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Old 01.10.2011, 15:27   #286
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Thursday, September 29, 2011
*****************************************
A TOUMANIAN FABLE ABRIDGED
*************************************
Early one morning when the fox hears a rooster crowing,
he thinks: "Breakfast!"
When he is told by the rooster in the tree
that he is not alone but with a friend,
he thinks: "Lunch too!"
But when he finds out the friend is not
another rooster but a dog,
the words breakfast and lunch are replaced with
"Feet, do your stuff!"
*
BLESSINGS
*************************
An Arab blessing
(as quoted by Flaubert in a letter from Cairo):
"I wish you all kinds of prosperity,
especially a long prick!"
What’s next in line?
"May you deflower a hundred virgins"?
*
While in Cairo, Flaubert is said to have explored
the Armenian community.
I wonder if he discovered anything of interest.
*
PROVERBS
**************************
I love exotic proverbs especially when they are phony.
Example: A Burmese saying (which I just made up):
“You cannot feed a hungry tiger
with the bones of a hummingbird.”
*
CELEBRITIES
**************************
There is a type of minor celebrity
who behaves like a major celebrity
in the hope of being confused with one.
There is also a type of nonentity
who wants you to believe he is a future celebrity.
*
GIDE ON WAGNER
*******************************
“L’Allemagne n’a peut-etre jamais rien produit
a la fois d’aussi grand ni aussi barbare.”
*
ONE-LINERS
***********************
Balzac: “Les moeurs sont l’hypocrisie d’une nation.”
*
Baudelaire: “Life is a disease. Everyone knows that.”
*
Because reality is against us, we say God is with us.
#
Friday, September 30, 2011
*****************************************
ABOUT HEGEL
*************************************
Hegel is not an easy philosopher.
As a matter of fact I have never heard anyone say
“I enjoy reading Hegel.”
Even Hegelians don’t always agree
on what he said or meant.
With one exception:
the Francophone-Russian Kojeve.
Kojeve’s interpretations of Hegel
are readable, accessible, insightful,
and eminently unHegelian.
Some samples follow:
*
“Man, to be really, truly ‘man’
and to know that he is such,
must impose the idea that he has of himself
on beings other than himself.”
*
“Christianity is born from the Slave’s terror
in the face of Nothingness, his nothingness.”
*
“The Christian frees himself from the human Master
only to be enslaved by the divine Master.”
*
“He does this for the same reason that
he accepted the human Master:
through fear of death.”
*
“For Hegel, as for Marx,
the central phenomenon of the bourgeois world
is not the enslavement of the working man,
of the poor bourgeois by the rich bourgeois,
but the enslavement of both by Capital.”
#
Saturday, October 01, 2011
*****************************************
AS I SEE IT
*************************************
If I were to say to my shrink:
"Most of my problems stem from the fact that
I was born an Armenian," he would reply:
"I was born a Jew. Only Turks are after your ass.
The whole world is after ours."
*
Those who violate my human right of free speech
do so because they are convinced
they are better men than myself;
and they are better if only because
they are closer to God and Country.
Some of them may even deliver lectures to me
on good Armenianism.
They seem to be totally unaware of the fact that
only certified morons assume that
God, Country, and good Armenianism
have only one definition: their own.
*
It is a scientifically established fact that
prejudice makes people stupid.
*
Hell is more accessible than heaven.
*
Lovers are mutual parasites.
*
Love and hatred are chains.
So is indifference.
*
Very often all great reformers do
is replace big lies with bigger ones.
*
There is more authority in silence than in speech.
One reason why the dead enjoy more respect than the living.
#
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Old 05.10.2011, 14:56   #287
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Sunday, October 02, 2011
*****************************************
IN LOVE
*************************************
When in his eighties Pablo Casals fell in love
with one of his students and wanted to marry her,
his doctor was against it saying it could be dangerous;
to which Casals replied:
“If she dies, she dies.”
*
READERS
**********************
Some readers resent the fact that
I refuse to reproduce their sentiments and thoughts.
They believe a writer should be like a secretary –
take dictation.
I see that as another symptom of our sultanism.
*
Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821): “I don’t know
what the life of a rogue can be like
since I have never been one;
but the life of an honest man is abominable.”
*
Anything that is not worth rereading
can’t be worth writing.
#
Monday, October 03, 2011
*****************************************
DENIALISTS
*************************************
Denialists have a powerful argument in their favor:
Everybody lies.
*
My aim in life:
to humanize the dehumanized.
Call me a megalomaniac.
*
The arrogance of the half-learned:
I know all about that.
I was there once.
*
Life’s favorite trajectory:
from arrested development
to advanced degeneration.
*
We have been ruled by barbarians
for such a long time that
we don’t mind our own.
Either that or we see them
as the lesser of two evils.
#
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
*****************************************
AS I SEE IT
*************************************
Until very recently,
we, Armenians of the diaspora,
were not allowed to know
the identity of our political leaders;
and now that we know them,
we understand why they preferred to remain anonymous.
*
One of the best things about life is that it’s short.
*
Actions have consequences,
consequences have repercussions,
repercussions have echoes
and so on ad infinitum.
*
Memo to our editors:
silencing writers,
burning books,
burning men,
concentration camps,
gulags:
they all begin with censorship.
*
It is impossible to struggle
against the certainties of ignorance
with the doubts of knowledge.
#
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
*****************************************
ON A VARIETY OF THINGS
*************************************
Some of my Turkish readers are outraged
when I criticize Turks.
Like all dictators, Kemal knew that
the only way to be popular
is to flatter the collective ego of the nation.
Which is why most Turks are convinced
they are beyond criticism.
*
I don’t always write what I think and feel
because I don’t really know what I think and feel.
All my thoughts and feelings contain
their own deviations as well as contradictions.
*
I resent it when someone steals my stolen lines.
I work hard to find lines that are worth stealing.
Let him do the same.
*
Here are some aphorisms by Antonio Porchia (1886-1968),
an Argentine writer of Italian descent
who appears to know all about us:
*
"Truth has very few friends and those few
are suicides."
*
"A door opens to me. I go in and am faced
with a hundred closed doors."
*
"You think you are killing me.
I think you are committing suicide."
*
"Some things become so completely our own
that we forget them."
*
"They will say that you are on the wrong road,
if it is your own."
#
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Old 08.10.2011, 15:32   #288
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Thursday, October 06, 2011
*****************************************
COMMENTS
*************************************
With every book I publish,
I acquire a new friend and lose two old ones.
Any day now the number of my friends
will bear a negative sign.
*
I feel most alone when
in the company of my fellow Armenians.
*
William James:
"A great many people think they are thinking
when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."
*
The absence of God
plays a more important role in the life of atheists
than the existence of God in the life of most believers--
judging by the way they live.
*
Is it humanly possible to ignore or forget the truth
after hearing it?
#
Friday, October 07, 2011
*****************************************
COMMENTS (II)
*************************************
As soon as you settle on the answer
of an important question,
you begin to suspect there may be more merit
in its contradiction;
in the same way that after you take a woman in marriage,
all other women appear more desirable.
This may suggest that the world was created
not by God but by the Devil;
and if I am not mistaken
there is an Armenian medieval Christian heresy
that says as much.
*
Andre Malraux: “I am an agnostic.
But you know better than I that
no one can escape God.”
He should have added,
“and the Devil.”
#
Saturday, October 08, 2011
*****************************************
DIARY
*************************************
Very early this morning, on the radio,
a demonstrator in Athens:
“What’s happening today is not about saving Greece;
it’s about saving the banking system.”
*
Obama’s greatest blunder:
to ask men from Wall Street
to fix Wall Street.
Imagine asking predators
to reform the law of the jungle.
*
In a televised press conference
the other day when asked
why he did not prosecture the men
responsible for the economic collapse, Obama replied:
“What they did was immoral; it was not illegal.”
When the same question was asked to an economist:
“Their actions were criminal
and they should have been indicted.”
*
Who would have thought the Arab spring
would influence and shape
the Occupy Wall Street movement in America today?
Yanks being taught democracy by Africans!
What a strange place the world we live in is!
How gloriously unpredictable human beings are!
*
In an Op-Ed commentary this morning, I read:
“Russians say they are often more afraid
of the police than of criminals.”
Elsewhere Putinism is seen as an effort
to revive Stalinism.
What else would you expect from a former KGB agent?
*
Anonymous: “The rotten apple is the first to fall,
and it never falls far from the tree.”
*
A line from a western with Errol Flynn:
“There I was, no ma, no pa, brung up by Comanche Indians.”
*
I am reminded of a line by Updike
to the effect that as a boy
he was more influenced by Errol Flynn than Jesus Christ.
#
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Old 12.10.2011, 15:35   #289
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Sunday, October 09, 2011
*****************************************
OBSERVATIONS
*************************************
In evil men we see ourselves exposed.
*
To see meaning in the meaningless:
that’s the truest mark of creativity.
*
Forgiving others is easy.
What’s hard, perhaps even impossible,
is forgiving oneself.
*
Never take a whole paragraph
to say what can be said in a single line.
Never take a whole line
when a single word will do just as well.
And never underestimate the power of silence
which can be more eloquent than
the most eloquent speech.
*
Instead of eighty and ninety,
the French say four-twenties and four-twenties-and-ten.
This may suggest that human intelligence or inventiveness
is limited and after a certain point
it becomes inoperative.
*
If in a democracy the majority can be
systemativally moronized,
in what way democracy may be said to be
different from tyranny?
#
Monday, October 10, 2011
*****************************************
A JOKE
*************************************
“One Jew tells another that,
that very morning, he asked a passerby
what he’d think, if the next day,
as was rumored,
they’d kill all the Jews and all the haidressers.
And the passerby answered,
‘Why the hairdressers?’”
*
After reading this joke very early this morning
I wept and laughed uncontrollably
for almost an hour.
#
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
*****************************************
FROM THE MEMOIRS
OF AN UNEMPLOYABLE MISFIT
*************************************
For ten long years I worked for a living
in factories, department stores, and offices.
The work itself i didn’t mind.
What I despised were the men I had to work for
and the subservience of my coworkers.
And because I have always had trouble
disguising my feelings,
I was fired shortly after I was hired.
I don’t know of anyone in my circles
of friends, relatives, acquaintances, and neighbors
who has been fired as often as I have.
Don’t get me wrong.
I am not complaining.
They were right to fire;
so was I in finding all forms of modern employment
repellent.
*
If I am ever hired as a teacher,
one of the very first things I will say to the class will be:
all ideologies and religions have their own propaganda line
that contradicts the competition.
There may be some truth in all of them
but in so far as they divide mankind,
they are big lies.
You may now guess
how long my career as a teacher would last.
#
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
*****************************************
DIARY
**********************************
Watched Chaplin’s GREAT DICTATOR.
His imitation of Hitler speechifying was wildly hilarious.
I couldn’t stop laughing.
To all our speechifiers I say:
“Let that be a lesson to you.”
*
STRANGERS
**********************
You may say whatever you wish about me
or anyone else for that matter
and you will be partly right.
That’s because we are not one but many
and some of them are strangers we may never meet.
*
JUSTICE
*********************
Madame Justice is not blind.
She has 20/20 vision – but only for her friends.
During our Ottoman and Soviet periods,
and today, under our own semi-sultans and neo-commissars,
she has consistently ignored us.
*
FRIENDS?
******************
You don’t have to go out of your way
to make a mortal enemy out of an Armenian friend.
He will see something invisible,
hear something in audible,
and react as if you were plotting his murder.
*
ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES
*****************************************
So do words.
What if what I write may result in the destruction of the nation?
I am responsible only for what I say.
I cannot be held responsible for what others do.
#
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Old 15.10.2011, 15:29   #290
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Thursday, October 13, 2011
*****************************************
FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
**********************************
Two favorite aphorisms on love and marriage:
Balzac: “The fate of the house hangs on the wedding night.”
Chinese proverb: “The rose has thorns only for those
who would gather it.”
*
In Roger Ebert’s LIFE – ITSELF: A MEMOIR
(New York, 2011, page 226) Lee Marvin is quoted as having said:
“'You ever hear me sing an Armenian song?’
Marvin sang an Armenian song.”
*
A question without an answer:
What prompted God to introduce imperfection
in a perfect world by creating man?
*
A glance is enough to change two destinies.
#
Friday, October 14, 2011
*****************************************
AS I SEE IT
**********************************
Whenever I reply to a critic, I make an enemy;
and whenever I am not diplomatic enough
in my replies – diplomacy not being my field –
I make a mortal enemy.
*
Once when I asked the nationality
of a dazzling beauty – a teenage waitress in the cafeteria
of a department store where I was employed as a stockboy –
she said: "Canadian."
When I asked for more details, she replied:
"Let’s see now, Irish, Polish, German, Cherokee,
French, Italian and Ukrainian.”
*
"We are a wounded nation,"
I am reminded once in a while by our propagandists,
"and you don’t kick someone who is down," – thus
equating truth with a kick in the groin.
But truth is a kick only to those
who prefer to live in a world of lies.
#
Saturday, October 15, 2011
*****************************************
FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
**********************************
On the Tea Party:
The forces of evil know how to get organized.
On the Occupy Wall Street movement:
It never pays to give up one’s faith in mankind.
*
For twenty days – or is it forty? – they were ignored.
Now, everyone is talking about nothing else.
*
Solidarity can move mountains.
Without solidarity,
all solutions will be dismissed as unrealistic and utopian
by the very same people who consider it
their patriotic duty to divide the nation
in the name of this or that orthodoxy or ideology,
thus giving patriotism a bad name.
*
Where there is solidarity
even bad solutions may improve matters.
Where there is no solidarity
even the best solution will be ignored.
*
I have met good, patriotic Armenians
who give up on Armenianism after the first insult.
*
After being insulted ten thousand times,
sometimes I reply with an insult
on the grounds that I have earned the right.
If you disagree with my MO,
you can go to hell!
*
“Help those who need the help,”
reads a headline in the Op-Ed page this morning.
The implied subtext: “Prevent future revolutions.”
#
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Old 19.10.2011, 15:30   #291
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Sunday, October 16, 2011
*****************************************
OCCUPY WALL STREET
**********************************
A single anonymous slogan
strikes me as more eloquent
than a hundred academic analyses
by learned economists.
*
“Wanted: corporate accountability.”
*
“Where is the penalty for financial incompetence?”
*
“I can’t afford my own politician.”
*
And the one that must strike fear
in all presidential candidates:
“We are the 99%.”
*
By the time this thing is over,
there may be enough slogans to fill a volume.
I for one am looking forward to it.
*
As for the Republicans who dismiss the movement
as leaderless (as if that were a liability)
or class warfare:
all I can say is that
no matter how rotten the status quo,
it will have its supporters and defenders.
From Nero and Caligula to
Idi Amin Dada, Stalin, and Saddam:
they all had their supporters and beneficiaries.
#
Monday, October 17, 2011
*****************************************
FROGS AND ELEPHANTS
**********************************
Anyone who decides to depend
on the kindness of strangers
must sooner or later come to terms with the fact that
most strangers are not kind.
*
We cannot speak of the moral failings of a volcanic eruption
or the questionable logic of an earthquake.
Neither can we speak of justice
for victims of massacres.
As far as they are concerned,
what’s done is done and cannot be undone.
As for those who editorialize and speechify endlessly
about genocide recognition:
they remind me of a certain American presidential candidate
who promised “Yes, we can!”
and delivered, “No, I can’t!”
*
What a book one could write
on the promises of politicians!
“When I hear 9-9-9
I want to dial 9-1-1.”
To which I can only say,
“It takes one to know one.”
The good news is,
so far no one has dared to say
“It ain’t 99%. It’s only 98.5%.”
*
They call it class warfare
and hope to win with their 1%?
That’s not optimism.
That’s megalomania run amok.
Reminds me of our revolutionaries
at the turn of the last century:
“A frog trying to rape an elephant,”
to quote one of our elder statesmen.
#
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
*****************************************
WALL STREET
**********************************
Leaderless?
With leaders like them, who needs one?
*
“Incoherent, confused, and self-contradictory?”
What about “LIBERTE, EGALITE, FRATERNITE?”
*
A commentary Headline in the Op-Ed page:
“Ballot is still the best way to bring change.”
Not if the choice is between bad and worse,
or between the gutless and the greedy.
*
“National Media, Corporate PR.”
*
"Against Politics, Bankers, Gangsters.”
*
“Eat the Rich.”
*
“Greed is the opium of the Rich.”
*
“99% of the world unite –
you have nothing to lose but your blood****ers.”
#
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
*****************************************
COMMENTS
**********************************
We are told “Thou shalt not kill!”
but we are also coerced into killing
in the name of God and Country.
Power structures and organized religions
are full of #$@% -- if you will forgive my French.
*
You are free as long as you do what you are told?
Try to make sense of that!
*
Can you really know someone
who doesn’t himself?
What about an institution
that contradicts itself?
*
Wars become inevitable only
when we do nothing to prevent them.
#
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Old 22.10.2011, 15:36   #292
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Thursday, October 20, 2011
*****************************************
COMMENTS
**********************************
Don’t judge a man by his opinion of himself
or a political party by its propaganda.
*
You may hope to be forgiven by a Turkish enemy
but by an Armenian friend, never!
I speak from experience.
*
Whenever I disagree with an Armenian,
every Armenian who agrees with him
becomes my enemy.
*
African proverb: “Until lions have their historians,
tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.”
#
Friday, October 21, 2011
*****************************************
GUESSING GAMES
**********************************
An unforgettable line from a forgotten American movie:
A lecherous hombre with a foreign accent
to a scantily clead sexy teenager:
“I want to balanga you with my bonnie johnnie.”
My guess is, as children that’s how we learn languages:
we may not understand the words
but we can guess their meaning.
As when in winter a man shivers and says,
“I am cold,” for instance;
or when he says “I am thirsty”
and is given a glass of water.
But as we grow older,
we seem to lose that particular faculty.
*
One of my favorite Jewish jokes goes something like this:
Two old friends meet on a road somewhere in Russia
and after a brief exchange one of them says to the other:
“You tell me you are going to Minsk
because you want me to believe you are going to Pinsk,
but I happen to know you are going to Minsk:
Why must you always lie to me?”
#
Saturday, October 22, 2011
*****************************************
ON THE ETIOLOGY
OF GENOCIDE
**********************************
“There is nothing more valuable than our honor!”
declared a Muslim in Montreal
after murdering his three teenage daughters
because they had boyfriends.
(It is to be noted that he called it “treachery”).
There it is: the perfect justification
for killing defenseless civilians.
*
After dismissing me as anti-Armenian,
less than mediocre and totally unprintable,
they demand solutions from me.
They must be in deep %#$&
and they expect us to believe
we never had it so good
because we are in the best of hands.
*
Fear of free speech might as well be
synonymous with running away from the truth.
*
Mel Brooks: “Comedy is when you fall down an open manhole.
Tragedy is when I cut my finger.”
This may explain why sadists outnumber masochists.
*
Chinese saying: “The great man is a public misfortune.”
*
Japanese proverb: “A wise falcon hides its talons.”
#
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Old 26.10.2011, 14:59   #293
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Sunday, October 23, 2011
*****************************************
POLITICS
**********************************
The secret aim of all propaganda
is not to spread lies – be they small, middling, or big –
but to convince you to believe
your brain is a useless organ;
and it becomes useful only when authorized by the state
or a central authority.
This may explain why fools have as many certainties
as the wise have doubts.
Speaking for myself: my only certainty is that
when fools are in charge,
war and massacre are sure to follow.
*
What a book one could write on politics
as the art of deception.
*
Kemalism in four words:
“Fez, no. Yataghan, yes.”
*
No one will ever accuse me
of taking myself seriously.
On more than one occasion
I have identified my role in our collective existence
as that of a @#$%-disturber.
*
A statesman is a politician who has done one right thing.
#
Monday, October 24, 2011
*****************************************
EARTHQUAKE
**********************************
It must be obvious by now that
the regime in Ankara has invested more money and manpower
in rewriting history and in persecuting Kurds
than in providing safe housing for its citizens.
*
THE RICH AND THE POOR
************************************
The rich like to believe the poor are lazy
and the poor like to believe the rich are greedy.
Who is right?
As far as I know no pundit has so far
dared to suggest that
we owe the present global economic crisis
to the laziness of the poor.
*
A ROLE MODEL
****************************
Crime doesn’t pay?
But it paid and paid handsomely to Gadhafy
for almost half a century.
I wouldn’t be surprised if future dictators
adopt him as a role model.
#
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
*****************************************
GREAT EXPECTATIONS
**********************************
We are expected to believe that
our revolution at the turn of the last century
in the Ottoman Empire was a success
even if the patient died.
*
Propaganda is designed to flatter the vanity of a few
even if it means insulting the intelligence of the many.
*
What Talaat and chief executive officers
on Wall Street have in common is the certainty that
if the law is on their side
they can get away with murder.
*
Richelieu: “If the poor are too well off
they will be disorderly.”
It follows, the poor must remain poor for their own good
and in the name of law and order.
*
Pushkin: “Where there is a trough, there will be swine.”
The only reason textbook on political science
don’t begin with that line is that
all educational systems are controlled by politicians.
*
Proust: “The pleasure an artist gives
is to make us know an additional universe.”
#
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
*****************************************
SUMMING UP
**********************************
After six centuries of servile subservience
a sudden eruption of violent uprisings.
I dare anyone to suggest that
our collective destiny has not been shaped
by cowards and fools.
Treating them as heroes with good intentions
is to forget that hell is paved with them.
*
Bullies at the mercy of bigger bullies:
that just about sums up our present leadership.
Dzour nesdink, shidag khossink!
#
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Old 02.11.2011, 14:50   #294
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Sunday, October 30, 2011
*****************************************
BROTHERS
********************************
The West has its share
of dupes, fools, fanatics, racists, skinheads,
serial killers, child molesters,
and chief executive officers –
in short, hoodlums and hooligans –
as Turkey has its share of denialists.
It’s beyond me why anyone in his right mind
would expect them to be morally superior.
#
Monday, October 31, 2011
*****************************************
OVERPOPULATION
********************************
In my lifetime alone
world population has increased
from three to seven billion.
Scientists tell us the planet cannot sustain
this rate of growth.
Contraception is the only solution.
So far politicians have done nothing in that direction
because they don’t want to offend the Catholics.
But I believe the Pope is as much to blame
as film producers who glamorize sex
and treat pregnancy (if at all) as if it were
an alien, disconnected, and rare condition.
#
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
*****************************************
REREADING TOYNBEE
********************************
After Shakespeare, he is for me the most quotable English writer.
But whereas Shakespeare is universally admired,
Toynbee continues to have more enemies than friends,
especially among his fellow English historians,
probably because he exposed their mediocrity.
In that sense, he reminds me of our own Zarian.
I love Toynbee’s ideas; but what I love even more
is his Mandarin prose.
*
ON GOD
*****************
“I believe that Man has been given the capacity to see God, and I believe that this is the summum bonum towards which all creation groans and travails.”
*
THE CHOSEN
************************
“The Jews, the Japanese, the British ‘sahib’, the Nazis…all seem to me to have been chosen by no one except themselves.”
*
ON HIS CRITICS
************************
“Their pummelings have given me a mental massage that has loosened the joints and muscles of my mind and has set it moving on a new course.”
*
A GOOD QUESTION
*********************************
“If the Turkish atrocities could be explained as anachronistic outcrops of a residual savagery in the hearts of recent proselytes to a Western
way of life, how was a Western historian to explain the apostasy of Germans who were native-born children of the Western household?”
*
ON PATIENCE
************************
“A capacity to suffer fools gladly and to do this with gusto, not as a martyrdom, but as a fine art which the practitioner can practise with zest.”
#
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
*****************************************
IN THE NEWS
********************************
Until very recently
Ayatollah Khamenei and Ahmadinejad were as close
as “kolo kai vraki” (bum and pants).
Today “one of Ahmadinejad’s advisers
stands accused of raping 340 virgins during the last year.”
Not even a writer with the fertile imagination
of Gabriel Garcia Marquez could have written such a sentence.
For more, much more, on the subject,
see Abbas Milani, “Desperate Dictatorship,”
(THE NEW REPUBLIC, Oct. 6, 2011, page 30).
*
Peace is wonderful.
Friendship is great.
Love is best.
But one must be a pervert of the worst kind
to love creeps like Khamenei and Ahmedinejad who,
after conspiring to commit countless crimes against humanity,
end up hating each other.
*
Where there is too much talk of God,
can the Devil be far off?
#
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Old 05.11.2011, 15:29   #295
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Thursday, November 03, 2011
*****************************************
SWAN SONG
********************************
If you have any hopes,
prepare yourself to see them shattered.
*
The source of all my problems?
I value honesty above everything else.
So much so that
I’d much rather listen to the braying of an honest jackass
than to the seductive song of a phony nightingale.
*
When it comes to painful experiences
I have the memory of an elephant.
As for happy ones:
I can’t think of a single one that did not end badly.
*
The first thing I did when I came to Canada
from war-torn Greece was to buy a loaf of bread
and a cup of coffee.
The bread tasted like @#$%
and the coffee was so hot that it burned my tongue.
After that everything went downhill.
*
The only thing that cheers me up these days
is the prospect of death.
#
Friday, November 04, 2011
*****************************************
PARALLELS
********************************
In an interview published in TIME (Oct. 10, 2011, page 64),
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
has this to say on the Israelis:
“As long as they refuse to apologize for the nine people
of Turkish descent who lost their lives
on the flotilla, as long as they refuse to pay compensation
to the families and as long as the embargo on Gaza
has not been lifted, the relations between the two countries
will never be normalized.”
*
On President Bashar Assad of Syria:
“It is impossible to preserve my friendship
with people who are allegedly leaders
when they are attacking their own people,
shooting at them, using tanks.”
*
It can truly be said of Erdogan and Turks
that they are a clear-cut case of the blind leading the blind.
To my Turkish friends and readers I therefore say:
“See you in the ditch.”
#
Saturday, November 05, 2011
*****************************************
ON INSANITY
********************************
In his biography of Alexander the Great,
Plutarch writes:
“One of the largest and most handsome lions,
which was kept in Babylon
was attacked and kicked to death by an ass.”
*
Shaw may be right:
the insane should be punished more severely than the sane
if only because they are more unpredictable and dangerous.
*
And speaking of insanity:
if you are in love,
you should remind yourself at least once a day
that your beloved is less a real person
and more a product of your imagination.
*
I don’t agree with a reality that makes crooks wealthy
and honest men poor,
and because I speak of this reality,
some of my readers hate me
as if I were responsible for everything
that has gone wrong in their lives.
*
Subtract imagination from love
and the result may be closer to contempt than affection.
#
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Old 12.11.2011, 16:43   #296
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Thursday, November 10, 2011
*****************************************
YOUR CHOICE
*****************************************************
There are no new or original ideas.
We are all in the recycling business.
I like to believe I have at no time recycled fascist crap
in the name of patriotism or religion.
*
Faith is gut-driven.
So are dogmas.
Where the brain is marginalized,
disaster is sure to follow.
*
Where there is faith,
there will be intolerance.
Where there are dogmas,
there will be heresies.
Where there are heretics,
there will be persecution.
You may now draw your own conclusions –
or confusions.
Your choice.
#
Friday, November 11, 2011
*****************************************
LIES
*****************************************************
Where there is power
there will be propaganda;
and where there is propaganda
there will be lies.
*
We are told again and again that
our Church played a key role
in the survival of the nation.
Listen to Raffi:
“Our clergymen preached patience to us
thus promoting subservience to the point of slavery…
they have always been against individual freedom.”
*
As recently as the collapse of the Soviet Union,
the Catholicos of Etchmiadzin opposed independence.
*
In Manuel Sarlisyantz’s A MODERN HISTORY
OF TRANSCAUCASIAN ARMENIA (Leiden, 1975, page 326)
we read:
“The pro-Soviet Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan was, in 1944,
appointed from Etchmiadzin to be
Prelate of the Armenian Church in North America.
He endorsed Communism as ‘leading to a Christian ideal’
and had written that
'what the clergy is…on the spiritual level,
the Communist Party is on the worldly level
of politics and economics.'”
(See T. Nersoyan, A CHRISTIAN APPROACH
TO COMMUNISM, [London, 1942, page 29].)
#
Saturday, November 12, 2011
*****************************************
LIES (II)
*****************************************************
Very early this morning
when I was half asleep
I heard someone say on the radio:
“We havent’ had democracy in 20 years.”
And I thought, we haven’t had it for 2000.
*
More often than not
our choice is not between truth and lies
but between big lies and bigger ones.
*
The cowardice of the many
and the stupidity of the few:
that’s the only way to explain our past.
The rest is propaganda.
*
And now that I have spoken the truth
I deserve a horse with which to gallop off
in all directions
in a cloud of dust.
#
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Old 16.11.2011, 16:03   #297
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Sunday, November 13, 2011
*****************************************
ETHOLOGY
*****************************************
Pick a man, any man, from the gutter,
give him a title and a regular salary,
and forever after he will say
he never had it so good.
One reason I write as I do is that
I was spared that kind of treatment.
I was born in the gutter and my guess is
I will die in it.
I am not complaining.
Things could have been much worse.
What saved me was pure luck.
No one ever bothered to give me a title.
As for salary:
what I was offered was never above minimum wage.
Had it been above minimum wage
I may have chosen a different path
and I would now be on my way to the devil.
#
Monday, November 14, 2011
*****************************************
WHERE I STAND
*****************************************************
There are advantages
to being a third-rate minor scribbler
living in the middle of nowhere.
To begin with you are left alone.
Your readers are so few in number
that if you alienate one of them
it doesn’t feel like you have lost
half of your income from royalties.
*
By contrast, consider the case
of an Armenian-American academic
with a regular salary and a captive audience.
Not only will he be careful
not to say anything that may be construed
as critical of God and capital
(make it Capital and god) in general
and benefactors in particular
(one of whom may be subsidizing his “chair”)
but also anyone who may be remotely connected with them.
In short, he will support the status quo
and pretend we never had it so good
because we are in the best of hands.
*
During the Ottoman and Soviet eras
our poets wrote odes and panegyrics
to sultans and commissars.
Habits die hard.
“Treason is in our blood,” said Raffi.
So is cowardice.
Hence the scarcity of dissidents
and the overabundance of brown-nosers.
#
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
*****************************************
CHUCK YOU, FARLEY!
*****************************************************
“You call yourself a dissident?”
said a (Soviet-Armenian) writer from Paris.
“Did they throw you out of your home and homeland?”
No, they didn’t because they couldn’t.
I was born and raised on foreign soil
and my home was mine, not theirs.
The contempt in his voice was such that
I understood why in their eyes
we will never rise above the status of “aghber.”
*
Because I try to be honest and objective
I am dismissed as pro-Turkish by some of my readers
as if being dishonest were an integral part
of the Armenian identity.
*
I must get used to the idea that
some of my fellow Armenians are so wrong
that they challenge all concepts of wrongness,
so that one could say they are not even wrong!
#
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
*****************************************
THE 99%
**************************************************
There is no such thing as a belief system
without childhood indoctrination.
Eliminate indoctrination and the chances are
a belief system will collapse
into an abyss of absurdities.
*
It can truly be said of dupes that
they are the 99%.
*
On the radio this morning:
“Pakistan today is ruled by criminals.”
An American pundit:
“Almost everyone in Washington is on the take.”
*
He who admits to being a dupe
will not admit to being a coward, a liar, and an idiot.
*
Workers of the world unite?
Even better:
Dupes, idiots, and victims of the world…
*
What belief systems do is
convince idiots they are smart,
barbarians they are civilized,
and the scum of the earth they are the Chosen.
*
You think I am being cynical?
Allow me to confide in you:
Reality is worse!
*
Sigmund Freud: “The first human
who hurled an insult instead of a stone
was the founder of civilization.”
#
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Old 19.11.2011, 18:25   #298
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Thursday, November 17, 2011
**********
YES IM ANOUSH HAYASTANI
(TO MY SWEET ARMENIA)
**********
How sweet was it to the poet
who wrote that line?
After being betrayed to the authorities
by his fellow Armenians,
he committed suicide
by banging his head against the wall.
Many others were shot in the neck
or driven to Siberia.
If you say all that happened in a different era
and under a different regime, I say,
regimes may change
but the scum always rises to the top.
*
There is a sultan and a commissar in all of us.
If we ever undertake the task of
de-Ottomanizing and de-Stalinizing ourselves,
how many of those who are in power today
would remain in power?
*
If you are one of those readers
who think I have been consistently wrong
in my judgment of my fellow countrymen,
all I am prepared to say in my defense is,
I have at no time violated anyone’s human right of free speech.
Can you say the same about the status quo
in whose defense you speak?
#
Friday, November 18, 2011
**********
CONFESSIONS OF AN IGNORAMUS
**********
Do we have a constitution?
What does it say about free speech?
Is it for it or against it?
If it’s for it,
why is it that some of our ablest intellectuals
live in exile?
What about a Supreme Court?
Do we have one?
Who are its members?
What do we know about them?
Are they for or against fundamental human rights?
Do we have dissidents?
How many?
Who are they?
How many members of the present administration
are former KGB agents?
*
We are told most American senators and congressmen
are millionaires, sometimes even multimillionaires.
What about their Armenian counterparts?
Do we have anything resembling
the Occupy Wall Street movement in Yerevan?
*
A few years ago the Canadian spy agency
called me and said they were going to send someone
to interrogate me about our present situation.
I said I was the wrong man for such an undertaking;
it would be a waste of their valubale time;
I was only a distant observer;
I knew little or nothing about specifics.
They disagreed.
They said they read my commentaries in the Armenian press
and they considered me an expert on the subject.
An excpert?
An expert!
They must be joking.
They were not joking.
If they were interested in names
I could be of no use to them
because I didn’t even know someone who knew someone.
What kind of expert was I
if I had more questions than answers?
*
And if so far I have made no effort to know more
it maybe because in this case
ignorance may indeed be bliss.
#
Saturday, November 19, 2011
**********
ARMENIAN LITERATURE
**********
Canadian literature is rumoured to be dreary.
By contrast, Armenian literature is not even rumoured
to be defunct or non-existent.
*
One advantage in being non-existent is that
no one bothers to spread the rumour that it is trash.
*
The only people who take Armenian literature seriously
are Armenian writers who take themselves seriously.
*
The central concern of Armenian writers
who take themselves seriously
is to expose the mediocrity of all others.
*
“Yes im anoush Hayastani.”
I should like to see one of our poets producing a sonnet
titled “To my sweet fellow countrymen.”
#
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Old 23.11.2011, 16:00   #299
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Sunday, November 20, 2011
*****************************************
NOTES AND COMMENTS
**************************************************
A headline reads:
“Should Some Bankers Be Prosecuted?”
The obvious answer is, of course!
Gross incompetence is penalized in all other lines of work.
Why should bankers be immune?
Is it because as the 1%
they control 99% of the power?
*
A typical passage in the article reads:
“The federal government has been
far more active in rescuing bankers
than in prosecuting them.”
And why?
Because the 1% can afford politicians,
the 99% cannot.
*
What is American-style democracy
if not the fascism of capitalists?
*
When we demonize Turks
we forget that angels and demons
are creatures of our imagination
and that in reality some Turks may well be better or wrose,
but none of them is an invulnerable being
beyond our reach.
*
Sartre is right:
in human relations
magic plays a more important role than
reason, common sense, and experience.
Where imagination enters,
misconceptions are sure to follow.
*
All popular ideas can be easily and safely contradicted
and they have been.
One could even say,
thinking consists in exposing contradictions.
#
Monday, November 21, 2011
*****************************************
AS I SEE IT
**************************************************
Once, recently, when I said something to the effect
that our treatment of writers
has been worthy of barbarians,
it was the barbarians who were eager to prove me right
by hurling insults at me and in general
behaving like hoodlums on the warpath – as if
that was the only way they knew
how to prove me wrong.
*
"For a smart man you can be very naïve!"
a trial lawyer, who is also a good friend, tells me.
I don’t know about smart
but I am worse than naïve
when I get emotionally involved.
Emotion reduces a complex reality
into a one-dimensional extension of ourselves.
Emotion, writes Sartre somewhere,
attempts to change the world by means of magic.
What could be more primitive?
*
The most beautiful spectacle I have ever beheld
was a sunrise from a seventh story hospital window;
and to think that the purpose of a sunrise
is not to provide man with beauty.
#
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
*****************************************
THE HUMAN CONDITION
**************************************************
It’s not Armenians against Turks,
Germans against Jews,
Jews against Palestinians,
or Cain against Abel.
It’s man against man.
If the world were populated
by a single race, nation, or tribe,
the number of wars, revolutions and massacres
would remain constant.
*
God created man.
God also created the Devil
and the Devil belongs to no race, nation, or tribe.
*
Organized religions are maneuvers
designed to allow one to sit at the right hand of God
and to behave like swine.
*
God created time and space.
What would stop Him from creating
an infinite number of other dimensions?
*
God created man.
He must have been bored stiff.
What other possible explanation is there?
#
Why are you so tough on your fellow Armenians?
I am asked once in a while by concerned readers.
I am not tough on Armenians.
I am tough on deceivers, dividers, and blood****ers
regardless of nationality.
I am tough on all victimizers.
Now then, identify yourself please.
Are you a victimizer or a victim?
If you are a victim, why do you object
to my speaking up against your tormentors?
*
Dupes are not born but made
and what makes them is childhood indoctrination --
brainwashing for short;
and if you say you were not brainwashed
i will say, that's because
those who brainwashed you
were successful in convincing you
you were being educated.
#
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Old 26.11.2011, 16:39   #300
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Thursday, November 24, 2011
*****************************************
WOMEN
**************************************************
To how many women we could say:
I love you with all my heart
and I shall continue loving you to the end of my days,
but not you as you are,
but you as a figment of my own imagination.
*
ON VANITY
*********************
Charlie Chaplin asked Truman Capote
to read the manuscript of his memoirs
with the eyes of a professional writer.
When Capote did and reported back with a list of suggestions,
Chaplin said: "Get the hell out of my sight!"
*
ON ORIENTAL WISDOM
*********************************
To avoid grief, conflict, misery and suffering,
do nothing and be nobody. Or simply, imitate the dead.
That’s what most Oriental wisdom boils down to.
But since life is only an extremely tiny interval of light
in the darkness of non-being,
it should be as different from death as we can make it
even if in the process we experience confusion and misery.
#
Friday, November 25, 2011
*****************************************
FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
*****************************
The official Kemalist classification of Armenians
as “Christian Turks” is patently absurd
in view of the fact that we are devoid
of both Christian charity and Turkish solidarity.
*
What motivates us to assess ourselves
as smart, progressive, compassionate, and God’s chosen
is the suspicion that we may be none of these things.
*
One of the worst things that can happen to a nation
is to believe in its own propaganda;
and one of the worst things that can happen to a leader
is to become a dupe of his own lies.
Speaking for myself,
I committed my worst blunders
after convincing myself that I knew better
and anyone who dared to contradict me
was a damn fool.
*
When it comes to women,
not only boys will be boys
but also men of all ages.
Hence the saying,
“The brain of a man is the body of a naked woman.”
#
WHAT’S YOUR RACKET?
*********************************
Even after 30 books and over a thousand articles,
stories, and essays in periodicals and newspapers
I hesitate to identify myself as a writer
because more often than not I am asked:
"How come I have never heard of you?"
to which I am tempted to reply:
"Next time you visit your public library
check and see how many names you recognize
besides Shakespeare’s and Hemingway’s?"
*
HIS RACKET
****************************
I can’t imagine Mozart at the age of thirty saying:
"I have composed enough. I am quitting."
I have no doubt whatever in my mind that
Mozart would have gone on composing
even at the age of 80, very much like Verdi.
Likewise, I can’t imagine God saying,
"I have created the universe and enough is enough!"
What if, even as I write these lines,
God is busy creating other universes
in other dimensions?
#
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