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Old 10.10.2009, 18:01   #1
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Default Honesty

Thursday, October 8, 2009
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HOW TO RECOGNIZE
AN HONEST MAN
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A readiness to speak against one's own interests, or the courage to face and admit openly one's own failings, is the hallmark of an honest man.
By contrast, parading as a holier-than-thou role model is the quintessence of dishonesty.
But the most dangerous form of dishonesty is the assertion that man is fallible in all matters except in his choice of belief systems.
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When Gandhi, Einstein, and Thomas Mann were offered the presidency of India, Israel, and East Germany respectively, they said, no thanks. Which reminds me of Plato's dictum that those who seek power are the least qualified to handle it. That to me might as well be the most convincing explanation as to why world history is an endless catalog of lies, disasters, and tragedies.
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Our local paper has a literary critic who manages a bookstore. He contributes a regular weekly column devoted to new books and he is unfailingly kind to all the writers he discusses. Who takes him seriously? Only dupes, and there must be quite a few of them because he has been in business for many years.
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Closer to home: to defend one's views just because they are one's own, even when the evidence is against them, is another instance of dishonesty. But the most widespread and universal symptom of dishonesty is saying “Yes, sir!” to someone simply because he has more power or money or prestige. Speaking for myself, I don't think those who speak in the name of God and capital (make it, Capital and god) are wiser than the rest of us. If anything, it's the other way around. Which is why I maintain the most egregious case of dishonesty is the assertion by the Catholic Church that in matters of faith the Pope is infallible – an assertion rejected even by some eminent Catholic theologians. Because, if true, all other organized religions, including an important faction of Christians, must be wrong. Which they may well be, but not because they reject the Pope's infallibility.
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Friday, October 9, 2009
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ASSETS & LIABILITIES
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A writer's two best assets:
the sensitivity of an open wound
and the hide of a rhino.
*
Money cannot solve our problems.
Money may even exacerbate them.
That's because where money enters,
philistinism is bound to follow.
And where philistinism enters,
mediocrity becomes the dominant mindset.
That's the only reason why
our problems remain unsolved.
As for our so-called “conditions beyond our control”--
they are nothing but convenient cover-up words
for our lack of vision and incompetence.
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The biography of a man
duplicates the history of mankind,
with one difference:
what follows the Dark Ages
is not always Enlightenment.
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There is so much talk of massacres in our media
that most Armenians are brought up to believe
genocide is the only legitimate violation of human rights.
As for free speech:
no one speaks in its defense because no one cares.
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Saturday, October 10, 2009
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JUSTICE & THE LAW
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Armenians who oppose the Protocols do so because they are fearful we may lose. Justice, after all, is blind, and the law “is a ass” (Dickens). As a matter of fact, lawyers prefer to speak of evidence and the law rather than justice.
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Relying on the evidence of insiders, an Armenian editor once published a critical article about the operation of an Armenian organization headed by a national benefactor,who took him to court; and because the insiders refused to testify against the benefactor (they were either hirelings or recipients of his generosity), the editor not only lost but also had a stroke and went bankrupt. That's justice Armenian style for you.
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I have been to court only once in my life – small claims court. My adversary, an incompetent repairman who refused to do what he was paid to do. I took him to court with the absolute certainty that I couldn't lose. But I lost. He lied and the judge believed him and rejected my version of the story on the grounds that I couldn't produce a witness.
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Why did I lose? I can think of many reasons. The judge may have been a racist. The repairman, like the judge, had an Anglo-Saxon name. How dare I, an immigrant, question Anglo-Saxon efficiency and integrity?
The judge had had no experience with incompetent or dishonest repairmen – who, after all, would dare to cheat a lawyer or a judge?
The judge's father had been a hard-working repairman who had also been unfairly accused of incompetence...and so on and so forth.
The fact remains that I lost and learned what I should have known all along, namely that, injustice is the price we pay for justice. That's not a contradiction but life, and life, as we all know, is not fair.
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Old 14.10.2009, 19:05   #2
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Default Re: honesty

Sunday, October 11, 2009
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THE PROTOCOLS
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Our leaders must be celebrating.
They now have another reason to divide the nation.
Why do they oppose the findings of an independent commission?
Words on a piece of paper, agreements, treaties: they can't change reality. They have been ignored in the past, many times, and they can be ignored again. They are binding only if we allow them to bind us, and no one has the power to do that.
Who takes politicians and academics seriously?
A so-called impartial commission does not scare me. It is here today, heard tomorrow, forgotten the day after.
Relax! The sky isn't falling.
Nothing can be more naïve than to confuse the verbal commitments of diplomats with accomplished facts.
If, say, ten or a hundred years from now, an independent commission were to decide there is no God, do you think believers will give up their faith? They didn't under Lenin, Stalin, Mao and their kind.
And speaking of God: the Scriptures tell us, ”A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And yet our leaders keep dividing us. If they can ignore the Word of the Almighty, why can't they ignore the empty verbiage of a commission? If only they had been more skeptical a hundred years ago and ignored the verbal support of the West! There would have been no Genocide and no Genocide commission deciding whether the Genocide was in fact a genocide.
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The daily quotation of my morning paper today is by Aldous Huxley and it reads: ”Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
Go ahead, say it ain't so!
#
Monday, October 12, 2009
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DEAD MEN WALKING
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In a book of abusive terms I once read that Greeks call Armenians ”Turkish gypsies.” That was news to me probably because I seldom ventured outside our ghetto outside Athens – though I was fully aware of the fact that Greeks were not particularly fond of us. Not that they had any reason to be. In their eyes we were unwanted interlopers, D.P.'s (a Canadian abusive term for "displaced people"), who lived crowded in a ghetto that looked like a gypsy encampment.
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Speaking of abusive terms: I have met many Armenians from the Homeland and none of them has ever called me ”aghber.” If the natives call us ”aghber” in the Homeland, why not in the Diaspora?
I suspect they don't call me ”aghber” for the same reason that a white man is careful not to use the ”n” word while visiting Africa, or refer to the natives as Japs while in Tokyo.
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On a number of occasions I have been told when Armenians call their fellow Armenians ”aghber,” they mean not ”trash” but ”brother.” But I happen to know from personal experience that no one can be as abusive to Armenians as a fellow Armenian (see below). If you don't believe me read Naregatsi on Naregatsi. Read Raffi, read Daniel Varoujan on priests, read Baronian, Odian, Massikian, Zarian....
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I dare anyone to read Odian's FAMILY, HONOR, MORALITY (Istanbul, 1910) and not think of his fictional characters as dead men walking – not in the sense of inmates on death row but as men so degraded and dehumanized that they might as well be dead. And if you think Armenians today – be they in New York, Los Angeles, or Yerevan – are alive, it may be because we don't have writers of Odian's caliber, only Turcocentric ghazetajis and academics who come alive only when they speak of massacres.
What kind of life is it that is fixated on death?
I shiver to think what would happen to someone like Odian today who would have the courage to speak of Armenians not as they wish to be described but as they are.
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Speaking of his tuberculosis, Albert Camus writes: ”The illness comes on quickly, but leaves very slowly.” He fails to note that sometimes tuberculosis may even result in death.
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Speaking of Armenians being too nice to use abusive terms: I don't mind admitting that on occasion I have myself described some of them as ”Ottomanized morons,” ”the scum of the earth,” and ”inbred morons”-- but always in retaliation of worse insults, whether fairly or unfairly not up to me to decide...remains to be seen...posterity will tell...take your pick!
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009
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HEMINGWAY ON KEMAL ATATURK
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”[He] looks like an Armenian lace seller than a Turkish general. There is something mouselike about him.”
What does an Armenian lace seller look like? I plead nolo. An Armenian lace seller makes as much sense to me as a Patagonian barber or a Syrian carpenter.
But if you are an American writer writing for an American audience, you can say anything and get away with it.
OSHAGAN & DOSTOEVSKY
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Oshagan was wrong when he said he could not write like Dostoevsky because Armenians did not have Dostoevksian characters. But Dostoevsky's characters owe more to his imagination than to his fellow countrymen. Even Russian writers like Turgenev and Nabokov found Dostoevsky's characters unRussian. As for Oshagan: since he could not write like Dostoevsky, he chose to write like Proust, whose French characters are even more unArmenian than Raskolnikov and Dimitri Karamazov.
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TURGENEV ON DOSTOEVSKY
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Whenever he saw anything morbid and strange, Turgenev would say, ”C'est du Dostoevsky.”
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CHEKHOV & ZOHRAB
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When Chekhov discovered he could make money by writing stories, he gave up medicine – he went on practicing whenever the situation demanded but never charged for his services.
Had Zohrab given up lawyering, he could have been as great a short story writer as Maupassant and Chekhov. There was some money in Armenian literature at the turn of the century in Istanbul but not enough for Zohrab's upper crust lifestyle. To give you an idea how much money there is in Armenian literature today: I am told one of our national benefactors financially supported several writers, among them Shahan Shahnour, by sending them a regular monthly check of $8.00 (eight dollars).
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SHAKESPEARE
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One reason he was great is that he had a great audience. He wrote for kings and queens, and even his queens had cojones. An Armenian writer writes for Levantine philistines in the Diaspora and the offspring of commissars in the Homeland. That's why even Turks are ahead of us in literature.
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ON LEVANTINE PHILISTINES
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There is a Turkish saying: ”Eshek khoshavdan ne annar?” (What does a jackass know about stewed raisins?”
As for the commissars in the Homeland: they are more like Raskolnikov without a conscience. My guess is, they miss the good old days when they could hunt down and shoot writers like rabbits.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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A RECURRING EXPERIENCE
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When as a child I first heard the story about the Ottoman Bank takeover by a small band of young revolutionaries in Istanbul, who then negotiated their safe passage to a foreign country, but whose actions provoked the massacre of over 5000 innocent civilians: I admired the daring of our youthful heroes, hated the Turks for their cruelty, and suffered with the blameless victims.
That's when I was a child.
Now that I am no longer a child, I have second thoughts.
What kind of heroism is it when the heroes survive and the people perish?
Our revolutionaries justify this colossal blunder by saying, ”We made headlines around the world!”
Maybe. But who gives a damn about headlines in newspapers?
The Genocide that followed made headlines too. And again the ship went down, the people drowned, but our captain survived. And we are now taught to say, Long live the captain!
We are also taught to brag about our will to live; and by ”our” they of course mean their cunning to survive.
As for the people: the people exist to serve the nation – meaning the leadership. What we are not taught is that this is another definition of fascism.
In a democracy it's the other way around. The state and the leaders (also known as ”public servants”) serve the people.
Democracy?
What do we know about democracy?
I have had an Armenian education and I don't remember anyone mentioning democracy.
To speak of democracy to an Armenian audience amounts to explaining the subtle aroma and flavor of rosejam to a jackass.
”If one has character,” Nietzsche tells us, ”one has also one's typical experience that recurs again and again.”
One could also say, ”If one has no brain...”
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