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Old 13.06.2009, 18:04   #121
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Thursday, June 11, 2009
*****************************************
ORIGINAL SIN
****************************************
We begin by saying yes to our parents, then to our schoolteachers and parish priest (or rabbi or mullah) after which we consider it our duty to say yes sir! to empty suits and bearded fornicators. And now think of the millions of innocent victims who perished just because some loud-mouth damn fool spoke in the name of a non-existent being or a misguided ideology or a phony orthodoxy. And if you think this sort of aberration belongs to the past, think again. I have seen it happen in my own lifetime and I see it happen again and again whenever I read the headlines in newspapers or watch the news on television. And why? Because we all think my speechifier or sermonizer knows better, his god is a better god, his ideas are better ideas...all of which combined makes us morally superior and we can do no wrong and anyone who says otherwise is a liar who deserves to be silenced and sometimes silenced permanently.
The very same people who taught us to believe tasting the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge was the Original Sin have brainwashed us to believe to gorge ourselves on the fruit from the Tree of Ignorance is our patriotic duty. If you have a better explanation, I am all ears.
#
Friday, June 11, 2009
*****************************************
IT WAS WORSE THAN A CRIME,
IT WAS A BLUNDER
****************************************
There is a tendency in all of us to avoid confrontation especially when the opposition is more powerful. We call it playing it safe or being cautious. And yet, we look up to those rare heroic individuals who stand up for what is right even if it means losing their freedom and sometimes even their life. Think of Socrates versus the Athenian establishment, think of Jesus, Galileo, Gandhi, and Solzhenitsyn.
And now, let us consider the case of our revolutionaries in the Ottoman Empire. The reason they rose against the Empire was that they believed the Great Powers of the West to be on their side and with such allies they could not lose. But lost they did and it was not they who paid a heavy price but the people. Socrates and the others mentioned above relied on no one but themselves and suffered the consequences. Most of our revolutionaries survived to publish long-winded memoirs, to rewrite history, and to cover up their blunder. I don't find that heroic but cowardly and contemptible.
We all make mistakes, of course, but some of us are honest enough to admit them, sometimes even to apologize.
#
Saturday, June 12, 2009
*****************************************
WHEN THE BLIND LEAD THE BLIND
****************************************
Baudelaire on the idea of superiority: “a satanic idea, if ever there was one.”
I have said many nasty things about self-assessed moral superiority, but I have never gone as far as calling it satanic. It takes the daring of a genius to see things as they are. The rest of us might as well be blind to reality.
*
Give a nobody authority or make him feel superior and he will speak in the name of god or historic necessity or greater wisdom and go on the warpath against infidels or inferiors or anyone else who stands between him and more power. Megalomania is a hungry monster that is never satiated. Even the popes of Rome, whose job was to preach love of the enemy, went to war.
But then, where would authority be without dupes? To believe in someone else and to ignore “the kingdom of god” which is within us, might as well be the source of all crimes against humanity.
*
Flaubert: “To be stupid, selfish and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.”
#
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Old 15.06.2009, 14:31   #122
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Hey there, I'm kind of new here, so I'm wondering whether I'm allowed to open a forum discussion?(Or it is only moderators privilege?) If I am, can anyone tell me how?
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Old 15.06.2009, 15:00   #123
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Hi, it's not a best place to ask but...
1. click on desired section, General, Art, etc...
2. click on New Thread, feel in subject and message
3. click post
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Old 17.06.2009, 18:54   #124
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Sunday, June 13, 2009
*****************************************
ON KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
******************************************************
Socrates: “Know thyself.”
The Koran: “He who knows himself, knows God.”
The Bible: “The Kingdom of God is within you.”
Three synonymous statement.
Three different ways of saying the same thing.
*
“The Kingdom of God is within you,” and “Our Father Who art in heaven”:
I see a contradiction here. Which may suggest that the Bible cannot be the word of God. God does not contradict Himself. Neither does He speak with a forked tongue. Men do.
*
Men contradict one another because they don't understand; they can only hope to move in the direction of greater understanding.
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I do not have a quarrel with God, only with men who speak in His name after which they legitimize crimes against humanity.
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God does not issue licenses authorizing men to speak in His name. Licenses are issued by men to other men against other men.
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Faith can be an asset as well as a liability. It is an asset when it leads to a greater understand and compassion for our fellow men. It is a liability when it makes us self-righteous, dogmatic and intolerant.
*
Diogenes Laertius: “When Thales was asked what was difficult, he said 'to know one's self.' And what was easy, 'To advise another.'”
To advise another: in modern parlance, to sermonize and speechify.
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Sartre: “We believe that we believe, but we don't believe.”
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If I bore you, I apologize. If I challenge you, I consider my mission accomplished.
#
Monday, June 14, 2009
*****************************************
ODDS AND ENDS
******************************************************
If I am for honesty it is not because I love truth (which I will never know) but because I hate all those who deceived me when I was young, gullible, and could not yet think for myself.
*
Am I a failure if so far the world has failed to provide me with a friendly audience?
*
A good speechifier knows what the people want to hear and he doesn't mind submitting his intelligence to the rabble.
*
Sometimes our first impressions are more accurate because they are based one a wider and therefore more balanced set of data. Afterwards we can be easily swayed by words.
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To attack and insult someone from a position of self-assessed infallibility is to openly declare oneself to be unteachable, unreasonable, and unspeakable.
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Long live fools and fanatics! If it weren't for them, I would run out of inspiration.
*
We like to say there are always two sides to every story after which we readily give in to the temptation of believing our side.
#
Tuesday, June 15, 2009
*****************************************
ETCETERA
******************************************************
The temptation to contradict is one that no Armenian can resist. It is a mental aberration and a pathological condition that only a radical shift in our educational system may cure. To begin with, we should teach our children that far from being smart, we may well be the dumbest people on earth. One reason: for more than a thousand years we have been the slaves of some of the most backward and brutal people on earth, Stalin's USSR being the latest. How can I forget the fact that during the Soviet era I would receive letters and phone calls from Armenian-Americans (I called them chic Bolsheviks) trying to convince me that the Russians were our Big Brothers (literally rather than in the Orwellian sense of these words), Solzhenitsyn was a traitor, the Nobel Prize committee a Jewish conspiracy, Paradjanov a syphilitic black marketeer and pederast, and Zarian a hireling of the CIA. I have myself been accused of being an agent of every secret organization on the planet, including the KGB, the CIA, the Mossad, and the Gray Wolves, whoever the hell they are.
*
In our environment, fanaticism, ignorance, stupidity, and malice speak louder than their counterparts. As for actions: they speak louder than words only when they are directed against defenseless fellow Armenians, the more defenseless the better.
*
If that's what I think about Armenians, why do I bother writing for them?
I go on writing for them because I refuse to believe that only brown-nosers and propagandists qualify as writers, and because I believe no one is beyond redemption. I speak from experience. Once upon a time I too shared all their prejudices, blind spots, and arrogance. If I can see the light, so can anyone else. If this is an illusion, may I never lose it.
*
Michel Sardou: “God? I believe him when I need him. Like the rest of mankind. And if he fails to respond, I appeal to another.”
#
Wednesday, June 16, 2009
*****************************************
OUR FAVORITE MANTRA
******************************************************
A reader writes: “They massacred us because they hated us.”
That's racist talk and that's nonsense.
Not all Turks hated us. Some even risked their lives to save some of us, in the same way that today some of them are willing to risk their freedom to support our cause. No doubt Talaat and his gang of cut-throats were racist, but then, who wasn't? Even Americans of “all men are created equal” fame were racists. They didn't massacre all their minorities, true, only some of them. They were smarter than Turks. They divided and exploited them mercilessly. Where would America be today without its cheap labor? Empires are raised by brute force but maintained by divide-and-rule manipulation.
We are better at dividing ourselves – or rather, allowing others to divide us -- than dividing our enemies. This may explain why almost all talk of Armenians by Armenians ends with the mantra, “Mart bidi ch'ellank.” And because I explain and expand on this mantra, I am silenced. We want flattery, not criticism no matter how objective and honest. But flattery does not solve problems, it covers them up. Flattery does not build character, honesty does.
#
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Old 20.06.2009, 18:06   #125
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Thursday, June 17, 2009
*****************************************
WHEN THE RICH FIGHT
IT IS THE POOR WHO DIE
******************************************************
When the fat cats on Wall Street made a mess of the world economy, they gave themselves a fat bonus, as the poor lost their jobs, their savings, and their pensions. Worse was to follow. The top dogs in Washington bailed out the fat cats with the money of the very same victims who had been skinned alive. It's always the same story.
*
To identify a people – any people – with the regime – any regime – amounts to identifying the victim with his victimizer.
*
We either parrot the words of cunning manipulators or we learn to think for ourselves.
*
If you think slavery in a democratic America was a mistake that has been corrected, consider the legitimacy of the Vietnam and Iraq wars. All men are created equal? If true both Bush Jr. and Chaney would be among the dead now.
Closer to home: after leading the people to genocide our own “best and brightest” blame it on the rest of mankind, as if mankind had suddenly changed the rules of the game on us; and what is even more unbelievable, they are believed. Speaking for myself: I have trouble deciding which is more reprehensible: the massacres or the cold-blooded and calculated deception.
*
A smart Armenian is one who says, “I don't want to be like my people. I want to learn from my mistakes.”
*
In our case, “Know thine enemy” and “Know thyself” might as well be synonymous statements.
*
In this morning's paper I read: “...much of the world remained an unwelcome place for many...” You may now guess who the “many” are and who are responsible for driving them out.
*
To paraphrase Saroyan: “Empires may rise and fall but blood****ers hang in forever.”
#
Friday, June 18, 2009
*****************************************
THE WAGES OF SIN
******************************************************
Hannah Arendt: “If we do not know our own history, we are doomed to live it as though it were our fate.”
*
At the beginning we were divided by deep valleys, high mountains, and long winters. What divides us today? Nothing but habit. Habit compounded by ignorance. Habit so deeply entrenched that it might as well be in our DNA. If two Armenians on a desert island don't build three churches (the third being the one they stay aware from) they will feel as though they had a monkey on their back.
*
One reason solidarity has eluded us so far is that we pretend to be ignorant of the consequences of tribalism. It is not easy to convince a tribal people to become a nation by submitting their will to a centralized authority. But the alternative – that is, allowing geography or habit to shape our destiny – is infinitely harder. We know now that the alternative has been defeat by a smaller but better organized tribe, followed by centuries of degrading subservience, mass deportations, and massacres (both “red” and “white” -- that is, alienation and assimilation). Knowing this we continue to stay divided and to waste valuable energy, resources, and emotional investment on genocide recognition, a cause that so far, and after almost a century, has failed to resurrect a single victim or to annex a single square inch of historic Armenia.
*
It is said of masochists that if they fail to find a sadist, they become their own sadist. That, it seems, is the alternative we have chosen – to wallow in self-pity and to beg others to support our cause, as if others supported us when we needed them most. As if others support anyone that is not in their own interest.
*
There are two kinds of failings or sins: those we commit knowingly and the others. But sooner or later we are punished for both. And the wages of sin is death.
#
Saturday, June 19, 2009
*****************************************
QUESTIONS IN SEARCH OF AN ANSWER
******************************************************
Chekhov: “If I cannot answer the most important questions, am I not fooling the reader?”
Why do things exist?
What is the meaning of life?
Why did Socrates say, “The only thing I know is that I don't know”?
If “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” are our dividers with us or against us?
If our house collapses, who must be held responsible?
If not our dividers, who?
Who benefits from our divisions?
What is the meaning of our genocide?
If the Turks are bloodthirsty barbarians, why is it that it took us six hundred years to figure that out?
How smart are we if we believe in the propaganda of our dividers?
Why is it that for every Armenian who says one thing there will be another who will say the exact opposite?
Why is it that a fully grown adult feels the need to repeat what he was taught as a child by his schoolteachers and parish priest?
Why is it that “the cradle of civilization” has become the grave of common sense and decency?
Why did Zarian say “Armenians survive by cannibalizing one another?”
Why is it that we have many poets but not a single philosopher?
Why is it that Armenian stories end with the words “Three golden apples fell from heaven”?
Is that why we suffer from an advanced case of collective concussion?
#
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Old 24.06.2009, 19:16   #126
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Sunday, June 20, 2009
*****************************************
TOURIST PRIDE
******************************************************
“I am proud of my Armenian identity,” I am reminded by readers once in a while by way of questioning my own loyalty to the Homeland. We live in a world where everyone is brainwashed to be proud of his ethnic identity, even when we vote with our feet and choose to live on foreign soil and consider our homeland as “a nice place to visit.”
*
JERMAG CHART
************************************
Only the naïve and the blind believe because the Turks are not massacring us today we are not being exterminated. Who is doing the extermination? To put it differently: Who is at the source of our alienation? Who else but Turks, of course! What else is Armenianism if not Turcocentrism? Michael Arlen (Kouyoumdjian) saw this clearly when he warned his son to stay away from Armenians because “they dwell too much on Armenian problems...distant repellent events...They are sweet people, but you can't let them too close. They end up boring you to death.”
*
ROOSTERS
*****************************
The nice thing about our brand of politics is that when we do something right, no matter how insignificant, we behave like roosters who believe if it weren't for their vocalizing the sun wouldn't rise. But when we do something wrong, no matter how catastrophic, we blame it on others. A win-win situation if there ever was one.
#
Monday, June 21, 2009
*****************************************
X
******************************************************
Supporting a corrupt regime has nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with treason, betrayal, and cowardice. And the problem with political corruption is that as a rule it gets worse rather than better. It gets worse until it becomes unbearable. Which is what's happening in Iran today. And which is bound to happen in our own homeland sooner or later. And if our brothers and sisters in the Homeland never rise against the regime, we shall have no choice but to conclude that subservience has become such an integral part of our character as a nation that we no longer even take notice of it.
*
If I am for revolution in Iran, why am I against our revolutionaries in the Ottoman Empire? Two reasons: (one) they had a Plan B only for themselves, and (two) they relied on others.
If you are David confronting Goliath, you'd better make damn sure (one) you are one of God's Chosen; (two) you are technologically more advanced than your adversary; and (three) you have developed the necessary skill to use your new equipment.
*
The American, French, and Russian revolutions succeeded because the revolutionaries had the support of the majority. The majority of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, in addition to being a very tiny minority, lacked political awareness. I know because my father was one of them, and most of the Armenians in the ghetto where I grew up were refugees, spoke Turkish among themselves, and were illiterates who signed their name with an X.
#
Tuesday, June 22, 2009
*****************************************
FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
******************************************************
It's an old trick familiar to all religious leaders: whenever they want to do the devil's work, they speak in the name of god.
*
It took a world war to prove Hitler wrong; and it took the collapse of the Soviet Empire to prove Stalin wrong. It is the fate of an immovable object to meet an irresistible force.
*
“There is corruption everywhere.” That's the kind of talk the corrupt love to hear; and they will call anyone who repeats that line a true patriot.
*
A suicidal man should not brag about surviving still another attempted suicide.
*
If it can happen to someone else, it can happen to me. Even if I am god's chosen, I am not the only one.
*
Every Armenian should carry a sign with the warning: "Contradict me and make an enemy for life!"
*
Two Armenians were having a quiet conversation. It can happen.
#
Wednesday, June 23, 2009
*****************************************
WHAT ABOUT US?
******************************************************
“There is a lot that we don't know,” a friend tells me speaking of our past.
And whose fault is that, may I ask?
Ours or theirs for failing to share what they know?
We will never know everything.
Nobody ever does.
Does that mean we should withhold judgment or submit our intelligence to those who may not have enough of it themselves?
Who benefits from our ignorance?
*
Most of my readers don't like me. That's because I hold a mirror up to them and they don't like what they see. They blame the mirror and they blame me for holding it up to them. They never blame themselves. That's the beauty of the blame-game. It allows you to paint yourself all white and the opposition all black.
*
A regime with enemies will have enemies even among its own people.
A regime that speaks of exterminating the enemy will invariably start by killing its own people. Isn't that what's happening in Iran today?
And what about us?
#
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Old 24.06.2009, 20:58   #127
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Ara did you read Nzdeh's answer to Michael J Arlen's book?
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Old 27.06.2009, 18:02   #128
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Thursday, June 24, 2009
*****************************************
MEMOIRS
******************************************************
Because I was born in Greece to Armenian parents in a multicultural ghetto of refugees from the Ottoman Empire whose common medium was Turkish, I learned three languages without any effort on my part. I never asked anyone about the meaning of words or their definitions: I just knew. Something similar happens in the realm of ideas dealing with religion, ethics, and justice. I accepted them as facts rather than as prejudices, misconceptions, assumptions, fallacies, theories, or hypotheses. As a result, ideas that I encountered later in life – ideas like atheism, agnosticism, the brotherhood of all men, democracy, and passive resistance – appeared at first as alien, sometimes even as incomprehensible. Which is why intolerance comes naturally to all of us. It is tolerance that must be taught and learned, and more often than not, it is neither taught nor learned.
*
In my twenties I tried to teach myself Japanese and Zulu, among other languages. Today I remember only one word in Zulu -- “kitab” (book), and I remember it because it is the same word in Turkish.
*
And now allow me to tell you my favorite Nasreddin Hodja story:
It is said that in his youth the Hodja made a fortune as a smuggler. Everyone knew this but but no one knew what was it that he was smuggling, not even the border guards who would search him and his donkey thoroughly every time he crossed the border, which he did frequently. Many years later when one of the border guards met the Hodja and asked him what was was it that he was smuggling, the Hodja replied, “Donkeys.”
*
Speaking of smugglers: When an American customs officer asked Oscar Wilde if he had anything to declare, Wilde is said to have replied: “Only my genius” -- no doubt one of the most dangerous commodities known to man.
#
Friday, June 25, 2009
*****************************************
ACADEMICS
******************************************************
If the overwhelming majority of our academics stay away from Armenian studies, it may be because they have no desire to submit their intelligence to someone who may not have enough of its himself – namely, bosses, bishops, benefactors and their flunkies. As for the very few who get involved in Armenian studies, they invariably end up recycling the propaganda line that says, we did nothing wrong and the rest of the world did nothing right. To say otherwise would amount to biting the hand that feeds them.
If history is the propaganda of the victor, these academic charlatans seem to be saying, we will make ours the consolation of the loser.
*
What have we learned from history?
Only this: power means above all the power to cover up blunders and to misrepresent defeats as moral victories.
*
Because 2500 years ago Herodotus introduced his HISTORIES with the warning that he intends to speak of the great deeds and achievements of both "Greeks and barbarians," he was torn to shreds by Greek critics (among them Plutarch) as a lover of barbarians.
*
“If you are nice to them, they will be nice to you.” This is a rule that works with gentlemen but not with bastards -- and the world is full of them – and I don't mean gentlemen. And the trouble with bastards is that you can never be nice enough to them. Lower your pants and they will resent you for not bending over.
*
Three things to remember: (one) a fruitful failure is better than a sterile success; (two) “Thou shalt not” does not always work; and (three) Sooner or later a prejudice will bite your ass.
*
What I write may best be described as a digression in a footnote of a book that I will never write.
#
Saturday, June 26, 2009
*****************************************
INTELLECTUALS AND ACADEMICS
******************************************************
An intellectual is someone who dedicates his life to ideas.
An academic is someone who dedicates his life to his career.
Once upon a time we had intellectuals but no academics.
Today we have no intellectuals but over a thousand academics.
Which may explain why in literature even the Turks are ahead of us.
*
Likewise we have many nationalist historians but not a single historian.
A nationalism historian is one who places the interests of the nation above the interests of mankind. In other words, he makes of history a branch of political propaganda.
*
In the following two quotations, a 19th-century German philosopher and a 20th-century British historian reflect on historians.
Arthur Schopenhauer: “Clio, the muse of history, is as thoroughly infected with lies as a street whore with syphilis.”
A.J.P. Taylor: “Human blunders, usually, do more to shape history than human wickedness.”
*
There is an old saying: “Historia magistra vitae” (The past is our great teacher).
There is another, even older, saying: “Omnis homo mendax” (All men are liars).
*
I have two kinds of hostile readers: those who say they don't understand me, and those who understand me too well. As for the brainwashed: they are like parrots, disposed to understand only other parrots.
#
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Old 27.06.2009, 18:04   #129
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Default Nzdeh's answer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Երեխա View Post
Ara did you read Nzdeh's answer to Michael J Arlen's book?
no, i haven't, but i sure would like to -- is it available on the Internet?
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Old 29.06.2009, 14:33   #130
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Yeah it is, but it's in Armenian.
Here you go

http://hhk.am/library/njdehhatyntir.pdf

Just scroll down to the page 461 where you can find it.
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Old 30.06.2009, 19:09   #131
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Sunday, June 27, 2009
*****************************************
BARE-FACED BIG LIES
******************************************************
“God's chosen people.”
“Superior race.”
“The Cradle of Civilization.”
Do you know who popularized the idea of Armenia being the cradle of civilization? A hard-up odar alcoholic academic who got himself a fat check from an Armenian foundation and hoped to get another.
“God's chosen people”?
Chosen for what, may I ask? To be scattered, insulted, abused, and periodically slaughtered by, among others, the self-assessed “superior race” of Aryans?
*
Flattery, especially self-flattery, needs no proof. And if you tell a dumb person he is smart, he will not ask you to prove it.
“It is written”?
All that means is that some megalomaniacal idiot confused his illusions with the voice of God. It happens all the time. The inspired loud-mouth charismatic charlatan is a routine occurrence in history and its latest manifestation is the televangelist in the “Land of Liberty,” where one of the bloodiest civil wars in the history of mankind was fought in defense of slavery.
*
What I find incomprehensible is not that some readers disagree with what I say but that they don't disagree with the state and direction of our collective existence. They are eager to question the words of a scribbler but not the actions and policies of those who are in charge of our communities and the nation. Figure that one out, if you can.
#
Monday, June 29, 2009
*****************************************
ONE DAMN THING AFTER ANOTHER
******************************************************
In their efforts to advance a new thesis, some odar academics – those we like to quote – have made such extravagant claims on our behalf that even some Armenian scholars (among them Sirarpie der Nersessian) have rejected them as unjustified, unverified, and erroneous.
*
Our bruised egos are so hungry for flattery that sometimes we take a disguised insult as a compliment. Case in point: “It takes seven Jews to fool an Armenian.” Translated into ordinary parlance, this simply means: “If you think Jews are bad, I've got news for you: Armenians are seven times worse!”
*
There is a big difference between being God's children and being the dupes of charlatans who speak in the name of God.
*
If history is “an unending dialogue between the present and the past” (E.H. Carr, WHAT IS HISTORY?), what has been our contribution to this dialogue beside victims?
*
Everything that I say today stands in direct contradiction to an early conviction which was instilled in me by individuals with a narrow and dogmatic agenda that distorted reality and perverted my judgment.
*
We like to brag about our genius for survival. The irony here is that those who did the actual surviving did not brag about it. I know because I grew up surrounded by them.
*
The sad truth is, those who do the most harm to their fellow men are the least aware of it.
*
If there is a god, he must be a thirsty one.
#
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
*****************************************
REFLECTIONS
******************************************************
Man is at his most creative in his invention of lies.
*
The biggest lies are half-truths.
*
If you speak against those who speak in the name of God,
they will accuse you of speaking in the name of the Devil.
*
To be brainwashed means not to question the honesty and wisdom of your abusers.
*
A nationalist historian writes about his nation and its enemies.
A historian writes about the past and the conflicting interests of nations.
*
Nothing offends me more than being insulted by a fool who has been brainwashed to believe he is smart.
*
If you don't have an agenda, everyone with an agenda will be against you.
*
Self-esteem is not a reliable index of worth, in the same way that dogmatism is not an index of certainty.
*
It is a universally shared human weakness to prefer flattery to criticism, but it is a dangerous addiction to prefer lies to truth.
*
To those who accuse me of having a very low opinion of my fellow Armenians, I can only say, nobody really gives a damn what I or anyone else thinks. What matters, what really matters, is whether or not I can tell the difference between fact and fiction.
#
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Old 30.06.2009, 19:19   #132
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Երեխա View Post
Yeah it is, but it's in Armenian.
Here you go

http://hhk.am/library/njdehhatyntir.pdf

Just scroll down to the page 461 where you can find it.
thanks.
i read most of it.
Armen speaks as an objective/alienated observer.
Njdeh speaks as a patriot.
and the twain are destined not to meet.
i speak from experience.
i have been both a patriot and an alienated observer.
i now place honesty above patriotism.
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Old 04.07.2009, 18:28   #133
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009
*****************************************
ARMENIANS SPEAK WITH A FORKED TONGUE
******************************************************
I don't believe everything I am told.
Neither do I believe everything I read in the papers,
especially if it's favorable to someone;
in which case what I want to know is:
How much is he being paid for saying these things?
People lie.
People lie all the time, not only because they don't know the truth
or if they know it, it happens to be against them,
but because they feel more comfortable when they lie.
*
We all lie when it comes to our problems,
and the greatest liar is he who says,
“We need solutions.”
Because that's the last thing we want.
Have you ever met a bishop willing to resign his position
or vacate his cathedral for the sake of solidarity?
Have you ever met a national benefactor
willing to utter a single word
against the worship of money?
Have you ever met a boss
who was not a loud-mouth megalomaniacal narcissist
all sound and fury signifying nothing?
*
I doubt if there is a single Armenian today
who does not know what our problems and their solutions are.
Even a child knows where divisions are the problems,
solidarity is the solution.
Where worship of money is the problem,
respect for ideas is the solution.
*
Our greatest intellectual of recent times was no doubt Gostan Zarian,
whose life and work prove that
we have no use for intellectuals and their ideas.
What we need is a messianic figure willing to be crucified.
But even then there is no guarantee
that will be the end of our problems.
Remember the brief life and career of another messiah
who was accused of blasphemy by his own people
and continues to be rejected by them even today,
after they have had two thousand years
to reconsider their position on the subject.
#
Thursday, July 2, 2009
*****************************************
PLATO, OSHAGAN, AND ZARIAN
******************************************************
Everything I write is a paraphrase. I am as original as a cook who combines ingredients available in all supermarkets. If the result is edible or if what I say make sense, I am satisfied. I leave originality to my betters.
*
Plato was a great philosopher, and according to some, the greatest. A 20th-century English philosopher (may have been Whitehead) once said that all of Western philosophy is nothing but footnotes to Plato. Was Plato an original thinker? We know that most of his DIALOGUES are based on the conversations of his teacher, Socrates. As for Socrates, very probably most of his ideas came from predecessors, who, like himself, never wrote a single line. To say otherwise is to imply that for almost a thousand years Greeks did not think, speak, discuss, and contradict one another.
*
According to the Oshagans (pere et fils) Zarian was a plagiarist. What was their intention in saying that? To warn the nation not to be taken in by a charlatan or to establish themselves as the alpha males of 20th-century Armenian literature? If Zarian was a charlatan, what about the bosses, bishops, and benefactors whose support they (the Oshagans) enjoyed?
*
An academic by the name of Stern (I forget his first name) once wrote a detailed study with copious footnotes and a bibliography, in which (unlike the Oshagans) he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything Sartre wrote can be traced to an illustrious predecessor. Result? Who speaks of Stern today?
*
If you want originality, read the Oshagans (whose works are being translated into English, I am told). But if you want to understand what's happening to us today, read Zarian.
#
Friday, July 3, 2009
*****************************************
ON ARMENIANS
******************************************************
There is a brown-noser and a bastard in all of us – the brown-noser is reserved for odars, the bastard for our fellow Armenians. Somewhere between the two there is a human being, but he is well-hidden.
*
We will think twice before contradicting an odar, but we will contradict, insult, and crap on a fellow Armenian as if it were our patriotic duty.
*
An Armenian is never as smart as he thinks he is. But that's not his real problem. His real problem is that he is incapable of imagining how unspeakably stupid he can be.
*
Nikol Aghbalian is right, we are a tribal people; or, in the words of Gostan Zarian, our concept of nation begins and ends with our mountain, our valley, our village, our church, and our chickens.
*
Dissatisfied with what you have just read? Your refund is in the mail.
#
Saturday, July 4, 2009
*****************************************
UNTITLED
******************************************************
Criticizing odars is a waste of time.
They have critics of their own.
They don't need our 2 cents.
They might even tell you to go back where you came from.
I speak from experience.
If by criticizing others we try to cover up our own problems
on the grounds that nobody is perfect,
we delude ourselves.
*
We may not know all there is to know about our past.
Nobody does.
But we should know one things for certain
even if it may be hard for some of us to admit it.
We should know that what we were told in our formative years,
what we read in our papers today,
and what our speechifiers and sermonizers tell us,
is irrelevant nonsense.
We should know that the dark pages in our history
are not tragedies but blunders,
and only when we see them as such
may we arrest our downward spiral
and be born again as a nation.
#
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Old 08.07.2009, 19:20   #134
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Sunday, July 5, 2009
*****************************************
JACKASSES
******************************************************
I learned to read in time of war when books were luxuries beyond our means. We had only one in the house – a dilapidated elementary school anthology with black and white drawings. The story on page one was not so much a story as an exchange of insults:
A street urchin to a donkey driver:
“Good morning, mother of jackasses.”
“Good morning, my son.”
*
An exile is someone who lives in an alien country.
A double exile is an exile whose homeland is ruled by aliens,
and no one can be as alien as one's fellow countrymen.
*
You cannot speak of freedom to a slave
who cannot see or feel the weight of his chains.
*
A fool who fools another fool
thinks of himself as smart.
*
Don't think of me as a writer or as an Armenian.
Think of me as a fellow human being
who writes not for readers
but for his younger self
when he was brainwashed, manipulated, and abused
by bastards with an agenda.
*
A few years ago I wrote a series of short stories whose central character was named Jack S. Avanakian – an Armenian-American variation on Odian's Panchoonie.
Once when asked by an interviewer what I was working on, I replied I was planning to write an autobiography titled “The Swan-Song of a Jackass.”
“Why a jackass?”
“Because only an obstinate jackass would go on writing for thirty years for even more obstinate jackasses."
#
Monday, July 6, 2009
*****************************************
BAD HABITS
******************************************************
It was only in old age that I learned to assume responsibility for my actions. Until then one of my favorite mantras was, “As a result of political, social, and cultural conditions beyond our control...” which translated into dollars and cents simply means, “not my fault.” The longer we postpone kicking a bad habit, the harder it gets doing what must be done.
*
A dishonest leadership will spawn a dishonest educational system and dishonest citizens. It is widely known that during the Soviet era everyone engaged in petty larceny. They had no other option if they wanted to survive. There are over a thousand Armenians in California jails today. You may now guess their country of origin. Habits are easier to keep than to give up.
*
In the Ottoman Empire we were Ottomanized; in America Americanized; in the Middle East Levantinized; in the USSR sodomized – meant to say Sovietized – not that it makes a difference. It was inevitable. It was as a result of political, social, and cultural conditions, blah, blah, blah!
*
At the turn of the last century our political leaders were idealistic intellectuals, daydreaming poets and revolutionaries inexperienced in the ways of international diplomacy. They tried to transplant progressive Western ideas into an essentially Asiatic environment. Today our leaders are shrewd, down-to-earth, practical businessmen and cynical bureaucrats whose defining feature is contempt for ideas. National benefactors are our kings and heroes now. As for our vodanavorjis and mdavoragans: they are no better than contemptible beggars and brown-nosing academics.
*
Who in his right mind would choose a corrupt, incompetent, and undemocratic leadership over freely elected honest administrators whose first and most important priority is the welfare of the people?
Next question: When was the last time in our millennial history when we the people were given a choice? Bad habits are easier to keep than to give up.
*
Let us now pray!
#
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
*****************************************
ON OUR CELEBRITIES
******************************************************
As a child I was brought up to brag about Gulbenkian, Saroyan, Mikoyan, Mamoulian and our Byzantine emperors. As an adult I discovered that Mikoyan was so fearful of Stalin's secret police that he slept with a revolver under his pillow planning to kill himself if they came to arrest him in the middle of the night. And when Stalin ordered the purge of “enemies of the people” in Armenia, Mikoyan went about it with the thoroughness of Talaat, with one difference: whereas in Talaat's holocaust Zarian, Oshagan, and Zabel Yessayan survived, by the time Mikoyan was through his purge there were no survivors except for a handful of yes-men like himself.
*
It is common knowledge that only 7% of Gulbenkian's vast fortune is earmarked for Armenians. I will not speak of his private life because it is not fit for human consumption.
*
At no time did Rouben Mamoulian extend a helping hand to Armenian actors, and in this he was not different from his Jewish bosses who were against hiring actors that looked remotely Jewish.
*
Saroyan's fictional characters are typical Armenians only in the sense that Tevye the Milkman (of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF fame) is a typical Jew. Saroyan “stylized” (his word) Armenians to make them more palatable and harmless to his American audience. But according to his most recent biographer, near the end of his life he was suspicious of all Armenians, including his own children.
*
As for our Byzantine emperors: their foreign policy was consistently anti-Armenian.
*
Raffi once said that “treason and betrayal are in our blood.” What he failed to add is that this is especially true in our “best and brightest.”
Celebrity is an impure concept. To admire some Armenians simply because they achieved fame and fortune in foreign countries and to ignore the achievements of many others, among them Naregatsi, Abovian, Raffi, Baronian, Odian, and Zarian, is to choose the wrong role models for our children and, in doing so, to corrupt our values and to undermine the integrity of the nation.
#
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
*****************************************
GRAPHIC PORN
******************************************************
Finally a book by a distinguished scholar (see below) in which the work of nationalist historians is described as “graphic porn.”
*
One reason the Balkans are a vipers' nest of internecine conflicts is that each ethnic group has its own version of the past wherein it represent itself as innocent victim and its neighbors as “guilty bastards.” To combat this trend, a group of multi-ethnic enlightened historians has decided to produce textbooks that are objective, honest, and fair to all sides, and whenever there are two contradictory versions of the same event, to give both sides of the story.
One of these historians, Nenad Seber by name (a British citizen of mixed parentage) is quoted as having said: “Turkish history says the Ottoman Empire was incredibly enlightened, a heaven of religious tolerance, a golden age for the Balkans. According to Greek history books, it was 5 centuries of rape, slavery and butchery. We've moved away from all that. In our Ottoman Empire workbook, for example, we've got a Turkish historian talking openly about the Armenian massacres.”
For more on this subject, see Justin Marozzi's THE WAY OF HERODOTUS: TRAVELS WITH THE MAN WHO INVENTED HISTORY (Philadelphia, PA, 2008).
#
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Old 11.07.2009, 18:17   #135
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Thursday, July 9, 2009
*****************************************
MISERABILISM
******************************************************
Whenever I say tribal divisions have been at the root of all our defeats and miseries, someone is sure to raise his voice and say: “What chance did we have against much more powerful enemies like the Romans, Arabs, Tatars, Mongols, Turks, and Russians, among others. But I maintain we were defeated not because we were small and our enemies big, but because we could not shed our tribalism, which is as true today as it was then. There is no limit to what a nation, any nation, no matter how small, can achieve if it stands united. As a case in point, consider Vietnam versus France and the United States, the mightiest empire in the history of mankind. America lost the war not only because Vietnam's resistance was heroic, obstinate and single-minded but also because America was divided – successive Administrations were for the war but an important fraction of the people was against it.
Which is another benefit of solidarity: it tends to divide the opposition.
Closer to home: in his magisterial 12-volume STUDY OF HISTORY, Toynbee speaks of Urartu versus the Assyrian Empire, one of the mightiest empires of its time. Though repeatedly attacked by the formidable military machine of Assyria, Urartu stood its ground and never lost its independence. And why? I will let you answer that question.
What's done is done and cannot be undone. We cannot change the past, only our perception of it. If I write about past blunders and failings it is not to rub salt on our collective wound but to expose present blunders and failings, which we refuse to acknowledge because we have become so subservient to authority, any authority, including our own, that we believe what we are told, even when what we are told is a bare-faced lie.
We go further: instead of analyzing our present condition objectively and honestly, we speak endlessly about someone else's criminal conduct. To what end? To remind us of our status as victims and to assert moral superiority?
Speaking for myself: I do not feel morally superior to anyone, and I am fed up to the point of disgust with our status as perennial victims. And if you, gentle reader, do not feel as I do, I can only say, to each his own. I for one have no intention of standing between you and your miserabilism.
#
Friday, July 10, 2009
*****************************************
“I BELIEVE IN AMERICA”
******************************************************
Remember the opening line of THE GODFATHER? The screen is dark. The voice is that of an undertaker. His name is Buonasera (“good night” in Italian). His daughter has been raped and beaten by two hoodlums and since he cannot get justice in the courts, he begs for justice from Don Corleon (“heart of a lion”).
*
I once had a friend who also believed in America. He was a chain-smoker. He breakfasted on bacon and eggs with buttered toast. He was a chic Bolshevik (a middle-class Armenian-American who hated Tashnaks, supported the Soviet system, and believed the Russians to be our Big Brothers), until he had a heart attack, open-heart surgery, and the Soviet Union collapsed.
*
What do we really know about what goes on within us or around us? What do we really know about our past? How many of us are interested in reading historians as opposed to ghazetajis and dispensers of “graphic porn”?
The Garden of Eden.
The Cradle of Civilization.
The Battle of Avarair.
Is anyone out there really interested to know that the Battle of Avarair is Mamigonian propaganda? It never happened.
*
We live in darkness. What we don't know far exceeds what we know. And it is this area of darkness that is exploited by advertisers, ideologues, propagandists, sermonizers, speechifiers, and fund-raisers. To say “I believe in America” also means “I believe in American lies.”
*
Why am I saying these things?
What am I driving at?
What is the moral of the story?
Only this:
“Don't be a fool!”
#
Saturday, July 11, 2009
*****************************************
THE ENEMY WITHIN
******************************************************
After publishing an interview with a Tashnak leader, in which he reminisced about his predecessors and the way they had shaped his character and worldview, a Ramgavar leader wrote a letter to the editor in which he exposed Tashnak leaders as phonies and myself as a dupe.
More recently, in Gourgen Mahari's memoirs, I read about an encounter with General Antranik in which he is quoted as having said that Tashnak leaders deserve the hangman's noose.
It is common knowledge that the heroes of one nation are more often than not unknown nonentities to its enemies.
The French Revolution spawned two sets of historians, Royalists and Republicans. Even when these two factions agree on what happened, they disagree violently on its reasons, motives, and consequences.
In my edition of the SOVIET-ARMENIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA the most frequently quoted authorities in the bibliographies on a large variety of subjects are Marx, Engels, and Lenin.
What I am trying to say here is that anyone who subscribes to a belief system is a dupe or a pathological liar to those who subscribe to a different belief system; and this is true not only of nations and their enemies but also of groups within the same nation or, for that matter, religion or ideology. Stalinists and Trotskyists, Catholics and Protestants, Sunnis and Shias. The irony here is that there is more intolerance and hostility within the same religion and ideology than between alien belief systems.
Whom to believe? My answer is to dismiss all of them as pathological liars inebriated with their own self-righteousness.
There are of course many honest men who are also believers. I have nothing against them, except the suspicion that their critical faculties may not be fully developed.
To those who say it is not skeptics and critics who build cathedrals and raise empires. J.S. Bach was neither a critic nor a skeptic.
I have no use for empire builders.
As for Bach: I worship him to such a degree that I have dedicated a good fraction of my life to the study of his works; and as far as I know, no one has ever been victimized, deceived, or exploited in his name.
#
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