Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Sunday, September 27, 2009
The only thing that so far has changed in our collective existence is the size and nature of our blunders.
To make plans without taking into consideration the unforeseen, the unknown, and the unknowable is to court disaster.
The apologists of the Wall Street bonus scandal call it “an insignificant fraction of the bailout money.” That's what they said about Watergate too -- “a third-rate burglary.”
I once heard an Armenian from the Homeland say, “So what if he [Nixon] lied? They lie to us every day.”
I look forward to the day when capitalism will bite the dust as communism did.
They gave the Nobel Prize to Arafat and Kissinger but not to Tolstoy and Gandhi. And when they awarded the Prize to Thomas Mann they did so not for THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN but for BUDDENBROOKS.
Had Hitler won World War II, he too would have been considered for the Nobel Prize “for pacifying the West after thirty centuries of almost ceaseless internecine conflicts.”
“After Hitler won World War II...” What a novel one could write with such a first line!
Before you dare to disagree with an Armenian, consider the words of an old wise man: “When you fight with a pig, you both get dirty, but only the pig likes it.”
Monday, September 28, 2009
Better a bad haiku than a mediocre sonnet.
In writing the principle that never fails is brevity. Keep it short!
A paragraph may be admirable in its beauty and complexity,
but it is one-liners that stick to one's mind.
“To be or not to be...”
“Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.”
“A bourgeois is a bourgeois regardless of nationality.”
“An Armenian's tongue is sharper than a Turk's yataghan.”
“Once upon a time we were willing to die for freedom, we are now afraid of free speech.”
To the son of a prostitute who threw a stone at him:
“Be careful, my boy, you may be hitting your father.”
To a bald man who insulted him:
“I congratulate the hairs on your head for abandoning a fool like you.”
On being reprimanded for masturbating in public:
“I wish I could satisfy my hunger as easily.”
In the Middle Ages Armenians ruled empires and they were themselves ruled by Jews (Bagratunis) and the Mamigonians (Chinese). What has nationalism done for us except to divide us further?
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
In the eyes of God, some wars are just.
Yes, but whose God?
I have been cheated by the poor and I have been cheated by the rich. The difference is that when I was cheated by the rich, they made it look like they were doing me a favor.
What others think of us may be as removed from reality as what we think of ourselves.
I look forward to the day when I will no longer look forward to anything.
Jesus and Torquemada, Marx and Stalin, God and the Devil: Can they be really separated?
There is a type of contradiction that is a symptom not of inconsistency but of ferment.
No one lives long enough to enjoy his immortality.
Our body language is invisible to us.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Speaking of the superficiality of the Byzantine Empire, Zarian remarks somewhere: “Not a single school of philosophy.” By contrast, America may be said to be bursting at the seams with schools of philosophy.
The first time I heard someone say, “Live and let live, that's my philosophy,” I thought he was being funny. It took me a while to realize that he was dead serious. If a cliché can be a philosophy, any moron can parade as a philosopher. Which reminds me of the fact that after the Americans liberated Greece and GIs were seen everywhere in Athens, a new phrase entered the Greek language: “Do you take me for an American?” Meaning, “Do you take me for a moron?”
It must be just about the oldest trick in the world. You want to fool someone? Convince him he is so smart than no one can fool him.
You want to convince an entire race of men to behave like unspeakable barbarians? Convince them into believing they belong to a superior race.
That's why “Life is a bitch,” “Sh*t happens,” and “There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.” That is always why “There are more sorrows on earth than there are stars in heaven.” (Apik Avakian)
Closer to home: Do you need a class of men to behave like neo-Stalinist crypto-commissars? Brainwash a bunch of bullies into thinking they have leadership qualities. That is also why our political leaders are no better than the scum of the earth.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Thursday, September 24, 2009
Once upon a time they challenged the might of an empire. They are now afraid of the words of a minor scribbler. They preach heroism but practice cowardice.
My ambition: to expose that which is covered up and to state clearly and briefly that which everyone almost thinks.
Failure is a better teacher than success.
To succeed in one field means to fail in a thousand others.
In an ideal society everyone would be a success because everyone would be allowed to find or invent his own field.
Armenians are sheep with odars, wolves with one another.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Because they couldn't get at our revolutionaries, they went after the defenseless civilians. This is an aspect of the Genocide that is covered up by both sides.
Our revolutionaries preached heroism (they still do) but practice taking care of number one (ditto). Which may suggest that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” but not always in the same direction.
I am not casting aspersions. All I am saying is that sometimes the instinct for self-preservation trumps all other political and moral considerations. That may well be the secret of our survival.
As for our intellectuals: the very few that survived (Zabel Yessayan among them) were later betrayed to the authorities by another set of our so-called “revolutionaries.”
In their national anthem, the English sing: “God save our gracious Queen.”
We would be justified in singing : “God save us from our revolutionaries.”
Moral I: Power means first and foremost the power to redefine words, and when power redefines words they end up meaning the opposite of what they say. As when freedom is redefined to mean the freedom to indoctrinate, intimidate, and enslave.
Moral II: Even in the most benevolent leader there is a vampire who loves the taste of blood.
Moral III:
Without indoctrination and intimidation, a power structure collapses like a house of cards in a windstorm.
Moral IV:
If we are unteachable, it may be because we are eminently brainwashable.
Moral V: When it comes to their own historic experience, both Armenians and Turks are denialists.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Understanding history has been a central concern of historians, metahistorians, and philosophers from Herodotus to Hegel, Spengler, and Toynbee.
What propaganda does in effect is to assert the earth is flat and it repeats this falsehood so often that millions end up believing it.
If it were up to propagandists, the work of countless thinkers would be buried and forgotten, or viewed as dangerous heresies.
The real aim of propaganda is less to misrepresent reality and mislead the people and more to moronize the masses by paralyzing the brain and perverting understanding to such a degree that a man who cannot even lead his dog to the nearest fire hydrant is glorified as a statesman of vision.
Had the Nazis won World War II, we would now have statues of Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, and Goering in the central square of every city, town, and village. This may explain why Talaat is seen as a statesman of vision by some and our revolutionaries are glorified as heroes by others.
We are divided not by truth but by lies.
God does not divide.
Divisions are the Devil's department.
Propaganda flatters.
That is the secret of its popularity.
It flatters the fool to believe he is wise,
and it flatters the murderer to believe he is a hero.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Sunday, September 20, 2009
When a Catholic tells me “the Pope thinks...” all I want to know is if an imam agrees with him. Because if he doesn't, I am more than willing to dismiss both of them as charlatans. And it is not enough for them to agree on the essentials – God is one, God is our Father, God is love, God is compassionate, We are His children, He owns the Day of Judgment, and so on and so forth – they must also agree on the inessentials and the irrelevant. Because in the past, even Christians have slaughtered Christians on account of a single word. Which may explain why there is a school of thought that believes the Earth is the insane asylum of the galaxy.
I hope you will agree with me when I say a single wrong word does not justify the murder of a single innocent human being. And if you disagree with me today, you may agree with me tomorrow. Not only disagreements, unlike diamonds, are not forever, but they are also cheaper than a dime a dozen.
I suggest it is wrong to say “I think...” It is more accurate to say “There is a school of thought...” or even better, “There is a propaganda line...” And as we ought to know by now, for every “school” or “line” there is another that will contradict it. This applies not only to politics, history, ideology, religion, and philosophy, but also to science. According to Popper (the greatest 20th-century philosopher of science) there is no such thing as a scientific theory that is not wrong for the simple reason that progress in science is made by exposing the errors of past theories -- as when Einstein corrected Newton, and as no doubt Einstein himself will be corrected in the future.
What does the Pope or an imam think?
Rather, why should anyone give a damn?
If a pope were to agree with an imam, one of them would be out of a job.
Which may suggest that most disagreements, the most important ones on which the survival of millions may depend, are direct results of the fact that two charlatans refuse to share power.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Don't get me wrong.
It is not my ambition
to save the nation.
The very best I may succeed in doing
is giving one or at most two charlatans
a little insomnia --
and when I say a little
I mean a fraction of a second.
Save the nation?
That would be megalomania run amok.
Think of Russia:
after Tolstoy and Dostoevsky,
Lenin and Stalin.
After Thomas Mann and Gramsci
Hitler and Mussolini.
And closer to home:
after Baronian and Odian,
deportation, starvation, and massacres.
No one, not even a messiah
can save a nation on its way to the devil.
No one can stopper a volcano
or arrest an avalanche
on its downward path
or appeal to the common sense
of an earthquake
or reason with a tsunami.
No one can edit or amend
the Writing on the Wall.
I write because writing has become
a habit and habits are easier to keep
than to give up.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Culture is not a single unified and harmonized concept but a collection of contradictory traditions, habits, and values. Culture also means anti-culture. Every culture contains the seeds of its own destruction, in the same way that every tradition and value that does not evolve condemns itself to the dustbin of history.
For one thousand years the Bible was seen as the Word of God and the Pope as God's sole representative on earth; and as such he could do no wrong even when he legitimized the torture and death of heretics or anyone else who dared to think for himself. As a result, all the scientific advances made by the Greeks were destroyed, buried, and forgotten.
Most of my critics attack me on cultural grounds because they confuse my defense of human rights with contempt for our traditional values as embodied by our bosses, bishops, and benefactors. They define a good Armenian as one who says “Yes, sir!” to authority figures who themselves said “Yes, sir” to the Sultan and to Stalin. A good Armenian is thus one whose Armenianism is a direct offspring of Ottomanism and Sovietism. He is quintessentially anti-democratic, narrow, obscurantist, oppressive, tyrannical and doomed to extinction as surely as medieval papacy, the Ottomanism of sultans, and the Sovietism of commissars.
Don't get me wrong. I am not engaging in prophecy. I am simply describing what I see – namely the high rate of alienation and assimilation in the Diaspora and exodus from the Homeland.
Moral I: If the popes of Rome could be wrong for a thousand years, so can our bishops for ten thousand years.
Moral II: What matters is not what others (including myself) tell you, but what you really think.
Moral III: The only way to discover what you really think is by not allowing anyone's authority to blind your critical judgment.
Moral IV: The ultimate aim of all authority is to grind you to dust.
Moral V: There is only one way to assert your freedom and that is by resisting authority.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
To wear down the opposition may not be victory
but I like to believe it is not altogether without merit.
Everything that is worth saying has been said.
What remains to be done is to repeat and emphasize.
Because we agreed on ninety-nine things
and disagreed on one,
he became my mortal enemy.
Because I refuse to share their narcissism,
they tell me I hate myself.
Overheard on the radio:
“There is more money in delivering pizza
than in being a philosopher or writer.”
My venom, if you want to call it that,
is nothing but concentrated reality.
Their two favorite ways of solving problems:
to cover them up or to pretend they are not there.
In the eyes of those who judge people by their income,
I am no better than white trash,
and I'd rather be white trash on financial grounds than
on moral grounds.
I understand them because once upon a time
I believed them,
I looked up to them,
I wanted to be one of them.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

random thoughts

Thursday, September 17, 2009
Readers who contradict and insult me
do so with the self-righteous arrogance
of our revolutionaries whose revolution
resulted in in one of the worst catastrophes
of the last millennium.
They may think they have God on their side
(meaning of course our bosses, bishops, and benefactors)
but I have His word on mine.
You don't believe me?
Read instead the Scriptures.
But if you are too lazy to do so,
allow me the privilege:
“Put not your trust in princes.”
For “Wide is the gate and broad is the way
that leadeth to destruction.”
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
“Where there is no no vision, the people perish.”
“What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world
and lose his own soul?”
“The wages of sin is death.”
“If the blind lead the blind,
both shall fall into the ditch.”
“The way of transgressors is hard.”
Let us now pray.
“Our Father...”
Friday, September 18, 2009
When it comes to praising God
and worshiping Mammon,
we all sing in harmoney
and use the same hymn book.
When it comes to bragging about survival
and lamenting our countless victims
we are all on the same page.
We all agree to confuse reason with treason.
We are unanimous when it comes to
praising our poets when they are dead
and burying them when they are alive.
We all agree to believe in Big Lies
and to verbally abuse those who expose them.
We all agree to preach Armenianism
and to practice Ottomanism in the Diaspora
and Sovietism in the Homeland.
We are all for freedom
and dead set against free speech.
We are solidly united
when it comes to creating problems,
pretending we have none,
and blaming the rest of the world for them.
And if you say that doesn't make sense
I will also say
we all agree that
making sense
is an unArmenian activity.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
If Freedom or Death does not mean
my freedom and your death,
why is it that our revolutionaries had a Plan B
only for themselves?
Memo to our revolutionaries:
Freedom from oppression
does not mean freedom to oppress.
Whenever I am insulted anonymously,
I count my blessings when I think
in the Ottoman Empire and the Soviet Union
I would have been betrayed to the authorities.
If my central ideas are paraphrases
of Biblical quotations (see above)
does that mean God too is an enemy?
A fool's silence
is more valuable than his speech.
An established truth is a grave
from which only lies are resurrected.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Sunday, September 13, 2009
When New York publishers rejected Thoreau's works, he said: “My bait will not tempt the rats, they are too well fed.”
If the Axis powers had won World War II, there would be a law now that says, all mention of the Holocaust is a criminal offense. America being a democracy, recognizes the primacy of free speech. As a result there is no corresponding law that deals with the extermination of Indians and the slavery of blacks. No one can arrest a black minister for saying “God damn America!” instead of “God save America.” Indian, black, and even white writers are as free to write big books on America's criminal past as white racists are free to think they did to the Indians what the Indians were doing to one another and what they did to the whites whenever they had the power. As for slavery: even the Greeks at the apex of their civilization (5th century BC) had slaves. Even wealthy blacks in America had slaves. In Africa the blacks enslave one another even today. And if the blacks could enslave whites, does anyone think they would refuse to do so on moral grounds? Hence, the animus against Obama.
Obama is not an American. He is a Muslim. He befriends terrorists. He was born in Africa. He is an illegal President. He is a Nazi. He is a liar. The secret aim of his health care reform is to bankrupt white America. And when that happens, we will be at their mercy and they will do to us what we did to them.
The Jews are doing to the Palestinians what the Romans did to them. Armenians (with the help of Greeks and Kurds) will be glad to do to us what they did to the Azeris and we did to them. The natives are restless. The rats are afoot!
That's not paranoia but reality, and a reality with so many precedents in history that it might as well be as routine and predictable an occurrence as sunrise and sunset.
“Multitasking is a myth. You can't chew gum and fart at the same time.” Neither can you stop blaming blacks for planning to bankrupt whites long enough to blame the chief executive officers (all of them as white as la crème de la scum) for bankrupting the world economy.
Monday, September 14, 2009
To believe means to believe the unbelievable.
To believe means to believe your belief system to be the only true one.
Not to believe in what someone else believes, or not to subscribe to his belief system, does not mean to disagree with him but to be immune to his Big Lie.
Faith is a prejudice that is at the root of countless conflicts and many more victims. But people continue to cling to it as if it were a self-evident truth rather than a Big as well as a Dangerous Lie.
I believe the Genocide happened.
My Turkish friend believes it never did.
We disagree because we were exposed to two different sets of educational systems or propaganda.
My friend has written a big book (over 800 pages) in which he proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Genocide is a fabrication of Armenian propagandists.
I have read this book and I remain unconvinced not only because I have read bigger books in which the Genocide is documented but also because I believe it happened, and he who believes is not open to reason or documentation or evidence.
Propaganda is worse than hearsay evidence – it is fabricated evidence. Hearsay evidence is not admissible in a court of law. Fabricated evidence is perjury and perjury is a serious criminal offense punishable by law. And yet, those who recycle propaganda outnumber those who think for themselves a million to one – roughly speaking of course. This is especially true in authoritarian regimes. It is different in democracies. There are schools of thought in the United States today that assert both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 could have been prevented.
I believe the Genocide could have been prevented too.
I believe those who assert the Genocide was inevitable are wrong. Because if it was inevitable, why is it that no one saw it coming? Why is it that no one warned the people?
“To what purpose?” my partisan friends demand to know whenever the subject comes up.
“So that the people would weigh their options and make an informed decision.”
“Such as?”
“Such as to stay put and be butchered or get the hell out.”
“And abandon all their possessions?”
This response reminds me of Paul Valéry who somewhere speaks of a man who refused to let go of his umbrella and was run over by a bus.
I believe the Genocide to be a result of two colossal blunders committed by nationalist fanatics and fools on both sides. It goes without saying that to massacre innocent civilians is a far more serious crime than stupidity or ignorance.
Ignorance may be the most innocent of all transgressions but in life it is the most severely punished. If there are inflexible laws in life, this surely must be one of them.
And speaking of inflexible laws, here is another: If you refuse to learn from your blunders, you condemn yourself to repeat them.
What have we learned from our genocide?
What else but to say we are at the mercy of inevitable historic conditions or forces beyond our control?
Same mistake, same propaganda, same Big Lie fabricated and recycled by men who are too lazy or stupid to think for themselves.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
A frequently asked question: “What would you have done in their place?”
My answer: Probably what they did, but having done so I wouldn't compound the felony by spending the rest of my life pretending to be the exact opposite of who and what I am; neither would I expect others to look up to me as a role model, or a leader of men, or a noble specimen of humanity, or a man of vision.
If you ever ask an Armenian writer (assuming you can find one) to describe the nature of his employment, the chances are (if he is an honest man) he will say: “It is a demanding job with a negative income in a carcinogenic environment.”
I have dealt with too many of my fellow countrymen to be a friend of the human race.
I believe free speech to be a human right. I am therefore guilty of unArmenian activities.
Where wishful thinking enters, disappointment is sure to follow.
The first paragraph in the propaganda of barbarians reads:
“We are civilized.
We speak the truth.
Those who disagree with us are liars
and the world will be a better place without them.”
The difference between those who think and speak for themselves and those who recycle propaganda is that the propagandists are never wrong.
The height of luxury for me is the ability to say “Talk to my lawyer.”
Writers cannot silence politicians but politicians have been silencing writers for centuries.
I speak in defense of human rights. The opposition speaks in the name of God, Capital, and Patriotism. I have as much chance to survive as a vegetarian who is surrounded by a tribe of starving cannibals.
Someday I would like to meet an Armenian who is not driven by the need to prove himself smarter or more patriotic than I.
Judge an idea or ideology not by its definition but by its history.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
W. Somerset Maugham: " Suffering makes men petty and vindictive."
A friend writes:
“The lawyer husband of a former student of mine was part of a non-partisan U.S.
commission to monitor the last elections in Armenia. They found irregularities.
Afterward, the 'winner' of the presidency asked his defeated opponent to come see him in his office. When the ex-candidate stepped into the President's office, a bunch of thugs beat the opponent so badly he had to be hospitalized. As his opponent was being beaten, the President said, 'That's for being insolent.'
Democracy comes to Armenia."
I believe in being diplomatic with Turks but not with Ottomanized Armenians; and I call an Armenian Ottomanized when he does with his tongue what the Turks did with their yataghans.
Eugene O'Neill: “[Members of the State Department] are trained to be conspirators, card sharps, double-crossers and secret betrayers of their own people."
That's what I mean when I say our “betters” are our worst.
When it comes to the Genocide, we agree on one important point with the Turks: if it weren't for the meddling of the West, it wouldn't have happened. It follows, the West too owes us an apology.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Thursday, September 10, 2009
The only way to understand a country is to work there for a living. Likewise, the best way to understand a man is to work for him. With occasional and brief interruptions I have worked for Armenians all my life, mostly at minimum wage, and more often than not, at less than minimum-wage jobs. I have even worked for an Oriental carpet dealer, who was so patriotic that he couldn't stand anyone using a Turkish word in his presence.
If you think I have a low opinion of my fellow countrymen, you should meet a member of our self-appointed elite, which translated into dollars and cents means the scum of the earth. I had the misfortune of meeting some of them after I translated Zarian into English. Almost every other Armenian I met after that wanted to be translated, edited, or reviewed by me. No one ever asked me to translate Abovian, Raffi, or Naregatsi, only me, me, me!
At first I tried to be nice to all of them and was overly generous in my reviews, until one of our distinguished academics said to me: “Why do you waste your time on mediocrities?” When I said something to the effect that I was trying to be positive to survivors who had been through hell, or words to that effect, he said: “If you praise nobodies, what will you say if you ever run into an authentic genius?” It took me several years to realize that this gentleman considered himself one of them.
Once, when a third-rate loud-mouth vodanavorji, the flunky of a national benefactor, proposed that I translate a collection of his verse -- “a minimum of no less than 600 pages,” were his specifications-- I gave him to understand that I might not be able to handle the job. Whereupon he retorted: “You translate a phony like Zarian and you dare to turn me down?”
It goes without saying that whenever you say no to an Armenian, you make an enemy for life.
Years later I met Naregatsi's translator, the late Mischa Kudian, a dental surgeon by profession. We had a long talk -- about two hours -- during which he recounted some of his experiences as translator. Had he written about them, it would have been a longer lamentation.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Everything I write is an answer to a specific question.
I have answered a thousand questions
and I expect I will go on answering a thousand more.
But there will always be those who say
I refuse to answer questions.
If they can't bitch about real things,
they invent them.
They find it difficult to reconcile the fact that
throughout our millennial history we,
the smartest people on earth,
have failed to solve our problems.
Hence the mantra:
“We don't need critics. We need solutions.”
Do we really need solutions?
I doubt it.
What we need however is a treatment for a terminal condition
whose nature we pretend not to know.
At the end of each year,
our bosses, bishops, and benefactors
should deliver a speech or sermon
that begins with the words,
“This year too we have failed to enhance our solidarity.
As a result we remain as divided and tribalized as ever.”
If so far they have not uttered these words
it's because they know they are guilty as charged
and they refuse to admit it.
If they did, they would run the risk of turning the people against them.
Which means no more fund-raising
in the name of God and Country.
Besides, admitting failure is not good public relations.
We prefer to brag.
We brag about our survival
even as we die the death of a thousand self-inflicted cuts.
We brag about the number of schools we have built,
not what it is that's being taught in them.
Next time you get a letter from a fund raiser,
you may notice that it ends with a boast
that goes something like this:
“If so far we have succeeded in realizing our goals
it is because we have had your generous support.
We need more of your support now
in order to succeed in the future.”
(Translation: “Mi kich pogh oughargetsek.”)
Comrade Panchoonie is dead.
Long live Jack S. Avanakian!
Have I said this before?
Do I repeat myself?
When dealing with a recalcitrant child,
you have two options:
to resort to physical punishment
or to repeat yourself.
I repeat myself because the physical option is out.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
If you want to have a more objective idea
of our real situation in the Diaspora,
consider a United States during the last four decades
without an Attorney General and a Justice Department.
Nixon would have served his full term in the White House
and members of his administration would have taught
all their dirty tricks to the next Republican contender.
To survive as a viable alternative,
the Democrats would have had no choice
but to resort to dirtier tricks.
The trouble with crooks is that
as soon as they realize they can get away with something,
the come back to get away with more.
And when crooks are in charge,
honest men live in fear.
And worse: they go underground
or join the silent and passive majority.
In a lawless land it is not the best that survive
but the most ruthless.
Deep Throat, himself a high-ranking agent of the FBI,
was afraid to identify himself and to speak up.
Ben Bagdikian lived in fear of his life
when he had possession of the Pentagon Papers.
And now, consider the number of honest journalists
who have been assassinated recently in Russia.
As for our beloved homeland:
Does anyone know the name of our Attorney General there
or for that matter whether he even exists?
Speaking for myself,
I am in no position to answer that question.
I can only say “Der Voghormia!”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Sunday, September 6, 2009
(Parental guidance is advised)
We now have a new definition of patriotism: “To make the Homeland a better place to visit.” To that end, we spend millions building new villages, highways, churches, museums, hotels, and schools on the assumption that new schools will bring forth new Armenians, and better classrooms will generate greater intellects.
I am myself a product of an Armenian education, that is to say, an authoritarian educational system in which the emphasis was on respect for and obedience to authority. I don't remember a single mention of human rights, the right to dissent, and the value of free speech.
When during the Soviet era a politician from Ottawa visited one of our schools and discovered that some of the textbooks used there were of Soviet provenance, he was outraged and demanded an immediate end to that practice.
Our philistines don't mind spending millions on new walls as long as their name is emblazoned on them, but they wouldn't even spend a penny on textbooks.
And now, allow me to recount in my own words a story that I first heard when I was three or four.
A man once said to his servant: “Go to the bathhouse and see if it's crowded.” The servant does as he is told and sees a long line at the gate of the bathhouse, but he also observes on the path leading to the gate a rock to which everyone bumps and hurts his foot, until one man takes it upon himself to clear the path. Upon his return to his master, the servant says: “I saw only one man by the gate of the bathhouse, sir.”
End of story.
I once asked the lawyer of a national benefactor why do they support a regime that is a vipers' nest?
His reply: “If we don't support the regime, we will not be allowed to help the people.”
“You mean to tell me they will let the people starve and freeze? You mean you are supporting a bunch of blackmailers?”
I got no answer to my question, only a curt: “I am not talking to you!”
Moral I: When our Panchoonies and Jack S. Avanakians build schools, the chances are the teaching will be done by lesser Panchoonies and Avanaks.
Moral II: In a crowd of Panchoonies and Avanaks, you cannot always count on a single human being to do what must be done.
Moral III: From a vipers' nest, all you will get is more vipers.
Monday, September 7, 2009
A headline in NEWSWEEK reads: “Venezuela's brain drain.” Who speaks of Armenia's brain drain? Not even Armenians, probably because every Armenian believes he has a surplus of that particular commodity and would gladly share it if asked.
It is easy for two fools to convince each other that they are not just smart but much smarter than others. On this point, Armenians have no trouble reaching a consensus.
Teach yourself to say, “I am a fool,” for that is the beginning of all wisdom.
A good Armenian is one who loves those who have brainwashed him and hates those who speak of reality, as if reality were anti-Armenian and pro-Turkish.
I learn something from everyone I meet, except my critics. All my critics succeed in doing is expose the Turk in themselves and, in doing so, they remind me of the Turk in me.
We learn from our mistakes only in the sense that we learn ways to avoid getting caught red-handed – until making mistakes becomes a habit, and that's when we get caught.
The right to be wrong is also a human right. Be aware of the man who is never wrong.
There is a type of reader who is disposed to agree with me only if I were to say Armenians are the first people to convert to Christianity and the first nation to be targeted for extermination in the 20th century. Beyond that, no matter what I say, his first impulse will be to contradict me.
Most Armenians will never take me seriously as a writer simply because I say things they have known all along without taking the trouble to verbalize them because doing so would amount to adding insult to injury, which may suggest that they view criticism as massacre by other means.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Don't be afraid of those who exercise
their human right of free speech.
Be afraid instead of those who violate that right.
Because if they can violate one right today,
they can violate others tomorrow.
And if they can violate my right today,
what makes you think they will not violate yours tomorrow?
Unless of course you think you are
-- unlike czars, kings, and heads of state – invulnerable.
All crimes against humanity begin with censorship.
Nothing could be more absurd than to think,
If God is on my side, I have nothing to fear.
God does not like braggarts and
He seems to take a malicious pleasure in disappointing those
who believe Him to be on their side.
A hundred years ago
we challenged the might of an empire.
We are now afraid of words.
This to me is as real a development
as the Genocide -- and as tragic.
If Naregatsi were alive today
he would write a much longer lamentation.
The cowardice of some of my critics is such
that they insult me anonymously,
and they are too slow to see the connection.
We are not a nation of heroes.
We are a nation of victims.
And worse!
We are a nation at the mercy of cowards
who love to speechify about our heroic past
to cover up their own cowardice.
They brag about our heroes
to cover up their status as zeros.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Comrade Panchoonie is a bundle of contradictions
and he doesn't know it.
In his attempt to expose bourgeois prejudices,
he exposes his own.
He pretends to be an idealist
but he concludes every one of his reports
to the central committee
with the words: “Send us a little money.”
He chastises his adversaries
for their lack of understanding
of what he is attempting to do
even as he unmasks his own
much greater limitations and fanaticism.
His Truth is a Big Lie.
His promised Land is our Hell on earth.
I suspect it never even occurred to Odian
that some day his Comrade Panchoonie would rise again
as Jack S. Avanakian and become
our most popular role model.
Consider the case of our Turcocentric ghazetajis
who expect us to believe their only concern is justice.
To that end they heap an endless stream of accusations
on our enemies but they refuse to utter a single word
about our own abuses of power,
violations of human rights, corruption, double-talk,
incompetence, intolerance, divisions,
worship of the Almighty Dollar, and contempt for ideas.
There are two kinds of society
that don't feel the need of a free press:
(one)primitive, and
(two) fascist.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Thursday, September 3, 2009
(Parental guidance is advised)
If nothing else, our Ottoman and Soviet experiences should have taught us the dangers of autocratic rule and the values of free speech, an independent press, and respect for human rights. Instead it seems to have done the exact opposite. In other words, it has reinforced and legitimized our Ottomanism and Sovietism.
It is not the function of a writer to serve the interests of a political leader and his supporters. Neither is it his responsibility to encourage or exploit the animal instinct of the unthinking or traumatized masses. Rather, his role is to share what he has learned not only from life but also from the experiences and ideas of the best intellects in world literature.
Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that a writer decides to give up his freedom and support the leadership. The question that must be raised at this point is: Which leader? When was the last time our leaders agreed on anything? If he supports one side against the other, he will be labeled an enemy by the opposition. And if the opposition assumes power, he may end up as an exile at best, and at worst, arrested, tried, and in the absence of an independent judiciary, found guilty.
Don't call me a writer or even a scribbler. Call me – if you insist on calling me anything – a face in the crowd who has been doing his utmost to be an honest witness. Prone to error? Certainly! But honest. (Such a pity that we don't have a word for honesty in Armenian.)
Friday, September 4, 2009
(Parental guidance is advised)
When Comrade Panchoonie dies it is not Odian who pens the obituary but a faithful member of the Party. And when Jack S. Avanakian, Panchoonie's Armenian-American counterpart, dies the eulogy is delivered by -- who else -- but a fellow avanak. And when one avanak eulogizes another, every other sentence will contain such expressions as “a dedicated patriot,” “a role model to our youth,” “a man of vision,” “a Renaissance man,” “a source of inspiration to all of us,” “a man of contemplation as well as action,” “under his leadership our community life experienced a golden age,” and “we shall not see his like again!”
If only that were true!
Odian couldn't have been more wrong. Had he known the truth, he would have written a lamentation rather than a satirical novel, or a tragedy rather than a farce.
Did you know that all of Odian's works were published in the Homeland during the Soviet era, except COMRADE PANCHOONIE? That to me is as clear an admission of guilt as a signed confession that says “We are all Panchoonies.”
Who would have thought a hundred years ago that our Panchoonies and Jack S. Avanakians would conspire and successfully exterminate our Odians on the grounds that they (our avanaks) are builders and our Odians are destroyers?
Sartre is right. Literature saves nothing and no one. We are all condemned to be at the mercy of meddlers who are at it 24/7 speechifying, proselytizing, brainwashing, organizing, fund-raising, starving and silencing. They may speechify about life but their real business is death.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
(Parental guidance is advised)
Because they cannot convince the opposition,
they brainwash children.
Some of the worst liars I have met
were honest men who believed they were speaking the truth.
I believe in doubt,
therefore I am not easily taken in
by popes, presidents, kings
and their assorted hirelings and flunkies,
especially when they contradict one another
in defense of what's mine is mine.
What's mine is mine
is a bad argument because sooner or later
it morphs into what's yours is mine too.
To speak louder,
to have more money,
or to carry a bigger stick
are not arguments that prove anything.
And yet mankind has always been at the mercy
of philistines, frauds, and bullies
who use them as self-evident and irrefutable truths
and they are believed.
Millions have killed and died for a belief system
that has as much merit as
the shadow of a non-existent black hat in a dark room.
A belief system is a Ponzi scheme.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Sunday, August 30, 2009
-Foreign investments, economists, entrepreneurs, industrialists.
-A police force with the latest computerized gadgets.
-A disciplined and well-trained army with the best hardware and delivery system money can buy.
-Law-and-order judges.
-Medical doctors, specialists, and hospitals with up-to-date diagnostic tools.
-Experienced and competent mechanics and repairmen.
-Architects, artists, and sculptors,
-Four-star chefs.
-Athletes of all kinds.
-Actors, directors, singers, dancers, and choreographers.
-Composers, conductors, and instrumentalists.
-Novelists, poets, playwrights.
-Experts in all fields of human endeavor.
Monday, August 31, 2009
There is only one way to never make mistakes and that is by not admitting them.
Watergate was exposed by a free press and an independent judiciary. We have neither the first nor the second. As a result, our blunders can safely remain covered up and our blunderers can continue to parade as men of integrity and able statesmen worthy of universal respect.
When after the collapse of the Soviet Union a KGB agent established himself in America, published his memoirs in which he said they (the KGB) had been successful in planting their own agents into the ARF leadership, and I quoted the relevant passages in my review of the book, a very angry insider called and started yelling at me, “How dare you write such nonsense!”
When Antranik Zaroukian, as a member of the Party, asked permission to edit a literary periodical independent of Party control, permission was denied. Result: a moribund literature and a stagnant press monopolized by Turcocentric editors and ghazetajis.
Something similar could be said of our political parties in the Homeland, whose main function appears to be to cover up their collaboration with the Kremlin and the systematic extermination of our ablest men. Result: the nation remains at the mercy of leaders who are the offspring of criminals who got away with murder.
Now, consider what happened in France immediately after World War II. All those guilty of collaborating with the Germans were immediately arrested, tried, found guilty, and condemned to death as traitors. Marshall Petain (called “Putain” = whore), former minister of war, hero of World War I, and head of state during the occupation, was among the condemned. Result: the French judiciary recovered its independence, the French press is flourishing, and French literature is so alive and well that writers of all nations feel welcomed enough to give up their mother tongue and write in French. Ionesco (Romanian), Beckett (Irishman), and Adamov (Armenian), three of the most influential playwrights in world literature, wrote in French.
And speaking of Armenian writers writing in French: A best-selling writer by the name of Mamikonian (I forget her first name) was recently approached by Armenian monarchists who urged her to be the queen of Armenia. When she rejected the offer, they threatened to abduct her children. For a while she and her family were under police protection. For all I know, they still are.
Moral: Some Armenians would rather be a second-rate French writer than the first-rate queen of a nation that was first to convert to Christianity and first to be almost exterminated in the 20th century (and why we like to brag about that, I will be damned if I know).
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
We have spent millions on Genocide recognition,
but not a single penny on Genocide prevention.
And when I speak of genocide
I speak not only of what happened in the Ottoman Empire
nearly a hundred years ago,
(and thus belongs to the irrevocable
and irreversible past)
but also of what is happening today even as I write
(that is, alienation and assimilation in the Diaspora
and exodus from the Homeland).
When it comes to the “red” Genocide,
not only we pin the responsibility on the Turks,
we also paint them all black
(Asiatic barbarians, bloodthirsty savages, jungle predators),
and ourselves all white.
But when it comes to our own “spitak chart” (white slaughter)
we plead not guilty
by reason of historic, political, social, and cultural conditions
beyond our control.
I submit that to be a big lie!
I could make a long list of indictments
that may suggest otherwise, among them,
useless internecine conflicts, divisions, incompetence,
corruption, dogmatism, intolerance, double talk,
waste of valuable resources, mismanagement,
misrepresentation, contempt for free speech,
violations of human rights,
the need for a free press,
absence of vision
(remember, “where there is no vision, the people perish”),
and charlatanism.
Conditions beyond our control?
Not guilty?
Not responsible?
Bare-faced lies and worse.
Much worse!
Lies told by idiots and believed by dupes with negative IQs.
But this is not so much an indictment as a confession.
Until very recently I too spoke like an idiot
and believed everything I was told by my “betters,”
whom I now believe to be our worst!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
(Parental guidance is advised)
A quiet day. On the Internet, only three hostile comments which make me think of Koestler's remark – “Nothing can be as sad as the loss of an illusion.” To grow up might as well be synonymous with to lose illusions. What is life if not a cemetery of buried illusions? If the first act of a play is about an illusion, the final act is bound to be tragic.
How to explain the fact that even after a century, Armenians continue to cling to the illusion that they are as white as snow and it is the rest of the world that is rotten? My only explanation: what J.S. Bach is to music, what Paganini was to the violin, what Casanova was to women, what Casals was to the cello, what Bobby Fisher was to chess, and what Tiger Woods is to golf, we are to the blame-game.
Reading a big biography of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I still cannot connect his life to his work. Where did ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE come from? A paragraph from Balzac married to a plot by Faulkner written with a touch of Kafka?
Also reading Richard Price's LUSH LIFE. His fast-moving dialogue fascinates me even when there are times when I cannot follow its logical progression and slang.
Helene Mercier: “Music opens before us a realm in which it is emotions that give meaning to life.”
A headline in my morning paper: “Turkey, Armenia to set up diplomatic ties.” Let others see progress here. I see nothing but the prescription of a placebo to a patient suffering from terminal cancer.