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Old 27.06.2007, 13:18   #1
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Default from my notebooks

Thursday, June 14, 2007
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AS I SEE IT
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We have two distinctive, perhaps even contradictory, approaches in our dealings with the Turks: treating them as enemies or as potential friends. To those who say, Turks are destined to remain our enemies for the foreseeable future and nothing can change that, I reply: Allow me to rephrase my question: Will the chances of reaching a consensus with them be enhanced if we treat them as potential enemies as opposed to future friends? While you ponder that question, please remember that the present generation of Turkish diplomats are products of a culture and an educational system that has consistently denied any past crimes against their minorities, and it goes without saying, they trust their culture, educational system, and leadership more than they trust our own, in the same way that we trust our own schoolteachers and bosses more than we do theirs. To those who may object and say our schoolteachers and bosses are morally superior to theirs, therefore more trustworthy, I suggest all assertions of moral or any other kind of superiority are suspect and will convince only those whose ego is flattered by such transparent flattery. On a more personal note: I have dealt with some of our bosses and educators long enough and often enough to say that I don’t even trust them as far as I can throw them, preferably in the nearest garbage dump. Or, to repeat my favorite mantra first formulated by Zarian, “Our political parties have been of no political use to us. Their greatest enemy is free speech.” And now, imagine if you can, an educational system that bans free speech or educators who are afraid to speak of fundamental human rights.
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P.S. I read today that one of our notorious bosses, also right-hand man of a national benefactor and self-appointed pundit – we might as well refer to him as a renaissance man – has been expelled from the party on grounds of corruption. Are you surprised? I am not. And I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if some day those who expelled him are themselves exposed as both corrupt and inept.
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Friday, June 15, 2007
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TO BRAG IS TO BRAY
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Angela Carter: “I think it’s one of the scars in our culture that we have too high an opinion of ourselves.”
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Al Gore: “Why do reason, logic and truth seem to play a diminished role in the way we make important decisions?”
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Sometimes readers verbally abuse me because I dare to expose failings that are universal in nature. Case in point: when I speak of divisions, I am reminded there are divisions everywhere, as if that were enough justification to cover up and ignore that particular failing in our collective existence. Who profits from this line of (un)reasoning? The dividers, of course. As for the nation: we have an answer for that too: we have survived where many others have perished. It follows; even the Genocide must be seen as a positive factor in our history because we survived it. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Our genocide thus becomes the ultimate test of our endurance. First nation to survive genocide in the 20th century! Who could ask for more? As for the best and the brightest that did not survive because they were betrayed to Talaat’s and Stalin’s butchers: that too is good because it allows the jackasses among us to parade as leaders and pundits. And then there is the narcissistic fraud who becomes infatuated with what he writes and ends up believing what he says regardless of its transparent absurdity. As the often quoted Armenian saying goes, “Mart bidi ch’ellank” (We shall never acquire the status of human beings). Now then, go ahead and brag about that.
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Saturday, June 16, 2007
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A SELF-SERVING THEORY
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The question that is consistently avoided by our Turcocentric pundits is: Where did we go wrong? We had so many warnings in 1894, 1895, 1896, 1909…Why is it that we trusted the empty verbiage of the West and ignored the actions of the Turks? Was it wishful thinking? What else? Why is it that we cling to the theory that the Genocide was an inevitable fact of life? If it was so inevitable, why didn’t we see it coming? History, it has been said, is a series of occurrences that could have been avoided. Subscribing to the theory of inevitability is the phoniest of all justifications. Even more dangerous: if history is predetermined, it follows we can’t learn from past blunders; and if we can’t learn from past blunders, what’s the use of studying it?
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Sunday, June 17, 2007
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INSANITY
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“You read too much and you quote too much,” one of our academics once said to me. “You should rely more on your own experiences and judgment.”
Yes, ultimately I hope to do exactly that, but in the meantime I want to shed the heavy baggage of nonsense that was foisted on me when I was too innocent and naïve to think for myself.
I have since discovered that to unlearn is much more difficult than to learn. If in your formative years someone you trust and respect tells you something, anything, no matter how absurd, you believe him. It is on this principle that all organized religions are based.
What is an organized religion if not a belief system that is force-fed on children at a time when they are not yet aware of the fact that the majority of mankind rejects it as untenable, blasphemous, and dangerous.
To accept a belief system as infallible is bad enough. What’s infinitely worse, not to say contradictory, is to be willing to hate, kill and die in its name. The average dupe – and the world is full of them – is programmed to accept as infallible a religion in which understanding and love have been replaced with intolerance and blind hatred. To know and understand this is to see the world as an insane asylum divided into different camps whose aim is the extermination of all competitors and rivals.
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Monday, June 18, 2007
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PERSPECTIVES
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In the years preceding the Genocide we saw ourselves as an ethnic minority within the Ottoman Empire claiming what was rightfully ours. That was our perspective. Turks, on the other hand, saw us as part of an international infidel conspiracy (Russia and the Great Powers of Europe on the other side of their borders, Greeks and Assyrians from within) to dismember the Empire. For obvious reasons the Turks don’t like emphasizing this aspect of the conflict because doing so would mean alienating some important players in the European Union by identifying them as giaours. Our Turcocentric pundits pretend unawareness of it because awareness would somewhat moderate the image of the bloodthirsty Asiatic barbarian slaughtering innocent civilians for the fun of it.
To those who are itching to accuse me of pro-Turkism or anti-Armenianism, I say, my aim is to replace blind hatred and prejudice (the very same emotional state that is at the root of all massacres) with a touch of understanding. Granted, not a very popular undertaking in the eyes of those who are addicted to hatred and are too self-righteous and dogmatic to consider any perspective but their own.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007
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JANISSARIES
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One reason I suspect some of my critics to be wrong is that they echo the very same sentiments and thoughts that were mine before I was successful in deprogramming myself. And I can understand why they are having difficulties abandoning their views: deprogramming oneself can be in some ways a painful undertaking.
Another indication that they are probably wrong is that they have a marked preference for thinking in black and white terms by painting their adversaries all black and themselves all white, not because reality is on their side but because it is flattering to their ego. What could be more naïve to the point of being infantile than to believe in something simply because it is flattering to one’s vanity? The rule is: if you assume everything that flatters your ego to be wrong, you will be right more often than wrong.
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If we approach a subject objectively, a great many invisible things become visible.
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In Mohsin Hamid’s THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST, I read the following definition of janissaries: “Children of defeated nations who conscripted into the army of the enemy, and fought to erase their own civilization.”
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007
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THERE IS NO BUSINESS
LIKE SHOAH BUSINESS
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If you were brainwashed as a child, the chances are you will die brainwashed.
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If patriotism means total blindness to our own failings and 20/20 vision to the failings of adversaries, I am proud to assert I cannot qualify as a patriot.
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Have you ever tried to argue with a Jehovah’s Witness? What about an Armenian in whose mind politics is synonymous with theology?
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Whenever friends ask me why I bother reacting to nonentities, I explain that I was born and raised in a slum. I love slumming. Call it nostalgia.
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Some of my critics may think if most Armenians don’t contradict them, they must have the majority on their side. The sad truth is smart Armenians stay away from Armenian controversies because they know they are “sound and fury signifying nothing.”
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To sum up Armenianism in two sentences: “Once upon a time we were slaves. We are now slaves of former slaves."
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Thursday, June 21, 2007
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CONTEXTS AND DIMENSIONS
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Truth is a dimension in which all contradictions are resolved. One way to explain this is to say that contradictions make sense only in sub-dimensions or false contexts. In a tribal, national, or political context, for instance, mankind will be divided into adversaries and allies, friends and enemies, victimizers and victims, butchers and sheep. But in a higher or religious context all men will be said to be brothers. It is up to us to choose in which dimension we wish to live and think.
In a world in which the truths of religion are only preached but the lies of politics are practiced, inevitably there will be more intolerance, hatred, and war, and less brotherhood and peace.
When mankind speaks with a forked tongue, double-talk, deception, and lies are sure to follow.
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Friday, June 22, 2007
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CONFESSION
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There is a type of mediocrity who will sell his soul to see his name in print. This is well known to our editors who operate on the assumption that the views of these mediocrities are representative of the majority. The truth of the matter is, these charlatans don’t write what they really think and feel but what will have a better chance to be printed. If anti-Turkish venom and pro-Armenian crapola have a better chance than objective, impartial, and critical assessments, they will produce venom and crapola. As a result, what we see in our weeklies is not a multiplicity of views but a uniformity of predictable and unreadable nonsense. I know what I am saying because I was there once – that’s when I was popular with our editors and my things appeared everywhere.
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Saturday, June 23, 2007
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REFLECTIONS
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Man has the peculiar ability to think he is absolutely right even when he is catastrophically wrong.
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In war one no longer thinks in terms of right and wrong but only in terms of kill or be killed. Something similar could be said about our controversies, which may be said to be civil wars by other means.
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One should write as a human being and not as a member of a specific club, group, nation or race. To write in the name of a fraction of mankind is to elevate an accident of birth to a commandment from above.
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I have nothing but contempt for our charlatans but I have become as attached to them as a criminal is attached to the rope from which he hangs.
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The most dangerous and universal fallacy: Because I believe, it must be true. How many of our conflicts will vanish if we teach ourselves to say: Because I believe, it must be a lie.
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