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Old 03.03.2010, 17:28   #1
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February 28, 2010
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#1
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When it comes to my own self-interest, or taking care of #1, I have an instinctive drive to work against it on the grounds that the difficulties that confront me will become more challenging, and the greater the challenge, the greater the rewards, even if the rewards come not in this life but in the next, and I don't believe in an afterlife. Figure that one out, if you can.
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It takes faith to see meaning in the meaningless or the incomprehensible. Has anyone ever been successful in explaining if God is love, why does He allow the massacre of the innocent?
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When the mother of a good friend died a few years ago, to console her, I said: “Think of it this way: God has given you two lives – one with Mother and another without her.”
When my own mother died I said and repeated the same thing to myself, but it didn't work; and I now think of it as one of the dumbest things anyone can say to a friend who has lost a loved one. It's like saying to a blind amputee: “God has given you two lives – one with your eyes and limbs, the other without them.”
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How easy it is to bear another's grief! And how impossibly hard it is to come to terms with one's own.
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March 1, 2010
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CRITICS
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The function of a critic is not to know better or to speak in the name of a superior brand of patriotism or loyalty to the nation, but to expose contradictions. To say, for instance, that it makes no sense to brag about survival when it is the best that perish and the worse that survive. Or, to praise freedom in theory and to ban free speech in practice.
Whether we like it or not, whenever we make an assertion, more often than not we speak in the name of an ideology or belief system whose fundamental principles we refuse to question or doubt.
It is not that ideologies and religions can be wrong, but that they are never right because there are no final answers or answers to the most important questions. And as everyone knows by now, for every belief system there is another that contradicts it.
Which belief system is the best?
It depends where you were born and educated – make it, brainwashed. Which means, belief systems are an extension not of reason but of geography. Mountains, valleys and climate have more to do with what we believe than our brains.
Am I advocating skepticism? No! Only reminding my readers that none of us is infallible, not even the Pope of Rome or, for that matter, the Catholicos of Etchmiadzin or Antelias.
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It is not easy to see meaning in the meaningless. But what is even infinitely harder is to question the validity of meaning itself. A philosopher (I no longer remember his name) once wrote a book titled THE MEANING OF MEANING. It seems to me, in a historic context, it would be far more accurate to speak of the meaninglessness of meaning, in view of the fact that countless innocent victims were slaughtered in the name of a belief system or heresy that is no longer a heresy.
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March 2, 2010
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...AMONG OTHER THINGS
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If a hundred million people believe in a lie, it doesn't follow that lie ceases to be a lie.
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On more than one occasion I have been given to understand that if my income is below minimum wage I am in no position to negotiate or to say anything but “Yes, sir!”
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Not all Turks are enemies, and not all Armenians are friends. Some Turks saved our lives by risking their own, and some Armenians betrayed us to the authorities.
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Think of me as someone who is doing his utmost to be an honest witness in the eyes of an honest jury that may or may not exist.
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Dividers don't like to speak of solidarity, or bankers of usury, or cannibals of vegetarianism, or pimps of castration.
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Anyone who trusts someone else's judgment more than his own is a potential dupe.
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March 3, 2010
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FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
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If you want to teach yourself how to lie and deceive, write your memoirs. Even better, if you are a nationalist or a patriot, write a history of your nation. I speak from experience: I have done both.
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To brag about the fact that we have oppressed no other nation is like a lizard asserting his moral superiority on the grounds that he has never killed and devoured a crocodile.
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Too many chiefs, no Indians: that's one way to explain our divisions.
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Memo to readers who like to compare me to Mencken: Please, take the trouble to learn how to spell his name.
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I am not a good or even a mediocre pianist, but I can brag about one thing: I have been murdering Mozart's and Beethoven's complete Sonatas and so far no cop has ever laid a glove on me.
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Disraeli claimed he had read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE eighteen times. May I confess that I have read it only three times.
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A critic once said of Gore Vidal: “He exudes despair and cynical misery and a grudge against society which is really based on his own lack of talent and creative joy.”
I am reminded of Churchill's World War II remark: “Some chicken! Some neck!”
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No complete bastard ever wrote a decent line. Believable lies, yes!
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