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Old 05.05.2007, 17:36   #1
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Thursday, May 03, 2007
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IN SEARCH OF AUTHENTICITY
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Who is an authentic Armenian? I don’t know. No one does.
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During World War I, when Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were being transported from one place to another “for their own safety” (in the Turkish version of the story), Thomas Mann was busy writing a big book, titled REFLECTIONS OF A NON-POLITICAL MAN, in which he attempted to define “the authentic German.” When the book was published, Heinrich Mann, his brother, himself a writer, disagreed with it. Sometime later Thomas Mann himself recognized it as dangerous.
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In his magnum opus, BEING AND NOTHINGNESS, written during World War II, Sartre tells us, men cease to be authentic when they adopt an identity imposed on them by society, and play the part for the rest of their lives. In another book, ANTI-SEMITE AND THE JEW, he advances the theory that the Jew is a creation of the anti-Semite, the way, one might say, the Ottomanized Armenian is a creation of Turks, and the Sovietized Armenian is a creation of the Soviet system.
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Long before Mann and Sartre, Karl Marx explored the concept of dehumanization, which may be said to be the opposite of authenticity. Capital, he said, dehumanizes not only the worker, but also the capitalist, society as a whole, and all social relations. Capital is the real Leviathan.
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At all times and everywhere we are pressured by forces, that are as invisible and omnipresent as the force of gravity, to be not who we are or what we would like to be, but what others want us to be.
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The headline of the editorial in our local paper today reads: “Free people need a free press.” A free press is unthinkable, we read here, “if journalists are restricted from seeking and reporting facts – particularly facts that are embarrassing to someone who is powerful.” And: “People cannot make good decisions if they do not have good information. A democracy cannot exist in an information vacuum.”
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Speaking of our press, one of our Ottomanized benefactors (let’s call them Jack S. Avanakians) and their role models, the Sultan, an editor once recounted the following to me: “He promised to subsidize our paper on condition that I print an article about him with a photo in every issue.” I no longer get that particular weekly but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if an article with a photo of Jack S. Avanakian appears regularly in every issue. As Brecht used to say: “Grub first, then ethics.”
#
Friday, May 04, 2007
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RE-WRITING HISTORY
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Where politics enter, propaganda is sure to follow; and where propaganda enters, truth is bound to be the first casualty. Turks re-write history. So do we. So does everyone else. Imagine, if you can, a history of the United States written from the perspective of native Indians. A Mekhitarist scholar and the foremost Armenian medievalist once told me the Battle of Avarair, the most famous battle in our history, never happened. It’s not just propaganda but pure fabrication by a pro-Mamikonian chronicler. True or false? Draw your own conclusions (or confusions). Speaking of our more recent past: we have as many versions of it as we have political parties. In the eyes of Ramgavars and Bolsheviks, Archbishop Ghevont Tourian was a dedicated patriot, a martyr, and a saint. In the eyes of the opposition he was a cowardly rascal, an unprincipled opportunist, a womanizer, a Stalinist, and a traitor.
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We like to say that if and when the Ottoman archives are opened we will have access to the truth. A Turkish friend tells me the same about Tashnak archives. It seems the Tashnaks have consistently refused to open their archives to scholars. True or false? I plead ignorance. I wasn’t even aware of the existence of these archives.
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Whenever I mention Tourian’s role in Smyrna, my credibility is questioned. About twenty years ago an angry reader threatened to expose my lies by checking with Marjorie Housepian, the foremost authority on the subject. I am still waiting to hear from him. The SOVIET-ARMENIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA states that Tourian was active in “Istanbul, Smyrna, and Manchester,” before his transfer to the U.S. in 1931 “where he attempted to bring together the Armenian-American community under Etchmiadzin.”
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Was Ghevont Tourian Bedros Tourian’s brother? According to the ENCYCLOPEDIA their real name was not Tourian but Zembayan and they were both born in Istanbul. In saying all this I do not claim infallibility on behalf of my sources, let alone myself. I welcome facts that will contradict or question the accuracy of my sources. History is not a belief system but an investigation. If you place your belief system above facts, you contaminate both with prejudice and propaganda.
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Saturday, May 05, 2007
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QUESTIONS
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Who are we?
Where do we come from?
Where are we going?
Is there a single belief system that can answer these questions to the satisfaction of all?
Is it necessary to have answers to these questions in order to lead a productive or creative life?
Did our medieval ancestors have the answers to these questions?
Did they, for that matter, ask them?
What is the place of Turcocentrism in our psyche?
Can Turcocentrism contribute anything positive to our identity?
What if Turcocentrism threatens to turn us into pillars of salt?
What if identity consists not in answering these questions but in the honesty and commitment with which we search for their answers?
What if our identity, like the solution to all our problems, is not a verbal formula accessible to a select few, but a process that consists in rejecting everything that is dishonest, corrupt, and mediocre?
#
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Old 05.05.2007, 19:36   #2
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Quote:
Who are we?
We are the sons of Hayk

Quote:
Where do we come from?
We are freedom fighters. Hayk fight Bels totalitarian system. We are the continuers of Hayk's legacy.

Quote:
Where are we going?
We are going to liberate Armenia from Bel's totalitarian ideologies. We are going to liberate all people in from Aegean sea to Caspian sea from the brutal rule of kemalists, alievists etc...

We will win.!
Are fight is just!
God will help us.

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Old 26.05.2007, 18:12   #3
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Monday, May 21, 2007
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In almost every Armenian discussion forum I have been, I have run across an idiot who takes it upon himself to contradict everything I say without even making the slightest effort to understand me. If Armenians remain divided to this day it’s because of this type of individual whose primary concern is not to advance our understanding but to assert some kind of moral, intellectual or patriotic superiority, which happen to be an extension of his ego and a figment of his imagination. When Zarian said, “Armenians survive by cannibalizing one another,” he had this type of idiot in mind.
*
Levon Shant begins one of his novels with the words: “In our literature as well as community affairs we have no one who is up to date with recent cultural developments.” Translated into dollars and cents this means: “We are at the mercy of hidebound philistines.”
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Shant again: “Very few Armenians clearly understand that their gifts and abilities are a national asset that centuries of history have bestowed on them and that it is their responsibility to use this asset to achieve greatness.” This too could be abridged and paraphrased as, “So far we have failed to grasp the meaning of our history and our role in it.”
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Shahan Shahnour: “Literature is beyond both optimism and pessimism.” It follows, to be a realist means to have two sets of adversaries.
#
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
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NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
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No one can be as megalomaniacal as an Armenian who thinks he can change the status quo or as phony as an Armenian in search of solutions to our problems. There are no new ideas. Everything we say is either a paraphrase or a quotation. It has been said that all philosophers have been doing is footnoting Plato, whose works are quotations or paraphrases of Socrates. And where the ideas of Socrates come from? Probably from the pre-Socratics, most of whose works have not survived. What I am saying right now has also been said. Take this as a warning. If you read me or anyone else in the hope of discovering a new or original idea, you will be disappointed. “There is nothing new under the sun.” Even more to the point, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” Which means, our problems and their solutions are all in the convolutions of our brains. When a writer thinks he is expressing a new idea, it only means that he is either unaware of the very same idea expressed by someone else or he does not remember to have heard or read it.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007
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ON REPEATING ONESELF
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Because I write about Armenians and they write about Turks, they say I repeat myself.
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There is more than one way for the victim to liberate himself from the criminal and his crime, and to seek justice in an unjust world is not one of them.
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What’s wrong with Turcocentrism is that sooner or later it degenerates to hoodlumism. To our Turcocentric pundits I say: You want to write about Turks? Go ahead. It’s you right as well as privilege. We live in a democracy where free speech is a fundamental human right. But free speech should not be confused with abuse of free speech, or free speech only for myself and those who agree with me.
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What’s wrong with hating Turks after what they have done to us? Go ahead and hate them as much as you want. But if you allow your hatred to color your views, you will do more harm than good to your cause. It may be your right to hate but it is your responsibility as a witness not to allow hatred to color your testimony.
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Hatred breeds hatred, and Armenians who hate Turks will also hate their fellow Armenians or anyone who dares to disagree with them. I speak from experience. All Armenians are not saints and some of them may indeed deserve our hatred. But the more one is driven to hate, the more one should try to be objective.
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To be objective means to think with one’s brain and not with one’s gut and ego, if only because neither the gut nor the ego is capable of reason. And if you are tempted to think, since these are the views of a minor Armenian scribbler they deserve to be ignored or dismissed as irrelevant, think again. Because what I am saying is what common sense and decency dictate. And to say, “If I know I am right and I know you are wrong, why should I respect your views?” is to legitimize fascism.
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I repeat myself? Why would anyone read someone who repeats himself?
#
Thursday, May 24, 2007
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ON UNDERSTANDING
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In a commentary today, a Middle East pundit of the local paper concedes that he does not understand the Middle East. “If you claim to understand what’s going on in Lebanon,” he writes, “you simply reveal the depths of your ignorance.” Who cares or really understands what happened a hundred years ago in the Ottoman Empire?
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Instead of saying “that’s the way it is,” we should say, “that’s how I see it.”
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What a book one could write on the eloquence of silence!
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The best way to understand the status quo is by trying to change it. The easiest thing in the world is to say, “There is something wrong here,” the hardest, to set it right. The hardest because what motivates human conduct is neither reason nor love, but greed and hatred. And to love, in a political context, means to hate the same enemy.
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When we say, “I understand,” we overestimate our powers of perception and underestimate the complexities of reality. Which is why there is some misunderstanding in all understanding.
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Reality advances on an infinite number of lines, most of which are beyond our perception. When reformers and revolutionaries undertake the difficult task of changing the status quo, more often than not they go wrong because their perception of reality is limited. If philosophers, historians, and scientists disagree, it is for the same reason.
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Dialogue is better than monologue because two eyes are better than one.
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The first and most important requirement for a thinker is humility, which means admitting our nothingness in the face of Reality, which some call God.
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Where do we go from here? Like Socrates, we teach ourselves to say, “The only thing I know is that I don’t know.”
#
Friday, May 25, 2007
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WHAT’S WRONG WITH NATIONALISM?
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In good plays by, say, Shakespeare or Ibsen, there are no good guys and bad guys. It is different with bad Hollywood movies. Something similar could be said of good or objective historians or bad or nationalist historians. When a nationalist historian writes a book about the past of his people, he will invariably portray them as the good guys and their enemies as the bad guys. To do this he will concentrate on documenting the crimes of the enemies and ignoring or covering up those of his own people. The easiest and most universal way of misunderstanding the past, and by extension, reality, is to allow oneself to be brainwashed by nationalist propagandists. In case you suspect I am beginning to adopt a denialist approach to our genocide, allow me to add that I understand the nature of prejudice, extremism, abuses of power, man’s inhumanity to man, and contempt for fundamental human rights, in short, evil, not only because of what the Turks have done to us, but also because I have come face to face with Armenian evil.
When writers like Shaw, Mann, Toynbee, or for that matters, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Chekhov write about evil, they begin with their own. This is exactly what our own writers have done. This is also what good Turkish writers are doing today. But if we are to believe our Turcocentric pundits, the West is corrupt, Turks bloodthirsty barbarians, and Armenians paragons of virtue. This type of one-sided, misleading, and superficial approach threatens to reduce a major human tragedy to a minor political farce.
#
Saturday, May 26, 2007
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THE DANGERS OF SELF-ASSESSMENT
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After a lifetime spent on reading about Armenians, I have reached the obvious conclusion that non-Armenian writers tend to be more objective about Armenians – that is to say, more reliable, honest, and truthful – than Armenian writers.
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I believe an Armenian writer on Armenians as much as I believe a Turkish writer on Turks.
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We are a nation with a deep wound. We need reassurance and flattery as much as a man dying of thirst in the middle of a desert needs water. But I don’t read to be flattered. I read to enhance my understanding of reality.
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Men commit their worst blunders when the possibility of being wrong doesn’t even occur to them. Men without doubts: they are the most dangerous in the world. Think of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini. Think of our revolutionaries at the turn of the last century.
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Speaking about our revolutionaries: Why did General Antranik say they should be arrested and hanged? Were they criminals or heroes? You can be sure of one thing: if they are allowed to assess themselves, none of them will ever plead guilty to any charge.
#
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Old 26.05.2007, 21:57   #4
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So... what?

Just for your information, I'm not a good nor a bad Armenian... just because I'm not Armenian... just like you look to me: not an Armenian!

The difference is that I've a nationality that I'm proud of (good and bad inheritances)! And just as an example I've some Armenian friends and a Turkish friend and I'm proud of it too!

I think that staying all the time criticising the way Armenians are is not a way to attract anybody for your religion if you have one. I bet you have no friends at all and continuing this way you'll die due to lack of them... and without any nationality at all (I don't speak about ID cards or passports)!

Stop boring people and be more constructive! Speak about the good side of Armenian people!

Cheers!
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J'ai besoin de toi,
De tes mains sur moi,
De ton corps doux et chaud,
J'ai envie d'être aimé Domino

From a beautiful love song of the 50s called Domino, music by Louis Ferrari, lyrics by Jacques Plante
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