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  1. #76
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    Sunday, November 13, 2011
    Pick a man, any man, from the gutter,
    give him a title and a regular salary,
    and forever after he will say
    he never had it so good.
    One reason I write as I do is that
    I was spared that kind of treatment.
    I was born in the gutter and my guess is
    I will die in it.
    I am not complaining.
    Things could have been much worse.
    What saved me was pure luck.
    No one ever bothered to give me a title.
    As for salary:
    what I was offered was never above minimum wage.
    Had it been above minimum wage
    I may have chosen a different path
    and I would now be on my way to the devil.
    Monday, November 14, 2011
    ************************************************** ***
    There are advantages
    to being a third-rate minor scribbler
    living in the middle of nowhere.
    To begin with you are left alone.
    Your readers are so few in number
    that if you alienate one of them
    it doesn’t feel like you have lost
    half of your income from royalties.
    By contrast, consider the case
    of an Armenian-American academic
    with a regular salary and a captive audience.
    Not only will he be careful
    not to say anything that may be construed
    as critical of God and capital
    (make it Capital and god) in general
    and benefactors in particular
    (one of whom may be subsidizing his “chair”)
    but also anyone who may be remotely connected with them.
    In short, he will support the status quo
    and pretend we never had it so good
    because we are in the best of hands.
    During the Ottoman and Soviet eras
    our poets wrote odes and panegyrics
    to sultans and commissars.
    Habits die hard.
    “Treason is in our blood,” said Raffi.
    So is cowardice.
    Hence the scarcity of dissidents
    and the overabundance of brown-nosers.
    Tuesday, November 15, 2011
    ************************************************** ***
    “You call yourself a dissident?”
    said a (Soviet-Armenian) writer from Paris.
    “Did they throw you out of your home and homeland?”
    No, they didn’t because they couldn’t.
    I was born and raised on foreign soil
    and my home was mine, not theirs.
    The contempt in his voice was such that
    I understood why in their eyes
    we will never rise above the status of “aghber.”
    Because I try to be honest and objective
    I am dismissed as pro-Turkish by some of my readers
    as if being dishonest were an integral part
    of the Armenian identity.
    I must get used to the idea that
    some of my fellow Armenians are so wrong
    that they challenge all concepts of wrongness,
    so that one could say they are not even wrong!
    Wednesday, November 16, 2011
    THE 99%
    There is no such thing as a belief system
    without childhood indoctrination.
    Eliminate indoctrination and the chances are
    a belief system will collapse
    into an abyss of absurdities.
    It can truly be said of dupes that
    they are the 99%.
    On the radio this morning:
    “Pakistan today is ruled by criminals.”
    An American pundit:
    “Almost everyone in Washington is on the take.”
    He who admits to being a dupe
    will not admit to being a coward, a liar, and an idiot.
    Workers of the world unite?
    Even better:
    Dupes, idiots, and victims of the world…
    What belief systems do is
    convince idiots they are smart,
    barbarians they are civilized,
    and the scum of the earth they are the Chosen.
    You think I am being cynical?
    Allow me to confide in you:
    Reality is worse!
    Sigmund Freud: “The first human
    who hurled an insult instead of a stone
    was the founder of civilization.”

  2. #77
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    Thursday, November 17, 2011
    How sweet was it to the poet
    who wrote that line?
    After being betrayed to the authorities
    by his fellow Armenians,
    he committed suicide
    by banging his head against the wall.
    Many others were shot in the neck
    or driven to Siberia.
    If you say all that happened in a different era
    and under a different regime, I say,
    regimes may change
    but the scum always rises to the top.
    There is a sultan and a commissar in all of us.
    If we ever undertake the task of
    de-Ottomanizing and de-Stalinizing ourselves,
    how many of those who are in power today
    would remain in power?
    If you are one of those readers
    who think I have been consistently wrong
    in my judgment of my fellow countrymen,
    all I am prepared to say in my defense is,
    I have at no time violated anyone’s human right of free speech.
    Can you say the same about the status quo
    in whose defense you speak?
    Friday, November 18, 2011
    Do we have a constitution?
    What does it say about free speech?
    Is it for it or against it?
    If it’s for it,
    why is it that some of our ablest intellectuals
    live in exile?
    What about a Supreme Court?
    Do we have one?
    Who are its members?
    What do we know about them?
    Are they for or against fundamental human rights?
    Do we have dissidents?
    How many?
    Who are they?
    How many members of the present administration
    are former KGB agents?
    We are told most American senators and congressmen
    are millionaires, sometimes even multimillionaires.
    What about their Armenian counterparts?
    Do we have anything resembling
    the Occupy Wall Street movement in Yerevan?
    A few years ago the Canadian spy agency
    called me and said they were going to send someone
    to interrogate me about our present situation.
    I said I was the wrong man for such an undertaking;
    it would be a waste of their valubale time;
    I was only a distant observer;
    I knew little or nothing about specifics.
    They disagreed.
    They said they read my commentaries in the Armenian press
    and they considered me an expert on the subject.
    An excpert?
    An expert!
    They must be joking.
    They were not joking.
    If they were interested in names
    I could be of no use to them
    because I didn’t even know someone who knew someone.
    What kind of expert was I
    if I had more questions than answers?
    And if so far I have made no effort to know more
    it maybe because in this case
    ignorance may indeed be bliss.
    Saturday, November 19, 2011
    Canadian literature is rumoured to be dreary.
    By contrast, Armenian literature is not even rumoured
    to be defunct or non-existent.
    One advantage in being non-existent is that
    no one bothers to spread the rumour that it is trash.
    The only people who take Armenian literature seriously
    are Armenian writers who take themselves seriously.
    The central concern of Armenian writers
    who take themselves seriously
    is to expose the mediocrity of all others.
    “Yes im anoush Hayastani.”
    I should like to see one of our poets producing a sonnet
    titled “To my sweet fellow countrymen.”

  3. #78
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    as i see it

    Sunday, November 20, 2011
    A headline reads:
    “Should Some Bankers Be Prosecuted?”
    The obvious answer is, of course!
    Gross incompetence is penalized in all other lines of work.
    Why should bankers be immune?
    Is it because as the 1%
    they control 99% of the power?
    A typical passage in the article reads:
    “The federal government has been
    far more active in rescuing bankers
    than in prosecuting them.”
    And why?
    Because the 1% can afford politicians,
    the 99% cannot.
    What is American-style democracy
    if not the fascism of capitalists?
    When we demonize Turks
    we forget that angels and demons
    are creatures of our imagination
    and that in reality some Turks may well be better or wrose,
    but none of them is an invulnerable being
    beyond our reach.
    Sartre is right:
    in human relations
    magic plays a more important role than
    reason, common sense, and experience.
    Where imagination enters,
    misconceptions are sure to follow.
    All popular ideas can be easily and safely contradicted
    and they have been.
    One could even say,
    thinking consists in exposing contradictions.
    Monday, November 21, 2011
    Once, recently, when I said something to the effect
    that our treatment of writers
    has been worthy of barbarians,
    it was the barbarians who were eager to prove me right
    by hurling insults at me and in general
    behaving like hoodlums on the warpath – as if
    that was the only way they knew
    how to prove me wrong.
    "For a smart man you can be very naïve!"
    a trial lawyer, who is also a good friend, tells me.
    I don’t know about smart
    but I am worse than naïve
    when I get emotionally involved.
    Emotion reduces a complex reality
    into a one-dimensional extension of ourselves.
    Emotion, writes Sartre somewhere,
    attempts to change the world by means of magic.
    What could be more primitive?
    The most beautiful spectacle I have ever beheld
    was a sunrise from a seventh story hospital window;
    and to think that the purpose of a sunrise
    is not to provide man with beauty.
    Tuesday, November 22, 2011
    It’s not Armenians against Turks,
    Germans against Jews,
    Jews against Palestinians,
    or Cain against Abel.
    It’s man against man.
    If the world were populated
    by a single race, nation, or tribe,
    the number of wars, revolutions and massacres
    would remain constant.
    God created man.
    God also created the Devil
    and the Devil belongs to no race, nation, or tribe.
    Organized religions are maneuvers
    designed to allow one to sit at the right hand of God
    and to behave like swine.
    God created time and space.
    What would stop Him from creating
    an infinite number of other dimensions?
    God created man.
    He must have been bored stiff.
    What other possible explanation is there?
    Why are you so tough on your fellow Armenians?
    I am asked once in a while by concerned readers.
    I am not tough on Armenians.
    I am tough on deceivers, dividers, and bloodsuckers
    regardless of nationality.
    I am tough on all victimizers.
    Now then, identify yourself please.
    Are you a victimizer or a victim?
    If you are a victim, why do you object
    to my speaking up against your tormentors?
    Dupes are not born but made
    and what makes them is childhood indoctrination --
    brainwashing for short;
    and if you say you were not brainwashed
    i will say, that's because
    those who brainwashed you
    were successful in convincing you
    you were being educated.

  4. #79
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    Thursday, November 24, 2011
    To how many women we could say:
    I love you with all my heart
    and I shall continue loving you to the end of my days,
    but not you as you are,
    but you as a figment of my own imagination.
    Charlie Chaplin asked Truman Capote
    to read the manuscript of his memoirs
    with the eyes of a professional writer.
    When Capote did and reported back with a list of suggestions,
    Chaplin said: "Get the hell out of my sight!"
    To avoid grief, conflict, misery and suffering,
    do nothing and be nobody. Or simply, imitate the dead.
    That’s what most Oriental wisdom boils down to.
    But since life is only an extremely tiny interval of light
    in the darkness of non-being,
    it should be as different from death as we can make it
    even if in the process we experience confusion and misery.
    Friday, November 25, 2011
    The official Kemalist classification of Armenians
    as “Christian Turks” is patently absurd
    in view of the fact that we are devoid
    of both Christian charity and Turkish solidarity.
    What motivates us to assess ourselves
    as smart, progressive, compassionate, and God’s chosen
    is the suspicion that we may be none of these things.
    One of the worst things that can happen to a nation
    is to believe in its own propaganda;
    and one of the worst things that can happen to a leader
    is to become a dupe of his own lies.
    Speaking for myself,
    I committed my worst blunders
    after convincing myself that I knew better
    and anyone who dared to contradict me
    was a damn fool.
    When it comes to women,
    not only boys will be boys
    but also men of all ages.
    Hence the saying,
    “The brain of a man is the body of a naked woman.”
    Even after 30 books and over a thousand articles,
    stories, and essays in periodicals and newspapers
    I hesitate to identify myself as a writer
    because more often than not I am asked:
    "How come I have never heard of you?"
    to which I am tempted to reply:
    "Next time you visit your public library
    check and see how many names you recognize
    besides Shakespeare’s and Hemingway’s?"
    I can’t imagine Mozart at the age of thirty saying:
    "I have composed enough. I am quitting."
    I have no doubt whatever in my mind that
    Mozart would have gone on composing
    even at the age of 80, very much like Verdi.
    Likewise, I can’t imagine God saying,
    "I have created the universe and enough is enough!"
    What if, even as I write these lines,
    God is busy creating other universes
    in other dimensions?

  5. #80
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    Sunday, November 27, 2011
    I cannot think of a single important decision or judgment
    that I have made in the past
    that did not contain a 99% margin of error.
    Let that be a warning to all those with whom
    I share my wisdom.
    What do the Pope of Rome and Stalin have in common?
    When asked to name my favorite Armenian dish,
    I identify myself as a vegetarian.
    When told there are many delicious vegetarian dishes
    in our cuisine,
    I say I prefer to keep my answers to that subject short
    because all talk of pilaf and shish-kebab bores me stiff.
    And speaking of questions:
    I don’t remember a single interview
    with an African-American writer
    in which mention was ever made of chicken and watermelon.
    A question I have never been asked:
    “On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate our leadership?”
    The obvious answer is minus one, of course!
    Monday, November 28, 2011
    Why is it that some very smart and learned Armenians
    confuse anti-charlatanism with anti-Armenianism?
    Why is it that some very cunning Armenians
    in their defense of their own selfish, narrow interests
    voice reasons worthy of an inbred moron?
    When it comes to Genocide recognition
    the American question is not whether it is true or false but
    “What’s in it for us?”
    Call that cynicism if you like.
    They call it pragmatism.
    Whenever I write for Armenians
    I remind myself that I am breaking the commandment:
    “Thou shalt not share your wisdom
    with wiser men than yourself.”
    Wisdom and serenity are mutually exclusive concepts.
    You can’t be serene in a world of lunatics
    who think you are the lunatic.
    Tuesday, November 29, 2011
    It is a universally shared human weakness
    to prefer flattery to criticism,
    but it is adangerous addiction
    to prefer lies to truth.
    On a radio program on children’s poetry this
    morning, I overheard the following quotation:
    “There is some shit / I will not eat!” That’s
    what I call good poetry – rhythm, music, and
    words that once heard are never forgotten.
    Belief systems have nothing
    to do with reality and everything to do with the
    power to shape our perception of reality.
    Wednesday, November 30, 2011
    By Vahan Vahanian (Jansezian).
    Los Angeles. 2011. 255 pages.
    (In Armenian)
    “I am told I go to extremes in my assertions,
    to which I say, What are words for?"
    The labyrinth of Armenian life in Los Angeles
    is Vahan Vahanian’s territory
    and he has as many stories to relate as Scheherazade.
    His style is brief, to the point,blunt.
    He takes no prisoners.
    “With the dollar, a man who signs his name with an X
    is treated as a philosopher.
    Without the dollar a genius is shunned as a lunatic…”
    “That’s the way it is in America.
    Novelties aplenty,
    real-estate developments everywhere,
    institutionalized larceny rampant,
    refinement an absent factor.”
    Vahanian is not afraid to step on toes or,
    for that matter, to kick balls.
    A man after my own heart.
    As the editor/publisher of a newspaper
    that is distributed freely,
    neither is he afraid to alienate a fraction of his audience.
    He speaks of a woman who tells him
    her aim in life is to have more of everything –
    “more fun, more money, more jewelry and more sex with younger men…”
    “In Los Angeles there is neither brotherhood nor friendship.”
    Phony intellectuals, exhibitionists, megalomaniacs, and womanizers
    are a dime a dozen.
    Vahanian may speak of depressing things
    but he does so with a friendly smile
    and his smile is infectious.
    “Every other Armenian you meet these days
    has political ambitions.
    If Raffi Hovannisian and Jirair Libaridian made it,
    why can’t I?”
    And there is the self-appointed genius with literary ambitions:
    “Did you get my article?”
    “When are you going to print it?”
    “No editorial changes, please!”
    “How much are you going to pay me?”
    If to say what must be said were music,
    Vahan Vahanian would be our Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.
    (For more information, write to newarmenia ).

  6. #81
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    Thursday, December 01, 2011
    What can you possibly know about a country
    if you have never tried to make a living there?
    What can you possibly know about the human condition
    if you have at no time been dependent
    on the charity of swine?
    For 25 years I had to produce pseudo-Saroyanesque trash
    in order to make minimum wage.
    The reason why I write as I do today is that
    I have declared my financial independence
    and, with it, to write as I please
    without fear of retaliation.
    I may not be a “good” Armenian
    as defined by our Ottomanized, Sovietized, and Americanized
    wheeler-dealers but I like to believe
    I fully qualify as a born-again human being.
    Friday, December 02, 2011
    A lie is like a deadly virus.
    Left unattended it will poison and kill its speaker
    as well as his dupes,
    families as well as communities,
    tribes as well as nations,
    empires as well as civilizations.
    Saturday, December 03, 2011
    After listening to the patriotic spiel
    of a fellow passenger on a train,
    Tolstoy is quoted as having said:
    “As long as there are men like you
    we will have wars and massacres.”
    Likewise, as long as there are organized religions
    we will have prejudice, intolerance,
    and crimes against humanity.
    The true enemies of God
    are men who speak in His name.
    Tolerance means not only to be open to new ideas,
    including ideas that contradict our own,
    but also to welcome and cherish them.
    If we admit there is some truth in all belief systems,
    we must also admit that truth is not in a single god
    but in all gods; or, in Gandhi’s words:
    “If God is Truth even atheists are believers
    because they believe in God’s non-existence.”
    God is either on no one’s side or on everybody’s side.
    To say, like the Nazis, “God is with us,”
    is not theology but pathology.
    (For more on this subject,
    see Toynbee’s STUDY OF HISTORY, volume x.)

  7. #82
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    Sunday, December 04, 2011
    Thomas Mann on creativity:
    “By creation we understand
    not making something out of nothing
    but rather the kindling of spirit in matter.”
    It must have been an extremely painful
    and degrading experience for Mann
    to realize that
    a morally and intellectually inferior contemporary of his
    could be superior to him in the business of kindling….”
    Wars are fought in the name of certainties,
    which may suggest that
    (a) all certainties have contradictions, and
    (b) all certainties may well be inventions of the devil.
    Organized religions create an environment
    in which voicing contradictions is called heresy,
    and heresy is thought of as a capital offense
    punishable by death or eternal hellfire.
    What Marx said on politics applies to religions:
    “Whatever class is in power
    dictates the moral code which will support it
    and keep it in existence.”
    Some day when mankind awakens,
    religions will be seen as collective nightmares.
    Monday, December 05, 2011
    My morning paper informs me
    Russians call their present rulers
    “crooks and thieves.”
    If our own rulers are also “crooks and thieves,”
    I suspect they are a better class
    of “crooks and thieves,”
    and by better I don’t mean morally superior
    but smarter – more greedy, ruthless and cunning.
    I say this on the grounds that
    as far as I know no one has ever dared
    to accuse Armenians
    of being dumber than Russians.
    On the positive side:
    I don’t know about you
    but I am having a lot of fun
    following the slow suicide of the Republican party
    in the United States.
    Tuesday, December 06, 2011
    On rereading the ten pages
    that I wrote last night
    in a burst of inspiration
    I search in vain for the one or two lines
    that may or may not be worth publishing.
    When you preach to the converted
    the temptation to believe in what you say
    becomes irresistible.
    Follow youR dream
    until it turns into a nightmare –
    as dreams have a tendency of doing.
    Sometimes we get so involved
    in defending ourselves that
    we lose awareness of the damage
    we inflict on our adversaries.
    That’s one way to explain our genocide –
    and please note,
    to explain does not mean to justify.
    Wednesday, December 07, 2011
    We have had so much history rammed down our throats
    that we haven't yet had a chance to digest it.
    We are a nation suffering from chronic constipation.
    My country right or wrong
    and myself right or wrong
    might as well be synonymous.
    More often than not "I am right, you are wrong," means:
    My self-interest or ego is more important than yours.
    On the origin of the universe:
    was it an accident?
    was it by design?
    was it designed to look like an accident?
    Who benefits?
    Armenians with their perennial demands
    of Genocide recognition and territorial claims
    are like sheep preaching vegetarianism
    in a world run by wolves.

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    Thursday, December 08, 2011
    A good line once read is never forgotten.
    It is my ambition in life to produce such a line.
    Call me a megalomaniac.
    In our environment agreement means
    sharing the same bias.
    When a man sees the light
    he assume everyone else is blind.
    I once met a born again
    who thought I was a dead man walking.
    Because I did not worship his God
    he thught I worshipped the Devil.
    Whenever I see the photo of an Armenian writer
    in the company of a boss or bishop,
    I can't help thinking,
    "There goes the neighborhood."
    To those who say I repeat myself:
    Only if you insist on reading me –
    for which many thanks!
    Friday, December 09, 2011
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
    I am informed this morning on the radio,
    is the most widely translated document in the world;
    also (my guess) the most ignored.
    Has it been translated into Armenian, I wonder.
    I am not casting aspersions;
    only sharing my ignorance and need for answers.
    Bias is universal.
    Resistance to bias
    a slowly and painfully acquired asset.
    All nationalists are brought up to believe
    they are all white and their enemies all black.
    When in fact they are not even gray but brown --
    the color of @#$%.
    Crude, you say.
    So is life.
    We have no choice but to deal with it
    on its own terms.
    My parents survived the Turks.
    I am now busy trying to survive my fellow Armenians.
    Saturday, December 10, 2011
    WE ARE THE 50%
    What we need is a revolution
    and I don’t believe in revolutions.
    At best we may get reforms
    but if the past is an index
    we have no reason for optimism.
    Subtract the brown-nosers, the yes-men,
    the hirelings, the brainwashed, the dupes,
    the alienated and assimilated,
    we may be closer to the 50%
    rather than the 99%.
    We are no longer at the mercy of our enemies
    but of a far more invincible and insidious adversary:
    our own leadership.
    Our Wall Street is in the convolutions of our cortex.
    The only way to describe our situation is to say that
    we are committing slow-motion suicide
    by self-inflicted ten thousand cuts.
    In that sense one could even say that
    Turks were more merciful than
    our own bosses, bishops, and benefactors.

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    Thursday, December 15, 2011
    The only time what you say offends no one
    is when you say nothing.
    In our environment the fools speak, shout, sing,
    speechify and sermonize
    and the wise are silent.
    This year too I made several new friends
    and twice as many enemies.
    Armenian friends are a sometime thing,
    but Armenian enemies, like diamonds, are forever.
    Scientists claim they are very close
    to discovering the “god particle”
    that will explain what has been incomprehensible so far.
    We may be almost there but no cigar.
    When I was young and ambitious
    I wanted to write “literature.”
    All I hope to do now is produce an honest line.
    Friday, December 16, 2011
    Reading a new biography of Tolstoy
    is like visiting an old friend.
    After cross-examining theologians of the Orthodox Church,
    Tolstoy notes in his diary:
    “The Church, from the present day
    all the way back to the third century,
    is one long series of lies, cruelty and deception.”
    by Rosamund Bartlett (New York, 2011, page 278).
    That’s the title of a Mongolian film.
    I enjoy foreign films because
    they tell much more than a story;
    they also show how the other half lives.
    When the 99% assert their right,
    they call it class-warfare.
    When the 1% get richer
    they call them “job creators.”
    Which raises the question:
    If they are job-creators
    why is it that the unemployment rate
    hasen't been going down?
    If you want to know more about a political party,
    speak to its opposition,
    because everything a partisan says
    will be contaminated by partisan propaganda.
    Saturday, December 17, 2011
    OF GOD & MEN
    We should be careful not to contaminate God
    with human attributes or
    to create God in our own image.
    God does not have to exist in order to rule.
    That’s the true meaning of being Almighty.
    Money is power,
    and power means manipulating the law,
    and manipulating the law means
    getting away with murder.
    When they don’tlegitimize slaughter by declaring war,
    the 1% suck the blood of the innocent and the weak.
    Remember the Ottoman Empire
    or any empire for that matter.
    Not that nations are morally superior.
    Where there is power,
    there will also be abuse of power
    and it makes no difference whether the man at the top
    is a sultan or an imam or a pope
    acting in the name of a merciful and compassionate Allah.

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    Sunday, December 18, 2011
    One reason why I classify myself as
    a 5th-class Armenian celebrity is that
    4th-class celebrities sometimes ask for my help
    in order to catapult themselves into 3rd-class status.
    When I insulted our bishops,
    I galvanized the Church against me.
    When I insulted our bosses,
    I galvanized our brainwashed dupes.
    And when I insulted our benefactors,
    I galvanized our brown-nosers.
    And now that there is no one left
    to insult and galvanize I feel disoriented.
    If I knew how to pray,I would say,
    “Give me somebody!”
    Please note that I am now talking about our 1%
    who may or may not be aware with my existence.
    As for the 99%:
    if you were to mention my name in their presence,
    they would probably say, “Who the &@#$ is he?”
    Monday, December 19, 2011
    To those who say, “To criticize is easy,” I say:
    Don’t think of me as a critic
    but as someone who is trying to keep alive
    an old Armenian tradition that goes back
    to the 5th-century AD – that of dissent.
    North Korean leader Kim Jong II is dead.
    Who is going to miss him?
    Only brainwashed Koreans.
    Next question:
    Which one of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors
    will be missed?
    There is a natural tendency in all oppressed people
    to resent not the oppressor
    but his next-door neighbor.
    All Armenians carry within them
    the seeds of anti-Armenianism.
    A Muslim scholar in Canada
    has written a book critical of Islam
    and now lives in fear of assassination.
    "A single wolf is a dog,
    a pack of wolves is a mafia."
    "Suffering is a bad companion
    but an excellent teacher."
    Tuesday, December 20, 2011
    Propaganda is conceived by second-raters,
    recycled by third-raters,
    and believed by fourth-raters.
    I was taught humility by arrogant fools
    whose true intent was to intimidate and moronize me
    in the name of God and Country.
    All nations and empires begin as a small tribe.
    God did not create many Chinese or Turks
    and only a handful of Armenians.
    The different between them and us is that
    throughout our history and especially
    during the last fifteen centuries,
    we have been systematically massacred, raped,
    and coerced into assimilation by a variety of people,
    including our fellow Armenians.
    This is not something you will be taught by our historians who,
    like all historians, have a tendency to cover up and ignore
    the most important aspects of the past.
    Whoever said “Nothing gets ignored as easily as the essential,”
    knew what he was saying.
    Our Toumanian is right when he said
    “You must burn in order to enlighten.”
    The Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi
    did exactly that a year ago:
    he set himself aflame providing the spark
    that ignited the Arab Spring.
    Wednesday, December 21, 2011
    The problem with ascribing all our
    problems, defeats, tragedies and
    catastrophes on outside agencies is that
    this allows us to adopt a passive stance
    and do nothing,
    in other words:
    to be dependent on the goodwill of others --
    including those who may or may not be
    favorably disposed towards us, which means
    to surrender our destiny as a nation into
    foreign hands, which,
    according to an old Armenian saying,
    "will harvest nothing but thorns."
    The common sense of our peasants
    contains more wisdom than the calculations
    of our self-assessed cunning political leaders.
    If present-day Greeks share anything in common
    with their illustrious ancestors of ancient Greece,
    it is not with the likes of Socrates, Plato and Diogenes,
    but with those who persecuted them.
    What about us?
    What do we share with
    Abovian, Baronian, Bakounts, Massikian and Zarian?
    With those who betrayed and silenced them?

  11. #86
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    Aug 2004

    love, etc.

    Thursday, December 22, 2011
    Love has inspired many songs
    but we owe our wars, revolutions, and massacres
    -- that is to say history – to hatred.
    Hatred plays a much more important role in life than love
    or any other factor you care to mention,
    including indifference and boredom.
    Boredom and indifference may be said to be ahistorical
    only in the sense that they allow hatred to shape reality.
    Boredom and indifference victimize no one,
    they only allow victimizers a free hand.
    A man of power believes history to be on his side.
    But history does not takes sides.
    Even a solitary, unarmed and anonymous street fruit-vendor
    has the power to topple brutal regimes like dominoes.
    It is all a matter of time,
    and in cosmic terms, a fraction of a second.
    Only Almighty God is secure in His place
    and He doesn’t even have to exist in order to rule.
    Friday, December 23, 2011
    The average Armenian is an idiot
    who has been brainwashed to believe he is smart.
    If you can’t see this clearly
    it may be because you have been systematically moronized.
    And if you think I am different
    I will be more than happy to quote Flaubert:
    The average Armenian “c’est moi.”
    I have collected so many grievances against my fellow men
    that I am beginning to suspect Alzheimer’s may well be
    a blessing in disguise.
    If it weren’t for past grievances
    not only Armenian would live in peace with Turk
    but also with fellow Armenian.
    Maybe that’s what mankind needs:
    a drug that will kill bad memories
    without damaging any other vital organ.
    Armenia is the site of the Garden of Eden
    with one difference:
    in the original Garden humans outnumbered reptiles….
    Saturday, December 24, 2011
    Authority will never sanction anything
    that may question its legitimacy.
    One could even say authority and intolerance
    might as well be one and the same.
    To speak of the tolerance
    of a boss, bishops, or benefactor is
    like speaking of the shadow of a black hat
    in a dark room.
    Cesare Pavese: “One does not kill oneself for love or a woman,
    but because love – any love – reveals us
    in our nakedness, our misery, our vulnerability, our nothingness.”
    It is to be noted that Pavese, an Italian novelist,
    fell in love with an American actress,
    was rejected, and killed himself.
    Imperialism may be justified on the grounds that
    if we don’t do it to them they will do it to us;
    and as everyone must know by now,
    in politics and world affairs in general
    it is not always the best man that wins.
    History provides us with many examples
    of this aberration,
    beginning with Turks versus Armenians,
    or for that matter, the rest of the world versus Armenians.

  12. #87
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    Aug 2004
    Sunday, December 25, 2011
    The victims of politicians
    outnumber the victims of criminals.
    There are two gods:
    the god of priests and the other one.
    We know a great deal about the first,
    nothing about the other.
    Turks are brainwashed to believe
    they are noble specimens of humanity
    to the same degree
    that we are brainwashed to believe
    we are smart.
    Why should we be surprised
    if the encounter of these two big lies
    resulted in massacres?
    I should like to read an interview
    with a political or religious leader
    that begins with the question:
    “Let’s cut the crap, shall we?”
    “What the hell happened to you?”
    would be my first question
    to one of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors.
    Violence works but only at first.
    Lies convince but only dupes.
    Monday, December 26, 2011
    Sometimes I am misunderstood
    not because I am difficult to understand
    but because the brainwashing has been
    too systematic, thorough, and successful.
    To speak of the “Red” Genocide
    in order to cover up the “White” one,
    or to speak of past violations of human rights
    in order to cover up present ones:
    what could be more horribly cynical?
    Or rather: what could be
    more quintessentially Armenian?
    Animals defend their territory.
    Men do too. But men also defend
    their prestige, pride, vanity,
    prejudices and ignorance.
    Speaking with a forked tongue
    comes naturally to most lawyers, politicians,
    statesmen, religious leaders, businessmen, and so on.
    And the higher their position in the hierarchy
    the more transparent their double-talk.
    Tuesday, December 27, 2011
    There are two kinds of actions:
    planned and spontaneous.
    The Tunisian fruit vendor’s self-immolation
    was spontaneous;
    the actions of our revoltuionaries
    at the turn of the last century in the Ottoman Empire
    were planned.
    The first was a success beyond anyone’s imagination;
    the second resulted in one of the greatest disasters
    in the history of mankind.
    History is unpredictable.
    God laughs at man’s plans and calculations.
    The selfless act has a much better chance to succeed,
    and sometimes to succeed beyond anyone’s imagination,
    than the cold-blooded, carefully planned and calculated act.
    Marx thought he had discovered the way history works
    and he created the nightmare of communist regimes.
    When Jesus said “the kingdom of God is within you,”
    he should have added,
    “so is the empire of the Devil.”
    “Existence is a vicious abstraction,”
    Bertrand Russell tells us; which means
    our actions will inevitably end
    in an existential labyrinth of consequences
    whose end result will be totally unpredictable.
    Elsewhere Russell writes:
    “Since men tend to value present pleasures
    more than pleasures in the future,
    the wise man will exercise prudence and self-restraint.”
    He should have added, “by which time the wise man
    may be too old to get it up.”
    Moral: No matter what you decide to do,
    you may regret it.
    Bouazisi did not live long enough
    to witness his final victory.
    Wednesday, December 28, 2011
    Anyone who is committed to an ideology or religion
    will have his own version of the past.
    Believers are natural-born revisionists.
    All political parties,
    regardless of nationality and ideology,
    have a tendency to promise more than they can deliver;
    sometimes they even promise heaven and deliver hell.
    It is only natural for those who are part of the problem
    to pretend not to see the solution.
    Never insult an Armenian writer:
    being one is insult enough.

  13. #88
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    Aug 2004


    Thursday, December 29, 2011
    On more than one occasion
    I have heard it said that we Armenians
    are not yet ready for democracy.
    What does that really mean?
    Our leaders prefer to behave as our masters
    rather than our servants?
    Given the choice, who wouldn’t?
    We have been so systematically and thoroughly moronized
    by Turks, Russians, and our own
    Ottomanized and Sovietized leadership that
    by the time we learn to think for ourselves
    we might as well be on the verge
    of senility, dementia, or Alzheimer’s,
    and probably all three at once.
    If any one of our “Dear Leaders”
    were to drop dead today,
    who would shed a single tear?
    What is the difference between North Koreans and us
    when it comes to brainwashing?
    They don’t have a choice.
    We do.
    We live in democracies
    and we know what freedom and human rights are.
    They don’t.
    Tunisians and Libyans are ready for democracy,
    and we who are smart, progressive and westernized are not?
    When we say Armenians are not yet ready for democracy,
    is that we speaking or our moronized, mangled, tortured,
    and degraded, political awareness?
    Friday, December 30, 2011
    Our most important ideas,
    the ones that shape our worldview,
    are not ours but those of the establishment
    within which we were born and raised.
    These ideas have been systematically and carefully divested
    of all doubts and inherent contradictions.
    They are like skeletons – unthinking, cold, dehumanized.
    It is this corrupt and degenerate abstractions
    that are at the root of all prejudices and intolerance.
    So that when we speak of ways of thinking,
    what we really mean is ways of non-thinking.
    It follows, the irrational element in our thoughts
    far outweigh the rational.
    We don’t shape our ideas.
    They shape us.
    And because they are irrational,
    they distort and pervert our reason.
    When we disagree with one another,
    we should teach ourselves and our children to say
    not “I am right and you are wrong,”
    but “Very probably we are both wrong.”
    Saturday, December 31, 2011
    Overheard: “The war is over
    but there is no peace.”
    We have declared our independence
    but we are not free.
    I repeat myself?
    Our propaganda repeats itself too.
    So does my counter-propaganda.
    What is the difference between propaganda
    and counter-propaganda?
    Propaganda is a lie that flatters.
    Counter-propaganda is the truth that hurts.
    Flattery pays.
    That’s why our bosses and bishops are millionaires
    and our intellectuals are dependent
    on the charity of swine.
    Their sultans and commissars are dead.
    Long live ours!
    As for corruption: we have so much of it
    that we could export it,
    if it were an exportable product, like Arab oil.
    According to a pundit in my morning paper,
    until very recently Muslim countries seemed
    remarkably impervious to democracy.
    Thank God we are not Muslims;
    we have only been muslimized and sovietized.

  14. #89
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    Aug 2004
    Sunday, January 01, 2012
    To readers who are brought up to believe
    it is a writer’s function to instruct, to entertain,
    and to be original, I say,
    he who has been brainwashed as a child
    cannot be open to instruction.
    My aim is not to entertain but the exact opposite:
    to make you aware of your own degradation.
    As for being original:
    in so far as I speak
    of the origins of your degradation,
    I am being original
    even when I bore or irritate
    the hell out of you by repeating myself.
    Don’t think of me as a writer.
    Think of me as a counter-propagandist.
    As for readers who like to inform me
    that I know nothing and I understand even less,
    I say: I ascribe that to Armenians like you
    who refuse to share their knowledge and understanding
    with the rest of us.
    Knowledge and understanding are not things to keep,
    like money, but things to share, like love.
    And if after reading this
    you decide to continue reading me,
    have the decency not to bitch
    and make unreasonable demands on me.
    But if you do, don’t be surprised if I ignore you.
    Monday, January 02, 2012
    Einstein: “I am a deeply religious nonbeliever.”
    You can be a born-again believer
    as well as non-believer.
    You can be a born-again anything.
    The only thing you cannot be
    is a born-again cadaver.
    All men of faith are convinced
    of the 10,000 gods that men have created
    9,999 are phonies.
    Men of faith believe non-believers will go to hell
    because they denied the existence of the Almighty.
    Now then, if an ant or a worm were to deny my own existence
    would I step on it?
    Would such denial even register on my consciousness?
    May I also add that I am not the forgiving type.
    My greatest hope is that
    anyone who has ever done me any dirt
    will burn in hell for all eternity
    Tuesday, January 03, 2012
    The two things that make a line unforgettable are
    (one) once read it is never forgotten, and
    (two) it’s like a key that unlocks a door
    to reveal not another room but a new horizon.
    “Fascism is not defined by the number of its victims,
    but by the way it kills them.”
    “…the anonymous desirability of all flesh.”
    [To write about genius is] “to retrace in detail
    the history of a liberation.”
    “I plunged into humility to evade humiliation.”
    “To love is to hate the same enemy.”
    “I turned rebel later only through having pushed submissiveness
    to the extreme.”
    “The ascetic is a man rich enough
    to choose his poverty freely.”
    “Psychoanalysis has no principles.”
    “…for no man is ever anything but a swindle.”
    “Human life begins on the other side of despair.”
    “Mysticism suits displaced persons
    and superfluous children.”
    Wednesday, January 04, 2012
    The secret aim of our political leaders
    is to be better charlatans.
    I once heard one of them say:
    “I have said this before, many times,
    and I am going to say it again!”
    And I thought, has anyone ever accused him
    of repeating himself?
    “If you are with me you are a friend.
    If you are against me you are an enemy.”
    Provided of course your judgement is infallible.
    The support of a writer
    by a political party is as good as a kiss of death.
    Blood may well be thicker than water
    but common sense goes farther than chauvinist crapola
    and common decency is superior to mumbo jumbo.
    A charming man does not waste his charm
    on someone he considers useless to him.

  15. #90
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    Aug 2004


    Thursday, January 05, 2012
    Don’t believe everything you hear.
    Don’t believe everything you read.
    But above all,
    don’t believe everything you believe.
    Remember, the Greeks believed in Zeus
    and they were just about the smarted people
    that ever lived.
    Actions have consequences;
    so do inactions.
    Case in point:
    600 years of inaction under the Sultans.
    God created believers as well as non-believers.
    Now consider the case of a believer who kills
    and a non-believer who is a pacifist.
    On whose side will God be?
    I am in no position to penalize anyone.
    I just speak the truth and let
    them suffer the consequences.
    Did I say “the truth”?
    Strike that.
    Make it “my side of the story.”
    Or even better,
    “I just state the facts as I see them.”
    I have no desire to be accused of megalomania
    or of harbouring prophetic ambitions.
    Friday, January 06, 2012
    “A journalistic terrorist
    of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.”
    That’s how I am identified in a recent blog
    by a gentle reader who probably thinks I am dead –
    no doubt a clear-cut case of wishful thinking.
    Never antagonize someone who can afford a better lawyer.
    Even if you are 100% right
    and he is 100% wrong, you will lose.
    That’s justice, American style.
    When the subject of the poor and unemployed
    comes up in Yerevan, my guess is
    members of the regime say:
    “Let our ‘aghbers' of the Diaspora deal with them –
    they can afford it,” or words to that effect.
    To our ‘aghbers’ I therefore say:
    what if all your charity does is
    to postpone the final showdown
    between the 99% and the 1%?
    Your charity will make sense only if
    an equal amount of effort is chanelled
    into excposing the crooks and thieves.
    Saturday, January 07, 2012
    In a commentary titled “Eight nations are on the endangered list”
    by Zbigniew Brzezinsky, we read the following about Georgia:
    “American decline would leave this tiny Caucasian state
    vulnerable to Russian political intimidation and military aggression.”
    Elsewhere the Baltic states are also mentioned and discussed
    but Armenia is ignored.
    My first thought:
    We have finally achieved a state of total irrelevance
    in the eyes of the world.
    Who gives a damn what happens to us?
    Not even Armenians.

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