or nothing to brag about. In that respect, animals are superior to men. You will never hear spiders and scorpions bragging about surviving dinosaurs and saber-toothed tigers.
*
A writer must be prepared to disappoint his readers. The more readers he disappoints the closer to the truth he gets. The alternative is pandering to their narcissism.
*
When you don’t agree with a self-assessed smart Armenian, he will call you a fool, an idiot, and worse: an anti-Armenian and a pro-Turkish denialist s.o.b. I speak from experience. If your opponents call you an s.o.b. and make it abundantly clear that you will make them happy on the day you drop dead, you can be sure of one thing: you have hit paydirt.
*
If you can’t come to terms with angels, you may have to deal with devils. One could say that we were victimized in the Ottoman Empire because we ignored the warnings of Raffi, Baronian, Odian, and Voskanian.
*
If Churchill were alive today, he would sum up the present situation in the Homeland thus: “Kocharian is riding a tiger, and the tiger is getting hungry.”
*
A headline in our paper today reads: “A danger to Canadian democracy: Prime minister’s concentration of power could lead to abuses, Gomery says.” We don’t have that problem because “Armenian democracy” might as well be an oxymoron.
#
Saturday, March 15, 2008
********************************************
ON RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
************************************************
What we have been witnessing since March 1 is nothing short of a mass conversion. Everyone it seems is for democracy, free speech, and honest elections (did we ever have one in the Diaspora?)
*
I remember a very brief conversation I once had with one of our bosses, who had expressed his affection for me because I had written about the double-talk of a rival boss. Asked why he supported a corrupt leader like Levon Corleone (first o with an umlaut), he replied: “If we don’t support him, he will not let us help the people.” “You mean he is so evil that he would rather see his people suffer and starve rather than…” I should have guessed. He didn’t let me finish. He lost his composure and said something to the effect that he thought this was going to be a friendly chat rather than a third degree.
*
As for our dime-a-dozen Turcocentric pundits: they have suddenly discovered they have more than one set of barbarians to deal with.
*
As far as I know, no one wants to have anyone’s human rights violated, but everyone comes up with excellent reasons why sometimes it is necessary…in the name of patriotism…in the interest of the people…for the sake of certain noble principles…and so on and so forth. Translated into everyday parlance, all these circumlocutions stand for one thing: in our environment, the ego is king.
*
Top dogs, underdogs, corruption, stupidity, greed, subservience, propaganda, riots…they are what they are regardless of nationality, and they are to be found everywhere. If you accept this simple fact and keep it in mind, a great many incomprehensible things become comprehensible. As for patriotism: it’s amazing the amount of crap that is dished out in its name.
*
As recent events in Lhasa may suggest, even Buddhists, who believe the world is an illusion, riot, and their rioting is no illusion.
#
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Old 19.03.2008, 16:41   #65
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Sunday, March 16, 2008
*************************************************
CHOICES
*****************************
Since the beginning of time, men have tried to understand and explain reality. To that end they have created systems of thought and belief that attempt to do the job. But since these systems contradict one another, none of them enjoys universal acceptance. As a result, not only do we have believers and heretics, but also bad believers and good heretics, and an infinite number of shades of gray.
*
A good Christian is one who accepts misfortunes as punishment for his sins. A committed idealist is one who views his defeats as results of his failure to live up to his principles. A good historian is one who analyzes the past objectively and honestly without allowing a belief system or ideology to contaminate his perception of reality. Are we or have we ever been good Christians or idealists? Do we have honest and objective historians? Can a good Christian live among bad Muslims and vice versa?
*
One of our right-wing (i.e. pro-establishment and partisan) pundits recently concluded a commentary with the words, “Armenians are their own worst enemies.” If we assume that to be an irrefutable fact or historic reality, the only answer – or rather, the beginning of a tentative answer – is, if as Armenians we cannot love one another, let us at least make an effort to hate less. If we can do that, we may have a remote chance to qualify as human beings. If we can’t do that, we shall have no choice but to conclude “mart bidi ch’ellank.”
#
Monday, March 17, 2008
******************************************
NOTES / COMMENTS
***************************************************
To prove that we enjoy complete freedom of the press in the Diaspora, a dedicated member of the Party once said to me: “None of my articles has ever been rejected or modified in any way.”
*
Our political parties don’t need members who have acquired the skill to think for themselves; they need robots whose favorite words are “Yes, sir!”
*
Only thoroughly brainwashed and moronized Armenians think they are smart.
*
When a good cause falls into the hands of perverts, it turns into a curse.
*
While we mourn our victims, we should also mourn our judgment, for it too was massacred.
*
If you get emotionally involved in an argument, you will be at a disadvantage because the gut cannot compete with the brain.
*
It is only when you think you are smart enough to fool others that you expose yourself as a fool.
*
Dogs and cats are treated better in America than the Untouchables in India. Our dissidents are our Untouchables.
*
A front-page headline in our paper this morning reads: “Dalai Lama appeals to the world for help in Tibet.” Who speaks for Armenians?
#
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
*********************************************
LINES
***************************
A good patriot is one who cannot admit that the actions of his enemies may also be motivated by patriotism. To those who say, patriotism does not justify the massacre of innocent civilians, I say, neither should it justify violating anyone’s fundamental human right of free speech. And I dare any one of our partisan papers to print these lines.
*
Where there is talk of denialism, anti-Armenianism, treason, and betrayal, can a lynch mob be far behind?
*
Readers who are pro-bull****ism call me anti-Armenian, which may suggest that some of them cannot tell the difference between Armenianism and b.s.
*
If your parents, schoolteachers, and parish priest dealt with your education (some would call it indoctrination), I am afraid you need professional help because I do not feel qualified to de-program you.
*
Some of my readers qualify as good Armenians only on the grounds that their “tongue is sharper than a Turk’s yataghan” (Zarian), and they are more than willing “to survive by cannibalizing one another" (ditto).
#
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
*************************************
ON CONTROVERSIES
**************************
Where there are controversies, there will also be individuals on both sides who know the truth but who prefer not to share their knowledge. Their aim is not consensus but never-ending conflict.
*
When Turks and Armenians paint themselves all white and their adversaries all black, odars may be justified in suspecting that both sides are guilty of misrepresentation.
*
Armenians who love to quote Saroyan’s pro-Armenian statements should be reminded that he also said he felt sorry for the Turks; and when Armenians adopted Palestinians as their role models and engaged in acts of terrorism and assassination, he (Saroyan) was at a loss and could not understand why his fellow Armenians behaved that way. Perhaps one reason Saroyan loved Armenians, or so he said, was that he neither knew nor understood them completely.
*
In our culture smart wheeler-dealers rate above honest men. That is unfortunate because more often than not the smart in step one become dumb in step two, perhaps because there is a natural tendency in all smart people to overestimate themselves to the same degree that they underestimate their adversaries.
*
Where there is a big mouth, there will also be a small brain.
#
ARA BALIOZIAN
PERTINENTES IMPERTINENCES
traduit de l'anglais par Mireille Besnilian, Dalita Roger, Denis Donikian
************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ******
Vient de paraоtre pour la premiиre fois en franзais un choix d’aphorismes d’Ara Baliozian le mal-aimй. Traduites de l’anglais par Mireille Besnilian, Dalita Roger et Denis Donikian, ces « Pertinentes impertinences » font aujourd’hui l’objet d’un magnifique recueil publiй par la maison d’йdition Actual Art d’Erevan en Armйnie, dont le maоtre d’œuvre est Mkrtich Matevossian.
Mйconnu, sinon mйprisй, mais tout autant laurйat de nombreux prix pour une œuvre qui touche aussi bien а la fiction, au thйвtre, а la poйsie qu'а la critique littйraire et а la traduction, Ara Baliozian est une figure rare d'йcrivain prolifique, talentueux et anti-conformiste qui met sa plume au service de ses convictions. Son franc-parler salutaire en dйrangera plus d'un.
Pour exemples de ce franc-parler : « Le problиme avec les Turcs, c’est qu’ils croient ce que disent leurs hommes politiques. Notre problиme ? Le mкme ». Ou encore : «Une controverse armйnienne est un massacre sans effusion de sang. » Et enfin : «Cela vaut la peine de se rappeler que la ploutocratie et la dйmocratie sont des concepts mutuellement exclusifs ».
Ces extraits sont tirйs du journal qu'Ara Baliozian tient depuis plusieurs annйes et qu'il diffuse а des correspondants du monde entier depuis Kitchener au Canada, gйnйralement sous forme d'aphorismes, par le truchement d'Internet. Ses observations et ses analyses sont celles d'un moraliste iconoclaste qui ne s'en laisse pas conter et qui attaque frontalement les non-dits, les tabous et les prйjugйs de sa culture d'appartenance.
Parions que le bon sens dont il fait preuve mettra le lecteur dans la mкme disposition que celle de William Saroyan disant : « Je lis tout ce qu'Ara Baliozian йcrit, avec fascination et gratitude ».

On peut se procurer le livre en йcrivant а : denisdonikian( at)gmail. com
ISBN : 978-99941-831- 5-9
10 € + 1,50 € pour frais de port.


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Old 22.03.2008, 16:54   #66
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Thursday, March 20, 2008
*********************************************
A SHIP WITHOUT A CAPTAIN
***************************************
By emphasizing some details and ignoring others, one can speak the truth and lie at the same time. Likewise, by combining the letter of one law with the spirit of another, one can pretend to serve justice even when committing unspeakable crimes against humanity.
*
“Why don’t you leave us alone and busy yourself educating your Turkish brethren,” writes a gentle reader. I speak in defense of my brothers, all my brothers, regardless of race, color, and creed. To the fools who tell me to shut up, I dedicate the following lines by Walt Whitman: “Whoever walks a furlong without sympathy / Walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud.”
*
It’s astonishing the amount of crap people will take before they decide enough is enough.
*
The best I can hope to achieve is embarrass the bastards. Is it worth it? I am not sure. It keeps me busy thinking I carry on a tradition that goes back many centuries: that of calling a spade a spade and a baloney artist a jackass.
*
Again and again I am reminded that honey is more effective than vinegar. Yes, by all means. Let’s try the honeyed approach with the Turks for a change, not only because it is more civilized or effective but also because we have wasted vast amounts of vinegar without any tangible results.
*
Speaking of Whitman: when Lincoln was assassinated, he wrote one of his most celebrated poems titled “O Captain! My Captain!” which begins with the line, “O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done,” and ends with the words: “…on the deck my Captain lies, / Fallen cold and dead.”
And I reflect that, at the end of “our fearful trip” what lay “fallen cold and dead” was not our captain (did we have one?) but the nation, which happens to be one of those minor details that have been covered up by our nationalist historians.
#
Friday, March 21, 2008
***********************************************
METAMORPHOSIS
***********************************
The American conservative pundit, William F. Buckley, who died recently, is quoted as having said that Africans will be ready to run their own affairs “when they stop eating each other.” On reading this line, I immediately remembered the old saying, “One Armenian eats one chicken, two Armenians eat two chickens, three Armenians eat each other”; and Zarian’s dictum, “Armenians survive by cannibalizing each other.”
If Africans learn to run their own affairs before we do, no doubt it will be because their former masters and role models were European, unlike ours who were Asiatic.
*
To preach is to confess, because preachers tend to practice the opposite of what they preach.
*
Power seems to radically alter the DNA of most people, which may explain why Armenians with power behave as though they belonged to a different species.
*
I once had the following brief exchange with one of our notorious Turcocentric pundits who has succeeded in elevating Turcocentrism to a pathological monomania:
“You complain too much,” said he.
“Isn’t that what you do too?”
“Who asked you?”
*
No Armenian will ever praise with the same intensity as he reviles.
*
“I am a tolerant man…”
“Live and let live, that’s my philosophy.”
“I love my fellow Armenians, regardless of their political and religious affiliations.”
To describe oneself is to deceive oneself.
*
The ego is an extension of the gut.
#
Saturday, March 22, 2008
******************************************
ADVICE TO A YOUNG WRITER
****************************************************
Work hard. Write every day. Concentrate. Rewrite. Delete more and expand less. Avoid writing at night when your critical faculties are down. But if you are an Armenian, find yourself another line of work.
*
I am not rejected because I am misunderstood. I am rejected because I understand and what I understand is not flattering to our vanity.
*
If you voice opinions that I held twenty or thirty years ago, I will not agree with you because agreeing with you would amount to deleting two or three decades from my life.
*
One problem with brown-nosers is that after spending a lifetime osculating derrieres, they are outraged when the same treatment is denied to them.
*
If you can reconcile belief in God with belief in the honesty of multimillionaire televangelists, you may claim to understand America.
*
Cioran: “Shakespeare: the meeting of a rose with an axe.”
*
Paul Morand: “Unpopular people fascinate me.”
*
Anonymous: “Contentment is better than wealth.”
#
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Old 26.03.2008, 16:35   #67
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Sunday, March 23, 2008
******************************************
RESURRECTION
*******************************
We began our career as a nation as Homo sapiens and eventually evolved (some would say degenerated) into Homo Ottomanicus, Sovieticus, and Americanus, among others subspecies. Our only hope now is to resurrect the Homo sapiens that lies buried deep in our subconscious.
*
In whatever I write my guide is neither nationalism nor patriotism but common sense and decency. More people have died in the name of patriotism than any other word, except perhaps the word God. In our cultural and environmental context moreover, the word patriotism has been abused so ruthlessly that it might as well be synonymous with treason.
*
During the Soviet era, I remember, some of the most venomous letters and phone calls I received were from chic Bolsheviks – wealthy Armenian-Americans who supported the regime in the name of patriotism.
*
The average Armenian is endowed with phenomenal powers of persuasion, but as a rule, these powers work only on himself and his like-minded dupes.
*
In our dealings with Turks, we might as well resign ourselves to the fact that we will never get 100%. But even if we do, it will amount to less than 1% since we cannot resurrect a single victim.
*
The role model of all bullies is God who does not threaten with personal injury but with eternal hellfire.
*
Armenians are united by little except mutual contempt.
#
Monday, March 24, 2008
***********************************************
MYTHS
************************
If you believe what your political leaders tell you, you can’t be very smart. “A man who believes in honest politicians,” is as good a definition of dumb as any you care to mention.
*
Armenians believe to be smart for the same reason that ancient Greeks (one of the smartest and most civilized and progressive people in the history of mankind) believed in their gods. Even after Socrates told them “Of the gods we know nothing,” they went on building magnificent temples to Zeus, the alpha male of their zoo of fornicating gods.
*
The first time I heard someone say Armenians are not smart (he was not an odar but an Armenian-American academic whose judgment and integrity I had no reason to question) my initial reaction was not disbelief but outrage and derision. And even today, many years later, I find it difficult to say Armenians are dumb. If I don’t mind saying it now it may be because I have come to terms with my own limitations, prejudices, and blind spots. Needless to add, what I just said does not apply to those of my fellow Armenians who happen to be without limitations, prejudices, and blind spots.
#
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
*****************************************
WHAT DO POLITICIANS WANT?
***************************************************
It is said of Hitler that he had two favorite subjects: the loyalty of dogs and war.
*
What do politicians want? Power, and power is like money, they can never have enough of it. Politicians need loyal subjects as much as capitalists need workers; and a loyal subject is one who says “Yes, sir!” even when what he is told makes little or no sense.
*
Patriotism is defined as love of God and Country, and love of God and Country has nothing to do with defending the blunders of politicians. And yet, in the minds of naпve dupes, love of God and Country is often equated with loyalty to a regime.
*
After being subservient to a long line of sultans and commissars, some Armenians see nothing wrong in being subservient to their own leaders. But subservience is subservience and it means “submitting one’s intelligence to someone who may not have enough of it himself” (Santa Teresa of Avila).
*
Left to their own devices, people are not disposed to hate their fellow men simply because they live on the other side of a river or mountain, unless of course their political leaders convince them otherwise; and if there is one thing politicians are good at, is promoting and legitimizing prejudice, hatred, and ultimately war in the name of God and Country.
*
Armenians and Turks share a common enemy: their political leadership.
#
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
*********************************************
CRITERIA
******************************
Like most people, I judge a nation not by the number of its speechifiers, sermonizers, and propagandists, or for that matter by the number of its millionaires, multimillionaires, billionaires, and wheeler-dealers; I judge a nation by the number of tongues it cuts out or writers it silences.
*
If one hundred or even a thousand dupes say one thing and a man who has acquired the skill to think for himself says another, who will have more credibility in your eyes?
*
Can a collection of barbarian tribes ever hope to achieve the status of a civilized nation on the grounds that sixteen centuries ago it converted to Christianity or a century ago it experienced genocide?
#
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Old 29.03.2008, 17:12   #68
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Thursday, March 27, 2008
*******************************************
ON PROPAGANDA
**************************
There is no such thing as an original propaganda line. All propaganda is derivative. All propaganda is not only a lie, but also a big lie, and not just a big lie but also a plagiarized lie. If propaganda works it’s because it flatters the ego, and vanity, it has been said, is an omnivorous as well as a ravenous monster. To the humiliated and degraded, propaganda says, “You are God’s chosen people.” To the scum of the earth, it says, “You belong to a superior race.” To the dumb, it says, “You are smart, and maybe even smarter than anyone else!” (“It takes seven Jews to fool an Armenian”). That may explain why our bosses, bishops, and benefactors are more popular than our intellectuals. In their effort to understand and explain reality, intellectuals are more interested in exposing contradictions than in flattering egos – contradictions that exist between the lies of propaganda and reality; contradictions between what our speechifiers and sermonizers tell us (“we are progressive, civilized, and smart”) and the popular phrase “mart bidi ch’ellank!”
#
Friday, March 28, 2008
******************************************
AS I SEE IT
***************************
“To serve is to rule.” All other forms of rule lead to oppression.
*
In the eyes of our leadership, our greatest enemies are neither the Turks nor the Azeris, but the Armenian who thinks for himself.
*
Nothing could be more naïve than to think if you read only Armenian sources, you can form a more or less balanced view of our history, culture, and identity, on the grounds that no one knows and understands Armenians better than an Armenian. My own impression is that when Armenian scholars write or speak publicly about Armenians, they stress only half of what they know and cover up or ignore the other half. But then, this is true not only of Armenians but also of all nations. Americans are known for their pragmatism and energy, Russians for their capacity to suffer, the French for their love of argument, the English for their cool, and the Italians for their excessive love of la dolce vita and bella figura. No nation is known for its love of truth.
*
Freud once said that the aim of analysis is to replace hysterical misery with common unhappiness. If what I say depresses you, it may be because I deal with reality, and our reality is not exactly an invitation to joy.
*
The saying “It takes seven Jews to fool an Armenian,” is to me less a compliment and more an insult, because its hidden message is a warning to all those who contemplate dealing with an Armenian in the marketplace to keep their eyes open or even to count their fingers after shaking hands with an Armenian.
*
Speaking of identity: whenever I identify myself as an Armenian to a fellow Armenian, I immediately sense a note of caution in his body language, as if I were about to make unreasonable demands on him and force him to say, “Sorry, what you are asking me to do is against the law.”
#
Saturday, March 29, 2008
****************************************
THE ROOT OF OUR PROBLEMS
***************************************************
Our ghazetajis, sermonizers, and speechifiers have combined to create an atmosphere in which even the hint of dissent is equated with anti-Armenianism.
*
In the eyes of some readers I seem to have developed a quality peculiarly unattractive in an Armenian, namely, an obstinate, perhaps even an obsessive, need to see not the best but the worst in us.
*
Whenever I am urged to be more positive in my approach to our affairs, I immediately raise the question: To what extent our weakness for the positive has contributed to our status as victims? Consider our genocide as a case in point. To what extent the optimism of our revolutionaries and their blind faith in the verbal commitments of the Great Powers were contributing factors to the final catastrophe? To what extent our blind faith in the Kremlin contributed to our Soviet nightmare? To what extent our own chauvinist crapola (“we are smart, we are progressive, we are civilized”) contributes to our arrogance, dogmatism, intolerance, authoritarianism, divisiveness, fragmentation, and ultimately to our self-inflicted “white massacre”? It seems to me what we need is not a more positive approach to our affairs but the exact opposite.
*
Naregatsi, our Dante and Shakespeare combined, did not see the best but the worst in himself, and by extension, in his fellow men. I suspect our need for optimism, far from being a solution, is at the very root of our problems.
#
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Old 02.04.2008, 17:52   #69
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Sunday, March 30, 2008
****************************************************************
DZOUR NESDINK, SHIDAG KHOSSINK
****************************************************
We like to say that Israel and the U.S. are denialist states because they don’t want to offend a friendly nation in the Middle East, which happens to be a hornet’s nest of hostile tribes that threaten their vital economic interests or survival. What we don’t say is that nations that are on our side may also have unspoken political motives, which have little or nothing to do with what’s right and wrong. What we also hate to admit is that which even a major pro-Armenian historian like Toynbee has said, namely that we were wrong to make territorial claims on Turkey, because if every nation did that, the world would become an unrecognized place and many nations (including Israel and the U.S.) would lose their right to exist. It’s all politics? So what else is new? Was there ever a Golden Age in the history of mankind when nations behaved against their own interests or for purely idealistic reasons? What about our own political parties? If any one of them is righteous, upright, and honorable, why is it that so far it has failed to convince the other parties?
#
Monday, March 31, 2008
***********************************************
SHOUTS AND WHISPERS
*****************************************
How does one humanize the dehumanized, especially if they are in denial of their condition?
*
Armenian problems and their solutions: they have as long a history as Armenian literature. Perhaps I write to save myself and no one else. If I succeed, I may be an example to others. If I fail – and so far I have, like so many of my predecessors – I may be remembered by a handful of readers as a mental masturbator. But then, no one said being an Armenian writer was a win/win proposition.
*
We are brought up to believe speaking of Turkish criminal conduct is a patriotic duty, but exposing our own violations of human rights is treason.
*
Zola wrote only one “J’accuse.” Our Turcocentric ghazetajis write nothing else.
*
Freedom means participation in power. The only freedom we have enjoyed since independence is to respond to Panchoonie’s S.O.S. of “mi kich pogh” in the Diaspora, and in the Homeland, to emigrate and riot.
*
Because the shouts of my predecessors have dwindled to inaudible whispers, I am accused of being shrill.
#
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
*******************************************
IF THE SHOE FITS
*******************************
Since we can’t settle our score with the Turks, we call each other nasty names, preferably from a safe distance and anonymously.
*
Politicians and lawyers share a tendency to make their side look all white and the opposition all black, which may explain why they are the least trusted people on earth. So much so that if you say, a lawyer or a politician told me the sun rises in the east, no one will believe you.
*
To know how to read is not the same as knowing what deserves to be read.
*
To be a commissar in a democracy or a nationalist in America is almost as bad as being a vegetarian among Armenians – meant to say, cannibals.
*
Nothing can be more arrogant than to speak in the name of God, and since arrogance is an attribute of the devil, to speak in the name of God is almost as bad as speaking in the name of the devil.
*
To believe means to believe only one side of the story even when you know there is another side. We believed historic Armenia to be ours. We believed the Great powers were on our side. We believed the Ottoman Empire was about to collapse and disappear. It is now time that we believe our believers less and our dissidents more.
*
Armenians who believe in Mount Ararat and Vartan Mamikonian will believe anything.
#
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
************************************************
NOTES & COMMENTS
**************************************
If you want to understand our past and the manner in which it has shaped our character and identity, read our writers, not our ghazetajis. What you get from our ghazetajis, especially the Turcocentric variant, is not history but political pornography whose aim is not to understand and explain but to propagandize and dehumanize.
*
On more than one occasion I have been described as “controversial.” I reject the label. I maintain what’s controversial is our reality as it is perceived by our sermonizers and speechifiers.
*
Sometimes the very same people we trust most deceive us; which could be rephrased as, because we trust them without reservation, they deceive us.
*
If you don’t understand the lines, don’t try to read between them, because if you do, you may see things that are not there.
*
A question to our editors and Turcocentric ghazetajis: If a member of your family is molested or raped, do you feel the need to speak of molesters and rapists every time you open your mouth? Why do you discuss Turks whenever you put pen to paper? Doesn’t the nation deserve the same degree of consideration as members of your own family?
#
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Old 05.04.2008, 17:51   #70
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Thursday, April 03, 2008
********************************************
FROM THE MEMOIRS OF HERCULES
*************************************************
“Of all my labors, the hardest was separating an Armenian from his prejudices. After trying seven times and failing, I moved to less demanding undertakings, like moving mountains, draining seas, and capping volcanoes.”
*
FROM A RECENT BIOGRAPHY OF ELGAR
**********************************************************
King Edward VII “was one of the more cultivated royals of recent centuries, displaying definite evidence of brain activity.”
*
MEMO
*********************
To the editor who suggested I write longer pieces if I want to be published in his weekly: “As a child I was exposed to countless longwinded sermons and speeches against sin and for patriotism. As an adult, whenever I begin to read a commentary, I seldom last beyond the first paragraph.”
*
MEMO II
*******************************
To a reader who verbally abuses me from a safe distance and anonymously: “You don’t even have the courage and honesty to admit your cowardice, and you expect me to take what you say seriously?”
*
DEFINITION
******************************
Patriotism: “Love of God and Country, not to be confused with love of lies and propaganda.”
#
Friday, April 04, 2008
***********************************************
OF CABBAGES AND KINGS
**************************************
A headline in the SPECTATOR (London, March 2008) reads: “If God proved he existed, I still wouldn’t believe in him.” It seems to me, whenever bad things happen to good people, or the innocent are victimized, or evil triumphs, God (if he exists) is trying to prove to us that he doesn’t exist, or we can’t count on his existence, and that we should conduct our affairs as if he didn’t exist, and that our petitions and prayers will fall on deaf ears.
*
To readers who are afraid that my kind of criticism in an open forum on the Internet may damage our image as a nation, I say: The Tourian assassination in 1933, and more recently, the terrorism of our so-called “freedom fighters,” and the riots of March 1 have done infinitely more harm to our image than all our past, present, and future critics combined if only because none of them so far has made a single headline in the international press. Compared to our kings who parade naked on Main Street, the voiceof our critics is more like the whisper of the kid in the crowd who says they have no clothes on.
#
Saturday, April 05, 2008
******************************************
REFLECTIONS
********************************
We survived 600 years under the sultans. We will be lucky if we survive that long under our own Ottomanized bosses and Stalinized commissars.
*
One can become an addict of lies and propaganda as surely as to nicotine and opium.
*
A true assertion, like a great work of art, paralyzes our critical faculties.
*
In the same way that authority allows one to behave in an irresponsible manner, a high degree of intelligence allows one to blabber like an idiot.
*
You don’t have to go out of your way to make enemies in our environment. All you have to do is state clearly and honestly what you think.
*
One reason we are a failure as a nation is that we refuse to discuss our failings, and when someone dares to mention them, we make him feel as though he were insulting Mount Ararat, shish-kebab, and pilaf.
#
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Old 09.04.2008, 17:55   #71
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Sunday, April 06, 2008
**********************************
DECEPTION
****************************
Nothing fascinates a man more than a woman, provided she is unattainable or she belongs to another man.
*
The war described in the ILIAD by Homer was all about the abduction of a floozy.
*
It is the ambition of every man to be taken seriously. The more ridiculous the man, the greater the ambition. Consider some of the most feared and influential names of the 20th century: Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco – the scum of the earth
*
Renй Descartes on his critics: “Two or three flies,” whose books are good only as “toilet paper.”
*
One should not behave like a fanatic even in one’s opposition to fanaticism.
*
If the Pope is right (and he is never wrong, or so he wants us to believe) shall we then assume all other non-Catholic religious leaders to be usurpers and frauds?
*
The aim of nationalist historians is to unite the nation in its hatred of the enemy.
*
The reason why the 11the Commandment is not “Thou shalt not take anyone seriously,” is that Moses wanted to be taken seriously.
*
According to Freud, Moses was an Egyptian because Moses is an Egyptian name and monotheism an Egyptian concept (see his MOSES AND MONOTHEISM). And according to many Hebrew scholars and rabbis, Freud, like Marx, was an anti-Semite, and Christ was a heretic and a blasphemer.
*
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying there are no honest men. What I am saying is that honest men are as marginalized as criminals.
*
Wittgenstein: “The hardest thing in life is not deceiving oneself.”
#
Monday, April 07, 2008
**********************************************
WITTGENSTEIN, MARX, JESUS, & HITLER
****************************************************
Wittgenstein was one of the most influential philosophers of the last century; and yet he advised his fellow philosophers to give up philosophy. On meeting the greatest literary critic of his time, he is quoted as having said, “Leavis, give up criticism.” Had he been an Armenian, I suspect he would have advised his fellow Armenians to give up Armenianism and be born-again as human beings, on the grounds that their so-called Armenianism is nothing but disguised Ottomanism.
*
If Jesus and Marx had known the way future generations would abuse their teachings, they would have kept silent and we wouldn’t even know they ever existed.
*
It is to be noted that Wittgenstein and Hitler were contemporaries and as boys went to the same school, but neither ever mentioned the other.
*
There is nothing wrong in thinking you have all the answers as long as you are prepared to face the fact that all of them may well be wrong.
*
An Armenian today nurses more wounds inflicted on him by his fellow Armenians than by Turks.
#
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
*************************************
HOW DO WE SURVIVE AS A NATION?
***************************************************
For the unemployed and the poor, questions of national identity might as well be irrelevant. What matters to them more than anything else is a good job. They want to work and provide for their families, and who can blame them? Entire continents today are populated by people who left their homeland and now live a more or less comfortable life in America and Australia. According to recent statistics, most of Europe is now populated by non-Europeans.
How do we survive as a nation?
By creating decent jobs in the Homeland would be one answer. By asking fewer dumb questions whose obvious answers we pretend not to know would be another.
And speaking of dumb questions, here is another one for you: what does the average Armenian-American philistine know about Armenian history and culture beside massacres, shish kebab and pilaf? How do we convince such an Armenian that our music, literature, and art are expressions of our identity and to ignore them is to promote assimilation?
How do we survive as a nation?
By behaving as a nation as opposed to a collection of unruly tribes led by blood****ers and gravediggers whose number one concern is number one.
*
Samuel Johnson: “The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.”
*
Unawareness of one’s failings is an infinitely more dangerous condition than Alzheimer’s.
*
Whenever an angry reader unloads his inner filth on me, I can’t help thinking I must have hit paydirt.
*
Where there is an honest man, there will also be holier-than-thou idiots who will call him an idiot.
#
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
************************************************
COME AGAIN?
********************************
In the March 29 issue of the ARMENIAN REPORTER (page A9) and in a commentary titled “Reflections on the state of contemporary Armenian politics” by Yeprem Mehranian, I read the following random paragraph: “The elemental principles of recursive thinking necessitate that in order to explore the depths of social processes of change we allow the past and the present to reciprocate, and then to use results of this interaction to guide us closer toward the point of comprehending reality.”
I don’t know about you, but speaking for myself, I consider inflicting this kind of prose on an unsuspecting public fully qualifies as a clear-cut case of man’s inhumanity to man. If Armenian readers don’t rise in self-defense against this type of verbal abuse, it may be because they come from a long line of victims and they are more or less reconciled to their status as perennial underdogs.
In the same issue of the REPORTER and on page B5 there is a photo of a man seated at the organ with both hands on the lowest of three manuals. The caption reads: “Maestro Mekanejian tunes the cathedral’s organ in preparation for Holy Week.” Maestro Mekanejian is doing nothing of the kind. What Maestro Mekanejian is doing is practicing. The tuning of an organ is done in a separate room where the pipes are housed.
*
Julius Caesar: “In writing, one should avoid an unfamiliar word as a ship avoids a reef.”
#
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Old 12.04.2008, 18:53   #72
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Thursday, April 10, 2008
*****************************************
RISING FROM THE ASHES
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Just when our philistines begin to rejoice in the knowledge that they have been successful in burying our literature, some damn fool comes along and tells them, “Not so fast, friends!”
When in the midst of a catastrophic defeat, John Paul Jones said “I have not yet begun to fight,” an unnamed Marine is quoted as having remarked: “There is always one son of a bitch who never gets the word.” I may well be that s.o.b.
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If time is on your side, you can afford to be patient.
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Neither Socrates nor Jesus wrote a single line. Why? My guess is, they knew that politicians and lawyers could misinterpret the written word to mean the exact opposite of what they say.
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If some day we rise from the ashes of degradation, it will be by means of reason and objectivity. To equate objectivity with self-loathing is therefore the same as equating reason with insanity. Reason is a gift and a blessing. It is not a curse. Objectivity is an asset, not a liability.
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The secret of life is not coming to terms with the inevitable but using it as a springboard. Not easy, you say. Who said life in a rotten world was going to be easy?
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Friday, April 11, 2008
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT
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In his latest collection of essays, HOLD EVERYTHING DEAR: DISPATCHES ON SURVIVAL AND RESISTANCE (New York, 2007) John Berger writes that Nazim Hikmet was so tall that he was nicknamed “the Tree with blue eyes.” We are further informed that he wrote half of his life’s work in prison.
They imprisoned their best in the name of Ataturk; we killed ours in the name of Stalin.
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It is not always easy to separate what we think from what we were told to think.
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Perhaps what I have been doing is writing fragments of our story or that of a nation that has been committing slow-motion suicide – a story whose aim is to convince our denialists who refuse to see the obvious by reason of our Oedipus complex (when reality is against you, blind yourself) and Ottomanization.
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Saturday, April 12, 2008
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A WONDERFUL BOOK
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Paul Johnson’s HEROES (New York, 2007, 299 pages) is an eminently readable collection of profiles in courage from Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and De Gaulle. The reader will find here many insightful observations and entertaining anecdotes. Here is a typical paragraph: “The last celebrity executed in public at the Tower of London was Lord Lovat, hanged for his part in the 1745 rebellion of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Lovat, aged eighty-two, kept alive the tradition that a great man died with spirit. On his way to the scaffold, a hag screamed out: ‘They’re going to hang ye, ye old Scotch do,’ to which he replied: ‘I believe they will, ye old English bitch.’"
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Once in a while gentle readers take it upon themselves to remind me that I am going about it the wrong way, I am a failure, and I will never amount to anything. They may be right. I suppose our options are limited: we either fail like a dog or succeed like a bitch.
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