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Old 27.03.2010, 16:59   #1
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March 25, 2010
***************************************************
AS I SEE IT
*******************************************
Negotiating from a position of weakness might as well be synonymous with defeat.
*
We cannot see the dead, but can the dead (or their immortal soul) see us? If they can see us, is it with the indifference of Reality or God? Does our misery spoil their bliss (assuming they are in heaven)?
*
An ideal explanation combines truth (or a semblance of it) with consolation. Hence the popularity of religions – notwithstanding their many contradictions.
*
My views of my fellow men (beginning with myself) are so unflattering that I look forward to the day when someone will prove me wrong.
*
Do I write because I like to annoy the hell out of dupes, bigots, and charlatans?
Why not? Isn’t that as good a reason as any?
*
Where a part-time janitor makes more money than a full-time writer, there will be an abundance of recycled crap and a total absence of ideas. When, in such an environment, they say “We need solutions,” you can be sure of one thing: that's the last thing they need.
*
In all political movements, lust for power is invariably hidden beneath noble slogans: the greater the lust, the nobler the slogans.
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There are many forms of cowardice, surely one of the worst must be fear of free speech.
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It is not easy being civil to individuals who in a different time and place would have been my executioners.
#
March 26, 2010
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FROM ABC TO Z
*******************************************
Abovian committed suicide, Bakounts and Charents were betrayed to an alien regime and “purged,” and Zarian died with the conviction that he had been murdered. The enormity of this crime against humanity is such that it needs to be repeated again and again and as often as the other great crime committed against us at the turn of the last century. Remember that next time you speak about Armenian literature and culture.
*
When top dogs fail to reach a consensus, the interests of underdogs cease to be a priority.
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Because I am against a divided, incompetent, and corrupt regime, I am treated as an enemy of the people on the assumption that the people are too alienated or dumb to recognize a friend when they see one.
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Just because the stars are not visible during the day, it doesn't mean they are not there. Likewise, just because our “betters” are unreasonable, it doesn't mean reason should be abolished.
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If you insult someone anonymously, you may expose more your cowardice and less your target's failings.
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Henri Barbusse: “The real and the supernatural are one and the same.”
So are the reasonable and the absurd.
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Baudelaire: “Life is a disease. This is a widely known secret.”
#
March 27, 2010
***************************************************
VANDALS
*******************************************
To practice medicine, you need a diploma. To drive a car, you must have a license. But any charlatan can be a politician and proceed to dismantle the nation. This is a well-known historic fact. There are still millions of people who believe Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam were great leaders, in the same way that there are many Armenians who believe what they are told by our bosses, bishops, and benefactors, who, after vandalizing the nation's most important possession – namely, its solidarity – dare to speak in the name of patriotism and God. If that's not speaking with a forked tongue, I should like to know what is.
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At the end of his life, Arthur (DARKNESS AT NOON) Koestler was so disgusted with politicians that at the beginning of every interview he would say, “No politics.”
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When, a few days ago, I posted a short commentary titled “Metaphysical Speculations,” several readers said such speculations are a waste of time because they never lead to believable final answers. But according to Toynbee: “Comprehension sometimes consists in just a correct understanding of questions that are unanswerable.”
#
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Old 28.03.2010, 17:26   #2
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Quote:
Abovian committed suicide
where you find this?
Abovyan disapeared and most probably was killed.
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Old 31.03.2010, 16:47   #3
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March 28, 2010
***************************************************
WHAT WE ALL WANT
*******************************************
The maximum amount of respect for the minimum amount of effort to earn it.
*
LIES AND LIARS
**************************
According to an old saying, “All men are liars.” But whereas the poor and the weak lie in defense of their survival, the rich and powerful lie in defense of a power structure that allows them to deceive, exploit, and oppress the poor and the defenseless. Only the blind will not see a difference there.
*
ON HISTORY AND HISTORIANS
**********************************************
Where there are two version of the past, both can't be right, though both may contain fractions of truth. What happened, what is described in a book, and what is understood by readers are three different things. Which is why every historian disagrees with every other historian. Which is also why even the greatest historians – from Herodotus to Spengler and Toynbee – have been torn to shreds by other historians. Which may suggest that historians, even the very best, are as fallible as popes, imams, and rabbis.
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ON REINCARNATION
*********************************
I see reincarnation not as a concept or occurrence that may happen after death, but as a ceaseless, ongoing process in life. The air we breathe and the food we consume are constantly being recycled by our bodies. Which is why scientists tell us we all have within us atoms that once belonged to Socrates and Alexander the Great. In Toynbee's version of the story: “Every human being now alive has links, however tenuous, not only with every one of his contemporaries, but also with every other human being that has ever lived.”
#
March 29, 2010
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CONTEXTS
**************************************
In a NEWSWEEK commentary I read the following about THE NEW YORK TIMES: “Could America's greatest newspaper really be led by such vicious, untrustworthy people?” I have been asking that same question about our own weeklies which, compared to THE NEW YORK TIMES, are as nothing!
*
Am I poisoning the well?
You cannot poison a well of lies with a drop of antidote which may contain particles of truth.
*
Whenever I am told a self-important Armenian is too busy to answer his mail – that is to say, to behave like a civilized human being or to do what he is paid to do – the first question that comes up is: “Busy doing what -- beside pulling his d*ck?”
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Literary immortality, including that of Dante and Shakespeare, lasts only a fraction of a second when placed in the context of cosmic time. I read this in a book on death by Julian Barnes titled NOTHING TO BE FRIGHTENED OF (New York, 2008).
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Are Armenians smart? Maybe, But it is a mistake to use that line as a license to behave like an inbred moron. As Yanks are fond of saying, “That's my philosophy.”
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"Truth shall set you free," we are told. Not always. Especially not in an Armenian context. An Armenian who thinks truth is on his side behaves more like a slave to his Ottomanism.
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An assertion and its contradiction are only two steps on a road that stretches to infinity. But in an Armenian context, they might as well be dead ends.
#
March 30, 2010
***************************************************
COMMENTS
**************************************
“This Western Sun-King's [Louis XIV] palace at Versailles weighed as heavily upon the land of France as the pyramids of Gizah weighed upon the Land of Egypt.”
My first thought on reading this passage in Toynbee's STUDY OF HISTORY: “and as our own four religious denominations (Protestant, Catholic, Etchmiadznagan, and Anteliassagan) weigh upon our communities everywhere.”
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An infallible man or institution does not have to be proven wrong because nothing can be as foolish, to the point of being asinine, as claiming infallibility.
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I knew Armenian literature and culture were bankrupt on the day I heard the words of a national benefactor and patron of the arts spoken to one of our poets: “I hire and fire people like you every day.”
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We can truly say of the brainwashed: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they say because they understand nothing and they know even less."
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Writes Shahan Shahnour in a letter to a friend (I am now translating and paraphrasing from memory): "Dupes have been the source of our downfall. What we need most today is the kind of common sense that can discriminate right from wrong, and good from evil. What we don't need is the empty verbiage [i.e. propaganda] of partisan rhetoric. In the words of Arpiar Arpiarian, 'If we can't be useful to this nation, let us at least refrain from doing it any harm'."
#
March 31, 2010
***************************************************
READING SARTRE
**************************************
“History is the result of conscious but often shortsighted decisions made by men in face of the problem of scarcity.”
At the turn of the last century in the Ottoman Empire, the problem of scarcity for the people was human rights or freedom, and for the revolutionaries, power. And now that they have the power, what are they doing with it? They run schools and educate a new generation of “decent” Armenians who will support their “cause” (that is to say, their power).
*
And here is Sartre again on the subject of decency in a political context:
“The decent man will make himself deaf, dumb, and paralyzed. He is the most abstract negation. He will define himself narrowly by tradition, by obedience...”
Now you may be in a better position to understand why when Talaat and Stalin felt threatened, the first thing they did was to systematically eliminate the intellectual class. Now you may also be in a better position to understand why under the sultans we had a vibrant literature, and under our own so-called revolutionaries we have nothing.
*
“In order for reality to be revealed, it is necessary for a man to struggle against it.”
The Ottoman and Soviet realities revealed themselves to us when we undertook to struggle against them.
What about our present reality?
It will never reveal itself as long as we allow those in power to brainwash us into being “decent” Armenians – that is to say, deaf, dumb, and stupid dupes who cannot think for himself.
#
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Old 07.04.2010, 15:28   #4
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April 4, 2010
***************************************************
LAMENTATION
**************************************
“You are consistently negative,” I am told again and again by the very same readers who are the cause of my negativism.
*
We speak as though our problems need solutions.
We speak as though generations of our writers lived, worked, and died in some other dimension inaccessible to us.
Poor Armenian people!
Poor Armenian writers!
*
Poor Armenian writers.
After we bury them, we re-bury them again and again whenever we ignore their works.
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We have been so thoroughly dehumanized that ideas mean nothing to us.
Money, yes!
Ideas?
Who gives a damn?
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Jesus died for our sins, we are told.
Generations of Armenian writers died to save us but we continue to wallow in ignorance, apathy, materialism, envy, intolerance, and arrogance.
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I work for nothing.
I write for readers who know better.
Writing for Armenians is akin to mating with a shark.
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We speak of nationalism because we have been de-nationalized as thoroughly as we have been dehumanized.
Our own backyard comes first.
As for the nation – who gives a damn?
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Oppressors don't want the oppressed to have ideas. What they want is subservience. In their eyes, freedom is a dangerous commodity. As for ideas...in Napoleon's words: “A man with an idea is my enemy.”
It is the same with our bosses: all they want from us is subservience.
*
After the Sultan, Talaat.
After Talaat, Stalin.
After Stalin, our bosses and their assorted hirelings of Jack S. Avanakians and “mi kich pogh” Comrade Panchoonies, and communities whose favorite words are “Yes, sir!”
*
Even when we speak of others, we speak of ourselves. Think twice before you say another word on Turks.
#
April 4, 2010
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FROM DUST TO DUST
**************************************
Confucius: “Let us leave the spirits aside, until we know how best to serve men.”
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Our parish priest (Anteliassagan) refused to bless my mother's grave on the grounds that she had been cremated. “We don't believe in cremation,” said he.
I wonder, was he trying to obstruct her path to heaven?
*
According to N.T. Wright, a contemporary theologian: “People are so preoccupied about who gets into heaven that they forget that much of the New Testament is about how we conduct our lives in the here and now.”
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They lead us like sheep not to green pastures but to a den of wolves.
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What makes me to repeat myself is not senility but the conviction that a truth should be repeated as often as the lies of our Jack S. Avanakians and “mi kich pogh” Panchoonies.
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More quotations from Confucius:
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“Respect spiritual beings but keep them at a distance.”
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“Only the wisest and the stupidest of men never change.”
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“The path to duty lies in what is near and men seek for it in what is remote. The work of duty lies in what is easy and men seek for it in what is difficult.”
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“When you see a good man, think of emulating him; when you see a bad man, examine your own heart.”
#
April 5, 2010
***************************************************
READING RAFFI
**************************************
We sent Khrimian Hairik to Berlin, and Sylva Kaputikian to Moscow.
Diplomats and revolutionaries: where are they when we need them most?
Raffi's answer:
“We are like sheep without a shepherd...We don't have an aristocracy. We have neither elites nor leaders. What we have are merchants and clergymen [and vodanavorjis, he could have added]. Merchants are trash. As for the clergy: they have always been against individual freedom.”
*
“Where there is oppression, there is cowardice, ignorance, and sloth. A man needs freedom to discover the benefits of freedom.”
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“What's done is done. What we must do now is assess the damage and figure out how to avoid the next catastrophe.”
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“War, bloodshed, massacre: they will be with us so long as the principle of Might is Right prevails.”
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“The prevalent mentality among us is, every man for himself. As long as I can take care of myself, why should I give a damn about anyone else?”
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“Those who are in charge of our destiny are themselves a gang of criminals. What are our options? Who can help us? Not even God, it seems, perhaps because we have too many sins on our conscience.”
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“Our capitalists are the most corrupt and degenerate members of the community. Nothing good can come from them. They are men without a country. They worship only money. Profit is their only homeland.”
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In what way are our national benefactors different from Raffi's capitalists if they allow their flunkeys to behave like commissars of culture and to subsidize ghazetajis whose obsession with Turks far exceeds their concern for fellow Armenians? And what about our fornicating bishops and bosses who so far have delivered nothing but empty verbiage? Has anything changed during the last 150 years? Once upon a time we were slaves. We are now slaves of former slaves.
*
Here is Raffi again:
“No power on earth can deprive you of your freedom. No one can enslave you if you refuse to be enslaved. Where there is slavery there are also men willing to assume a passive stance. Oppressors know this and they count on it.”
#
April 6, 2010
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PATRIOTISM
**************************************
Nationalists begin by asserting a superior brand of patriotism and end by committing massacres.
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All genocides are committed in the name of nationalism, and sooner or later all nationalists are exposed as fascists.
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I have yet to meet an Armenian who thought his own brand of patriotism to be inferior to someone else's.
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If I have been silenced, it's because our fascist editors and publishers have been successful in convincing their readers that I am an enemy not of fascism but of the people and the fatherland.
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They accuse me of emphasizing the negative, whereas they are in the business emphasizing the positive; and emphasizing the negative means “corrupting the young” and “undermining the authority of the gods,” which happen to be the charges leveled against Socrates and against all dissidents in general.
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To be a dupe of propaganda means supporting fascists whose ultimate aim is the destruction of the state, or so history or reality tells us.
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Patriotism is a mask that hides killers, and killers not only of the enemy but also of their fellow countrymen.
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Patriotism appeals to the emotions, and “emotions are judgments opposed to those arrived at by reason” (Epicurus).
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There is nothing new under the sun. What I have been saying was said by Greeks more than two thousand years ago.
#
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Old 10.04.2010, 16:57   #5
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April 7, 2010
***************************************************
WHY MEN DISAGREE
**************************************
If we disagree, it may be because we speak in the name of Reality (whose complexities are infinite), Truth (which is accessible only to God) or God (Whom we are not equipped to know or understand).
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When we speak, we select and emphasize a single aspect of Reality that has an infinite number of them.
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Speaking and writing consists in selecting and emphasizing a perspective or point of view which proves a pet theory or justifies our interests. Which is why I trust more a man who speaks against himself.
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Our brains' ability to perceive Reality is limited. Scientists tell us space is not infinite. Which means at a certain point it ends. But our brain cannot perceive or imagine what it is that stands between space and non-space, or between existence and nothingness.
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No subject has created more disagreements, intolerance, persecutions, wars, and massacres than God, Who, we are told, is love mercy and compassion.
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Man hates in the name of love and sees no contradiction in it. Figure that one out, if you can.
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We are, or rather our history is, a succession of contradictions which we can only pretend to resolve and understand.
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Our belief systems are houses of cards in a storm. To say “I believe” is to assert faith in the incomprehensible and the inconceivable.
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When I say “Let us pray,” I express a desire to direct my words to a Being who has consistently ignored the voices of those who need Him the most – the enslaved, the downtrodden, the starving, the dying, and the innocent victims of massacres.
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“Our Father Who art in heaven”? Any father who would witness the rape and murder of his young daughter when he was in a position to stop it, would be in jail for aiding and abetting a man guilty of a capital offense.
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May God (if He cares to hear me) have mercy on my soul (if I have one).
#
April 8, 2010
***************************************************
READING ZARIAN
**************************************
Or rather, “re-reading” him, because so far all I have been doing is either quote or paraphrase him.
*
G.B. Shaw once said that even after he had solved all of mankind's problems people kept asking for solutions. Something very similar could be said of Zarian and our problems. It can be said that Zarian is to Armenians what the Old Testament is to Jews, and what the New Testament is to Christians.
*
“What matters in life is not a multiplicity of ideas but a certain quality of attitude, action, responsibility, and commitment.”
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“Morality is not the same as religion.”
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“We don't have critics. Not in the true sense of the word. What we have are semi-educated meddlers with derivative criteria gathered from here and there – amateurs who have made of criticism an arid field of dismal mediocrity.”
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“An Armenian's tongue can be sharper than a Turk's yataghan.”
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“What are we but a handful of persecuted and displaced people at the mercy of the wind. Like dust we cling to stones on dirt roads and assume their shapes – grateful whenever we fall on a vegetable planted by others.”
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“Our communities in the Diaspora are dominated by shopkeepers, pseudo-intellectuals, and priests. A miscellaneous crew of rascals with fat bellies and swollen egos. There you have the nucleus around which our collective existence revolves. This indeed ought to be the central issue of our literature today.”
*
“Our devils come in many disguises. In our own days they appear as clergymen, activists, hired scribblers, schoolmasters. They have beady eyes, loose lower lips, deep voices, and mangled features. They are termites, toads, and sometimes vipers. Pretense, envy, treachery...”
*
“We survive by cannibalizing one another.”
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“Writing for Armenians is a waste of time. We are in a vegetative state. We are interested only in matters dealing with our survival. We carry our identity like a heavy weight on our shoulders. If I write, it must be in either French or English.”
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“The Armenian nation is like a family whose members devour each other because of conflicting interests. And because they are absorbed in personal feuds, they are blind to spiritual greatness. For the average Armenian, Armenia is nothing but a piece of real estate.”
*
I could go on quoting Zarian for many more pages, but I will stop here on the grounds that “No banquet under heaven is endless.”
*
I may stop quoting him now but I will go on paraphrasing him in future installments.
#
April 9, 2010
***************************************************
SUMMING UP
**************************************
By quoting others my aim is to point out the fact that the difference between my critics and me is that I rely on thinkers and they recycle the slogans and clichés of Panchoonies and Jack S. Avanakians. As for new or original ideas: there are none. They don't exist. Marx was against exploiters. So was our Lord when two thousand years ago he spoke about camels and the eye of a needle.
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I am against dividers because I believe “all men are brothers” (and I don't mean like Cain and Abel); and when I say “all men” I include Turks. It is a mistake to think of Turks as Turks. I doubt if there is a single Turk alive today. Turks are a mixture of Greeks, Albanians, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Assyrians, Iranians, Arabs, Jews, and Armenians, among others. Something similar could be said of Armenians. As for Armenians who claim the Bagratunis and Mamikonians as their ancestors: Bagratunis identified themselves as Jews, and Khorenatsi identified the Mamikonians as Chinese. Speaking for myself: I have at no time hidden the fact that, on a good day, I can trace my ancestry all the way back to my father.
*
To hate Turks is to hate the wrong enemy. If we are going to hate, let's begin with fascists, beginning with our own.
*
“History of Armenian diplomacy” -- if one of our academics were to produce a monograph on the subject, with separate chapters on Zohrab in Constantinople, Khrimian in Berlin, Mikoyan in Yerevan, and Sylva Kaputikian in Moscow – the subtitle will probably read, “Anatomy of Incompetence and Treason.”
*
My critics accuse me of being anti-Armenian and of projecting my self-hatred on the nation, thus implying there is nothing wrong with us. So much so that, we might as well be a role model to all other nations. To which I can only say, “Self-satisfied bug*ers!”
*
It has been said “nothing fails like success.” If the opposite were true (“nothing succeeds like failure”) we should be on our way to being one of the greatest nations on earth. Now then, I dare anyone to call me a pessimist!
#
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Old 14.04.2010, 18:25   #6
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April 10, 2010
***************************************************
ONE OUT OF TEN THOUSAND
**************************************
Whenever asked for solutions, I offer a single word, “honesty.” And when asked to define honesty, I say nothing on the grounds that anyone who cannot recognize an honest man when he sees one deserves to be taken in by crooks.
We are responsible for our actions as surely as we are for our thoughts and attitudes; and life, as well as the law, do not allow us to plead not guilty by reason of ignorance.
*
For many centuries men were deceived into thinking kings ruled by the will of God; and after abolishing monarchy they consented to be ruled by even more dangerous charlatans. As a result, many more millions died in wars, massacres, and genocides.
*
Who is more guilty – the deceiver or he who consents to be deceived?
Mutual deception may be said to be at the root of all tragedies.
God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden, where He not only planted the Tree of Knowledge but also introduced the Serpent. In legal parlance, entrapment; in layman's terms, deception.
*
We were deceived into thinking the Empire would not strike back because the Great Powers were on our side.
Hitler deceived his people into believing they belonged to a superior race and were therefore qualified, nay destined, to rule the world.
Stalin deceived the people into believing the economic foundations of capitalism were rotten and the future belonged to Bolsheviks.
*
And consider what happens in HAMLET: Claudius deceives the people into thinking he is not a murderer and a usurper but the legitimate king of the land. Whereupon his nephew plots his revenge by deceiving the court into believing he is mad.
Who can forget the magnificent exchange between the usurper's senile minister of state and the “mad” prince?
POLONIUS: Do you know me my lord?
HAMELT: Excellent well, you are a fishmonger.
POLONIUS: Not I my lord.
HAMLET: Then I would you were so honest a man,
POLONIUS: Honest, my lord?
HAMLET: Ay sir; to be honest as this world goes is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.
#
April 11, 2010
***************************************************
ON POPULARITY
**************************************
It is an honest man's duty to expose the dishonest because not to do so amounts to legitimizing dishonesty and ignoring their victims. And because the dishonest outnumber the honest, an honest man is bound to be unpopular.
My guess is, the Beatles made more money in a single day than Mozart in a lifetime.
Popularity is for the birds and the likes of Elvis Pelvis.
Whenever I make myself unpopular with a reader, I think “mission accomplished.”
Can you name a single Armenian writer who was popular?
Naregatsi? Abovian? Baronian?
The first led an anonymous existence in a monastery.
The second committed suicide at the age of 43.
The third was betrayed to the authorities, driven out of business (as publisher) and died of TB at the age of 49.
And they were the lucky ones.
Charents and Bakunts were worse off.
The first was betrayed, arrested, and committed suicide in a Yerevan jail at the age of 40.
The second was betrayed, arrested, tortured, and shot and the age of 38.
First nation to convert to Christianity?
Maybe, but in name only.
Intelligent, progressive, civilized?
Don't make me laugh.
Philistinized, Ottomanized, Sovietized (which also means converted to atheism)?
That's more like it
*
The Polish nation is in mourning today.
If what happened to them happened to us, I have every reason to suspect we would be celebrating.
*
When the truth is unbearable or unreachable, we lie.
#
April 12, 2010
***************************************************
MUMBO JUMBO
**************************************
Some words are untranslatable. Case in point: in Armenian we have a word for “house,” but not one for “home.” There is a popular and widely quoted poem in English that says, “Every house ain't a home,” and “It takes a heap of living to make a house a home.” Translate that, if you can.
*
Man does not understand man (including himself) and yet, theologians pretend to understand and explain God to us. We can't understand God for the simple reason that God and man do not share the same dictionary. Man may need dictionaries. God doesn't.
*
God created man, and man created words, and the twain shall never meet. That's why everything we say about God is irrational, absurd, and blasphemous in the eyes of other men.
*
When we say “God is love,” or “God is our Father,” we in a sense make an attempt to bring Him down to our own level of understanding, and in this effort we fail miserably. Hence countless orthodoxies, heresies, religious wars, and massacres. It is no exaggeration to say that more people have died in the name of God than any other concept, including the Devil. Figure that one out if you can.
*
The Tower of Babel, like Reincarnation, is not a single occurrence but a constant and ceaseless process.
*
For millions of years, primitive man thought of God as the Unknown and the Unknowable; the source of all good as well as evil. Traces of this belief may be found today in all organized religions, including our own – as when we say in the Lord's prayer, “Do not lead us into temptation,” thus identifying God with the Devil whose business it is to lead man into temptation.
*
God may be many things but he is not and cannot be a contradiction. Some day we may see and understand this very clearly but not as long as we speak of Him as if He were a superior version of ourselves.
*
When we say God knows everything, do we mean He knows all the names and numbers in all the telephone books in print today? God's words – assuming he has them, or needs them, or uses them – are not our words, and neither are ours His. When Wittgenstein said we should not speak about things we know nothing about (in his own words, “...about that of which one cannot talk, one must be silent”) I suspect he had God in mind and he was saying “Shut up!” to theologians. Two and a half millennia ago Socrates made a similar assertion when he said, “Of the gods we know nothing.”
*
Jean-Paul Sartre, a contemporary of Wittgenstein, wrote a big philosophical treatise titled BEING AND NOTHINGNESS. In the cosmos, the planet on which we live is the size of a speck of dust so tiny that it might as well be invisible. Which may suggest that “being and nothingness” are not two contradictory conditions but one and the same, or as complementary to one another as mumbo jumbo.
#
April 13, 2010
***************************************************
APHORISMS
**************************************
We all harbor a killer and like 007 all we need is a license to kill.
*
God did not create man in His own image. Man is prone to error. God is not – provided we assume creating man not to have been a serious blunder on His part.
*
We choose an ideology or belief system not by its truth but by its usefulness to us.
*
By selecting a set of values and facts, one can formulate an almost infinite number of belief systems and ideologies.
*
There is a natural tendency in all of us to believe in pleasant lies and to reject painful truths.
*
If the Bible is the word of God, then it is a clumsily garbled paraphrase by someone suffering from an advanced case of Alzheimer's.
*
True knowledge contains doubts, false knowledge only certainties.
*
If as a teenager I had read someone like me, I would have hated his guts.
*
A bad reader can be a mean critic.
*
Men have been talking about women since the beginning of time and they still can't figure them out. What does that tell you about the state of human knowledge and understanding?
#
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Old 17.04.2010, 18:06   #7
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April 15, 2010
***************************************************
READING BARUIR MASSIKIAN,
THE ABOMINABLE NO MAN
OF ARMENIAN LITERATURE
**************************************
“Armenian literature is a vast cemetery and writing for Armenians as cheerful a prospect as attending a requiem mass.”
*
A handful of his contemporaries may have heard of him but the rest have every reason to assume that he is a fiction of my own imagination whose raison d'etre is to reinforce my own peculiar views on Armenians and related atrocities. It is to dispel that notion that I have translated below the brief entry on him in the SOVIET-ARMENIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA (volume 7, page 267), by A. Yapujian:
“Armenian author, born in Adana in 1914. He lived in Cairo in 1920. Received his primary education in the Berberian School, Studied law at the University of Paris, philosophy and literature at the University of Brussels. His works include OUR LIFE (1946), BROKEN CROSSES (1959), and PELTING RAIN (1962), which is a collection of humorous tales, and the plays “My Grandson,” “The Cross,” “One Million,” and “Akhjikdes” [literally, “girl-viewing,” a formal visit arranged by match-makers). His operetta ERZRUM RONDO was staged in Cairo, New York, and elsewhere.”
In addition to being a composer he was also an excellent violinist, or so I am told by a personal acquaintance of his.
He died about ten years after the Encyclopedia was published in 1981.
His contempt of Armenian activists, Panchoonies, and Jack S. Avanakians was such that, when several of them approached his deathbed suggesting he bequeath his estate to an Armenian educational foundation (he died single and, as a successful lawyer, he was a wealthy man), he is said to have replied: “I'd much rather leave it to a Cairo bordello.”
*
“To be an Armenian poet means to be a beggar at the mercy of buggers.”
*
“They asked a thief why he stole, and he replied: 'To qualify as a member of an Armenian organization.'”
*
“He was convinced he looked like a doctor though he had not had much practice in legal murder.”
*
“The logic of an Armenian charlatan: All geniuses have major failings. Since I have a major failing, I must be a genius.”
*
“Instead of books, they want basterma.
Instead of theater, belly-dancing.
Instead of poems, obscenities and brawls.”
#
April 16, 2010
***************************************************
REFRAINS
**************************************
Because he was a Jew, writes Kirk Douglas in his memoirs, he was constantly harassed, bullied, and beaten by neighborhood boys in New York. I too was bullied and sometimes beaten, not by Greeks but by my Armenian classmates.
*
Nothing comes more naturally to a victim than to victimize the first chance he gets.
*
For most of our historic existence we were at the mercy of bullies who were successful in convincing us we were in the best of hands.
When shortly before he was himself murdered, Zohrab warned his fellow Armenians of the coming catastrophe, they said, “Zohrab effendi is exaggerating.”
That's another problem with us. After being victims for centuries, we assume our status as underdogs to be an integral part of the human condition.
*
I have said this before and it bears repeating: Once upon a time we were slaves. We are now slaves of former slaves.
*
We experienced a literary Renaissance in Istanbul under Sultan Abdulhamid II. Under our own bosses and benefactors (and with the blessing of our bishops) we are experiencing the apotheosis of mediocrity which is worse than death.
*
The dead can be resurrected. It is more difficult with the living.
*
I remember to have read somewhere, “A feud should live a full and colorful life and then it should die a natural death and be forgotten.” After we die, our feuds will go on living. Our mortality is certain. So is the immortality of our feuds.
#
April 17, 2010
***************************************************
TWO BOOKS
**************************************
Two recently published books that I am looking forward to read are SPEAK, NABOKOV by Michael Maar, and a biography (the first, I think) of Lesley Blanch titled INNER LANDSCAPES, WILDER SHORES by Anne Boston.
*
Nabokov is a favorite writer of mine. LOLITA is the only work of fiction that I have read four times with equal enjoyment. His critics are right when they say he has no moral sense, no social consciousness, and no constructive message. In that sense, he is very much like music, even though he was himself tone deaf, unlike his son Dimitry, who in addition to being an opera singer is also his father's editor and translator of his Russian works.
My admiration of Nabokov is such that I am more than willing to forgive his blind spots – two of them being his contempt for two bourgeois writers like Thomas Mann and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Nabokov was born in the highest Russian aristocracy, a multimillionaire, who lost his fortune to the Soviets and his father to an assassin.
*
Lesley Blanch is the author of THE SABRES OF PARADISE, the most fascinating book on the Caucasus, or rather, the fierce resistance of Caucasian tribes under the leadership of Imam Shamil, which continues to this day.
There are several Armenians in this epic story, one of them being a girl not much older than Lolita, with whom Shamil is said to have fallen in love. So much so that even when the girl's parents were willing to pay a ransom for her (she was abducted), she refused to return to her family.
Leslie Blanch married Romain Gary, author of the best-selling THE ROOTS OF HEAVEN, (inspired by the ideas of Teilhard de Chardin, with whom he was personally acquainted), who left her for a much younger Jean Seberg, who committed suicide; and so did Romain Gary.
I have a soft spot for all suicides (except Hitler), but I am also convinced it is the wrong people who commit suicide, and those who should, don't – Stalin, Mao, Franco, and any day now, Castro.
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Old 21.04.2010, 17:49   #8
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April 18, 2010
***************************************************
WRITING
**************************************
From an interview with Philippe Sollers in the latest issue of LE POINT:
“To know how to write, one must know how to read; and to know how to read, one must know how to live. That's all there is to it.”
*
“It is said that anyone can be a writer because language is a medium at everyone's disposal. Allow me to confide in you if I may: writing is an art.”
*
VICTIMS
************************
Not all victims are nice. I will never forget the young, attractive woman who was so rude to me that I did something I have never done before: I walked out on her. When she went and complained to my employer, he telephoned to explain that she had once killed a man who had tried to rape her.
*
CRITICS AND DUPES
*******************************
There is more merit in being too critical to the point of being wrong than being a dupe. When one is wrong one may be corrected. But the chances of a dupe seeing the light are slim to the point of being non-existent. Racists, fanatics, fascists, and skinheads have existed and will continue to exist even in the most liberal democracies like the United States of America, and even in the most “progressive, civilized, and intelligent” nation like Armenia.
*
TURKS
***************************
If we call Turks swine we run the risk of alienating the good Turks as well as the half-Armenians within Turkey, that is to say, our most important potential allies.
*
If teachers in Turkey have no choice but to use textbooks approved by the state, in what way is the average Turk today guilty or evil?
#
April 19, 2010
***************************************************
EXTRAVAGANT CLAIMS
**************************************
With the financial support of the Gulbenkian Foundation, an Irish academic by the name of D.M. Lang once wrote and published a lavishly illustrated book titled ARMENIA: CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION. Another academic, J. Strzygowski by name (an Austrian, I think) published a monograph asserting Italian Renaissance architecture is unthinkable without Armenian medieval architecture. Both claims have been rejected by our own academics, among them Sirarpie Der Nersessian, who was later to expose the illegal sale of ancient Armenian manuscripts by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, a well-known black marketeer.
*
The sad truth is, there are as many charlatans in academia as there are in politics, organized religions, medicine, and jurisprudence.
Medicine. Last night on 60 MINUTES a con man maintained he could reverse the symptoms and even cure such terminal conditions as pancreatic cancer for the modest sum of $125,000. To prove this assertion he listed an impressive array of credentials, all of which were exposed as phony.
Jurisprudence. Consider its Greek variant which, in its Golden Age, condemned Socrates to death; Roman jurisprudence that crucified our Lord.
More recently British jurisprudence that imprisoned Gandhi; Soviet jurisprudence and its Gulags; German jurisprudence and its concentration camps; and last but far from least, American jurisprudence that, with the blessing of the Church (all denominations) legitimized racism in the South and its countless crimes against humanity.
One may therefore be justified in suspecting that the aim of a justice system (even at its most progressive and civilized stage of development) is to legitimize criminal conduct.
*
Who is taken in by charlatans? Not just the ignorant, the naïve, and the desperate, but also underdogs and victims whose egos have been so mortally wounded that like drowning man they will cling even to the most absurd lie.
Hamlet's assertion that to be an honest man is to be one in ten thousand holds as true today as it did four centuries ago.
*
For more on Lang, Strzygowski, and Sirarpie der Nersessian, see my ARMENIANS: THEIR HISTORY & CULTURE (New York, 1980) which was published by the AGBU (also known as KGBU in some circles), a textbook that was conceived and written for the purpose of flattering the naïve and the uninformed (beginning with myself).
#
April 20, 2010
***************************************************
READING MANN
**************************************
“The intellectual man is almost as much interested in painful truths as the fool is in those which flatter him.”
*
Thomas Mann was a contemporary of Hitler who saw him as an enemy of the state as well as his own personal enemy. Like all megalomaniacs (a condition not alien to us) the German dictator thought of himself not only as a great statesman and a messianic figure on the stage of world history, but also a better writer than Mann. His resentment grew exponentially when Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize and his MAGIC MOUNTAIN sold many more copies than MEIN KAMPF. He tried to have him assassinated but failed. Mann escaped to America where he wrote a big book on Jews – the four-volume JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHERS, a magnificent and magisterial retelling of a story from the GENESIS. He also wrote many analytical commentaries in which he tried to understand and explain his fellow Germans. Understanding Germans also meant understanding Hitler and his hold over the nation:
“The totalitarian statesman is the founder of a religion; or, more accurately, the founder of an infallible inquisitorial system of dogma that forcibly suppresses every heresy while itself resting on legend – a system to which truth must austerely submit.”
Sounds familiar?
On Hitler as speechifier:
“It is oratory unspeakably inferior in kind, but magnetic in its effect on the masses: a weapon of definitely histrionic even hysterical power, which he thrusts into the nation's wound and turns it round.”
Further down:
“Thanks to his own baseness, he has indeed succeeded in exposing much of our own.”
*
Mann and Hitler shared a boundless admiration for Wagner's music. That was enough for Mann to call Hitler “a brother.”
“A brother – a rather unpleasant and mortifying brother. He makes me nervous, the relationship is painful to a degree. But I will not disclaim it. For I repeat: better, more productive, more honest, more constructive than hatred is recognition, acceptance, the readiness to make oneself one with what is deserving of our hate.”
Finally, here is Mann on his contemporaries, among them Heidegger (according to some, the greatest philosopher of his time) who were taken in by Hitler in the same way that our own own writers were taken in by Stalin in both the Homeland and the Diaspora:
“...lame-brained sycophant intellectuals who mistook the vilest travesty of Germanism for the real thing – who spinelessly took part in every abjectness, prating the while of 'change in spiritual structure.'”
One must be blind not to see parallels here.
#
April 21, 2010
***************************************************
ON STYLE
**************************************
A rich vocabulary may complicate matters. Speaking for myself, I prefer a limited vocabulary -- as in the Bible or Hemingway. Less confusing. Easier to follow. More accessible. Shakespeare is at his best when he uses monosyllables -- “To be or not to be...”
“For whom the bell tolls.” That's not Hemingway but Donne.
Nabokov on Hemingway: “Bulls, bells, balls.”
Hemingway on writing: “Don't borrow, steal!”
*
If it takes you an entire page to say what could be said in a single line, then the challenge you face is not being right but being readable.
*
ON QUOTATIONS
*********************************
To those who say I quote too much, my answer is: We all quote or paraphrase and, more often than not, garble and misinterpret our sources.
Some of us do their utmost to quote honest witnesses; others prefer charlatans who will corroborate their perjury.
*
ON LIMITATIONS
*********************************
One of the hardest things in life is to know one's limitations. But to most people, their limitations might as well be unknown territory.
*
ON BRAGGARTS
**********************************
As children we were taught to brag about our past achievements. I will never forget the Greek who kept bragging about ancient Greek culture and its many contributions to world civilization to a bored American who finally said: “What else have you done more recently?”
What about us? What else have we done beside dropping our pants?
Once when I asked that question to a loud-mouth Armenian, he replied: “We taught the Azeris a lesson they will never forget.”
In other words, we did to them what they did to us. And I thought, there goes our much vaunted moral superiority down the drain.
*
ON MORTALITY
****************************
It is easy to come to terms with your own mortality; much more difficult to survive the death of someone you love.
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Old 24.04.2010, 15:59   #9
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April 22, 2010
***************************************************
FROM CRADLE TO GRAVE
**************************************
Herbert von Karajan's biographers (and there are several of them) tell us he was of Greek descent (real name Karayannis = Blackjohn), but there are Armenians today who believe he was Armenian. The evidence? The last syllable of his surname, of course. What other evidence does anyone need?
An Armenian writer (may he rest in peace) who is accorded an entry in the SOVIET-ARMENIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA, in an angry letter to me: “I have published a book on Armenian celebrities and Karajan is in it!”
What could be more irrefutable than that?
It is common knowledge (but only among Armenians) that many Hollywood stars, among them, Gregory Peck, Jack Palance, and Elizabeth Taylor (Ipekian, Palanjian, and Tertsakian respectively) are of Armenian descent.
“Jesus may have been a Jew,” I was once told by an Armenian with a college degree, “but he was Armenian in spirit because Armenians were the first nation to convert to Christianity.”
More recently I was told, if 40% of Armenian words have Iranian roots, it is the Iranians who borrowed from us and not the other way around. The evidence? To make a long story short, we are “the cradle of civilization.”
If true, I wonder why is it that no historian has so far bothered to write a history of our decline and fall? Is it because the roots of our decline and fall are within us? -- and more particularly in our tribalism, ignorance, prejudice, arrogance, and megalomania – and more particularly, the kind of megalomania that allows us to believe anything that flatters our collective ego?
Or is it because, in the words of our own Raffi:
“We are Armenians and we bear God's curse on our foreheads. We demolish our house with our own hands. Mutual intolerance, divisiveness, envy, betrayal, and a thousand other vices have built permanent nests in our hearts.”
Elsewhere:
“If you examine carefully our national misfortunes and the acts of barbarism perpetrated against us by our enemies, you will invariably find an Armenian. Where Armenian blood flows look for for an Armenian hatchet. After digging the foundations and carefully raising his house, an Armenian will tear it down again with his own hands.”
Is this why the cradle has become the grave?
#
April 23, 2010
***************************************************
ARMENIANS ON ARMENIANS
**************************************
As an Armenian, you may say whatever you wish about your fellow Armenians and get away with it on the grounds that (one) as an Armenian you are an expert on the subject, and (two) most Armenians are dupes who know even less than you do. What Ajarian said about the Armenian language (“Who among us can truly claim to know the Armenian language?”) could be said about Armenians -- “Who among us can truly say to understand Armenians?”
An Armenian is a foreign country to another Armenian. Our differences are such that it is as if we were not only members of different tribes but also of races. I remember once when a fellow Armenian and I disagreed and I said, “We must come from different planetary system,” he retorted with “Make it galaxies.”
What you think or say about Armenians may contain particles of truth which may be easily contradicted by someone else's particles. I say and I repeat, feel free to say whatever you wish about Armenians provided you are honestly interested in the subject which, after all, is an integral part of the human condition – not exactly alien territory to many disciplines, among them philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and semantics.
*
A reader has posted a critical comment in which he praises the generosity of our benefactors and attacks the integrity of our bishops on the grounds they are in it only for the money. If true – and it may well be – the questions we must ask are:
If those among us who speak in the name of God are corrupt, what about those who speak in the name of ideology (bosses) or capital (benefactors)?
If the central concern of our bishops is greed, is the central concern of our bosses and benefactors selfless service?
Are we to believe religion is abused but power and wealth are not?
What has been the contribution of capitalism and ideology to the human condition?
An idea should be judged by its history and not its dictionary definition.
A power structure should be judged not by those in power but by its history of abuses. Where there is power, there will be abuses of power. This is as true of the papacy as it is of monarchy, imperialism, communism, capitalism, authoritarianism, and democracy.
#
April 24, 2010
***************************************************
CONTRADICTIONS
**************************************
Nothing can be more misleading than to confuse chauvinism with patriotism, and dissent with treason. Because to do so also means to confuse propaganda with truth, fascism with democracy, and subservience with independence.
*
All leaders, be they political or religious, rely on the propensity of the average dupe to say “Yes, sir!” Leadership without dupes is inconceivable.
*
Fascism and human rights are mutually exclusive concepts. History is very clear on this point. A leader who pretends to have the Keys of the Kingdom, his Kingdom is that of Hell.
*
We are told one reason suffering is an integral part of the human condition is that Adam and Eve ignored God's warning not to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. In other words, they failed to say “Yes, sir!” and they dared to think for themselves. If you believe that, you will believe anything, including the necessity of just wars, which also means massacres, violations of human rights, and intolerance of free speech.
*
In the eyes of warlike people, all wars are just. Has any nation in the history of mankind ever admitted to have initiated an unjust war? Or, for that matter, has any religious leader ever admitted to believe in a false God? And yet, the world is full of them.
#
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Old 28.04.2010, 16:26   #10
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April 25, 2010
***************************************************
COMPASSION
**************************************
Compassion, I am told, is a missing ingredient in my commentaries. What I am not told is, compassion for whom? The victim or the victimizer, the deceiver or his dupe?
*
A critic is judged by his degree of objectivity; a sermonizer by his compassion (which means suffering with); a physician, on the other hand, is judged by the accuracy of his diagnoses; and a lawyer by his ability to prove the innocent guilty (if he is with the prosecution) and the guilty innocent (if he is with the defense).
What I am trying to say here is that, all lines of work have their own specific and narrow aims, and it would be a mistake for a critic to muscle in the territory of sermonizers, or for that matter, for a lawyer to discard his whig, don a white coat and with a stethoscope around his neck, walk into a hospital and pretend to know what he is talking about.
*
As Armenians, shall we ascribe all our problems to our writers and critics for their lack of compassion? Like the rest of mankind, we too have been exposed to sermonizers for almost two millennia now. What has been the result? More lies, more corruption, more incompetence, more victims, more blunders, and more propaganda. As they say in Washington: “You want a friend who will love you even if you are an s.o.b. or a dealer in b.s. (caca de toro), get a dog!”
#
April 26, 2010
***************************************************
AND ANOTHER THING
**************************************
Underestimating the opposition might as well be synonymous with defeat.
At the turn of the last century the Ottoman Empire was labeled “the Sick Man of Europe.” That's when our revolutionaries decided to challenge its might and went as far as daring the Sultan to massacre us, assuming if he was foolish enough to do so, the Great Powers of the West and the Czar of all the Russias would fall on him like a ton of bricks. No one said the Empire was less like a sick man and more like a wounded tiger, that is to say, at its most dangerous phase.
Our greatest enemy then and now is not the Turk but our damaged perception of reality.
*
And now, consider the case of Palestinians today: they too underestimated the opposition when they chose to go on the warpath. They thought, as Muslims – once upon a time mighty warriors and empire builders – they outnumbered Jews a thousand to one. Besides, who were these Jews who dared to occupy their lands? Nothing but scrawny money-changers who had not fought and won a single war during the last two thousand years.
*
How right are those of my readers who tell me I should get busy flattering egos instead of exposing derrières and questioning the integrity of our leaders, their institutions, and their fund-raising campaigns?
And speaking of fund-raising: If the deciding vote is cast by the bottom line, it only means the decision-makers think not with their brains (assuming they have any) but with their bottoms.
*
It has been said, “We begin to grow up on the day someone we love dies.”
We died.
What have our leaders learned?
Did they ever love us?
#
April 27, 2010
***************************************************
AS OTHERS SEE US
**************************************
Last night on the evening news on TV there was talk of organized Armenian gangs in Los Angeles. Now a few more million people know we are not what we pretend to be.
But then who is?
And yet, we keep brainwashing our children to believe we are better and silencing those who dare to disagree.
We need a positive outlook on life, we are told by negative individuals. And by negative individuals I mean Panchoonies, Jack S. Avanakians, and their dupes whose main concern is covering up who they really are and what they are really up to. In other words, Armenians who speak in the name of Armenianism and practice Ottomanism and Sovietism.
By negative individuals I mean cowards who are afraid to take a good look at themselves in the mirror – afraid of what they may see there.
To cover up their treason, they speechify on patriotism.
Our organized criminal gangs: where did they learn their trade?
By observing our “betters” of course -- that is to say, our commissars in the Homeland, and in the Diaspora, our bosses and bishops – or our mini-sultans and crypto-imams.
How to reconcile our criminal gangs with our demand for Genocide recognition?
That indeed is the question.
All nations have their share of criminal gangs.
If true, then let us have the decency to admit once and for all that we are no better than the rest of mankind, including Turks. And if, unlike Turks, we are not guilty of genocide, it's not because we are better. Because to say we are better than Turks is to confuse military inferiority with moral superiority.
And now, let us pray, if we still have a prayer.
#
April 28, 2010
***************************************************
THE ENEMY WITHIN
**************************************
We were defeated because our enemies outnumbered us.
True or false?
To imply that God created more Turks than Armenians is to accuse Him of being pro-Turkish and anti-Armenian. Like all nations and empires Turks too began their career as a collection of small tribes. With one difference. They were successful in forging alliances with one another. Forging alliances has never been our forte. Being subservient to barbarians comes more easily to us than coming to terms with our own brothers.
*
We are told geography is destiny. We were divided because of our mountains and valleys.
Consider the case of North-American Indians: not only they lived on flatlands but they also outnumbered white men. And yet they lost. They lost because they were divided. Too many chiefs...
*
If in crime it's “cherchez la femme,” in politics it's “cherchez the enemy within.” If, on the other hand, you put the blame on others (another line of thinking popular with us) you condemn yourself to die an ignoramus.
*
More cases in point:
Hitler won at first because he was successful in uniting the German-speaking people. But he lost because he divided his fellow Germans into friends and enemies. As a result, he lost some of the most creative minds in his realm.
Something similar could be said of Stalin's USSR. It was not American capitalism or the Pope of Rome that defeated Communism, but Stalin.
*
Is my criticism wrong because I don't understand my fellow Armenians?
Nobody is perfect. If you read only infallible writers, you should stick to Papal Encyclicals. If I am wrong, the next question we should ask is: Are our propagandists right?
As for understanding my fellow Armenians: I don't have to understand why they think as they do because I too was brought up to think like them. I have been there.
A layman may be forgiven for believing what he is brainwashed to believe. But he cannot and should not be forgiven for thinking he knows better and what he knows is the alpha and omega of human knowledge and wisdom. That's neither knowledge nor wisdom but arrogance or hubris, which is invariably punished by the gods.
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Old 01.05.2010, 16:27   #11
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April 29, 2010
***************************************************
CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG
**************************************
Arrogance: The difference between how smart we are and how smart we think we are. Or rather, the difference between how smart we think we are and how dumb we really are.
*
From the war of Troy to those of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan in our own days, we can say with some degree of certainty that war-makers are never right.
*
Our revolutionaries challenged the might of the Ottoman Empire not because we loved freedom too much (we never did...even now, in a free country like America, we continue to be afraid of free speech – see below) but because we were deceived into thinking the Empire was on its deathbed and the Great Powers were on our side.
*
Who is taken in by lies? Only dupes who allow wishful thinking to cloud their judgment.
*
Our genocide is a major tragedy. But it is also a disastrous defeat, and as such it should be analyzed objectively -- if, that is, we want to learn from our blunders. To call it a tragedy and engage in endless lamentation does nothing but certify our status as perennial victims.
To those who say our conditions of life in the Empire were so unbearable that we had no choice but to act. Maybe so, but the aim of action is not to make things worse but better. Oppression is degrading. Sadistic oppression is unbearable. But genocide is infinitely worse!
*
To say that we rose against the Empire because we loved freedom too much, is to ignore our history and the fact that for most of our existence we were the obedient and loyal subjects of ruthless and bloodthirsty tyrants from Suleiman to Stalin. So much so that in the Ottoman Empire our masters called us “the most loyal millet (ethnic group).” We were loyal to the point of betraying to the authorities our ablest men.
*
As for our love of freedom and fear of free speech: according to Hagop Garabents (Jack Karapetian) – not a dissident or critic but a pro-establishment novelist, essayist, and short story writer: “Once upon a time we fought and shed our blood for freedom. We are now afraid of free speech.”
I have quoted this line before and I will continue to quote it to remind our dupes that we are not what we pretend to be, and there is a natural tendency in all of us to speak with a forked tongue.
*
Churchill once said: “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” Which is why I don't trust our nationalist historians – they are invariably too kind to the nation at the expense of the truth. As for our political leaders: like all political leaders they are closer to being compulsive liars than honest witnesses or selfless servants. To believe in what they say is to be a certifiable dupe.
#
April 30, 2010
***************************************************
QUESTION
**************************************
Is what I write of any use to anyone?
I don't know and I don't care to know.
I prefer to think no one gives a damn. At least that way I have history on my side (see below). If I were to believe what I write matters, I would begin to take myself seriously and gradually degenerate into a pompous ass. Instead of sharing my understanding I would sermonize and speechify, and of sermonizers and speechifiers we already have more than our share.
*
HISTORY
*******************************
Betrayed to the authorities, abused, silenced, neglected, starved, and driven to suicide or executed, our ablest writers have been conveniently buried and forgotten. I have said this before and it bears repeating. Why should anyone give a damn about what a minor scribbler says?
*
MEMO TO MY CRITICS
*************************************
To those of my readers who are eager to inform me that I am on the wrong path, I say: “Relax! No harm done. No one gives a damn. Why should you?”
*
ANOTHER QUESTION
*****************************
Our children are brought up and even encouraged to brag about our Golden Age (5th century AD). But has anyone bothered to read any one of our golden masterpieces? Or having read them, has understood what they say? And what they say is what every honest witness has said: corruption and divisions breed incompetence, and to ignore our blunders or to cover them up is to sign the death warrant of the nation.
We have survived for millennia and we will continue to survive?
A man condemned to die the death of a thousand cuts will also survive up to the 999th cut.
What if, instead of survivors, we are “dead men walking”?
*
IF
**************
If I write what no one want to read it may be because there are many others who make a comfortable living – thank you very much – by writing what they are told to write. And what are they told to write? What else but Turks, massacres, and “mi kich pogh...”
*
THE ROOTS OF INTOLERANCE
*********************************************
To elevate an opinion, and often a false one, to an ideology, and an ideology to a belief system is a mistake we all make when we are young and not yet able to think for ourselves. This descent from the human to the thoroughly dehumanized is so gradual that more often than not it escape notice. And that's where I come in.
*
CONFESSION
****************************
I may be prejudiced. As a writer – make it, scribbler – I tend to identify with writers as opposed to their executioners. What about you?
Allow me to end with a quotation:
Antranik Zaroukian: “What kind of people are we? What kind of leadership is this? Instead of compassion, mutual contempt. Instead of reason, blind instinct. Instead of common sense, fanaticism.”
Even more to the point:
“They speak of the cross and nail us to it again as they speak.”
#
May 1, 2010
***************************************************
FAILINGS
**************************************
“I am not a Marxist!” That's the smartest thing Marx said.
As for capitalists being blood****ers: that has never been a secret. There is even a line to that effect in the Bible.
Christ never said “I am not a Christian,” probably because he never thought of himself as the founder of a new religion.
Speaking for myself: I am a human being first, an Armenian second, and an Armenianist, never!
*
Judging by the number of wars, revolutions, massacres, and genocides: a man is first and foremost a killing machine in search of a reason to justify his lust for blood – religion being one of them.
*
You are an honest man?
Prove it!
Show me your scars.
*
I repeat myself?
Not as often as our Panchoonies and Jack S. Avanakians.
*
You want to know why I haven't been lynched so far? Because I live in the middle of nowhere, and nowhere is hard to locate on the map.
*
There are failings and there are rotten failings. Example of a rotten failing: the fundamental human right of free speech is an invention of the degenerate West.
*
Speaking of Oshagan and his friends, Zarian once remarked: “When they speak of homeland they mean Istanbul.” One could also say, when we speak of Armenianism, we mean Ottomanism.
*
Unlike doctors, writers don't have a Hippocratic Oath. As a result, they are as willing to sell their soul as a whore is to sell her body. (I am now paraphrasing Zohrab.)
*
If Americans prefer to believe Turks rather than us, it may be because it is in their own interest to do so. The rule is, everyone does what's in his own best interest. But like all rules, this one too has its exception: namely, us. We do whatever we undertake to do because it is against our own self-interest.
#
ararat magazine
Bobelian's Children of Armenia. by Ara Baliozian comments: 0 ... Canadian writer Ara Baliozian was born in Athens, Greece, and educated in Venice, Italy. ...
www.araratmagazine.org/2010/04/bobelian-children-of-armenia/ - Cached
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Old 05.05.2010, 15:43   #12
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May 2, 2010
***************************************************
FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
**************************************
There are good Armenians and there are bad Armenians, or so I am told.
I am a bad Armenian because I hate myself and I hate Armenians, or so I am told.
Rouben Mamoulian was a bad Armenian because he never helped a single Armenian.
I once knew an Armenian conductor who, after inviting an Armenian pianist to play with his orchestra, said “Never again!”
*
Never again!
Two words used by victims with the implication, “Unless we are the perps.”
*
Once when asked why I don't encourage young Armenian writers, I said “We need readers not writers.” No one dared to object.
*
One of the functions of lawyers is to defend the lawless.
*
When asked if I believe in God, I say, “I don't believe in the God of imams, popes,
and televangelists.”
It seems to me, speaking about God or trying to understand the inconceivable and the incomprehensible, is like trying to drink the sea with a spoon.
*
If you are an Armenian and have an opinion , you can always rely on a fellow Armenian to call you a fool and an ignoramus.
*
A safe assumption: Anything that flatters the ego is false.
*
When, at the turn of the last century, Turks heard Armenian Evangelicals singing "Onward Christian soldiers," they thought the giaours were planning another crusade.
*
If I took my critics seriously, I would have two instead of only one ulcer.
*
Good men don't judge bad men, because good men (if they exist) are too busy examining their own heart.
*
If an Armenian tells you he doesn't hate Turks, it may be because he loves to lie even more.
*
From a popular Armenian song:
"An Armenian loves to eat (oudel)
and he eats to hate (adel)."
#
May 3, 2010
***************************************************
CALL IT MEGALOMANIA
**************************************
My mission in life: to de-Ottomanize and to de-Stalinize my fellow Armenians; which amounts to saying: to humanize the dehumanized, to civilize barbarians, and to deprogram the brainwashed. Not an easy task. Which is why so far I have failed and the chances that I will ever succeed are so remote that they might as well be invisible to the most powerful telescope.
*
A LOVE STORY
*****************************
In a review of an Iranian novel mention is made of a classical Sufi love poem titled "KHOSROW AND SHIRIN, written nine centuries ago by Nizami and telling of the romance between a great Persian king and an Armenian princess.”
*
A SOLEMN PROMISE
******************************
On the day I will stop infuriating fools, fanatics, and fascists (but I repeat myself) I will give up writing.
*
PHYSICAL AND METAPHYSICAL REFLECTIONS
*******************************************************
What we don't know about the physical world or the visible universe far exceeds what we know. As for the metaphysical world – that which lies beyond the visible – we know nothing. Nothing! That doesn't stop us from blabbering endlessly about God, the Mother of God, the Son of God, the immortality of the soul, heaven and hell, and angels and devils.
*
CHARLATANS: A DEFINITION
*********************************************
Sermonizers and speechifiers who speak endlessly about things they know nothing about. Shaw is right: “All professions are conspiracies against the laity.”
*
TODAY'S QUOTATION
***********************************
William McAdoo: “It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.”
#
May 4, 2010
***************************************************
THAT WHICH WE SHARE
**************************************
Our failings are universal, I am reminded once in a while by readers who are so afraid to confront their own failings that they adopt the school of thought that says “misery likes company.”
There are divisions everywhere, granted; also corruption and incompetence, not to speak of prejudice and ignorance. But is that the end of the story?
*
In a book on the social behavior of animals, I read today: “The analysis of DNA demonstrates that only 2% of our genetic code differs from that of chimpanzees.”
In some respects, animals may be ahead of us:
“Female chimpanzees (unlike female humans) do not experience menopause, and thus can remain fertile into old age.”
Elsewhere: “It is not so much that elephants are like us. They are us, and we them.”
*
We like to say that Naregatsi is our Shakespeare and Dante combined. But who reads Naregatsi? Not even Armenians. At least I have never heard an Armenian quote a single line by Naregatsi.
*
Armenians are a fraction of mankind in the same way that a day is a fraction of eternity.
*
“An Englishman cannot be a slave,” they sing in “Rule Britannia.”
And what do we sing? “Mer hairenik, tshvar ander.”
*
About Armenians and slavery:
“Once upon a time we were slaves. We are now slaves of former slaves.”
We take to slavery like a duck takes to water, a baby to mother's milk, and newlyweds to their bed.
Instead of being subservient to the Sultan, we are now subservient to our bosses, bishops, and benefactors. Progress cannot be said to be our most important product.
*
An autobiographical short story by an American writer begins with the words: “As one who works with words for a living...”
An Armenian writer could introduce himself with the same words except one: instead of “living” he would have to say “dying.”
#
May 5, 2010
***************************************************
CONFESSIONS
**************************************
In the Homeland, our elections are marred by irregularities, or so I am told by observers. In the diaspora, we have no elections. We must therefore conclude that our representatives represent no one but themselves and their respective mafias. As for our so called democracy, respect for human rights, and rule of law: they are nothing but fictions of our imagination.
We have been so thoroughly Ottomanized and Sovietized that we consider these aberrations business as usual.
When will we see the light?
It is said of blind men that when their sight is restored, they take refuge in dark rooms.
*
To refuse to flatter fools is not the same as being negative.
*
Heroes are like cops: they are never there when you need them.
*
We flatter ourselves when we say the world, or a fraction of it, is against us. The truth is much worse, as always. The world is for itself and we may not even register on its consciousness. It would be even more accurate to say that the world cares about us as much as we care about ourselves.
*
Unlike Turks we are good at picking fights we can't win. Several of our poets have even addressed some nasty words against the Good Lord Himself. At this point I don't mind admitting that, by picking a fight against our bosses, bishops, benefactors and their army of hirelings, flunkies, dupes and brown-nosers, I too have picked a fight I can't win, and I have thus joined the ranks of my ancestors as a perennial loser.
#
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May 6, 2010
***************************************************
WITNESSES FOR THE PROSECUTION
****************************************************
Our history keeps unfolding like a worst case scenario.
And what has been the contribution of our leadership to this fiasco?
Treason, betrayal, and collaboration with the enemy.
And the contribution of our historians?
Lies and propaganda.
We are a people like any other people, we are told.
To which I can only say:
When was the last time we beheaded a single king or boss?
Am I advocating public executions?
Hell no! Only pointing out a difference.
But enough about what I think. Allow me to introduce my witnesses:
*
Shavarsh Missakian on our degeneration:
“The Armenian Diaspora is losing its character. Our language, our literature, and our traditions are degenerating. Even our religious leaders have abandoned their calling and turned into cunning wheeler-dealers. Our press thrives on meaningless controversies. I see charlatanism and cheap chauvinism everywhere but not a single trace of self-sacrifice and dedication to principles and ideals. What's happening to us? Where are we heading? Quo vadis, O Armenian people?”
*
Levon Pashalian on our bosses:
“A familiar figure in our collective existence is the wealthy and arrogant community leader who, by obstructing the path of all those who wish to reform and improve our conditions, perpetuates a status quo whose sole aim is his own personal profit and aggrandizement.”
*
Philip Mansel on massacres:
“Some Armenian leaders hoped for a massacre in the belief that it would provoke the intervention of the Great Powers.”
*
Shirvanzadeh on our ghazetajis:
“The narrow partisan propaganda line that is espoused by our press is the enemy of all literature.”
*
Nigoghos Sarafian:
“Our history is a litany of lamentation, anxiety, horror, and slaughter. Also deception and abysmal naiveté mixed with the smoke of incense and the sound of sharagans.”
*
Derenik Saribekian on collaboration with the enemy:
“It is safer to defend the interests of wolves against sheep than the other way around.”
*
Nothing further, your Honor!
#
May 7, 2010
***************************************************
DECLINE AND FALL
************************************************
What makes strong nations weak?
Corruption, incompetence, divisions, and internecine conflicts.
What makes weak nations weaker?
Ditto.
Knowing this why do we allow our leaders to divide us?
Because they are more like wolves and we are more like sheep.
*
About corruption: is there anything we can do about it?
We begin by exposing it. Not an easy undertaking.
Why not?
Because the corrupt don't like to be exposed, and the incompetent will never admit incompetence. Those in power will never give it up without a bloody fight, Hegel tells us, and so it is. Consider the number of emperors, kings, and czars that were assassinated or beheaded. But even more to the point, consider the number of thinkers who were persecuted, silenced, exiled, and executed.
*
If I speak of our many problems but don't provide a single solution (as my critics are fond of saying) it may be because I write for readers who are brainwashed to believe we are in the best of hands and we never had it so good.
As for readers who tell me they know all about our problems but what they need is solutions, I say: We can't abracadabra our way out of our problems, and there are no verbal formulas or programs with numbered steps that will reform our leaders, who expect us to believe they are doing their best and if their best is not good enough it is because we are all at the mercy of historical, cultural, political, and environmental conditions beyond our control.
And if you believe that, you will believe anything!
#
May 8, 2010
***************************************************
ON HISTORIANS
************************************************
Herodotus, the“father of history,” is also known as the “father of lies.” Ever since then historians have called one another liars. Two of the greatest historians of the last century, Arnold J. Toynbee and Oswald Spengler, have attracted more critical fire and verbal abuse by fellow historians than any other historian dead or alive. For more on this subject, see Toynbee's STUDY OF HISTORY,volume 12, subtitled RECONSIDERATIONS, where he discusses and replies to his critics, one of whom – Hugh Trevor-Roper, a fellow Englishman – was so abusive that reading him, Toynbee writes in a footnote, was like being verbally electrocuted.
*
We are products not of our culture, religion, climate, and environment, but of our collective experiences, that is to say, our history, or rather, the lies of our historians, which have done more to shape our worldview and character than reality and truth, or our literature and culture, of which the average Armenian knows nothing and cares even less – unless of course you classify shish-kebab and pilaf under culture.
*
My human right of free speech has been violated unanimously by our publishers and editors and I can't think of a single reader, writer, academic or vodanavorji who has raised a single objection. I have been reduced to the status of an abominable no man all because I refuse to recycle the lies of our historians or to flatter the colossal egos of our leaders.
*
To those who accuse me of being a denialist, I suggest they read my ARMENIAN GENOCIDE AND THE WEST.
*
You want to prosper in our environment?
Lie!
*
To those who say I am not published in our press because I am a bad writer, I say: I could make a long list of far better writers than myself who not only were silenced but also betrayed, exiled or executed. And if you say, since I have not been exiled or shot, it means we are moving in the right direction, I say, I am not exiled because I live in self-imposed exile in the middle of nowhere, which I call “my Siberia.” And the only reason I have not been betrayed and shot is that I have done nothing against the laws of the land, namely Canada, which is a democracy, and in a democracy writers don't get shot for exercising their human rights.
As I have said before and it bears repeating: Progress is not our most important product.
#
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