17 May 2009

2836) What Have The Armenian People Got Against Writers?

Ara Baliozian © This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com STICKS AND STONES
***
“What have you got against the Armenian people?”
“Wrong question. Ask instead what have the Armenian people got against writers?”
“The Armenian people worship their writers. If you go to Armenia, you will see monuments, museums, and libraries dedicated to them.”
“That's only after they were dead and buried.”
*
Yesterday on the radio when asked “How would you like to be remembered after you die?” David Suzuki replied: “I don't give a sh*t what they say about me after I am dead and buried.”
*
“What you write annoys the hell out of me.”
“Use your delete button. To be read by the likes of you is as pleasant an experience as falling in the crapper.”
*
Nobody is ever duped for his own good.
*
Where there is power there will also be mumbo jumbo.
*
If you want to have an idea of infinity, think of human ignorance.
*
If my critics were pennies, I would be a wealthy man.
*
A definition of government: “A disease masquerading as its own cure.”
*
“Be more constructive!”
“You want constructive? What you need is standup comedians.” . . .

*
CONFESSION
***
We don't always say what we think, seldom what we really think, and never what we suspect to be the truth.
As a boy, I remember, what fascinated me about Dostoevsky was the daring of his characters to go to the limit, to hold nothing back, to say what they think.
*
The Pope never says he doubts his faith “seven time every day,” as the popular Italian saying has it; and Mother Teresa confessed her loss of faith only to her confessor and no one else.
Some readers resent me for saying what everyone almost knows and understand but is reluctant to say it because it may not be socially acceptable or patriotic.
*
Larry Terzian (God bless his soul) who edited several of my books once said to me: “You have written enough about Armenians. Now write about something else.”
I write about Armenians not as an Armenian but as a human being, and I write to expose that which is universal in them.
*
My Armenian readers hate me when I write about Turks not as Turks but as human beings. A smart Armenian knows instinctively that honesty and truth are not appreciated by the average Armenian reader. He also knows that objectivity has no cash value. He treats Armenians as angels and Turks as devils. He may know better but he also knows there are limits to what a man in his position can say publicly.
*
Saroyan's image was that of a good fellow who loved everyone, especially Armenians. Privately however he hated even his own children, who may or may not have been lovable. But then who is? A good friend of his, who has published a book about him, once said to me: “Saroyan cared only for Saroyan.” Later when I got to know this man, he turned out to be no better.
What about me?
The only positive thing I can say about myself is that I am not an insider or an organization man. I think of nationalism and patriotism not as assets but as liabitilies. And I don't feel the need to conform and to say only that which is generally held to be true or popular.
Can I prove that?
I am not sure. My only evidence is the Socratic dictum, “My poverty is proof of my honesty.”


*
IN PRAISE OF DOUBT
***
Sometimes between the obvious and the false, it is the obvious that will be misunderstood and rejected. That's because we all operate under the influence of an ideology or religion whose aim is to obstruct and distort our perception of reality.
*
We are brought up to believe the end is a new beginning because the alternative – that is to say, the obvious – is unbearable.
*
Faith is hope and hope is good provided it is not motivated by wishful thinking and divorced from common sense and logic.
Faith is a mighty force; it is also the most frequently abused.
Science cannot explain the visible, but faith claims to have explained the invisible.
*
Faith is wrong when it convinces us we can know and understand that which we have no way of knowing and understanding.
Faith is dangerous when it creates a bureaucracy with its own laws and dogmas.
Faith becomes a scandal when it falls under the control of popes, imams, televangelists, and witch doctors who make a comfortable living by legitimizing superstition, prejudice, and intolerance.
Faith is criminal when it uses education as an instrument of intimidation, oppression, exploitations, persecution, and violence.
*
Faith tries to convince us that the invisible and incomprehensible power that created the cosmos owes us not only a life but also a better one.
And if the majority of mankind has adopted a belief system it may be because in a crowded room it is not the most reasonable that is heard but the loudest.


They want me silenced because I threaten to demolish their comfortable view of reality by exposing their status as dupes.
*
Whether I go on writing or fall silent makes no difference in the long run because everything I say has either been said before by better men than myself or it will be said in the future by someone with a minimum of common sense.
*
Sometimes people pretend not to know to catch you in the act of exploiting their ignorance.
*
The secret ambition of all liberators is to be oppressors.
*
After every line I write, I ask myself: Am I boring the reader? Am I fooling myself into thinking I am saying something he doesn't already know?
*
A tolerant religion? A contradiction in terms. Consider the fate of Untouchables under Hinduism (identified as the most tolerant religion). There are Untouchables in all organized religions.
*
Where there are dogmas there will be heretics.
*
It is easier to identify ourselves as victims than as victimizers. We experience our pain, we can only imagine someone else's.
*
Armenians cannot engage in dialogue with Turks because Armenians cannot engage in dialogue with fellow Armenians. The same applies to Turks. Consider the way they treat their dissidents.
*
Whenever I try to reason with a partisan I end up being insulted. In an intolerant environment reason is treated like a hostile witness.
*
Those who think truth or God is on their side can do no wrong for the same reason that in matters of faith the Pope is infallible.
*
Religions have their saints and ideologies their heroes. Also their heretics and traitors. In the eyes of brainwashed dupes, dissidents are either heretics or traitors.
*
A good Armenian is taught to believe his most important duty as an Armenian is to learn saying “Yes sir!” in the same way that once upon a time all Germans were taught to say “Heil Hitler!” and all Italians were taught to say “Mussolini ha sempre ragione!” (Mussolini is always right).


*
ON CHARITY
***
Had I been a contemporary of Baronian and Odian, I wouldn't have written a single line. Either that or I would have written love stories. Which is what I did at first. For nearly a decade I wrote nothing but love stories.
*
When I think of my past blunders I feel like digging a hole and burying myself in it.
I am always a little surprised when I see an adult laughing.
I suspect Alzheimer's can't be all bad.
*
I write as I do because no one dares to say what must be said.
Those who say we need solutions imply that when it comes to our problems our writers have been of no use. Zarian is right: they say that to cover up their own uselessness and fear of free speech.
Not only do they say we need solutions, they also teach children to view critics as unpatriotic witnesses.
When they don't like what you say -- because what you say may threaten to expose their own uselessness – they say: “We don't need critics. We need solutions.” That's their way of saying “Shut up!”
*
This morning on the radio: “How can you tell if, instead of supporting charities, your charity money supports fund-raisers?”
Canadians dare to ask such questions because they believe in free speech. Once upon a time we did too.
A hundred years ago Odian made savage fun of our fund-raisers.
Who dares to question the ethics of our charitable organizations today?
Next time you make a contribution to a charity, don't be afraid to ask questions. Remember, it is your right to know. Asking questions may well be the most important contribution you can make.
*
Ask questions but don't believe everything you are told.
Honesty has never been a priority in our culture.
What culture?
If you want culture, get a tub of yogurt. You will find more culture there than in all our cultural foundations combined.


*
QUOTATIONS
***
Fidel Castro: “Obama is not Nixon who was a cynic. Neither is he Reagan who was an imbecile.”
*
A Vatican insider: “Half of the Vatican is homosexual. So is the Pope, I think.”
*
Ingrid Betancourt: “There are things you do because you have to. You don't always calculate the consequences. And sometimes you do very stupid things because of that.”
*
John Adams: “Neither philosophy, nor religion, nor morality, nor wisdom, nor interest will ever govern nations or parties against their vanity, their pride, their resentment or revenge, or their avarice or ambition.”


*
JUDGE AND JURY
***
Don't believe anything I say until and unless you see it with your own eyes and experience it on your own skin.
*
It seems what I say matters only to those of my readers who disagree with me and would like to see me silenced. To the rest, I repeat that which is obvious.
*
No one in the history of mankind has ever been all things to all men. Naregatsi had his critics, Gandhi his assassin, and Christ his Judas.
*
I hold a mirror up to them and when they don't like what they see, they blame it on me instead of themselves.
*
Our religion teaches us to love our enemies, including fellow Armenians who may not agree with us. I wonder if any one of our speechifiers and sermonizers has ever expanded on this theme.
*
One of my gentle readers accused me the other day of trying to advance a “personal agenda.” I suggest speaking in defense of free speech is not a personal but a human agenda. But I don't expect my dehumanized readers to see this.
*
Why is it that a dehumanized Armenian allows the Turk within to assume the role of both judge and jury?
*
Remember, even what you think is not what you really think but only the echo of a shadow. A thousand invisible forces stand between you and reality which is as elusive as an incomprehensible metaphysical abstraction.
*
Because we don't know everything, we operate on partial evidence. Only fascists silence dissenting voices to cover up that part of the evidence that is against them. As a result their verdict is bound to be overturned by a higher court.


*
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
***
Because a few non-representative Armenians challenged the might of the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the last century, countless Armenians were slaughtered, starved, and deported.
If I have a problem, you have a problem.
None of us is an island.
No one can say “Your problem is not my problem. Go and peddle your wares elsewhere.”
*
It has been said of China that it is a country of “a million truths.”
It could be said of us that we are a people of a thousand and one half-truths, and sometimes a half-truth can be as dangerous as a big lie.
*
It is a mistake to ascribe the slaughter of two generations of our ablest writers to Turks and Russians because on both occasions Armenian traitors played a key role. Raffi is right: in all our defeats and catastrophes search for the Armenian traitor. The only thing that has remained constant in our culture is our propensity for treason.
Because I say this, am I a hostile witness whose testimony should be dismissed because it is based on inadmissible evidence?
We can learn from history only if we know it.
*
The chances are those who pretend to know better know nothing because they allow their little knowledge to blind them; and when the blind lead the blind...
*
Toynbee on Russians:
“As heir of an Orthodox Christian cultural heritage, they could not find the practice of totalitarianism either unfamiliar or shocking.”
I see parallels where others pretend to see nothing.
When the blind...
*
Armenian fascism is the elephant in the room.


*
HOW DO I KNOW I AM RIGHT?
***
I don't!
Mine is not an open and shut case.
My evidence is circumstantial and based on hearsay.
What I know with some degree of certainty is that
(one) where there is a power structure,
there will be propaganda,
and where there is propaganda,
there will be dupes;
(two) where there is an authority figure
there will be subservient subjects
who cannot think for themselves ;
(three) between dupes and dissidents
I will always be on the side of dissidents;
(four) where there are victims and victimizers,
I will refuse to join the ranks of the victimizers.
*
And now from the general to the specific:
when it comes to our political bosses
I choose to be on the side of Hagop Baronian
(in whose eyes they are no better than
loud-mouth irresponsible charlatans);
Yervant Odian (who portrayed them
as sh*t-disturbers forever in need of financial support);
and Gostan Zarian (who described them
as useless mediocrities whose greatest enemy is free speech).
*
When it comes to our historians,
I agree with Naregatsi who consistently and stubbornly refused
to play the blame-game and focused instead
on his own failings and shortcomings.
When it comes to nationalism
I am on the side of many 20th-century eminent thinkers,
among them Arnold Toynbee and Roland Barthes
(who described it as one of the three pillars of fascism
(the other two being anti-intellectualism and anti-semitism).
*
Judges pronounce a man guilty
based on the evidence. And yet, again and again
innocent men have been found guilty and condemned to death.
This is especially true in case of political prisoners
under totalitarian regimes.
*
I have read books written by Turkish scholars
that assert Armenians are liars, traitors, and terrorists
who killed many innocent civilians,
and more recently, equally innocent diplomats
who were not even born before World War I
and cannot thus be held responsible
of any crimes against humanity.
I have also read books by Armenian scholars
who portray Turks as bloodthirsty Asiatic barbarians
guilty of countless atrocities
against unarmed and innocent women and children.
*
What is an outsider to think?
My guess is, he will trust neither side and
he will dismiss both Turks and Armenians
biased and unreliable witnesses.
After which he will conclude
he has better things to do than waste his time
getting involved in a controversy
that has lasted almost a century
with no prospect of consensus in sight.
His final verdict may well be
“A plague on both your houses!”
and once more the Turks will win.


The best way not to solve a problem is to say more research is needed.
*
To be part of a power structure means to be prepared to do anything to advance your position in it, knowing that if you don't do it someone else will.
*
What is the significance of the cosmos with its countless stars, planets and vast distances if not to remind us of our insignificance?
*
We like to say power corrupts. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that only the corrupt seek it.
*
Whenever during a walk I see an ant on the sidewalk, I am careful not to step on it. But sometimes I get tired of being careful. In the eyes of the powerful we are no better than ants. And in the eyeds of God...
*
Only propaganda has all the answers.
*
A cheerful thought: Any day now, and in cosmic time, in less than a fraction of a second, we will all be dead and all our problems will be buried with us.


*
THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND
***
When a religion, or any movement for that matter, acquires a leader, it becomes authoritarian, which means, the authority of the leader becomes an issue of paramount importance, and those who dare to challenge it face death – either spiritual (by excommunication or expulsion) or literal (by fatwa).
*
One of the curses of authoritarian belief systems is their ruthless exploitation of fear. A God of love, compassion, and mercy does not rule by intimidation and blackmail. This may suggest that organized religions are inventions not of God but of the Devil.
*
When imams and popes preach love, they speak with a forked tongue. That's why only the naïve and the ignorant take them seriously. As in all organizations whose central concern is power, only unprincipled mediocrities, and ultimately bloodsuckers, killers, and child molesters are promoted.
*
We need rules and we need enforcers of rules, true, but history tells us some of the worst offenders and abusers of law and order have been the police.
*
Those who speak of another world are charlatans because we know nothing about it and what we pretend to know is nothing but a figment of our imagination.
As for the world in which we live: we know very little about it, and the only thing we know with some degree of certainty is that it is occupied by “weeds, rubble and vermin” (Nietzsche).
*
If a member of a party or organization were to tell me 1+1=2, I would immediately reach for my calculator to make sure I was not being bamboozled, hoodwinked, and flimflammed.
*
Herbert Butterfield: “The blindest of all the blind are those who are unable to examine their own presuppositions, and blithely imagine therefore that they do not posses them.”


*
SUCCESS
***
At the age of thirty-one he was charged with sedition, arrested, tried, found guilty, condemned to death, and executed.
Was he a success or a failure?
More recently, as a teenager he joined a quartet of singers who composed their own songs, eventually achieved fame and fortune, and became, in his own words, “more popular that Jesus Christ.”
Was he a success or a failure?
*
To define success as achieving fame and fortune is the surest recipe for promoting failures. If failures outnumber successes a thousand to one today it's because children are brainwashed to believe their options are limited, and their options are defined by the inflexible laws of demand and supply. As a result, a less than mediocre lawyer, accountant, or dentist is equipped to make more money (the surest index of success, we are told) than say, a prophet who may alter our perception of reality for centuries to come.
*
Gulbenkian probably spent more money in a single day than J.S. Bach made throughout his life. If asked whether he would like to be Gulbenkian or Bach, my guess is, the average American (who may pronounce Bach Batch) will choose to be Gulbenkian.
*
Ask a mother, any mother, whether she would like to see her only son crucified at the age of thirty-one, my guess is, she will say she would much rather see him live to a ripe old age as a mediocre carpenter.
*
Early this morning, in Nabokov's INVITATION TO A BEHEADING, I read the following passage in which an executioner delivers the following line to a condemned man: “...you must not be childish. The public, and all of us, as representatives of the public, are interested only in your welfare – that must be obvious by now.”
It's always the same story: the very same people who urge you to follow a path that is not your own, pretend to have your best interest at heart.
*
To those who say not everybody can be a genius, allow me to recount the following anecdote. About fifty years ago, a little girl by the name of Minou Drouet published a book of poems that was immediately hailed as the work of a prodigy. Jean Cocteau's comment on this prodigy: “Every child is a genius except Minou Drouet.”
*
Every child is a genius because the Kingdom of God is within us.


*
TWO ENEMIES
***
To trust someone means to make yourself vulnerable to betrayal.
*
I have had some sinister experiences in the hands of authority figures who pretended to know better.
I have earned the right to trust no one.
*
If I am proud of anything it's the fact that what I write has no cash value – or so I am told by individuals who deal in cash.
*
Dealing with people who deal in cash:
I can't imagine anything more carcinogenic.
*
My guess is, in the next world – if there is one – money will be abolished. Which means the annual income of a prince and a pauper, or a benefactor and a poet will be the same.
*
I have written two kinds of books: propaganda and anti-propaganda, and of the two, the propaganda books have sold many more copies.
*
I did not set out to write propaganda books. I wrote such books at a time when I was led to believe it was my duty to lie in the name of patriotism; and when I lied I did not think of it as lying but as speaking a self-evident truth.
*
We are told, in science to be right means to be slightly wrong, because in science, as in many other disciplines, there are no final answers, and if there are, they are known only to God who so far has consistently refused to share them with us.
According to Karl Popper, scientific as well as political solutions “can never be more than provisional and are always open to improvement.”
There is no such thing as history, only historic interpretation.
And according to Sartre, “history must be constantly rewritten.”
*
What does it mean to be an Armenian?
First and foremost it means demanding justice for past injustices.
Let's demand justice by all means, but in the process let us not commit a greater injustice.
There is more to life than past crimes against humanity.
Let us not allow our obsession with Turks to turn us into pillars of salt.
We have enemies, no doubt about that. But we also have an enemy within, and of the two, the second can inflict more damage.



SCORPIONS
****
Whenever I hear an Armenian bragging about survival, I consider it my duty to remind him that scorpions and spiders have survived too, you don't hear them bragging about it.
Our brainwashed phony patriots consider me unpatriotic because I dare to point out failings visible to everyone but themselves.
I don't like braggarts. No one does! And yet, we are taught to brag.
*
To be a slave of former slaves means to be paralyzed with fear not only of the master's shadow (who may well be dead and buried to begin with) but also of any idea that may be remotely connected with reality.
*
For almost a century now we have been clamoring for justice, and what have we accomplished?
We pretend to be for dialogue but only from a fixed position, which is an oxymoronic position visible to all except morons.
*
One of my gentle readers once described me as a “self-appointed critic,” as if critics qualify as such only when appointed by God or a representative of His on earth, say, like the Pope, the Sultan, or some other source of authority.
Because I dare to speak for no one but myself, they think I can safely be dismissed as an undesirable and unqualified interloper whose testimony should be ignored.
*
The problem with braggarts is that they are too satisfied with their own lies to be useful to anyone but themselves. Their unspoken motto seems to be, “Don't fix that which ain't broken,” or “One should not mess with perfection.”
*
Once, when I was accused of comparing Armenians to scorpions, I said I had no desire to insult scorpions who can always plead not guilty by reason of the fact that evolution had failed to endow them with a brain -- a plea which is not available to us.



DOGMAS
****
Taliban slogan: “Throw reason to the dogs.”
*
Taliban come in all sizes and shapes and there is a Taliban in all of us.
*
The higher you climb on the tree of knowledge,
the greater the area if ignorance that comes into view.
*
When they run out of arguments, they insult you. In a different time and place they would have you arrested on charges of treason. Let us therefore count our blessings.
*
Speaking as a layman, I find some scientific theories as incomprehensible as religious dogmas. The Big Bang is to me as unbelievable as the pandemonium and paraphernalia of fornicating Greek gods in whose name Socrates was arrested, tried, found guilty, and executed.
*
The Koran-burning controversy and the protests in Muslim countries have proved one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt: the true aim of Islamists everywhere is to intimidate and control the West the way they intimidate and control their women. And since in order to survive their women adopt a passive stance, they expect the West to do likewise. And they are outraged to the point of hysteria when it doesn't.
*
As for moderate Muslims: consider the case of the imam in New York who keeps saying, if he is not allowed to build a mosque near Ground Zero, Americans will make themselves vulnerable to a billion Muslims around the world bent on revenge.



IS GOD AN ARMENIAN?
****
They adopted the role of masters, which they assumed to be their manifest destiny, to the same degree that we adopted the role of slaves (and more recently, that of slaves of former slaves).
*
In reference to the Watergate scandals, Nixon once stated: “When the President does it, it's not illegal.”
The Turks now expect us to believe we are in no position to question or doubt the legality of their actions performed at a time when they were masters and we their slaves.
*
Some people are so addicted to brag that they will brag even about the fact that they massacred innocent and unarmed civilians (“We taught the Armenians a lesson they will never forget!”) and we brag about the fact that we are the first nation in the 20th century to be targeted for extermination.
*
The final act of this tragedy of illusions and lies has not yet played itself out. We are now told by our leaders they will see to it that justice is done, notwithstanding the fact that so far, and after a hundred years of trying, we have not seen a single red cent in reparations, or a single square inch of soil annexed, or a single victim resurrected.
*
Instead of doing what must be done or what is within their power to do (such as enhancing our solidarity, shedding their tribalism, or respecting our human rights) they promise to do what only God Almighty can do but so far has consistently refused to do.
*
Does God recognize the Genocide?
I for one cannot claim to read His mind.
I can only say that He allowed it to happen and it was done in His name.
*
To those who say I repeat myself, I say, I see nothing wrong in repeating my truths as often as they repeat their lies.


*
FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE
***
Religions are popular not because they are true
but because they make sense
the way Leonardo's Mona Lisa makes sense to lovers of art,
Beethoven's 6th Symphony makes sense to lovers of music,
and algebra and trigonometry make sense to mathematicians.
The Greek myths made sense to the Greeks
to the same degree that Islam makes sense to Muslims,
Christianity to Christians, and atheism to atheists –
with one difference:
whereas there is only one trigonometry,
there are many religions that contradict one another.
*
It's astonishing how little men know
about the world around them and themselves.
A man's area of ignorance is infinitely greater
than his area of knowledge.
Men like Beethoven and Einstein may have know
everything there is to know about music and physics respectively
but little or nothing about many other subjects,
including, say, Armenian history and culture.
Even though I have myself written several books on the subject,
my own knowledge of our history and culture
may be said to be less than 0.01% of the total.
Which may explain why dupes outnumber the wise,
and even the wise are no better dupes.
Hence the number of great 20th-century
philosophers, writers, and Nobel-Prize winners
who were Catholics, atheists, Stalinists,
and members of the Nazi Party.



THEM AND US
****
“Plan to burn Qur'an is offensive,” reads the headline of a commentary in the Op-Ed page of my morning paper.
Maybe so, but what about another headline that says, “They [Muslims] burn the Qur'an every day with their actions.”
And sure enough, in the fourth paragraph of this commentary, our pundit writes: “There are Muslims who pervert their religion, literally called the path of peace, into a call to armed suppression of women and acts of terrorism.”
*
God may be great indeed, but He seems powerless against those who terrorize and kill in His name.
Are Christians better than Muslims?
No comment!
*
Toynbee: “It is always easier, both intellectually and morally, to debit one's ills to the account of some outside agency than to ascribe the responsibility to oneself.”
In other words, to play the blame-game and to paint ourselves all white and the opposition all black.
*
I thought I knew better when I knew nothing.
It takes knowledge and understanding to see the depths of evil that resides in our hearts. This may explain the popularity of ignorance.



CONSOLATION
****
Toynbee: “Death limits life's liabilities. This boon that death confers is supremely valuable, and ought to be immensely consoling.”
*
There is no evidence to suggest that life will make sense after death. If to die means to enter the realm of nothingness, then nothingness is the only perfection we will ever know.
*
A little learning is the source of all prejudice, conspiracy theories, and xenophobia.
Here is Toynbee's masterful explanation of this phenomenon:
“The danger lay in the opening which a rudimentary universal education gave for propaganda, and in the skill and unscrupousness with which this opportunity had been seized by salesmen for advertising their wares and by news agencies, pressure groups, political parties, and the public relations departments of firms and governments for selling their policies.”
*
The importance of education is constantly stressed to unsuspecting children. What is ignored is the fact that no matter how many degrees you acquire, the chances are you will end up working for an assh*le.”



BOOKS
****
There are two kinds of writers: those whose ideas shape the future (not always for the better), and those whose ideas are buried and forgotten with them. To the first category belong Rousseau, Voltaire, Thoreau, and Marx; to the second category, our writers.
*
There are no new ideas. Everything we say has been said before. When told the Bible was written by the Holy Spirit, Shaw replied: “All books are written by the Holy Spirit.”
*
I for one don't believe in the holiness of holy books -- regardless of denomination – when I think of all the wars and massacres perpetrated in their name, not to mention the intolerance, the persecution of heretics, and the countless abuses... More often than not, it seems to me, a holy book is used as a license to kill.
*
Holy books might as well be synonymous with holy wars.
*
Sometimes serial killers plead not guilty by reason of insanity – they say it was God or Satan who ordered them to do what they did. Now then, if you count the victims of serial killers and the victims of religious leaders, you may conclude that the latter are far more dangerous.
*
To those who say we no longer live in the Middle Ages, I ask: Who ordered 9/11? Where does an imam get his authority?
*
I see a direct link between the overpopulation, poverty, and drug wars in Mexico and the Pope's dogmatic interdiction of birth control devices.
*
All religions have dogmas, and all dogmas legitimize intolerance, and ultimately the murder of innocent victims.



POWER
****
The need to believe is universal.
So is the need to manufacture evidence
in order to stress the truth of a specific belief system
that is in competition with many others.
To put it bluntly:
all religions and ideologies lie.
Likewise, all children are taught
to expose the lies of alien belief systems
and to cover up their own.
The first reaction of an organized society
to all alien or new belief systems is to reject them
not because they are lies
but because they threaten the legitimacy
of the status quo.
Regardless of what they profess to believe in,
all men of power are committed to only one thing, their power.
Even a belief system whose central tenet is love
will practice hatred in defense of the status quo.
To say that power corrupts
is to place the cart before the horse,
the effect before the cause,
the headline before the crime,
and not just “b” before “a”
but omega before alpha.
Power is cancer – make it,
terminal cancer of the soul.



MORE SPECULATIONS...
****
They believe God will provide them with seventy-three virgins.
They say “God is great!” and they mean “God is a pimp.”
When I think of all the things that are said and done in His name,
I have no choice but to conclude
He must be just about the most abused Being in the universe
and the crucifixion is not an isolated incident
but an ongoing process with no end in sight.
Is God a masochist?
Judging by the suffering that is inflicted on the innocent,
one could also conclude that He is sadist.
Do you really want to know what I really think?
I think as long as we are human beings,
even if endowed with the best human brain,
we will never know,
we will never understand,
and it is a waste of time to speculate.



THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
****
If I ever meet Atom Egoyan I will ask him so far how many Armenians have submitted screenplays to him. I remember to have read somewhere that Mamoulian went out of his way to avoid helping Armenians. And I once met an Armenian conductor who swore to me he would never again invite an Armenian soloist to play with his orchestra.
*
When dealing with Armenians, it helps to have one eye shut -- both would be preferable of course.
*
I write not to change things but to understand them. Call me an addict of explanations. The harder the nut to crack the sweeter the kernel. To ignore our problems would be like pretending the elephant in the room is a French poodle.
*
May I suggest dividing the nation is not the only way to solve our problems.
*
Compulsive liars are believed only by perennial dupes and retards.
Armenians are smart?
Don't make me laugh!
*
Hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, massacres, incurable diseases, floods, serial killers and a thousand other misfortunes are God's way of saying “I refuse to get involved!”



GOD AND SATAN
****
One man's God is another's Satan.
*
The God of an American fundamentalist is as alien to me as a Muslim's Allah. Both share more features with Nazis and Bolsheviks than with decent human beings. There are moderate Muslims but they are not the ones who are making history today. They might as well be absentee landlords.
*
The aim of stoning a woman convicted of adultery is less to punish the guilty and more to terrorize the innocent. And they terrorize the innocent because they are themselves terrorized by the prospect of infidelity.
*
Muslims hate one another more than they hate the West. This has been said before and it bears repeating. Muslims have victimized more Muslims in wars, civil wars, and act of terrorism than the West.
*
Not all propagandists speak with a forked tongue. Some believe in their own lies. They are like murderers who not only plead insanity but are in fact insane.


They say “God is great!” and they imply “He is on our side.”
To believe the unbelievable is the source of all fanaticism.
*
The dinosaurs are the Titanics of evolution.
*
Sympathy is seldom extended to those who demand it.
*
Don't write what you think but what you really think,
especially if it is the opposite of what you think.
*
On the day my critics begin to agree with me,
I will start wondering if I have succumbed to senility.
*
Have I said this before? No matter.
If something is worth saying, it is worth repeating.
*
Whenever an adult delivers a cliché, I am tempted to ask:
How old were you when you first heard that line, five or seven?
*
Vanity, it has been said, has a voracious appetite,
which is why I dismiss as a lie any statement that flatters our collective ego.
*
A nationalist historian who believes in his own version of history
has a dupe for a reader.
*
"Makers of idols don't believe in them," says an old Chinese proverb,
and if Italians are to be believed, "Even the Pope doubts his faith
seven times every day."



SPECULATIONS
****
The number of atoms in the universe is constant.
Birth and death neither add nor subtract from the total.
In birth atoms are assembled and in death they are disassembled.
This cycle is repeated endlessly.
Life moves not from being to nothingness and vice versa
but from organization to disintegration and back to organization again.
*
The dead enter a timeless realm
in which a fraction of a second is as long as a million years.
The time before we were born or even before the universe existed
(or what cosmologists call the Big Bang)
is the realm of timelessness.
*
God exists not in the cosmos that is accessible to telescopes and microscopes
but in a different realm and dimension.
Examples of different dimensions are
the realms of such abstractions as numbers, dreams, or music.
*
In dreams being and nothingness are no longer contradictions
but parallel realms in which the dead live.
An infinite number of organisms also means
an infinite number of realms some of which may become accessible to us
only after we die.


If you do the right thing they will laugh at you and say, “That fool doesn't know what's good for himself.”
*
The worst pretend to be better because that's the only way they know how to live with themselves.
*
If you don't know what I mean when I speak of “Ottomanized Armenians,” I suggest you take a good look at yourself in the mirror.
*
For the man who is tormented by painful memories, Alzheimer's must be bliss.
*
We are never told everything. We always get a carefully edited version of events, sentiments, ideas, and speculations.
*
To how many of my critics I could say, “I have at no time claimed to be a genius like you.”
*
Among the many signs held by opponents of the construction of a mosque near ground zero in New York City, I notice one that says “BOYCOTT TURKISH GOODS & PRODUCE.” (TIME, August 16, 2010, page 17.)
*
There is a tendency in all bullies and victimizers to choose the defenseless as their targets because it is less labor intensive.



AM I RIGHT OR WRONG?
**
That's up to the reader to decide.
I am not in the business of proving myself right
and my adversaries wrong.
All I am interested in doing is sharing my understanding.
If I were interested in proving myself right
I would write a thesis with footnotes and a bibliography.
But I leave that to academics
who tend to choose a subject and stick to it
to the end of their career.
No one in his right mind
would call writing for Armenians a career
or even a job. If I were to place it somewhere
it would have to be between a hobby
and a complete waste of time.
As a victim, what motivates me is less love of victims
and more hatred of victimizers,
especially the kind that begin by deceiving children
and end by sodomizing them – sometimes literally.
And if you think Armenians are morally superior
to Catholic priests, ask yourself:
Who drilled that nonsense into your head?
What motivates you to believe him, beside wishful thinking?
If some readers disagree with me,
it may be because so far they have failed
to deprogram themselves, which means
they continue to believe everything that happened to us
was someone else's fault
and our sole contribution to history
has been providing victims to alien tyrants.



GREED
****
“We defeated fascism and communism,” American like to brag.
Maybe. But it is equally true that both fascism and communism helped them by committing suicide.
And Americans may be next.
*
According to a British pundit, “The banks lost money but the bankers made a fortune and now live in big mansions.”
But according to an American observer: “The salaries and bonuses of chief executive officers are less than 1% of the total."
Whom to believe?
Statistics can lie, of course. The average citizen can't afford to make his own statistics and must therefore rely on statisticians. What matters here – what needs to be carefully and objectively analyzed – is the mindset of the men at the top who focus on their welfare so much that every other consideration is ignored.
So what if millions lose their jobs?
So what if some losers commit suicide?
So what if it's bad public relations?
Bankers pay millions to their PR men: let them earn their keep and bury the problem in statistics, sophistries, and legalities.
*
If Obama loses it will be because he helped top dogs and ignored the plight of underdogs – the very same mindset that toppled fascism and communism.
Even assuming Obama is doing what must be done: his failure consists in his inability to convince the people; and when a politician failes in that department, nothing and no one can save him.
*
A headline in the Op-Ed page of my morning paper today reads: “Billionaires bankrolling U.S. Conservative movement.”
They are saved with taxpayers' money and they demand tax cuts for themselves.
They make so much money that they don't know what to do with it, and they want more! -- more for themselves and less for everyone else.
And they call Obama a communist and a fascist.
Toynbee is right: “Empires and nations are not killed: they commit suicide.”



REPUTATION AND SELF-ESTEEM
****
Whenever I exercise my critical faculties and my fundamental human right of free speech, I am told I besmirch our reputation in the eyes of the world.
Allow me to quote two eminent witness on the subject of reputation:
Saint-Simon: “My self-esteem has always increased in direct proportion to the damage I was doing to my reputation.”
Tolstoy: “The higher I rise in the opinion of others, the lower I sink in my own.”
*
It was during the Watergate hearings that I discovered the greatness of democracy.
*
We have swallowed the poison of murderous alien tyrants for such a long time that we confuse their absence with freedom, and our rotten paternalism as a mandate from heaven.
*
Who benefits when we cover up our contradictions? Surely not the people.


Our body language is a medium that is more accessible to others than to ourselves.
*
Bolivar: “We have seen the light and it is not our desire to be thrust back into darkness.”
That's what I think when I think of my homeland. And my guess is there are millions out there who think and feel as I do.
*
Brazilian saying: “We progress at night when the politicians sleep.”
Judging by the amount of progress we have made, our politicians MUST suffer from chronic insomnia.
*
It took me a long time to realize that the -ian ending was not a guarantee of nobility.
*
Perhaps what I am trying to say is that it is possible to think about Turks without turning into one.
*
Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973), American politician: "You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake."
*
The truth is, no one likes to be told he is morally inferior to anyone; and to brag about moral superiority is the surest way of provoking universal contempt, and what's even worse, of forfeiting all credibility.
*
Some readers approach my writings as lovingly as a starving cannibal marinating a fat missionary.
*
Our knowledge is limited and our ignorance infinite. Only fools and fanatics forget this.



ISLAMOPHOBIA?
**
Irrational fear of Islam?
A complex? A prejudice?
Both?
Not so fast, my Muslim friends.
It seems to me Muslims have as many reasons to fear Islam
as the rest of us in the West.
*
Embedded gangs of terrorists among us plotting to destroy and kill indiscriminately.
Sharia law and its treatment of women.
Endless fratricidal Sunni-Shiah confrontations.
Deranged imams issuing fatwas and declaring jihads.
Bloodsucking multi-billionaire desert kings.
Sex-starved suicidal fanatics.
The destruction of ancient religious monuments.
Fascist regimes.
Contempt for democracy and fundamental human rights.
Honor killings.
*
Accusing the West of Islamophobia makes as much sense as accusing a sardine swimming in a pool of sharks of sharkophobia.



DECLINE AND FALL
**
Men of vision show the way,
their followers make signs that say “Dead End.”
*
Jesus and Marx were dissenters.
Their followers see no contradiction in being yes-men.
*
An organization can never live up to the original aim of its founder.
From Marx to Stalin, from Jesus to televangelists and child molesters:
all great movements begin as visions and end as bureaucracies,
and bureaucracies are mechanisms
that promote yes-men and unprincipled mediocrities.
*
The history of all movements
is one of gradual decline and disintegration.
*
In all organizations conformism is in, dissent out.
Where there is no dialogue there can be no progress.
*
All men of power pretend to be better than they are,
and eventually the worst end up parading as the best.
*
Bureaucrats are like dogs who know their master
but not their master's master.
*
Who governs Armenia today?
Clearly not the government.
Armenia's capital is not Yerevan but Moscow.



ILLUSIONS
**
We all have illusions.
Mine is the belief that man is open to reason.
*
God did not create belief systems, men of vision did.
Men of vision see things that the rest of us cannot see.
They also hear words that the rest of us cannot hear.
It follows, when we speak of belief systems,
whatever we say will be based on hearsay,
and therefore inadmissible evidence.
*
“Where there is no vision the people perish,” we are told.
But where visions clash, the result will be the same.
Remember Voltaire's dictum:
“Since it was a religious war,
there were no survivors.”
*
One nation's vision may be another's nightmare.
*
Two recent books published in England:
50 PEOPLE WHO BUGGERED UP BRITAIN, and
THE DICTIONARY OF POLITICAL BULLSHIT.
When, O when will our writers write less about massacres
and more about the b.s. of our buggers?


How much of what you think is based on hearsay?
Next question: Can you tell the difference between the inadmissible and the unreasonable?
*
When hungry you don't think of the contents of a sausage.
Keep that in mind next time you fall in love.
*
Men fall in love with their convictions as surely as with a pair of shapely legs in nylons.
*
He who lies to himself cannot speak the truth to others.
*
To express their contempt for English cuisine, the French like to say that Joan of Arc “is the only thing the English have ever cooked properly.”
*
George Orwell (1903-1950), British author: "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible."
*
We are all assassins in the sense that if we are not legally guilty of murder, we are morally guilty of wishing someone dead.
*
Some of the most dangerous lies come to us as religious dogmas and ideological truths, sometimes even as undeniable facts.
*
All speechifiers and sermonizers speak with a forked tongue.
*
A writer cannot make readers think, he can only hope to underline their secret thoughts, thus letting them know there are others who think as they do.
*
If we had the power, would our enemies escape total extinction?



A READER WRITES
**
Some of my most ferocious critics are individuals who have not yet mastered the art of reading and understanding simple sentences in the English language. But I shouldn't complain. I also have readers who are not just with me but ahead of me. A case in point follows.
******
When I first stumbled on your 'reflections', 'notebooks' and 'diaries', I just couldn't help wondering -- why is this fella trying, with such an admirable persistence, to do what is so strongly discouraged in Matthew 7:6 ? [something to do with pearls and swine, i suspect].

What's the good of devoting one's precious kilobytes to fighting the revered ancient wisdom, just to get another confirmation that the stuff between an Armenian's squarehead's ears is immune to the 'virus' of the voice of reason, and his hostility more toxic than the most deadly roach poison advertised on TV ? On second thought, however, I realized that was indeed arrogant and unfair of me to think that way, for which I apologize. In fact I've been intending to email you with a little word of encouragement for a while now, but, firstly, I wasn't sure you really needed one, or expected any feedback.

In fact, what you say has never sounded to me "so eccentric and odd that you might as well be an enemy of the people". Rather, most of the points you make would seem rather natural if prejudice and irrationality were put aside, traditional 'taboos' broken, and viewing the situation from an unbiased perspective, legitimized. But after you wrote that you felt like a Muslim among Christians, and like a giaour among jihadists, I figured a little note that there is someone there feeling the same way won't do you much harm, after all.

Secondly -- and that was the main reason for not writing before -- I realized I hardly belonged to your target audience, as I wasn't among those you seemed to be trying to reach: reading your posts, I just felt that agreeable and somewhat mischievous pleasure of seeing the tenets of my heresy professed by someone better suited for the 'mission'. It's not that I considered it as a real heresy; but the truth is, and you know that better than anyone, that the traditional thinking is so deeply ingrained in Armenian communities that it is like a computer virus: reality becomes twisted and distorted in a way that reason and common sense are seen as a heresy while religious obscurantism and genocide fetishism are regarded as the norm. Only running an antivirus program won't do in this case: the only way of eradicating it is teaching people to think for themselves, rather than just blindly follow what has been drilled into them by the propaganda, and that's exactly what you've been trying to do.

Oxford professor Richard Dawkins once wrote that "It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)." Later he added that there is perhaps a fifth category, which may belong under "insane" but which can be more sympathetically characterized by a word like tormented, bullied, or brainwashed. Sincere people who are not ignorant, not stupid, and not wicked can be cruelly torn, almost in two, between the massive evidence of science on the one hand, and their understanding of what their holy book tells them on the other. It seems that this, mutatis mutandis, obtains in Armenians: a great many people who are not ignorant, not stupid, and not wicked may not dare think for themselves under the suffocating peer pressure from those who actually are ignorant, stupid, and, more often than not, wicked. Like those people who don't believe in evolution because nobody has ever told them what evolution is, many sincere an Armenian might not realize that what they believe in is a prejudice and a fallacy because no one dared to expose it as a prejudice and a fallacy.

So it is indeed comforting that some have the courage of challenging the traditional view. However, it seems strange that most of your readers won't engage in any meaningful discussion on this subject. So keep on posting your 'reflections', no matter what the reaction of 'the ignorant, the stupid, and the wicked' -- that's the only way of engaging a sheep's brain into the long process of transformation into that of a human being.




CRACKPOTS
**
The function of politicians is to convince the people that they are the most qualified members of the community to count chickens before they are hatched, even when – especially when – they are the least qualified. Recent history, including our own, provides many examples of this abortive claim.
*
Politicians can't learn because their central concern is asserting if not infallibility than the kind of superior wisdom that authorizes them to speak in terms of certainties. But the only thing that is certain in them is their lust for power.
*
When power enters the equation, catastrophe is sure to follow. That's because power acts on the brain like an intoxicant. Power is the opium of politicians.
*
A headline in this morning's Op-Ed page reads: “American leaders often make important decisions based on conjecture, questionable advice and blind faith.”
If this is true of democratically elected leaders, it must be doubly true of our own.
A typical passage of this commentary reads:
“How could such a careful and seasoned statesman [Eisenhower] have concocted such a crackpot scheme [the Bay of Pigs fiasco]?
*
World history, including our own, may be said to be a long catalog of crackpot schemes concocted by screwballs parading as our “betters.”
*
The universe was created not by a tender-loving God but a very tough hombre who can watch crackpots concocting catastrophes without lifting a finger.



KEMALISM AND ITS FALLACIES
*
The absence of the fez does not absolve the crimes committed with the presence of the fez.
Imagine the following scenario if you can:
A cold-blooded killer is arrested, tried, and pronounced guilty by a jury of his peers. When asked by the judge if he has anything to say, he replies: “How can I be guilty, your Honor, if after shooting my victim I threw my hat in the nearest trash can?”
*
The difference between East and West is that in the West reason and common sense enjoy more prestige than in the East.
The East: that's a place where after abolishing a hat they proceed to abolish not only reality but also reason itself.
*
Kemal was an alcoholic who sodomized boys and had sex with girls -- not exactly unheard of practices among his predecessors, the sultans.
Lies! Enemy propaganda! Calumnies!
But if true, in what way was he different from Catholic priests?
*
Genocide? What genocide?
It was a military victory.
Deportations and atrocities?
Collateral damage. All wars have them.
*
Armenians cannot be objective about Turks, granted.
Neither can Turks be objective about Armenians, themselves, and Kemal.
Some Catholic priests behaved like swine, true.
But as far as i know none of them is considered a role model to future generations. Their pictures don't hang in classrooms and government offices.
No monuments have been erected to them in public squares.
None of them rewrote history.
None of them ever dared to think that by discarding their biretta or, for that matter, their cassock, they could declare themselves beyond the reach of the law.
None of them entertained the absurd notion that discarding a ridiculous item from one's wardrobe had the magic power of changing one's moral values, character, and identity.
None of them would dream of calling Kurds “mountain Turks,” Armenians “Christian Turks,” and Hittites “proto-Turks.”
None of them has ever been called or will ever be recognized as the “father” of a nation.



ON CRITICISM AND PROPAGANDA
**
Between propaganda that flatters and criticism that exposes contradictions, the unthinking masses will always choose propaganda.
*
The Nazis asserted racial superiority to cover up their moral inferiority.
In propaganda always search for the failing that it attempts to hide.
The propaganda of the brainless will assert superior intelligence, and the propaganda of the barbarian a superior brand of civilization.
*
Our convictions are formed more by the heart and less by the head.
Prejudices are all guts and no brain.
*
Armenians and Turks spend too much time criticizing others and very little time criticizing themselves. Narcissism is in, objective judgment out. Hence one thousand speechifiers and not a single philosopher.
*
If we don't understand one another it may be because we don't understand ourselves; and the more exposed we are to propaganda the less we understand ourselves.
*
Propaganda raises a wall between us and reality. Its unspoken goal is to convince us that the aim of life is to kill and die in defense of charlatans who place their own powers and privileges above our own life and limbs.


When I was young I thought I had all the answers.
I know now that I don't even have the questions.
*
Fanatics would rather shoot the messenger
than understand the message.
*
To divide is bad enough,
but to divide in the name of a religion
that asserts “all men are brothers”
is the height of perversion.
*
It is not that I no longer believe in what politicians say,
I question the sanity of those who do.
*
Some of our patriots should be reminded once in a while
that patriotism and civility are not mutually exclusive concepts.
*
To speak the truth means to contradict
one Big Lie,
a hundred small lies,
and a thousand liars.
*
What is censorship
if not fear of being exposed
as a fool, a dupe, and a liar?


Historian Nial Ferguson to the question, “Are we all doomed?”
“Definitely. The question is, will it be a bus this afternoon, or will I wheeze my last in some old folks' home, aged 90?” (London: NEW STATESMAN. July 26, 2010.)
*
Jean Rostand: “The world belongs to the superior second-raters.” And “Let a dictator perform an act of good sense, and people immediately hail him as a genius.”
Now you know all you need to know about Kemal's popularity. I speak as a “Christian Turk,” and I suspect the only people who will agree with me are “Mountain Turks.”
*
Turks are brought up to believe they are brave warriors – warriors who are now afraid of words – and the words that scares them the most are “Armenians” and “Kurds.” Compliments of Kemal.
*
La Rochefoucauld: “A man is never more easily deceived than when he believes he is deceiving others.”
*
Some day someone may write a history of Ottoman philosophy, but until then I will continue to think of Ottomanism and philosophy as mutually exclusive concepts.
*
La Rochefoucauld again: “It is only those who are despicable who fear being despised.”
*
The victor and the vanquished, the capitalist and the worker, the master and the slave, the boss and the hireling, the rich and the poor: relax the rule of law and they will tear one another to shreds.
*
If there are alienated Armenians today it's because they have had it up to here with Armenian nonsense. You may now guess why the best brains that Turkey has produced in recent times live in exile.



FROM EMPIRE TO NATION
*
Because I am critical of my fellow Armenians, I am thought of as pro-Turkish by readers to whom labels are more important than human beings. Hence the fallacy: You are either with us or against us, and if you are against us the hangman's noose is too good for you.
*
The Ottoman Empire of the sultans was an octopus.
Kemal's Turkey is a monopus – all trunk, no limbs, forever at the mercy of tides. Rejected by Israel, it embraces Iran. It moves backwards thinking it has taken a step in the right direction.
*
The central and unspoken tenet of Kemalism is the refusal to come to terms with the fact that the nation was born from the rotten corpse of the Empire. It is a zombie not a phoenix. On the map, it looks like a castrated member – a dick whose cojones have been surgically removed. A Viagra induced erection that does not flag, neither can it connect, let alone penetrate, the object of its perennial desire – the West.
*
To be at the mercy of imperialists: what could be worse? -- except perhaps to be at the mercy of nationalists.




TURKS (II)
*
The laws of the land are designed to legitimize the power structure and to support the ruling class even when the rulers happen to be cold-blooded sadistic serial killers.
*
The slave is brought up to feel guilty even when innocent. It's the other way with the master – his conscience has been atrophied, his sense of justice perverted; so much so that he can slay the innocent with the conviction that he is discharging his duty in the eyes of the Lord. There you have it: the roots of denialism.
*
I believe Turks when they plead not guilty to the charge of genocide. I also believe these Turks think and feel with the old Ottomanized brain. Deep in their hearts (if you will forgive the overstatement) they have the unshakable conviction that the sultans were always right (remember the Italian slogan, “Mussolini ha sempre ragione” = Mussolini is always right) and their(sultans') function in life was to carry out the will of the Almighty. The difference between the East and the West is that Mussolini was shot and hanged on a public square.
*
To speak of genocide in an Ottomanized context amounts to accusing the Lord of murder – an unthinkable blasphemy that in another time and place would have been seen as a capital offense. If the sultans came back to life today, they would issue a fatwa against all Armenians who utter the word genocide.
Let us therefore count our blessings!



REBUTTAL
*
After reading my memos, one of my Turkish friends, himself the author of a fat denialist tome, has written a detailed rebuttal which I stop reading when I run into the kind of fallacy that is bound to undermine the validity of everything that follows in addition to demolishing his much vaunted objectivity.
*
My good friend seems to be saying that truth is on the side of big battalions. If revolutionaries win, he explains, they are heroes. But if they lose, they are criminals guilty of a capital offense and as such they deserve to die, and not just they but also their women, children, parents, and everyone else that shares their ethnic origin. That's because in time of war it is not always easy to separate the sheep from the goats even when the sheep may outnumber the goats.
*
Another implication that comes across loud and clear is that, if the overwhelming majority of Western historians assert the reality of the Genocide, it may be because (one) they, unlike my good friend, haven't done their homework, and (two) like most of their Armenian counterparts, they have an anti-Turkish bias. It follows, only historians who deny the reality of the Genocide are true historians. The rest are dupes of Armenian propaganda.
*
Another curious point that I noted about my good friend is that he doesn't like proverbial sayings and he dismisses their wisdom as old wives' tales. I disagree. I love words of wisdom, especially when they challenge my fundamental assumptions and expose my prejudices and bias. I believe a single proverb is worth more than a thousand documents whose relevance and authenticity may well be bogus. Which is why I cannot resist the temptation of quoting the following passage from the TALMUD that I read early this morning:
“Let the honor of thy fellow be as dear to thee as thine own. Be not easily angered. Repent one day before thy death. And keep warm at the fire of the sages, but beware of their glowing coal lest thou be scorched: for their bite is the bite of a jackal, and their sting the sting of a scorpion, and their hiss the hiss of a serpent – moreover all their words are like coals of fire.”


Let's get one thing straight: I am not anti-social. Rather, it is society that is anti-individual. And if I am not active in the community it may be because the community has no use for the likes of me and it prefers to deal, support, and compensate bearded hoodlums armed to the teeth with guitars and braying like jackasses, or idiots who hit a ball with a stick. I don't see why I should moronize myself to please my moronized fellow men.
*
Throughout history man has hated in the name of love, committed injustice in the name of justice, and professed dedication to truth in the name of a Big Lie. Which is why after centuries and millennia Jews and Christians, Protestants and Catholics, supporters and opponents of capital punishment, abortion, and war, have failed to resolve their differences.
*
An Armenian has two sets of enemies, Turks and Armenians, and of the two, he hates Armenians more.
*
Eventually all thinking Armenians will have to ask themselves the question: What if it is not God at whose right hand we sit but the Devil?
*
I am willing to concede that all my observations on Armenians are also confessions.
*
“Where there is a trough, there will be swine.”
Likewise, where there is a benefactor, there will be brown-nosers.
And where there is propaganda, there will bedupes and one or more dissidents.
*
No matter how good the theory, there will be another that will contradict it.
*
The American illusion: “We may not be very smart but with the dollar we can hire the best brains.”
*
What if in the next life – if there is one -- the final questions will remain unanswered?



TH RELIGION OF DENIAL
*
Assertions are not made in a vacuum but within a context of unspoken assumptions whose absurdity may be hidden to insiders but as clearly visible to outsiders as a city set on a hill. In what follows I will list a handful of these assumptions made by our denialist friends.
*
Our books are based on authentic evidence. By contrast, books of the opposition are based on hearsay, old wives' tales, and forgeries.
*
Some of our key documents are of Armenian origin, and when an Armenian is on our side, he is an honest man; but when he is against us, he is a charlatan, a crook, and a liar whose testimony should be dismissed as inadmissible.
*
The authority of the state is sacrosanct. To challenge it is to incur its wrath.
*
If the authority of the state is sacrosanct, its assertions cannot be questioned. If the present regime says there was no genocide, there was no genocide. End of story.
*
When Talaat and Co. challenged the divine authority of the Sultan, they were right to do so. When Kemal did the same to Talaat and Co., he too was right. But when Armenians did the same, they were guilty of a capital offense and what followed was justified retaliation with some inevitable peripheral casualties.


The thought that writing for Armenians is a waste of time never leaves me.
*
I am all for tolerance, but I am myself tolerant only when drunk. Koestler may be right. What the world needs is a tolerance pill, if only to numb the crocodilian brain in us.
*
If in the next life (assuming there is one) the riddle of life and death is solved, will we say, “But of course, I should have guessed!” or will we say, “I should never have guessed this!”
*
When after World War II the victorious Allies decided to reduce Germany to a shadow of itself, they divided it into two. We don't need anyone to divide us into two; we can divide ourselves into twenty-two on our own.
*
When asked why he had hardly moved from his house for twelve years, Vladimir Horowitz is quoted as having said: “You don't like my house?” And when asked why he plays Clementi Sonatas, he replies: “You don't like Clementi?”
The other day a reader wanted to know if I was priest. I should have pulled a Horowitz on him and said, “You don't like priests?”
*
And speaking of rabbis, in the TALMUD I read: “He that does not increase shall cease, he that does not learn deserves to die, and he that puts the crown to his own use shall perish.”
Tough buggers, those old rabbis.
*
Anonymous: “The drowning man has no fear of rain.”
*
Avedik Issahakian: “The rich reap the fruit, the poor pluck the thorn.”


Everyone in Washington is on the take.
So what else is new?
The American Congress is the best Congress money can buy.
Why don't you tell me something I don't know?
What about us? Do you think we are morally superior? What about our bosses, bishops, and benefactors? Are they all gentlemen?
What kind of people assert moral superiority?
Only the scum of the earth.
*
When we brag about survival, let us not forget that treason and betrayal also qualify as survival tactics.
*
What if life after death is as different as being is from nothingness?
*
Every time a man speaks the truth he makes a thousand enemies; that’s because for every bitter truth there are a thousand sweet lies and as many dupes who hate to give up their illusions.
*
Men of reason may compromise and reach a consensus. Reason has at no time played a central role in Armenian affairs. The gut, yes. The brain, no!
*
The secret ambition of every windbag is to be a fire-breathing dragon.
*
Propaganda is a tree that needs the manure of rhetoric. Truth can stand on its own even in the middle of a desert.



GOOD MEN
*
After reading my memos, one of my Turkish friends accuses me of anti-Turkish bias. I try to explain to him that my “bias” is not against people in general regardless of race, color, and creed, but against regimes, and more specifically, against individuals who formulate criminal policies and their underlings who implement them because not implementing them would mean loss of power, prestige, title, and income.
*
There are good men everywhere, granted. But good men cease to be good when they become dupes of leaders who abuse their power.
*
Speaking of good men: I owe my very existence to a kind Turkish cop who warned my father's family of the coming catastrophe, even when this warning, if exposed, would have cost him his job or even his life.



READING
*
What makes Andre Agassi's AUTOBIOGRAPHY compulsively readable is its colloquial style and searing honesty. At one point he identifies his father as an Armenian from Iran who curses in Assyrian (probably because Assyrian sounds more menacing). Speaking of an opponent he writes: “His serve is uncannily accurate. If he misses, it's only by a bee's dick.”

Agassi writes like someone who has been in hell and back. The moral of his story seems to me, never do what someone else wants you to do even if by following his instructions may take you to the top of the world and into the bed of the likes of Brooke Shields and Barbra Streisand (which at the time was rumored to be less a May-December than an AD and BC affair).
*
Some of my readers inform me that I am a pessimist, probably because I have a grim view of our present reality. Others tell me I am an optimist, probably because they think I write hoping I can make a difference or change things. These contradictory reactions confirm my own view of myself as someone who thinks as a pessimist but works as an optimist. As for changing things: to entertain such an illusion would be less optimism and more megalomania bordering on insanity. The only thing I want to accomplish is to give insomnia to our charlatans and bloodsuckers, and I shall consider my mission accomplished even if the insomnia lasts no more than a fraction of a second.
*
Once upon a time, about 2000 years ago (give and take a decade or two) there lived a Roman emperor by the name of Vespasian (no, he was not of Armenian descent). He was a good emperor -- much better than average, according to most historians. But since the Senators didn’t like some of his policies, they demoted him to Supervisor of Public Urinals. Vespasian was not in any way offended or discouraged. He said to his staff, “I intend to discharge my duties as Supervisor of Public Urinals as competently and diligently as I discharged my duties as emperor.”
To this day Italians use his name instead of giovanni (john). To say “I am going to pay a visit to Vespasian,” means I am going to the john.
I think of Vespasian often perhaps because what keeps me going is the thought that, if my detractors are right and I am in fact nothing but an extremely minor scribbler, I will at least be an honest one.


One reason I am overly critical of Armenians is that I see too many of my own failings in them.
*
It is not that like all nations or human institutions tribal people are sometimes wrong; rather, they can do nothing right. Everything they do contributes to their disintegration.
*
A pundit is useless to an audience of superpundits.
*
Capitalism is morally superior to Communism if only because greed for money is less lethal than greed for power.
*
More often than not bias is expressed in the selection of facts rather than in their misinterpretation.
*
Jean Rostand: “There are some persons we could not cut down to size without diminishing ourselves as well.”
*
Thomas Hardy: “More life may tickle out of men through fear than through a gaping wound.”
*
Anonymous: “Skinheads have more hair than brains.”
*
Anonymous: “A friend in need is history.”


The difference between verbiage and garbage is that garbage may be recycled and verbiage cannot because it may contain dangerous contaminants.
*
Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923): “Non-rational beliefs are more important in spurring men to action than logical demonstration.”
It is also true that non-rational beliefs generate masters of persuasion who speak in the name of reason and common sense. Aquinas learned more from Aristotle and less from the prophets.
*
According to Pavese, who killed himself because an American starlet did not return his love: “One does not kill oneself for love or a woman, but because love – any love – reveals us in our nakedness, our misery, our vulnerability, our nothingness.”
*
Pascal: “The 'I' is hateful.”
Fichte: “For he who still has a self – in him assuredly there is nothing good.”
It follows, if the “I” or the “self” or the individual is nothing, the state must be everything. Hence the universal appeal of patriotism, nationalism, fascism, and ultimately war and massacre.
I am reminded of Erdogan's dictum: “Muslims don't commit genocide.”
That's because Muslims act in the name of an all “merciful” and “compassionate” Allah. Or rather, their actions are not theirs but Allah's. Now then, go ahead, accuse the Almighty of criminal conduct.
*
It is the questions that cannot be answered that are asked again and again. And it is the incomprehensible and inexplicable that generates the greatest number of explanations.
*
Where there is censorship, seek to be among the silenced.
*
Andre Agassi in his AUTOBIOGRAPHY: “Life will throw everything but the kitchen sink in your path, and then it will throw the kitchen sink.”
If life does that to his kind, imagine if you can what it does to the rest of us.



A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE
*
Our revolutionaries in the Ottoman Empire had little knowledge of the Great Powers, little knowledge of the Ottoman temperament, little knowledge of the consequences of their actions, little knowledge of politics, history, and diplomacy, and no knowledge at all of the proposition that a leader is first and foremost a servant of the people and a revolution without popular support is doomed to fail. And they appear to have learned not little but nothing.
*
The Ottomanized and Sovietized Armenian today is as merciless as his prototypes. With one difference: he doesn't have a license to kill. But in every other respect he might as well be an agent of the Sultan or the Kremlin.
*
When a man selects his evidence, seek for the truth in the unselected fraction.
*
The true intention of Turkish denialists is not to convince the jury but to instill the shadow of a doubt in a single juror, because that's all they need for a mistrial.
*
More often than not our disagreements are not between two conflicting ideas but between an idea and nothing, and I consider recycled propaganda less than nothing.
*
Imagine a sardine in a pool of sharks. Imagine an honest Armenian.
*
Rosa Luxemburg: “Freedom means freedom to those who think differently.”
*
Amu Djoleto (African poet):
“What you expect me to sing, I will not,
What you do not expect me to croak, I will.”


****
GROUPS
*******
“On your own you can do nothing. You must join a group,” I am told again and again.
Join a group? How can I if my aim in life is to expose the moral bankruptcy of all groups?
*
What Shaw said of professions (that they are “conspiracies against the laity”) applies to groups regardless of credo, ideology, or political orientation.
*
Speaking of Zarian, a Tashnak editor once wrote to a fellow Tashnak:
“If we publish him he may come to our side.
When he didn't, not only was he silenced but also rumored to be unpredictable, unreliable, untrustworthy, and mad.
Later when the Soviets promised to publish him, he believed them and by the time he realized he had been taken in, it was too late. He spent his final years as an outcast in his own homeland and died with the conviction that he had been killed.
*
In their efforts to assert their own intellectual superiority and moral integrity, our mediocrities now spread the rumor that Zarian was an agent of both the CIA and the KGB.
I too have been accused to being an agent of, among others, the Mossad and the Grey Wolves. To which I can only repeat the words of Socrates: “My poverty is proof of my honesty.”
*
Sooner or later all groups become criminal conspiracies.
*
The longevity of a group or belief system guarantees nothing. Astrology has been with us longer than any organized religion.
*
Where there is a belief system that asserts monopoly on truth, there will also be deceivers and dupes.
*
Where faith enters, lies and prejudices are sure to follow.
*
What needs to be glorified is not faith but doubt.
*
The destiny of blind men is to be at the mercy of other blind men who will invariably lead them into the ditch.
*
A member of a party is like a dog who knows his master but not his master's master.


****
DIARY
*******
Reading the TALMUD. Some good lines in it. “Love work, hate lordship, and seek no intimacy with the ruling powers.”
*
A hundred years ago our writers knew how to deal with our bosses, bishops, and benefactors. We appear to have lost the art and with it our cojones. The offspring of our revolutionaries now refer to one another as “boys” and to our benefactors as “baron.” The only lesson they appear to have learned from their experience in the Ottoman Empire is respect for authority and everyone in its neighborhood even if they are no better than yes-men, brown-nosers, and the scum of the earth. Hence the saying, “Once upon a time we were slaves. We are now slaves of former slaves.” And this in the land of the brave and the free.
*
Because I am critical of Armenians, my Turkish friends think I must be blind to their shortcomings. I will not apologize for disappointing them.
*
Yesterday’s friend may be (and often is) today’s enemy, but today’s enemy will never be tomorrow’s friend.
*
If you are wrong, they may forgive you. But if you are right, they will silence you.
*
In the late 1860s Dostoevsky wrote: “Russian thought is preparing a grandiose renovation for the entire world…and this will occur in about a century – that’s my passionate belief.”
There you have it: one of the greatest writers of all times confusing wishful thinking with prophecy -- all in the name of faith and patriotism, of course.
*
In a dictionary, I read the following definition:
“Party politics: Politics conducted only through the machinery of the party and against people’s interests generally.”


****
IT TAKES ALL KINDS
*******
In his youth Koestler was taken in by Soviet propaganda and became a member of the Communist Party. But after Stalin's show trials and purges of the 1930s he published DARKNESS AT NOON, one of the most anti-Soviet books in world literature.
Stalin's countless crimes have had no effect on our chic Bolsheviks however. To them Stalin is no more than McCarthy's counterpart.
*
Nabokov, the offspring of multimillionaire Russian aristocrats, hated the Communists to such a degree that he even supported the war in Vietnam.
*
As a petit-bourgeois, Sartre hated the French bourgeoisie, including De Gaulle, so much that he sided with Stalin, Mao, and Castro.
*
Thomas Mann wanted to save Germany from the Nazis but he succeeded only in making enemies of his fellow Germans who looked up to Hitler for guidance and accused him (Mann) of treason.
*
Hitler and Mussolini counted among their early admirers many great men in politics and literature, among them Shaw, Churchill, Knut Hamsun, and Heidegger.
*
Even men with 20/20 vision have their blind spots; and sometimes to know more is to understand less.
*
In an environment where Abovian was driven to suicide and Zarian was silenced,
what chance does a minor scribbler have?
Why do I go on?
Call it art for art's sake,
A waste of time.


****
THE SOUIND AND THE FURY
*******
Instead of writing MADAME BOVARY
he should have written MONSIEUR FLAUBERT.
The result would have been
a much more authentic and believable work.
He knew everything there is to know about Flaubert,
little or nothing about the Bovarys
and what he knew about them
was based on hearsay, projection, research, and imagination
and as such, inadmissible evidence.
This is a mistake we all make:
we prefer to speak about things
we know little or nothing about,
and more often than we rely on hearsay.
Consider ideologies, religions, gods, and prophets.
What are holy scriptures if not hearsay?
What is the infallibility of prophets, popes, imams, and rabbis
if not pure fiction and collective illusion?
What are wars and massacres
if not hysterical or psychotic outbursts?
Leave it to historians to see meaning in them,
with the result that one man's meaning or truth
is another's nonsense and lie,
not to say the seed of another war and massacre,
followed by more sound and fury signifying nothing.


****
MEDITATIONS
*******
In a text on political philosophy I read today of “the inalienable right to resist tyranny and all illegitimate authority.”

No matter how hard I try I cannot think of a single Armenian authority figure that may be said to have been democratically elected, and therefore legitimate.

Raffi tells us “treason and betrayal are in our blood.” After long centuries of conditioning, so, it seems, are tyranny and subservience to tyrants.

Who even dares to speak today of tyranny, subservience, and democracy? We prefer to speak instead of Turks and massacres, that is to say of past aberrations about which there is little or nothing we can do, and ignore the present violations of human rights which are within our power to arrest.
*
Dostoevsky: “Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained in us than lying to others.”
This may suggest there is a pathological liar in all of us.
*
“I paint with my prick,” Renoir is quoted as having said. Some of my readers think with theirs.
*
Always be civil to a writer, especially if he happens to be an Armenian. You never know when he may choose to get even. I for one never read an Armenian I have insulted. An insulted Armenian is like a sword of Damocles and I already have a forest of yataghans hanging over me.
*
When confronted with a difficult problem, ostriches bury their heads in the sand, or so we are told.

Men are smarter: they don’t bury their heads, they bury the problem…even if it means burying

themselves in the process.


****
THREE SCANDALS
*******
Dead men don't testify.
Permanently silenced voices cannot sing.
No witnesses, no murder.
All career criminals know this.
Turks know it too.
After eliminating a million potential witnesses
and deporting and scattering another million
to the four corners of the world,
they now say, for every Armenian survivor
there are two or more Turkish survivors
willing and eager to testify that
the Genocide is a fiction of our collective imagination
and that it was the Armenians who tried to exterminate Turks.
But that's not the scandal.
The real scandal is that they are believed
by some members of the jury,
and they need only one
for the judge to issue a verdict of not guilty
or to declare a mistrial.
You think Armenians are smart and Turks dumb?
Think again.
We may have truth on our side
but they have the law on theirs.
*
Who cares about Armenians?
Not even Armenians.
As for our Turcocentric ghazetajis:
they are no better than hirelings
who are paid to vociferate endlessly
about genocide, genocide, genocide
in order to cover up
the incompetence, corruption, and violations of human rights
of their own bosses and paymasters.
The brainwashed may not see this clearly
but those who have retained the ability to think for themselves do.
It is this second scandal
that is at the root of our self-inflicted “white” massacre.
Armenians are smart?
Don't make me laugh!
*
When Jerry Falwell died,
Christopher Hitchens called him
a “vulgar fraud and crook.”
We too have our share of Falwells
but not a single Hitchens, alas!
What we have instead are gutless brown-nosers
by the dozen and by the hundred.
And that, my friends, is our third scandal!


****
SULTANISM
*******
Whenever I understand something I didn't understand before, I am seized by an irresistible urge to share it. I can see why this peculiarity of mine can irritate the hell out of some readers who understand everything.
*
No one can be as ignorant as the man who is convinced he knows all he needs to know, and what he doesn't know is either irrelevant or not worth knowing.
*
"I don't trust him.”
"Why not?”
"He is a bad man.”
"Why is he bad?”
"He thinks he is a good Armenian.”
"Can't a good Armenian be a good man?”
"Not if he feels the need to advertise it. A truly honest man does not advertise himself as such even when he is accused of dishonesty. Besides, goodness and honesty are universal concepts. They don't need a national label. To identify someone as a “good German” or a “good Turk” is to imply the rest of them are bad.”
*
Great nations need big lies; small nations need bigger lies.
*
In Herman Melville I come across a new word: “sultanism,” meaning the exercise of power with a touch of sadistic pleasure.
*
A mediocrity will be subservient to any regime or power structure that gives him a regular salary, or a title, or a uniform, or the license to persecute better men than himself. There it is: the root of our sultanism.


****
READING
*******
In an interview with Vasily Grossman's daughter, when asked, “Which of your father's works do you most admire and why?”
She replies: “GOOD WISHES – his account of the two months he spent in Armenia in late 1961. This is his kindest, most good-natured work.”
Further down we are informed that GOOD WISHES will be translated and published next year. (NEW STATESMAN. London, 21 June 2010, page 49.)
*
In LE POINT (Paris: 24 June 2010, page 85), I read a glowing review of a crime novel by Nairi Nahapetian (identified as an Iranian writer) titled QUI A TUE L'AYATOLLAH KANUNI? [Who Killed Ayatollah Kanuni?]
*
Here is a good subtitle for a book on the history of Armenian literature:
"From Casting Pearls Before Swine to Sticking Pins into Sacred Cows."
*
Hugh Trevor-Roper in THE LAST DAYS OF HITLER:
“The competitive servility of a court is always odious;
combined with eloquent humbug, it is nauseating.”
We will grow up as a nation on the day we produce writers capable of writing such a sentence.
*
“MENDOZA: I am a brigand: I live by robbing the rich.
TANNER: I am a gentleman: I live by robbing the poor.”
Shaw, MAN AND SUPERMAN (1903)
*
“He knows nothing, and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”
Shaw, MAJOR BARBARA (1907)


****
COMMENTS
*******
Think of the human brain as a musical instrument that is perpetually out of tune with reality; and think of faith as an illusion whose aim is to convince us it is in tune.
Hence the popularity of belief systems.
All men of faith will agree with me with only one proviso:
they will say, all faiths are indeed illusions except mine.
*
In Colette I read the following exchange:
“She pays for things: she doesn't give.”
“American style?”
*
Since God is incomprehensible (“His ways are not ours”) whatever you say about Him, especially if it makes perfect sense to you, is bound to be wrong.
*
There must be a special place in hell for people who deceive, exploit, mislead, and sometimes even molest innocent dupes who look up to them for guidance.
*
It is said that a little learning is a dangerous thing; but having met several Armenian academics, I tend to think a lot of learning can be lethal.
*
I have heard some Armenians say we should forgive the Turks, but I have never heard an Armenian say we should forgive our fellow Armenians.


****
TRUTH AND OBJECTIVITY
*******
Those who assert to have truth on their side (lawyers, politicians, theologians) don't like to mention objectivity in the same context, as if truth and objectivity were mutually exclusive concepts.
*
When patriotism meets objectivity, patriotism and those who who speak in its name will invariably emerge the victors.
*
No one cares about us except us, and even we don't care about ourselves – judging by the actions of our leaders -- as opposed to their speeches and sermons.
*
Last Saturday I was exposed to several televised sermons and speeches by Catholicos Aram of Antelias. He spoke of justice, human rights, and of course, genocide, genocide, genocide... He never even came close to admitting that as one of our dividers, he was himself one of the architects of our second (“white”) genocide. I am not implying his counterpart in Etchmiadzin is better. If anything, he is worse.
*
Let them speechify and sermonize on truth all they want. I prefer to speak of objectivity. How much objectivity is there in love, war, faith, and massacre?
*
The most corrupt and incompetent leader will have his loyal supporters, in the same way that the most charismatic and selfless paragon (like Socrates, Jesus, and Gandhi) will have his enemies and killers.


****
OREOS
*******
An Armenian is an Armenian is an Armenian?
Not quite. Some are oreos: Armenian on the outside, Ottoman on the inside.
All dividers are oreos. They divide knowing full well that a house divided against itself cannot stand. So our history tells us; and so also what the Scriptures assert. And why do they divide?
They divide because their self-righteous Ottoman mindset tells them: “So long as my actions are guided by my principles; so long as I am doing the right thing, why should I care if the nation parishes? So long as my conscience is clear, it means I am doing what must be done.”
Deep inside somewhere, if he is half as smart as he thinks he is, he must know that his conscience is as much an illusion as his so-called principles are phony.
How does he define what it means “doing the right thing?”
The real answer to that question is: “I do the right thing when I defend and protect all my powers and privileges.”
Isn't that what the Turks thought too at the turn of the last century?
“So long as we defend and protect the integrity of the Empire, and with it our God-given powers and privileges, why should we give a damn if a million or more innocent civilians perish? Better them than us!”
*
Moral I:
It is easy to speak in the name of God, much more difficult to act with His wisdom.
*
Moral II:
Only dupes believe in the God of imams, rabbis, and popes.
*
Moral III:
All political principles and religious dogmas whose aim is to legitimize intolerance and divisions must be assumed to be inventions of the Devil.
*
Moral IV:
Any principle or dogma that contradicts the dictum “All men are brothers,” can't be right.


****
TACTICS
*******
You want to keep them backward and stupid?
Call them progressive and smart.
We make a big mistake when we underestimate
the ruthless cunning of our leadership.
*
Paternalists are never paternal,
and when they preach humility
they mean subservience for the many
and arrogance for themselves.
*
To divide a nation is the same
as separating its soul from its body.
*
All movements generate a lunatic fringe.
In our case, the lunatic fringe has succeeded
and succeeded brilliantly
to paralyze the movement.
*

All Armenians are my brothers –
but only in the sense that all men are my brothers –
but only in the sense that Cain was Abel’s brother.
*
Never judge an Armenian as an Armenian
but as a human being. As a rule,
Armenians who insist on being judged as Armenians
use the flag to hide their true colors.


****
EXPLAINING THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE
*******
“If the Almighty is Perfect,
why did He create an imperfect world?”
As an imperfect being
living in an imperfect world,
my imperfect answer is:
When you do something for the first time,
even if it as simple a task as hammering a nail to the wall,
something is bound to go wrong.
Maybe the world as we know it
is a first experiment, and He will do better next time.
Dissatisfied with my answer?
I plead extenuating circumstances
on the grounds that it is my first try.
Give me a few years or decades of reflection
and I may do better. In the meantime,
may I offer a first-time historic instance
that ended in disaster:
our Revolution at the turn of the last century
in the Ottoman Empire.
*
Now an explanation as to why I repeat myself:
my aim in life is to repeat
a handful – no more than three or four – ideas
so often as to make them as undeniable as clichés.


****
ADDICTIONS
*******
According to Alcoholics' Anonymous, once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.
The same applies to belief systems, or, in the words of a theologian: “You may let go of God, but God will never let you go.”
Once a Muslim, always a Muslim.
Once a Christian, always a Christian.
And once a Bolshevik...
How to recognize a Bolshevik when you run into one?
Easy! Whenever Stalin's crimes come up in conversation, he will mention McCarthy, as if to say, “So you think Americans are better?” He forgets that McCarthy killed no one, whereas Stalin's victims number in the millions, among them the best and the brightest.
*
Belief systems are not easy to discard because they have deep roots in our subconscious – roots that were planted when we were children by men with ulterior motives – men who were more committed to power than to love, truth, and compassion.
*
A belief system that develops an oligarchy, ritual, tradition, and coercion under the guise of education, is one that has lost its essence and become superstition – less love of God and more fear of God, less progress in understanding the Incomprehensible and more a pact with the Devil. That's the only way to explain the persecution and torture of heretics, suicidal terrorists who kill innocent civilians, priests who sexually abuse children, and bishops who look the other way because they are more concerned with the reputation (that is, the power and prestige) of the Church and less with compassion for the victim.
*
Am I judging an institution by its aberrations? I don't think so. Rather, I am assessing an institution's true intent by the mindset and character of its leadership.
But what I find even more offensive about organized religions is their claim of monopoly on truth. All men are no longer brothers; and if they are, half of them are Cains.
When Cain slew Abel, he acted on his own, independently of any belief system. Which means, if there is a killer in all of us, the least religion can do is to refrain from legitimizing and encouraging it. But perhaps that's too much to ask?


****
DOGS, PIGS, AND JACKASSES
*******
If the caravan were to stop every time a dog barks, it would never reach its destination.
*
I love reading books on rules. You have to, if you want to break them.
*
About our benefactors: I don't grudge their money. I grudge their values on the grounds that a jackass is in no position to appreciate the aroma of rose jam.
*
I have never met a capitalist. But once, in a community center, I observed from a safe distance a specimen who was surrounded by a phalanx of hangers-on. You can tell a lot about a man by the kind of brown-nosers he attracts.
*
Jesus and Marx agree on nothing except capitalists. Jesus said they will never make it to heaven, and Marx called them bloodsucking pigs who fleece even fleas.
*
Plato, himself a wealthy man, explains somewhere that crooks will always be wealthier than honest men because they will use honest as well as dishonest means to amass their fortune. Whereas honest men will use only honest means.


****
REFLECTIONS
*******
When you voice an idea to someone who doesn’t have any of his own, he is sure to disagree with you.
*
More often than not our disagreements are not between two conflicting ideas but between an idea and recycled propaganda.
*
We blabber so much about Ottoman massacres that we completely ignore our own massacre of ideas.
*
In his NAKED LUNCH, William Burroughs quotes a doctor saying: “Baboons always attack the weakest party in an altercation. Quite right too. We must never forget our glorious simian heritage.”
*
A biologist friend once said to me: “You don’t need psychology, philosophy, sociology or anthropology to understand and explain Armenians: all you need is zoology.”
*
Imagine a sardine in a pool of sharks. And now, imagine an honest member of the Party.
*
I once met an Armenian who went out of his way to make himself hateful, after which he accused me of hating Armenians.


****
PHILOSOPHY

Faith can move mountains?
What nonsense!
God created mountains to be stationary.
Why would anyone want to challenge His will
by moving them?
*
You tell idiots
faith can move mountains
and next thing you know
they raise armies,
go on the warpath
liberating distant lands,
converting infidels,
and engaging in plunder and massacre.
*
If we don't know the meaning of life and death
it may be because God wanted it that way.
Not knowing is not ignorance.
Pretending to know the unknowable:
that's what I call the quintessence of ignorance
compounded by blasphemy.
*
Tasting the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge
can be a risky business.
But when it comes to learning from history
or repeating it,
men have exhibited a marked preference
for repeating it.
*
Three of my favorite philosophical statements:
“Of the gods we know nothing” (Socrates).
“We don't know why things exist” (Heidegger).
“We believe that we believe but we don't believe” (Sartre).
*
“I think therefore I am”?
Countless men have ceased to be
exactly because some moron said:
“I think my belief system to be the only true one
and anyone who does not think as I do
doesn't deserve to live.”


****
POWEER AND TRUTH

Power will listen to truth only if it (truth) can be exploited.
Which amounts to saying,
only in so far as truth may serve a lie.
When I speak of truth, I include God.
And I am not talking in terms of theoretical abstractions here.
I am talking about history; and more particularly
the bloody history of organized religions,
about which Voltaire said:
“Since it was a religious war, there were no survivors.”
*
A true atheist is not one who denies His existence,
but one who exploits the idea of God to serve the Devil.
*
You think I have a suspicious mind?
Read James Joyce who saw deception and charlatanism everywhere,
including Freud and Jung, who, said he,
enjoy some degree of popularity
with the “yung [who are] easily freudened.”
But when his (Joyce's) daughter developed a mental illness,
he sought Jung's help who was of no help.
Which may suggest that even those who warn us against deceivers
are themselves vulnerable to deception.
*
To be taken in by smart operators is bad enough.
What is infinitely worse is to be taken in by idiots.
I speak from experience.
If I ever write an autobiography,
I suspect the longest chapter in it will be
about idiots who deceived me – or rather,
were smart enough to see my vulnerabilities and weaknesses
and I was idiotic enough to make them visible.


****
IN THE NAME OF THE ALMIGHTY

Experience, it has been said, is not what happens to us,
but what we do with what happens.
So far we have emphasized the Genocide to the point of obsession,
but we have made no effort to deal with it.
As a result, we have only replaced the “red” massacre
with the “white” (alienation and assimilation).
*
At all times and everywhere, Hegel tells us,
man is given two choices:
to say “Yes, sir!” to his Master,
or to risk his own life (or means of survival) by saying “No!”
To behave either like a sheep or a wolf.
*
After six centuries of playing the sheep,
some of us – a tiny and non-representative group
of self-appointed revolutionaries -- turned into wolves
by risking the survival of the community,
and what was bound to happen happened.
The sheep were slaughtered and the wolves survived.
*
The wolves survived and became our new Masters.
Dissent is out!
Saying no is anathema.
In the same way that once upon a time
we were not allowed to say no to the Sultan
(who spoke in the name of Allah),
today we are not allowed to say no to our bosses
(or neo- or crypto-sultans),
or bishops (who speak in the name of God),
or benefactors (who speak in the name of Capital).
*
Christianity, Hegel tells us, only replaced the human Master
with the Divine Master.
Likewise, Capital (according to Marx
who was greatly influence by Hegel)
replaced the Divine Master with, in modern parlance,
the Almighty Dollar.
*
The ambition of every charlatan
is to speak in the name of the Almighty
(be it Allah, God, or Capital) and the punish or silence those
who dare to disagree with him.
The more things change,
the more they stay the same.
*
The choice is yours.
But be warned:
If you choose to play the sheep,
there is no guarantee that you will survive.
But even if you survive,
you will survive not as a man but as a slave.
Not as an Armenian with your own identity
but as a rootless, traditionless, alienated empty suit.


******
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION

Nations and empires die as surely as individuals.
Scientists tell us the same fate awaits
not only the planet on which we live
but also the universe itself.
I doubt if I or anyone else
can postpone the inevitable final catastrophe
by even a fraction of a second.
Perhaps I write the way I write
not to save anything or anyone or, for that matter, myself,
but to kill time.
*
The older I grow the more doubts I have
and the more certain I feel
of the essential meaninglessness and absurdity of life.
The idea itself of saving someone strikes me as an empty illusion.
There are those who identify the Messiah as our Savior.
There are also those who assert He,
or rather His followers,
saved no one and nothing;
if anything they made things worse
by legitimizing intolerance, the persecution and torture of dissenters,
and religious wars, among other horrors.
Their intentions may have been good – no one denies that –
but history – including our own -- tells us
“the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
“No one can save another,” the Buddha has said.
Which, if anything, proves that even messianic figures
contradict one another when it comes to
unraveling the mystery of existence,
or when they speak in the name of
the Unknowable and the Incomprehensible.
*
I believe true knowledge consists less in what we know
and more in what we don't know;
and what we don't know
exceeds what we know to such a degree
that if we had all the answers
what we now think we know would shrink to nothingness.
Why do I write?
Wrong question.
A better question would be,
why mankind has consistently trusted deceivers more than honest men?


******
HOW PROPAGANDA WORKS

Propaganda works because it flatters, and flattery is an offer very few people have the strength of character to refuse or reject.
“Fatigue increases suggestibility,” we are told by Pavlov of conditioned-reflex fame. After centuries of subservience and degradation we readily believe in the big lies of our propaganda, among them the illusion that we are smart.
Germans under Hitler behaved like barbarians with the unshakable conviction that they belonged to a superior or master race.
Speaking for myself: in my youth I was so convinced of my high IQ that I refused to learn from those I viewed as my equals or inferiors even when they were far ahead of me in understanding and dealing with reality. Which amounts to saying, those I viewed as my inferiors were in fact my superiors.
*
Do Yanks trust gold more than God? It depends on whether you are a partisan of fact or fiction. It goes without saying that the average American is convinced Americans are the most religious and idealistic people on earth.
If in crime it's cherchez la femme, in propaganda it's cherchez the truth or fact that it attempts to contradict or cover up.
*
Propaganda, Aldous Huxley tells us, “cunningly associates the lowest passions with the highest ideals.” It also contradicts the truth with lies.
When Pope Benedict decided to make his anti-Muslim views public, he quoted a Byzantine emperor on Islam's addiction to violence. A bad choice for which he had to apologize, because, to paraphrase a popular American saying, “Violence is as American as cherry pie,” or again, as Christian as Western imperialism.
A better choice on the part of the Pope would have been Islam's promise of a paradise where sex-starved teenagers are allowed to deflowers a harem of virgins.
Christian paradise promises eternal bliss. No mention of sex. This may explain why we have a lower suicide rate in the West. Who in his right mind would kill himself in the name of a poorly defined metaphysical abstraction?


******
FAMOUS LAST WORDS

Hegel's famous last words:
“No one understood me except one, and even he didn't understand me.”
Who among us can truly claim that he has been understood or,
for that matter, that he understands himself?
*
Confronted with the impenetrable mystery of life and death, men have constructed countless belief systems all of which claim to have a monopoly on truth.
We disagree on what we think we know and understand.
We disagree even more on things we neither know nor understand. Misunderstanding may be said to be our most abundant commodity.
For a thousand years men believed the earth to be flat and at the center of the universe, in the same way that today we believe the dimension in which we exist is the only dimension because we cannot conceive of any other.
*
If God exists, He is not and cannot be what we believe Him to be but something as inconceivable and incomprehensible as the line that scientists tell us separates existence from nothingness -- on the grounds that the universe is not infinite.
The paradox is that to have an idea of nothingness we think of existence before we were born, as if nothingness were an extension of being.
*
What if God exists in a dimension beside which existence as we know it is as nothingness?
Please note that I am not making any assertions, only asking questions, which may well be our only option when dealing with metaphysics -- asking questions without ever giving in to the temptation of making dogmatic assertions. Because, as we should all know by now, the road to hell is paved with dogmatic assertions.


******
GOOD ADVICE

Winston Churchill:
“Never hold discussions with the monkey
when the organ grinder is in the room.”
Which is why I ignore cowardly, loud-mouth idiots
who call me an idiot anonymously and from a safe distance.
They are not my targets.
My real targets are the fascist idiots
who brainwashed them to believe
dissent and free speech are unpatriotic.
*
According to Heidegger,
before we pretend to have the right answers,
we must learn to ask the right questions.
What have we learned from our history so far?
Only this: We are surrounded by ruthless giants,
as opposed to being self-righteous dogmatic midgets
who have learned nothing because they think
they already have all the answers.
*
Which one of our political parties
may be said to be on the right path?
One way to answer that question
is by quoting Samuel Johnson:
“Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency
between a louse and a flea.”


******
ON BEING RIGHT

Being right has nothing to do with logic, common sense, and evidence. Being right is a state of mind which can be controlled by auto-suggestion. If you want to assert superior knowledge, assume you are right, raise your voice, or pull rank. Once when I disagreed with a bishop, he said: “I have a degree in theology from a university in Rome.” Which is why whenever a coward insults me anonymously and from a safe distance, I say: “You must be a bishop or the son of one.”
*
OUR BETTERS
****
Heine's definition of aristocrats: “Asses who talk about horses.”
We don't have aristocrats. What we have are empty suits with money; and in our environment money doesn't just talk, it sings like Pavarotti even when it brays like an ass.
*
ON SOLUTIONS
***
To readers who demand solutions from me, I ask: “How many problems have our Turcocentric ghazetajis solved?” And now consider the number of real problems we could have solved with the money, energy, and manpower wasted on Hai Tahd.


******
THAT WHICH WE SHARE

Every Armenian is different, granted.
But all Armenians share in common the same history,
the most salient feature of which is
a thousand years of subservience to ruthless and alien tyrants.
In “Rule Britannia” the Brits may sing the words
“An Englishman cannot be a slave,”
but we are in no position to make the same claim.
Subservience – a euphemism for slavery –
comes so naturally to us that
it has become an integral part
of our psyche, character, and worldview.
Our nationalist historians may rewrite history,
but so far none of them has gone as far as suggesting
that we are all reincarnations of David of Sassoun.
*
It is true that at the turn of the last century
we finally did produce a generation of revolutionaries
who dared to challenge the might of the Ottoman Goliath.
But unlike the American, French, and Russian revolutions
ours wasn't exactly a popular uprising;
and worse, our revolutionaries relied less on themselves
to carry out their mission
and more on the Great Powers of the West.
As a result, in addition to being an abortion,
our revolution may be said to have been
one of the greatest blunders in the history of mankind.
*
If we were to rely less on our propaganda
and more on historic realty,
we shall have to conclude that
our past is a litany of internecine conflicts,
defeats, blunders, and lies.
*
Am I saying anything that hasn't been said before?
Listen to Nigoghos Sarafian (1905-1973):
“Our history is a litany of lamentation,
anxiety, horror, and massacre. Also deception
and abysmal naiveté mixed with the smoke of incense
and the sound of sacred chants.”
*
Raffi (Hagop Melik-Hagopian: 1835-1888):
“We are like sheep without a shepherd.”
*
Baruir Massikian (1912-1990):
“Instead of books, they want basterma.”
By “books” Massikian means writers
who assume the role of honest witnesses.
*
As a nation we have no use for honest witnesses.
We prefer vodanavorjis who, in the words of
Leo (Arakel Babakhanian: 1858-1925):
“...like birds perched on a branch
and at a safe distance from reality,
they have entertained the moon and the stars
by singing songs about roses and virgins.”
*
I am all for emphasizing the positive,
but I am against bare-faced lies,
and I am deeply offended whenever I am treated
like a cowardly dupe whose favorite words are “Yes, sir!”
*
Allow me to conclude with a remark
by President Harry S. Truman:
“There is nothing new in the world
except the history you don't know.”


******
SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO

When men in a position of power and responsibility
promise one thing and deliver the opposite,
I call that much worse than incompetence,
I call it criminal conduct.
When our revolutionaries promised
freedom, independence and our historic lands
and they delivered
massacres, starvation, pestilence, and dispersion,
and having done so they now say
none of it was their fault
and they are believed by dupes,
I call that much worse than
b.s., lies, and charlatanism;
I call it the quintessence of evil.
*
I love books that expose b.s.
One such book that I enjoyed recently is
Laura Penny's
YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO US:
THE TRUTH ABOUT BULLSHIT.
In this morning's paper
I read that Laura Penny has published another book titled
MORE MONEY THAN BRAINS:
WHY SCHOOL SUCKS,
COLLEGE IS CRAP
AND IDIOTS THINK THEY'RE RIGHT.
I have something to look forward to.


******
THE KING IS DEAD,
LONG LIVE THE KING!

Prophets and reformers may change the world
but they cannot change human nature.
What have the major religions really changed?
The 20th century has seen more revolutions, wars, and massacres
than at any other time in history.
That's because human nature tends to adapt,
that is to say, to lower
the noblest ideas and ideals
to its own level, namely the gutter.
*
I suspect the honesty and integrity of men
who subscribe to a belief system
simply because as children
they were educated (that is, brainwashed)
to trust and respect their elders.
I am not saying
all Hindus, Christians, Muslims, and Marxists are dupes.
I am saying most of them are.
Exceptions exist.
But I don't speak of exceptions.
I speak of rules.
*
Reformers may change the power structure
but not human nature.
And changing the power structure means
replacing one set of rascals with another.
You gain nothing by replacing one sultan
with many mini-sultans,
or one czar with many commissars,
and many commissars
with many more crypto- or neo-commissars.


******
SELF-ANALYSIS

Confucius: “If you see a good man, emulate him.
If you see a bad man, examine your own heart.”
*
If you want to know what's wrong with us,
Naregatsi tells us, examine your conscience.
Exposing and naming your own sins
is more important than
bitching endlessly about your enemies.
In that sense, Naregatsi, like so many of our writers
from Khorenatsi to Zarian,
may be said to have been a dissident.
*
You want to know why I write the way I write?
To keep alive the voice of dissent in our media.
*
If revolution is organized and armed dissent,
I may be said to be an unarmed and solitary revolutionary.
Which is why I feel justified in maintaining
I am not silenced by the offspring of revolutionaries
who dared to challenge the might of an empire,
but by empty suits whose greatest enemy
is neither the Turk nor the Russian,
but their own fear of being exposed as cowards.


******
ON OUR MEDIA

Freedom of the press will not turn bad writers into good ones.
Granted. It may, however, de-emphasize Turcocentrism,
which shamelessly exploits our emotions
and distracts us from focusing on our present problems
of which we have many.
*
SCUMBAGS (I)
*****
A capitalist makes money at other people's expense
and to combat his guilt, he builds churches
and by doing so he compounds his felony
by making the blasphemous assumption that
God can be bribed by scumbags.
*
A MATTER OF CHOICE
******
The world or reality provides evidence
for contradictory belief systems.
As a result, both a believer and non-believer
will find all the evidence they need
to justify their choice of credo
and to accuse the other of siding with the devil.
Our convictions are not based in reality
but on our perception of it
and our choice of evidence.
*
SCUMBAGS (II)
**
There is a type of scumbag
who thinks the only way to prove he is right
and the other wrong
is by going down into the gutter
on the assumption that a decent man
will refuse to follow him there.
But then he runs the risk
of running into a scumbag like me
who can take it as well as dish it out.


******
MORAL OF THE STORY

To be brainwashed means to be blind to reality.
I speak from experience.
*
If God is love,
why is it that there is so little of it in jungles
(both natural and man-made or asphalt)
or anywhere else for that matter?
Are we to assume gardens are planted by God
and jungles by the Devil?
Who in his right mind
would introduce an evil serpent in a beautiful garden
knowing full well what will happen next?
If we are dealing with symbols
whose intent is to understand and explain reality,
then I suggest the explanation is not a very convicning one.
Which is why it is rejected by the majority of mankind.
God's ways are not our ways?
If so, let us agree once and for all
that He is incomprehensible and unknowable
and theologians who try to explain His actions
are no better than charlatans and blasphemers.
*
Moral of the story:
Don't be a dupe!


******
REFLECTIONS ON OUR PRESENT SITUATION

Nothing can be more misleading than to think the men at the top know better.
*
History is made not by people who know better but by charlatans who have mastered the skill of organizing dupes.
*
When a member of the Party writes, it is not his brain that speaks but his loyalty. No one can be as brainless as a partisan.
*
The moment you surrender your freedom of thought to a closed system, you cease to think for yourself.
*
History is the propaganda of the victor, we are told. What we are not told is that losers too have their propaganda line whose intent is to make them look blameless and morally superior.
*
To think of oneself as morally superior is the surest symptom of moral bankruptcy.
*
If there are those who prefer the victor's propaganda to the loser's boast, it may be because they think winners may know something losers don't.
*
The only endeavor in which our Turcocentric ghazetajis have succeeded so far is grooming another generation of haters and braggarts.
*
Where the profit motive is supreme, there will be first-class merchants and an abundance of dead poets.
*
We have been brainwashed to believe politics is a filthy business, except of course our politics.
*
We don't choose our belief system, it is thrust on us.
*
It is a well-know fact that you can teach children to believe anything.
*
Prejudices are as carefully taught as the multiplication table.
*
That which is good for the few is bound to be bad for the many.
*
Anyone whose powers and privileges depend on the support of the people, will never say anything remotely critical against a system that allows the brainwashing of children.
*
At the root of all crimes against humanity, there will be a generation of brainwashed children.
*
As long as we think criticism and dissent are un-Armenian, we will never acquire the status of human beings – or “mart bidi ch'ellank.”


******
PARALLELS

The Palestinians have been so consistently wrong in overestimating their military might and in believing they can defeat the Israelis that nothing they say can be trusted. I am not talking about right and wrong here, or about principles and moral values. I am dealing with facts. Morally superior losers are a dime a dozen. Neither am I talking about the Palestinian people in general, most of whom are no doubt very much like most other people, including ourselves, dupes of their incompetent and megalomaniacal leadership, and as such guilty only of poor judgment.
*
When the popes sanctioned the persecution and torture of heretics, what were they defending? God or their own power?
When heretics were willing to die for what they believed in, what were they defending -- beside their freedom of thought?
*
To say that those in power are more interested in the truth than philosophers is to ignore such facts as countless wars and massacres.
*
A charlatan is one who not only claims to have the final answers but also to know better than you what you should think, feel, and believe.
*
Minor errors of judgment are covered up and ignored; but catastrophic blunders are explained, justified, and believed. I suggest truth is not what deceivers and their dupes conspire to believe in.
*
When it comes to reading, we tend to reject ideas, feelings, and values that do not spring from our own experience. It is almost as if the purpose of reading were to reinforce and legitimize our limitations, prejudices, and fallacies. Knowing this, propagandists and charlatans (but I repeat myself) are more than willing to adjust their message to the lies that are most in demand.


******
SKINHEADS ARE NOTBORN BUT MADE


QUESTION: Who is a skinhead? Can you define him?

ANSWER: If you insult those who disagree with you, you qualify. It goes without saying that where there are skinheads, there will also be architects of a context within which skinheads thrive. Likewise, where there is racism, there will also be academics, historians, political and religious leaders and pundits who will equate patriotism with fascism.

Q: Do we have such a thing as a dominant idea today, and if we do, how would you define it?

A: Turcocentrism is our dominant idea and I would define it as the misconception that Turks are the source of all our misfortunes. It goes without saying that Turks deserve all the epithets we heap on them. It is equally true that we could heap the same number of epithets and then some on ourselves and our own leadership.

Q: Such as?

A: Incompetence, lack of self-reliance, ignorance of history, divisiveness, tribalism, intolerance, myopia bordering on blindness, inability to discriminate fact from propaganda, too much dependence on benefactors and charity and hardly any discernible effort on exposing and eliminating corruption.

Q: How do we combat these aberrations?

A: We begin by not silencing or insulting those who disagree with us.



******
READING GANDHI

“We hold that the civilization that you support
to be the reverse of civilization.”
*
“I am fighting against three opponents:
the British, the Indians, myself.”
*
“Violence is a result of fear.
Dishonesty is fear.
Fearlessness is the key to Truth.”
*
“God is neither in heaven, nor down below,
but in everyone.”
*
This last quotation might as well be a paraphrase of
“The Kingdom of God is within you.”
But if the Kingdom of God is within us,
so is the Empire of the Devil.
How else to explain wars, massacres, and man's inhumanity to man?
*
And speaking of fear:
I think of readers
who insult me anonymously
and from a safe distance.
What are they afraid of?
What else but being exposed for what they really are –
skinheads who have been brainwashed by liars.
*
More often than not men look up to liars for moral guidance
and are more than willing to kill and die in the name of a lie.
How else to explain organized religions
and religious wars, persecutions, and intolerance?
*
Primitive man was wiser and more civilized
when he believed in an unknown and unknowable Power
which was the source of all good as well as evil.


******
KIND WORDS

“What have you really done for your country and fellow countrymen?” I am asked once in a while by readers who, as dupes of “men of action,” have been brought up to believe contemplation is a waste of time and those who engage in it no better than mental masturbators.
To them I say: Sometimes what we don't do can be as important as what we do.
Allow me therefore to tell you what I have not done:
*
I have never said, as God's favorite people, we can do no wrong.
I have never spoken in the name of God (whom I believe to be incomprehensible) or Truth (which I believer to be unknowable).
I have at no time tried to legitimize our failings by saying we have none.
Neither have I covered up our contradictions of which we have many.
I have not treated my readers as dupes who will believe anything they are told.
I have never written a Panchoonie letter that ends with the line: “Mi kich pogh oughargetsek” (Send us a little money).
I have not violated anyone's human rights by silencing him.
I have never said “Yes, sir!” to leaders whose number one concern is number one.
I have consistently refused to join the chorus of our Turcocentric ghazetajis and speechifiers in ascribing all our defeats and catastrophes to our enemies and phony friends.
*
Have I accomplished anything?
I don't know.
What are my chances that some day I may succeed where far better men than myself have failed?
Probably next to none.
Why do I go on writing?
That is a question I ask myself every day and so far I have failed to come up with a remotely satisfactory answer.
Am I a useless member of the community?
If I am, I do not consider that to be entirely my own fault, but the fault of readers who believe action (even the wrong action) to be superior to contemplation.
*
In a commentary in today's paper I read the following quotation by Al Capone: “You get much further with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone.”
If so far I have failed, it may be because I have used only kind words.


******
DANGEROUS WORDS

If I were to name the two most dangerous words, they would have to be “I believe.”
*
The wold is too ready to criticize and condemn Jews for the suffering they have inflicted on Palestinians during the last decades but less willing to criticize the world for the suffering that has inflicted on Jews during the last centuries, not to say millennia. I call this disparity a symptom not of anti-Zionism but of anti-Semitism – an 'ism” or a belief system as dangerous as any organized religion that has declared and fought wars, committed massacres, and murdered innocent civilians in the name of God or Truth.
*
Speaking of religions with their holy books and monopolistic claims: I suggest they should be judged not by their intentions or principles but by their history. Theory is one thing, practice another. Ideologies like nationalism and communism may have good, even noble intentions, but their abuses have been such that even some of their most dedicated adherents had no choice but to reject them.
*
As for capitalism: recent economic and political developments in America have made it abundantly clear that in practice, it means free enterprise for the poor and the unemployed, and socialism for the rich and chief executive officers.
*
Organized religions like Christianity and Islam have not only behaved as though they had a license to kill not only the foreign infidel but also the domestic heretic. Consider the case of Catholics versus Protestants, or Shiites versus Sunnis...
*
A belief system acts on the human brain like a potent drug or alcohol.
*
And speaking of drugs and chief executive officers: Early this morning I heard on the radio that the tobacco industry has given up the claim that smoking is not addictive or that it does not cause cancer. We may now look forward to the day when the Pope of Rome will also give up his absurd claim of infallibility. But I for one am not holding my breath.


******
A SUGGESTION

Juvenal: “No one ever reached the depths of wickedness all at once.”
*
Since so far divisions have been of no discernible use to us, why not give solidarity a chance to fail on its own demerits?
*
Divisions begin as aberrations by overambitious leaders who care more about their own powers and privileges than the welfare of the people. It's never too late to see this and begin a movement in the opposite direction.
*
Divisions are expensive luxuries. By contrast, solidarity is much cheaper. One school, one community center, and one place of worship for every large community, would save enough money to feed and house thousands of families living below the poverty line in the Homeland.
*
It should be mandatory to include the initial “S” (for Solidarity) in the acronyms of all our organizations.
*
WANTED
****
Speechifiers who will unleash a verbal torrent thick with insults to dead ancestors; and comedians who will make merciless fun of our dividers.
*
READING
****
I have been reading two books on the ephemeral nature of power and wealth, especially when they are illegally, not to say criminally, obtained:
THE MADOFF CHRONICLES by Brian Ross (New York, 2009), and
KHRUSHCHEV REMEMBERS: THE LAST TESTAMENT, Translated and edited by Edward Cranshaw (Boston, 1974).
*
Brian Ross on Bernard and Ruth Madoff's lifestyle: “They sought the 'old money' look, even though their money was freshly stolen.”
*
Khrushchev hated Stalin but loved using the power amassed and concentrated by him.
*
ONE-LINERS
******
Among Armenians, yesterday’s friend may be (and often is) today’s enemy, but today’s enemy will never be tomorrow’s friend.
*
I repeat myself because I am told again and again that the earth is flat.
*
The credo of all ideologues and partisans should begin with the words: “I believe in a false god….”
*
If you are wrong, they may forgive you. But if you are right, they will silence you.


******
FROM ZERO TO INFINITY

Not all stories in one's life have a clear or even a discernible beginning and end. “At the beginning was the word” is a sentence conceived and written by men, not by God or Reality. It is more likely that both beginnings and ends in one's life take place when we are asleep, sometimes even long before we were born.
Our genocide began 600 years ago when we surrendered our destiny into the hands of the Sultan, and even long before that, when we welcomed our enemies by failing to present a united front to them.
*
READING KHRUSHCHEV

In his memoirs Khrushchev speaks of “loafers, charlatans and toadies who overcrowd our institutes, bloating the staffs and gobbling up state funds without giving anything in return.” And I think of our own institutes – schools, churches, centers, political and cultural organizations – and above all newspapers (with their respective publishers, editors, assistant editors, and correspondents) of which we have a good number when one or two will do just as well – assuming their function is to publish news (as opposed to pushing their respective propaganda line) and not to provide employment to loafers, charlatans, and brown-nosers.
*
“SMALL PEOPLE,” AND “LIFE BACK”
**
It is in thoughtless moments that we reveal our real thoughts – as BP executives may have realized by now.
*
DOSTOEVSKY SPEAKS
***
“Russian thought is preparing a grandiose renovation for the entire world…and this will occur in about a century – that’s my passionate belief.”
There you have it: one of the greatest writers of all time confusing wishful thinking with prophecy -- all in the name of faith and patriotism, of course.
*
AN ARMENIAN PERVERSION
*
Instead of studying our present complexes and contradictions, our academics prefer to study our graves.


******
NOTES AND COMMENTS

In Saramago's obituary I read this morning: “A militant atheist who maintained that human history would have been a lot more peaceful if it weren't for religion, his novels are preoccupied with the question of God.” Which reminds me of the words of a theologian (Karl Barth?) who said: “You may let go of God but God will never let you go.”
*
First you are taught to respect your elders, then you are lied to.
*
Better a useful idiot than a useless genius.
*
If I disappoint some readers it may be because I dare to think for myself as opposed to delivering the same speeches and sermons they were exposed to as children.
*
To those who accuse me of pessimism, I say: To write is to hope, and to hope is a symptom of optimism.
*
Capitalism is morally superior to communism if only because greed for money is better than greed for power.
*
More often than not bias is expressed in the selection of facts rather than in their misinterpretation.
*
Jean Rostand: “There are some persons we could not cut down to size without diminishing ourselves as well.”
*
Anonymous: “Skinheads have more hair than brains.”
*
Anonymous: “A friend in need is history.”
*
Once in a while I am tempted to remind my fellow Armenians that there is more, much more, to being Armenian than Turks and massacres.


******
CONFESSIONS OF A MEGALOMANIAC

My megalomania knows no bounds. I remember instances in my life when I thought my arguments were so irrefutable that they had a good chance to change the mind of an Armenian ignoramus. I keep forgetting that dupes of propaganda are never wrong.
*
Propaganda is like an old pair of shoes – after you put them, you forget about them. By contrast, a new idea is like a new pair of shoes that pinch.
*
Self-interest is the most powerful argument. All Turks have to do to convince Americans is to say that Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were like Indians on the American continent.
Victimizers speak the same language regardless of nationality.
*
People can be as smart as dogs when it comes to smelling fear.
*
I was brought up to respect authority. I now think there is hardly any difference between respect for authority and fear of authority. A man of authority knows that anyone who respects him is also intimidated by him.
*
I have yet to meet a man of authority who was not a contemptible jerk. I assume there are exceptions. But then, I write about rules not exceptions.
*
On more than one occasion I have been taken to task (a euphemism for I have been verbally abused) for not being as brilliant as Hagop Baronian. If that were a crime, I deserve to be hanged.
*
Giambattista Vico: “Crowded city life produces men who are unbelievers, who regard money as the measure of all things, and who lack moral qualities, particularly modesty…. Emancipated from ethics generally, they live by mutual spying and deceit.”
*
If you can’t contradict the idea, insult the man.
*
If you play it safe and write about birds serenading the moon or the eternal snows of Mt. Ararat, be prepared to be called a vodanavorji and ignored.
If, on the other hand, you decide to live dangerously and analyze our present situation with some degree of objectivity, be prepared to be reviled by readers who cannot chew gum and fart at the same time.


******
CONTEMPLATION VERSUS ACTION

Christ and Renaissance popes,
Luther and televangelists,
Marx and Stalin:
men of contemplation and men of action are different
to the point of being contradictions.
What one builds the other destroys.
Where one enhances our understanding,
the other bullies and moronizes.
*
You have political ambitions?
Teach yourself how to lie and how to believe in your own lies.
Be a sincere hypocrite.
Speak honestly with a forked tongue.
*
Men of power are ruthless
because where there is power
there will be those who will want to take it away from you.
Men of power know this
because they suffer from the same disease – greed for power.
*
We call our major defeats tragedies
and our minor victories triumphs.
*
Intolerance of dissent is a confession of fear –
fear of ideas, fear of words,
and fear of being unmasked for what one really is:
a coward and a fool.
Only idiots cannot see this.
Authoritarianism is a conspiracy of fools and dupes.
*
What could be more self-defeating
than an abundance of money and a total absence of ideas?
An abundance of fund-raisers
and a scarcity of intellectuals
is the surest symptom of a morally bankrupt community.
*
There are no final answers.
Neither are there perfect answers.
An idea makes perfect sense
only when its contradiction or antithesis is suppressed,
that is to say, when progress is arrested.
*
Mankind has always been at the mercy of better organized fools.
*
Wars are declared by fools and fought by dupes.
*
The only way to understand our enemies
is by being objective about ourselves.


******
DEAD END

When one side says one thing and the other the exact opposite for one hundred years, we have no choice but to conclude either one side or both are obstinate, dogmatic, self-righteous, and intolerant of dissent.
Has anyone ever said we are open-minded, tolerant, willing to engage in dialogue, and eager to develop a consensus by means of compromise?
Has anyone ever said diplomacy is our strong suit?
If Armenian cannot agree with Armenian, can he ever agree with the Turk?
I am not casting aspersions, just asking questions.
*
ARMENIAN ETIQUETTE
****
When you don't understand what you read, call the writer an idiot.
When you disagree with what he writes, call him a traitor.
*
KHRUSHCHEV ON DE GAULLE
**
“Was he smart or stupid? For a while he was considered an idiot and a fascist. But in fact he was a very smart fellow.”
*
KHRUSHCHEV ON MALRAUX
*****
“De Gaulle's Minister of Culture was a well-known writer. I think he had the same last name as that other famous French writer, Moliere.”
Which reminds me of the story that when Malraux was named the winner of the Nobel Prize, Mailer received several congratulatory calls from American friends.
*
REFLECTIONS
******
Some day even the most absurd occurrence may make perfect sense, but by then the perceiver and the occurrence may well be one and the same.
*
About Armenians and Turks: There is probably something true in the saying that if you hate somebody too much it may be because you see yourself in him.
*
When I was young I was unteachable. Hence my intolerance of phony pundits.
There is an old Spanish saying: “Women and horses: let someone else tame them.”
And I say: “A horse’s ass: let a shrew tame him.”


******
RANDOM THOUGHTS

“The true source of wisdom,” Socrates tells us,
“is not knowledge but moderation.”
*
I don’t look for enemies;
they find me.
*
Just because a man is not bought and sold
it doesn’t follow he is not a slave.
Likewise, just because we silence critics
it doesn’t follow we are not open to criticism.
*
It was Kant who said that very often
ignorance is nothing but cowardice in the face of knowledge.
*
Self-criticism is not treason.
Silencing criticism is.
*
An insult is as difficult to refute as a massacre,
perhaps because it is verbal massacre.
*
According to Buddha:
“That which is spoken, heard, and understood
are three different things.”
What scathing book reviews Buddha would have written
of the Bible and the Koran!
*
Our history is an apt illustration of Murphy's Law:
“If things can go wrong
they will go wrong at the worst possible time.”
*
The aim of philosophy is to open the mind.
The aim of a belief system is to close it.
*
When I hear the word Islam,
the first four words that come to mind are:
giaour, imam, fatwa, and jihad;
and I loathe these words as much I loathe the words
boss, bishop, benefactor, and commissar.


******
AN UNDIPLOMATIC EXCHANGE
********
To emphasize his humble origins, Nixon once said to Khrushchev that his father had a grocery store in which he and his brothers had worked. Khrushchev's comment: “All shopkeepers are thieves.”
For more hilarious exchanges, see K BLOWS TOP: A COLD WAR COMIC INTERLUDE STARRING NIKITA KHRUSHCHEV, AMERICA'S MOST UNLIKELY TOURIST by Peter Carlson (New York, 2009).
*
ANOTHER FIRST
***
Yesterday on the evening news on TV we were informed that a 5000-year old shoe had been discovered in Armenia. The leather shoe looked like a comfortable moccasin in excellent condition.
*
FREUD ON SHAKESPEARE

Freud thought Shakespeare was French and his real name was Jacques Pierre. And I think Cyrano de Bergerac was Armenian and his real name was Giragos. But that's only one proof of his Armenian identity, the other being the length of his nose.
*
DEFINITION (I)
*
I have read several definition of courage. To insult someone anonymously and from a safe distance is not one of them.
*
DEFINITION (II)

Cicero defined freedom as “participation in power.” As far as I know, no one has ever defined freedom as saying “Yes, sir!” to idiots.
*
ON ISLAM
*
John Selden (1650): “The Turks tell their People of a Heaven where there is a sensible Pleasure, but of a Hell where they shall suffer they don’t know what. The Christians quite invert this order; they tell us of a Hell where we shall feel sensible Pain, but of a Heaven where we shall enjoy we can’t tell what.”
*
DEFINITION (III)
**
My definition of bliss: The awareness that one is no longer dependent on the charity of swine and on the approval of morons.


******
KHRUSHCHEV AND THE KGB
********
After he was ousted from office and acquired the status of a non-person, Khrushchev was ordered by the KGB not to write his memoir. “I refuse to obey you,” he told them. The order was unconstitutional, he said; so were the bugs placed in his home. “You stuck listening devices all over the dacha,” he told them, “even in the bathroom. You spend the people's money to eavesdrop on my farts.”
Eventually his memoir was smuggled to the West by his son. Translated and published in many countries, it became a best-seller. His son is now an American citizen.
*
READING CHAMFORT
*******
Nicolas de Chamfort (1740-1794), French writer who was arrested under the Revolution and committed suicide. He is the author of THOUGHTS, MAXIMS, AND ANECDOTES, published posthumously.
*
“One is happier when one is alone because in solitude one thinks of things, but in the company of others one is forced to think of men.”
*
“Women are made to deal with our weaknesses and our foolishness, not with our reason. There exists between them and men epidermic sympathies but very few of intellect, soul, and character.”
*
“There are well-dressed foolish ideas just as there are well-dressed fools.”
*
“Nature never said 'Be thou not poor,' much less 'Be thou rich'; but she cries, 'Be thou independent!'”
*
ON MY CRITICS
*******
When my critics (if you will forgive the overstatement) hurl insults at me (and anonymous insults at that) it means only one thing: they have run out of arguments, assuming of course they had them to begin with -- and that's assuming a great deal.
To insult is not to criticize. And to insult anonymously is to compound stupidity with cowardice. Why would anyone be afraid of a minor scribbler who writes today and will be forgotten tomorrow? And to think that these are the offspring of men who a hundred years ago challenged the might of an empire.

A far better man than myself once said: “Once upon a time we shed our blood for freedom. We are now afraid of free speech."
I repeat: why would anyone be afraid of someone like me whose most formidable weapon is his common sense – which, it has been said, is the least common of all faculties.


******
ON CERTAINTIES

The closer I get to a certainty
the more I am haunted by its contradiction.
*
I have been wrong so often that
I never know when I am right – if I am ever right.
*
I am here to assert not certainties
but to expose lies.
*
God may know
but those who speak in His name do not.
It would be more accurate to say,
it's because they don't know
that they feel the need to speak in His name.
*
There is a type of patriotism
that is reserved only for those who agree with us.
I suggest that's less patriotism and more dogmatism.
Whenever our enemies want to divide us
they rely on our dogmatism
and they are never disappointed.
*
Those who understand the past
have a better chance to predict the future.
A prophet is first and foremost a historian.
*
Both Ottomanism and Sovietism are based on the proposition
that the man at the top is always right
and to even suggest he may be wrong is treason.
*
At the root of all wars and massacres
there stands a man who says
“We are right and they are wrong.”
All crimes against humanity are consequences of that lie.
*
To adopt a propaganda line and to be wrong
might as well be synonymous.
*
I don't ask my readers to believe in what I say.
All I ask is that they learn to think for themselves – but perhaps
that's asking too much.
*
The Tree in the Garden was not of Knowledge but of Ignorance.


FACING FACTS
***
When academics discuss the great achievements of Greece,
they mean of course ancient Greece.
They know, and they assume their readers also know,
that the only two thing modern Greeks
share with their ancient counterparts
is the territory and the language.
Nothing else!
During the last twenty-two centuries
Greeks have had so many conquerors –
from Macedonians and Romans
to Turks and Germans – that they have been
thoroughly bastardized.
*
Please note that I am not advocating racial purity.
What degrades and degenerates nations
is not mixed marriages
but subservience to the foreign conqueror,
which gradually evolves to
subservience to domestic wheeler-dealers
who speechify in the name of patriotism,
subservience to empty suits with fat bank accounts,
and subservience to fornicators who sermonize against sin.
*
Why do I say these things?
Simply to assert the fact that
not all Armenians are dupes
or cowards afraid to face reality.
There is hope in confronting challenges no matter how severe.
There is no hope in lies, illusions, flattery, and wishful thinking.


*
THREE STORIES / FIVE MORALS
***
Because 2500 years ago the Greeks condemned a thinker to death,
he became the most celebrated philosopher of all time.
*
Because 2000 years ago they crucified an obscure preacher
-- so obscure in fact that most of his contemporaries were not even aware of his existence –
he acquired billions of followers from one and of the world to the other.
*
Because the Kremlin at the apex of its power tried to silence an unknown, unarmed and peace-loving dissident by exiling him to Siberia, he was awarded the Nobel Prize and is now generally recognized as the greatest Russian writer of the Soviet era.
*
Moral I: If you want to sell toothpaste, you spend millions advertising it in the media. But if you want to promote the ideas of a thinker, reformer, or dissident, you silence him.
*
Moral II: Fascists dig their own graves because they refuse to learn from history.
*
Moral III: The easy, convenient, or obvious solution may not always be the best solution.
*
Moral IV: If you think the right thoughts in the solitary confinement of your room, you will be overheard ten thousand miles away (according to an old Chinese proverb).
*
Moral V: Actions have unforeseen consequences not always to the advantage of the actors.


Because I rated what I read above reality,
I fell into the same trap as Don Quixote and Madame Bovary.
That's my way of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.
*
Leader: I can't think of another word with more sinister historic connotations.
Why say “leader” when we can say “public servant”?
*
The first known case of compounding a felony:
After planting that damn tree in the Garden,
He introduced the Serpent.
*
Recent economic and political developments in the United States have made it abundantly clear that capitalism means free enterprise for the poor and socialism for the rich.
*
Did you know that most of our kings were odars?
Our sons of bitches were not even ours!
*
Armenia the cradle of civilization?
There is something incongruous in grave-diggers speaking of cradles.
*
He thought diarrhea was a compulsive need to keep a diary.
*
All fascists operate on the assumption that if you deliver a lie in a loud voice and repeat it often enough, you may have a better chance to fool most of the people most of the time.
*
Something to look forward to:
a new book by Eric-Emmanuel titled
TO THINK THAT BEETHOVEN IS DEAD WHEN SO MANY MORONS LIVE.
*
To the question, “What is the difference between the rich and the poor?”
Hemingway is said to have replied "The rich have more money.”
What is the difference between winners and losers?
Winners know something losers don't, namely how to win.
We may enjoy more international support on the day we de-victimize ourselves.


*
LESSONS
***
The lesson to be learned from our genocide is not that Turks are bloodthirsty savages (under certain conditions even the most civilized people on earth will behave like a primitive savage tribe) but that
(one) those in power are not always morally superior or infallible;
(two) when exposed they are not always willing to admit their blunders or the magnitude of their crimes;
(three) they can always rely on a majority of dupes to believe them; and
(four) in such a climate dissenters will be identified as traitors and enemies.
*
To those who say the difference between Turks (Asiatic barbarians) and Germans (civilized) is that Germans, unlike Turks, admitted their guilt, I say:
Germans admitted their guilt because they lost the war.
Turks refuse to admit their guilt because they won, and because history is written by the victor.
Had the Germans won, the chances are I would now be writing these lines in German and I woud be parroting the official German denialist line; and what's even worse, you would believe everything I say the way a devout Catholic today believes in the encyclicals of the Pope on the grounds that the Pope is infallible and he speaks in the name of God.
*
It is not my intention here to suggest that we have no choice but to behave like dupes. If anything, I am saying the exact opposite, namely: there is a tendency in all of us to embrace a big lie as if it were a self-evident truth.
*
At all times and everywhere, truth is well hidden from us.
What is trumpeted is only a fraction of reality that might as well be a perversion of the truth, that is to say, it is a bare-faced lie delivered by crooks whose number one concern is number one, and whose number two concern is to cover up this obvious fact. The men at the top – be they popes, imams, kings, or statesmen, are liars and he who believes them is a damn fool who deserves to be taken to the cleaners, as we have been.


*
UNFORGETTABLE LINES
***
There are some lines that once heard or read are never forgotten.
Some random samples follow:
*
Anonymous (French): “He who can kiss can bite.”
*
Anonymous (Chinese): “He who loses temper has wrong on his side.”
*
Socrates: “My poverty is proof of my honesty.”
*
Anonymous (Jewish): “Sleep fast, we need the pillows.”
*
Anonymous (Turkish): “When the house is finished, death enters.”
*
Anonymous (Turkish): "Among ten men nine are sure to be women.”
*
Anonymous (Armenian): “Cat play is mouse death.”
'
Dostoevsky: “Do you realize how powerful one man can be?”
*
Anonymous (Jewish): “A girl in good shape is often the reason why a man is in bad shape.”
*
Anonymous (Armenian): “To the poor everyone is generous with advice.”
*
Anonymous (Armenian): “Pigs never see the stars.”
*
Anonymous (Armenian):
“One Armenian eats one chicken;
two Armenians eat two chickens;
three Armenians eat each other.”
*
Anonymous (Armenian): “A dead jackass is not afraid of wolves.”
*
Anonymous (Armenian): “Soft words can break bones.”
*
If you have unforgettable lines of your own, let's have them.
I for one look forward to hearing from you.


*
A TRUE STORY
***
Once, many years ago, when a friend took me to a community center, the two things that I noticed and remember to this day are,
(one) the famous Soviet-Armenian writer who was scheduled to deliver a lecture, stank like a skunk – no doubt having taken his regular yearly bath eleven months ago; and
(two) immediately after the question period, the national benefactor who was in the audience was surrounded by a phalanx of brown-nosers – to protect him (I heard later) from direct assaults by riffraff.
Whenever the benefactor made a public appearance (my friend explained later) people would go up to him and apply personally for a grant, that is, demand cash; to which the benefactor would invariably say, “Talk to my secretary.”
*
Because I spent most of my time in solitary confinement reading, I was told again and again that one may learn a great deal from books, but one may also learn different things not available in books by meeting people – most of which, I now think, not worth knowing.
*
There is a P.S. to this story:
Shortly after independence, the famous writer was murdered by the hit men of a mafia don in retaliation of the murder of his own son by the writer's son, who after the deed went underground and, as far as I know, has not surfaced since.
*
P.P.S.
The lecture at the community center was financed by the benefactor, which may suggest, some Armenians have so much money that they don't mind investing it on crooks parading as intellectuals and role models to future generations. Either that or they (benefactors) rely too much on the advice of secretaries who can't tell the difference between an honest man and a KGB agent.


BOOK REVIEW
*
1001 DAYS THAT SHAPED THE WORLD.
Edited by Peter Furtado.
960 pages. New York, 2008.
***
Three randomly selected days discussed in this wrist-wrenching and lavishly illustrated tome are:
“May 1, 1274 – Beatrice Glimpsed (Beatrice Portinari inspires Dante's greatest work).”
“June 4, 1913 – Suffragette Trampled to Death.”
“January 2, 1973 – Abortion Legalized.”
*
Armenians are not mentioned.
Turks and Kurds, yes.
Armenians. no.
So much for first nation this and first nation that. Which may suggest that our propaganda is designed to deceive us and no one else.
But that's the way it is with all propaganda regardless of race, color, and creed.
No one but Jews believe they are the Chosen People.
No one but some Aryans believed they belonged to a Superior Race.
And until very recently, no one but Southern bigots believed in the superiority of “Anglo-Saxon democracy” and in the inferiority of Jews, Blacks, and Catholics – that is to say, the rest of the world.
Charity, it is said, begins at home.
So does deception, alas!
*
Closer to home:
Why is it that when people identify themselves as smart they behave like idiots?
Why is it that the lowest scum on earth identify themselves as “superior”?
If in a crime it's “cherchez la femme,” in propaganda it must be cherchez the self-evident truth that it tries to cover up.


*
UNDIPLOMATIC OBSERVATIONS
***
It is written: “He who has the gold, defines the golden rule.”
*
It is also written: “Revolutions may change the men at the top, they don't change human nature.”
*
The economic crisis engineered under Bush and embraced by Obama proves one thing: Sooner or later both capitalism and communism degenerate into gangsterism.
*
Obama's mistake was to seek the advice of men from Wall Street to fix Wall Street on the grounds that it takes a thief to catch a thief. But in this case the thieves didn't get caught; they got away with more loot, that is, taxpayers' money.
Obama behaved like Shaw's “gentleman” who steals from the poor to help the rich.
*
I have myself been called all kinds of nasty names by our bloodsuckers and brown-nosers because I refuse to play the game by their rules – that is to say, to be one of them.
*
A disgruntled insider once told me, shortly after the Earthquake in Armenia, one of our fund-raisers in New York demanded and got $100,000 salary plus expenses; and I assume he transferred the collected funds to his counterpart in Yerevan, who distributed them to his own counterparts in the affected areas, and so on.
This may explain why, disgusted by this kind of “trickle-down” charity, 1.5 million Armenians decided to emigrate to America and Turkey, among other countries, in order to find employment and support their families back home.
*
To those who tell me I should be more diplomatic in what I write, I say: Diplomats are highly trained and skilled gentlemen who get paid good money for their work. Nobody is paying me to be diplomatic.


*
ON SURVIVAL
***
Notwithstanding its countless blunders, dogmatism, intolerance and crimes against humanity, the Catholic Church has survived for two millennia. One reason why I don't rate our own survival as a worthy achievement worth mentioning or discussing. After all, the Ottoman Empire lasted longer than most empires.
*
Sometimes to survive means to be as bad or even worse than the competition. Cobras and scorpions owe their survival to their venom and not to their sweet disposition, altruism, and love of truth. To say therefore that we owe our survival (if that's what you want to call it) to our civic virtues, tolerance, and love of democracy, is to lie.
*
One reason I write short sentences and paragraphs is that I am afraid by the time I finish writing longer ones I may no longer have an audience. I am not implying I have one today – three or four readers an audience to not make – but they are better than no audience. Call it the consolation of a loser.
*
If an explanation is endorsed by a political party, it can't be right. Truth and politics are as mutually exclusive concepts as fire and water.
*
If I knew how to pray, I would say: “Please God, teach me how to forgive my own transgressions. Because then and only then I may learn to forgive those who transgress against me.”


*
REFLECTIONS
***
If it is the dury of every true patriot to sacrifice himself in defense of his fellow countrymen, how many of our revolutionaries qualify?
I am not casting aspersions (as they say in westerns), just asking an innocent question.
*
When a member of the Party criticizes me, he does so with the certainty and daring of a prophet with 20/20 vision. But when it comes to critizing his own Party, he becomes deaf, dumb, stupid, and brain-dead.
*
The offspring of the same revolutionaries who challenged a mighty empire a hundred years ago are now afraid to challenge the shadows of their own faceless and anonymous bosses.
What a great subject for a comedy!
*
If “War is hell,” and “Hell is other people” (Sartre), it follows, peace is hell too.
*
The only way to explain and reconcile the idea of an all-loving God and the murder of an innocent child, or for that matter, the senseless death of two or seven million innocent civilians, is to think of time (be it the lifetime of a human being or that of the universe itself) in relation to cosmic time or eternity, as only a fraction of a second.


*
KILLERS
***
The daring with which some readers challenge my views is exceeded only by the cowardice with which they say “Yes, sir!” to the most asinine lies that issue from the mouth of a boss, bishop, or benefactor.
That too may be said to be a symptom of our Ottomanism and Sovietism – or should I say, sultanism and Stalinism?
*
And speaking of sultans (may they all burn in hell!): when they demanded and got a thousand concubines, I wonder, did any one of their advisers, servants, or subjects raise as much as an eyebrow even when alone, in bed, in a dark room, after midnight, his head covered by a thick charshaf?
*
I remember once when I said something critical about a bishop, a gentle reader rebuked me with the words: “Remember, whatever he says or does, he never ceases being a man of God.”
So were the sultans – who were to Muslims what popes are to Catholics.
*
Turks believe it is the bloodthirsty and savage Armenians who massacred the law-abiding and peace-loving citizens of the Empire. That only proves that they have been so thoroughly brainwashed that they will believe anything!
*
This reminds me of the story about an Englishman who on seeing the Duke of Wellington in the street, went up to him and said: “Mr. Smith, I believe.” To which Wellington replied: “If you believe that, you will believe anything!”
And I say, if you believe the Sultan was a man of Allah, and Kemal (like Mussolini) “ha sempre ragione” (is always right) you will believe anything! And worse. Whenever a charlatan with a degree or title challenges you, you will not only drop your pants, but you will also bend over.
*
It's astonishing what a thousand years of subservience will do to a man. Unbelievable as it may seem, it may even remove surgically, painlessly, and without anesthetic, his cojones
*
If you think I am saying something that hasn't been said before, listen to Toynbee who wrote what follows half a century ago:
“In the life which Man has made for himself on Earth, his institutions, in contrast to his personal relations, are the veritable slums, and the taint of moral obliquity is still more distressing in the least ignoble of these social tenements of the Human Spirit – for instance, in the churches and academies – than in such unquestionably malignant institutions as Slavery and War.”
Translated into dollars and cents, this simply means: when it comes to lies, bishops and imams are worse than thieves and killers.


The ability to see only the dark side should be seen as an asset rather than a liability in an environment where everyone is brainwashed to see the bright side.
*
If you think I am mean, nasty, and disagreeable it may be because so far you have been exposed only to the flattery of our speechifiers and sermonizers. Speaking for myself: I believe nothing they say, and if I believe anything it's the exact opposite of what they say.
*
The aim of our educational system is to raise another generation willing to submit itself to taxation without representation.
*
There is nothing like power to awaken the Turk in us. I have yet to meet a boss, bishop, or benefactor whose secret ambition was not to be another Suleiman the Magnificent.
*
“You should change your last name – why go about bearing a Turkish label?” an old friend once demanded to know.
Change my name? I wouldn't think of it. When a telemarketer calls me on the phone and has trouble pronouncing it (and it's amazing how many of them do) I say, “Wrong number!” and hang up. It's a time-saver.
*
Mother Teresa lost her faith but kept it a secret. I suspect there is a Mother Teresa in all of us. We may have lost faith in our institutions and fellow Armenians but we like to pretend we never had it so good.
*
As children we were taught to memorize the territories conquered by Dikran the Great. What we were not taught: how much of his humanity he surrendered.
*
Mike Tyson on Hannibal: “He was very courageous. He rode elephants through Cartilage.”


*
THE WAY OF THE WORLD
***
Nabokov in INVITATION TO A BEHEADING:
“...but as there is in the world not a single human being who can speak my language; or, more simply, not a single human who can speak; or, even more simply, not a single human...”
*
To those who accuse me of repeating myself and bitching too much, I plead extenuating circumstances. And to those who urge me to be more like Saroyan, may I remind them that Saroyan too was accused of repeating himself.
*
My father lost literally everything in two world wars – first time in the Ottoman Empire, second time in Greece. My mother was educated in an orphanage run by nuns; and I was educated by monks. I was born in a ghetto and now live in a slum – according to a real-estate agent who so informed my next-door neighbor when he wanted to sell his house.
*
Sooner or later we have no choice but to come to terms with reality, or with the fact that we can't be all things to all men, and it makes no difference if, like Saroyan, you love the whole world, or like myself, you are disposed to see only the dark side.
*
Speaking of love: It is not true that there is more hatred in me than there is love. I love many people – very probably as many as Saroyan. But most of those I love were either condemned to death (like Socrates and Christ), assassinated (like Gandhi), misunderstood (like Bach) or excommunicated or exiled (like Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, and Zarian).
*
By contrast, Nabokov was born a millionaire and died as one thanks to a little slut called Lolita. But in between he experienced a revolution (during which he lost not only his fortune but also his father to assassins), exile, destitution, and rejection. He knew what he was talking about when he spoke of scarcity of humans in the world.
*
Blessed be the condemned to death, the assassinated, the misunderstood, rejected, marginalized. and persecuted, for they shall be rewarded with love and admiration in saecula saeculorum, amen!


“Fiscal accountability,” and “Hold them accountable”:
Two expressions I should like to see more often in our press.
*
Refuse to parrot a political line and make an enemy of all parrots.
*
The challenge all politicians face is to do the opposite of what they say and get away with it. Which is why the ideal community is a collection of idiots – which is what we were trained to be under the sultans and commissars and which is what we continue to be by habit, tradition, and culture.
*
In our environment, if you prove someone wrong, you make an enemy for life.
*
Because I speak of reality, I am ignored.
Because I speak of honesty, I am insulted.
Because I call self-assessed geniuses dupes, I am hated.
*
Toynbee on Russians: “As heirs, malgré eux, of an Orthodox Christian cultural heritage, they could not find the principle of 'totalitarianism' either unfamiliar or shocking.”
Something similar could be said of Catholics, Muslims, and Armenians.
*
Where bishops and imams are popular, free speech will be an alien concept.
Where there is too much talk of God, there will not be enough talk of human rights.
Where Allah is King, dissenters will be viewed as agents of the Devil.
*
Toynbee on wealth: “In general, wealth is represented, not as a material boon to be envied and, if possible, expropriated, but a spiritual impediment to be deprecated.”
Translation: Poverty may not be a blessing, but wealth might as well be a curse.


*
LAMENTATION
***
The lies that flatter us
cease to be lies and don the vestments
of self-evident truths.
It is this that allows our phony patriots
to declare pride in their Armenianism
momentarily forgetting that our past
is nothing but a concatenation
of defeats, subservience, degradation, and massacre.
As for the empty boast, “We survived!”
I say, the worst, yes.
The best no!
Ottomanism and Sovietism, yes;
Armenianism (assuming such a thing exists,
and if it does we can recognize it when we see it)
certainly not!
*
Unhappy is the man
whose sole source of pride is propaganda;
and unhappy is the nation
whose leadership's central concern
is to moronize its children.
*
I sense the disintegration of our communities
by the fact that in the company of my fellow countrymen
I feel like a stranger in a strange land.
*
How many bishops, archbishops, and patriarchs do we have today?
I don't know and I don't care to know.
But I do know that you can count the number of intellectuals
on the fingers of one thumb.
There is money in charlatanism,
only unemployment, insults, and starvation
in dedication to ideas and principles.


*
FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
***
There are less than 3 million Mongols in Mongolia today. But there are as many as 60 million Turks (former Mongols) in Turkey. There is only one rational explanation for this glaring disparity: rape and concubinage (legally sanctioned rape).
*
Has anyone ever read a Mongol poet or novelist? One is therefore justified in wondering to which fraction of his DNA does Orhan Pamuk owe his Nobel Prize?
*
I know now that everything I was taught as a child – except perhaps the rules of grammar – was wrong.
And speaking of grammar: There is a saying in French to the effect that even kings must obey the rules of grammar. And yet, Frederick the Great couldn't even speak German fluently, and the several books he authored (some with Voltaire's help) were written in French.
*
When we speak about the meaning of life, what we really mean of course is the meaning of death, or rather its meaninglessness.
*
Once upon a time when Turkey was discussed in diplomatic circles or in the international press, Armenians were also invariably mentioned. Just finished reading a long commentary on Turkey in the Op-Ed page of my morning paper in which Armenians are nowhere to be seen. We appear to have lost our relevance. Either that or we have ceased to be a political football.
*
If you pretend to know more than you do, sooner or later you will run into someone who will call your bluff and you will be caught with your pants down.
To rely too much on someone else's ignorance is an enterprise doomed to end in failure.
*
The older I grow the more frequently I catch myself saying “I don't know,” and “I don't understand.”


*
LAMENTATION (II)
***
To the same degree that they have been Armenianized,
we have been Ottomanized.
I see symptoms of this malaise
in all our institutions – be they political, cultural, and religious.
*
Nothing can be more depressing to me
than the spectacle of a childhood friend
turning into a hireling and mouthing the party line,
and doing so with the unshakable conviction
that he is serving the community and the nation.
So what if in the process he is also making a comfortable living?
Why shouldn't he?
Isn't it the duty of every responsible man
to provide for his family?
Why should there be a contradiction
between his duty as a husband and a father
and his patriotism?
*
Never underestimate the cunning of crooks
and their ability to behave like their own dream team
of defense lawyers.
*
For every dissident,
the Soviets had ten perhaps even a hundred commissars
and a thousand brainwashed citizens
who believed they were law-abiding citizens
and dissidents were criminals.
But ultimately what brought down the Soviet Union
was not dissent but lies.
*
When the best are marginalized,
it is the worst that reach the top.
And when that happens,
death is sure to follow.


*
LIARS AND MEGALOMANIACS
***
When what I say is ignored or rejected,
I have no choice but to repeat myself in the hope that
I may have better luck next time.
After all, Rome wasn't built in one day.
*
I agree with our revolutionaries in so far as
they said enough is enough!
After six hundred years of subservience
we have earned the right to revolt.
I disagree with them – and do so violently – in so far as
they were the first to abandon ship.
*
For saying the obvious,
I am now told I am wrong by individuals
whose incompetence is exceeded only
by their cowardice.
*
In the eyes of the infallible,
you will be right only when you parrot their lies.
*
If you can't convert them, make them mad.
That's my motto.
An Armenian writer is judged
by the number of enemies he makes.
The more, the merrier.
*
What have they learned from their failures?
Nothing. Less than nothing!
Only to rewrite history – which is another thing
they share with Turks.
*
Never parrot the line or recycle the propaganda
of individuals who consider themselves infallible
(they are liars)
or pretend to speak in the name of the Almighty
(they are megalomaniacs).


*
BIAS VERSUS OBJECTIVITY
***
After disagreeing with my views on objectivity,
a reader writes to support the thesis that bias is inevitable and objectivity impossible.
Objectivity, like truth, may indeed be unattainable.
That, however, does not mean we cannot travel in its direction;
or bias is a terminal condition, and once biased, always biased.
*
Consider the following cases of bias:
Germans asserting they belong to a superior race,
and Jews believing they are the Chosen People.
Now contrast these two cases of bias with Toynbee's objective assertion that both Germans and Jews owe their fictional privileged status to no one but to their own narcissism.
*
Closer to home:
I know what it means to be brainwashed (and therefore biased),
and I also know what it means to replace bias with objectivity.
As a child I was biased.
As an adult I have become more objective.
*
Some Turks believe the Genocide to be a fiction of our imagination, and that it was not Turks who massacred Armenians, but the other way around.
By contrast, Armenians believe Turks massacred as many as two million Armenians.
Now suppose these Turks and Armenians appeal to a panel of outsiders with no ax to grind to study the matter and report back. And suppose after a year of deliberation and consultation with experts in the field, this panel reports back and submits its findings, after which Turks are willing to concede that as many as 300,000 Armenians may have been massacred, and Armenians are willing to lower the number of victims from 2 million to 1.5 million. We can conclude that both sides have taken a step in the right direction.
*
And now suppose that a hundred years hence the study of history will be so refined and developed that there will no longer be Armenian and Turkish, or for that matter, Russian or American, history textbooks but a single textbook agreed upon by a panel of international academics. I suggest such a textbook will have taken still another step in the direction of objectivity.
*
Bias may be said to be of two kinds: the kind that is a Big Lie (which can be exposed) and the kind that is inevitable (which can be corrected).
As things stand, all textbooks by nationalist historians – be they Turkish, Armenian, or Hottentot – are no better than propaganda whose intent is to legitimize a power structure, deceive the people, and brainwash children in order to prepare them to fight another war.


*
WOUNDED ANIMALS
***
To the gentle reader who described me as “a wounded animal,” I say:
If centuries of abject subservience to brutal regimes have not left permanent scars on your soul (if you will forgive the overstatement) you must be a superman.
And if you claim to have at no time been mortally wounded by your fellow Armenians, you must be a habitual liar.
Since I have never met a superman and I have met many liars, I have no choice but to assume you are one of those liars who will say anything to assert their superiority over their fellow Armenians.
*
In this morning's paper there is a long article on Armenian criminals in America. Its first paragraph reads:
“A vast network of Armenian gangsters and their associates used phantom health care clinics and other means to try to cheat the government medical insurance program Medicare out of $163 million US, the largest fraud by one criminal enterprise in the program's history, U.S. Authorities said Wednesday.”
We are further informed that an Armenian criminal boss is known as a “vor,” probably because all he does is sit on his fat posterior and let his underlings do the dirty work.
*
The questions to be asked at this point are:
Is there a single former Soviet citizen today who does not bear permanent scars inflicted on his soul by the Stalinist system?
How many “vors” are there in the Yerevan bureaucracy today?
What are the chances that an honest Armenian will emerge from the swamp and reach the top? -- or is that a utopian daydream on my part?


*
NOTES ON OBJECTIVITY AND DISSENT
***
Objectivity is an asset, not a liability.
*
Where there is an absence of objectivity,
blunders are sure to follow.
*
To see things as they are
is better than to think of them as we would like them to be.
*
A Christian can't be objective about Christianity
in the same way that a Taliban mullah
can't be objective about Islam.
*
To say that in matters of faith objectivity is irrelevant
is to surrender reason to the forces of darkness
– the source of all violence.
*
Dissent does not have to be infallible in order to be necessary.
*
Power without dissent digs its own grave.
*
Our intolerance of dissent is a legacy
of our Ottoman and Stalinist past.
*
Only the brain-dead are against dissent and free speech.
*
When the brain-dead lead the brain-dead
they don't fall into the ditch
because their skeletons are already buried there.
*
Men of power do not welcome dissidents;
they prefer dupes with a negative IQ
whose favorite expression is “Yes, sir!”


*
PROPAGANDA & DISSENT
***
For eight years I worked in an insurance company that employed thousands.
What did they produce?
Nothing. Only paperwork.
What did they sell?
The certainty that if you die tomorrow or next year, your family will be awarded a goodly sum – depending on the amount of insurance you bought and provided you paid your monthly, quarterly, or annual premiums.
There is money in certainty no matter how unfounded and false.
There is none in doubt no matter how justified.
*
People hate uncertainty perhaps because there is so much of it in life.
They need to be told there is life after death -- even eternal bliss provided you do what you are told.
Propaganda (be it religious or political) pays because it deals in certainties and it is constructive in so far as it speaks of dreams -- even as it delivers nightmares. Propaganda promises the millennium -- that is, peace and prosperity for a thousand years, even as it delivers war, the concentration camp, and the Gulag.
By contrast, all dissent can do is expose lies.
What could be more negative and destructive?
*
The best dissent can do is question and doubt, thus replacing optimism and hope with pessimism, despair, and anxiety.
Once in a while I get letters asking me, sometimes even begging me, to be more positive and constructive – never more objective and truthful.
I regret to say I am in no position to promise eternal bliss or, for that matter, seventy-three virgins. And yet, that's what the average dupe wants me to do – to deliver empty promises, illusions, and lies.
That may explain why propagandists are amply compensated with power and money and dissenters are ostracized, persecuted, silenced, sometimes even tortured, starved, and killed.


Nowadays almost everyone has either written a book or is busy writing one. When asked to identify my racket, I say I am a retired church organist. A writer has as much prestige today as a mental masturbator.
*
You can behead kings and assassinate heads of state but there isn't much you can do to a faceless and anonymous bureaucrat who may exercise more power on you than any king of head of state.
*
The greatest blunder committed by Turks at the turn of the last century was to think that a tiny and non-representative group of misguided young fools with their heads in the clouds could be a threat to the survival of the Empire.
*
The problem with speechifiers and sermonizes is that they don't even recycle their own crap. What they do is recycle someone else's who did the same. What they say has therefore as much value as the evidence of a comatose parrot.
*
You cannot change that which you hate: that may explain my failure. Perhaps what we need is not critics but messiahs. Anyone interested in being crucified?
*
A partisan thinks it is his patriotic duty to defend everything his party does and to agree with everything the boss says. But I happen to be of the opinion that the Pope is not infallible, Mussolini was not always right, and Suleiman the Magnificent was not magnificent. I further believe the Good Lord has given us a brain with which to think and judge for ourselves, and there is nothing praiseworthy in subservience even when it is promoted in the name of discipline, loyalty, patriotism, and truth.


*
NARRATIVES
***
For every narrative there is a counter-narrative.
*
Our perception of reality is limited.
The human eye, like the eye of a camera, can take in countless details, but the human mind can select and focus only on a limited number of them.
In the Soviet era, for example, the Kremlin provided its own narrative and dissidents like Solzhenitsyn provided a counter-narrative. And for a good number of years, or until Khrushchev's withering speech against the cult of personality, the dissidents' counter-narrative was dismissed by most Sovietologists as reactionary propaganda subsidized and disseminated by the capitalist West.
*
Another case of narrative and counter-narrative is the Turkish version of the Genocide. According to the Turkish official narrative, our genocide is fiction. But according to such dissidents as Pamuk and Akcam, the official narrative is state propaganda.
*
The central concern of our official narrative today is the Genocide. If we had a counter-narrative, its central concern would be democracy and human rights.
We may not have a counter-narrative today, but we had one at the turn of the last century and two of its most important exponents were Baronian and Odian, both of whom are now identified as humorists. Their main concern, however, was neither to entertain nor to amuse their readers, but to expose our moral bankruptcy.
*
Why is it that we had a counter-narrative in the Ottoman Empire but not today in the land of the brave and the free?
The answer is: Under the Sultan, our bosses, bishops, and benefactors did not have the power to control the press.
*
Moral I:
Where there is only one narrative, it can be asserted with some degree of certainty that the counter-narrative has been suppressed.
*
Moral II:
Where crooks and liars are in charge, the press will be controlled; and where the press is controlled, the fundamental human right of free speech will be violated.


There are those who say if you believe in a Big Lie, that lie ceases to be a lie. I am not one of them. I don't believe in faith as magic because i don't believe in magic.
*
What happened to us was not inevitable. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar who is too arrogant to admit that like the rest of mankind he too is prone to error.
*
I may sound like an angry young man but I am in fact a serene old man who has come to terms with his own limitations.
Everything I say contains a silent mea culpa.
I don't accuse, I confess.
And by confessing I hope to achieve a higher degree of serenity.
Consider that a symptom of my Catholic upbringing.
*
There are many little truths in all organized ideologies and religions, but their core is a Big Lie.
*
Truth has never been a central concern of organizations.
Power, yes.
Truth, never!
*
Truth is a metaphysical abstraction with no counterpart in reality. And of reality we are equipped to perceive only tiny fractions. Which is why no two men will ever agree on everything.
*
I don't write to be popular.
I believe there is more merit in unpopularity than in fame and fortune.
And I rate indifference to fame above fame.
*
Did you know that Mongolia's population is 2.7 million? – which means there are many more mongoloids than Mongols – meant to say, many more Armenians.


Social aberrations like racism, fascism, and more recently, political correctness, are as a rule so gradual that the average dupe and conformist (but I repeat myself) submits to them the way he submits to winter cold and summer heat.
*
Why is it that religions are against conflict between classes and for warfare between states?
*
Whenever they tell you “We had no choice,” they lie. Subservient subjects may not have a choice but decision-makers do.
*
There is a core of truth in all religions, but instead of emphasizing the core, religious leaders emphasize such aberrations as intimidation, mumbo jumbo, and the collection plate. In Brecht's words: “Grub first, then ethics.”
*
Where truths are covered up, lies rush in; and where lies become the common currency, wars and massacres are sure to follow.
*
Sooner or later all our organizations turn into fund-raising agencies.
*
If both sides are to blame, why feel the need to support one side against the other? If in judgment impartiality matters, why assume the role of a pro-bono lawyer?
*
God and the Devil are man-made classifications. So are heaven hell. As they say of hallucinations: “It's all in your head.”
*
There are people out there whose sole aim in life is to exploit, deceive, and mislead their fellow men, and most of them are not crooks but pillars of society.
*
Nationalism is good in so far as it stands in opposition to the many abuses of imperialism. Nationalism is bad in so far as it legitimizes fascism, whose abuses and crimes outnumber those of imperial powers. Compare the Hamidian massacres (committed in the name of Ottoman imperialism) with the Genocide (whose perpetrators where Turkish nationalists).
*
Don't be taken in by our own nationalists. If they appear harmless today it's because they are without power.


Toynbee's definition of God: “Absolute Reality approached anthropomorphically.”
My translation: The Unknowable and Inomprhensible as a bearded grandfatherly type.
*
As a boy I could not imagine anyone taking a dislike at me. As an old man I live in solitude because I have no desire to foist my unclean presence on others.
*
Violations of human rights, crimes against humanity, oppression, and lies are universal aberrations and none of us can plead not guilty – none except brainwashed nationalists who have 20/20 vision when they judge others and are blind when they assess themselves.
*
He who worships his ego can worship nothing else.
*
One reason Marie Antoinette was beheaded is that she thought bread could be easily replaced with brioche. A similar fate awaits those who think propaganda can replace free speech.
*
You want to do the right thing? Follow the example of Socrates and Jesus as opposed to that of their executioners.
*
In CASSELL'S FOREIGN WORDS AND PHRASES (London, 2000) I read the following: “Cantaloupe: a small, round, ribbed musk melon, from Cantaluppi, a papal estate near Rome, where it was first introduced from Armenia.”



Ara Baliozian

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