25 August 2006

960) So much for Armenian friendship, tolerance, dialogue, and Ottomanism..

Some of my very best friends (no poetic license intended) have become my worst enemies (ditto) because they disagreed with something I said. So much for Armenian friendship, tolerance, dialogue, and Ottomanism..

One can speak of facts and nothing but facts and one can lie; all one has to do is ignore other equally valid and important facts.

Since I was brainwashed to believe I was smart, I thought I was being smart even when I behaved like an idiot. That's what propaganda does to innocent and defenseless minds.

Readers, who have programmed themselves to disagree with you, will contradict you even when they agree with you. It is almost as if they preferred to disagree with themselves rather than agree with a mortal enemy.

When it comes to writing about Turks, the challenge for an Armenian is to be readable by Turks without running the risk of being dismissed as another unforgiving victim with a score to settle. . .

Anyone can persevere if he thinks he has even a remote chance to win. The trick is persevering when you know you will lose.


Once upon a time there were 42 (or is it 56) tribes in the Caucasus. If most of them have not survived it's because, unlike us, they didn't have what it takes, or so I was told as a child. Which meant that we were, if not the master race of the Caucasus, then something in that neighborhood. Now that I am no longer a child I know that these 42 or 56 tribes did not perish. They survive in us.

Tribes, nations, and empires share this in common: they need constant foreign transfusions to survive because if left on their own they would end by moronizing themselves.

Armenians come in all sizes and shapes. In the ghetto where I was born and raised there were Armenians who looked like Mongols, Tartars, Negroes, Germans, and so on, but they all spoke Armenian and identified themselves as Armenian because in a tribal or ethnic environment most people tend to identify themselves with the dominant minority, the way we did in the Byzantine Empire, and after that in the Ottoman and Soviet Empires, and the way we do today in America.

In the Byzantine Empire, for example, some of the most powerful imperial dynasties and their military leaders were Armenian or part Armenian, but their foreign policy was consistently anti-Armenian.

Smart Armenians know that the only way to get ahead in the kind of world we live in is to serve the interests of those in power even if they happen to be our mortal enemies. Grub first, then ethics.

One of our elder statesmen once told me that some of the key players in our organizations are not Armenians but Turks. I didn't believe him. All I can say today is that after six centuries of cohabitation it's not easy to tell a Turk from an Armenian.

Race, color, creed - these are poorly defined terms that according to scientists and historians are nothing but figments of our imagination.

What could be more Russian than Russian literature? And yet, if you take a closer look, you may discover that some of the greatest and most influential Russian writers were not Russians. Pushkin was a Negro, Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn Ukrainians, Pasternak and Brodsky (two Nobel Prize winners) Jews. Something similar could be said of all literatures. Most French writers are not French but Jews (Montaigne, Barthes), Italian (Zola), Irish (Beckett), Rumanian (Ionesco), Armenian (Adamov).

How many Armenian writers are Armenian? I don't know and I don't care to know because what I admire in a writer is not his race, color, or creed, but his work, his ideas, his worldview, his style, his humanity, none of which recognizes any man-made boundaries.


Since they couldn't save us from the massacres they now want to make up for it by convincing the world that we were massacred. First they bite more than they can chew and now they expect us to chew on an imaginary carrot.as the massacre continues.

There is a tendency in all of us to pretend to know more than we do, except when we run the risk of testifying against ourselves. And yet, it is in our efforts to avoid confessing that we confess.

If you are going to plead "Not guilty," make sure not to sweat bullets. The body language of bad liars invariably contradicts their words.

Propaganda is the body language of nations. Even as they assert Armenians victimized them, they go about victimizing Kurds and anyone else who dares to deviate from their propaganda line.

To be born again sometimes consists in replacing one racket with another. I am personally acquainted with an academic who taught atheism in Yerevan, but after the collapse of the USSR he came to America, saw the light, and is now making a comfortable living as a minister praising the Lord from Whom all blessings flow.

The more you sermonize, speechify, and editorialize the less you act. Action and palaver are mutually exclusive. I speak from experience. Palaver is my racket.

The Chinese say of the 36 (or is it 63) ways to fight, running away is the best; and we say of the 36 or 63 ways to solve a problem, procrastination is the best. That's because Father Time is the universal problem solver and God is an Armenian.

A headline in today's paper reads: "Arab leaders discuss rebuilding Lebanon." Either they are jumping the gun or they have so much money that they don't know what to do with it.a clear-cut case of the triumph of hope over experience, or the triumph of illusion over reality, or the triumph of garbage over the Word, or that which is said to have been at the beginning of all things.


When it comes to ideologies, religions, and metaphysical systems in general, a truly civilized and tolerant person does not say, "I am right," but "I could be wrong."

Dogmatism and intolerance promote the kind of mindset that says, "My belief system is the only true one and all others are heresies"; or "My values and ideas are positive and the values and ideas of those who disagree with me are negative and should be anathematized."

Muslim fundamentalism is the central theme of Oriana Fallaci's LA FORZA DELLA RAGIONE (The Force of Reason), now available in English (New York, Rizzoli, 2006). Far more dangerous than Muslim terrorism, Fallaci writes here, is Muslim immigration because "Muslims breed like rats." She quotes the Orientalist Turcophile Bernard Lewis to the effect that in less than a hundred years "Europe will be numerically dominated by Muslims." Further down she argues that there is not and cannot be such a thing as a moderate Muslim because all Muslims believe in the suras of the Koran, five of which clearly state that infidel dogs don't deserve to live. The real ambition of all Muslims, she explains, is to dominate Europe, which is not a recent development but a policy that has a millennial history.

Fallaci is fair enough to also point out that fundamentalism is not an exclusively Muslim aberration and that all closed systems of thought (like Mussolini's Fascism, Hitler's National Socialism or Nazism, and Stalin's Bolshevism) spawn fundamentalist riffraff who adopt an ideology or religion only to legitimize their murderous instincts and bloodthirsty disposition.

When Marx said he was not himself a Marxist, he meant to say that he was not a killer but a thinker whose theories attempted to explain a fraction of reality that had been misinterpreted or neglected by his predecessors. By contrast, Stalin's commissars were not thinkers but killers in search of a belief system that would allow them to murder with a clear conscience. Something similar could be said of our own phony patriots and partisans who pretend to be on a mission from God and armed with that conviction they feel authorized to silence or insult anyone who dares to contradict them. But as Fallaci says and repeats like a mantra, "Their insults are my medals."


It is said of Augustus II, The Strong, king of Poland (1670-1733) that his illegitimate children numbered exactly 354 and some of his many daughters became his mistresses who also had affairs with their half-brothers. Since he ruled by divine right and with the approval of the Church, my guess is, his conduct did not attract media attention, his approval rate didn't go south, and no one dared to whisper the word impeachment in his presence. If you consider the abuse leveled at Clinton and Woody Allen, you may have to conclude that the masses and the media today have higher moral standards than the Good Lord and his representatives on earth.

What do we know about our own kings and "betters" in general? How many Armenians know that Calouste Gulbenkian believed fornicating with young girls would prolong his life?

I remember to have read somewhere that old age has three consolations: power, wealth, and fame -provided of course one is not saddled with impotence, Alzheimer's, and scandal. Tolstoy had more fame than anyone else, except perhaps Napoleon and Elvis, but he had a very miserable old age. In his eighties he ran away from home and died in the middle of nowhere in the house of a total stranger.

We expose ourselves as dupes and unreliable witnesses when we expect people to believe that our leaders don't make mistakes, they don't lie, mislead and propagandize, lust for power is a vice alien to them, and butter wouldn't melt in their mouth or anywhere else.

If Beethoven is a revolutionary, Bach fully qualifies as a prophet. "Every piano concerto in the history of Western music," writes James R. Gaines "has its antecedent in the fifth Brandenburg Concerto, when the lowliest member of the orchestra [the harpsichord] was turned loose to become Liszt."

In music as well as in all the arts, ideologies, and religions, the medium is not the message, in the same way that the vestments are not the man. To confuse the medium (the packaging, the style, the rituals, and mumbo jumbo) with the message may even be said to be the source of all evil.

After saying all men are brothers, organized religions divide mankind into two camps, the Cains and the Abels. The message (all men are brothers) is thus perverted to: "Before the Cains kill us, let's kill them!" In other words, after identifying themselves with Abel, the children of Adam adopt Cain as their role model.

A crook in denial thinks of himself as an honest man, and Cain in denial thinks of himself as Abel. It follows to say, "God is great!" justifies behaving like swine.

A few years ago an Armenian by the name of John Douglas published a book on Armenian history. When asked why the false name, he said out of fear of Turkish persecution. Shortly thereafter Vahakn Dadrian published his definitive study of the Armenian Genocide. What happened to him? His book was translated into Turkish and he was invited to Turkey.

We share this in common with Turks: we identify ourselves with Abel, and when we say Turks are bloodthirsty Asiatic savages, they tell us we are confusing the medium with the message, the message being they are just people like any other people. So are we.

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, not only made history but, like Caesar before him and Churchill after him, he also wrote it. In a letter to a friend, he makes the following observation: "To write history is to compile the follies of man and the blows of fate. Everything runs on these two lines, and so the world has gone on for eternity."



The two most popular schools of Armenian criticism are (one) censorship by editors, and (two) verbal abuse by faceless and anonymous bullies.

Editors exercise censorship because they have no choice but to follow a policy set by their publisher, whose aim is to maximize the number of subscribers and advertisers. If one or more readers or advertisers take a dislike at a writer or disagree with his views, that writer becomes persona non grata, that is, bad for business, and a publisher's business, like America's, is business. Gone are the good old days in Istanbul when an idealistic editor like Krikor Zohrab (1861-1915), who was also a highly respected author, statesman, lawyer, and a contemporary of Sultan Abdulhamid II and Talaat, who could say: "A newspaper is not a chameleon. It should not change its colors to please readers. It is bound to make enemies. I would measure the moral success of a newspaper by its willingness to make enemies."

As for faceless and anonymous bullies who are active mainly in discussion forums on the internet: the reason why they refuse to identify themselves is that they are afraid by other anonymous and faceless bullies who may do to them what they do to others, which may be interpreted as an awareness of the fact that what they are doing is worse than wrong, it is also cowardly. There is only one kind of coward who willingly admits to being one, namely, a coward who is also a self-satisfied fool. Next time these bullies think of verbally abusing someone anonymously, I suggest they ask themselves the following question: Why should anyone take seriously the words of a coward and a fool who is not embarrassed to admit to being both?

Am I wasting my time on riffraff, as some of my friends like to remind me? Let me quote Zohrab again: "So-called important and unusual events leave me cold. I prefer to unmask the hidden meaning of every-day occurrences which tend to be ignored by the majority."

Ara Baliozian


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