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04 January 2009

2686) Armenians Vilify Turks & Turks Vilify Armenians Don't Think Of Themselves As Racists

ON APOLOGIES
As a rule governments don't like apologizing for past crimes but they may change their mind when under pressure from their own people, or so we are told in THE POLITICS OF OFFICIAL APOLOGIES by Melissa Nobles, where we also learn: “The Armenians are not going to get an apology any time soon, in spite of a worldwide public campaign, from the Turkish government for the atrocities committed during World War I because most Turks are not prepared to accept that their government bore responsibility.”
*
The best interview in THE PARIS REVIEW INTERVIEWS, volume I (New York, 2006) is the one with Dorothy Parker, a relatively minor writer; the most boring is the one with T.S. Eliot – a pezzo novanta. Unlike Eliot who speaks only about himself and his work, Dorothy Parker speaks of many things and is never long-winded.
*
Armenians who vilify Turks and Turks who vilify Armenians don't think of themselves as racists because they assume the whole world knows what bloodthirsty savages Turks are and what nasty, disloyal scum Armenians are. But the whole world knows nothing of the kind and cares even less. To most of the world Turks and Armenians might as well be Hutus and Tutsis. As an Armenian, the only thing I know about Hutus and Tutsis is that they are tribes in Africa. The average Canadian doesn't even know where
Armenia is. To him we might as well be Romanians or Arameans.


DIVIDING LINES
Speaking of his mother, Edward Gorey says in an interview: “She had a stroke when she was about eighty and her entire character changed. All her hypocritical love for humanity vanished.” (ASCENDING PECULIARITY: EDWARD GOREY ON EDWARD GOREY. Interviews by Karen Wilkin, page 95.)
This type of dividing line in one's life happens to all of us; and when readers disagree with me violently, I cannot help thinking that their disagreement has not yet reached the line that divides propaganda from reality.

When did I change my mind about my fellow Armenians? In my case it was not so much a line but the last straw that broke the camel's back.
*
As children we should be taught to reflect that every conviction and dogma in our belief system may well be wrong and there may be more merit in their contradictions. That, it seems to me, should be the underlying principle in all educational systems.
*
In her review of LEFT IN DARK TIMES by Bernard-Henri Levy, Claire Berlinski mentions a Turkish friend of hers who “like most Turks” has been brought up to believe “the Armenians had it coming.” (NATIONAL REVIEW, December 15, 2008, page 32.)
*
A true sign of insanity, it has been said, is the belief that everyone else is crazy. In my view, another sure symptom of insanity is the belief that the world is run by intelligent men who place the interests of their people and mankind in general above their own and anyone who says otherwise must be nuts.
*
In a recent issue of the ARMENIAN REPORTER (December 20), there is a remarkable letter to the editor by Ara Sarafian outlining in some detail the present situation of Armeno-Turkish relations, which clearly implies that when it comes to the Genocide issue, our Turcocentric ghazetajis may be doing more harm than good. I urge Ara Sarafian to post this letter on Armenian discussion forums on the Internet.


LEARNING FROM GENGHIS KHAN
The first words on the back cover of Conn Iggulden's historical novel, GENGHIS: LORDS OF THE BOW, are: “After uniting warring clans...”
*
Once upon a time all empire were a single tribe. Their career as empires began when one clan persuaded another to join forces on the grounds that two clans together are less vulnerable to aggression from other tribes.
*
Clans are bad enough. Warring clans might as well be an open invitation to conquerors.
*
God did not create more Mongols, Chinese, Russians or Americans. If we are few today it's because some of us saw the writing on the wall and switched loyalties.
*
Let the fool enjoy his folly so that he may be wise, even if wisdom comes at the hour of his death.
*
When Indians burned widows, did any one of them ever bother to raise the question: “Why don't we ask the widows if they like to be burned?” Civilizations should be judged by the manner they treat their weak and defenseless.
*
If you want to understand Armenians, don't read their nationalist historians; read instead a history of Armenian literature. The only reason we don't burn writers the way Indians burn widows is that we prefer to ignore them, which amounts to burying them alive.
*
Because I refuse to share their obsession with massacres and money, they call me negative. One way to be positive in their eyes is to adopt “Yes, sir!” as a mantra.


MY ANSWER
Once in a while a gentle reader takes it upon himself to remind me that what I say doesn't apply to everyone because it is based on self-analysis, and that it is wrong to project my own conflicts and contradictions onto the nation.
I have at no time denied the fact that my analysis of our complexes is based on self-analysis. In my formative years and for a good fraction of my adult life I was a typical Armenian with all the prejudices, preconceptions, and fallacies that I now enjoy tearing to shreds. Neither have I ever denied that I was a devout believer of every single lie that was foisted on me by our “betters.” It is only very recently that I became aware of our reality as opposed to the fiction in which I lived. To put it differently: I was taught to be a narcissist, and after many years of slumber in a fool's paradise, I woke up one day with the realization that I was neither smart nor honest.
If you tell me, what a nation needs to achieve greatness is confidence in its own ability to confront and overcome challenges, and that at this point in our history what we need is not my kind of negativism that demoralizes us and turn us into defeatists like myself; I say, that is your perception of what I do based on your status as a dupe, and that to promote liberation from the lies of our propagandists is far from being negative or defeatist. It is, in point of fact, quintessentially positive and invigorating. I further maintain to be enslaved by comfortable lies is as bad as being enslaved by Turks. But to see this clearly you must first extricate your head from the sand in which you have it buried.


NOTES AND COMMENTS
“My grandmother once said to me...”
If your grandmother said that, who am I to contradict grandmotherhood, shish-kebab and pilaf?
*
If you are honest, you expose the dishonest. If you do something well, you drive the incompetent to bankruptcy.
*
My great failure in the eyes of my Armenian readers is that I write not as an Armenian but as a human being, as if being Armenian and being human were mutually exclusive concepts.
*
We owe all progress to losers. Winners are only the beneficiaries of the struggle initiated and carried out by losers. Winners only deliver the coup de grace.
*
If a fool refuses to learn from the wise, he will have to learn from life, and reality can be a harsh teacher.
*
Whatever wisdom I have I owe it to my folly.


READING BETWEEN THE LINES
In politics, and life in general, the meaning that resides between the lines often contradicts the meaning in the lines.
*
Only an unspeakably self-satisfied simpleton with the IQ of a jackass would violate someone's free speech on the grounds that free speech is not a fundamental human right but a privilege bestowed only on those who are infallible, among them himself.
*
My message: We may not be as good as we think we are.
The message of our leadership: We may be better than we think we are.
Needless to add, the naïve souls among us cannot see the connection between this shamelessly flattering self-assessment and the unspoken punch line that inevitably and invariably will follow, “mi kich pogh...”
*
My morning paper informs me today that the prime minister of Turkey called Israeli air strikes in Gaza “a crime against humanity.” He could have said, in war bad things happen to good people. But he didn't. He said “crimes against humanity” -- and so far only 300 dead. I suggest this may well be a new chapter in Turkish foreign policy.
*
The ambition of every Armenian dunghill is to be Mt. Ararat.
*
Thomas Mann: "The intellectual man is almost as much interested in painful truths as the fool is in those which flatter him."


POWER AND KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge is power. Those who know mislead, exploit, and oppress the ignorant as surely as the mighty victimize the weak and defenseless.
*
All my life I wanted to find honest work, and when I finally found one, no one had any use for me. If I persevere, it's because, in Moliere's words: “I prefer a comfortable vice to a tiring virtue.”
*
The danger of belief systems is not their absurdities but the fact that they find strength in numbers, so that the average man with average intelligence feels justified in asking; “Who am I to contradict millions?”
*
If you share the same belief system with a fool, brother, look into it.
*
The language of power: Why try to reason, educate, and convince when you can brainwash, intimidate, and silence those who resist?
*
We like to be massaged – body, ego, soul – and we are willing to pay for it handsomely to speechifiers, sermonizers, and generally speaking, dealers in verbal crapola. As for writers who make us feel uncomfortable, we love to see them starved.
*
As for our so-called cunning: it consists mainly in devising strategies to avoid facing reality.


TWO BOOKS
The two funniest books I read this year are Christopher Buckley's satirical novel, SUPREME COURTSHIP, and Shalom Auslander's FORESKIN'S LAMENT: A MEMOIR.

Buckley's central character is a combination of Sarah Palin and Bugs Bunny (my favorite American of all time). I noted the presence of two Armenians: Setrakian, a prosecutor, and Harmookian, a senator.

Auslander's name is Shalom but his memoir is more like a declaration of war against Jewish religious beliefs, scriptures, customs, traditions, and dietary laws.
*
We all view reality from a different angle. If we want to enhance our understanding of the world, we must first come to terms with the fact that what we see is not what we get because what we see is only a fraction of reality, and a fraction so minuscule that it might as well be invisible to the naked eye.
*
There is a type of Armenian whose penetrating gaze sees and understands everything except the dimensions and depths of his own ignorance.
*
According to some eminent historians, the present conflict between the West and the Muslim world is “a clash of civilizations.” I disagree. Neither Bush and his gang of neo-cons, nor Saddam, Osama, and their brainwashed thugs represent anything remotely allied to civilization. Barbarism, yes. Civilization, no!


HO HO HO!
Speaking of Galileo, Pope Benedict XVI is quoted as having said, he had helped “the faithful to better understand and contemplate with gratitude the Lord's works.” It seems to me, the far more important lesson to be learned from the most famous victim of the Inquisition is that faith can sometimes lead those in power into punishing the innocent and intimidating the rest into blind obedience. In other words, what happened to Galileo is not an injustice that belongs to the irrevocable past, but an aberration inherent in all organized religions.
According to a cardinal, “Galileo Galilei was a man of faith who saw nature as a book authored by God.” The unmistakable implication being that those who speak in the name of God sometimes behave like functional illiterates.
*
Friends tell me I should not waste my time writing about nonentities. But what if these nonentities are in charge of our destiny?
*
Troubles come from unexpected directions, and like bullets, they hit you before you hear them coming because they travel faster than the speed of sound.
*
Anyone can get a lawyer. The trick is getting a good lawyer; and with a good lawyer you lose even when you win – when, that is, you get his bill.
*
I am fascinated by people who know or understand something that I don't; and I am repelled by people who believe things that I believed when I was a dupe.


L'CHAIM
In arithmetic, one plus one makes two. In life, the answer may be eleven or any other given number.
*
The Mekhitarist order was divided into two – the Venetian and Viennese branches. But I am told they have now decided to unite. The friend who communicates this news bulletin to me, remarks: “Now that they are both dead, they want to be buried together.” Which reminds me of the fact that while being “educated” by the Venetian branch, “Armenian solidarity” might as well have been a taboo subject.
*
Once upon a time there was a Chinese emperor whose ambition was to change the world. When he realized the world wasn't exactly in a cooperative frame of mind, he lowered his sight to his realm, then to his circle of relatives and friends, and so on until he realized that he couldn't even change himself.
*
Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammad, came close to changing the world, whether for the better or worse remains to be seen.
*
In life, the unpleasant surprises outnumber the pleasant ones perhaps because man is more easily addicted to wishful thinking than objective judgment.


RECAP (II)
From our millionaires, we want money.
From our bishops, constant reminders of our moral superiority.
From our fund-raisers, declarations of our generosity.
From our people, credulity.
From our writers, flattery.
From our critics, silence.
Armenians are complex and unpredictable?
Nonsense!
We are more predictable than Pavlov's salivating canines.
*
Where there is a free press, fascism doesn't stand a chance.
One of the worst things that happened to America in the last century was Senator McCarthy. But McCarthy, unlike Franco, Mao, Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin, didn't kill anyone. Neither did he last as long for the simple reason that he was exposed as a bully by a free press.
*
Where there is no free press, or where there are barriers raised against the free flow of ideas (as that of “insulting Turkishness”), the people will be exposed to only one set of views. The result will be a society that is unhealthy and easily manipulated by those in power. This may explain why our bosses, bishops, and benefactors are unanimous in supporting our Turcocentric ghazetajis and in opposing dissent.
*
The trouble with any kind of barrier against free speech is that it tends to suppress legitimate criticism too and eventually creates a class of individuals who consider themselves beyond criticism.
*
If you say, Armenians don't like me on the grounds that I am consistently negative,
my answer is, you mean I insult Armenishness?
Is it being negative pointing out the obvious fact that, as members of the human race, we are as bad as the rest of mankind, including of course Turks, and that all suggestions of moral superiority are not just lies but asinine absurdities?
*
Where courage of one's convictions is equated with hostility or even treason, the result will be a generation of conformists, yes-men, and cowards afraid of their own shadows.


American (Mostly) Political Humor
In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress. - John Adams
If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed. - Mark Twain

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress; but then I repeat myself. - Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. - Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. - George Bernard Shaw

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. - G Gordon Liddy

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. - James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. - Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. - P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. - Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. - Ronald Reagan (1986)

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. - Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free! - P.J. O'Rourke

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. - Voltaire (1764)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you! - Pericles (430 B.C.)

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. - Mark Twain(1866 )

Talk is cheap...except when Congress does it. - Anon

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. - Ronald Reagan

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. - Winston Churchill

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. Mark Twain

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. - Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

There is no distinctly Native American criminal class...save Congress. - Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians. - Edward Langley, Artist (1928 - 1995)

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. - Thomas Jefferson


JUSTICE
In a commentary by an American academic I read today that there has been progress on all fronts in China except the judicial system. Lawyers who defend unpopular causes or dissidents are sometimes arrested, jailed, beaten, and tortured.

Armenia's abuses of power escape international notice because no one much cares what happens there, not even Armenians. Human rights is not exactly a topic we like to discuss even in the Diaspora. As far as I know none of our pundits has ever written a single commentary on free speech. To most of them, and especially to our Turcocentric ghazetajis, the freedom to write about massacres in the Ottoman Empire is the alpha and omega of free speech. And speaking of lawyers: a friend of mine, who happens to be a critic of the regime, tells me he is not allowed to enter Armenia and no lawyer wants to take his case.


ENEMIES
Fascist regimes label anyone who refuses to be brainwashed an enemy to cover up the fact that they are the real enemies.
*
There was a time when both Tashnak and Ramgavar weeklies published my critical commentaries on the assumption that I was being critical only of the opposition. When after more than ten years they finally realized I was being critical of both sides, they stopped publishing me. That's when I was labeled an enemy.
*
An enemy of the nation: what does that really mean? What do we mean when we speak of the nation, or Homeland, or Armenia? Do we mean the real estate (mountains, rivers, and valleys?), or the culture (literature, music, and the arts?). I dare anyone to quote a single line from my books and commentaries that is critical of our real estate or music, architecture, and writers from Khorenatsi to Naregatsi, and from Abovian to Zarian..
*
Am I critical of the people? Yes, but only of the fraction that has been brainwashed and sees nothing wrong with its condition. Consider the case of Charents who allowed himself to be brainwashed by the Kremlin. When somewhere along the line he realized what had been done to him, he wrote to his muse:

“You were like a sister to me,
Truthful, pure and bright;
But I spat on your face.
I betrayed you one night
With a cold mistress,
Who sang to me dreams of iron,
And took me into a world without love.”
*
Bakounts went further and compared ideologies and regimes to temporary ailments, here today, gone tomorrow; and I quote: “They are just passing phenomena, a period when history is suffering from the flu, so to speak, a temporary ailment, after which, all the dead cities will rise again from the ashes, as long as there are still people in this world like Hovnatan March [the central character of his story], who will burst into tears whenever they hear the word Armenia, and who embrace this ideal as an alcoholic would grab his last bottle of brandy.”
*
I suggest the Armenia of Charents and Bakounts, or for that matter, the Armenia of Abovian, Raffi and Zarian, is not the same entity as that of our partisan propagandists and dividers, who silence anyone who dares to think for himself.


RECAP
Some people don't feel the need to listen to a sermon or read a book on ethics in order to do the right thing, but they are invariably and consistently outnumbered by those who are convinced they doing the right thing even when they behave like swine. Like all nations, we too have our share of black sheep. For a long time that's how I justified the existence of our riffraff. Not any more. I no longer feel the need to be their advocate. On the contrary, I consider it my duty to call a spade a spade. I realize of course that mine is not exactly a pleasant task or a profitable undertaking, but someone has to perform it, and if not I, who? Our Turcocentric ghazetajis are too busy delivering lectures on ethics to Turks; and our fundraisers know that the best way to appeal to the generosity of their victims is by flattering the hell out of them.
We all know that during the Soviet era our brothers and sisters in the Homeland had to cheat in order to survive. And who among us will dare to suggest that long centuries of subservience have had no influence in shaping our character as yes-men and brown-nosers? And who is naïve enough to say that this character trait of ours is not fully exploited by our leaders who take full advantage of it by making untenable dogmatic assertions that are as absurd as the claims of denialists. So what if in the process they alienate anyone who dares to think for himself? So what if they decimate the nation? Who says one must wear a shalvar and wield a yataghan in order to qualify as a Turk?


A CIVILIZED ARMENIAN
Reading Evelyn Waugh's DIARY – over 800 pages of boring gossip and venomous assessments.
On Edmund Wilson: “An insignificant Yank.”
On President Truman: “A wholly comic man.”
On Aldous Huxley: “I find his scientific imagery very flat and ugly.”
On Alberto Moravia: “A wop highbrow.”
In a December 1944 entry in Yugoslavia, he speaks of an encounter with “a toothless Armenian named Major Karmel...: he is quick-witted, funny, fond of wine and cigars, and with the adaptability of his race quickly dropped his original line-regiment heartiness and became human and civilized...”
A month later: “Illiterate Montenegrin Armenian called and was given clothes.”
There is more talk of food and booze here than books and literature. And this: “It is impudent and exorbitant to demand truth from the lower classes.”
*
BERNIE MADOFF
A Jewish friend recently made fun of Armenian monks brawling in a church. Today I sent him the following e-mail: “I'd much rather see monks beating one another to a pulp in a church than a swindler like Bernie Madoff sucking the blood of his fellow Jews – and I am not implying here we don't have our share of mini-Madoffians.”
*
GUTLESS YES-MEN
A nation without dissidents is a gutless nation afraid of words and ideas. And those who support such a nation in the name of patriotism are misguided fools who believe ideas and intellectuals are irrelevant luxuries, perhaps even hostile elements.


My Jewish Friend, The Rabbi, Replies:
I guess l'affaire Madoff disproves at least two stereotypes: 1)Jews don't help each other and 2) not all Jews have business savey.
-----
I'd much rather see monks beating one another to a pulp in a church than a swindler like Bernie Madoff sucking the blood of his fellow Jews – and I am not implying here we don't have our share of mini-Madoffians. / Ara


TWO WRITERS
Adrienne Rich: “Lying is done with words and also silence.”
*
In his “Reply to historians who are against senators voting for legislation against anti-Armenian denialists” (LE POINT, November 27, 2008), the French philosopher, Bernard-Henry Levy, writes that these historians expect us to believe that such a law, if passed, would terrorize historians' freedom of expression. “Who's kidding whom?” he writes. “It is not anti-denialist laws that terrorize historians, it is denialists who terrorize them.” To the question, “Why the necessity of a French law about a crime in which France is not implicated,” Levy writes: “I am not sure about that. We know for a fact that at least in two instances in 1919, in Marash and Hedjin in Cilicia, when the French army stood by and did nothing to protect the victims.” Where there is a crime against humanity, he goes on, all of mankind is implicated. “We cannot therefore justify ourselves by saying, we are not guilty of a crime, we only allowed others to commit it.”
*
In his introduction to L'OLOCAUSTO ARMENO (The Armenian Holocaust), Alberto Rosselli informs the reader that the bibliography on the subject is “vastissima” (very vast). In addition to Armenian sources, “which are obviously numerosissimi (very numerous), there are sources in French, American, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Bulgarian, English, and Russian.” in addition there are eyewitness accounts of diplomats from as many countries, including Germany, “at a time when Germany was an ally of the Ottoman Empire.” Among the Turkish sources he mentions Taner Akcam and Orhan Pamuk. He also discusses the recent work of the German historian, Hilmar Kaiser. The book is divided into chapters devoted to the history of Armenia, the Armenian Church, the Hamidian massacres, the regime of the Young Turks, and Armenia today. In addition the reader will find here a chronology of the Ottoman Empire and a bibliography of books in Italian, English, and French.
After reading this book, I doubt very much if there will be a single Italian who will doubt the reality of the Genocide and the self-inflicted blindness of denialists.

Rosselli is a prolific historian and journalist who has authored books on Canada, the United States, the Ottoman Empire, the Soviet Union, Germany, Turkey, and Africa.
*
Groucho Marx: “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.”


WORDS
Rudyard Kipling: “Words are, of course, the post powerful drugs used by mankind.”
*
The defeated and deported Azeri who lives in a tent or ghetto is my brother. He is as guilty as the overwhelming majority of Armenians at the turn of the last century in the Ottoman Empire – Armenians like my mother (who was a baby) and father (not yet a teenager) who had no political ambitions or, for that matter, awareness. Next time you speak of war, think of the children.
*
There is Russian roulette, and there is Armenian roulette. In Armenian roulette there are no empty chambers.
*
If you insult me and I insult you back, who wins?
*
By writing I hope to change the world. I know this to be an illusion on my part but I go on writing. Notwithstanding the fact that so far I have failed to change the mind of a single fanatic, hoodlum, partisan or fascist, I go on writing in the hope that some day I may hit on the right combination of words and ideas that may connect.
I know this to be another illusion but I go on writing in the hope that the invisible forces of history and the universe will combine to create the kind of fertile soil in which ideas may germinate into action. If this is another illusion, so be it!


WORDS (II)
A man once went up to a French writer (may have been Valéry) and said: “I have a great idea for a book.” The writer interrupted him by saying, “Books are written with words, not ideas.”
*
Marx had all the ideas, but Casanova knew the right words.
*
You want to know why I write one-liners? To write a book, one must first learn to write a good line. Only then one may learn to write two lines....
*
When Moliere's “bourgeois gentilhomme” delivers the celebrated line, “You mean to tell me I spoke prose all my life and didn't know it?” Moliere's teacher could have replied: “Just because you speak prose, it doesn't mean you can also write it.”
*
It is easy to have all the answers if you ask the wrong questions.
*
In his recently published biography of V.S. Naipaul, Patrick French quotes him as having said: “I am enraged by the way Indians don't wish to understand their history, I am enraged.” Naipaul's book on India is titled A WOUNDED CIVILIZATION. The first Armenian novel in ashkharapar or the spoken idiot is by Khachatur Abovian (1805-1848) and it's titled THE WOUNDS OF ARMENIA. And to think that Abovian wrote his novel nearly a century before the real wound.
*
The worst thing that can happen to a wounded nation is to be obsessed with its wound,
*
A nation with a wounded soul will have a traumatized understanding and view anyone who says otherwise as an enemy of the nation.
*
What is Naipaul's rage to India? What is an ant's rage to an elephant?


OF CABBAGES AND KINGS
After gloating over the collapse of Communism, Americans are now witnessing the collapse of Capitalism and the triumph of the Welfare State not only for the poor but also for the rich; and when the rich apply for welfare, they speak in billions; and unless they get their way, they threaten the collapse of the economic structure.

Capitalists don't beg; they blackmail.
*
Instead of speaking of cabbages and kings, let's speak of truth and lies; and if truth is beyond our reach, let's expose liars.
*
It is in failure that the lies of an ideology are exposed.
*
If you live by the sword, or if you use nationalism or patriotism as a sword, the writing on the wall will be the same.
*
In a commentary today I read that President Bush has supported and invited to the White House dissidents from “China, Burma, Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela.” Are you thinking what I am thinking?
*
George Will in ONE MAN'S AMERICA (New York, Random House, 2008): “The use of genocide as a plaything for political posturing is contemptible” (page 197). I urge all our Turcocentric ghazetajis, dime-a-dozen self-appointed pundits, and baloney artists to think of this line next time they use the word genocide. Further down George Will speaks of the “trivialization of a huge tragedy” that has become “fodder for semi-intellectual wisecracks...” and, I would add, an occasion for self-righteous riffraff to assert moral superiority. Elsewhere he speaks of “the beguiling simplicity of pure stupidity.”
*
Where mediocrities enter, men of vision are blinded.


THE POSITIVE IN THE NEGATIVE
Aristotle: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
*
At the turn of the last century, the Great Powers of the West were on our side and against our enemies. But no one ever bothered to ask them if they would be willing to sacrifice the life of a single soldier to save a hundred, a thousand, or even a million Armenian lives. Had they asked, they wold have been surprised at the answer.
*
It is not true that I receive only hostile or negative assessments of my work. To be fair to my readers, I also receive friendly or positive ones. Two reasons why I don't mention them is that (one) I may provoke my enemies to accuse me of self-promotion, and (two) I may make my friendly readers vulnerable to verbal abuse.
*
Saroyan was a “positive” write because he wrote for an American audience. If I write like Scrooge it may be because I write for an Armenian audience. Different strokes for different folks. On the positive side: in America we enjoy not only freedom of speech but also freedom of choice when it comes to reading matter. If you are the kind of reader who is big on positive stuff, by all means, feel free to bury your head in the sand until the next catastrophe, which, if lucky, you may not live long enough to experience or witness.
*
Some of our most brilliant humorists (Baronian, Odian, Massikian) were also the most negative.
*
My negative readers are positive in the sense that they are my main source of inspiration. Without them I would dry up and wither away.
*
There are visible catastrophes, and there are invisible ones, as when you witness the collapse of your belief system.
*
When a reader insults me, I know I have hit paydirt; and I would like to thank him for letting me inhabit in his consciousness rent-free.


SUMMING UP (II)
Free speech is a fundamental human right not only for men who know and understand everything and are therefore seldom or never wrong, but also for poor mortals whose knowledge and understanding are limited and whose opinions are more often than not more wrong than right.
*
A man with a heavy burden of guilt is safer to deal with than a man who is innocent by reason of insanity or absence of conscience.
*
A Turk who can tell right from wrong is morally superior to an Armenian who violates someone's human right in the name of patriotism.
*
To say, because I know better and am therefore better qualified to silence you, is at the root of all massacres. To put it differently: All crimes against humanity begin with the violation of a single individual's human rights.
*
I have yet to meet a patriotic Armenian with more certainties than doubts who did not harbor fascist sentiments.
*
The brainless are more easily brainwashed to believe, even when they behave like swine, they are fully qualified to assert moral superiority.
*
To those who say I have been silenced because I am an irrelevant mediocrity of no interest to the general reader, I say: Not all of us are endowed with superior intellects or able to discriminate what is and is not relevant.
*
Nothing comes easier to a self-assessed genius than to look down on his fellow men as misguided fools in need of his political, intellectual, and moral guidance.
*
Like all nations we too have our share of misguided fools and criminal minds who operate on the assumption they are leaders of men.


RANDOM THOUGHTS
If you read historians with the mindset of a lawyer, you will find enough evidence to accuse even the most civilized nations with some of the most unspeakable crimes against humanity.
*
In all organized religions, reason is a liability and credulity an asset. The same applies to all ideologies and superstitions.
*
I have never brainwashed a child, or speechified in the name of patriotism or sermonized in the name of God. And yet, those who do these things look down on me as an undesirable intruder and an enemy of the people.
*
Nobody deserves to be told the truth because nobody is equal to the challenge of facing reality. This is why at all times and everywhere propagandists have been more prosperous, popular, and powerful than thinkers, who more often than not have been treated like common criminals.
*
Driving defensively means to assume not all drivers on the highway are sober. Leading competently means to assume not all political leaders are sane.


THE TROUBLE WITH MASSACRES
The trouble with massacres is that the overwhelming majority of victims are almost always the most innocent and defenseless.
*
If I survived World War II and the Civil War in Greece, it was by pure luck. I cannot be proud of that. But I am proud of the fact that I have survived countless Armenian verbal massacres.
*
No one has ever voted for me because I have never run for office, neither do I plan to do so. When I speak, I speak only for myself. If wrong, I can be exposed or corrected. My question is: Where is the harm in talking to people who never listen?
*
A brainwashed person loses not only his power to think for himself, but also an important fraction of his other faculties, among them his hearing and vision; and by hearing and vision I mean that which is clearly audible and visible to the rest of mankind.
*
Has any one of our writers in the USSR ever victimized a single commissar? Has any one of our poets in the Diaspora ever silenced or starved a single boss, bishop, and benefactor, or for that matter, a single editor and moderator? Why then am I branded a dangerous offender by these gentlemen?
*
If an Armenian cannot tell the difference between a victimizer and his victim, can he declare himself to be an Armenian, or for that matter, a human being?
*
If brainwashing were declared a crime against humanity, as it should be, which one of our speechifiers, sermonizers, and ghazetajis would escape hanging?
*
They speak of unity but after they divide us from the rest of mankind they divide us from our brothers and sisters; and they do these things in the name of God and patriotism.
*
Hell is a creation of men who deserve to go there.
*
With a little effort I could be more understanding and compassionate in my criticism, if only these things were not confused with symptoms of timidity and cowardice.
*
What would be the value of a writer if he were to join a choir and sing in unison with the others? And yet, this is what's expected of me.


AMBITIONS
When it comes to others, we like to speak the truth. We may even consider it our duty. But when it comes to ourselves, we become pathological liars. This mode of perception is developed so gradually that it escapes notice.
*
“You should write more like Saroyan,” I am told once in a while. But Saroyan wrote like Saroyan because had he written like Melville or Mark Twain he would have been a failure.
*
Chekhov thought the only way to be taken seriously as an author was by writing a novel in the manner of Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Dostoevsky. He tried very hard and never made it. But he became the greatest short story writer in world literature – with the possible exception of Guy de Maupassant, who also wanted to write a novel in the manner of Balzac and Flaubert, and he came close only by linking half a dozen of his short stories.
*
Speaking of short stories, below a short list of my favorite American short stories:

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce;
“Kneel to the Rising Sun” by Erskine Caldwell;
“The Killers" by Ernest Hemingway;
“The Princess with the Golden Hair” by Edmund Wilson;
“For Esme – with Love and Squalor” by J.D. Salinger.
I notice immediately that the most remarkable thing about these stories is their uniqueness in style, character, plot, and atmosphere.
*
Trying to write like someone else is the surest way to fail; and if failure is your goal, you might as well fail your own way.
*
Once upon a time, when I went into this business, I did so with the aim of saving the nation. All my efforts are now concentrated on saving my soul. The paradox here is that I thought I was being modest in my initial ambition because I promised myself to be kind to everyone, including those who were rude to me. Not any more. The other day when a reader said something to the effect that after reading me he feels like committing suicide, I told him in his case that would indeed be an excellent idea.


REFLECTIONS
Some day Armenians and Turks may break bread together. But Armenians and Armenians?...
*
If we blame others for all our misfortunes, we must then ask ourselves: What has been our contributions to our history? If nothing, what right do we have to complain? If something, what exactly?
*
My critics hate my honesty more than I hate their dishonesty.
*
Damaged egos are the biggest.
*
Armenians read me for two reasons: (one) I write about them; and (two) to be ignored is the greatest insult.
*
In a world where underdogs believe they shall inherit the earth and top dogs are convinced their position of eminence is a blessing from God, we will have self-satisfied cowards and guiltless bloodsuckers.
*
Explaining things to someone who has no desire to understand is like trying to reason with the unreasonable.
*
After they silence dissenters, brainwash children, and surround themselves with yes-men, tyrants assume God and the silent majority to be on their side.


A GLIMPSE OF ARMENIA'S TOP TYCOONS
Unfortunately, in today's Armenia, there is a wide gap between the living standard of the vast majority of citizens and a small class of very well-connected, super-rich individuals. The latter not only occupy dominant positions in the country's economy and business, but many also tend to have their foot in the door of political decision-making.

With the cooperation of authorities—both government and opposition, current and past presidents— they have sought to entrench their positions, often at the expense of solving pressing domestic socioeconomic needs and problems.

Given the disproportionate affect such figures can have on developments in Armenia, the Haytoug editorial team felt it was important to spotlight some of the most privileged individuals operating in Armenia today. Their inclusion in this issue is not meant to necessarily indict or glorify their stature; rather it is simply meant to familiarize readers with an important phenomena and segment affecting life in Armenia today.


Gagik "Dodi Gago" Tsarukyan

Background
- Born outside of Abovian in 1956
- Former world arm-wrestling champion.

Business
-President of Multi Group, which includes such interests as "Kotayk" beer, the "MEK" network of furniture stores, the largest cement factory in Armenia, "Aviaservice" food factory, the "Multi-Leon" gas station chain, and "Noy" Brandy.

- Considered by many to be Armenia's richest individual.

Politics
- Entered parliament in 2003
- Founder and Chairperson of the Prosperous Armenia Party, a me mber of the governing coalition.
- Named head of Armenia's National Olympics Committee in 2004
-During the 2008 Presidential election campaign, Levon Ter-Petrossian went out of his way
to heap praise on Tsarukyan and urge him to defect to the opposition side.
His main message was that Tsarukyan would end up losing his huge fortune if Serzh Sarkisian became president.
---------
Samuel "Lfik Samo" Alexanyan

Background
- Born in Yerevan in 1968
Business
- Owner of Salex Group, Fleetfood Co., Astghatsok, and various other companies which effectively dominate Armenia's sugar, wheat, butter, ethanol, cooking oil and other commodity markets.

Politics
- Elected to Armenian Parliament in 2003 from Yerevan's Malatia-Sebastia district.
- No official party affiliation.
- During the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian tried to persuade Alexanyan to join his side, warning that he and other tycoons would become "homeless" under a Sargisyan administration.
------------ -------
Khachatur "Grzo" Sukiasyan
Background
- Born in Yerevan in 1961
Business
- Head of SIL Group, which controls such companies as Noi, Bjni, Armekonombank, the Pizza di Roma fast food chain, and various construction companies and factories.
- The income of all of his companies combined are reported to make up nearly $100 million annually.

Politics
- Elected to parliament in 1999
- He served as Levon Ter-Petrossian' s Yerevan campaign manager and was one of his main backers for the February 19 presidential election.
- His parliamentary immunity was stripped three days after the March 1 turmoil on charges of instigating a coup attempt. He remains at large.
--------
Valeri Mejlumyan
Background
- Born in Alaverdi in 1951
- Maintains Russian citizenship
Business
- President of "Vallex Group," which operates copper and metallic mines all over Armenia and around the world.
- His Armenia Copper Program Company owns a copper mine in Alaverdi and was given the government license to process the Teghut mines
in Armenia's Lori region.
Politics
- No official party affiliation.
- Both the Teghut and Alaverdi mining projects have become controversial for their harmful environmental affects and degradation of local communities.
--------- ---
Hrant Vardanyan
Background
- Born in Yerevan in 1949
Business
- President of Grand Holdings, which encompasses such companies as Grand Tobacco, Grand Candy, Masis Tab acco, Ai em Ti, Grand Sun, Hairenik TV, and AR TV.

Politics
- No official party affiliation
- In December, Vardanyan reportedly dished out $150,000 to transport a female elephant named "Candy" from Russia to the Yerevan Zoo.
The purpose of the import was to wed the animal with another Grand Holding sponsored elephantappropriate ly named "Grand."
--------
Haroutiun Pamboukyan
Background
- Born in Yerevan in 1962
Business
- Founder and former President of Max Group, one of Armenia's largest multi-profile companies
- He has been involved in poultry production, restaurants, and other busines
- Major proponent of privatization and was highly influential in the initial 2002 salea of Armenia's electricity network to the offshore British company Midland Resources

- President of the Armenian Tennis Federation
Politics
- Member of Parliament since 1999.
- Joined the Republican Party in 2006.
- His affiliate, Max Wood LTD has been implicated in the cutting of pristine walnut trees in the Kashatagh (Lachin) region of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) .
--------
Mikhail "Mika" Bagdasarov
Background
- Born in Baku in 1959 and maintains Russian citizenship.
- Previously served in the Internal Forces of Arme nia's Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Business
- President of Armavia Airlines, the leading passenger carrier in Armenia, and owner of Mika Cement, one of the country's most dominant cement importers. He is also the head of the Mika Football Club and operates in the petroleum trade.
Politics
- No official party affiliation
- In 2007, government audits of various companies held by Baghdasarov revealed tax violations totaling up to $300,000.
----
Hakob "Lady Hakob" Hakobyan
Background
- Born in Yerevan in 1957
- Former head of the Regional Council of the Yerkrapah Volunteer Union.
Business
- Owns agricultural produce markets in the Malatia-Sebastia district and one of the largest bazaars in the country.
Politics
- Elected to Parliament in 1999
- Went from siding with the Republican Party to openly supporting Levon Ter-Petrossian during the 2008 Presidential campaign.
- In March, he was one of several Members of Parliament to have his immunity stripped and put under arrest on charges of attempting to foment a coup and seize power.
----
Ruben "Nemets Rubo" Hairapetyan
Background
- Born in Yerevan in 1963
- Head of the Avan District Community from 1996-1999.
Business
- Chairman of Armtobacco Company, owner of "Harsnakar" hotel, and president of the Armenian Football Federation.
Politics
- Elected to Parliament in 2003
- Joined the Republican Party in 2006
- During the May 2007 Parliamentary elections, it was reported that Hairapetyan and his bodyguards were involved in a scuffle with ARF
supporters at a Yerevan polling station after the latter accused Hairapetyan and his entourage of trying to hinder the conduct of the local vote.
----
Manvel Ghazaryan
Background
- Born in Ararat region in 1961
Business
- President of the Vedi Alco Company, producer of such brands as Areni, Vernashen and Getap wines, as well as vodka and brandy.
It is consistently listed as one of the top taxpaying companies in the republic.
Politics
- Elected to parliament in 2003
- Went from siding with the Republican Party to supporting Levon Ter-Petrossian.

- After claiming that several other businessmen in parliament had joined him in support of Ter-Petrossian— only to have them publicly refute his statements— Ghazaryan has mostly been absent from the political arena.
=======


DEBUNKING AN ARMENIAN MYTH

When Lincoln said, “You can't fool all the people all the time,” he should have added, like all rules, this one too has its exceptions. Consider the case of the Armenians who were successfully fooled for 600 years by the Turks.
*
In the Ottoman Empire we were told, if you are loyal to the Sultan, and by loyal we mean, if you let us fornicate with your most beautiful daughters and brainwash your healthiest and strongest sons to fight in our wars, and if your best and brightest talents serve the Empire with their Allah-given gifts, we will take good care of you.
And they kept their word. They took good care of us all right, but only in the way in which American gangsters use that expression.
*
The idea that we are smart is so deeply ingrained in us that I have met Armenians who don't even qualify as inbred morons but who think of themselves as great intellects, men of vision, and defenders of the faith. Figure that one out if you can.
*
We like to say Turks are dumb, and we forget that they ran a mighty empire for 600 years and we can't even run a small community without creating a thousand and one irreconcilable differences and internecine conflicts. How smart is that?
*
Gulbenkian was smart. That's why he left most of his fortune to the Portuguese. Now that's what I call being really smart.
*
Consider what's happening in our discussion forums today. Calling them forums is a misnomer. They are either clubs of mutual admiration or cesspools of verbal abuse.
*
I am told I am consistently negative. Do you know what does being positive really mean in our context? It means to blind oneself in one eye in order not to see that which may not be flattering to our collective vanity. And whenever one of us refuses to mutilate himself in order to adopt that mode of observation, we label him a defeatist, a pessimist, an enemy, a Turk in disguise.
Result? Honesty is out, charlatanism is in.
*
“Yes im anoush Hayastani.” He wrote that when he was young, brainwashed and very probably drunk.
“Yes im aboosh hayrenagitsneri.” Very probably his last unspoken words as he was banging his head against the wall of his cell in a Yerevan jail.
Now, let us pray.


An Armenian Reader Writes

In Cyprus, the Armenians and some Greeks loved to trade with Turks. The Armenian would avoid trading with an Armenian. He would trade first with the Turk, then with the Greek.

The Turk would sell for less, but he was still happy. The Armenian and the Greek would count every penny and be miserable for it.

And would think the Turk is stupid for selling for less.

But who leads a more relaxed life?


ON SPEECHIFIERS, SERMONIZERS, AND RELATED ATRCOTITIES
If you want to understand the soul of a nation, read its writers.
If you want to know the way people deceive themselves, read a collection of political speeches.
*
You may ignore writers, but you cannot ignore the voice of your conscience. That is why the first thing tyrants do is silence writers.
*
Everything I have been saying could be reduced to a single sentence: “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark.”
*
I repeat myself only to the same degree that our sermonizers paraphrase the Scriptures.
I remember once when I said as much, the secretary of a bishop wrote an angry letter to the editor saying in effect, how dare I compare myself to the prophets of the Bible?

If our sermonizers paraphrase prophets, I paraphrase Plato; and as far as I know, no one in his right mind has ever dared to suggest that Jewish prophets are greater thinkers than Greek philosophers.
*
Deception and self-deception are favorite themes of the Scriptures.

Adam and Eve allowing themselves to be taken in by the Serpent who, according to my anti-American friends from the Middle East, was an agent of the CIA in disguise.

Moses thinking he can take a short leave of absence without losing his grip on the people.

Consider the case of the muscle man/ judge Samson and his nemesis/barber Delilah. And Goliath laughing at his puny but technologically more advance challenger armed with a stick.

God Himself fooling poor old man Abraham into thinking that He wants him to butcher his own son Isaac.
Last but not least, consider the present economic crisis hatched by the very same financial and political leaders whose responsibility it is to protect the interests of the people, and afterwards making demands on taxpayers' money for a bailout, thus trying to defraud the people for the second time.

Now then, go ahead and try to convince me that our own bloodsuckers are morally superior to their counterparts in the West.


ARMENIANS IN ISTANBUL
In his superbly illustrated coffee-table book, NEW EUROPE, Michael Palin has a section on Armenians in Istanbul, where he discusses the assassination of Hrant Dink, the photographer Ara Guler (“a Jew and also an Armenian”), and “a debonair art dealer” by the name of Raffi Portakal.
*
No need to read any further: I may be repeating myself. But then, what choice do I have? Suppose you have a suicidal friend: what choice do you have but to keep telling him life is better than death, until he realizes he has been on the wrong path and chooses to embrace life with all its failures, miseries, and troubles, like the rest of mankind.
*
If our perception of reality has been shaped by our educational system, in what way are we different from the average Turk? Next question: To what extent our leadership uses Turkish criminal conduct to cover up its own blunders and incompetence? For more on the moral and intellectual degeneration of our turn-of-the- century leadership in the Ottoman Empire, read Baronian and Odian, most of whose works, for obvious reasons, are not available in English.
*
A gentleman never insults another anonymously. I dare anyone to enter an Armenian discussion forum where anonymity is the rule and find there a single gentleman, or for that matter, lady.
*
And speaking of anonymous Armenians: you may notice that the more patriotic they are, the lower they sink.
----------
Ara, don't you get tired insulting Armenians all day long, comparing with turks, equalizing.. .even at time making them worse...
WE DID NOT INVADE TURKEY, they did invade ARMENIA. Everything starts with that.

Enough.

We had our land, our way of life, our faults, our destinies, our problems...everything called life like other nations have.

The nomads came , invaded, killed, did all they could in the most barbaric way to get rid of us and be sole owners of what they stole. How can you constantly start the history from a different time. Start from the beginning.

I can't even figure out who you are-a sick megalomaniac? an honest and decent human being?, someone with defective and low self-esteem? a true patriot?....

Who are you?

And believe me I am not trying to put you down or trying to insult you.

you must have known me better by now.
-----------
i suspect what the turks did to us, our leadership is doing by other means.
i believe all power oppresses.
i believe our leaders are not servants of the people but masters, exploiters, deceivers, and propagandists.
i suggest you read out writers instead of allowing yourself to be brainwashed by our bosses and bishops. / ara
----------
Ara jan, I have lived as a diasporan Armenian in Hayastan and as Hayastantsi in Diaspora! I do go to the church only when I am invited for a wedding or christening, my church is in my heart and it is my conscious. I fully trust only one churchman, and that is Pargev, the archbishop of Artsakh, who had a cross in one hand and a gun in the other when there was a war.
------------
I cannot be brainwahsed. i do not need to read our writers, I have lived a life among very interesting people, met, have been or am friends and knew/know some that most of the people would dream to know. I have lived a very interesting life and learnt a lot. And I agree with all you say. It just seems that you are so angry and so disgusted that you see only dirt. I wish you were close and i was able to introduce you to many decent Armenians.
-----------
you either believe our writers or our sermonizers and speechifiers.
sorry, i see no other option for you.
but if you are happy as things stand, by all means, carry on. i will be the last man on earth to stand between you and your comfort zone. / ara
---------
You see Ara, and again you are taking an extreme stand, just many of our compatriots do. it is either black of white.
If you read carefully, I was saying that I do agree with all you say, but we do not have only bad Armenians. I DO NOT HAVE the luxury of time to watch Armenian TV, read Armenian newspapers, listen to anyone's speech and/or read books. I happened to be very busy reading professional books and at this time they happened to be more of oriental/Chinese than Armenian. I am absolutely not happy with what is happening, but instead wasting my energy with only attacking the bad, I am trying to strengthen the positions of the good.
-----------
the good don't need my moral support;
but the bad need to be exposed...if the good are to survive. / ara


HISTORIANS, METAHISTORIANS, GHAZETAJIS AND PROPAGANDISTS
History is not a science or a belief system, but an art. Instead of saying, I believe this is what happened, we should say, according to some historians or eyewitness accounts, or official documents, etc.

Trial lawyers will tell you eyewitness accounts are not always reliable; official documents can be doctored, edited, selected, destroyed, and even forged; and for every historian who says one thing there will be another who says something else and sometimes even the exact opposite. This is especially true of nationalist historians who are ideologically or politically compromised. In the eyes of metahistorians (philosophers of history like Spengler and Toynbee) nationalist historians are no better than propagandists.

Speaking of Toynbee: it is widely known that he at no time denied the reality of the Armenian genocide, and this even after he acquired Turkish friends, heard their side of the story, became a Turcophile, and learned the Turkish language. The difference between Toynbee and our nationalist historians is that Toynbee exposed not only the criminal conduct of the Turks but also the blunders of our own leadership, something our historians have at no time dared to do; which may suggest they have not dared to say everything that needed to be said; in other words, their version of the past is only partly true (which is also how propaganda is defined). I feel therefore justified in suggesting that under the guise of supporting our cause, our nationalist historians and Turcocentric ghazetajis have succeeded only in damaging our credibility in the eyes of the world and thus reducing the issue to the status of political football.


ON PHONIES
**************************************************
There is a tendency in all phonies to see only the phony in others. Face to face with an honest man, they feel ill at ease and their first instinct is to bring him down to their own level. Consider what happened to Zarian, one of the very few authentic giants in our literature. Every mediocrity in both the Homeland and Diaspora accused him of being a KGB or a CIA agent, or even a plagiarist. When Shahnour accused Siamanto of plagiarism, he quoted chapter and verse. When Zarian himself accused Charents of plagiarism, he mentioned Marinetti and Mayakovsky. But as far as I know none of our phonies ever stated whom did Zarian plagiarize.
*
Once upon a time fascists identified themselves as fascists. Not anymore. Nowadays they speak in the name of nationalism, as if fascism and nationalism were mutually exclusive concepts; and when they silence dissent, they do so as if it were their patriotic duty.
*
Some of my readers remind me of sharks circling and waiting for traces of blood to appear in the water.
*
Why do I write as I do? Because no one else does.
*
If the laws in Dickens's time were applied to American chief executive officers today, a great many of them who now travel in their own private jets would be in jail. It is such a pity that technological progress has become inseparable with moral degeneracy.

Analysis: “Separation of a thing into the parts of which it is composed.”
Also a method of reasoning or treatment that may lead to an objective assessment or accurate diagnosis.
*
Siamanto: “Our Perennial Enemy – The Enemy That Will Eventually Destroy Us – Is Not The Turk But Our Own Complacent Superficiality.”
“Complacent superficiality”: A diplomatic circumlocution for stupidity; a reluctance of going beyond appearances; a phobia of depth; also a fondness for easy answers flattering to the ego.
*
Why did Abovian commit suicide?
Why did Raffi say “Treason and betrayal are in our blood”?
Why did Gomidas take refuge in insanity?
What was it that prompted Zarian to say, “Armenians survive by cannibalizing one another”?
If you ask these questions to a boss, he will speak of our heroic past and love of freedom. What he will not do is quote the secret and unspoken motto of our revolutionaries: “When the going gets tough, the tough take flight.”

If you ask a bishop, he will quote a line from the Bible but never the right line, such as “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” or “Where there is no vision the people perish.” (Speaking of vision: We are the offspring of men who for 600 years kissed Turkish butt; and when it wasn't Turkish butt it was Russian butt. At the center of our vision there has always been a butt.)



If you ask a benefactor, the very best he can do is write you a check and suggest you see a shrink. His business is making money, not analyzing the collective unconscious of the nation; and money for him is the alpha and omega of all human wisdom.
*
Another question: why is it that our greatest literary masterpiece is the LAMENTATION by Naregatsi (our Dante and Shakespeare combined) which consists of an endless catalog of sins, vices, failings, and aberrations?
*
Nigoghos Sarafian: “Our history is a litany of lamentation, dread, and massacre. Also deception and abysmal naiveté mixed with the smoke of incense and the sound of sacred chants.”
*
Hagop Baronian: “Truth is a language that if not spoken is forgotten.”
*
For more quotations relevant to our malaise (another circumlocution for collective insanity) that our pundits and ghazetajis pretend not to know and our brainwashed dupes hate to know, see my DICTIONARY OF ARMENIAN QUOTATIONS.

SUMMING UP
********************************************
History is one because the past is one, and even God, it has been said, cannot change the past.
*
Nations disagree on what happened because they invent their own past. This is common knowledge among historians but not among dupes who in all times and everywhere outnumber historians by a million or even ten million to one.
*
When political leaders speak of principles, what they don't tell you is that their most important principle is their power.
*
When a man makes a big mistake, he ruins his life. When a political leader makes a big mistake, he ruins the nation. But a political leader has an advantage over an ordinary citizen: he can rewrite history, because power also means the power to misrepresent and mislead.
*
The surest way of creating dupes is by controlling the educational system,.
*
In a civilized environment dissident writers are awarded the Nobel Prize (Mann, Shaw, Sartre). In an uncivilized or savage environment dissidents are silenced, exiled, starved, shot or driven to suicide.
*
Sometimes to rewrite history does not mean to invent lies. One may also rewrite history by selecting facts. Hence the definition of propaganda as “a fraction of the truth.”
*
One way to deceive dupes is by first flattering them into believing they are smart, progressive, civilized, and superior to all others, and therefore impossible to deceive.
*
One index of barbarism is intolerance, and intolerance means first and foremost tolerance of prejudice, lies, and injustice – all in the name of patriotism of course.
*
The more backward a nation, the greater the number of its bullies, thugs, fanatics, and fools who operate on the assumption that truth is on their side and anyone who dares to say otherwise is either a misguided simpleton or an enemy of the people.
*
One way to judge the health of a nation is by its creative impetus. When we brag about our Golden Age and our medieval music and architecture, we tacitly and unknowingly admit that when we lost our independence and adopted subservience as a way of life, we also lost an important fraction of our creative impetus, our identity, and our humanity.

ASSH***/s
********************************************
When Nixon called Trudeau “an assh***” Trudeau is said to have commented: “I have been called worse names by better people.” Meaning: If I can survive the verbal abuse of good men, why should I give a damn what riffraff think of me?
*
The eminent Canadian poet Irving Layton on his critics: “Just because they have an assh*** they think they are entitled to an opinion.” He delivered this line to an audience of librarians, schoolteachers, and students.
*
For a year I worked in a chain of department stores, first as a stockboy then as an assistant to a manager who expected me to adopt him as a role model. Once he bragged about being the youngest manager in the history of chain stores in Canada. Shortly thereafter Wal-Mart drove our chain stores out of business.
*
“You are a fool,” a gentle reader informs me. I suspect this reader will hang himself on the day he decides to read a wise writer. But if history teaches us anything it is that when a truly wise man appears, all the assh***s of the world conspire against him. Perhaps I owe my survival to my limitations.
*
There is a new book out titled DO ANTS HAVE ARSEHOLES? -- AND 101 OTHER BLOODY RIDICULOUS QUESTIONS. (The answer, by the way, is yes, they do.)
*
I for one do not underestimate the cunning of fools – after all, they run the world.

MY TWO CENTS
********************************************
The worst way of solving a problem is by silencing those who speak of it.
Likewise, one way to be positive is by ignoring or covering up the negative.
If I am classified as negative it may be because the only way to be positive in our environment is by lying. And the beauty about political lies is that more often than not you don't even have to invent them, it will be done for you.
*
“The Russians are our Big Brothers.”
“Mer hairenik, azad angakh.”
“We are Armenians!”
I have always wondered what the hell that meant.
“We are all Armenians!”
Odian makes fun of that one in his COMRADE PANCHOONIE: “'We are all Armenians, we are brothers. Why can't we live together? Why must we fight?' That filthy bourgeois kept repeating, not being able to comprehend that conflict is the basic condition of life...” thus Panchoonie in one of his regular reports to the Central Committee that invariably end with the immortal punch line: “Mi kich pogh oughargetsek,” which is now the favorite mantra of our dime-a-dozen fund raisers.
“Mart bidi ch'ellank!”
I see more truth in that punch line than in all the speeches and sermons delivered by our windbags.
*
When told to “give them hell,” an American presidential candidate (may have been Truman) is quoted as having said: “I don't do that. I tell them the truth and they think they are in hell.”
You may now draw your own conclusions.

JACK S. AVANAKIAN
********************************************
After the first profanity, I stop reading. If you have read one garbage-mouth anonymous Jack S. Avanakian, you have read them all. They might as well be xerox copies of one another.
*
Never call a self-assessed Armenian genius an inbred moron. If you do, he will be so blinded with hatred that in his efforts to prove you wrong, he will spend the rest of his life proving you right. That's because hatred makes a man stupid, and no one can be as stupid as a self-assessed genius.
*
I remember a friend telling me: “Do you know why there are no famous Armenian mountain climbers? Armenians are jumpers. They want to reach the top with a single jump.”
*
When a fanatic speaks of patriotism, he means love of country and contempt for countrymen who do not share his fanaticism. Give such an Armenian enough power and he will start by exterminating his fellow Armenians before he tackles the Turks.
*
Being Armenian looks easy only in Saroyan’s fiction. In reality it is such a demanding enterprise that most Armenians give up the effort and assimilate, and I for one do not blame them.
*
There is a type of Armenian who thinks just because he is an Armenian he is also an expert in Armenian affairs, which is like saying, just because an elephant is an elephant he is also an expert in zoology. Did I say elephant? Make it jackass.

UNPLEASANT ENCOUNTERS
********************************************
Most Armenian disagreements boil down to one side insisting that his hearsay evidence is more admissible than your eyewitness account.
*
To acquaint yourself with the kind of hatred that leads one nation to exterminate another, follow an argument between two anonymous Armenians in a discussion forum.
*
A jackass is equipped to understand only the braying of another jackass. To paraphrase a popular Turkish saying: “What the hell does a jackass know about khoshaf (stewed raisins)?”
*
If your perception of reality is based on what our nationalist historians, bosses, and bishops say, in what way are you different from a Turk who has been exposed only to the propaganda line of his nationalist historians, mullahs, and Kemal?
*
If I sound stupid sometimes it's because I want to be accessible to my audience.
*
There is a type of “inknahaivan” dupe (self-satisfied jackass) who will believe anything that flatters his ego.
*
To those of my readers who would like to dance on my grave, I say, if you die before I do, I shall mourn the loss of a Muse.
*
A gentleman does not insult another anonymously. To paraphrase a sexist Turkish saying (with apolos to the ladies on this forum): “Among ten men nine are sure to be women.”

REFLECTIONS OF A GIAOUR
********************************************
We don't choose our parents, nationality, and religion. Most people born and raised in Muslim or Christian countries are Muslim and Christian respectively, and they all share the conviction that theirs is the only true religion and all others are heresies and their followers infidels destined to burn in hell for all eternity. Most Germans born and raised in Hitler's Germany were fascists, and most Soviets in the USSR of Stalin were communists. They were, in other words, very much like Muslims and Christians, cases of arrested development.
*
To those who verbally abuse me whenever they disagree with what I say, I ask: How old were you when you acquired the infallible views you hold today? And more often than not I don't even have to wait for an answer to add: “No further questions!”
*
Patriotism is a noble sentiment. If anything it should make a man a better person. That is why I don't believe a word of what a garbage-mouth dupe says when he speaks in the name of patriotism or he expects me to believe his brand of patriotism or belief system is a cut above mine, and he is therefore qualified to look down at me as an enemy of the people, a heretic, and an infidel whose fundamental human rights can be violated with a clear conscience.

THE DARK SIDE
********************************************
All power structures, be they tribes, nations, empires, cultures, and civilizations, have a dark side, and I don't mean here only empires like the Roman, Mongol, Ottoman and Soviet empires, but also “free,” “democratic,” “civilized,” and “progressive” empires like the United States of America that saw nothing inconsistent in declaring “All men are created equal” and practicing slavery, discrimination, and even ethnic cleansing, in addition to legitimizing and supporting some of the most corrupt regimes of the 20th century.

What about our dark side? If we have one, who speaks of it?

To answer this question I once published a DICTIONARY OF ARMENIAN QUOTATIONS in which I selected passages from the works of prominent writers from the 5th century (our Golden Age) to the present, beginning with Khorenatsi and Yeghishé to Zarian and Zaroukian, all of whom have exposed our dark side, namely the corruption, incompetence, and divisiveness of our leadership and its dupes.
*
The other day when I quoted Raffi in an essay, I was told by a gentle reader that things have improved since then and Raffi's dissenting views don't apply because we no longer live in the 19th but in the 21st century. To this reader I suggest he read such 20th century representative writers as Issahakian, Zohrab, Shahnour, Massikian, Zarian and Zaroukian to see that there has been no progress in our institutional life and that things have been getting worse rather than better. And if we no longer have respected writers today willing to speak of our dark side it's because our bosses, bishops, benefactors and their hirelings have been more intolerant and ruthless in silencing anyone who refuses to recycle their benevolent and paternalistic propaganda line whose message is, we never had it so good because we are in the best of hands. As a result, we now have a generation of dupes so thoroughly brainwashed that they call anyone who refuses to live in their fool's paradise a liar, an idiot, and a dispenser of verbal crap.
*
This morning, on the radio, in an interview, Farley Mowat, a Canadian author of 87 books: “I was a victim of the propaganda of our time.”

BIG LIES
********************************************
Insult an Armenian once and he will spend the rest of his life trying to get even. An eye for an eye is no longer good enough for him. He wants both eyes, ears, tongue, arms, legs, and a vital organ. An insulted Armenian ceases being an Armenian and becomes a Turkish viper.
*
Once in a while I am told I should not expose our failings in open forums. Why not? Our writers have been exposing our failings and contradictions intramurally with no effect. Shaming our dividers and gravediggers in the eyes of the world may be more effective.
*
A committed Armenian speaks in the name of a belief system and all belief systems create dupes as surely as chickens create eggs. With one difference. Eggs can be consumed.
*
The only time priests, rabbis, and mullahs speak the truth is when they call one another liars.
*
Organized religions are useful in so far as they stress the importance of morality in human affairs. But they also introduce prejudice which is the source of intolerance and countless crimes against humanity. Monopoly on truth is not just a lie but the Biggest Lie ever conceived by men.

WHITE TRASH (I)
********************************************
Where fools outnumber the wise, charlatanism will be confused with charisma.
*
Speaking of Sarah Palin, a Canadian pundit said something to the effect that she looked like a semi-porno queen and was popular with the white trash. True or false? Who cares! “Se non vero, ben trovato.” Freely translated: “Even if not true, it's damn good.” Anyone who says to see Russia from one's porch is to know and understand them deserves it.
*
WHITE TRASH (II)
************************************
Because the first Armenian writer I translated into English was a Tashnak, I was identified as a member of the Party by the opposition. And when ten years later they realized they had been wrong, they offered to hire my services. They said they were willing to pay a goodly sum (I don't remember exactly how much – probably less than minimum wage) if I were to write biographical profiles of Ramgavar leaders. I informed them I was not qualified to do that because I didn't even know who they were. That's when I acquired the reputation of being an ingrate and an enemy of the people.
*
WHITE TRASH (III)
************************************
A friend in Toronto tells me he plans to attend a lecture on “Good Turks” by one of our prominent academics. Next I hope this academic will consider a lecture on “Bad Armenians.” You may not believe they exist, but take my word for it, they do. Like all nations, we too have our share of white trash who consider themselves la crème de la crème.

Speaking of good Turks: during the last few years I have made a few Turkish friends, which also means ten times as many Armenian enemies. I am not complaining. My worst enemies have also been my best sources of inspiration. If it weren't for them I would now be busy entertaining the bourgeoisie by writing love stories.
*
WHITE TRASH (IV)
********************************************
Raffi: “Our capitalists and merchants are the most corrupt and degenerate members of the community. Nothing good can come out of them. These people worship only money. They are men without a country. They belong to no nation on earth. Profit is their only homeland.”
*
Raffi: “We don't have an aristocracy. We have no elites and no leaders. What we have are merchants and clergymen. Merchants are trash. As for the clergy: they have always been against individual freedom.”

A SERIAL HUSBAND
********************************************
Best-selling-author Michael Crichton of JURASSIC PARK fame dead of cancer at age 66. “A devoted husband,” according to his widow; “married five times,” according to the obituary.
*
ON POWER
*********************
Power corrupted the Republicans under Bush not because the Republicans are more corruptible than the Democrats but because only saints are immune, and saints stay away from politics. Neither Thomas Mann nor Einstein were saints, but they were wise enough to say no when offered the position of head of state of East Germany and Israel respectively. As a “Mahatma” (great soul) Gandhi too rejected all positions of power in India. Obama may be America's answer to Gandhi and as such less corruptible than most politicians but the same will not be the case of everyone within his administration.
*
NOTA BENE
*************************
More often than not, it is in our efforts to appear smarter that we expose ourselves as fools.

CHOICES
***********************
We either speak the truth or we conspire with liars.
*
Very often in life what we don't know or what is hidden from view matters much more than what we know. To make visible that which is invisible, that's the function of literature. The rest is either propaganda or escapism.
*
What is the worth of a dupe's “I believe,” or a child's Santa?
*
We choose to see only facts that support our prejudices and fallacies. All other facts are either ignored or don't register on our consciousness.
*
We see the best in ourselves and project the worst on others after which we confuse projecting with exorcism.

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY
********************************************
We slept with the enemy for 600 years – 600 long years during which instead of making history we acquired bad habits, subservience being one of them. Subservience to top dogs even when they are s.o.b.s, and contempt for underdogs even when they are honest men. Subservience to bosses, bishops, and benefactors, contempt for scribblers. Subservience to lies and contempt for the truth.
*
In an environment where wealth is seen as a blessing, I brag about my poverty if only because, in the words of Socrates, “my poverty is proof of my honesty” -- which might as well be a declaration of war against all liars. I have never owned a car or even a bicycle. I walk. I walk in all kinds of weather. I walk for miles. I walk even in snowstorms, and as I walk, I think of Dostoevsky on his way to the House of the Dead in Siberia.
*
The sev is in and the esh is out! To racists around the world, a day that will live in infamy. To underdogs everywhere, a giant step for mankind.

MEMOIRS
*****************************************
It took me many years to find a job that I truly enjoyed doing, and when I finally did, no one had any use for it.
*
A LOSE/LOSE PROPOSITION
************************************
If you are wrong they will disagree with you. If you are right, they will disagree with you even more.
*
COMPROMISE
**************************
Do we have a word for compromise? If we do, why is it that no one ever uses it – at least I for one have never head anyone use it.
*
WHY WE ARE INTOLERANT OF CRITICISM
****************************************************
Because we believe one should not mess with perfection.
*
AN ARMENIAN STORY
*****************************
They asked the village idiot to translate the braying of an ass, and when he did, the villagers were divided between those who believed him and those who did not. There were no survivors.



ANIMAL HOUSE
Topix is the name of an Armenian discussion forum that is Armenian and a forum in name only. The Turks on this forum outnumber the Armenians and the discussion consists of a constant, endless, and monotonous barrage of insults, verbal abuse, and profanities; and when I say profanities I mean the kind that couples motherhood with prostitution and fornication; and the worst profanities are reserved not by Armenians for Turks, or vice versa, but by Armenians for Armenians.
*
The moderator of this forum identifies himself as an Armenian and I believe him because he leaves the profanities in and deletes my things on the grounds that he agrees with me only 80% of the time.

And speaking of motherhood: one of the regular contributors to this forum identifies herself as a “mom” and she is one of my most dedicated readers and severest critics. She must subscribe to the excrementalist school of criticism because her favorite descriptive term is “crap.”
*
Describe someone as objectively as you can and he will consider it the worst insult that anyone has ever inflicted on him.
*
When the majority of one group believes in one thing and the majority of another group believes the exact opposite, you can

be sure of one thing: the brainwashers on both sides have been busy.
*
How do you convince someone who thinks he I smart that he may not be as smart as he thinks he is. It can't be done. Even if you reach the apex of your profession you can be taken in by an operator in some other line of work. Cases in point: both Hegel and Beethoven were taken in by Napoleon. That's because music, philosophy, and politics do not share the same values, vocabulary, and principles.


BAND OF ROBBERS
Saint Augustine: “What is the state without justice: A band of robbers.”
I should like to hear one of our dime-a-dozen pundits and patriots say as much. As a matter of fact, the other day I did hear one of our speechifiers speaking about “the Armenia of our dreams...the dreams of our fathers and grandfathers...the alienation of youth...poverty...” and more to the point “a great deal remains to be done...” But he never went as far saying the challenge we confront today is converting a band of robbers to a band of brothers.
*
“The Armenia of our dreams!” What about the reality of our diaspora? Let's dream about that for a moment, shall we? A diaspora that speaks with one voice and treats all Armenians as brothers. A diaspora whose leaders treat the human right of free speech not as a Utopian illusion but as a basic requirement for any progressive community. What could be more self-serving and misleading for a diasporan boss than to speak of divisiveness, corruption, and alienation as if these were problems that needed to be solved only in the Homeland?
What is a diaspora without mutual tolerance? What is a community that values entertainment, food, and sports above the exchange of ideas or the development of consensus?
*
Where there is no free speech, a braying jackass and a barking dog will enjoy more freedom of expression than an honest man. To those who say I have been silenced because I am wrong on all counts, I say, even a broken down clock shows the right time twice a day, and I ask: Who among us in infallible – our Turcocentric ghazetajis or the hirelings of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors who parrot their propaganda line?
*
What is the worth of a man who is afraid to say what must be said?


AS I SEE IT
Don Marquis: “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you. But if you really make them think, they'll hate you.”
*
Even if you are as wise as Socrates and as pure in heart as Mahatma Gandhi you will have enemies who will hate you unto death. And even if you are as evil as Stalin and as fanatical and single-minded as Hitler you will have followers willing to die for you.
*
I for one refuse to ascribe beastly conduct to human nature. Neither will I subscribe to the notion favored by philomorons that philosophy is a waste of time. Because if it weren't for philosophers we would be at the mercy of fools and fanatics and life would be hell on earth.
*
A good autobiography is everyone's biography.
*
The greatest concern of a man in power is losing it.
*
The shy in life will be daring in imagination.
*
To read words and sentences – nothing easier. To read ideas – that's different.


SUPERSTITIONS
Elsa Morante: “Women's love brings bad luck.”
That may be because everything that's good in step one may be bad in step two. Yin and yang. “No banquet under heaven is endless,” according to an old Chinese saying.
*
Like Armenians, both men and women like to blame their troubles on the opposition, never on their own stupidity.
*
The most famous war in in the history of mankind recounted by the greatest poet in world literature is about the abduction of a floozy. But I suspect if the same story were told by a woman, the stress would be on man's stupidity. For all we know Paris may have been a serial rapist and Helen a respectable housewife.
*
Speaking of war and stupidity: there are organized religions today that are against capital punishment but for war. Figure that one out if you can.
*
Speaking of floozies and man's stupidity: It is said of Antranik Zaroukian that on his return from Paris, where he was sent as a delegate by the ARF, he presented an expense account which included a line that said: “For necessary bodily functions.” When asked to explain, Zaroukian is said to have replied: “Visits to the bordello.” Somehow I find it difficult to imagine a woman delegate in the same position saying, “For services rendered by a gigolo.”


DEFINITIONS
*****************************************
VODANAVORJI: A fabricator of verses inspired by the eternal snows of Mount Ararat and related atrocities.
*
ANTI-SEMITE: An Armenian who loves Jews but hates Zionists.
*
ANTI-AMERICANISM: A belief system that asserts the serpent in the Garden of Eden was a CIA agent.
*
ANTI-ARMENIANISM: A capital offense committed by someone who dares to question the statesmanship of our wheeler-dealers, mi-kich-pogh Panchoonies, and assorted riffraff.
*
ARMENIANISM: A vaguely defined discipline that allows a charlatan, bloodsucker, or parasite to assert his superior brand of patriotism and look down at anyone who does not live up to its low standards, and when I say low I mean lower than a snake's belly full of buckshot.
*
BLAME-GAME: A favorite pastime of academics who ascribe all our misfortunes, blunders, defeats, and tragedies to historic, social, environmental, and cultural factors beyond our control.
*
DISSENTER: A misguided fool, an unspeakable blasphemer, and a degenerate who believes we may have had something to do in shaping our character and destiny as a nation.
*
INTELLECTUAL: A species as extinct as the dodo bird.
*
PUNDIT: A retard with a negative IQ who is convinced he knows and understands everything there is to know and understand about our past, present, and future, but who is incapable of telling a hole in the ground from the perforation in his derrière.
*
SOVIETISM: A mindset that asserts Russians to be our “Big Brothers.”
*
ANTI-SOVIETISM: A mindset that asserts Russians to be our “Big Brothers” but only in the Orwellian sense of these words.
*
TURCOCENTRISM: An Orthodoxy based on the assumption that we are dependent on the goodwill, fair-play, justice, and charity of Ankara.
*
OTTOMANISM: A psychological complex or a mechanism that results in the production of oreos – that is, Armenians who are Armenian on the outside and Turk on the inside. Something similar could be said of Bolshevism or Stalinism. It is no exaggeration to say that Armenians of the Diaspora are at the mercy of Ottomanized thugs as surely as Armenians of Armenia are victimized by Stalinized scumbags.


CONFESSIONS OF A FOOL
*****************************************
“Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool.” PROVERBS 17:7
*
“Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.” PROVERBS 17:12
*
“A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” PROVERBS 17:10
*
Yesterday, while waiting at the emergency room (a wait that lasted seven hours) and after exhausting the available printed matter, I found a copy of the Gideon Bible, and again I was fascinated by the number of verses dedicated to fools.
I like reading about fools for a number of reasons, one of them being that I was one most of my life, and I continue to be one today because I sometimes go as far as thinking that what I write matters.
*
Reading about fools amounts to reading about myself and about human nature in general. I suspect some day psychology will be known as foolology.
*
To be insulted by a fool is not an insult because that's what fools do when they don't understand something. To be praised by a fool – now, that's what I call a true insult.
*
Just because fools enjoy freedom of thought it doesn't mean they can think freely.
*
If a fool disagrees with you, you may be justified in suspecting you are on the right path.
*
When two fools agree, they think that have achieved wisdom.
*
The greatest comfort of a fool is the animal warmth of another fool.


A TURNING POINT OR A DEAD END?
*****************************************
During the Soviet era dissidents were labeled “enemies of the people” by commissars, to cover up the fact that they (commissars) were the true enemies. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, Stalinists put the blame on dissidents. Catholics said the credit must go to the Polish Pope, and American said it was all Reagan's doing. I say it was Stalin's doing for the obvious reason that he systematically eliminated the best minds and promoted mediocrities without vision. Where there is no vision the people perish, and one cannot speak of vision where the blind lead the blind.
What about us? Where do we stand? Has anything changed? Once upon a time our political leaders were intellectuals. They may have been daydreamers and losers but they were also men of principle. They believed in what they said. Today instead of intellectuals we have merchants and bureaucrats – anonymous, faceless, interchangeable nonentities whose number one concern is number one. In the Homeland they speechify like programmed zombies, and in the Diaspora they speak of fund-raising, never of accounting. But even if they spoke with the eloquence of Demosthenes and Cicero combined I wouldn't believe a word they said. What I believe instead are the silent masses who vote with their feet. On the day the rate of immigration exceeds that of emigration I will feel justified in thinking we have been successful in arresting the downward spiral towards oblivion. Until then I will only say, I loathe deceivers, and I loathe their dupes even more because I was one of them. As for a renaissance of our arts and letters: if it happens, it will happen only after our Ottomanized, Sovietized, and Levantinized wheeler-dealers are exposed for what they really are – the gravediggers of the nation.


The death of an illusion
*********************************
When I went into this business, my ambition was to share my feelings, experiences and convictions with my fellow Armenians: to be, in a sense, a tiny piece in a vast mosaic of other feelings, experiences and convictions. I have since come to realize that some of my readers (surely the most persistently hostile and vocal) are quintessentially anti-mosaic: one color (brown for recycled crap?) is good enough for them. If it were up to these bigots, Armenia would be better off with a single political party and leader whose title would be neither "nakharar" nor king but sultan: His Serene Majesty Sultan Jack S. Avanakian. As the old saying goes: "You may take an Armenian out of the Ottoman Empire but you cannot take the Ottoman Empire out of an Armenian [make it, Turkish gypsy]."

DZOUR NESDINK
SHIDAG KHOSINK
*****************************************
We were deceived by the corrupt and degenerate West, we are told by way of justification. But that's not a justification. Only an unrepentant dupe and a damn fool would think of it as one. That's more like a confession and an admission of inadequacy and incompetence.
All politics and diplomacy is based on deception. The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a statesman sees what's on the other side of the hill.
The question we should ask ourselves is, Did we ever have a statesman as a leader? And even more to the point: Do we have one today? We have speechifiers and sermonizers by the dozen. But a statesman? And what is a speechifier if not a dealer in empty verbiage? What is a sermonizer if not a sanctimonious prick whose favorite motto is, “Do as I say not as I do” -- the words of a fornicator and a holier-than-thou windbag.
Speaking of dupes and confessions: allow me to confess that I too am a dupe -- a dupe of the illusion that words make a difference.
We are told “At the beginning was the word.” But we are no longer at the beginning. If anything we are closer to the end. And at the end, my friends, the word is garbage.


LIARS
*****************************************
Sooner or later reality will step in and let you know in no uncertain terms that you are on the wrong track – as when after 600 years of subservience....
*
If I repeat myself it's because there are ten thousand lies but only one truth.
*
I am an easy target. I can be silenced and buried as easily as a dog. But who can bury Socrates, Voltaire, and Gandhi whose ideas I have been paraphrasing?
*
Immortality? I have already achieved it in the minds of our liars.
*
Plato says somewhere that an honest man can never be as wealthy as a crook because, he explains, an honest man will employ only honest means to acquire his wealth, whereas a crook will employ honest as well as dishonest means. This may explain why you will never hear one of our benefactors say that he is an avid reader of Plato's dialogs.
*
Hirelings are not in the habit of questioning the competence and integrity of their bosses. To the publishers, editors, and moderators who have silenced me, I say: If a nation cannot survive the opinions of a minor scribbler, can it be worth saving?
*
When it comes to preserving their power, our bosses are more than willing to sacrifice the demands of justice and fundamental human rights. But when justice and human rights are denied to a single man, everyone should feel threatened.
*
A prophet is any man who speak about what he sees as opposed to what he is told to see.


THE CREAM OF THE CRAP
*****************************************
With the right camera angle and lighting, fragments in the life of the most pious and respectable married couple in the world could be made into a pornographic movie. That's what my critics do with my ideas.
*
Ignored, misunderstood, insulted, rejected, silenced, starved, exiled, shot – at long last Armenian writers are now for all practical purposes extinct. Where Talaat and Stalin failed, our bosses, bishops, benefactors and their assorted hirelings succeeded. Nothing succeeds like perseverance.
*
Heaven or hell – I don't care where I end up as long as it's where my friends are. I can't imagine happiness surrounded by dupes and charlatans.
*
Anonymous does not mean faceless. No degree of anonymity can hide the ego of a loud-mouth phony with the guts of a mouse and the memory of an elephant.
*
It happens to me all the time. After they find out what I am against, they accuse me of being for it. It makes sense, no?
*
If you speak the truth to a liar, he will come up with a bigger lie; and the bigger the better. And what could be bigger than choosing one's own tribe as God's Chosen, or one's own race as the Superior Race. And it came to pass that the Superior almost exterminated the Chosen, and the dumbest did the same to the smartest (self-assessed, of course).


ON GOD
*****************************************
I don't believe in the God of our priests, mullahs, and holy scriptures, but I also believe you may let go of God ( whoever he may or may not be) but God will never let you go.
*
ON STYLE
***********************
Hit and run. Make your point and move to the next. If you make sense they will get the message. If you don't make sense, at least you haven't wasted their time and yours.
*
ON CRITICS
*************************
To how many of my critics I could say, Anyone who thinks as you do, does not deserve Naregatsi, Raffi, Baronian, Odian, Zarian, and Massikian. These gentlemen dedicated their lives in an effort to expand your horizons and you have deliberately chosen to live as though they never wrote a single line.
*
ON RECYCLING ENEMY PROPAGANDA
******************************************************
The ignorance of some Armenians is such that some of them go as far as recycling enemy propaganda in the name of patriotism. As when they say, “Our literature and culture flourished during the Soviet era,” which amounts to saying Russian literature flourished under Stalin, and German culture reached its apex under Hitler, Goebbels, and Himmler.
*
QUESTION
************************
Why anyone in his right mind would read me if he can read Shakespeare and Tolstoy? -- unless it is for the pleasure of verbally abusing a fellow Armenian simply because he refuses to flatter his colossal ego.
*
ON SUPERPATRIOTS
**********************************
A good Armenian superpatriot hates not only all Turks but also the whole world including and above fellow Armenians who don't share his limitations and prejudices.


QUESTIONS
*****************************************
If they sling mud anonymously, is it because deep down somewhere they are ashamed of what they do?
*
If our Turcocentric ghazetajis keep writing about Turks, is it because they have nothing good to say about their fellow Armenians?
*
If we are proud of our multi-millionaires, shouldn't we be humble of our slum-dwellers?
*
Is it humanly possible to ignore or forget the truth after hearing it?
*
I may react to an honest disagreement but not to an insult. How does one react to an insult without going down into the gutter where the other has the advantage?
*
ASSERTIONS
*************************
No one can be as dangerous as a fool who is manipulated by another fool.
*
If you say to a bunch of crooks, “Gentlemen, let's be honest!” don't expect a mass conversion.
*
One cannot speak of vision where "the blind leads the blind."
*
There is a big difference between “he thinks,” and “he thinks he thinks.” To think, to really think, means to go beyond the boundaries of the already thought.
*
Who benefits when we cover up that which is negative? Surely not the victims. It follows, to cover up is to support and legitimize the victimizers among us.
*
Some of the dumbest people I know are Armenians who think they are smarter than Turks.
*
Communism has been defined as capitalism of the state, and capitalism as free enterprise for the poor.
*
Cowardice in the Ottoman Empire among Turks – it's understandable.
But cowardice in America among fellow Armenians – it's not.


EASIER SAID THAN DONE
*****************************************
Speaking of Obama's favorite word: change means introducing new legislation, and “new laws,” according to an old German saying, “are followed by new tricks.”
*
WHAT'S DONE IS DONE
**********************************
The very same readers who accuse me of living in the past whenever I quote an Armenian writer, never get tired of speaking or reading about the massacres in the Ottoman Empire.
*
CANNIBALS
**************************
When they bite me and I refuse to bite back, they resent it as if to say, “What's the matter, am I not good enough to be eaten?”
*
ONE-UPMANSHIP
*****************************
The ease with which they assume to know better even when the subject under discussion is a new one to them.
*
CONFESSION
****************************
Speaking of dupes: in my youth when I heard a speechifier say something, I believed he meant it. And then I met some of them...
*
PROGRESS
***********************
Some of my readers are getting better at dishing out insults. With a little more effort, practice, and discipline they may be as good as Turks.
*
AN OLD TRICK
***************************
When the men at the top are corrupt, they emphasize the importance of patriotism, after which they stigmatize dissidents as unpatriotic.
*
MEMO
**********************
To those who recycle chauvinist crapola, I say, Leave it to the professionals of which we have more than our share. I assure you, they don't need your two cents' worth.
*
SOPHISTS
**************************
Those who want to get away with lies, rape, and murder, will tell you, these things existed since the beginning of time and no nation on earth is without them, in the same way that today they say corruption is universal and we might as well grin and bear it.


ON SOLUTIONS
*********************************
Never ask for solutions to our problems because all solutions begin with honesty, and since no one has yet discovered a verbal formula that can convert a crook to an honest man, all talk of solutions is a waste of time.
*
DEDICATION
*******************************
The dedication to my next book will read: “For my critics and detractors – my most faithful muses.”
*
HEADLINES
*************************
A headline in our paper reads: “Hour of death should be 'chosen by God' Pope says,” the implication being, the Pope can read God's mind like an open book.
*
Another headline: “Anglicans owe Darwin apology, bishop says.” But how does one go about apologizing to a skeleton?
*
GREED
************************
About the present financial crisis, I wonder how many CEOs said or thought “If things go wrong and the whole structure collapses, the government is bound to step in and fix it. We are too big to fail.”
*
A CEO at a hearing: “I take full responsibility.” He also took home $240,000,000 we are told.
*
ON REASON
******************************
You can reason only with the reasonable. With the unreasonable you can only go down on your knees and beseech the assistance of the Holy Spirit, if, that is, you believe in that mumbo jumbo.
*
ON LOVE
********************
Our religion teaches us to love our enemies. It says nothing about loving our fellow Armenians. Have I said that before? No matter. Some things are worth repeating.
*
WORDS OF WISDOM
**********************************
Albert Einstein: “It's not that I am so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.”


A WOMAN AFTER MY OWN HEART
****************************************************
In the introduction to her biography of the celebrated Italian novelist, Elsa Morante, Lily Tuck writes: “A truth teller, she tended to say hurtful things...She detested any sort of artifice, posturing, falsehood, she detested the misuse of power.”
*
THEY NEVER LEARN
**************************************
Some Armenians are so hedamenats and aboosh that they think one way of defending the national badiv is by insulting Turks, and they stubbornly refuse to see that not only Turks outnumber us, but when it comes to delivering profanities and insults, they are pros and we don't even qualify as rank amateurs beside them. To Armenians who are addicts of profanities and insults, I suggest they stick to insulting their fellow Armenians, because then they have a better chance to come out on top.
*
MART BIDI CH'ELLANK
***************************************
Whenever someone would recount a story about a fellow Armenian who had behaved badly, someone would say, “mart bidi ch'ellank!” meaning (freely translated) “once a jackass,” always a jackass, or “we are a hopeless bunch!” I must have heard that line a thousand times, but never by those engaged in fund raising. These gentlemen know that if they flatter the dupes they plan to milk, they will be rewarded with more generous contributions. Hence the popular propaganda lines first nation this, first nation that, which may also be interpreted as first nation to be brainwashed and first nation to be taken in by foreign propaganda. As for the propaganda line that asserts we are just about the smartest people on earth, that was obviously designed to cover up the fact that we may well be be just about the dumbest.


ON BIAS
*******************************
If you classify your fellow men as Black and White, or Muslim and Christian, or Turk and Armenian, you introduce bias. Think of them as human beings and you will be surprised what happens next. What I am saying has nothing to do with Christian or any other kind of morality. Turning the other is an alien concept to me. So is loving my enemy or forgiving those who trespass against me. True, I was brought up as a Christian but my ethics remain pagan. If someone slaps me, my first instinct is to want to kill him. I think of both Turks and Armenians as human beings because that's what they are, and I have discovered that some Armenians are more Turk than Armenian, and some Turks are more civilized than some Armenians.
*
In a democratic environment a disagreement is just a disagreement. In a fascist environment a disagreement can be a capital offense or provoke verbal abuse.
*
In a civilized environment, if you speak honestly, even those who disagree with you will respect you.
*
I believe in the Turkish version of our past as much as I believe in our own. I question the honesty of Turkish politicians as much as I question the honesty of all politicians, including our own. Nothing can be more naïve and foolish than to say our enemies are pathological liars but we speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


FEAR
*******************************
To the faceless cowards who insult me anonymously and from a safe distance I say: One does not have to be a prophet to predict that your big mouth will be your undoing. And if you say, What about your big mouth? I will inform you that my undoing, if it comes, will have two sources, (one) being honest among phonies, and (two) writing for Armenians, which, in case you didn't know, happens to be a capital offense in our environment. You want proof? Read a text on the history of Armenian literature or the biography of any Armenian writer chosen at random. And if you are too lazy to do that, consider the fact that our history has been shaped by ruthless foreign tyrants and their collaborators among us. Allow me to remind you that two of the most notorious executioners of writers – Talaat and Stalin – earned their reputation with the full support and assistance of our traitors.
*
Nothing comes easier to an Armenian that to assert a superior brand of patriotism. And it goes without saying that he who has a high opinion of himself, will also have a correspondingly low opinion of his fellow men, so low in fact that he will assume none of them to be smart enough to see through him. A truly superior man does not feel the need to assert superiority. Only the inferior (“storin” or “varnots” in Armenian) do that to cover up their inferiority.
*
In an environment where propagandists are rated above intellectuals, not only the intellectuals but also the people will be at the mercy of executioners. For more on this subject, read a text on our history, provided of course it is not written by a hireling.
*
What are liars afraid of? The truth, of course, which they try to bury with their lies. But truth, which has a life all its own, refuses to remain buried forever. Its resurrection, which may happen in three or thirty three days or years, is inevitable. It is the awareness of this inevitability that liars fear.


BELLS RINGING
*******************************
Albert Camus in the latest volume of his NOTEBOOKS: “Our literary society whose principle is second-rate spite, where offense takes the place of critical method.”
After reading Dostoevsky's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: “I seriously consider the possibility of giving up.”
As a diarist Camus is disappointing. Unlike Gide and Jules Renard he makes no effort to be accessible. One entry simply reads: “The truth. The truth!” And another: “Thoughts of death.”
He quotes a French historian saying: “The Russians rotted before they were ripe.” And we were ripe 1500 years ago.
“Buddhism is atheism that became religion.”
I am reminded of Gandhi's observation that even atheists are believers because they believe the non-existence of God to be the Truth, and he defines God as Truth.
*
NOTES & COMMENTS
*******************************************
We converted to Christianity as readily and passively as we converted to atheism under the Soviets.
*
Historians study the past in the same way that psychologists study the unconscious. History as mankind's unconscious drives made visible. We are prisoners of our past as surely as a man is a prisoner of his unconscious drives.
*
As in all fascist regimes, we have replaced intellectuals with propagandists. Hence the popularity of our Turcocentric ghazetajis.
*
After we have seen and experienced what hatred does to people, we live as though hatred were the only answer.
*
When they can't stand the heat, they drive you out of the kitchen.


Charles Peguy: "It is vulgar to want to be right and still more so to want to be in the right against someone else."

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.

Steven Wright: "You can't have everything. Where would you put it?"

Venetian saying: "The priest's friend loses his faith, the doctor's his health, the lawyer's his fortune."

Schopenhauer: "We pay an attention to the opinion of others which is out of all proportion to its value."

Goethe: "The world goes forward only because of those who oppose it."

Plato: "Wise men talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something."

Olaf Stapleton: "A nation is just a society for hating foreigners."

George Chapman: "Ignorance is the mother of admiration."

Thomas Mann: "The intellectual man is almost as much interested in painful truths as the fool is in those which flatter him."


VIPERS
*****************
Some share their thoughts, others their venom. But in order to share their venom, they must store it somewhere, that is to say, they must make themselves venomous. Unlike vipers that are not harmed by their own venom, however,human venom is stored in the heart and circulates throughout the entire organism. It follows, those who share their venom become its most generous recipients. Hence Gandhi's dictum, “Hatred injures us more than those we hate.”
*
PROBLEMS
***********************
Life is an endless succession of problems. Some problems can be solved, others, like death, taxes, and the voice of one's conscience, cannot.
*
QUESTIONS
*******************
Can anyone name a single Armenian who has freely relinquished even a tiny fraction of his income, prestige, or power for the sake of solidarity -- that is to say, that which makes of us a nation as opposed to a collection of tribes?
*
Sometimes I am asked:
“Why are you so consistently negative?”
My reply: Negative is in the eye of the beholder. To be against lies is positive;
but not to the liar, of course.


TEN YEARS LATER
******************************************************
When a reader reacts with insults and profanities it may be because he has run out of arguments or rather he never had any to begin with.
*
To meet two old detractors after ten years and to realize they haven't advanced an inch and they are the same horse's arses is a sensation akin to revenge without the guilt.
*
If a man's income is forty times your own, it doesn't necessarily follow that he is forty times smarter, though he may think so.
*
Sarah Palin claiming to be an expert in foreign affairs because she can see Russia from her porch has a counterpart among Armenians who think they are patriotic because they know “Yes im anoush Hayastani” by heart.
*
Let us not confuse hatred of Turks with love of the Homeland, or being slaves of former slaves with freedom.
*
St. John: “The one who says that he loves God and does not love his brother is a liar.” So is the Armenian who loves his Homeland but hates his fellow Armenian.
*
The contempt of the nouveau riche for the intellectual who can't make ends meet, the loathing of the bourgeois for the white trash, and the scorn of the aristocracy for the bourgeois – Turgenev's of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy's of Shakespeare, Nabokov's of Freud and Sartre....
*
St. Paul: “If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise.”


VARIETIES OF PATRIOTIC EXPERIENCE
******************************************************
If Mother Teresa lost her faith, can any believer be safe in his own? And if I, a thoroughly brainwashed hater of all Turks, can realize that they are human beings like the rest of us, can any Armenian be safe in his hatred of Turks, and by extension, hatred of fellow Armenians who dare to disagree with him?
*
Ignorance of history allows a fool to think of himself as wise, a fanatic to be a moderate, and an executioner to be on the side of the angels.
*
When I speak of free speech, I speak in defense of all writers who at one time or another were permanently silenced by fascist regimes in the name of patriotism. I speak with the strength of many.
*
If you join a club of like-minded idiots and you assess yourself as wise, have at least the common sense and decency not to assess yourself as infallible.
*
Because I refuse to believe to be Armenian means to hate Turks in theory and to hate Armenians in practice, am I then an enemy of the people whose tongue should be cut off?
*
Diasporan patriotism: they pretend to love the country in order to hate fellow countrymen with a clear conscience.
*
Patriotism: which comes first, love of country or hatred of the enemy?
*
Solidarity in hatred, divisiveness in love: some may call that patriotism, I call it insanity?
*
Those who preach patriotism and violate the human rights of their fellow countrymen are liars, cowards, and partisans of subservience.
*
Love of country: mountains, rivers, and valleys are easy to love – they don't reason, neither do they judge. Love of fellow countrymen: a far more demanding enterprise.


ON WRITING
********************************
Kingsley Amis: “If you can't annoy somebody with what you write, I think there is little point in writing.”
*
If I fail to answer some questions or arguments it may be because I am too busy answering my perennial adversary – my former self.
*
There is a type of philistine for whom the word culture is almost synonymous with cuisine.
*
If shish-kebab and pilaf Armenians were to read a single Armenian book every year, Armenian literature would enjoy another renaissance.
*
I am accused of hanging out the nation's dirty linen by the dirty linen.
*
Cicero defines freedom as “participation in power.” If we are free, ours is the freedom of ants, birds, and herbivores – free to be stepped on, shot at, and devoured.
*
In one of his essays Sartre says that never had French intellectuals been so free as they were under the German occupation during World War II. Something similar could be said of Armenian intellectuals at the turn of the last century in Istanbul under the sultans. A 21st -century Baronian and Odian are unthinkable because they would be immediately and unanimously silenced by editors who are no better than hirelings of our bosses and benefactors.


CONFESSIONS
**********************************
Lord Byron: “Who would write who had anything better to do?”
*
There are days when flipping hamburgers sounds like a more useful occupation to me. What could be more satisfying than feeding the hungry? It may not be as good as the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, granted. But it comes damn close to it. My only consolation: any writer who is unanimously rejected by partisan as well as non-partisan editors and reviled by garbage-mouth readers can't be all bad.
*
BEAN-COUNTERS
***************************
I can understand laymen not reading the small print and being taken in by predatory lenders. What about chief executive officers and their small armies of advisers, assistants, accountants, and lawyers? What were they up to beside counting beans and pulling their dicks? If they too were taken in by cunning operators, how to explain the fact that they came out on top? The stench of conspiracy is so powerful that it would make a Bolshevik out of Senator McCarthy if he were alive.
*
THE REALITY PRINCIPLE
*******************************************
Some people are so outrageously wrong that they don’t have to be corrected. Sooner or later life, facts, the reality principle will speak to them much louder than any logical argument or appeal to common sense and decency.


OBSERVATIONS
**********************************
Johnson on a speech by Nixon: “I may not know much, but I know chicken shit from a chicken salad.”
*
When it comes to speechifying, I am my own favorite speechifier: I sit down before I stand up.
*
I no longer count to three or even thirty-three when I get mad. Instead I remind myself of the old Chinese saying, “He who loses temper has wrong on his side,” after which I try to remember where I buried my ax, and by the time I locate it I forget the source of my anger.
*
The Genocide issue has produced fundamentalists on both sides. The Turkish side believes Armenians are born liars and the world will be a better place without them; and the Armenian side believes as bloodthirsty savages Turks don't qualify as members of the human race. This may explain why after a century of “dialogue” -- or rather two monologues that never cross – both sides have failed to reach a consensus.
*
I write to explain the incomprehensible to myself, and I write only when my explanations clash with conventional wisdom.
*
It is not at all unusual for our chauvinists to preach Armenian culture and to practice Ottoman philistinism.
*
Where a part-time janitor makes more money than a full-time writer, there will be an abundance of recycled crap and a total absence of ideas.


GENIUS KHANS
******************************
There are some Armenians so dumb that not only do they believe in their own assessment of themselves that they are offended when no one else does.
*
SUSPICION
***********************
Whenever a reader insults me anonymously, I always assume him to be either a bishop, the son of a bishop, or someone equally disreputable.
*
DECLINE AND FALL
*****************************
One way to explain the decline and fall of Armenian literature is by saying that first-rate writers and fourth-rate readers are mutually exclusive concepts.
*
THE BUSH DOCTRINE
*******************************
It has been pointed out to me on several occasions that it is wrong being rude to my critics.
Rude to my critics? Never!
As far as I can remember, I have at no time been rude to them.
Rude to kibitzers the purpose of whose oneupmanship is to take better aim when they piss on me – that's different. I don't call that being rude. I call it preemptive strike.
*
PHILISTINES
**************************
There is a familiar type of odar philistine who connects Parisians to pissoirs, Italians to pizza, and Armenians to pilaf and shish-kebab. To be fair, in this connection I should make mention of the efforts of our Turcocentric pundits who have been doing their utmost to change that false impression.
*
HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY
***********************************
Zsa Zsa Gabor: “My dad told me, 'Anything worth having is worth waiting for,' so I waited until I was fifteen.”
At which point she fell for Atatürk. That's what I call a brilliant debut.


MARX
*****************
Many nasty things have been said against philosophy by philomorons. But consider the case of Karl Marx who single-handed (with a little help from Plato, Hegel, and Engels) reshaped the worldview of billions of people from China to Cuba, and with it, the political map of the world.
And Marx was wrong.
Now then, imagine if you can the damage a philosopher who is right can inflict on mankind and tremble.
*
NAREGATSI
****************************
Only Armenians who have not read a single line by Naregatsi think of me as anti-Armenian, or too self-critical or analytical. There is more self-criticism in a single page by Naregatsi than in everything I have written so far.
Sartre said “Hell is other people.”
Naregatsi could have echoed Flaubert's “Bovary c'est moi,” by saying “L'enfer c'est moi.”
To Dante, hell is an operatic horror show.
To Naregatsi, it's an invisible place deep within us.
Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you.”
Naregatsi says, “So is the Devil's Empire.”
*
DEFINITION
******************************
Literature: Art irritating life.
*
SHAKESPEAREA & CO.
****************************************
In Shakespeare, we have the confident voice of a rising empire;
in Milton, one of the most eloquent defenders of free speech;
in Narekatsi, the moans and ululations of a disintegrating kingdom;
in Sylva Kaputikian, a political opportunist and dupe
who operated on the assumption that Sovietism was the universal religion of the future;
in Gostan Zarian, the whole gamut of Armenianism:
from intense nationalism bordering on chauvinism
to disenchantment, resignation, rage, and the silence of despair and disgust.


AS I SEE IT
*****************
It is the easiest thing in the world to discriminate a reader with a genuine difference of opinion from one who likes to make a nuisance of himself. Most words in the English language have more than one dictionary definition. It is the context that determines their meaning. By deliberating choosing a definition outside the context, one may disagree with any statement, and this is exactly what smartalecks do.
*
Writing became a pleasure on the day I gave up not only all hope of popularity, fame, and fortune, but also of minimum wage.
*
One reason I suspect the motives of our academics is that they owe their position and income to “chairs” endowed by our benefactors, that is to say, the very rich, who look down at the very poor as lazy, inferior beings who will never amount to anything.
*
Speaking of blood-sucking exploiters and white trash: According to a Canadian pundit, if the McCain-Palin ticket wins, it will be the triumph of the very rich and the white trash – a clear-cut case of politics making strange bedfellows. That's the dark side of the situation. And now the Pollyanna side: If McCain and Palin win, they will usher in a golden age of political satire, the White House will become the stage of a perpetual sitcom, and they will be an endless source of inspiration to stand-up comedians.
*
All Armenian political parties are alike in at least two important respects: (one) none of them represents the majority, and (two) all of them are more like clubs of mutual admiration on the outside and a vipers' nest on the inside.


ALL FASCISTS ARE PATHOLOGICAL LIARS
******************************************************
That's because fascism and truth are mutually exclusive concepts. Even when they speak the truth they lie because their little truth serves to prop up a Big Lie.
When in power, they silence all dissent because they are afraid to be exposed as liars to their blind followers. When not in power, they verbally abuse anyone who dares to speak in defense of human rights and free speech.
*
Fascism cannot be defeated with arguments. It took a world war to defeat fascism and even then it was only a temporary victory. There are more fascist regimes today than there are democracies, and there are fascists even in democracies. They may not call themselves fascists but they are as fascist as the fascists under Mussolini who was said to be “always right” (“Mussolini ha sempre ragione.”)
Who do you think brainwashes teenage boys and girls to blow themselves up in crowded places and kill as many innocent civilians as possible – all in the name of God, Of course: fascists!
What are skinheads, nationalists, and racists who are brainwashed to believe they know better because they are better?
*
And in case you think we are too smart or civilized to be fascists: I just finished reading an article in an American magazine in which it is stated that sixteen journalists have been beaten up recently in Yerevan and so far no arrests have been made. (See “Caucasus Diary” by John O'Sullivan in NATIONAL REVIEW, September 15, 2008, page 28.)
*
Our fascists are not only pathological liars but also unspeakable cowards because more often than not they don't identify themselves in discussion forums on the Internet. They adopt instead such revealing pseudonyms as “Twilight Snarl,” “Midnight Growl,” and “Morning Phlegm,” when Jack S. Avanakian would be the most appropriate designation.

When asked why he is afraid to write under his own name, one of these heroic specimens explained, “To avoid being the target of Turkish retaliation.” Which of course is utter nonsense because they hide themselves even when abusing their fellow Armenians. They hide themselves even when they write against me, as if I were some kind of mafia don with a gang of hit men at my disposal. To these gutless mice I say: Even if I were a mafia don I wouldn't waste a bullet on them because they are too contemptible to deserve anything but the words “lying cowards.”


P.S. Gentle reader: If you recognized yourself in what I just said, you are probably right, which is a good beginning because you are probably right for the first time in your life, and according to an old Macedonian saying (which I just made up): “He who is right once has an average chance of being right again,” -- though I wouldn't bet on it.


CONTROVERSIAL REFLECTIONS
******************************************************
If a big mouth were a sign of intelligence, courage, and initiative, every other Armenians would be another Napoleon, and probably is in his own mind.
*
Sometimes I am described as controversial. If I am, it is only with the naïve, the uninformed, the ignorant, and the unaware.
*
According to some psychologists, the compulsion to speak the truth is neurotic. By contrast, the compulsion to lie is a survival tactic and as such in no need of psychiatric treatment.
*
I realized I was growing old when old men treated me as if I were one of them.
*
After I die I will be remembered by those I insulted. This may not be an ideal form of immortality but, as the saying goes, beggars can't be choosers.
*
If you think I repeat myself, you can reduce the repetitions by 50% if you read me every other day, and 100% if you quit reading me.
*
Yanks have talking heads. We have snarling snouts, and if some readers are right, I am one of them.
*
We tend to forget that our propaganda has as much effect on them as theirs on us.
*
Woody Allen: “I can't listen to too much Wagner, ya know? I start to get the urge to conquer Poland.”


ON LOYALTY, AMONG OTHER THINGS
******************************************************
Everything I write is an answer to a specific question. I must have answered over a thousand questions by now. The only questions I refuse to answer are the ones whose implication is “You are either with me or against me.” These are not questions as demands for a loyalty oath. Loyalty to men is a fascist concept and as such loathsome. There is no merit in being loyal to swine. Loyalty to principles and truth, yes, by all means: I am all for it.
*
A mediocre book about mediocre people by a mediocre writer would be a best-seller because everyone would like to know what others are really like.
*
Even as we brag we expose our failings, and we do this with almost primitive unawareness. Because our best and brightest did not survive, our worthless and worst brag about their genius for survival.


TO MY READERS
********************************
If we ever experience a Renaissance, I would like it to be a renaissance not of Michelangelos and da Vincis but of common sense and decency.
*
A suggestion to readers who tell me I hate my fellow Armenians. Next time you find yourself in front of a mirror, take a good look and ask yourself, “Am I lovable?”
*
They tell me I should be more friendly to my readers, including those who disagree with me. Honey attracts more flies than vinegar? So does crap. I have been a fool too long and I have dealt with fools too many times to have any illusions about them, and one thing I have learned is that it never pays to encourage them into thinking they belong to the human race.
*
In my business it is very important to have “an unerring eye for humbug” (Kant), or a gadget known as “a reliable shit-detector” (Hemingway).
*
If you repeat what someone has told you, you are not expressing your views but his, in which case to say nothing would be preferable.
*
Science tells us men and beasts are different in many respects. What it doesn't tell us is that in one very important respect they are alike: they are both ruled by the law of the jungle..
*
And speaking of cannibalism, listen to Henry Fielding's definition of love: “The desire of satisfying a voracious appetite with a certain quantity of delicate white human flesh.”





Ara Baliozian

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