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Thread: as i see it

  1. #46
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    Kazan

    Thursday, May 08, 2008
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    KAZAN IN ISTANBUL
    **********************************
    While in Istanbul, Kazan writes in his memoirs (ELIA KAZAN: A LIFE, page 548), “I was heralded as the famous man from Anatolia who denied absolutely that he was Armenian. There was no mention that I was a Greek.”
    Speaking of a recent riot, a fellow Greek explains: “They [the authorities] brought several hundred criminals from the interior, gave them plenty raki, the cheap kind, a bottle to each man, put them on the boat to Istanbul, and told them, ‘Go ahead, the city is yours. Take what you want, so long as it’s Greek or Armenian.’” (page 550). Elsewhere (page 558) Kazan quotes an angry Greek woman saying: “They [Turks] are animals, who tasted our blood many times and want more, like animals.”
    The scandal is not that criminals behave like criminals, with the blessings of the authorities, but that respectable men say, such things don’t happen in a civilized country like Turkey. And I doubt very much if the orders to riot, or any other relevant documents, are housed in state archives for future scholars who specialize in the study of riots.
    Riots happen everywhere, of course, even in the most civilized countries in the world. But I doubt very much if they do so with the encouragement and authorization of the state for the simple reason that as a rule riots in civilized countries are spontaneous eruptions by minorities against the state.
    #
    Friday, May 09, 2008
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    MEMO
    ******************************************
    After reading some of my critical articles, a Turkish friend assumes I have Kemalist sympathies. This is the very same mistake Armenian readers make when they accuse me of anti-Armenianism. If I am critical of intolerance, that doesn’t mean I am for Turkish or any other kind of intolerance.
    Half-truths and lies come in all colors, sizes, and shapes and they are equally pernicious.
    All ideologies and religions come with good intentions. Their true aim is to expand human consciousness by making us aware of the fact that we are not the alpha and omega of existence. But eventually they degenerate into closed systems by pretending to be the alpha and omega of human perception. That’s when critics and dissidents take it upon themselves to remind us we have been duped into thinking truth or god is on our side.
    #
    Saturday, May 10, 2008
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    GREED
    **********************
    Literary prizes and grants: I have had my share of them, but mostly from Canadian sources. If I am ever awarded an Armenian prize
    I will say: “I accept the cash but I reject the honor.”
    The trouble with our organizations (and the bosses, bishops and benefactors who control them) is that they are interested in art and I am interested only in money.
    *
    To be verbally abused by riffraff is almost to be praised.
    *
    To join a party and to view the opposition as the source of all evil must be an irresistible temptation to all simple-minded dupes.
    *
    Why is it that we like to explain and justify our shortcomings by mentioning the shortcomings of others? Imagine if you can a murderer or thief pleading not guilty in a court of law on grounds that all nations have their share of murderers and thieves.
    #

  2. #47
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    ?/?

    Sunday, May 11, 2008
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    DEPRESSING OBSERVATIONS
    ******************************************
    Our Turcocentric ghazetajis are interested in Armenians only as victims of Turks, which is a what’s done is done and cannot be undone situation. I too am interested in Armenians as victims but only as victims of fellow Armenians, which is an ongoing process. We cannot resurrect the dead but we can remind our dividers that a house divided against itself cannot stand; and whereas the Turks had a reason for trying to exterminate us, they (our bosses and bishops) have none!
    *
    Life is short, art long, and trash abundant. The very least we can do is not to add to the abundance.
    *
    The most pernicious prejudice is to think that we have none.
    *
    To commit a blunder – nothing easier. To admit it – nothing more difficult.
    #
    Monday, May 12, 2008
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    FIRST LINES
    ******************************
    SPEECH
    **************
    Ladies and Gentlemen:
    Like you, I too was exposed to a great many sermons and speeches in my formative years. I know something I didn’t know then: they were all empty verbiage. Assuming we have a question here, what is the answer? I have no idea. I think Naregatsi (our Dante and Shakespeare combined) came close to a tentative answer when he decided to spend the rest of his life in a monastery meditating on his failings.
    *
    CONFESSIONS
    ***************************
    I have been a source of disappointment to a great many people, beginning with myself. This may explain why I may never deliver a speech or write a memoir.
    *
    ON REVISIONISM
    ********************************
    At the turn of the last century, the Ottoman Empire was like a wounded tiger: in its effort to assure its own survival, it struck indiscriminately at those it saw as its enemies without making an effort to separate the innocent from the guilty. What’s uppermost in the mind of a Turkish revisionist today is the memory of the wound rather than the innocent victims.
    #

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008
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    THE CIRCASSIAN CONTRIBUTION
    ************************************************** *
    W.H. Auden: “Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return.”
    *
    In the 19th century Russia conducted a long genocidal war against the Muslim tribes of the Caucasus. Armenians played a key role in this campaign as negotiators, translators, and soldiers. When the war was over, the defeated Caucasian tribes took refuge in Turkey. It was the offspring of these survivors for whom revenge is an article of faith and a religious commandment who in 1915 joined forces with the Kurds to massacre Armenians.
    For more on the Russian campaign in the Caucasus, see Lesley Blanch’s SABRES OF PARADISE, and Tolstoy’s HADJI MURAD. This second is a work of historical fiction based on documented facts written near the end of Tolstoy’s life. Lesley Blanch’s fascinating work is a thoroughly researched study and the only historical work I have read and enjoyed three times.
    #
    Wednesday, May 14, 2008
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    ASKING QUESTIONS
    **********************************
    What do they know of the Genocide if only the Genocide know? To fully understand something, anything, it is necessary to know and understand many other things. Historic occurrences are like plants with deep roots some of which may go back to the beginning of time.
    *
    Why is it that we never get tired of speaking of what they did to us but we at no time ask, why is it that we made ourselves vulnerable? Is it because we may not like the answer? Is it because if we understood the answer we may no longer be justified in assuming a holier-than-thou stance? And worse, much worse! Is it because if we understood the answer we would also understand that what they did to us we are doing to ourselves? – that is to say, committing our own brand of “jermag chart” (white slaughter) on two fronts – assimilation in the Diaspora and exodus from the Homeland? Why is it that when it comes to our own incompetence, corruption, dogmatism, intolerance, and divisions, we like to speak of “social and cultural conditions beyond our control”? What is the difference between their denialism and our own? Why this stubborn refusal to face facts and accept responsibility? Am I making assertions I cannot prove? No, I am only asking questions.
    #

  3. #48
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    shop talk

    Thursday, May 15, 2008
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    SHOP TALK
    *******************************
    The trouble with me as a writer is that, unlike our Turcocentric ghazetajis who write about nothing else but massacres, bloodthirsty Asiatic barbarians, atrocities, and unspeakable crimes against humanity, I have an eye only for the dark side of life. I stress the negative in human nature and completely ignore the positive.
    *
    An Armenian poetess calls to inform me she is donating the royalties of her next book to Etchmiadzin. I don’t have the heart to tell her I have been in this business for a quarter of a century and I have never heard of an Armenian writer who has made two cents from royalties. But I suspect she already knows. Armenians have an amazing gift for pretending not to know the obvious.
    *
    In a letter from a friend: "If, as you say, Armenian literature is a dead end, why not give up writing?"
    I write for two totally non-literary reasons: to fight boredom and to acquire friends; and with every book I have published, I have acquired a new friend; also (alas!) two, and sometimes even twenty-two, enemies.
    #
    Friday, May 16, 2008
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    RANDOM THOUGHTS
    ********************************
    Chekhov: "Love, friendship, respect do not unite people as much as common hatred for something." Our leadership has known this for some time; hence, their unspoken slogan: "There is no business like shoah business."
    *
    What divides a nation is neither theology nor ideology but leaders who consider their own powers and privileges more important than the survival of the nation.
    *
    Where there is an Armenian church you will also find a wealthy dupe with a guilty conscience.
    *
    A fellow Armenian (a white-haired no-nonsense type) knocks on my door, introduces himself, barges in, and demands to know if I am really an atheist. I tell him, I don’t believe in he god of our priests. He is too puzzled by my answer to pursue the matter. What I fail to add is that, the true atheist is he who uses someone else’s crucifixion to make a comfortable living.
    *
    If a man is open to ruin, he will be ruined by success as easily as by failure.
    #
    Saturday, May 17, 2008
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    NOTES / COMMENTS
    *******************************
    If we cannot trust experts, historians, religious leaders and politicians on the grounds that they contradict one another, whom can we trust? The answer must be obvious: nobody! Not even our own judgment. We may however mistrust less those who deal in doubts and probabilities as opposed to certainties and dogmas.
    *
    To be against objectivity is to be for deception.
    *
    Love of God and Country become pathological aberrations when they find expression only in hatred for the enemy and fellow countrymen who do not share our hatred.
    *
    Honesty is a career in which the failures outnumber the successes.
    *
    It’s because they want to silence me that I keep talking. On the day they shut up, I will sing my swan song.
    #

  4. #49
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    diary

    Sunday, May 18, 2008
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    A BROTHER
    ***************************
    He is that most repellent of all creatures – an ignorant, loudmouth, self-satisfied, smart-ass know-it-all, in short, myself when young. He makes me think of the octogenarian born-again Armenian friend who once told me he hates Turks not because they tried to exterminate us but because they failed to do so. Instead of analyzing our catastrophic blunders, he brags, speechifies, and sermonizes in the name of God and Country—a God he knows nothing about and a Country that he pretends to value more than his fellow countrymen.
    *
    In a letter from an Armenian poet: "After writing for Armenians all my life, I am beginning to hate the Turks less."
    *
    Ruben Ter-Minassian: "Our cultural achievements and intellectual abilities may be superior to those of our neighbors, but without solidarity we are bound to be defeated, victimized, and exterminated."
    *
    Stanislaw Lec: "Only the dead can be resurrected. It’s more difficult with the living."
    *
    Search for the truth not in order to find it but in order to uncover ten thousand lies.
    #
    Monday, May 19, 2008
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    FROM MY DIARY
    *****************************************
    Successful crooks appear more honest than truly honest men.
    *
    Politicians who profess family values see nothing morally inconsistent in screwing the nation.
    *
    Jean Rostand: “The persistence of an opinion proves nothing in its favor. Astrologers still exist.”
    *
    It is a waste of time talking to someone from whom you can learn nothing and to whom you can teach even less.
    *
    If a little knowledge is dangerous, we all live on borrowed time.
    *
    Kant [on the difference between ignorance and stupidity]: “There is no cure for stupidity.”
    *
    For our bosses and bishops, literature has only one purpose: to cover up their lies, and to misrepresent their blunders as triumphs of statesmanship.
    #
    Tuesday, May 20, 2008
    *************************************
    ABOUT KEMALISM
    *********************************
    Idols are the surest symptoms of a society’s backwardness. Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, Mao in China, Fidel in Cuba, and Ataturk in Turkey: of these only Ataturk has lost none of his initial hold on the masses. The average Turk continues to be brought up (i.e. brainwashed) to believe Kemal is the Father of the Nation because he saved Turkey from the brink of annihilation. That may or may not be true, but it is equally true that most of Turkey’s problems today – among them the introduction of nationalism in an essentially multicultural and cosmopolitan environment, the forceful rejection of traditional values, the festering Armenian question, the irredentism of the Kurds, the fiasco surrounding the application for membership in the EU, a junta’s shadowy presence and quasi-veto powers, the rise of fundamentalism, laws that curtail free speech, among other violations of fundamental human rights – may be traced to Kemalist dogmas. Turkey will be born again as a truly civilized, progressive, and democratic nation on the day it discards Kemalism to the dustbin of history the way Russia, Germany, China, and Italy rejected their fascist idols.
    *
    Why I write the way I do? Am I foolish and arrogant enough to think that I can change anyone’s mind? Certainly not. I write by way of wondering why is it that, that which is clearly visible to me should remain shrouded in impenetrable darkness to others who may well be smarter than I am.
    *
    It happens in life all the time. A solution that worked in stage one becomes a recipe for failure in stage two.
    *
    Power corrupts and ideologies decline because they fall into the hands of opportunists who care more about their privileges than the welfare of the people. If Kemal were alive today, would he declare himself a Kemalist?
    #
    Wednesday, May 21, 2008
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    DIARY
    **************************
    There are three kinds of men: those who think before they speak, those who think as they speak, and those who think after they have spoken. But they all belong to a minority. The majority of men don’t think.
    *
    Who says we cannot agree on anything? For more than a thousand years now we have consistently agreed to remain divided.
    *
    In a democracy, truth is not a source of terror because it can be easily buried beneath an avalanche of harmless half-truths and pleasant lies.
    *
    We will mature as a nation only when we take ideas as seriously as money.
    *
    Anonymous: "You can always count on a rich man’s head to be as empty as an honest man’s pocket."
    *
    Galileo Galilei: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
    #

  5. #50
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    shop talk

    Thursday, May 22, 2008
    *******************************************
    MORE SHOP TALK
    ************************************
    After the Genocide, the greatest calamity that has befallen Armenians is the Turcocentric ghazetaji who can think of Armenians only as victims of Turks. In my view, however, long before Armenians were victimized by Turks, they were victimized by their fellow Armenians, and they continue to be to this day.
    *
    To allow only one side of the story to be told and repeated again and again for a century is another way of moronizing a nation.
    *
    You want to play it safe? Be a dupe among dupes and a fool among fools.
    *
    The real challenge for a writer is not to be deep or original but to deserve and earn his readers’ trust. As for depth and originality: the Bible and Plato have exhausted these branches of literary endeavor.
    *
    T.S. Eliot: “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”
    #
    Friday, May 23, 2008
    **********************************************
    FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
    ****************************************
    Forgiveness is not something that one gives and the other takes. Forgiveness is a gift that enhances our understanding of our fellow men and our own evil impulses.
    *
    To question the validity of an assertion is not the same as asserting its contradiction.
    *
    In everything we write, we confess. In everything that we analyze, we analyze ourselves.
    *
    One advantage in having a strange name is that telemarketers have trouble pronouncing it so that you feel justified in saying “Nobody by that name here.”
    *
    Genocide, even the death of a single innocent human being, is too important to be contaminated by propaganda. This may well explain my instinctive hostility towards our Turcocentric ghazetajis.
    *
    Bertrand Russell: “Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.”
    *
    William Goldman: “Life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.
    #
    Saturday, May 24, 2008
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    HISTORIANS
    *****************************
    Nationalism and historiography might as well be mutually exclusive concepts. What’s uppermost in the mind of a nationalist historian is the welfare of the nation even if it means the total destruction and ruin of its enemies. Nationalism reveals more about the mindset of a nationalist and less about the past. Don’t get me wrong. We can learn a great deal from nationalist historians -- a great deal except the truth. Great historians like Gibbon, Spengler, and Toynbee, who write about civilizations rather than nations, are invariably critical of their own.
    *
    How do you go about civilizing a nation? You don’t civilize it by repeating over and over again "the first nation to accept Christianity" or "the first nation to experience genocide in the 20th century." You civilize it by detribalizing its political parties, making its institutions more responsive and accountable to the public, and its media more tolerant of criticism and dissent. That’s how you civilize a nation.
    (Who says I speak of problems but not of solutions?)
    *
    "You repeat yourself," I am told once in a while by critics. I suspect if I were to write a thousand times "We are the first nation to convert to Christianity," or "the first nation to experience genocide in the 20th century," nobody would complain. And why? Probably because both lines appear to be saying something positive about us, though I fail to see what’s positive about being massacred in the 20th or any other century for that matter.
    #

  6. #51
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    death wish

    Sunday, May 25, 2008
    **********
    PATRIOTISM & RELATED ATROCITIES
    **********
    Some of the nastiest human beings I have had the misfortune to deal with are or pretend to be dedicated Armenian patriots. I am also personally acquainted with Turks who are more tolerant and civilized that some Armenians. Sooner or later we shall have to come to terms with the fact that collectively we are not as good as we think we are to the same degree that Turks are not as bad as we have been led to believe. Very much like Turks, Armenians are first and foremost individuals and to generalize is to simplify the complexities of reality. Nations and by extension national identity are artificial labels created by ambitious politicians whose central concern is power. Therefore to speak of Turks and Armenians is misleading. We should speak instead of human beings who as a result of factors beyond their control or motivated by the instinct of self-preservation, identify themselves with a group in whose midst they find themselves. This may explain why some of the most patriotic and nationalist Armenian leaders are either the offspring of mixed marriages or see nothing objectionable in intermarriage.
    #

    Monday, May 26, 2008
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    STORIES WITHOUT A MORAL
    *************************************************
    Earthquakes in China, cyclones in Myanmar, tornadoes in America, and thousands of innocent victims: a story without a moral. Perhaps that’s what life is: a story without a moral. What is morality if not the wishful thinking of the powerless? As losers, we use morality to chastise our enemies, but from a position to strength we cover up our own immorality. Whom do we fool? Ourselves and no one else. When it comes to deception, we are our own most consistent, dependable, and faithful dupes.
    *
    You cannot argue with a man who has somehow convinced himself that (a) he is smarter; (b) he knows better; (c) he is better.
    ***
    Some of my readers are critics because they cannot be executioners.
    *
    When a reader calls me names and resorts to insults, I cannot help suspecting that what he is attempting to do is drag me down to a place where he will have the upper hand. If I don’t reply in kind it’s not because I am a good Christian willing to turn the other cheek but because I don’t feel at home in the gutter.
    #
    Tuesday, May 27, 2008
    *****************************************
    THE REST IS PROPAGANDA
    ***********************************************
    Combine a passive or apathetic nation with an incompetent leadership and the result will be Armenian history.
    *
    An incompetent politician may be defined as a lawmaker who has no respect for the law, or a judge who has no taste for justice.
    *
    When the going gets tough, the smart Armenian emigrates.
    *
    Buddhist saying: “Foolish friends are worse than wise enemies.” Likewise, incompetent leaders are worse than ruthless and bloodthirsty oppressors.
    *
    Balzac: “Nature makes only dull animals. We owe the fool to society.”
    *
    Kant [on the difference between ignorance and stupidity]: “There is no cure for stupidity.”
    *
    Albert Camus: “Hell is a special favor reserved for those who have asked for it insistently.”
    #
    Wednesday, May 28, 2008
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    DEATH WISH
    *******************************
    Emigration, alienation, assimilation -- to our “betters” and assorted riffraff they mean only one thing: one less malcontent, dissident, or critic. Zarian was wrong when he said our politicians are useless. The situation is worse. Much worse. Our politicians are megalomaniacal mental midgets driven by death wish. They preach survival but practice suicide. Preaching one thing and practicing another – so what else is new, you may well ask.
    You need a license to drive a truck. No such requirement to lead a nation. Once upon a time no one saw anything remotely questionable in barbers practicing medicine. When it comes to political leadership, we continue to be at the mercy of executioners parading as barbers, who cannot even give you a shave without administering the death of a thousand cuts.
    #

  7. #52
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    the power and the glory

    Thursday, May 29, 2008
    ********************************************
    THE POWER AND THE GLORY
    **************************************************
    If you think I am being too tough on our politicians, I say, no one can be tough enough on them. If I am wrong, sooner or later I will be exposed just as another ignoramus, one among many. But if I am right (and they are wrong) the result may be countless innocent victims.
    *
    The blunders of politicians are like cities set on a hill: they cannot be hidden. One reason politicians get involved in education is to rewrite history and to misrepresent their defeats as moral victories.
    *
    Politicians have been persecuting and victimizing intellectuals ever since the trial and execution of Socrates 2500 years ago. Now then, name a single intellectual who has victimized a politician.
    *
    Since they cannot recreate the world in their own image, politicians try to reshape our perception of reality. And they succeed, but only up to a point. That's because they cannot fool all the people all the time. They may have the power, but they don't have the glory, and that is what makes them intolerant of dissent.
    #

    Friday, May 30, 2008
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    RANDOM THOUGHTS
    ****************************************
    If your income is ten times that of another, the temptation to think you may be ten times smarter than he can be overwhelming. My advice: resist it. You may be ten times more ruthless, greedy, lucky, or even dishonest (Plato is wonderful on this point) –none of which has anything to do with your or his IQ.
    *
    If killing in the name of patriotism is right, what about lying? Why should my patriotism be good and my enemy's bad? If love makes us blind to the point of self-deception, what about hate?
    *
    What doesn't kill you may make you paranoid.
    *
    If you believe God to be almighty and all-knowing and if He tells you to kill your only son who has harmed no one, would you do it? (For an answer, see GENESIS 22:1).
    *
    Until very recently, and to some extent even today, many white Americans think of blacks as inferior, and neither the word of God (all men are brothers) nor that of their Constitution (all men are created equal) can convince them otherwise. All of which may suggest that, in a democracy, power may be on the side of the majority, but not truth.
    #
    May 31, 2008
    ***************************************
    FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
    ******************************************
    “I am a better writer than you,” an anonymous readers informs me. Anyone can be a better writer than me, provided of course he first learns how to read.
    *
    If you say anything in your favor, even if you speak the truth, most people will suspect you are lying.
    *
    To say, “I don't believe in criticism” is criticism. No doubt those who condemned Socrates to death did not think of themselves as critics,
    *
    The aim of propaganda is to raise a wall between reality and our perception of it. Even when politicians speak the truth, they don't speak the whole truth for the simple reason that the whole truth exists only in the mind of God.
    *
    A fool preaching patriotism: does he thereby cease being a fool?
    *
    No one is infallible but some
    love to wallow in their own fallibility.
    #

  8. #53
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    kemalism

    Sunday, June 1, 2008
    *********************************************
    ON CHURCH UNITY
    ********************************
    Whenever we speak of solidarity and church unity, we should consider the possibility that we may end up with an ayatollah rather than a pope in Etchmiadzin. But even if we are lucky enough to end up with a pope (a remote possibility that one) let's consider the contributions of the papacy to the world and more particularly to Italy: obscurantism (hence the Dark Ages) dogmatism, intolerance, the persecution of dissidents and heretics, crusades, religious wars (one of which lasted a hundred years) and more recently collaboration with fascist regimes and the mafia. I could also mention fornicating Renaissance popes and American cardinals who covered up and thus aided and abetted child molesting priests. All this assuming of course our church will act in complete freedom, as opposed to being subservient to the king, sultan, and more recently to the KGB (Etchmiadzin) and the CIA (Antelias).
    If you think I speak as a hostile witness, listen to Raffi: “Instead of an elite or an aristocracy, we have merchants and clergymen. Merchants are trash. As for the clergy: they have always been against individual freedom.” Elsewhere: “Our clergymen preach patience to us thus promoting subservience to the point of slavery.” But “What's done is done. What we must do now is assess the damage and figure out how to avoid the next catastrophe.”
    The next catastrophe, which is also a present catastrophe, is emigration from the Homeland and assimilation in the Diaspora, both of which amount to “white slaughter.” And what are our merchants and clergymen doing to combat this scandal? Preaching and promoting “law and order,” that is to say, subservience to authority. The more things change...
    *
    A final word on solidarity: one must differentiate between the solidarity of a nation that is brainwashed by a supreme leader who may be more dangerous and evil than a serial killer, and the kind of solidarity that unites a nation with a common identity, culture, and purpose. I suggest it is a serious blunder to place our hopes of solidarity on a leader, party, clique, or mafia.
    #

    June 2, 2008
    ******************************************
    ABOUT KEMALISM (PART TWO)
    ************************************************** **
    Kemal continues to be a taboo subject in Turkey. To say anything remotely critical of him is “to offend Turkishness.” which may result in being dragged to court like a common criminal. But since neither Giles Milton, author of PARADISE LOST; SMYRNA 1922 (London, 2008, 426 pages) nor his reviewer, Philip Mansel, author of one of the very best books on Constantinople, are Turkish citizens, they discuss freely and objectively the events surrounding the destruction of Smyrna.
    About the so-called mysterious fire, Mansel writes: “Milton quotes eye-witnesses who saw Turkish soldiers pouring oil.”
    About Kemal we read: while the burning, looting, raping, and killing were going on, Mustafa Kemal spent days up in a villa courting his future wife Latife Hanim, daughter of one of the many Turkish businessmen who had profited from 'infidel Izmir.'” We are further told that thousands of Greek and Armenian men of military age were deported into the interior “in theory to rebuild villages destroyed by the retreating Greek army: few returned.”
    Mansel concludes his review by echoing the very same sentiments I voiced in my recent essay “About Kemalism.” He writes: “Kemal shows that, if nothing succeeds like success, it can also be true that nothing fails like success...If Izmir had retained even a fraction of its cosmopolitan population, it might have helped Turkey's entry into the European Union.” For more details, see THE SPECTATOR (London, 10 May 2008, page 40); or www.spectator.co.uk
    #
    JUNE 3,1908
    ****************************************
    UNITY (PART III)
    *******************************
    Dan Rather: “Our elected leaders will sometimes deceive us, and a free press that does not try to ferret out the truth is not worthy of the name.”
    *
    W.G. Sebald (German writer): “How I wished that I belonged to a different nation.”
    *
    “You quote too much,” Vahe Oshagan told me when we first met. If I do, it may be because we either learn from wiser men or allow ourselves to be brainwashed by fools. This may seem to be a simple enough choice. And yet, throughout history, people have invariably allowed themselves to be manipulated by charlatans.
    *
    Armenians are hard to reform perhaps because every Armenian is convinced he is smart enough to know what's best for himself and the nation.
    *
    What have the Jews learned from their holocaust? Never again! As for us, the only thing we seem to have learned is that Turks are bloodthirsty Asiatic barbarians. Result? Our pundits are now too busy trying to educate, civilize, and enlighten the Turks to have any time left to reform themselves, their fellow Armenians, and their gravediggers. Am I saying Armenians are fools? No. what I am saying is that they are worse than fools because they allow themselves to be deceived by idiots. Am I being negative? If I am, it may be because I lack the wisdom and forbearance to be positive or to see anything remotely positive in our present situation.
    *
    When Vahe Oshagan's last collection of short stories was universally condemned as obscene, he was quoted as having said: “I am ashamed to be an Armenian.”
    #
    June 4, 2008
    *******************************************
    ON COLLECTIVE INFANTILISM
    ************************************************** *
    Because I no longer think as I thought when I was ten, I am seen as a hostile witness.
    *
    If we view our dividers as our leaders as opposed to our gravediggers, it may be because we are afraid to call a spade a spade, and because I refuse to call a spade anything else, I am accused of unArmenian activities.
    *
    To convince the average Armenian dupe that our bosses, bishops, and benefactors are frauds and charlatans is as difficult today as to convince the average Turk that Kemalism (i.e. dogmatism, paternalism, authoritarianism) is inimical to true democracy and respect for fundamental human rights, and as such closer to fascism and barbarism than to civilization.
    *
    We share this in common with Turks: we can't recognize fascism when we see it, especially when it wears a benevolent mask.
    *
    To ask what's positive about our history is the same as asking what's positive about subservience; and subservience, according to Zohrab, corrupts even our virtues.
    *
    What's positive about our history? Dikran the Great and his ephemeral empire? Dikran the Great was a loud-mouth and undisciplined coward who ran away from a small Roman legion whom he first mistook as ambassadors.
    *
    There is nothing wrong with our critical faculties. If anything they are highly developed, but they are directed only at the world. Incapable to reforming ourselves, we are eager to undertake an easier project, that of reforming the world, most of which isn't even aware of our existence.
    #

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    reflections

    Thursday,June 5, 2008
    *****************************************
    WHAT I KNOW ABOUT FASCISTS
    **********************************************
    In his memoirs, Elia Kazan writes that ordinary Turkish citizens don't just shake the hand of a political leader, they go down on their knees and kiss it. Our political leaders are different. They prefer to have another part of their anatomy kissed.
    *
    I have yet to meet an Armenian with political ambitions was not a fascist.
    *
    As a long-time observer of the Armenian scene, I can recognize a fascist by the fact that he doesn't just criticize, analyze, attack, or insult anyone who dares to disagree with him, he goes further. He adopts the role of commissar and issues guidelines.
    *
    Hitler was proud of German culture. So are we of ours. Even Armenians who know little or nothing and care even less about culture, like to brag about it.
    *
    The best argument for an Armeno-Turkish alliance is that most Turks are not Turks, neither are most Armenians Armenians. The only thing that separates them is an incompatible educational system – that is to say, two different sets of brainwashers.
    *
    An Armenian who hates Turks and a Turk who hates Armenians: take away the direction of their hatred and they might as well be two interchangeable units. I speak from experience. I have received hate-mail from both and I see no difference between them.
    *
    Fascists excel in solving problems, even if in the process they create many more.
    #
    June 6, 2008
    ************************************
    A QUESTION OF EMPHASIS
    ************************************************** *
    I should like to read an autobiography in which the emphasis is on prejudices, blind spots, and defects. I should also like to read a nationalist historian who stresses not military victories but moral failures. Sartre's autobiography comes close to my ideal. So does Spengler's treatment of the West in his DECLINE OF THE WEST, and Toynbee's treatment of British history in his STUDY OF HISTORY.
    *
    What propels us to greater knowledge is awareness of ignorance. Some of the most asinine opinions I have been exposed to issued from the mouths of individuals who believed they knew everything they needed to know.
    *
    To emphasize the negative: that is to me the true meaning of patriotism. All our pseudo-patriots want flattery – first nation this, first nation that – and the more they brag, the more of their backside they expose, and they lack the decency and common sense to see this.
    #
    Saturday, June 7, 2008
    ***************************************
    LITERATURE
    ************************************************
    When our bishops, bosses, and benefactors (or rather, their flunkies) get involved in literature, they do so not to promote it, but to control it. A bishop once asked me to prepare an anthology of Armenian literature. “We have the money,” he said, using the royal pronoun. When I asked if I would have complete freedom of selection, I never heard from him again. In his obituary I read that he had subsidized the publication of over fifty books. “They” had the money, all right.
    *
    Whenever I am verbally abused by one of our ubiquitous hooligans parading as superpatriots, my first thought: “He must be a bishop or the son of one.”
    *
    I once asked one of our Turcocentric ghazetajis if he had read a single Armenian writer, he said he hadn't and he seemed proud of the fact.
    *
    Our Turcocentric ghazetajis have their counterparts among the Turks who blame everything on the degenerate and corrupt West and on Armenian criminal conduct, and whenever a Turkish intellectual dares to think for himself, he is imprisoned or forced into exile. If I am not the inmate of a gulag today it's because we don't have gulags in the diaspora.
    #

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    house

    Sunday, June 8, 2008
    ****************************************
    A HOUSE DIVIDED
    ***********************************
    The sanctimonious patriotic prick who asserts moral and intellectual superiority is a far greater threat to our survival as a nation than all our enemies combined. This type of individual discusses our problems as if he were the first to do so. That's because he has neither interest nor respect for what has been achieved in the past by far better men than himself. His sole aim in life is to project the image of an individual endowed with unique powers of perception and to silence anyone who dares to question his judgment and integrity. In short, he is that most repellent of all creatures: an Armenian with political ambitions.
    *
    If a problem that has been solved is no longer a problem, it follows we have no problems. What we have instead is a long line of so-called leaders who have consistently obstructed the path of those willing to implement solutions.
    *
    The more a nation is in need of intellectual and moral guidance, the more intolerant it gets. The Soviet Union under Stalin, Germany under Hitler, China under Mao, Italy under Mussolini, Armenia and the Armenian diaspora today.
    *
    If you want to understand your fellow men, begin by asking yourself: “What if, instead of being better or the best, I am the worst?” Naregatsi's LAMENTATIONS may be said to be a long-winded but honest answer to this question, and in that sense it is the most unread and misunderstood masterpiece in our literature.
    #

    Monday, June 9, 2008
    *************************************************
    TRYING TO MAKE SENSE
    **************************************
    If there is someone out there who has the solution to all our problems but refuses to share it with the rest of us, it may be because he doesn't relish the idea of being crucified.
    *
    Collectively we are hidebound and ignorant – all dogmatic people are. There is indeed some truth in the popular adage “People have the leadership they deserve.”
    *
    When a capitalist explains reality or God, he makes sure his explanation will not harm his capital. The same applies to a boss with an ideology and a bishop with an orthodoxy.
    *
    After dividing mankind into them and us, a nationalist, or anyone who subscribes to a belief system, will proceed to divide “us” into yes-men and dissidents as free speech goes down the drain.
    *
    If you make sense, don't expect to be understood by fools.
    #

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008
    *****************************************
    AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
    ************************************************
    Warning: Do not read what follows, it may cause irreparable damage to your ego.
    *
    “I didn't know that!” is not argument but an admission of ignorance. Which raises a number of questions: Why is it that we are more eager to contradict than to learn? Why is it that some central facts about our power structures and establishment figures have been kept from us? Who profits by our ignorance?
    *
    To solve our problems? Nothing could be further from my thoughts. If we have consistently ignored, sometimes even rejected, all solutions, including those that have come down to us from heaven, what are the chances that we will even bother to consider the solutions provided by a marginal scribbler who may well be an enemy of the people?
    *
    Who is an enemy of the people? Anyone who refuses to kiss the fat ass of a megalomaniacal nonentity with political ambitions.
    *
    It is not always easy to tell which part of a yes is prompted by subservience or inability to think for oneself and which by consent.
    #
    Wednesday, June 11, 2008
    *********************************
    Some of the most venomous e-mails I receive are from Armenians who tell me I should be more positive.
    *
    All subservient people harbor deep inside somewhere an imperialist ego.
    *
    The two most important ideas of all politically ambitious charlatans may be summarized as (one) You are either with me; (two) or against me.
    *
    What is the difference between a fascist head of state who silences intellectuals and a sanctimonious prick who ignores them?
    *
    A useful no can be more fruitful than a useless yes.
    *
    I write one-liners because I don't particularly care for the sound of my own voice.
    *
    The misunderstood, neglected, and impecunious writers is a cliché and I have such a horror of clichés that I prefer to identify myself as an unemployed and unemployable misfit.
    #

  11. #56
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    one-liners

    Thursday, June 12, 2008
    *************************************
    PERVERSIONS
    ********************************
    From subservience to the mighty Sultan to the worship of the Almighty dollar: some may see progress here, but all I see is a movement from Ottoman barbarism to Yankee moronism.
    *
    The first and most important lesson a patriotic Armenian learns is how to piss on fellow Armenians in the name of patriotism. One reason why I loathe patriots and patriotism, nations and nationalism, empires and imperialism, hooligans and hooliganism, and in general anyone who is willing to massacre innocent civilians simply because he is ordered to.
    *
    “I may agree with you as a human being, but I cannot agree with you as a nationalist,” a reader writes. This perversion of values might as well be a reliable definition of fascism.
    *
    Let our Turcocentric ghazetajis speak of Armenians as victims of Turks. I prefer to speak of Armenians as victims of Armenians.
    *
    In his recently published White House memoirs, Scott McClellan writes, the Bush administration manipulates consent by means of “shades of truth, partial truths, twisting of the truth and spin.” This is news only to the nave, the innocent, the dupes, and the superpatriot.
    #

    Friday, June 13, 2008
    *******************************************
    ON JUSTICE
    ***********************************
    When asked, “Recompense injury with kindness. What do you think of that?” Confucius is said to have replied: “With what then will you recompense kindness? Injury must be recompensed with justice, kindness with kindness.”
    That makes sense, of course, but what if the injury is inflicted within an unjust social order? What could be more absurd than to speak of justice in a totalitarian or corrupt state?
    *
    Confucius on the superior man:
    “He acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions.”
    It follows: Never trust a man who suffers from chronic verbal diarrhea, namely, sermonizers, speechifiers, and anyone else who is in the business of recycling their verbal trash.
    *
    Our history, as it has come down to us, is less reality and more fantasy; it is, as a matter of fact, a conspiracy of dunces and dupes.
    *
    Corrupt democracies and authoritarian states have identical goals, namely, to manufacture consent by misleading and moronizing the masses. This may explain why, with very minor exceptions, Turks and Armenians are in complete agreement on their own version of the past.
    *
    It is the easiest thing in the world to fool those who are willing to be fooled.
    *
    Anti-Semites do not consider anti-Semitism a prejudice because they don't hate Jews; they just think Jews are hateful. Something similar could be said of them and us. It's astonishing the word-games people play to appear better than they are in their own eyes.
    #

    Saturday, June 14, 2008
    ***************************************
    ONE-LINERS
    *************************
    In our context, financial success and moral failure might as well be synonymous.
    *
    A routine occurrence among us: the brainwashed trying to convince the deprogrammed.
    *
    Instead of bragging about what we know, we should be mortified by what we don't know.
    *
    I could never write a mystery story because I would reveal the contents of the last page on page one. “Cut the crap” is one of my favorite mottoes.
    *
    Turning the other cheek? That's easy. To stop wanting to murder the bastard. That's different.
    *
    You can't educate brainwashed hoodlums who are out to educate you.
    *
    If your answer raises two more questions, you are on the right path.
    *
    The ambition of every smart intellectual today is to be the secretary of a national benefactor. That's where the money is.
    *
    In an authoritarian environment the brainwashed are always better organized than the deprogrammed.
    #

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    n/c

    Sunday, June 15, 2008
    *****************************************
    WHY I AM NOT A PROUD ARMENIAN
    *************************************************
    In a world inhabited by proud Greeks, Yanks, Brits, Jews, Turks, and Kurds, I prefer to be a humble Armenian.
    *
    Greeks are proud of their ancient culture. What they fail to mention or explain is why they squandered their priceless heritage to the point that they are now one of the poorest and most backward nations in Europe.
    Jews are proud of being the Chosen People. But the truly great and progressive Jews, among them Spinoza, Marx, Freud, and Einstein dismissed all such claims as infantile illusions. And when Jesus taught us the Lord's Prayer that begins with the words “Our Father,” he meant that all men are brothers.
    *
    Pride is for people who lack self-esteem. He who has self-esteem does not feel the need to make himself ridiculous by bragging about who he is.
    *
    Another reason why I prefer to identify myself as a humble Armenian is the proud Armenian who wears his prejudices, ignorance, and arrogance as badges of merit and views criticism and dissent, and by extension, free speech and fundamental human rights, as unpatriotic. Such an Armenian ignores the fact that the function of literature, from Socrates to Sartre, and from Khorenatsi to Zarian, is self-criticism. Take away criticism from Western culture, and the West becomes an extension of Asia.
    #

    Monday, June 16, 2008
    *****************************************
    SUMMING UP
    ******************************
    We cannot trust the solution to our problems into the hands of our dividers. That would be like trust the flock to wolves in sheep's clothing.
    *
    Turks are not our greatest problem because nations are not killed, they commit suicide.
    *
    If you are a proud Armenian stay away from Armenian affairs. If you make the mistake of getting involved, you will be tarred, feathered, and dragged through the mud. And if you think the solution to this particular problem is being a humble Armenian, forget it. I have been both and I speak from experience. No matter to who and what you are, if you are honest and mean business, the philistines and commissars will get you and you will curse the day you were born.
    *
    A bad Armenian can be worse than the worst Turk.
    *
    Our propensity to create problems far outstrips our ability to solve them.
    *
    I am fully aware of the fact that discussing our problems may exacerbate them, but it is a temptation I cannot resist. May I also confess that exposing baloney artists is one of the very few pleasures that happen to be within my income bracket.
    *
    No one can be as dumb as an Armenian impressed with his own brilliance.
    #
    Tuesday, June 17, 2008
    *****************************************
    OBSERVATIONS
    *******************************
    To the dupe, reality is not what he sees or experiences but what he is told, especially when what he is told is carefully tailored to flatter his ego.
    *
    Better a deprogrammed enemy than a brainwashed friend.
    *
    In an environment where speechifiers and sermonizers are amply compensated, critics will be seen as nuisances and enemies. The result will be a community swimming in b.s.
    *
    The certainties of my youth are my greatest sources of embarrassment. I shiver and burn whenever I think of them.
    *
    It's no use pretending to know better because no one knows everything and we will never know the truth. The best we can hope to do is expose the transparent lies of vested interests and propaganda.
    *
    The world is a dangerous place where people speak in the name of peace and make war, where they speak in the name of God and do the Devil's work, and where millions of dupes are eager to kill and die in the name of a Big Lie.
    #
    Wednesday, June 18, 2008
    *****************************************
    A ROUTINE EXPERIENCE
    *******************************************
    It might as well be a routine experience with me: readers who assume not only to be better but to know better, and based on that self-serving assumption, they proceed to deliver lectures on patriotism, the kind of nonsense I was exposed to when I was ten. They remind me of our heroic revolutionaries at the turn of the last century who were so sure of their final and inevitable victory that they had a Plan B only for themselves. And like all losers throughout history, they now blame their catastrophic blunder on everyone else but themselves. I once heard one of these revolutionaries (may the Good Lord have mercy on his soul) say, “The chezok [neutral or non-partisan] Armenian is the source of all our problems because he refuses to get involved in Armenian affairs. He is neither hot nor cold. He is nothing.” When Hitler lost World War II and shortly before he had the decency to commit suicide, he put the blame on his fellow Germans, the very same people he had classified as belonging to a superior race. Nothing evil ever dies. Hitler may be dead but his racist ideas continue to live in neo-Nazi skinheads, Putin's ultranationlist Stalinists, and Italy's neo-fascists. I could add our own first-nation-this and first-nation-that propagandists and dime-a-dozen Turcocentric ghazetajis who believe they will usher in a new golden age on the day they corner the Turks into assuming full responsibility for the Genocide, to apologize, and to make financial and territorial reparations. In the meantime they go about pretending there is nothing wrong with us and we are beyond criticism because God and Truth are on our side. It is not that I don't believe what they say, I don't think they believe it themselves.
    #

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    forked tongues

    Thursday, June 19, 2008
    *************************************************
    CROCODILES
    **************************
    Politics and literature don't mix. Politics, power, and propaganda are inseparable. Where goes one, the others are sure to follow. By contrast, the aim of literature is to understand reality by exposing the inconvenient facts that have been swept under the carpet. Hence Hemingway's definition of a writer as one with “a built-in sh*t detector.”
    *
    It is a serious blunder to identify a regime with the people and its culture. To do so amounts to saying Hitler is an extension of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, or Chekhov and Stalin share similar aims. Speaking of Chekhov: in one of his letters to a friend (Suvorin, I think) and in an eerily prescient passage, he refers to the next generation of Russian leaders as “crocodiles.” which may suggest that, you don't need supernatural powers to predict the future. (In this connection, see also Dostoevsky's THE DEMONS, sometimes also translated as THE POSSESSED.)
    *
    “You can't criticize the Homeland if you have never been there,” I am told. With the advent of the computer, I don't feel the need to go anywhere because I receive a veritable avalanche of e-mails by fellow Armenians who have been there, done that, and now sport the T-shirt. Once I even received two books by a retired bishop in which he exposed the corruption within the hierarchy.
    *
    I have noticed that only Armenians who are in the business – and it is a business – of fund-raising that ascribe all our problems on the war, the earthquake, and the blockade and completely ignore the contribution of our crocodiles and “mi kich pogh” panchoonies to our present malaise.
    *
    Whenever I run into a smart-ass, loud-mouth, cowardly bully who insults me anonymously and from a safe distance, I have no trouble predicting a brilliant future in politics.
    #
    Friday, June 20, 2008
    ********************************************
    BULLIES AND YES-MEN
    *********************************
    When the men at the top are bullies, the result will be a society of cowardly yes-men.
    *
    After they convince us we are smart, perhaps even the smartest people on earth, they treat us like idiots. Patriotism, that is to say flattery (“chosen people,” “superior race,” “it takes seven Jews to fool an Armenian”) is one of the oldest and most effective instruments of mass persuasion.
    *
    The honesty of dupes, like the faith of the brainwashed: what is it worth?
    *
    Once, at the beginning of my career (if you want to call it that) one of our elder statesmen called me a genius. Shortly thereafter when I wrote something with which he disagreed, he called me an idiot. Easy come, easy go. Sic transit gloria mundi. Or, as the French say, “He who can kiss, can bite.”
    *
    If our literature were a person, he would be a beggar in rags on the verge of starvation. We treat our literature the way we were treated at the turn of the century in the Ottoman Empire. Now then, tell me: In what way are we different from them?
    *
    People who know and understand, search for more knowledge and understanding. By contrast, the ignoramus is satisfied with his own ignorance.
    #
    Saturday, June 21, 2008
    *********************************************
    SPEAKING WITH A FORKED TONGUE
    ************************************************** **
    In a land of instant coffee
    they want instant solutions.
    Instead of doing what they can do,
    they demand that others to
    what they don't want to do.
    Instead of reforming themselves
    they want to reform the nation.
    Even as they engage in cannibalism
    they speak of solidarity, unity, and brotherhood.
    They think of our writers as some species of song birds
    who did nothing but serenade the moon.
    Gentle reader, if you are one of them
    my advice to you is:
    Don't believe everything you are told
    by those who pretend to know better
    because they are better.
    Don't be afraid to raise your voice and say
    you refuse to be taken in by baloney artists
    who speak with a forked tongue.
    Beyond that there isn't much you
    or anyone else can do.

  14. #59
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    notes

    Sunday, June 22, 2008
    *********************************************
    ON MURDER
    *********************************
    Of you expose a liar, a rapist, or a murderer, you don't need to deliver a sermon against lies, rape, and murder -- unless of course you are infatuated with the sound of your own voice.
    *
    You may have noticed that the very same people who demand instant solutions to our problems are themselves part of the problem. It follows, these gentlemen will never be satisfied with any solution that will expose them as dupes or charlatans. And if a reform-minded person were to appear among them, they will dismiss him as an ignoramus or a daydreaming fool, sometimes even an enemy of the people. They will laugh at him. They will insult him. And if he keeps talking they will silence him. What they want, what they really need, is not a reformer but a messiah. And if a messiah were to appear among them, they will crucify him. I am reminded of Antranik Zaroukian's words: “Even as they speak of crucifixion, they nail us to the cross.”
    *
    Speaking of the murder of Archbishop Levon Tourian in December 1933 in New York, Charles King writes: “The murder cemented divisions within the Armenian diaspora that have remained in place until today, for unlike the many other perpetrators of violence against Armenians – from Ottoman pashas to Soviet commissars – the authors of the twentieth century's most spectacular public murder of an Armenian cultural leader, inside an Armenian church, were Armenians.” See THE GHOST OF FREEDOM: A HISTORY OF THE CAUCASUS (New York, 2008, page 178).
    #

    Monday, June 23m 2008
    ***********************************
    COPS
    ***********************
    After the collapse of the USSR, writes Charles King in THE GHOST OF FREEDOM: A HISTORY OF THE CAUCASUS (New York, 2008), traffic cops in Armenia used to buy their job. There was even a pricing system for the purchase based on which sites were likely to be the most profitable. “For example, a roadblock on the way to a fashionable restaurant outside Lake Sevan commanded the highest price because citizens were reckoned to be carrying a significant amount of cash on their way to those destinations. The officer would then recoup his initial financial outlay, plus profit, through the collection of fines.”
    Now I am in a better position to understand why, after a visit to the Homeland, a friend told me, “Everyone wants to emigrate, except cops.” I also remember an American friend saying, “Armenian traffic cops must be just about the ugliest men I have ever seen.”
    Again, according to Charles King, drivers of expensive cars were not stopped because they were assumed to be men of influence.
    Elsewhere he remarks: “Dysfunctional politics can sometimes serve the interests of politicians themselves even as they lead the people they claim to represent towards certain ruin.”
    *
    The more talk of patriotism, the more corrupt the state. Hitler was a patriot. So was Mussolini. As for Stalin: he was the only head of state who called World War II “the Patriotic War.”
    *
    Nothing offends me more than the spectacle of an idiot preaching patriotism.
    *
    The most effective way of destroying a nation is by lowering its standards, so that every imbecile can parade as a genius, and every dupe as a statesman of vision capable of solving all our problems.
    *
    All nations have their share of imbeciles, but in our case the imbeciles are either at the top or most likely to get there.
    #
    Tuesday, June 24, 2008
    *****************************************
    FOOLS, DUPES, AND MESSIAHS
    ******************************************
    In a commentary headlined “No hope for democracy,” I read: “There is not going to be a revolution in [Mugabe's] Zimbabwe. Half the working-age population lives abroad.”
    Are you thinking what I am thinking?
    *
    There is only one solution to an intolerant community, and that is tolerance. I am therefore suspicious when those who parade as problem-solvers become intolerant in defense of their solutions.
    *
    When a problem and a messiah meet, the problem is sure to prevail.
    *
    An average, garden-variety fool is smarter than the smartest dupe. No fool will ever be taken in by a bearded charlatan who promises him an afterlife in which he will spend his time deflowering virgins, unless of course he is also a dupe.
    *
    When I was a boy I wanted to be a famous writer. Not a good writer or a great writer, but a famous writer. In my old age all I want to be is an honest witness, and I am beginning to suspect being an honest witness among Armenians is a far more demanding undertaking than being a great writer.
    *
    You can recognize a brainwashed dupe by the fact that he is dead from the neck up.
    *
    An Armenian's capacity to dish out and/or consume verbal crap seems to be limitless.
    *
    We survived the Turk. Will we survive the Armenian?
    *
    The shortest list in the world: that of living Armenian intellectuals.
    #
    Wednesday, June 25, 2008
    *****************************************
    THE ROAD TO HELL
    *******************************
    Self-interest and ideas are mutually exclusive concepts. Where self-interest enters, ideas exit.
    *
    I don't judge a man by his nationality or loyalty to a tribe, race, or ideology. I judge him by the degree of humanity he has been successful in defending against the dehumanizing forces of the world and his fellow men.
    *
    No one can save a man, let alone a nation, that does not want to be saved or is programmed for self-destruction. Only a total ignoramus with messianic ambitions will tell you, if we do this, that, or the other, we will save the nation. And if you were to ask why I go on writing and what is my real aim, the answer to the first question will have to be, “Force of habit,” and the answer to the second question, “If I can convince an intolerant Armenan to be less intolerant, I consider it a major victory.” And if you were to ask next my number of major or minor victories, I would have to say either none or plead an amendment – the one dealing with self-incrimination.
    *
    According to Charles King in THE GHOST OF FREEDOM: A HISTORY OF THE CAUCASUS, (page 226), constnat talk of genocide “has encouraged a patriotism built on victimhoom,” which has stunted our ability “of confidently looking to the future.” To our Turcocentric ghazetajis I say: “And you thought you were doing us a favor by defending our interests?”
    Whoever said “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” sure knew what he was talking about.
    #

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    reflections

    Thursday. June 26, 2008
    *********************************************
    IT COMES WITH THE TERRITORY
    **************************************************
    To write for Armenians means to share your thoughts and experiences with readers who are better and smarter than you. But since their superiority is self-conferred, it cannot be objective, or honest, or real. It may even be pure fiction and fantasy, and more precisely, a shameless lie.
    *
    It is not at all unusual for an Armenian to think that, if he identified himself as a patriot or uses patriotism as a shield, he becomes invulnerable to charges of fascism and hooliganism. He may even utter all kinds of nonsense and get away with it. To such an Armenian I say, if you view patriotism as a noble sentiment, why this need to make an ass of yourself?
    *
    The sad truth is, there are no safe ideas, ideals, and ideologies. Consider what happened to the ideals of the French Revolution in the Terror, or to Marxism in Stalin's USSR, and to the Word of God in the sermons of American televangelists and Armenian bishops.
    *
    It is not enough to voice lofty principles. One must earn the right. For myself, I shall always be grateful to Judas for not writing an ode to loyalty. But as an Armenian, I am used to reading editorials on tolerance by fanatics and listening to sermons on chastity by fornicators. As they say, it comes with the territory.
    #
    Friday, June 27, 2008
    *********************************
    MANY QUESTIONS, ONE ANSWER
    ************************************************** *
    We all want the same thing: to improve matters.
    We all agree we have problems.
    We are unanimous in admitting we need reforms.
    It's amazing the number of things we agree on.
    It's the solutions we don't agree on.
    It's when we start discussing solutions that the crap hits the fan.
    Our Turcocentric ghazetajis want to begin by reforming the Turks, which is easier said than done.
    Others want to democratize our mafias in the Homeland. Ditto.
    Still others want to deliver sermons to our bishops to show them the path leading to church unity.
    All these projects boil down to a single word: honesty.
    How do you introduce honesty in a dishonest environment?
    How do you convince a brainwashed dupe that he is not as smart as he thinks he is? How do you convince a crook that in the long run and for all concerned (including himself, especially himself) honesty is better than dishonesty?
    How do you convince a bishop that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”? How do you convince a boss that an ideology that divides the nation does more harm than good?
    How do you convince a benefactor that by supporting institutions that legitimize divisions he may not be doing us a favor?
    Finally, how do you reform a reformer?
    Let me rephrase the question:
    How do you teach the value of humility to a megalomaniac with messianic ambitions?
    How do you convince a sanctimonious prick that uttering pious platitudes does not make him an admirable specimen of humanity, and that patriotism means love of country as well as fellow countrymen?
    To say my solution is better than yours is to imply you have a better chance to succeed where far better men than yourself failed.
    What is the answer?
    Is there one?
    Isn't there anything I can do?
    Do I give up?
    Hell no!
    You begin by reforming yourself.
    And that, my friend, is a project that may keep you busy for the rest of your life.
    I speak from experience.
    #
    Saturday, June 28, 2008
    ****************************************
    OF APES AND MEN
    *************************************
    The most effective way to moronize a nation is (a) by brainwashing the people to think they are smart; (b) by introducing nationalism in a multicultural or bastardized environment, and (c) by dividing them into mutually hostile groups or tribes.
    *
    For biological as well as cultural reasons, the offspring of mixed marriages (which I was brought up to think as bastards) are smarter, healthier, and more tolerant, if only because they are products of two or more worldviews, traditions, and values. But they are also more vulnerable to charges of disloyalty and treason. This may explain why, once upon a time people of the Middle East were the smartest and the most progressive in the world. But gradually and as a result of tribal and religious divisions and power struggles, they allowed themselves to be bullied, brainwashed, and intimidated by power hungry megalomaniacs with the horizons, moral compass, and IQ of apes.
    *
    We will never have any peace as long as we think we are better than Turks and vice versa. The same applies to all our internecine tribal, ideological, and denomination divisions.
    *
    The more underdeveloped the brain, the more easily it is brainwashed.
    *
    I can't imagine anything more cowardly than verbally abusing someone anonymously and from a safe distance. It is no wonder that in Russia Armenians are known as “cowardly.” And I agree with Gandhi when he said, “A coward has no right to identify himself as a member of the human race.”
    *
    Speaking of cowardly Armenians, you may be interested to know that in Greece Armenians are known as “Turkish gypsies,” and in France as “filthy.” I am now beginning to suspect these offensive labels have as much merit as our own self-assessment of ourselves as smart, progressive, and civilized.
    *
    If you don't like what I write, stop reading me. I assure you, that's the most effective and civilized way of silencing a writer. To verbally abuse him or trying to silence him because he dares to say things that you don't like reading is to prove him right.
    #

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