Saturday, April 30, 2011


Thursday, April 28, 2011
Because I try to understand Turks as human beings
as opposed to bloodthirsty Asiatic barbarians,
I am accused of justifying the Genocide.
Nothing and no one can justify
the murder of a single innocent human being.
To understand and explain is not to justify.
If an Almighty and All-loving God
allows such a murder to take place,
it is up to us to understand it.
Arabs today are as angry with their own
corrupt, autocratic, and incompetent leaders
as with their own past subservience and cowardice.
My dissent has similar roots.
I write less against our leadership
and more against my own cowardly conformism.
Nations lie as surely as compulsive liars.
Nationalist historians rewrite history
to cover up past blunders and
to legitimize future ones.
Wars represent the triumph of the gut over the brain.
Friday, April 29, 2011
True wisdom begins on the day you say to yourself:
“I thought I understood everything.
I know now that I understand nothing!”
To understand politics,
read a book on organized crime.
Politics has created more criminals than the Mafia.
If brainwashing were declared a crime against humanity,
as it should be,
which one of our speechifiers, sermonizers, and ghazetajis
would escape hanging?
Saturday, April 30, 2011
We have inherited two sets of contradictory ideas:
the ideas that animate our literature –
from Khorenatsi and Naregatsi to Raffi and Zarian -- and
the ideas of our dividers,
namely sermonizers and speechifiers
who speak in the name of God and capital
(make it Capital and god).
Our bosses, bishops, and benefactors
make a comfortable living, thank you very much.
Our writers are unemployed and unemployable misfits.
Our writers maintain unity is strength.
Our dividers agree but only during the day;
at night they turn into grave-diggers.
Once during a heated argument
with a self-righteous member of the party,
I heard him say:
“Mistakes? Sure we have made them.
We don’t claim to be infallible.
We are human beings.”
What he failed to add is that
like all human beings
their first instinct is to cover up their mistakes
and to silence anyone who dares to expose them.
Talk of God has been around for millions of years,
but it is only recently that popes, imams, and rabbis
assert monopoly on the subject, and doing so
they divide mankind as surely
as our leaders divide the nation.
Some day all dividers will be seen
as the true enemies of mankind.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Sunday, April 24, 2011
The Turkish take on the Genocide:
“We taught them a lesson they will never forget.”
A crime against humanity?
Hell no!
An exercise in promoting wisdom?
Damn right!
What a book one could write
on the dangers of self-assessment!
Another case in point:
They view Ottomanism as a progressive and civilizing force
even after they themselves rejected every aspect of it –
from the fez and the shalvar
to the alphabet and the power structure.
That’s the trouble with all brainwashed dupes:
they can’t tell the different between making sense
and making asses of themselves.
We share with them
an intolerance of dissent and contradiction –
an obvious part of our common heritage.
It is easy to remove the tangible;
much more difficult to reform the invisible.
Monday, April 25, 2011
The more I write
the less I hope to change anything.
The USSR did not collapse
because of what Solzhenitsyn,
among many others, wrote,
or because of what the Pope of Rome or
President Reagan said or did.
The USSR collapsed because it was rotten.
Nations and empires are not killed,
they commit suicide.
The Albanians have survived
and very probably will continue to survive.
That’s not what matters.
What matters is, who gives a damn
whether they survive or not?
The Albanians maybe, but who else?
A nation is judged not by its past but by its future;
and more precisely,
by what it can contribute to mankind.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
There are two kinds of people:
those who help you to live
and those who help you to die.
When the Turks first set foot on Armenian soil
they numbered less than 140,000.
Only one Armenian in ten thousand knows our history
and we meet him every day.
Nationalist historians adapt facts to their ideology.
A fact that cannot be adapted is discarded.
A midget can defeat two giants
if the giants are divided; all he has to do is
wait until the giants wear each other out
and bleed to death.
Question: Do I have to read ten thousand books
in order to know all there is to know
about our history and culture?
Answer: No. Just take a good look at yourself in the mirror.
If you are kind, they will love you and ignore you.
If you are mean, they will hate you and remember you.
If you are honest, they will crucify you,
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
It should be obvious by now that autocratic rulers
don’t have much respect for their subjects.
It would be even more accurate to say that
they don’t give a damn about them.
The trouble with our brown-nosers is that
they wear the brown on their nose
as if it were a certificate of loyalty
and a badge of honor.
Do you have to be brave to be a hero?
No, just honest.
If Armenia is a puppet of Russia today,
it is up to our leadership to convince the Russians
that a free and independent Armenia
will be in a much better position to make a contribution
to their welfare.
The real scandal is not that Armenian political parties
have no respect for free speech
but that no one, not even our pundits and academics,
who ought to know better, give a damn,
as if it were fire on the other side of the river.
You spend half a lifetime to figure out your fellow men
and the other half in avoiding them.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

being positive

Thursday, April 21, 2011
To say, “Our politicians don’t lie”
is as transparent a falsehood as saying
“I owe my birth to immaculate conception.”
Even if you believe it,
you may have some trouble convincing others.
Reality (or God) tells us all men are brothers.
Politicians tell us the only good enemy is a dead enemy.
Even those who agree that all politicians lie
see nothing wrong in allowing them
to control our educational system.
The average dupe – and it makes no difference
whether he is Russian or Prussian,
Hottentot or Patagonian, Armenian or Turk –
would rather go to war and kill or die
rather than give up his infantile beliefs.
This may suggest that all wars
are clashes between two figments
created by habitual liars.
Where God and patriotism enter,
reality exits.
To be against free speech is to be for liars.
Two synonymous sentences:
Once upon a time barbers were surgeons.
Once upon a time politicians led nations.

Friday, April 22, 2011
Did you know that there are more Armenians today
than there Mongols, Libyans, and Icelanders combined?
– and I am not counting half of Turkey
which is half-Armenian.
You don’t believe me?
Look it up and do the math.
We have no use for them.
What we need – what we really need today
is not solutions but someone with Kemalist ambitions.
Solving problems is a language we don’t speak.
To justify our unwillingness to solve our problems
we count our liabilities the way others count their assets:
we are few,
we are landlocked,
we are surrounded by bloodthirsty barbarians…
As for political and religious dogmatism,
intolerance, divisions, censorship,
violations of human rights, corruption, and incompetence:
we ignore them as if they were irrelevant factors
beyond our control.
The Armenian character is not a poorly defined abstraction
but an expression of how we treat one another.

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Where would Christians be without Jesus,
or Muslims without Mohammed,
or Communists without Marx,
or Catholics without the popes,
or Protestants without Luther?
The men at the top matter.
A divided leadership will spawn a divided community.
Where the leadership is mediocre,
excellence will be outlawed.
Under a dishonest leadership,
charlatanism will be the common currency.
“You are consistently negative.”
All criticism and dissent is – including your own.
There are ten negatives in the Ten Commandments.
If I am negative it may be because
I have the Good Lord as my guide and role model.
But if you prefer positive,
read my book on Armenian history and culture
which could be subtitled “A Thousand and One Positive Things
About Armenian History and Culture.”
“You repeat yourself!”
So do Panchoonies:
“Mi kich pogh oughargetsek”
(Send us a little money).
Even the Good Lord repeats Himself:
“Where there is no vision the people perish.”
“Where the blind lead the blind,
both shall fall into the ditch.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Sunday, April 17, 2011
True patriotism consists in being honest
with oneself and one’s fellow countrymen,
not in saying “Yes, sir!” to those who pretend to know better
but who have been consistently wrong in the past.
A citizen is not a soldier.
But after World War II even soldiers
are not compelled to say “Yes, sir!” to all orders.
Politics is not an exact science.
In a democracy, everything a politician says
is open to criticism and contradiction.
That is why for every politician who says one thing
there will be another who will say the opposite.
Readers who accuse me of hating
my fellow Armenians and myself
never mention the deep contempt they themselves have
for anyone who dares to disagree with them.
Do they speak of hatred because they feel unloved?
And if they are unloved,
do they ever ask whether or not
they deserve anyone’s love?
All our misfortunes may be traced to misplaced trust.
We trusted the Turks as our masters for 600 years.
We trusted them so much that
they called us their “most faithful millet [ethnic minority]”
That “most faithful” bothers the hell out of me.
Why couldn’t we have been like all the others –
Greeks, Arabs, Jews, Assyrians, Bulgarians,
Albanians, and Kurds – among others?
Why did we have to be their “most faithful” bitch?
We trusted Talaat, Stalin, and Hitler.
We trusted the Great Powers of the West
as we trusted our own leaders
who were not there when we needed them most.
They had a plan B only for themselves.
In America today we trust any presidential candidate
who promises to recognize the reality of our genocide
even when after they are elected they refuse to use the “g” word.
And now, our leaders expect us to trust them again
when they rewrite history and represent themselves
as statesmen of vision who can do no wrong.
Monday, April 18, 2011
When the USSR collapsed
Stalinists were unanimous in blaming it on Solzhenitsyn,
as if a single or, for that matter,
a thousand unarmed civilians
could challenge and defeat a military colossus.
The USSR collapsed because
the lies of the Kremlin were exposed;
and when lies are exposed,
the reality principle asserts itself.
If so far we have survived
it’s because the lies of our enemies
are bigger than our own.
We have nothing to brag about.
God is not on our side.
We are not as smart as we think we are.
Our history is a disaster area and
our leadership is a farce.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
If you think I am an eccentric with whose opinions
very few responsible Armenians would agree,
allow me to quote a witness that may well be
less vulnerable to similar charges.
“Our teachers are self-satisfied ignoramuses.
Our clergy love commerce more than learning.
Our leaders behave more like wolves than shepherds.”
I am paraphrasing from memory
a few lines from the “Lamentation” of Khorenatsi,
a historian of the 5th century
when Armenia was at the apex of its Golden Age
as opposed to the nadir of its decline and disintegration.
More recently, a friend writes:
“Our community is dying.
It’s a case of cold-blooded murder
and the killers are the very same individuals
who parade as our saviors.”
Another correspondent informs me:
“Ours is a case of terminal cancer.”
If you say, “We survived Khorenatsi
and we will survive you and your
gloom-and-doom friends and correspondents,”
all I can say is:
Yes, in the Ottoman Empire we survived as slaves
for 600 years; and we are surviving today as dupes.
I call that kind of survival worse than death.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Turks and Armenians disagree on many things
but they agree on one thing – that the other
is an infidel dog.
We could build on that!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Thursday, April 14, 2011
If we define friends as those who agree with us,
and enemies as those who disagree,
we shall have to conclude that
some of our best friends are Turks,
and some of our worst enemies are Armenians.
Our greatest enemy is not the Turk
but free speech.
Where free speech is the enemy
there will always be men at the top
who pretend to know better.
They may not be historians, economists, or philosophers,
but they will pretend their understanding
of history, economy, and philosophy to be superior
to anyone else’s, and there will always be others
willing to agree with them.
Even mighty empires are afraid of words.
Tyrants rule by inspiring fear in others
but they are themselves afraid of words.
In undemocratic environments
men are ruled by cowardly fools.
Friday, April 15, 2011
If the Americans refuse to recognize the reality of our genocide,
what are our chances of some day convincing the Turks to do so?
My guess is:
1 in 1,5 million.
If Americans who like to identify themselves
as champions of democracy, free speech and human rights
are afraid to use the “g” word,
what are our chances that some day
in the near or distant future
the Turks will include that word
in their dictionaries, encyclopedias, and textbooks?
This time I will let you do the guessing.
Third question:
What do Americans stand to lose in this context?
A friend in the Middle East?
What about Turks themselves?
What do they stand to lose?
The obvious answer is:
billions in reparations (money they don’t have)
and an important fraction of their real estate
which they stole from us 600 years ago
as, more recently,
Yanks stole America from the Indians,
“fair and square.”
At the turn of the last century,
our revolutionaries promised freedom and historic Armenia
but delivered death and pestilence.
Moral I:
If you make a promise you can’t deliver
your credibility is bound to sink lower
than a snake’s belly full of buckshot.
Moral II:
You fooled me once, shame on you.
You fooled me twice, shame on me.
You find what I say depressing?
Don’t blame me.
Blame reality.
I deal in facts, not fiction.
If you prefer fiction,
read romances with happy endings.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Who hates writers?
Where fascists enter
writers are silenced.
If you don’t believe me
it may be because you suffer from amnesia.
I suggest you refresh your memory
by reading a book on fascism
or a history of our literature.
In both the Ottoman Empire under Talaat
and the USSR under Stalin
our writers were the first victims.
And if you say,
“So you dare to think of yourself as a writer?”
I will reply:
“I don’t speak as a writer.
I speak as a witness
who refuses to be a dupe
and to recycle the propaganda
of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors
who speak in the name of God and capital
(make it, Capital and god);
and I speak as I do
because I refuse to believe God is a fascist.
Fascists are afraid of free speech
because they want everyone to believe
they are infallible and
they hate to be exposed as frauds.
God, by contrast, is afraid of nothing.
This may suggest that God,
unlike the god of popes, imams, and rabbis,
is neither a fascist nor a fraud,
and because I say so
it doesn’t necessarily follow
that I am in league with the Devil.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011
In John Buchan’s GREENMANTLE (1916)
the Young Turks are described as
“a collection of Jews and gypsies.”
True or false?
I don’t know and I don’t care.
What matters here is not their family tree
but the fact that some of our greatest intellectual
and political leaders trusted them.
It is not my intention to convince anyone
to think as I do, but only to show that
(one) recycling enemy propaganda
is not the only way to think, and
(two) just because someone speaks in the name of
patriotism, nationalism or some other noble cause,
it doesn’t necessarily follow he is right.
All enemies of democracy
speak in the name of an ideology.
No fascist has ever declared himself
to be anti-nationalist or anti-patriotic.
On the contrary,
some of the most celebrated proponents of patriotism
have been foreign intruders and outsiders.
Napoleon was not a Frenchman,
Stalin was not a Russian,
Hitler was not a German,
and one of our greatest symbols
of patriotism and heroism,
Vartan Mamigonian,
was not an Armenian.
Moral of the story:
what matters about a political leader
is not his dedication to a noble cause
but his respect for human rights, free speech, and democracy.
The rest is enemy propaganda.
Monday, April 11, 2011
“If you speak
you are kesh.
If you don’t speak
you are esh.”
I came across this charming haiku
in an Armenian website the other day.
I have been called both kesh and esh by readers
Who have somehow managed to convince themselves
they are better and wiser.
With age comes wisdom,
except when your aim is power,
in which case with age
comes more greed, prejudice,
ignorance, and intolerance.
We tend to look up to our bosses, bishops, and benefactors
on the grounds that they have more money and power.
In this context we consistently avoid asking the question,
What have these gentlemen done for us so far
except to divide, deceive, and lead us
to massacre, exile, and subservience?
Now then, I ask you ladies and gentlemen
(if you will forgive the overstatements)
what have our dissidents done
except trying to enhance our solidarity
and share their understanding with us.
Why should solidarity, tolerance, and understanding
be treated as failings or vices
and divisiveness, dogmatism, and intolerance
as desirable patriotic duties and virtues?
What makes you think your bishop
knows better than someone else’s pope, imam, or rabbi?
God is with us?
That was one of Hitler’s favorite slogans too.
Why is it that where God enters
intolerance follows, and with intolerance,
heresies, persecution, and death? –
the death of the spirit if not the body.
The scum rises to the top
even in democratic environments.
That’s because, as Plato explains somewhere:
honest men will use only honest means
to achieve their goals,
unlike crooks
who will use both honest and dishonest means.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
We are brought up to think
all belief systems are wrong except our own.
All politicians are crooks except our own.
All historians lie except our own.
We never had them.
Ours were freedom fighters.
All our wars were defensive wars.
All our defeats were moral victories.
This may suggest that
the aim of propaganda is not to inform
but to brainwash,
and the aim of educational systems
is not to educate but to moronize.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
As a child I thought of war, starvation, and homelessness
(all of which I experienced)
as inevitable facts of life.
I was brought up to believe in God
who in His infinite wisdom had a plan for me.
What exactly had been His plan
for those who did not survive?
That was a question I did not ask.
In my infantile eyes Almighty God made the decisions
and men had no choice but to say “Thank you, Lord!”
When as a teenager I met an adult
who spoke as I write today,
my initial impression was that he must be nuts.
How dare he question God’s wisdom?
I know now that what he was questioning
was not God’s wisdom or even His existence
but the judgment of those who speak in His name –
popes, imams, and rabbis
who in another era would condemn one another to death
as frauds, heretics, and blasphemers.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

the ugly armenian

Thursday, April 07, 2011
The tribal Muslims of the Middle East and North Africa
are ahead of us.
They have finally discovered that
their greatest enemies are neither Jews nor Americans
but their own corrupt, incompetent, and authoritarian leaders
who portray themselves as father figures and role models.
For daring to say as much a few years ago,
I lost several close friends from the Middle East.
This may suggest that even well-educated Armenians
are predisposed to believe recycled enemy propaganda
and reject the judgment of a brother.
I call Muslims our enemies
if only because after a thousand years of coexistence
they have contributed nothing but misery
to our collective existence
and blind subservience to authority
to our character as a nation.
Friday, April 08, 2011
When asked that question,
I make it short and harmless by saying
writing has become a habit
and habits are easier to keep than to give up.
Why do I write?
I write because as a teenager
I fell in love with the 19tn-century Russians.
I write because I like to share
my understanding of reality.
I write to expose deceivers.
To achieve immortality?
Why should I care what happens to me
after I am dead and buried?
Why do I write?
There may be many other reasons.
There is always a difference between what we say
and what we really think.
I write because I cannot do anything else.
I write because I have done many others things
and I have failed in all of them.
I write because I hate to work for money.
Saturday, April 09, 2011
We have many problems which we will never solve
if we don’t teach ourselves to separate fact from fiction.
Like the rest of mankind
we are not as lovable as we think we are.
Saroyan’s “stylized” Armenians (his own qualifier)
may be cute and lovable
but according to the published memoirs of his wife and son,
Saroyan himself was far from lovable.
To the Russians we are known as “cowards.”
To the Greeks as “Turkish gypsies.”
To the French as “filthy.”
To the Italians as smarter than Jews – meaning,
worse than Jews and thus to be avoided in the marketplace.
To the Americans, as Middle-East variants of their native Indians.
The truth is, as poor and homeless displaced people
we were welcome nowhere, including our own homeland.
Armenian survivors of World War II who repatriated
were not only called “aghber”
but also treated like garbage.
Not that our Sovietized brothers and sisters
treated one another more humanely.
If they had, several generations of our ablest men
would have survived successive waves of Stalinist purges.
When I am expected to believe
Arabs of the Middle East welcomed survivors
of the Genocide with open arms,
forgive me if I find that hard to believe.
We are told many Armenian orphans were adopted
and treated kindly by their new parents.
What we are not told
how many of them were abused and raped.
We are told 97% of the population in Armenia is Armenian.
What we are not told
Why is it that minorities are practically non-existent there?
Is it because we are intolerant, unfriendly, clannish,
tribal, and hostile to all outsiders?
I will let you answer that question.
And if you think I write as I do
because I am driven by self-hatred,
please don’t tell me you are one of those
narcissistic Armenians who have been brainwashed to believe
since we are beyond criticism we can do no wrong.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Sunday, April 03, 2011
If anyone out there is planning to publish a volume of graffiti,
I submit the following candidates for his consideration.
“Stay in school and learn to read and riot.”
“Aunt Jemima is an Uncle Tom.”
“No Easter this year – they found the body.”
“Old soldiers never die -- just young ones.”
“Hugh Hefner is a virgin.”
“War is good business – invest your sons.”
“Be realists, demand the impossible.”
“Watch out, ears have walls.”
“Chastity is its own punishment.”
“Support free enterprise -- legalize prostitution.”
“Wear contraceptives – the unborn will bless you.”
“James Baldwin eats watermelon.”
Monday, April 04, 2011
Every nation has its heroes
who are invariably outnumbered by its cowards,
and we are no exception.
Speaking for myself:
I have at no time identified myself as a hero.
On the contrary, on more than one occasion
I have declared myself to be an orthodox coward.
To those who insult me anonymously
and from a safe distance, I say:
Why do you hide your identity?
Is it shame or cowardice?
Shame of who you are?
Fear of retaliation?
If fear, I assure you, you have nothing to fear.
I have no interest in harming anyone.
I am not your enemy.
Harming you would amount to killing someone
who is committing suicide.
I suggest you have more reasons to fear yourself
because by behaving as you do,
you expose yourself as a shameless coward.
Zarian once said,
“An Armenian’s tongue can be sharper than a Turk’s yataghan.”
With one difference:
whereas Turks use the yataghan against their enemies,
we use it against ourselves.
As for those who expect me to believe
those who insult me are motivated by patriotism
and nothing else, I ask:
What could be more useless
than the patriotism of a shameless coward
who is afraid of his own shadow?
Why can’t we see this as clearly
as anyone with an average IQ?
The obvious answer is:
Because our average collective IQ
hovers somewhere between single-digit and negative.
Finally, allow me to share a professional secret with you.
The most lethal wound a reader can inflict on a writer
is not reading him.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Saw a classic of French cinema,
Most of the characters in it are nasty, even sadistic,
the acting is wooden,
the script clumsily put together,
the camera-work average.
What makes the film memorable are the central character
(a donkey, that after being repeatedly abused
is hit by a stray bullet and bleeds to death in the middle of nowhere)
and the music (Schubert).
I see so many parallels between Balthazar’s life
and our history – with one significant difference:
Balthazar is an adorable, saintly creature…
Which may suggest that survival comes at a price,
and it is not always the best that survive.
A system that develops a bureaucracy
is a system on its way to the devil.
That’s because in all bureaucracies
it is the ruthless and the cunning – that is to say,
the scum – that rises to the top.
The aim of comedy is to make us forget that
life is a tragedy.
“I love to read but I don’t have the time.”
The words of a self-satisfied imbecile
infatuated with his own ignorance.
Old age replaces desire with guilt.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
When asked why he no longer publishes me,
one of our partisan editors is quoted as having said:
“Because he writes garbage.”
I write about life as I have experienced it.
I write about my fellow men as I have known them.
To do otherwise –
to speak of my feelings and thoughts
based on what others have seen, experienced, and understood,
would be derivative and, in my view,
inadmissible because based on hearsay.
It is different with editors.
All editors have an editorial policy
set by the publisher or
whoever happens to be in authority.
If our bosses, bishops, and benefactors are unanimous
in thinking I write garbage,
an editor has no choice but to echo their views.
There are dissenting writers.
There are not and cannot be dissenting editors.
Nations that have won or lost wars
think victory and defeat have taught them valuable lessons.
In reality all they have learned
is either arrogance or subservience:
arrogance towards the defenseless,
subservience towards authority figures.
Am I saying anything you don’t already know?
I doubt it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Thursday, March 31, 2011
The hardest thing in writing
is the search for the simplest words.
A lie that flatters
will be more popular
than a truth that hurts.
That’s why propaganda
is more popular than dissent.
It took me thirty years to realize
I had been brainwashed.
If you don’t think you have been brainwashed,
you have been.
Friday, April 01, 2011
Today’s champions of human rights,
Americans were yesterday’s champion violators
who probably claimed more victims
than Genghis Khan, Suleiman the Magnificent,
Talaat, and Stalin combined.
As for their victims (both Indians and Africans):
in their endless tribal wars and massacres
before the white man appeared on the scene,
they were champion victimizers in their own right.
History is not written but rewritten and
it is not white man alone
who speaks with a forked tongue.
Speaking of the European conquest of America,
Toynbee writes:
“As soon as they had accomplished their murderously romantic historical mission of clearing the North American barbarians out of the way, they themselves were swiftly sucked back into the prosaic Main Street of a pullulating Middletown. The culture of this Middletown had lapsed into a conspicuous vulgarity and barbarism in the realm of Art.”
When two sets of barbarians clash, the result will not be a new civilization – though historians will be assigned the task of misrepresenting it as such.
Turks rewrite history?
Don’t we?
We do worse:
We pretend to care about the past to the point of obsession
in order to avoid thinking and assessing our present and future.
We have replaced Ottomanism with Turcocentrism.
What’s the difference?
Don’t ask me because I don’t know.
A question that our historians consistently avoid raising:
What has been our contribution to our own history --
besides providing victims to victimizers?