Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011
I am predictable?
So is our propaganda.
On the day our propagandists become unpredictable,
so will I.
However, if your aim is to silence me,
I suggest you come up with a less predictable line.
Shahnour was a photographer,
Hamasdegh a shoemaker,
Oshagan a schoolteacher,
Nartuni a doctor…
and they were the lucky ones.
Many others were betrayed to the authorities and slaughtered.
By contrast, our academics make a comfortable living
and our imams are millionaires.
Who says crime doesn’t pay?
All that talk about cultural, political, and economic factors
beyond our control is hogwash.
We are control freaks
and we have been brainwashed to dig our own grave.
We are told “Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do.”
Question: How many of our masterbuilders
were charged with manslaughter?
We are told “Treason and ebtrayal are in our blood” (Raffi).
If so far none of our traitors
has been arrested, tried, found guilty, and hanged,
it may be because they continue to be in charge of our institutions,
including our justice system.
Friday, May 27, 2011
To understand history
one must deal not only with the visible
but also with the invisible world –
that is, what goes on inside the human mind,
which is the source of all conflict and violence.
Historians now know that to understand history
It is not enough to know what happened.
It is also important to know “the unstated
(and sometimes unrecognized) reasons why
people do the things that they do.”
(HISTORY: A BRIEF INSIGHT by John H. Arnold, page 132.)
What did Armenians want at the turn of the last century
in th Ottoman Empire?
Respect for their fundamental human rights,
which the Turks took for treason – a crime punishable by death.
To say that Armenians were punished
because they made territorial demands is nonsense.
Revolutions are not fought out of greed for more acreage
but for human rights – case in point: the Arab Spring today.
And speaking of territorial integrity and Homeland:
Today even Turks are more than willing
to abandon their birthplace
and live abroad where they are allowed to work
and make a living
(which is also a fundamental human right);
in the same way that many Armenians
are more than willing to emigrate (some even to Turkey)
for the same reason.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Call me a human rights fanatic.
I’d rather live in hell where my human rights are respected
than in a fascist paradise.
There are three kinds of writers:
and academics who write about subjects like
grammar, village life in the 18th-century, and the Middle Ages.
In that sense they may be classified as
the mules of our ecology.
One of our most dangerous misconceptions:
the idea that divisions in the name of tribal loyalty
are motivated by patriotism.
To those who say I have been silenced
because my ideas are subversive and dangerous, I say:
So were the ideas of our revolutionaries a hundred years ago;
so much so that they claimed 1,5 million victims.
Only in an Ottomanized and Sovietized environment
talk of human rights is seen as unpatriotic or subversive.
Tell them what they want to hear and they will agree with you.
Prove them wrong and they will tear you to shreds.
How easy it is to deceive millions.
How hard it is to reason with a dupe.
like all brainwashed chauvinist dupes
you like to believe in the infallibility of your leadership.
which is a belief not shared by your own leaders.
that's why the Young Turks overthrew the Sultan;
that's why Kemal overthrew the Young Turks;
that's why Kurds hate you today;
that's why many Turks have left Turkey and survive as garbage collectors in Europe; and
and that's why you don't qualify as members of the EU.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Thursday, May 19, 2011
The only way to make progress in one’s thinking is
by constantly questioning one’s most fundamental assumptions.
It’s because most Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and Christians
assume their belief system to be the only true one
that they feel morally justified in massacring the competition.
Reality has countless layers of meaning.
By carefully selecting a handful of them
one can prove anything.
After we die we shall have all the answers,
provided we consider the total absence of answers
also an answer.
Friday, May 20, 2011
A fatally flawed assumption:
If God knows everything, it follows,
those who speak in His name know better.
All men of authority lie when they pretend to know
that which is unknowable.
If believers outnumber non-believers
it's be because crooks outnumber honest men.
Those who disagree with us are not always wrong.
To be powerless is an open invitation to abuse.
The more ignorant the people
the more authoritarian and blind the leadership.
The longer I live the more truth I see in the saying:
“Once upon a time we were slaves.
We are now slaves of former slaves.”
Even the Turks are ahead of us
if only because they have internationally recognized dissidents
and all we have are Turcocentric ghazetajis by the dozen
who know how to break eggs
but so far have failed to serve a single decent omelet.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
The Arab Spring must be a source of dread to our leaders.
It can’t be pleasant to contemplate one's own demise.
You can’t fool all the people all the time.
No banquet under heaven is endless.
Speaking of funerals:
My favorite funeral marches are
the slow movement of Beethoven’s Eroica,
the first movement of Mahler’s 5th Symphony,
and Siegfried’s funeral in the final act of Wagner’s RING
(which was also Hitler’s favorite) besides which
the orgasmic crescendo in TRISTAN UND ISOLDE
is sentimental hogwash.
One of the most unforgettable lines in Italian poetry
is Ungaretti’s “Ed a subito sera”
(And suddenly it’s evening)
meaning, old age and death.
It has been observed that
what holds us together is the Genocide.
Does that mean on the day the Genocide is recognized
the glue that holds us together will dry up?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

nobody's bitch

Sunday, May 15, 2011
A writer is nobody’s bitch.
It could be said of us that
the best stay away
and the worst stick around;
and if I stick around
it’s because we deserve it.
People who say “I don’t read fiction,”
fail to realize that the greatest fiction of all
is their conception of reality.
Democracy is not just a political system
or power structure;
democracy is a way of life.
To spend a lifetime serving an arrogant and cruel master
means to assume that both arrogance and cruelty
are not only an integral part of the human condition
but also desirable qualities in a man of authority.
It is a writer’s duty to remind those
who speak in the name of God and capital
(make it, Capital and god)
that they are first and foremost
public servants.
Monday, May 16, 2011
If an Armenian is dumb enough to think
he can survive as a writer,
he must be in need of advice,
or so I have been given to understand
by concerned “friends” and elder statesmen
on more than one occasion.
What kind of advice?
Elementary, my dear Watson.
Instead of kicking ass,
he should learn to kiss it.
The penalty for refusing to do so
is alienation and unemployment.
Once upon a time
our vodanavorjis wrote odes to the Sultan.
It is an illusion to think that the Sultan is dead.
A hundred years ago Krikor Zohrab spoke
of the prostitution of our press.
Our bosses and benefactors rely on the press
to publicize their good deeds
but are too dumb to see that by prostituting it
they foul their own nest.
We may think we live in America
but in reality we continue to be subjects
of the Ottoman Empire.
Have I said this before?
Never mind.
If anything is worth saying
it’s worth repeating.
Besides, I happen to be an addict of reiteration
and habits are easier to keep than to give up.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
It is not the best who seek power, privilege and prestige
but the worst.
Elites are the scum of the earth.
My targets are not Armenians
but dupes of all nations.
There is no business like the brainwashing business
compared to which organized crime
is an amateur enterprise in addition to being
a risky proposition.
One reason why Turks are a popular subject in our press
is that they can be discussed without reference
to our bosses, bishops, and benefactors.
But discussing Armenians without mentioning
bosses, bishops, and benefactors
is like discussing the Napoleonic wars without Napoleon.
Only people who say nothing don’t repeat themselves –
but then, one would be justified in asserting that
nothing is what they repeat.
Make no mistake about it:
there is a Ben Ali, Mubarak, Assad, and Gadhafi
in all undemocratic leaders,
including our own.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
To cover up a crime is a crime.
To repeat a lie is a lie.
To be afraid of free speech is cowardice.
During the televised Watergate hearings
I remember the following exchange with a Soviet citizen:
“What’s Watergate about?”
“The president lied.”
“So what? They lie to us all the time.”
Some of my most devastating lines –
lines like “There is a Turk in all of us.”
“Some of our leaders are Turks.”
“Subservience is in our blood.” –
are not mine but verbatim quotations
from our elder statesmen.
Secrecy is totalitarian.
The concentration camps under Hitler
and the Gulag under Stalin were exposed
long after the damage was done.
And when I say damage I have in mind
both the suffering inflicted on the victims
and the disintegration of the regime.
It’s a dangerous illusion to think
we can solve our problems
by brainwashing the next generation
and suppressing dissent.
Sometimes I am accused of hating Armenians and myself,
when in fact I hate only cowards
who are afraid of free speech;
I loathe only fools who pretend to know better;
and I have nothing but contempt for dupes
who believe everything they are told.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

from my notebooks

Thursday, May 12, 2011
“Be more positive,” means
“Cover up the negative.”
We all have doubts except the brainwashed.
Every boss, bishop, and benefactor is for solidarity
but only under his own leadership.
In our environment you can tell how honest a man is
by the number of crooks that are ganged up against him.
One man’s arsenic is another’s elixir.
The absence of financial and institutional support
may paralyze others but it stimulates me.
In his novel, A PARTISAN'S DAUGHTER (New York, 2008)
Louis de Bernieres writes about “an emperor
who blinded all his prisoners except for one in every hundred,
who was supposed to lead the others home,
and when the opposing king saw what had happened to his troops,
he died of the shock.”
What he doesn't say is that both the emperor
(Basil II Bulgaroktonus [Bulgar-slayer])
and the Bulgarian king (Czar Samuel)
were of Armenian descent.
For more details, see my book,
(New York, 1981).
Friday, May 13, 2011
Nothing is more alien and incomprehensible to an Armenian
than his own identity.
It would have been nothing short of a miracle
if after long centuries under ruthless tyrants
we had maintained a single trace of our original identity.
Our ancestors are as distant from us
as Zulus and Neanderthals.
I say things that thirty years ago
I would have been afraid to think.
After they make enough money
they think they can buy immortality
as if it were a product on the market.
“I am a very serious man,” Donald trump asserted
in a recent televised interview.
I can’t imagine a serious man making such a claim.
A man with heart problems to his cardiologist:
“Why do you always insist on speaking about my heart?
What about my stomach, liver, lungs, and pancreas?
Why don’t you emphasize the positive for a change?”
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Everybody can be brainwashed.
A high IQ is no defense.
It is almost as if evolution had instilled in us
a predisposition for lies.
The brainwashed are unreachable.
Their first instinct is to brainwash you – that is to say,
to re-create you in their own image.
At the root of all deception is the absurd idea
that we are the center of the world.
If no one deceives us,
we deceive ourselves.
Am I saying we are as bad as Turks?
What I am saying is:
Let us not confuse military inferiority
with moral superiority.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Monday, May 09, 2011
What if I am wrong? That is always a possibility. On the day I assert infallibility, then I will be not just wrong, but catastrophically wrong!
If you like to speculate, here is another “what if” question that is much more serious and universal: What if the comforts organized religions and faith provide are exposed as empty illusions?
After centuries of oppression and authoritarian rule millions of Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa have suddenly discovered the benefits of democracy: Would anyone dare to ask “What if they are wrong?” Because in the final analysis that’s all I have been asking for my fellow countrymen: democracy, free speech, and respect for human rights.
Here is another “What if”: What if the incompetence and dishonesty of our own leadership have done as much harm to the integrity of the nation as the criminal conduct of our former alien masters?
About free speech: it can be abused, yes, certainly. So can censorship, the manipulation of the media and the educational system.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Some questions don’t have answers, only guesses.
Even when writers realize they can change nothing, they continue to write. Why?
If a pebble can start an avalanche, why can’t the right word at the right time and place start a revolution?
If they can lie for no good reason at all, why can’t I speak the truth for a good reason?
Why did God create the world? To break the monotony of silence, boredom, and nothingness?
If they know what must be done, why don’t they do it
Do they hate to admit they have been wrong out of fear they may not be forgiven?
Unlike Raskolnikov, not all murderers go down on their knees and confess – this is especially true of career criminals and
If they can get away with it – and so far they have – they will continue to lie, abuse, mislead, and deceive.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Authoritarian rulers – fascists for short –
view free speech as a crime against humanity
and state-sanctioned murder of defenseless civilians
as law and order.
Fascism may also be defined
as a declaration of war by a regime
against its own people.
In a fascist environment
intellectuals are like canaries in a mine.
Where there is a scarcity of canaries
there will be an abundance of chickens, toads, and rats.
Turks are the favorite subject of our editors and academics.
Our leadership is a subject they avoid discussing
perhaps because it is not easy speaking of a bordello madam
as if she were a virgin.
It is safe to assume that the number of moral victories
in a nation’s history is equal
to the number of military defeats.
Where criminals are in charge
the law of the jungle will be
the law of the land.
Message flagged
Sunday, May 8, 2011 11:56:48 AM
Sunday, May 08, 2011
Organized religions teach us to believe
there is more life in death.
A heroic death is infinitely more admirable
than a degraded life.
Remember this next time you brag about survival.
The world is too preoccupied
with its own welfare and survival
to care much about our own.
I doubt if the death of the last Armenian
will make a single headline anywhere.
Lenin and Stalin served as role models
to many more Armenians than Tolstoy and Solzhenitsyn.
There is more Sultanism in our leadership
than Armenianism.
For every Armenian who knows better
there will be at least two who know best
and four who know all there is to know.
In such an environment,
writers will be useless
and literature irrelevant –
except for such trashy lines as
“Forget your mother /
But do not forget your mother tongue.”
(I did not plan to quote this line on Mother’s Day.
Call it pure coincidence.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

god & country

Thursday, May 05, 2011
I am not in the business of changing anyone’s mind,
only expressing agreement with those
who have already changed theirs
by successfully discarding their prejudices and superstitions.
God and Country:
if we judge a tree by its fruit,
why is it wrong to judge faith and patriotism
by their number of innocent victims?
To be honest in our case means
to reject all assertions that flatter our collective image.
Anyone can change water into wine
if he waits until the guests are so drunk
that they can’t tell the difference between one and the other.
Likewise, anyone can change military defeat to moral victory
if he first convinces the people that
God is on their side and God is invincible.
When military and religious leaders speak
in the name of God and Country, they lie.
We understand many things
but not everything, especially not
the most important things.
To expose lies is not the same as to know the truth.
A lie is a lie and dying for it will not make it less of a lie.
There is nothing new under the sun.
Everything I have said so far has been said before
if not by Greek philosophers than by Zen masters.
Friday, May 06, 2011
Because we have nothing to brag about
we brag about our survival.
We have survived, yes.
So have our divisions
and divisions are weapons of mass destruction.
Dinosaurs perished but scorpions survived.
The only reason they don’t brag about it is that
they are not brainwashed to do so.
How do you deprogram a nation?
You can’t!
Our writers have been trying for fifteen hundred years
and they have failed.
Between literature and propaganda
we have always chosen propaganda
for the same reason that a fool
prefers to believe he is smart.
A long series of defeats, massacres and
centuries of subservience to alien scum
have taught us nothing.
Even on the eve of the Genocide our leadership was divided.
Our leaders are our gravediggers.
Solidarity is not in our DNA.
Which is why we must be born again
as a different species – namely, human beings.
You think I am wrong and you are right?
You may have our bosses, bishops, and benefactors on your side
but I have fifteen hundred years of our literature on mine.
Saturday, May 07, 2011
Free and independent Armenia is a hoax
and as empty an illusion as the brotherhood of nations
under the Soviets.
Under the Soviets undesirables were sent to Siberia.
Today they lead an anonymous existence
in a suburb of Paris, Los Angeles, and Istanbul.
The more things change…
Our editors publish an endless series of anti-Turkish polemics
that so far have produced not a single red cent in reparation
or a single square inch of our historic homeland;
and they refuse to publish me
on the grounds that I write “polemics,”
and publishing polemics, they tell me,
is against their editorial policy.
The captain goes down with the ship?
Not always.
In our case the captain is the first to abandon ship.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Sunday, May 01, 2011
The difference between
a democratically elected leader
and an autocratic one is that
the first are endlessly cross-examined
by the press and the opposition,
and the second surrounds himself
with yes-men and brown-nosers.
Freedom to an autocratic leaders means
the freedom to oppress, silence, and murder
defenseless civilians.
Closer to home:
our leaders divide the nation
not because they are men of principle
who place ideals above the interests of the people;
they divide because they love their own powers and privileges
above all else.
If we have leaders who lie to us,
why shouldn’t we have writers
willing to speak the truth?
I am not saying all writers are honest men.
What I am saying is that
most of our ablest writers
were murdered, exiled, and silenced
by autocratic regimes.
Leaders behave like criminals because
they can get away with it, or rather,
because the people allow them to get away with it.
Most of our misfortunes are rooted in subservience.
Dissent increases independence in others.
Dissent is positive.
Subservience is negative.
Monday, May 02, 2011
When his genocide book was unanimously ignored
by our academics, a friend (a career diplomat)
referred to them as “our Genocide mafia.”
Who would have thought that some day
the Genocide would become a “territory”
(in organized crime parlance)
and anyone who dares to muscle in it
would acquire the status of a non-person.
I am a stranger in a strange land,
and I feel more so among my fellow Armenians.
Last time I visited an Armenian community center
I promised to return in twenty-five years.
Now I have another reason not to live that long.
When the USSR collapsed
and Armenia’s borders opened up,
Armenians poured out by the thousand
and by the million.
“Yes im anoush Hayastani…”
It is not generally known that
Charents wrote that line
inspired not by Armenia’s "sweetness"
but by a similar poem on Russia by Pushkin.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
No French king or Russian czar or Bolshevik commissar or fascist dictator, or pope, imam, and rabbi has ever declared publicly that he is in the business of moronizing innocent civilians. Don’t expect our own leaders to do so.
Did any one of our revolutionaries at the turn of the last century ever ask himself the following question: “If we carry on as we have been, what are the chances that the people may suffer?”
The only reason Osama bin Laden did not behave like Genghis Khan, Hitler, and Stalin is that he didn’t have their power.
Solutions are not inventions or discoveries like the theories of Newton or Einstein that revolutionized physics and cosmology. Solutions begin with the realization that we have been on the wrong track; and we can solve a problem only when we understand it; and it is up to us whether to use our brains or to run around like a chicken whose neck has been cut off.
All you need to do is allow reality to be your guide, not the empty rhetoric of speechifiers and sermonizers.
A kind reader once called me a philosopher. I am nothing of the kind. I am only a scribbler. You don’t need a Ph.D. to be honest with yourself and your fellow men.
The idea that we are few is linked to the fact that most Armenians do not care to be identified as Armenians.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Several friends have urged me to change my name.
I have not done so because I don’t think of myself
as a commercially viable commodity.
What shapes our worldview is less
an objective study of reality and more
the educational system within which we were brought up.
Literature is a waste of time.
No writer has ever changed a damn thing.
If he did change things he made them worse.
The same could be said of all prophets and reformers.
What has our literature changed?
As long ago as the 5th century AD
our writers (among them Khorenatsi and Yeghishé)
exposed the dangers inherent in a divided kingdom.
A millennium and a half later,
After many military defeats,
and a series of massacres and a genocide,
we continue to stand divided.
Why do I write?
The more relevant question is:
Why do they divide?
I share my ideas
the way a beggar shares the few crusts of bread
cast in his direction by fat men.