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03 April 2009

2793) Talaat's Blunder: Left To Their Own Devices, Armenians Would Have Done A Far More Through Job On Themselves

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Armenian Ottomanism: alienating a fellow Armenian in the name of patriotism.
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Atheism: If an ant were to speak to me and say, “I don't believe in your existence,” would I step on it?
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Benefactors: Take away their money and what have you got? An empty suit, albeit an expensive one. Am I alienating benefactors? Hell no! What I say has as much effect on them as the fart of an ant. . .

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Obama wants to negotiate with Iran. I suspect Iranians will not fall for his rhetoric as readily as those who voted for him. That's because they have their own brand of rhetoric; and when rhetoric meets rhetoric the result is bound to be a dead end.
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While listening to the televised sermon of a bishop, I could not help thinking: “I don't believe a word he says, and I doubt if he does.”
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Bonus: What's a five-letter word that starts with a “b” that stands for bastard, and ends with an “s” that stands for swine?

DON'T BE A FOOL!
A wise man (it may have been Aldous Huxley) once said that our planet is the insane asylum of the universe.

It is said, “There are forty-three kinds of insanity.”

Or, to paraphrase Tolstoy, “Every insane person is insane in his own way.”
There is a school of psychology that says, since the social order in which we live in is insane, the function of psychiatry is to replace one form of insanity with another.

Consider the case of Christians who believe the Bible to be the source of all wisdom, including scientific knowledge.

Chief executive officers who believe they deserve million-dollar bonuses after bankrupting not only their business but also the global economy.

After reading one of my commentaries, a Mekhitarist monk is quoted as having said: “He is an intellectual and all intellectuals eventually go insane.” Which may suggest that we are better at diagnosing insanity in others than in ourselves. Either that or we assume to be the norm and any deviation we label as insane.
We may know how to survive, but do we know how to live?
We brag about our literature but we suppress free speech.
Don't be taken in by appearances.
Don't believe everything you read in the papers.
There are as many lies in the speeches of our speechifiers and the sermons of our sermonizers than there are forms of insanity.

STRANBGE BUT TRUE
What a strange world we live in!
Chief executive Rick Wagoner (the one who traveled to Washington on private jet to ask for a handout) is getting $23 million for bankrupting General Motors as the management is demanding more concessions from the workers.
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The best argument against women's intuition and men's IQ (if such a thing exists) is the high rate of divorce.
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In the struggle for justice there are no losers. Even if you lose you may inspire others to carry on the struggle, or you may wear down the opposition even if it is by an invisible fraction of an inch.
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No one can be as ignorant, or rather, as infatuated with his own ignorance, as he who pretends to know and understand everything. I would even go as far as saying, the safest way of judging a man's knowledge and understanding is by the number of times he is willing to say “I don't know” and “I don't understand.”
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One of the most difficult things in politics is separating friend from foe – especially the kind of foe who knows all the right words and can easily guess what it is exactly that you want to hear.
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It is only after the obvious solution is rejected that a problem is declared insoluble.

SOCRATES
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“We approach truth only in the proportion as we are farther from life.”
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ON OBJECTIVITY
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Objectivity and passionate involvement are mutually exclusive concepts – unless of course one develops the difficult art of thinking against oneself, which means assuming one is wrong even when – especially when – one is absolutely certain of one's moral superiority and infallible judgment.
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ON UNDERSTANDING
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To understand and solve a problem, one must be objective, and one must be objective for purely selfish reasons – to improve one's chances of survival. Cultures that are not tolerant of objectivity or dissent (in this context, two words that might as well be synonymous) have a short lifespan. Think of the Soviets, the Nazis, the regime of the Young Turks, and more recently, the Nixon administration. Closer to home, think of all the dissenting voices in the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the last century that were ignored by our revolutionaries who to this day emphasize their heroism instead of questioning their judgment.
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DEFINING EVIL
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To know what must be done and not do it.
To know that what one does is wrong but do it anyway.
To know that “a house divided against itself cannot stand” and to divide it anyway.
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WORTH REPEATING
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The surest way of moronizing a nation is to brainwash the people into believing they are not just smart but smarter than any other nation, and anyone who dares to say otherwise is an enemy of the people. I speak from experience. The more moronized I was, the smarter I thought i was.

WHERE WE STAND
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Russians gave communism a bad name and Americans did the same with capitalism. The next “fail-safe” or “best” system, whatever it may be, will also bite the dust by its dedicated supporters as surely as communism and capitalism. It is almost as if the destiny of the best were to be the worst.
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Armenianism: the triumph of dogmatism over solidarity.
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It is the most assertive among us that are the most insecure.
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What we are is not a monolithic structure but fragments of what we could have been.
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We are constantly bombarded by lies that encourage us to hate our fellow men. It is almost as if the function of our “betters” were to make us worse.
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Pablo Neruda: “I only know the skin of the earth, / And it has no name.” After “All men are brothers,” the best argument against nationalism.
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I see a clear parallel between what contemporary composers have done to music, what artists have done to art, what politicians have done to statesmanship, with what economists have done to the global economy.

MEN AND WOMEN
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According to a study conducted by a Vatican theologian, men and women are tempted by the same sins but in different order of frequency. Men are tempted by women, food, laziness, anger, vanity, envy, and avarice; and women by vanity, envy, anger, men, food, avarice, and laziness.
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THE SINS OF THE ESTABLISHMENT
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To support only writers who are pro-establishment is to be against literature and for prostitution.
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A NEW BOOK
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In a recent issue of LE POINT (Paris, March 3, 2009) I read the following ad for Gilbert Sinoué's EREVAN:
“The great novel of the Armenian people.”
“A great novel that speaks of a terrible truth.”
“Written with intense emotion, but also with justice.”
“Gilbert Sinoué makes us relive the tragedy of an entire people.”
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CARLOS FUENTES
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“It makes no difference whether you surrender your ass or your conscience: you will get them back in bad shape.”

RIFFRAFF
A so-called young financial expert on TV speaking of Wall Street chief executive officers: “Their salaries could be as low as $75,000...they survive on bonuses...”
Bernard Madoff ruined about 5000 investors. Wall Street CEOs ruined the global economy. They should be grateful that so far they haven't been arrested. The very least they can do is work for minimum wage until they correct their blunders. But of course, not being a financial expert, I can rely only on my common sense, which, it seems, flies out the window when applied to Wall Street riffraff. And this so-called young whippersnapper thinks he will be quelling the anger of the unemployed and homeless on the grounds that these CEOs work for next to nothing?
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Speaking of American movies, a French critic once described them as “technical perfection in the service of cretinism.” What we have here is financial expertise in the service of moronism!

Consider the following scenario: Your house is on fire. Firefighters arrive and after pouring gasoline instead of water they expect you to be grateful to them. Thank you for doing such a great job. Here, please accept this small check as a token of my appreciation.
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Another scenario: You hire a contractor to fix your old house. He in turn hires electricians, plumbers, dry-wallers, roofers, and so on. But by the time they are through the house is torn down as in the story of the big bad wolf and the three little pigs. At which point, the contractor demands to be paid the agreed on amount plus a bonus.
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We are told the CEOs who tanked AIG have already quit. So what? Let's get them back and let them work for a dollar a year. Liddy is doing it. Is decency on Wall Street limited to only one CEO?
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Once upon a time, when Communists spoke of Wall Street, they meant everything that was evil in the capitalist system. Who could have foreseen that some day Wall Street would be perceived as such even by whole world, including Americans?

THE UNANSWERED QUESTION
It is said of the 18th-century French aristocracy that they knew how to live. Yes, that they did. They knew how to live alright! What they didn't know – which is infinitely more important than what they knew – was how to survive.
With us it's the other way around: we know how to survive, or so we are brought up to believe, but not how to live.

If we use the word survival only in reference to the nation, and if by nation we mean the regime, yes, we may qualify as survivors. The questions to be asked at this point are:

What kind of survival is it that requires the death of millions of innocent civilians, including our best and brightest?
What kind of survival is it that places the survival of the regime above the survival of the people?

What kind of survival is it that allows the regime to brainwash the people into believing that it is our patriotic duty to serve the regime?
Serving the regime is a fascist concept. In a democracy, it is the state that serves the people (not the other way around), which is why politicians are referred to as public servants.

But that's not the end of the story, which in our case happens to be not so much a comedy of errors as a tragedy of fallacies, or again, as a perversion of priorities.
Now then, let us suppose for the sake of argument that your family perishes and you are the sole survivor. Do you then go around bragging about your own survival? I don't think so! And yet, this is what we are encouraged to do to perpetuate the lie that we never had it so good because we are in the best of hands.
A final question: We may indeed know how to survive, but do our leaders know how to govern?

ON REVOLUTION
The average layman may not understand the exact meaning of subprime mortgages, hedge funds, toxic assets, and all the complexities of the present economic crisis, but he understands greed when he sees it and recognizes a bloodsucker when he sees one.
Anger is negative, we are told. Anger does not solve problems.
Where would revolutions be without anger?
Where would America be without its Revolution?
Americans today, especially the homeless and the unemployed, have many more reasons to be angry and to revolt against their financial officers on Wall Street and representatives in Washington than they had against the mad English king.
You say, anger is negative?
I say, what could be more positive than anger against corruption, greed, incompetence, and injustice?
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Even if they are allowed to keep their bonuses, the CEOs will spend it in fear, they will live in fear, and they may even go underground for the duration. Some day they may even realize that accepting those bonuses was the dumbest thing they ever did.
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Organized religions have victimized more innocent civilians than organized crime. The same could be said of organized ideologies, including nationalism.
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Under a corrupt or authoritarian regime, law and order might as well be synonymous with fear and lawlessness.

READING
Books are my favorite companions. I don't care where I live as long as there is a good library in the neighborhood. Between a hell with books and a heaven without them, I would choose hell any day.

Once, a few years ago, after observing the monotony of my daily routine and drab surroundings, a childhood friend commented, in my place he would have committed suicide. He promised to share his home and wealth with me if I agreed to return to Athens. Shortly thereafter he went bankrupt and died of a heart attack. I was reminded of this episode while reading Christopher Isherwood's mammoth DIARIES (1048 pages). In almost every other entry he speaks of encounters and conversations with the likes of Thomas Mann, Aldous Huxley, Greta Garbo, and Krishnamurti. And yet, he suffers from fits of depression and requires the constant care of quacks, shrinks, and swamis. There are endless passages about dreams, nightmares, meditation techniques, yoga, and mystical nonsense – passages I now skip for the sake of entries like the following:

“After dinner, Aldous [Huxley] and I got in a corner. He was a little drunk, and started on a favorite topic: the poorness of all literature. Homer was terribly overrated, Dante was hopelessly limited, Shakespeare was such a stupid man, Goethe was such a bore, Tolstoy was silly, etc. etc.” (page 92).

THE PLACEBO EFFECT
All talk of Historic Armenia belongs to the realm of archeology. In a political context, it makes as much sense as Historic Macedonia, Mongolia, or, closer to home, America.
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There are so many laws and lawyers that protect the interests of the wealthy that even God wouldn't dare to challenge them.
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Whenever a fellow Armenian contradicts me, I cannot help suspecting that he is too smart to be in a position to plead ignorance, and that his disagreement is more like a game, a challenge, or a thoughtlessly adopted political agenda.
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A movement that fails to evolve a leader is as doomed as one that evolves two of them.
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To label ideas as pro- or anti-Armenian can be misleading because what may be in our interests today may be against the Reality Principle tomorrow, as our revolutionaries in the Ottoman Empire discovered. After all, not all wars of liberation end in liberation, and “freedom or death” makes sense only if it means freedom for the majority. To confuse the placebo effect of some ideas with objective reality may result in disaster.

CROOKS UNLIMITED
What's the use of writing if you end up alienating friends and making enemies of the very same people on whose goodwill you depend for your survival? On the other hand, what's the use of writing if you are not allowed to say what must be said? I may be more popular and have a better chance to survive by making at least minimum wage if I were to write cookbooks. I am not much of a cook, granted. My repertoire is limited to hard-boiled eggs, cheese sandwiches, pilaf, and spaghetti. But I am told you don't have to be a cook to write cookbooks. A best-selling author of cookbooks once told me, “I try at least once every one of my recipes before publishing them,” thus implying many other don't. If there are dishonest politicians, incompetent chief executive officers, and fornicating bishops, why not plagiarizing cookbook writers?
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Speaking of crooks: why do you think Bernard Madoff wasn't exposed for twenty years? The answer is simple: Wall Street is full of them. Exposing him would have meant exposing all of them. And now that the bonus scandal has exploded, I am looking forward to the second act of the play – investigations, hearings, and indictments. As for the third act, I expect, very much like Watergate, it will end in the resignation, arrests, trials, and incarceration not only of CEOs but also of politicians, and other fat cats. Unless of course there are so many of them that both Wall Street and Washington would be paralyzed.

ON MYTHS
We either react against the ideas instilled in us during our formative years, or we treat them as infallible articles of faith and stick to them to the bitter end.
Deep inside somewhere Charents remained a nationalist even when he spoke against it; and Zarian remained an anti-nationalist even when he voiced nationalist nonsense. In a letter to a fellow Tashnak, the editor of HAIRENIK wrote: “If we treat him (Zarian) right, he may come to our side.” When he didn't, he was ignored and treated as an eccentric and a non-person. “I was told he was crazy and I stayed away from him,” a Tashnak neighbor of his once said to me, “and now you tell me he was a great writer?”
According to Ilya Ehrenburg, Stalin said, “Don't touch Charents, he is on our side,” or words to that effect. But truth or God or the Reality Principle is on on nobody's side.
Studied in a Christian context, Greeks myths about gods who fornicate with mortals sound blasphemous as well as ridiculous. And yet, the Greek effort to explain Reality makes as much sense today as the myths invented by Jewish, Muslim, and Christian theologians who have legitimized murder and massacre in the name of God.
Toynbee is right: after choosing themselves, the chosen assert moral superiority and expect everyone else to be subservient to them. You are either with us or against us, they say, and if you are against us, you don't deserve to live. Some day when mankind is finally civilized, this kind of mindset will be viewed as worthy of barbarians and serial killers.

JOHN UPDIKE
After COUPLES, I read everything he wrote, and he wrote a great deal, and he knew how to write -- fiction as well as criticism and poetry. He was an inspired craftsman. His nonfiction was as good as his fiction, which is not something that can be said about such contemporaries of his as Mailer, Bellow, and Roth. But somewhere along the line – it may have been after the second or third RABBIT – I gave up reading him.
Shortly before he died a few days ago I read a critical essay about him by a young American writer in whose last sentence Updike was dismissed as an “asshole.” (I later learned this critic had committed suicide.)

I am now reading Updike's TOWARD THE END OF TIME (1997), an autobiographical novel about old age that, as always with Updike, brims with sharp observations and verbal felicities. And now I am looking forward to reading his posthumous works – diaries, notebooks, correspondence, perhaps even an unfinished novel and several big biographies.
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Some random samples of Updike's descriptive skill:
“Girls with orange hair hanging like seaweed or loosely bound with gold barrettes like pirate treasure.”
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“A runty senior with a huge mane of black hair that for diving he did up in a hairband like a Greek girl.”
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“The first breath of adultery is the freest; after it, constraints aping marriage develop.”
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“An aluminum screen door with a misadjusted pneumatic attachment that snaps like lightning the first two-thirds of its arc and then closes the last third slow as a clock ticking.”

SWINE
Again and again we are told by so-called experts in Washington that the bonuses of the chief executive officers on Wall Street are such an insignificant fraction of the total bailout that it is a waste of time discussing them. These gentlemen must be blind not to see that a million dollars is a million dollars; it may be small change to some, but they are a fortune to the rest of mankind who must work for a living. And I suspect the outrage is less about the bonuses themselves and more about the fact that the very same individuals who are responsible for the present crisis have the judgment and manners of greedy swine.
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C.G. Jung: "Even in our civilization, the people who form, psychologically speaking, the lowest stratum, live almost as unconsciously as primitive races."
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The words of an honest man don’t need definitions; but the commas of a crook should be carefully examined under a microscope.
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We are told by scientists that we are made of stardust, and it is the dust that survives.
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I knew I was going places when a number of Oriental carpet dealers wanted to hire my services as reviewer and translator of their books. These gentlemen are not the kind that would waste their money needlessly.
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It is men without honor who are the first to rise in defense of their honor.



Ara Baliozian

1 comments:

S.S. Aya, Istanbul, Turkey said...

Esteemed Ara bey,

This is another "créme a la créme" ironi, satire, philosophy, "eye opener" whatever you name it!

Compliments and thanks. I liked all, but I am experimenting too many cases of "placebo effect" with your fellow Armenians.

On Myths, is another refinement, but you could have said it clearer that temples were the bazaar for whores!

When asked about pregnancy they would claim that God/Zeus was the father -

Lately Wall Street and Bank Houses have replaced the temples where fornicating mortals in the name of GLOBALIZATION and free trade is legitimate and says: "When your ass is on lease, you don't hold your hand across"!

May be not so polite in words, but so true in life!

Hit it Ara, "may be you can shape some rock heads" and dust some crude brick heads!

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