Saturday, December 31, 2011


Thursday, December 29, 2011
On more than one occasion
I have heard it said that we Armenians
are not yet ready for democracy.
What does that really mean?
Our leaders prefer to behave as our masters
rather than our servants?
Given the choice, who wouldn’t?
We have been so systematically and thoroughly moronized
by Turks, Russians, and our own
Ottomanized and Sovietized leadership that
by the time we learn to think for ourselves
we might as well be on the verge
of senility, dementia, or Alzheimer’s,
and probably all three at once.
If any one of our “Dear Leaders”
were to drop dead today,
who would shed a single tear?
What is the difference between North Koreans and us
when it comes to brainwashing?
They don’t have a choice.
We do.
We live in democracies
and we know what freedom and human rights are.
They don’t.
Tunisians and Libyans are ready for democracy,
and we who are smart, progressive and westernized are not?
When we say Armenians are not yet ready for democracy,
is that we speaking or our moronized, mangled, tortured,
and degraded, political awareness?
Friday, December 30, 2011
Our most important ideas,
the ones that shape our worldview,
are not ours but those of the establishment
within which we were born and raised.
These ideas have been systematically and carefully divested
of all doubts and inherent contradictions.
They are like skeletons – unthinking, cold, dehumanized.
It is this corrupt and degenerate abstractions
that are at the root of all prejudices and intolerance.
So that when we speak of ways of thinking,
what we really mean is ways of non-thinking.
It follows, the irrational element in our thoughts
far outweigh the rational.
We don’t shape our ideas.
They shape us.
And because they are irrational,
they distort and pervert our reason.
When we disagree with one another,
we should teach ourselves and our children to say
not “I am right and you are wrong,”
but “Very probably we are both wrong.”
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Overheard: “The war is over
but there is no peace.”
We have declared our independence
but we are not free.
I repeat myself?
Our propaganda repeats itself too.
So does my counter-propaganda.
What is the difference between propaganda
and counter-propaganda?
Propaganda is a lie that flatters.
Counter-propaganda is the truth that hurts.
Flattery pays.
That’s why our bosses and bishops are millionaires
and our intellectuals are dependent
on the charity of swine.
Their sultans and commissars are dead.
Long live ours!
As for corruption: we have so much of it
that we could export it,
if it were an exportable product, like Arab oil.
According to a pundit in my morning paper,
until very recently Muslim countries seemed
remarkably impervious to democracy.
Thank God we are not Muslims;
we have only been muslimized and sovietized.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Sunday, December 25, 2011
The victims of politicians
outnumber the victims of criminals.
There are two gods:
the god of priests and the other one.
We know a great deal about the first,
nothing about the other.
Turks are brainwashed to believe
they are noble specimens of humanity
to the same degree
that we are brainwashed to believe
we are smart.
Why should we be surprised
if the encounter of these two big lies
resulted in massacres?
I should like to read an interview
with a political or religious leader
that begins with the question:
“Let’s cut the crap, shall we?”
“What the hell happened to you?”
would be my first question
to one of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors.
Violence works but only at first.
Lies convince but only dupes.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Sometimes I am misunderstood
not because I am difficult to understand
but because the brainwashing has been
too systematic, thorough, and successful.
To speak of the “Red” Genocide
in order to cover up the “White” one,
or to speak of past violations of human rights
in order to cover up present ones:
what could be more horribly cynical?
Or rather: what could be
more quintessentially Armenian?
Animals defend their territory.
Men do too. But men also defend
their prestige, pride, vanity,
prejudices and ignorance.
Speaking with a forked tongue
comes naturally to most lawyers, politicians,
statesmen, religious leaders, businessmen, and so on.
And the higher their position in the hierarchy
the more transparent their double-talk.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
There are two kinds of actions:
planned and spontaneous.
The Tunisian fruit vendor’s self-immolation
was spontaneous;
the actions of our revoltuionaries
at the turn of the last century in the Ottoman Empire
were planned.
The first was a success beyond anyone’s imagination;
the second resulted in one of the greatest disasters
in the history of mankind.
History is unpredictable.
God laughs at man’s plans and calculations.
The selfless act has a much better chance to succeed,
and sometimes to succeed beyond anyone’s imagination,
than the cold-blooded, carefully planned and calculated act.
Marx thought he had discovered the way history works
and he created the nightmare of communist regimes.
When Jesus said “the kingdom of God is within you,”
he should have added,
“so is the empire of the Devil.”
“Existence is a vicious abstraction,”
Bertrand Russell tells us; which means
our actions will inevitably end
in an existential labyrinth of consequences
whose end result will be totally unpredictable.
Elsewhere Russell writes:
“Since men tend to value present pleasures
more than pleasures in the future,
the wise man will exercise prudence and self-restraint.”
He should have added, “by which time the wise man
may be too old to get it up.”
Moral: No matter what you decide to do,
you may regret it.
Bouazisi did not live long enough
to witness his final victory.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Anyone who is committed to an ideology or religion
will have his own version of the past.
Believers are natural-born revisionists.
All political parties,
regardless of nationality and ideology,
have a tendency to promise more than they can deliver;
sometimes they even promise heaven and deliver hell.
It is only natural for those who are part of the problem
to pretend not to see the solution.
Never insult an Armenian writer:
being one is insult enough.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Thursday, December 22, 2011
Love has inspired many songs
but we owe our wars, revolutions, and massacres
-- that is to say history – to hatred.
Hatred plays a much more important role in life than love
or any other factor you care to mention,
including indifference and boredom.
Boredom and indifference may be said to be ahistorical
only in the sense that they allow hatred to shape reality.
Boredom and indifference victimize no one,
they only allow victimizers a free hand.
A man of power believes history to be on his side.
But history does not takes sides.
Even a solitary, unarmed and anonymous street fruit-vendor
has the power to topple brutal regimes like dominoes.
It is all a matter of time,
and in cosmic terms, a fraction of a second.
Only Almighty God is secure in His place
and He doesn’t even have to exist in order to rule.
Friday, December 23, 2011
The average Armenian is an idiot
who has been brainwashed to believe he is smart.
If you can’t see this clearly
it may be because you have been systematically moronized.
And if you think I am different
I will be more than happy to quote Flaubert:
The average Armenian “c’est moi.”
I have collected so many grievances against my fellow men
that I am beginning to suspect Alzheimer’s may well be
a blessing in disguise.
If it weren’t for past grievances
not only Armenian would live in peace with Turk
but also with fellow Armenian.
Maybe that’s what mankind needs:
a drug that will kill bad memories
without damaging any other vital organ.
Armenia is the site of the Garden of Eden
with one difference:
in the original Garden humans outnumbered reptiles….
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Authority will never sanction anything
that may question its legitimacy.
One could even say authority and intolerance
might as well be one and the same.
To speak of the tolerance
of a boss, bishops, or benefactor is
like speaking of the shadow of a black hat
in a dark room.
Cesare Pavese: “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.”
It is to be noted that Pavese, an Italian novelist,
fell in love with an American actress,
was rejected, and killed himself.
Imperialism may be justified on the grounds that
if we don’t do it to them they will do it to us;
and as everyone must know by now,
in politics and world affairs in general
it is not always the best man that wins.
History provides us with many examples
of this aberration,
beginning with Turks versus Armenians,
or for that matter, the rest of the world versus Armenians.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Thursday, December 08, 2011
A good line once read is never forgotten.
It is my ambition in life to produce such a line.
Call me a megalomaniac.
In our environment agreement means
sharing the same bias.
When a man sees the light
he assume everyone else is blind.
I once met a born again
who thought I was a dead man walking.
Because I did not worship his God
he thught I worshipped the Devil.
Whenever I see the photo of an Armenian writer
in the company of a boss or bishop,
I can't help thinking,
"There goes the neighborhood."
To those who say I repeat myself:
Only if you insist on reading me –
for which many thanks!
Friday, December 09, 2011
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
I am informed this morning on the radio,
is the most widely translated document in the world;
also (my guess) the most ignored.
Has it been translated into Armenian, I wonder.
I am not casting aspersions;
only sharing my ignorance and need for answers.
Bias is universal.
Resistance to bias
a slowly and painfully acquired asset.
All nationalists are brought up to believe
they are all white and their enemies all black.
When in fact they are not even gray but brown --
the color of @#$%.
Crude, you say.
So is life.
We have no choice but to deal with it
on its own terms.
My parents survived the Turks.
I am now busy trying to survive my fellow Armenians.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
What we need is a revolution
and I don’t believe in revolutions.
At best we may get reforms
but if the past is an index
we have no reason for optimism.
Subtract the brown-nosers, the yes-men,
the hirelings, the brainwashed, the dupes,
the alienated and assimilated,
we may be closer to the 50%
rather than the 99%.
We are no longer at the mercy of our enemies
but of a far more invincible and insidious adversary:
our own leadership.
Our Wall Street is in the convolutions of our cortex.
The only way to describe our situation is to say that
we are committing slow-motion suicide
by self-inflicted ten thousand cuts.
In that sense one could even say that
Turks were more merciful than
our own bosses, bishops, and benefactors.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Thursday, December 01, 2011
What can you possibly know about a country
if you have never tried to make a living there?
What can you possibly know about the human condition
if you have at no time been dependent
on the charity of swine?
For 25 years I had to produce pseudo-Saroyanesque trash
in order to make minimum wage.
The reason why I write as I do today is that
I have declared my financial independence
and, with it, to write as I please
without fear of retaliation.
I may not be a “good” Armenian
as defined by our Ottomanized, Sovietized, and Americanized
wheeler-dealers but I like to believe
I fully qualify as a born-again human being.
Friday, December 02, 2011
A lie is like a deadly virus.
Left unattended it will poison and kill its speaker
as well as his dupes,
families as well as communities,
tribes as well as nations,
empires as well as civilizations.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
After listening to the patriotic spiel
of a fellow passenger on a train,
Tolstoy is quoted as having said:
“As long as there are men like you
we will have wars and massacres.”
Likewise, as long as there are organized religions
we will have prejudice, intolerance,
and crimes against humanity.
The true enemies of God
are men who speak in His name.
Tolerance means not only to be open to new ideas,
including ideas that contradict our own,
but also to welcome and cherish them.
If we admit there is some truth in all belief systems,
we must also admit that truth is not in a single god
but in all gods; or, in Gandhi’s words:
“If God is Truth even atheists are believers
because they believe in God’s non-existence.”
God is either on no one’s side or on everybody’s side.
To say, like the Nazis, “God is with us,”
is not theology but pathology.
(For more on this subject,
see Toynbee’s STUDY OF HISTORY, volume x.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Sunday, November 27, 2011
I cannot think of a single important decision or judgment
that I have made in the past
that did not contain a 99% margin of error.
Let that be a warning to all those with whom
I share my wisdom.
What do the Pope of Rome and Stalin have in common?
When asked to name my favorite Armenian dish,
I identify myself as a vegetarian.
When told there are many delicious vegetarian dishes
in our cuisine,
I say I prefer to keep my answers to that subject short
because all talk of pilaf and shish-kebab bores me stiff.
And speaking of questions:
I don’t remember a single interview
with an African-American writer
in which mention was ever made of chicken and watermelon.
A question I have never been asked:
“On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate our leadership?”
The obvious answer is minus one, of course!
Monday, November 28, 2011
Why is it that some very smart and learned Armenians
confuse anti-charlatanism with anti-Armenianism?
Why is it that some very cunning Armenians
in their defense of their own selfish, narrow interests
voice reasons worthy of an inbred moron?
When it comes to Genocide recognition
the American question is not whether it is true or false but
“What’s in it for us?”
Call that cynicism if you like.
They call it pragmatism.
Whenever I write for Armenians
I remind myself that I am breaking the commandment:
“Thou shalt not share your wisdom
with wiser men than yourself.”
Wisdom and serenity are mutually exclusive concepts.
You can’t be serene in a world of lunatics
who think you are the lunatic.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
It is a universally shared human weakness
to prefer flattery to criticism,
but it is adangerous addiction
to prefer lies to truth.
On a radio program on children’s poetry this
morning, I overheard the following quotation:
“There is some shit / I will not eat!” That’s
what I call good poetry – rhythm, music, and
words that once heard are never forgotten.
Belief systems have nothing
to do with reality and everything to do with the
power to shape our perception of reality.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
By Vahan Vahanian (Jansezian).
Los Angeles. 2011. 255 pages.
(In Armenian)
“I am told I go to extremes in my assertions,
to which I say, What are words for?"
The labyrinth of Armenian life in Los Angeles
is Vahan Vahanian’s territory
and he has as many stories to relate as Scheherazade.
His style is brief, to the point,blunt.
He takes no prisoners.
“With the dollar, a man who signs his name with an X
is treated as a philosopher.
Without the dollar a genius is shunned as a lunatic…”
“That’s the way it is in America.
Novelties aplenty,
real-estate developments everywhere,
institutionalized larceny rampant,
refinement an absent factor.”
Vahanian is not afraid to step on toes or,
for that matter, to kick balls.
A man after my own heart.
As the editor/publisher of a newspaper
that is distributed freely,
neither is he afraid to alienate a fraction of his audience.
He speaks of a woman who tells him
her aim in life is to have more of everything –
“more fun, more money, more jewelry and more sex with younger men…”
“In Los Angeles there is neither brotherhood nor friendship.”
Phony intellectuals, exhibitionists, megalomaniacs, and womanizers
are a dime a dozen.
Vahanian may speak of depressing things
but he does so with a friendly smile
and his smile is infectious.
“Every other Armenian you meet these days
has political ambitions.
If Raffi Hovannisian and Jirair Libaridian made it,
why can’t I?”
And there is the self-appointed genius with literary ambitions:
“Did you get my article?”
“When are you going to print it?”
“No editorial changes, please!”
“How much are you going to pay me?”
If to say what must be said were music,
Vahan Vahanian would be our Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.
(For more information, write to newarmenia ).

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Thursday, November 24, 2011
To how many women we could say:
I love you with all my heart
and I shall continue loving you to the end of my days,
but not you as you are,
but you as a figment of my own imagination.
Charlie Chaplin asked Truman Capote
to read the manuscript of his memoirs
with the eyes of a professional writer.
When Capote did and reported back with a list of suggestions,
Chaplin said: "Get the hell out of my sight!"
To avoid grief, conflict, misery and suffering,
do nothing and be nobody. Or simply, imitate the dead.
That’s what most Oriental wisdom boils down to.
But since life is only an extremely tiny interval of light
in the darkness of non-being,
it should be as different from death as we can make it
even if in the process we experience confusion and misery.
Friday, November 25, 2011
The official Kemalist classification of Armenians
as “Christian Turks” is patently absurd
in view of the fact that we are devoid
of both Christian charity and Turkish solidarity.
What motivates us to assess ourselves
as smart, progressive, compassionate, and God’s chosen
is the suspicion that we may be none of these things.
One of the worst things that can happen to a nation
is to believe in its own propaganda;
and one of the worst things that can happen to a leader
is to become a dupe of his own lies.
Speaking for myself,
I committed my worst blunders
after convincing myself that I knew better
and anyone who dared to contradict me
was a damn fool.
When it comes to women,
not only boys will be boys
but also men of all ages.
Hence the saying,
“The brain of a man is the body of a naked woman.”
Even after 30 books and over a thousand articles,
stories, and essays in periodicals and newspapers
I hesitate to identify myself as a writer
because more often than not I am asked:
"How come I have never heard of you?"
to which I am tempted to reply:
"Next time you visit your public library
check and see how many names you recognize
besides Shakespeare’s and Hemingway’s?"
I can’t imagine Mozart at the age of thirty saying:
"I have composed enough. I am quitting."
I have no doubt whatever in my mind that
Mozart would have gone on composing
even at the age of 80, very much like Verdi.
Likewise, I can’t imagine God saying,
"I have created the universe and enough is enough!"
What if, even as I write these lines,
God is busy creating other universes
in other dimensions?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Sunday, November 20, 2011
A headline reads:
“Should Some Bankers Be Prosecuted?”
The obvious answer is, of course!
Gross incompetence is penalized in all other lines of work.
Why should bankers be immune?
Is it because as the 1%
they control 99% of the power?
A typical passage in the article reads:
“The federal government has been
far more active in rescuing bankers
than in prosecuting them.”
And why?
Because the 1% can afford politicians,
the 99% cannot.
What is American-style democracy
if not the fascism of capitalists?
When we demonize Turks
we forget that angels and demons
are creatures of our imagination
and that in reality some Turks may well be better or wrose,
but none of them is an invulnerable being
beyond our reach.
Sartre is right:
in human relations
magic plays a more important role than
reason, common sense, and experience.
Where imagination enters,
misconceptions are sure to follow.
All popular ideas can be easily and safely contradicted
and they have been.
One could even say,
thinking consists in exposing contradictions.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Once, recently, when I said something to the effect
that our treatment of writers
has been worthy of barbarians,
it was the barbarians who were eager to prove me right
by hurling insults at me and in general
behaving like hoodlums on the warpath – as if
that was the only way they knew
how to prove me wrong.
"For a smart man you can be very naïve!"
a trial lawyer, who is also a good friend, tells me.
I don’t know about smart
but I am worse than naïve
when I get emotionally involved.
Emotion reduces a complex reality
into a one-dimensional extension of ourselves.
Emotion, writes Sartre somewhere,
attempts to change the world by means of magic.
What could be more primitive?
The most beautiful spectacle I have ever beheld
was a sunrise from a seventh story hospital window;
and to think that the purpose of a sunrise
is not to provide man with beauty.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
It’s not Armenians against Turks,
Germans against Jews,
Jews against Palestinians,
or Cain against Abel.
It’s man against man.
If the world were populated
by a single race, nation, or tribe,
the number of wars, revolutions and massacres
would remain constant.
God created man.
God also created the Devil
and the Devil belongs to no race, nation, or tribe.
Organized religions are maneuvers
designed to allow one to sit at the right hand of God
and to behave like swine.
God created time and space.
What would stop Him from creating
an infinite number of other dimensions?
God created man.
He must have been bored stiff.
What other possible explanation is there?
Why are you so tough on your fellow Armenians?
I am asked once in a while by concerned readers.
I am not tough on Armenians.
I am tough on deceivers, dividers, and bloodsuckers
regardless of nationality.
I am tough on all victimizers.
Now then, identify yourself please.
Are you a victimizer or a victim?
If you are a victim, why do you object
to my speaking up against your tormentors?
Dupes are not born but made
and what makes them is childhood indoctrination --
brainwashing for short;
and if you say you were not brainwashed
i will say, that's because
those who brainwashed you
were successful in convincing you
you were being educated.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Thursday, November 17, 2011
How sweet was it to the poet
who wrote that line?
After being betrayed to the authorities
by his fellow Armenians,
he committed suicide
by banging his head against the wall.
Many others were shot in the neck
or driven to Siberia.
If you say all that happened in a different era
and under a different regime, I say,
regimes may change
but the scum always rises to the top.
There is a sultan and a commissar in all of us.
If we ever undertake the task of
de-Ottomanizing and de-Stalinizing ourselves,
how many of those who are in power today
would remain in power?
If you are one of those readers
who think I have been consistently wrong
in my judgment of my fellow countrymen,
all I am prepared to say in my defense is,
I have at no time violated anyone’s human right of free speech.
Can you say the same about the status quo
in whose defense you speak?
Friday, November 18, 2011
Do we have a constitution?
What does it say about free speech?
Is it for it or against it?
If it’s for it,
why is it that some of our ablest intellectuals
live in exile?
What about a Supreme Court?
Do we have one?
Who are its members?
What do we know about them?
Are they for or against fundamental human rights?
Do we have dissidents?
How many?
Who are they?
How many members of the present administration
are former KGB agents?
We are told most American senators and congressmen
are millionaires, sometimes even multimillionaires.
What about their Armenian counterparts?
Do we have anything resembling
the Occupy Wall Street movement in Yerevan?
A few years ago the Canadian spy agency
called me and said they were going to send someone
to interrogate me about our present situation.
I said I was the wrong man for such an undertaking;
it would be a waste of their valubale time;
I was only a distant observer;
I knew little or nothing about specifics.
They disagreed.
They said they read my commentaries in the Armenian press
and they considered me an expert on the subject.
An excpert?
An expert!
They must be joking.
They were not joking.
If they were interested in names
I could be of no use to them
because I didn’t even know someone who knew someone.
What kind of expert was I
if I had more questions than answers?
And if so far I have made no effort to know more
it maybe because in this case
ignorance may indeed be bliss.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Canadian literature is rumoured to be dreary.
By contrast, Armenian literature is not even rumoured
to be defunct or non-existent.
One advantage in being non-existent is that
no one bothers to spread the rumour that it is trash.
The only people who take Armenian literature seriously
are Armenian writers who take themselves seriously.
The central concern of Armenian writers
who take themselves seriously
is to expose the mediocrity of all others.
“Yes im anoush Hayastani.”
I should like to see one of our poets producing a sonnet
titled “To my sweet fellow countrymen.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011
Pick a man, any man, from the gutter,
give him a title and a regular salary,
and forever after he will say
he never had it so good.
One reason I write as I do is that
I was spared that kind of treatment.
I was born in the gutter and my guess is
I will die in it.
I am not complaining.
Things could have been much worse.
What saved me was pure luck.
No one ever bothered to give me a title.
As for salary:
what I was offered was never above minimum wage.
Had it been above minimum wage
I may have chosen a different path
and I would now be on my way to the devil.
Monday, November 14, 2011
There are advantages
to being a third-rate minor scribbler
living in the middle of nowhere.
To begin with you are left alone.
Your readers are so few in number
that if you alienate one of them
it doesn’t feel like you have lost
half of your income from royalties.
By contrast, consider the case
of an Armenian-American academic
with a regular salary and a captive audience.
Not only will he be careful
not to say anything that may be construed
as critical of God and capital
(make it Capital and god) in general
and benefactors in particular
(one of whom may be subsidizing his “chair”)
but also anyone who may be remotely connected with them.
In short, he will support the status quo
and pretend we never had it so good
because we are in the best of hands.
During the Ottoman and Soviet eras
our poets wrote odes and panegyrics
to sultans and commissars.
Habits die hard.
“Treason is in our blood,” said Raffi.
So is cowardice.
Hence the scarcity of dissidents
and the overabundance of brown-nosers.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
“You call yourself a dissident?”
said a (Soviet-Armenian) writer from Paris.
“Did they throw you out of your home and homeland?”
No, they didn’t because they couldn’t.
I was born and raised on foreign soil
and my home was mine, not theirs.
The contempt in his voice was such that
I understood why in their eyes
we will never rise above the status of “aghber.”
Because I try to be honest and objective
I am dismissed as pro-Turkish by some of my readers
as if being dishonest were an integral part
of the Armenian identity.
I must get used to the idea that
some of my fellow Armenians are so wrong
that they challenge all concepts of wrongness,
so that one could say they are not even wrong!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
THE 99%
There is no such thing as a belief system
without childhood indoctrination.
Eliminate indoctrination and the chances are
a belief system will collapse
into an abyss of absurdities.
It can truly be said of dupes that
they are the 99%.
On the radio this morning:
“Pakistan today is ruled by criminals.”
An American pundit:
“Almost everyone in Washington is on the take.”
He who admits to being a dupe
will not admit to being a coward, a liar, and an idiot.
Workers of the world unite?
Even better:
Dupes, idiots, and victims of the world…
What belief systems do is
convince idiots they are smart,
barbarians they are civilized,
and the scum of the earth they are the Chosen.
You think I am being cynical?
Allow me to confide in you:
Reality is worse!
Sigmund Freud: “The first human
who hurled an insult instead of a stone
was the founder of civilization.”

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Thursday, November 10, 2011
There are no new or original ideas.
We are all in the recycling business.
I like to believe I have at no time recycled fascist crap
in the name of patriotism or religion.
Faith is gut-driven.
So are dogmas.
Where the brain is marginalized,
disaster is sure to follow.
Where there is faith,
there will be intolerance.
Where there are dogmas,
there will be heresies.
Where there are heretics,
there will be persecution.
You may now draw your own conclusions –
or confusions.
Your choice.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Where there is power
there will be propaganda;
and where there is propaganda
there will be lies.
We are told again and again that
our Church played a key role
in the survival of the nation.
Listen to Raffi:
“Our clergymen preached patience to us
thus promoting subservience to the point of slavery…
they have always been against individual freedom.”
As recently as the collapse of the Soviet Union,
the Catholicos of Etchmiadzin opposed independence.
In Manuel Sarlisyantz’s A MODERN HISTORY
OF TRANSCAUCASIAN ARMENIA (Leiden, 1975, page 326)
we read:
“The pro-Soviet Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan was, in 1944,
appointed from Etchmiadzin to be
Prelate of the Armenian Church in North America.
He endorsed Communism as ‘leading to a Christian ideal’
and had written that
'what the clergy is…on the spiritual level,
the Communist Party is on the worldly level
of politics and economics.'”
TO COMMUNISM, [London, 1942, page 29].)
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Very early this morning
when I was half asleep
I heard someone say on the radio:
“We havent’ had democracy in 20 years.”
And I thought, we haven’t had it for 2000.
More often than not
our choice is not between truth and lies
but between big lies and bigger ones.
The cowardice of the many
and the stupidity of the few:
that’s the only way to explain our past.
The rest is propaganda.
And now that I have spoken the truth
I deserve a horse with which to gallop off
in all directions
in a cloud of dust.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Sunday, November 06, 2011
If God knows neither fear nor doubt,
can He really understand man?
When we speak of God
it is useful to remember that we speak of Him
not as He is but as we conceive Him to be;
and it is a serious blunder to conceive of God
in our own image.
We may have the answers to the most important questions
only after we die. In that sense,
death may be not an end but a beginning.
To God past and future are one
and both might as well be a fraction of a second.
What if the Big Bang as we know it
is only the last bang in an infinite series of bangs?
Everything we say about God is based on hearsay evidence
and therefore inadmissible.
God and men are more fiction than reality.
Reality (or God or Truth) is so different
from what we imagine it to be that
if the two ever met
they would not recognize each other.
Monday, November 07, 2011
To go down into the gutter with your adversary
is almost to agree with him -- if not with his words
than with his way of life.
No Armenian writer loved his fellow Armenians
as much as Khachatur Apovian – and he committed suicide.
I don’t criticize ideas;
I criticize their absence,
In a controversy to be silent
is to support the status quo.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
We have more questions than answers.
Who qualifies as an Armenian?
What if half of Turkey is half Armenian?
Because an Armenian girl was legally raped as a teenager,
does it follow that her offspring
acquired the national identity of her rapist
who may have been himself half Armenian?
An Armenian who is against us,
is he not more Turkish than Armenian?
A Turk who is with us
is he not more Armenian than Turkish?
If to divide-and-rule is enemy action,
do our dividers qualify as Armenian?
How many of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors
(who support only one faction) qualify as Armenian?
If we say only Armenians who are for solidarity
qualify as Armenian,
who will dare to say he is against solidarity?
If we preach solidarity and practise divisions
do we not speak with a forked tongue?
Can an Armenian who speaks with a forked tongue
qualify as a human being?
You should be.
i am.
Who said reality is easy to figure out?
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
After a disaster,
those who are partly or wholly responsible for it,
will come up with a thousand reasons why
the disaster was inevitable.
Don’t believe a word they say.
Their priority is not to understand and explain
but to mislead and deceive.
Their aim is not to learn from history
in order not to repeat it,
but to salvage their powers and privileges.
To say where there is power there will be abuse of power
is like saying where there are people
there will also be the law of gravity.
Haves and have nots?
It would be more accurate to speak of
bloodsuckers and their victims.
Deceivers and dupes?
Even better: predators and herbivores.
Class warfare?
I suggest telling bloodsuckers
to minimize their intake of blood
does not qualify.
There are many things that can be seen
even by a legally blind man,
but most of us are so carefully and consistently indoctrinated
that we are willing to testify under oath
we saw nothing.
Sh*t happens because most men are sh*ts.
And more often than not
a deceiver is as much of a sh*t as a dupe.
Voltaire on the origin of religion:
“From the meeting of the earliest scoundrel
with the very first fool.”

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Thursday, November 03, 2011
If you have any hopes,
prepare yourself to see them shattered.
The source of all my problems?
I value honesty above everything else.
So much so that
I’d much rather listen to the braying of an honest jackass
than to the seductive song of a phony nightingale.
When it comes to painful experiences
I have the memory of an elephant.
As for happy ones:
I can’t think of a single one that did not end badly.
The first thing I did when I came to Canada
from war-torn Greece was to buy a loaf of bread
and a cup of coffee.
The bread tasted like @#$%
and the coffee was so hot that it burned my tongue.
After that everything went downhill.
The only thing that cheers me up these days
is the prospect of death.
Friday, November 04, 2011
In an interview published in TIME (Oct. 10, 2011, page 64),
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
has this to say on the Israelis:
“As long as they refuse to apologize for the nine people
of Turkish descent who lost their lives
on the flotilla, as long as they refuse to pay compensation
to the families and as long as the embargo on Gaza
has not been lifted, the relations between the two countries
will never be normalized.”
On President Bashar Assad of Syria:
“It is impossible to preserve my friendship
with people who are allegedly leaders
when they are attacking their own people,
shooting at them, using tanks.”
It can truly be said of Erdogan and Turks
that they are a clear-cut case of the blind leading the blind.
To my Turkish friends and readers I therefore say:
“See you in the ditch.”
Saturday, November 05, 2011
In his biography of Alexander the Great,
Plutarch writes:
“One of the largest and most handsome lions,
which was kept in Babylon
was attacked and kicked to death by an ass.”
Shaw may be right:
the insane should be punished more severely than the sane
if only because they are more unpredictable and dangerous.
And speaking of insanity:
if you are in love,
you should remind yourself at least once a day
that your beloved is less a real person
and more a product of your imagination.
I don’t agree with a reality that makes crooks wealthy
and honest men poor,
and because I speak of this reality,
some of my readers hate me
as if I were responsible for everything
that has gone wrong in their lives.
Subtract imagination from love
and the result may be closer to contempt than affection.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Sunday, October 30, 2011
The West has its share
of dupes, fools, fanatics, racists, skinheads,
serial killers, child molesters,
and chief executive officers –
in short, hoodlums and hooligans –
as Turkey has its share of denialists.
It’s beyond me why anyone in his right mind
would expect them to be morally superior.
Monday, October 31, 2011
In my lifetime alone
world population has increased
from three to seven billion.
Scientists tell us the planet cannot sustain
this rate of growth.
Contraception is the only solution.
So far politicians have done nothing in that direction
because they don’t want to offend the Catholics.
But I believe the Pope is as much to blame
as film producers who glamorize sex
and treat pregnancy (if at all) as if it were
an alien, disconnected, and rare condition.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
After Shakespeare, he is for me the most quotable English writer.
But whereas Shakespeare is universally admired,
Toynbee continues to have more enemies than friends,
especially among his fellow English historians,
probably because he exposed their mediocrity.
In that sense, he reminds me of our own Zarian.
I love Toynbee’s ideas; but what I love even more
is his Mandarin prose.
“I believe that Man has been given the capacity to see God, and I believe that this is the summum bonum towards which all creation groans and travails.”
“The Jews, the Japanese, the British ‘sahib’, the Nazis…all seem to me to have been chosen by no one except themselves.”
“Their pummelings have given me a mental massage that has loosened the joints and muscles of my mind and has set it moving on a new course.”
“If the Turkish atrocities could be explained as anachronistic outcrops of a residual savagery in the hearts of recent proselytes to a Western
way of life, how was a Western historian to explain the apostasy of Germans who were native-born children of the Western household?”
“A capacity to suffer fools gladly and to do this with gusto, not as a martyrdom, but as a fine art which the practitioner can practise with zest.”
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Until very recently
Ayatollah Khamenei and Ahmadinejad were as close
as “kolo kai vraki” (bum and pants).
Today “one of Ahmadinejad’s advisers
stands accused of raping 340 virgins during the last year.”
Not even a writer with the fertile imagination
of Gabriel Garcia Marquez could have written such a sentence.
For more, much more, on the subject,
see Abbas Milani, “Desperate Dictatorship,”
(THE NEW REPUBLIC, Oct. 6, 2011, page 30).
Peace is wonderful.
Friendship is great.
Love is best.
But one must be a pervert of the worst kind
to love creeps like Khamenei and Ahmedinejad who,
after conspiring to commit countless crimes against humanity,
end up hating each other.
Where there is too much talk of God,
can the Devil be far off?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

on love

Thursday, October 27, 2011
There is a dupe, a coward, and a bully in all of us.
That’s the only way to explain world history.
Q: If you were an animal,
what animal would you be?
A: A vegetarian tiger.
I hate predators.
They are the commissars of the animal kingdom.
Good writing consists in deleting.
Silence can be more eloquent than
a torrent of rhetorical verbiage.
A history of silence will have no quotations.
If there are homophobes it may be because
they were traumatized by serial pedophiles,
among them such authority figures as priests.
After every line I write I ask myself:
Why should anyone be interested in this?
What if he already knows or understands what I am saying?
What if he is ahead of me when it comes to certain ideas
and experiences?
Friday, October 28, 2011
When asked where he came from,
Socrates is said to have replied:
"Not from Athens but from the world."
And yet, when he was condemned to death by the Athenians
and was given an opportunity to escape,
he said he’d rather die in Athens
than live anywhere else.
When Vahe Berberian once suggested that
Beethoven’s somewhat overblown shadow
unfairly eclipsed the reputation and worth
of many other equally great composers,
among them Boccherini,
Paul Jungmann, the quintessential German –
blond, blue-eyed, intense, unsmiling – said,
one should not speak such nonsense
in the presence of children.
Forever after music was never discussed in his presence.
All our problems must be ascribed to our enemies,
our propaganda tells us.
The enemy is us, literature reminds us.
And propaganda is more popular than literature
because no one likes to be told
he is a fool or a pervert bent on self-destruction.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Love is an arrow, marriage a boomerang.
Where there is love
there will be a pierced, broken, shattered, or shish-kebabed heart.
There is a Greek myth
whose intent is to emphasize the fact that
the woman you love
and the woman you marry are seldom one and the same.
The critical passage in it reads:
“No lovely naked bride awaited him
on the marriage bed,
but a tangled knot of hissing serpents.”
Your children will break your heart
as surely as your parents (when they die).
I first fell in love at age eight
with my schoolteacher.
She married another,
had a nervous collapse,
attempted suicide,
and became physically unrecognizable,
by which time I was nine and in love with another –
this time a coeval.
My dictionary defines “passion” as “suffering.”
The woman you love
and the woman you cease to love –
what a difference!
Not just black and white
but everything and nothing.
According to a Frenchman,
“the heaviest body in the world
is the woman you have ceased to love.”
After mentioning a dead person
it is customary to say, “may s/he rest in peace,”
when it is not the dead that are in need of peace
but the living.
Stendhal, the author of ON LOVE,
one of the best books on the subject:
“All my life I have always seen what I imagined
rather than reality.”
And Tolstoy: “In the presence of others,
women – especially when they are young –
pretend so skillfully that no one can see them as they are.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

summing up

Sunday, October 23, 2011
The secret aim of all propaganda
is not to spread lies – be they small, middling, or big –
but to convince you to believe
your brain is a useless organ;
and it becomes useful only when authorized by the state
or a central authority.
This may explain why fools have as many certainties
as the wise have doubts.
Speaking for myself: my only certainty is that
when fools are in charge,
war and massacre are sure to follow.
What a book one could write on politics
as the art of deception.
Kemalism in four words:
“Fez, no. Yataghan, yes.”
No one will ever accuse me
of taking myself seriously.
On more than one occasion
I have identified my role in our collective existence
as that of a @#$%-disturber.
A statesman is a politician who has done one right thing.
Monday, October 24, 2011
It must be obvious by now that
the regime in Ankara has invested more money and manpower
in rewriting history and in persecuting Kurds
than in providing safe housing for its citizens.
The rich like to believe the poor are lazy
and the poor like to believe the rich are greedy.
Who is right?
As far as I know no pundit has so far
dared to suggest that
we owe the present global economic crisis
to the laziness of the poor.
Crime doesn’t pay?
But it paid and paid handsomely to Gadhafy
for almost half a century.
I wouldn’t be surprised if future dictators
adopt him as a role model.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
We are expected to believe that
our revolution at the turn of the last century
in the Ottoman Empire was a success
even if the patient died.
Propaganda is designed to flatter the vanity of a few
even if it means insulting the intelligence of the many.
What Talaat and chief executive officers
on Wall Street have in common is the certainty that
if the law is on their side
they can get away with murder.
Richelieu: “If the poor are too well off
they will be disorderly.”
It follows, the poor must remain poor for their own good
and in the name of law and order.
Pushkin: “Where there is a trough, there will be swine.”
The only reason textbook on political science
don’t begin with that line is that
all educational systems are controlled by politicians.
Proust: “The pleasure an artist gives
is to make us know an additional universe.”
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
After six centuries of servile subservience
a sudden eruption of violent uprisings.
I dare anyone to suggest that
our collective destiny has not been shaped
by cowards and fools.
Treating them as heroes with good intentions
is to forget that hell is paved with them.
Bullies at the mercy of bigger bullies:
that just about sums up our present leadership.
Dzour nesdink, shidag khossink!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Thursday, October 20, 2011
Don’t judge a man by his opinion of himself
or a political party by its propaganda.
You may hope to be forgiven by a Turkish enemy
but by an Armenian friend, never!
I speak from experience.
Whenever I disagree with an Armenian,
every Armenian who agrees with him
becomes my enemy.
African proverb: “Until lions have their historians,
tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.”
Friday, October 21, 2011
An unforgettable line from a forgotten American movie:
A lecherous hombre with a foreign accent
to a scantily clead sexy teenager:
“I want to balanga you with my bonnie johnnie.”
My guess is, as children that’s how we learn languages:
we may not understand the words
but we can guess their meaning.
As when in winter a man shivers and says,
“I am cold,” for instance;
or when he says “I am thirsty”
and is given a glass of water.
But as we grow older,
we seem to lose that particular faculty.
One of my favorite Jewish jokes goes something like this:
Two old friends meet on a road somewhere in Russia
and after a brief exchange one of them says to the other:
“You tell me you are going to Minsk
because you want me to believe you are going to Pinsk,
but I happen to know you are going to Minsk:
Why must you always lie to me?”
Saturday, October 22, 2011
“There is nothing more valuable than our honor!”
declared a Muslim in Montreal
after murdering his three teenage daughters
because they had boyfriends.
(It is to be noted that he called it “treachery”).
There it is: the perfect justification
for killing defenseless civilians.
After dismissing me as anti-Armenian,
less than mediocre and totally unprintable,
they demand solutions from me.
They must be in deep %#$&
and they expect us to believe
we never had it so good
because we are in the best of hands.
Fear of free speech might as well be
synonymous with running away from the truth.
Mel Brooks: “Comedy is when you fall down an open manhole.
Tragedy is when I cut my finger.”
This may explain why sadists outnumber masochists.
Chinese saying: “The great man is a public misfortune.”
Japanese proverb: “A wise falcon hides its talons.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

wall st.

Sunday, October 16, 2011
A single anonymous slogan
strikes me as more eloquent
than a hundred academic analyses
by learned economists.
“Wanted: corporate accountability.”
“Where is the penalty for financial incompetence?”
“I can’t afford my own politician.”
And the one that must strike fear
in all presidential candidates:
“We are the 99%.”
By the time this thing is over,
there may be enough slogans to fill a volume.
I for one am looking forward to it.
As for the Republicans who dismiss the movement
as leaderless (as if that were a liability)
or class warfare:
all I can say is that
no matter how rotten the status quo,
it will have its supporters and defenders.
From Nero and Caligula to
Idi Amin Dada, Stalin, and Saddam:
they all had their supporters and beneficiaries.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Anyone who decides to depend
on the kindness of strangers
must sooner or later come to terms with the fact that
most strangers are not kind.
We cannot speak of the moral failings of a volcanic eruption
or the questionable logic of an earthquake.
Neither can we speak of justice
for victims of massacres.
As far as they are concerned,
what’s done is done and cannot be undone.
As for those who editorialize and speechify endlessly
about genocide recognition:
they remind me of a certain American presidential candidate
who promised “Yes, we can!”
and delivered, “No, I can’t!”
What a book one could write
on the promises of politicians!
“When I hear 9-9-9
I want to dial 9-1-1.”
To which I can only say,
“It takes one to know one.”
The good news is,
so far no one has dared to say
“It ain’t 99%. It’s only 98.5%.”
They call it class warfare
and hope to win with their 1%?
That’s not optimism.
That’s megalomania run amok.
Reminds me of our revolutionaries
at the turn of the last century:
“A frog trying to rape an elephant,”
to quote one of our elder statesmen.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
With leaders like them, who needs one?
“Incoherent, confused, and self-contradictory?”
A commentary Headline in the Op-Ed page:
“Ballot is still the best way to bring change.”
Not if the choice is between bad and worse,
or between the gutless and the greedy.
“National Media, Corporate PR.”
"Against Politics, Bankers, Gangsters.”
“Eat the Rich.”
“Greed is the opium of the Rich.”
“99% of the world unite –
you have nothing to lose but your bloodsuckers.”
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
We are told “Thou shalt not kill!”
but we are also coerced into killing
in the name of God and Country.
Power structures and organized religions
are full of #$@% -- if you will forgive my French.
You are free as long as you do what you are told?
Try to make sense of that!
Can you really know someone
who doesn’t himself?
What about an institution
that contradicts itself?
Wars become inevitable only
when we do nothing to prevent them.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Thursday, October 13, 2011
Two favorite aphorisms on love and marriage:
Balzac: “The fate of the house hangs on the wedding night.”
Chinese proverb: “The rose has thorns only for those
who would gather it.”
In Roger Ebert’s LIFE – ITSELF: A MEMOIR
(New York, 2011, page 226) Lee Marvin is quoted as having said:
“'You ever hear me sing an Armenian song?’
Marvin sang an Armenian song.”
A question without an answer:
What prompted God to introduce imperfection
in a perfect world by creating man?
A glance is enough to change two destinies.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Whenever I reply to a critic, I make an enemy;
and whenever I am not diplomatic enough
in my replies – diplomacy not being my field –
I make a mortal enemy.
Once when I asked the nationality
of a dazzling beauty – a teenage waitress in the cafeteria
of a department store where I was employed as a stockboy –
she said: "Canadian."
When I asked for more details, she replied:
"Let’s see now, Irish, Polish, German, Cherokee,
French, Italian and Ukrainian.”
"We are a wounded nation,"
I am reminded once in a while by our propagandists,
"and you don’t kick someone who is down," – thus
equating truth with a kick in the groin.
But truth is a kick only to those
who prefer to live in a world of lies.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
On the Tea Party:
The forces of evil know how to get organized.
On the Occupy Wall Street movement:
It never pays to give up one’s faith in mankind.
For twenty days – or is it forty? – they were ignored.
Now, everyone is talking about nothing else.
Solidarity can move mountains.
Without solidarity,
all solutions will be dismissed as unrealistic and utopian
by the very same people who consider it
their patriotic duty to divide the nation
in the name of this or that orthodoxy or ideology,
thus giving patriotism a bad name.
Where there is solidarity
even bad solutions may improve matters.
Where there is no solidarity
even the best solution will be ignored.
I have met good, patriotic Armenians
who give up on Armenianism after the first insult.
After being insulted ten thousand times,
sometimes I reply with an insult
on the grounds that I have earned the right.
If you disagree with my MO,
you can go to hell!
“Help those who need the help,”
reads a headline in the Op-Ed page this morning.
The implied subtext: “Prevent future revolutions.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Sunday, October 09, 2011
In evil men we see ourselves exposed.
To see meaning in the meaningless:
that’s the truest mark of creativity.
Forgiving others is easy.
What’s hard, perhaps even impossible,
is forgiving oneself.
Never take a whole paragraph
to say what can be said in a single line.
Never take a whole line
when a single word will do just as well.
And never underestimate the power of silence
which can be more eloquent than
the most eloquent speech.
Instead of eighty and ninety,
the French say four-twenties and four-twenties-and-ten.
This may suggest that human intelligence or inventiveness
is limited and after a certain point
it becomes inoperative.
If in a democracy the majority can be
systemativally moronized,
in what way democracy may be said to be
different from tyranny?
Monday, October 10, 2011
“One Jew tells another that,
that very morning, he asked a passerby
what he’d think, if the next day,
as was rumored,
they’d kill all the Jews and all the haidressers.
And the passerby answered,
‘Why the hairdressers?’”
After reading this joke very early this morning
I wept and laughed uncontrollably
for almost an hour.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
For ten long years I worked for a living
in factories, department stores, and offices.
The work itself i didn’t mind.
What I despised were the men I had to work for
and the subservience of my coworkers.
And because I have always had trouble
disguising my feelings,
I was fired shortly after I was hired.
I don’t know of anyone in my circles
of friends, relatives, acquaintances, and neighbors
who has been fired as often as I have.
Don’t get me wrong.
I am not complaining.
They were right to fire;
so was I in finding all forms of modern employment
If I am ever hired as a teacher,
one of the very first things I will say to the class will be:
all ideologies and religions have their own propaganda line
that contradicts the competition.
There may be some truth in all of them
but in so far as they divide mankind,
they are big lies.
You may now guess
how long my career as a teacher would last.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Watched Chaplin’s GREAT DICTATOR.
His imitation of Hitler speechifying was wildly hilarious.
I couldn’t stop laughing.
To all our speechifiers I say:
“Let that be a lesson to you.”
You may say whatever you wish about me
or anyone else for that matter
and you will be partly right.
That’s because we are not one but many
and some of them are strangers we may never meet.
Madame Justice is not blind.
She has 20/20 vision – but only for her friends.
During our Ottoman and Soviet periods,
and today, under our own semi-sultans and neo-commissars,
she has consistently ignored us.
You don’t have to go out of your way
to make a mortal enemy out of an Armenian friend.
He will see something invisible,
hear something in audible,
and react as if you were plotting his murder.
So do words.
What if what I write may result in the destruction of the nation?
I am responsible only for what I say.
I cannot be held responsible for what others do.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Thursday, October 06, 2011
With every book I publish,
I acquire a new friend and lose two old ones.
Any day now the number of my friends
will bear a negative sign.
I feel most alone when
in the company of my fellow Armenians.
William James:
"A great many people think they are thinking
when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."
The absence of God
plays a more important role in the life of atheists
than the existence of God in the life of most believers--
judging by the way they live.
Is it humanly possible to ignore or forget the truth
after hearing it?
Friday, October 07, 2011
As soon as you settle on the answer
of an important question,
you begin to suspect there may be more merit
in its contradiction;
in the same way that after you take a woman in marriage,
all other women appear more desirable.
This may suggest that the world was created
not by God but by the Devil;
and if I am not mistaken
there is an Armenian medieval Christian heresy
that says as much.
Andre Malraux: “I am an agnostic.
But you know better than I that
no one can escape God.”
He should have added,
“and the Devil.”
Saturday, October 08, 2011
Very early this morning, on the radio,
a demonstrator in Athens:
“What’s happening today is not about saving Greece;
it’s about saving the banking system.”
Obama’s greatest blunder:
to ask men from Wall Street
to fix Wall Street.
Imagine asking predators
to reform the law of the jungle.
In a televised press conference
the other day when asked
why he did not prosecture the men
responsible for the economic collapse, Obama replied:
“What they did was immoral; it was not illegal.”
When the same question was asked to an economist:
“Their actions were criminal
and they should have been indicted.”
Who would have thought the Arab spring
would influence and shape
the Occupy Wall Street movement in America today?
Yanks being taught democracy by Africans!
What a strange place the world we live in is!
How gloriously unpredictable human beings are!
In an Op-Ed commentary this morning, I read:
“Russians say they are often more afraid
of the police than of criminals.”
Elsewhere Putinism is seen as an effort
to revive Stalinism.
What else would you expect from a former KGB agent?
Anonymous: “The rotten apple is the first to fall,
and it never falls far from the tree.”
A line from a western with Errol Flynn:
“There I was, no ma, no pa, brung up by Comanche Indians.”
I am reminded of a line by Updike
to the effect that as a boy
he was more influenced by Errol Flynn than Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Sunday, October 02, 2011
When in his eighties Pablo Casals fell in love
with one of his students and wanted to marry her,
his doctor was against it saying it could be dangerous;
to which Casals replied:
“If she dies, she dies.”
Some readers resent the fact that
I refuse to reproduce their sentiments and thoughts.
They believe a writer should be like a secretary –
take dictation.
I see that as another symptom of our sultanism.
Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821): “I don’t know
what the life of a rogue can be like
since I have never been one;
but the life of an honest man is abominable.”
Anything that is not worth rereading
can’t be worth writing.
Monday, October 03, 2011
Denialists have a powerful argument in their favor:
Everybody lies.
My aim in life:
to humanize the dehumanized.
Call me a megalomaniac.
The arrogance of the half-learned:
I know all about that.
I was there once.
Life’s favorite trajectory:
from arrested development
to advanced degeneration.
We have been ruled by barbarians
for such a long time that
we don’t mind our own.
Either that or we see them
as the lesser of two evils.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Until very recently,
we, Armenians of the diaspora,
were not allowed to know
the identity of our political leaders;
and now that we know them,
we understand why they preferred to remain anonymous.
One of the best things about life is that it’s short.
Actions have consequences,
consequences have repercussions,
repercussions have echoes
and so on ad infinitum.
Memo to our editors:
silencing writers,
burning books,
burning men,
concentration camps,
they all begin with censorship.
It is impossible to struggle
against the certainties of ignorance
with the doubts of knowledge.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Some of my Turkish readers are outraged
when I criticize Turks.
Like all dictators, Kemal knew that
the only way to be popular
is to flatter the collective ego of the nation.
Which is why most Turks are convinced
they are beyond criticism.
I don’t always write what I think and feel
because I don’t really know what I think and feel.
All my thoughts and feelings contain
their own deviations as well as contradictions.
I resent it when someone steals my stolen lines.
I work hard to find lines that are worth stealing.
Let him do the same.
Here are some aphorisms by Antonio Porchia (1886-1968),
an Argentine writer of Italian descent
who appears to know all about us:
"Truth has very few friends and those few
are suicides."
"A door opens to me. I go in and am faced
with a hundred closed doors."
"You think you are killing me.
I think you are committing suicide."
"Some things become so completely our own
that we forget them."
"They will say that you are on the wrong road,
if it is your own."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

as i see it

Thursday, September 29, 2011
Early one morning when the fox hears a rooster crowing,
he thinks: "Breakfast!"
When he is told by the rooster in the tree
that he is not alone but with a friend,
he thinks: "Lunch too!"
But when he finds out the friend is not
another rooster but a dog,
the words breakfast and lunch are replaced with
"Feet, do your stuff!"
An Arab blessing
(as quoted by Flaubert in a letter from Cairo):
"I wish you all kinds of prosperity,
especially a long prick!"
What’s next in line?
"May you deflower a hundred virgins"?
While in Cairo, Flaubert is said to have explored
the Armenian community.
I wonder if he discovered anything of interest.
I love exotic proverbs especially when they are phony.
Example: A Burmese saying (which I just made up):
“You cannot feed a hungry tiger
with the bones of a hummingbird.”
There is a type of minor celebrity
who behaves like a major celebrity
in the hope of being confused with one.
There is also a type of nonentity
who wants you to believe he is a future celebrity.
“L’Allemagne n’a peut-etre jamais rien produit
a la fois d’aussi grand ni aussi barbare.”
Balzac: “Les moeurs sont l’hypocrisie d’une nation.”
Baudelaire: “Life is a disease. Everyone knows that.”
Because reality is against us, we say God is with us.
Friday, September 30, 2011
Hegel is not an easy philosopher.
As a matter of fact I have never heard anyone say
“I enjoy reading Hegel.”
Even Hegelians don’t always agree
on what he said or meant.
With one exception:
the Francophone-Russian Kojeve.
Kojeve’s interpretations of Hegel
are readable, accessible, insightful,
and eminently unHegelian.
Some samples follow:
“Man, to be really, truly ‘man’
and to know that he is such,
must impose the idea that he has of himself
on beings other than himself.”
“Christianity is born from the Slave’s terror
in the face of Nothingness, his nothingness.”
“The Christian frees himself from the human Master
only to be enslaved by the divine Master.”
“He does this for the same reason that
he accepted the human Master:
through fear of death.”
“For Hegel, as for Marx,
the central phenomenon of the bourgeois world
is not the enslavement of the working man,
of the poor bourgeois by the rich bourgeois,
but the enslavement of both by Capital.”
Saturday, October 01, 2011
If I were to say to my shrink:
"Most of my problems stem from the fact that
I was born an Armenian," he would reply:
"I was born a Jew. Only Turks are after your ass.
The whole world is after ours."
Those who violate my human right of free speech
do so because they are convinced
they are better men than myself;
and they are better if only because
they are closer to God and Country.
Some of them may even deliver lectures to me
on good Armenianism.
They seem to be totally unaware of the fact that
only certified morons assume that
God, Country, and good Armenianism
have only one definition: their own.
It is a scientifically established fact that
prejudice makes people stupid.
Hell is more accessible than heaven.
Lovers are mutual parasites.
Love and hatred are chains.
So is indifference.
Very often all great reformers do
is replace big lies with bigger ones.
There is more authority in silence than in speech.
One reason why the dead enjoy more respect than the living.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

this and that

Sunday, September 25, 2011
They fascinate me and I see them everywhere.
AVANIM (Stones) an Israeli film
whose unstated but clearly implied moral is:
Rabbis may be as much of a threat to the survival of Israel
as Palestinians.
Search for the enemy within and you will find him.
They may talk of God
but the means they employ belong to the Devil.
This is as true of rabbis as it is of imams and popes.
They may praise rebirth and resurrection
but what they promote is death of the spirit.
What could be easier than deceiving children?
And are not adults children is disguise?
Do we ever give up – are we capable of giving up --
childhood illusions?
Are we not our own most gullible dupes?
When asked if Cary Grant was homosexual or bisexual,
one of his wives (he had five of them) is reported to have replied:
“I was too busy f***ing him to ask.”
There should be a Nobel Prize for the best remark of the year.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Most of my life I kept my thoughts to myself
out of fear of offending men in positions of power.
I was a coward but refused to admit it.
I behaved like a fool and thought I was wise.
Nothing comes more easily than to preach heroism
and to promote cowardice
in the name of tradition, law and order,
respect for authority, and countless other
fictional considerations.
If you are a fool
do not attempt to share your wisdom
with better men than yourself.
Are you wise or brave enough to admit
you are a fool?
To the rich, money is the quintessence of all wisdom.
Between the virtues of the rich
and the vices of the poor,
which would you choose?
The criticism of idiots
is more of a testimonial than an indictment.
More important than education itself is
who does the educating.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
To know perfection
we must first experience the degradation
of life on earth.
Heaven will not be heaven for me
if I can’t play the Beethoven Sonatas like Schnabel
and Bach like Glen Gould.
Anonymity will make a hero out of a zero.
Promises are one thing, delivery another.
The two might as well be strangers to one another.
Whenever I see an odar
joining one of our discussion forums on the internet
I would like to post the following message:
"Welcome to this forum, dear friend.
Please remember to ignore the hooligans among us.
They represent no one but themselves."
It must be obvious by now that
one doesn’t have to be a Turk in order to behave like one.
Nothing comes easier to an Ottomanized Armenian
than to behave like a Turk with the certainty that
he is discharging his duty as a patriotic Armenian.
The same applies to Sovietized Armenians.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Once, when after a loud argument,
Socrates’ wife poured a pail of dirty water on his head,
he said: “It generally rains after thunder.”
More recently, while massaging his wife’s neck,
Louis Althusser (1918-1990) strangled her,
he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Women disappoint men
because they find men disappointing.
The difference between dialogue and Armenian arguments is that
the aim of the first is synthesis or consensus,
the aim of the second is verbal assassination.
Gide: “Le plus grand bonheur, après que d’aimer,
c’est de confesser son amour.”
Valery: “Combien de gens meurent dans les accidents,
pour ne pas lacher leur parapluis!”

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Thursday, September 22, 2011
It never ceases to amaze me
the greed with which we cling to the illusion
of our own importance no matter how often
we are exposed as irrelevant.
Our genocide?
The West wouldn’t allow it.
The recognition of our genocide?
If we write enough books,
produce enough eyewitness accounts,
and organize enough demonstrations,
the West may finally see the light.
Historic lands?
All of America is someone else’s historic land,
so what?
Perhaps truth or reality itself is a territory
beyond our comprehension,
and God Himself is the negation of the “I”
and everything connected with it.
If Calderon is right and “life is a dream,”
it may not even be our dream but someone else’s.
In my younger days our elder statesmen
would seek me out and give me advice – all of it useless.
History may become more comprehensible
if you think of serial killers as failed political leaders.
What if I am wrong?
I will be dead wrong on the day I assert infallibility.
Friday, September 23, 2011
If you search long enough for something
you are sure to find a substitute.
The more I deal with Turks
the more I like my fellow Armenians;
and the more I deal with Armenians
the better I understand Turks.
A writer is someone who has developed the art of speaking
even when he has nothing to say.
My mother believed what she read in the papers
except what I wrote.
Spengler: “The less one needs others,
the more powerful one is.”
My ambition in life when young:
To come to terms with death.
My ambition now:
to die in order to have the final answer
which may or may not exist.
There are no questions and answers in reality –
both begin and end in the convolutions of our brains.
We are told space must have an end.
We are also told space is being created
with the speed of light.
It follows, no matter how fast we travel
we will never see what’s on the other side of space.
Love means being always on the verge of tears.
Love feels as though your insides
were being surgically removed
without anaesthesia.
If you have not experienced love,
you don’t know bliss.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Almost everyone I have been reading about recently
has been analyzed. I have never been near an analyst
and I doubt very much if I ever will find myself
in the same room with one.
What could he tell me that I don’t already know?
And what could I tell him?
Where would I begin?
I am misunderstood and spat upon by hoodlums?
Who hasn’t been?
Homer, it is said, was kicked out of seven villages,
all of which, after he died, claimed to be his birthplace.
To this day no one knows where he was born or,
for that matter, buried.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Sunday, September 18, 2011
My ideas are subversive and dangerous?
What about the ideas in the Bible?
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
“Without vision the people perish.”
“Thou shalt not bear false witness.”
“Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The trouble with our censorship is that
its ultimate aim is to violate
not only my human right
but also God’s divine right of free speech.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Divisions don’t bother me as much as
the lies that are spoken in their defense.
Liars don’t bother me as much as
their efforts to make you believe that
they believe in their own lies
and they expect you to do likewise.
I may consider making an effort to agree
with our bosses, bishops, and benefactors
on the day they make an effort
to agree with one another.
My answer to those who tell me
if I do this that and the other
I may be more popular:
My obscurity is too well established
to be vulnerable to any kind of
promotional or advertising campaign.
I have committed so many blunders
that I don’t deserve to live.
The only thing that keeps me going
is the fact that almost everyone I know
has committed worse blunders
yet nothing could be further from their thoughts
than suicide.
Instead of voicing your suspicions
redouble your vigilance.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
He who violates my human right of free speech
is in no position to determine his degree of guilt or innocence.
If it were up to fascists to judge themselves,
they would be unanimous in pronouncing their victims guilty.
The sons and daughters of well-known Armenian writers
that I have met or heard from
prefer solitude to the proximity of their fellow Armenians.
That may be because they know something
most Armenians don’t -- namely: to survive
in our environment one must either lie
or be penalized for his honesty.
I repeat myself?
That may be because I am a bad writer
and you are a worse reader
for reading a writer who is not worth reading.
All problems and solutions begin and end
in the convolutions of our breains – which of course
does not apply to the brainless.
Love is the mightiest creative force of all
because it sees somebody in nobody
and meaning in the meanigless.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Gerald Durrell’s memoir MY FAMILY
AND OTHER ANIMALS (1956) contains
a hilarious portrait of Gostan Zarian.
Gerald Durrell: not to be confused
with his better-known brother Lawrence
who also wrote extensively on Zarian.
A headline reads:
“Syria blames terrorists for country’s violence.”
The trick here is and it has always been,
to portray yourself as a victim even as you victimize.
In detective stories I am more interested in the dialogue
than the plot.
If only there were writers
who specialized in rewriting difficult texts –
Hegel rewritten by Chekhov.
Dupes hate critics.
They view criticism as enemy action.
Poetry, it has been said,
is when two words meet for the first time – as in
“fearful symmetry” (Blake) and “beeloud glade” (Yeats).
His handwriting is so bad that
his “morale” looks like “merde.”
I am a failure because my readers know better.
If only I could choose a different audience…

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Thursday, September 15, 2011
It is narcissism and nothing else
that allows a political leader to think
he is the best thing that happened to his nation…
until he is driven to exile,
or arrested, condemned to death, or assassinated.
There is probably more narcissism in politics
than in any other line of work.
It is narcissism and nothing else
that allows Turks to believe
our genocide is a fiction of our imagination.
Likewise it is narcissism of the most primitive kind
that allows us to think
we are smart and progressive
when the historic evidence proves otherwise.
It is narcissism and nothing else
that allows the very rich to behave like swine
and to believe they are la crème de la crème.
The astonishing ease with which both men and women
confuse an ephemeral infatuation with eternal love.
The rule is and must be
anything that flatters are vanity
should be dismissed as a lie.
Friday, September 16, 2011
The headline of a commentary in my morning paper reads:
“Canada’s self-image needs a reality check.”
There follows a list of misconceptions and fallacies
that have become common currency in Canada,
a country with a long democratic tradition and a free press.
You may now imagine the number of our own misconceptions
that have been consistently covered up
by our controlled press and authoritarians power structures.
The headline of another commentary on the same page reads:
“Is it time to rethink think tanks?”
Can we do that?
Do we have them?
There are 4500 active think tanks in the world,
we are informed here.
My question is:
Is any one of them Armenian?
In the section dealing with local news,
another headline reads:
“Region’s suicide rate still high.”
Do you know – does anyone know -- our own suicide rate?
Does anyone care to know?
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Gandhi was a double dissident –
critical of British colonialism
as well as many facets of Indian life.
In a new biography we are told:
“This made him a rather more balanced nationalist
than the many who remarked on the victimhood of their race
or argued for the superiority of their own culture.”
See Jad Adams, GANDHI:
(New York, Pegasus, 2011, page 56).