Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012*********************************** TO THINK MEANS TO THINK AGAINST ONESELF***********************************************As an Armenian I have no interest whatever in knowing that once upon a time we were, or we had the potential to be, a great nation. I don’t feel the need to assert superiority over any man and such need I consider racist megalomania. Once upon a time we may have had the chance to achieve greatness. If we lost that chance it may be because we are losers. Now the ambition of every loser is to be a winner in order to lord it over other losers. I want no part of that farce. All I want as a human being is to do the best I can without deceiving anyone beginning with myself.*The world is a rotten place inhabited by rotten people. Unless you have something to say against yourself, say nothing.*Honest men can be wrong too. But the dishonest, even when right, they are wrong because they exploit that single instance of honesty to enhance their credibility.*My ambition, my real ambition is to be neither popular nor great but not to give a damn about popularity and greatness.*A criminal lawyer pleading not guilty for his client who happens to be a sadistic serial killer is less dangerous to me than an academic who recycles state propaganda.*If you say the wrong thing some people will disagree with you; but if you say the right thing, many more. That’s because at all times and everywhere the brainwashed outnumber those who can think for themselves.*All power structures (be they democratic or totalitarian) support the freedom to brainwash,#Monday, November 26, 2012******************************************** ZEN AND THE ART OF KICKING ASS******************************************* Heidegger, one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century -- some say the greatest – was a member of the Nazi Party. *If the Gulbenkian Foundation (the wealthiest foundation in the world, it has been said) had not awarded a hefty grant to Prof. David Marshall Lang, would he have written a book titled ARMENIA: CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION? *Why do you think the favorite subjects of our own academics today are the Middle Ages and the Massacres? And speaking of massacres: we all know what happens to a Turkish academic who dares to speak of the recent past with any degree of honesty and objectivity. *Imagine if you can a Soviet professor of economics under Stalin teaching the superiority of the free enterprise system or an American professor in the McCarthy era teaching DAS KAPITAL.*Every academic has a sign hanging down his neck that says, “For Sale.” If on occasion I am rude, crude, or offensive it’s because Zen masters tell us kicking ass is a far more effective tool of enlightenment than kissing ass. Brown-nosers are better at teaching subservience. But I have selfish reasons for favoring the Zen method. An insulted Armenian has the memory of an elephant, and I don’t mind asserting with some degree of certainty, even pride, that I have by now insulted enough Armenians to guarantee my immortality.#Tuesday, November 27, 2012********************************* NOTES & COMMENTS**************************************** Because I was a dupe I thought I had all the right answers.*I have dealt with too many self-satisfied idiots who thought they were my betters to be even remotely tempted to assert superiority over anyone.*Whenever I entertain a positive thought about my fellow men and myself events conspire to prove me wrong.*I am much more interested in finding reasons for co-existence with our enemies than in asserting our moral superiority over them.*To say, I am an Armenian therefore I am smart is as bad as saying: I am a loser therefore I am a winner.*All belief systems rely on a propaganda line that is both convincing and flattering to one’s ego.*No matter how hard I try I cannot convince myself that to be positive means to cover up the negative.#Wednesday, November 28, 2012********************************************** ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES**************************************When those in power kill, exile, jail or silence anyone who dares to challenge their authority, they do so not only to punish the transgressor but also to intimidate all others to mind their own business. *On the day the first heretic was tortured, my guess is more than one boy or girl decided to leave theology to theologians. On the day Gandhi was assassinated I suspect more than one Indian mother was overheard advising her son to leave politics to politicians. No doubt something similar happened on the day Socrates was condemned to death, Jesus was crucified, and Joan of Arc burned at the stake. *That’s one way to explain why some animals evolved into sheep and others into wolves; also why at all times and everywhere there are more soldiers than philosophers; and why yes-men and academics outnumber dissidents and intellectuals a thousand to one.*No emperor, king, or czar, ever said to think is a criminal offense or against the laws of the land, but their actions, the policies they adopted and implemented, and the laws they enacted and enforced made that abundantly clear. Leave thinking not only to the 1% but also to the 1% of the 1%. *In his STUDY OF HISTORY, Toynbee explains that during the Ottoman era sultans thought of themselves as shepherds and their subjects as sheep; which may explain why Jesus is represented as a lamb. Unmask a pope and expose the sultan. Unmask a speechifier and sermonizer and expose the Judas.#

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012 ************************************** IMMORTALITY **************************** Yesterday I achieved immortality in the eyes of a reader: I called him an idiot. * A SORE LOSER ************************ Romney is now complaining that Obama won because he promised all kinds of freebies to Latinos, and other minorities. As for him, he promised nothing except not to raise taxes on the 1% and to look the other way as they transfer their money to Swiss and offshore banks. * THE BLAME-GAME REVISITED **************************************** We have been taught by charlatans to believe we are a progressive nation because we were first to convert to Christianity. We now have another set of charlatans who tell us Christianity is at the root of our decline as a nation. You want to know what I think? I think truth and charlatanism are mutually exclusive concepts. * TRIANGULATION ********************************** When I want to know more about Tashnaks I speak with a Ramgavar and vice versa. I prefer a contradiction to a big lie. * IDEAS *********************** “A man with an idea is my enemy,” said Napoleon. Armenians are different. They welcome a new idea as long as it’s theirs. # LET MY PEOPLE GO ******************************* We are told, following independence 1,500,000 Armenians emigrated from their homeland to America and a number of other countries including Turkey; and they did this on their own initiative without the political guidance of a Moses-like leader who went up to the Pharaoh in Egypt land and said, “Let my people go.” And I cannot help thinking that if a similar number of Armenians had emigrated from the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the last century we would now have fewer victims to lament. * Moral: Left to their own devices, people will make wiser decisions than so-called patriotic and charismatic speechifiers and sermonizers. I would go further and say, our leaders may well have been at the root of all our misfortunes. * Wars, revolutions, counter-revolutions, massacres, mass deportations, purges, systematic violations of human rights: they can all be traced to a megalomaniac, that is to say, a psychologically damaged ego that pretends to know better or to speak, if not in the name of Allah than in the name of truth or what’s best for the people. * Next time such a specimen visits your community, my advice is to stay away from him because he is either a vampire or a grave-diggers or probably both at once. # ON LITERATURE **************************** The chances are what you were taught to believe as a child you will continue to believe as an adult. That’s the only way to explain why the West is predominantly Christian and the Middle East Muslim. * A hundred or a thousand great writers cannot undo the damage done to the human brain by a single mediocre schoolteacher, parish priest, mullah, or rabbi. The brainwashed cannot be unwashed by reason alone. * Under all authoritarian systems literature is systematically purged and distorted. If so far Armenian literature has failed to detribalize the nation it’s for this reason and this reason alone. * Those who have been in charge of our literature (from academics to commissars of culture) have systematically perverted its central message. Naregatsi is not just a religious mystic but also an astute political commentator. When he make a long list of his sins, failings, and aberrations (“a wicked servant, an abusive contradicter” and so on) he speaks not only for himself but also the nation and its leadership. * There is a tragic dimension in Baronian, Odian, and Massikian’s satire. It exposes the moral bankruptcy and degeneration of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors. * Perhaps what I am trying to say here is that it will take more than a messiah or a dozen of them to put us on the right path. If our genocide failed to teach us anything, what can? Surely not the verbiage of a vodanaVORji or a medaVORagan. #

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012************************************** DARK AGES************************* After its Dark Ages the West had its Renaissance.We never had one. Our Dark Ages never came to an end. To those who say we are a wounded nation surrounded by powerful enemies,we need to be more positive in our assessment of the present situation, I say: Let’s have the truth even if it opens more wounds. We are a tough bunch. We can take it. We took it from the Turks for 600 years and from the Bolsheviks for more than 60. If being positive means covering up the criminal conduct of our dividers in the Diaspora and KGB agents in the Homeland, let us at least have the common decency not to fool ourselves into thinking we never had it so good because we are in the best of hands. We are neither “azad” nor “angakh"; and we are worse than “tshvar” and “ander.” We are at the mercy of bloodsuckers who will be satisfied only if they drink our blood and reduce us to the status of a carrion.# SMART ARMENIANS******************************* Smart Armenians are a dime-a-dozen. Honest Armenians? No comment. Smart Armenians who are honest? I know they exist because I have met one or two myself.*Where does obedience end and subservience begin?*In one of his celebrated wartime speeches Churchill spoke of the beginning of the end. If an end has a beginning, it must also have a middle and an end. Where are we? Can you guess?*We need the Russians. What we don’t need is their kleptocrats. We need our own even less. That’s the solution to our problems. Solutions are a dime a dozen. Implementation is everything! Next time you hear someone say “We need solutions,” classify him under idiots.*Abraham Lincoln: “America will never be destroyed from the outside.” You may now guess the sentence that follows. America and Armenia share much more than a few letters of the alphabet.*The unspoken principle of our ruling classes: “Preach vegetarianism, practice cannibalism.”*An objective history of Armenia: Will it ever be written?And if written, published?And if published read? And if read not discarded into the nearest waste paper basket after the first page?#BROTHERS************************ You and I are brothers if only because we were both brainwashed to believe we are what we are not. Let me begin at the beginning. Like everyone else I too was brainwashed by the scum of the earth to believe I am la crème de la crème. And more precisely I was educated as a Catholic. Millions of others were educated as Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Bolshevik atheists and so on. Not only were we all brainwashed but also taught to look up to our abusers as teachers and role models who allowed us entry into an exclusive and privileged club and to look down on the rest of mankind as poor buggers on their way to the devil. As Armenians we were taught to believe Turks are bloodthirsty barbarians and as Turks they were taught to believe whatever the hell they were taught to believeand to be proud of it. However, both history and science tell us after thousands of years of wars, rapes, abductions, slavery, and intermarriage, there is no such thing as a Turk or an Armenian, or a Palestinian and a Jew, but only dupes who were brainwashed to believe what they obviously were not.#REFLECTIONS OF A LOSER************************************** Once upon a time I used to get a great many letters by snail-mail most of which began with the words: “Sorry if I am late…” followed by a transparent lie. No one ever dared to say “I had better things to do than waste my valuable time on a loser.” *If success as a nation in our case means achieving solidarity, progress, peace, and prosperity, call me an orthodox pessimist. *If the Genocide failed to teach us solidarity, nothing can! If I am a pessimist it’s because I have been disappointed too many times. *I can’t imagine a day when I will come to terms with our Bolshevik brothers in the Homeland who operate on the assumption that they know better because they are more authentic Armenians. Neither can I imagine a day when I will see our Levantine dividers in the Diaspora as dedicated patriots, which is what they think – or are brainwashed to think -- they are. *And, by the way, when I speak of solidarity I don’t simply means coexistence with our brothers (fellow Armenians) but also with our half-brothers (Turks and Azeris). *Now then, gentle reader, is there any conceivable way in which you can come close to convincing me that we have the chance of a snowball in hell to succeed as a nation?#

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012************************************ INTERVIEW (XV)******************************************* CONTRADICTIONS******************************** Q: What are some of your favorite contradictions or absurdities?A: Where to begin? Imams controlling women’s fashion. Popes getting involved in the bedrooms of the nation. Armenians who love their country but hate their fellow countrymen. Americans who are against abortion but for war. Academics with the mindset of Oriental carpet dealers. Men who pretend to belong to a superior race but who don’t even qualify as the scum of the earth.Q: How do you explain these contradictions?A: Only one possible explanation:Homo sapiens is full of sh*t .#Friday, November 16, 2012********************************* INTERVIEW (XVI)********************************* MYTHS******************************Q: Shall we discuss more of our fallacies, misconceptions, and contradictions?A: How many?Q: One or two.A: How about three or four?Q: Deal!A: We are few. We are survivors. We owe our survival to the generosity of our benefactors and the dedication of our clergy…Q: Not true?A: Lies!Q: Aren’t we few – compared to Turks?A: God did not create many Turks and few Armenians. We are not few. It is our assimilation rate that is high. And if Turks are many it’s because they are a mosaic of nations, like Americans. I once met a lady who spoke Armenian but identified herself as a Turk. She must have had an Armenian grandmother. There are thousands, perhaps even millions, like her in Turkey today. Turks are if not half-Armenian than half Greek, Albanian, Jewish, Assyrian, Arab, and so on. But then all nations are mosaics,Q: Including Armenians?A: Yes.Q: What do you say to Armenians who trace their ancestry all the way back to the Bagradunis and Mamikonians?A: I say there never was such a thing as a pure-blooded king, emperor, czar, or dictator. Once upon time they were all ambitious upstarts and bastards, very much like our own Byzantine emperors. Our Mamikonians were of Chinese descent, according to Khorenatsi; and our Bagratunis identified themselves as Jews. Pure blood is a myth created by charlatans and perpetuated by racists like Hitler who was not German but Austrian.Q: What about the generosity of our benefactors? Shouldn’t we be grateful to them? A: No, in so far as by supporting one side against another they legitimize and perpetuate divisions. The same applies to our political bosses and bishops. They might as well be foreign agents whose secret mission is to bankrupt the nation – morally as well as financially.A: Who profits by our divisions? Q: Those in power. We are dying the death of a thousand self-inflicted cuts. Hence the myth, we are survivors.#FROM MY NOTEBOOKS************************************** When an Armenian is goodhe is very good;but when he is badhe is horrid.*Between a proud Armenianand a humble human being,which would you choose?*Why is it that some very smart Armenians use their brains to speak and behave like inbred morons?*Our history is clear on one point: we love our writers provided they are dead and buried. As they used to say in the Old West: “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”*I understand subservience to Turks – they were ruthless and bloodthirsty buggers. I understand subservience to Russians – ditto. But subservience to Armenians? Does anyone have an answer?*If I were a schoolteacher I would begin every lesson with the words: “Remember to say I don’t know and I don’t understand at least once every day.”*I once heard a Kurd on the radio speaking about Kurdish identity and culture the same way that an Armenian does about Armenian identity and culture. As a matter of fact I thought he was an Armenian until the end when the announcer identified him as a Kurd.#

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Sunday, November 11, 2012*************************************** INTERVIEW (XI)****************************** ON HISTORY AND HISTORIANS******************************************** Q: How do you define a good historian?A: A historian who is critical of his own tribe, nation, or civilization.Q: Do such historians exist?A: Of course. In the 20th century there are Spengler of THE DECLINE OF THE WEST and Toynbee of A STUDY OF HISTORY.Q: Don’t they have their own critics?A: They probably have more critics than all the others combined.Q: How do you explain that?A: The obvious answer is, it may be because they have more readers than the others.Q: What about us? Do we have historians we can trust?A: We do have some historians who have been critical of our rulers and institutions. Khorenatsi comes to mind, not so much his HISTORY but his LAMENTATION.Q: And more recently?A: Most of our historians today rely more on official documents and eyewitness accounts and less on their own narrative hoping thus to avoid charges of nationalism. Such historians ignore the fact that both documents and testimonies – legally called utterances – are also vulnerable to bias.Q: Whom do we believe?A: Let’s leave belief to imams and bishops. Trust would be a more accurate word.Q: Whom do we trust then?A: If as Armenians we were to trust more our own historians, we may have to confront Turks who very much like us trust their own and reject all others as deceivers.Q: Are we to infer from what you say that we should question the reality of our genocide?A: To question it, probably not. To modify it, maybe.Q: Modify it in what sense? How?A: Only in the sense that it may not have been murder one (cold-blooded and premeditated) but somewhere between murder two and manslaughter.Q: What do you believe?A: Let’s say I tend to support the version that will allow both sides to compromise and develop a consensus. I am afraid truth and justice are utopian concepts beyond the reach of the human race to which some of us may or may not belong.Q: So many “may”s and so many doubts.A: If there is one thing about which I can speak with a minimum degree of certainty is that certainties are the source of all evil. Show me a man who believes in his own certainties and I will show a charlatan in cahoots with the devil.# INTERVIEW (XII)****************************************ON THE IRRESISTIBLE CHARM OF ARMENIANS*********************************************** Q: “The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.” Can you guess the source of this quotation?A: Oscar Wilde on the English aristocracy.Q: Wrong! Ara Baliozian on Armenians. What did you mean by that?A: I had in mind ghazetajis and their avid readers whose favorite subject is Turks.Q: “An ignoramus who is an expert on any given subject.”A: That sounds like me and I will not retract it. Every other day I have to deal with a reader whose sole ambition in life seems to be to assert his superior knowledge and understanding; but whose worldview has not changed since he was exposed to the platitudes of elementary schoolteachers and parish priests.Q: You don’t like Armenians very much, do you?A: I love the overwhelming majority of Armenians who are alienated, assimilated, and stay away from our community centers, churches, and interminable internecine conflicts;and I loathe people (regardless of nationality) who are convinced a good man is one who kisses ass – and kissing ass has been our destiny ever since we became subservient to foreign tyrants.Q: This ought to arouse our compassion rather than contempt.A: Have you seen Armenians at banquets? – the way they eat, sing and dance and the way they listen to the verbal garbage dished out by speechifiers who are out to sell them still another book on the massacres? But let a write make an objective observation and they cannibalize him. I am not complaining. I consider myself a lucky man. I have survived. Far better men than myself were butchered because they were betrayed to the authorities, and when they were not betrayed they were insulted, ignored, and starved. Any more questions?Q: …A: And now let us pray.# INTERVIEW (XIII)******************************************* CRITICS************************ Q: What’s your answer to those who say you repeat yourself?A: Stop reading me.Q: What about, you are consistently negative?A: It is our reality that is negative. I would be engaging in propaganda if I were to misrepresent it.Q: You write about Armenians but you are not an Armenian writer because you write in English.A: Armenian, English: these are only labels. Literature is not a national enterprise. Dostoevsky is unthinkable without Dickens. Gandhi was influenced by Ruskin and Thoreau (an English and an American writer respectively). Chekhov was influenced by Maupassant, and our own Zohrab by Chekhov. Naregatsi is unthinkable without the Bible. Plato and Marx shaped the literature of many nations.Q: You had an Armenian education. Why do you write in English?A: When I came to Canada I soon realized that no one was remotely interested in an Armenian writer, not even Armenians.Q: Zarian wrote in Armenian in America.A: That was during the Golden Age of Armenian-American literature. In my time we had already entered the Garbage Age. But even Zarian had trouble surviving in America. Not only did they refuse to publish him they also spread the rumor that he was a madman. He returned to Soviet Armenia where he was ignored and murdered – or so he believed until the day he died.Q: Speaking of Soviets: Why do you call some of your critics commissars?A: Because they issue guidelines. Individuals who would never dare to tell a bus driver or a plumber or a garbage collector how to go about their business take it upon themselves to tell me what and how to write. For every writer we are blessed with two or even twenty-two commissars. Mart bidi ch’ellank.Q: Why don’t you write more like Saroyan?A: Saroyan wrote what he thought and felt. So do I. Beyond that we share nothing in common. He was a great writer; I am a total and hopeless mediocrity. But tell me: what has Saroyan changed in our communities? Near the end of his life, when invited to visit an Armenian community center in Detroit, he said no thanks. Last time I was invited to an Armenian community center I promised to return in twenty-five years. You might say that’s another thing I share with Saroyan.Q: What’s that?A: An intolerance of shish-kebab and pilaf joints.Q: What’s your favorite food?A: Bread and olives.#INTERVIEW (XIV)***************************************** TURCOCENTRISM*********************************** Q: What is Turcocentrism?A: Turcocentrism consists in placing Turks at the center of our consciousness. For 600 years we had no choice in the matter. We have a choice today but we continue to think our central concern is to teach Turks the rules of civilized conduct even as we wallow in our own Ottomanism and Bolshevism.Q: Is there anything we can do about that?A: All problems have solutions and all solutions begin with an awareness of the problem. This is where our politicians and intellectuals have failed us. Intellectuals? Strike that. I should have said academics.Q: What is the difference?A: Academics are first and foremost careerists. They never say anything that may be against their own interests. As for politicians – or rather partisans and panchoonies – their most important project is to brainwash us into thinking we never had it so good because we are in the best of hands.Q: What is the difference between an academic and an intellectual?A: An intellectual is one who dedicates his life to ideas, that is to say, literature.Q: What is literature?A: The art of saying what must be said; the art of understanding and explaining reality. Literature is first and foremost criticism and criticism consists in exposing contradiction.Q: Such as?A: The rich and the poor. The capitalist and the proletarian. The 1% versus the 99%. Job creators versus bloodsuckers.Q: How do we reconcile these contradictions?A: Speaking for myself, I do not consider wealth or money as the source of all evil. The source of all evil is power. Which is why Marxism has also been defined as the capitalism of the state. This is also why the oppressed in communist countries are justified in saying once upon a time they were slaves, they are now slaves of former slaves.#

Saturday, November 10, 2012

more interviews

INTERVIEW (IX)*********************************** ON GENOCIDE RECOGNITION OR TURCOCENTRISM************************************** Q: If you were to condense your message in a single sentence, what would it be?A: We are not who we think we are, neither is the world what we think it is.Q: Isn’t ignorance of the self and the world a more or less universal condition?A: It is, yes, but as always there are degrees of ignorance. In our case it is more rather than less.Q: In what way our understanding of the world is different from anyone else’s? A: To begin with we rely too much on the propaganda of our speechifiers and sermonizers and less on our intellectuals. Case in point: Had we followed Raffi’s advice when he said the Ottoman Empire is no place for us because they have no respect for human life there, we would have avoided the Genocide.Q: How do we explain our exaggerated reliance on propaganda?A: Ignorance or innocence compounded by anti-intellectualism.Q: In what way are we different from Jews, among many others, who suffered similar fates?A: Jews are far ahead of us in their alliances. While Americans are ready to defend them against their enemies in the Middle East, they (Americans) have consistently refused even to acknowledge the reality of our genocide.Q: How do we overcome American anti-Armenianism?A: Not an easy question with an easy answer. All I know is that we are wasting valuable resources on genocide recognition. A genocide is like a city set on a hill; it cannot be hidden or covered up forever. We have many other serious and pressing problems in both the Homeland and the Diaspora. I grew up in a ghetto among survivors. They were less Turcocentric than Armenians in the United States and Canada today.I have every reason to suspect Turcocentrism – the fallacy that all our problems begin and end with Turks – is an illusion promoted by our ruling classes whose central concern is not to demand justice but to cover up their own corruption and incompetence.# INTERVIEW (X)************************************ TWO PROBLEMS**************************** Q: We all agree that we have problems –A: And that’s the only thing we agree on.Q: What we don’t agree on is their solutions even when the solutions make perfect sense. Divisions versus solidarity, for instance, or a free press versus a controlled press. Can you explain that?A: We are a tribal people. Our first loyalty is to the tribe or chief and not the nation which is an abstraction.Q: All nations, or even empires for that matter, begin as tribes and gradually evolve to nations. Why are we an exception to this rule?A: Some say it’s our geography – mountains and valleys, isolation during long winters, over forty more or less mutually incomprehensible dialects.Q: Do you buy that?A: No, I don’t. In the 19th century the Caucasian tribes to the north of us united under Shamyl the Avar and successfully resisted Russian expansion for several decades. But eventually they too were torn asunder by tribal loyalties, treason, and betrayal – a chapter of which is beautifully dramatized by Tolstoy in his novella and final work of fiction titled HADJI MURAD. Our Raffi may indeed be right. What makes Armenian solidarity an unattainable goal is less our geography and more our propensity for treason and betrayal.Q: Second problem, which may well be an extension of the first: a free press versus a controlled press. We all agree that a free press is more democratic and progressive than a controlled press, and yet –A: Ah! “And yet!” the two saddest words in the English language it has been said. The irony here is that our press enjoyed greater freedom in the Ottoman Empire. Baronian and Odian are unthinkable in today’s Armenian-American environment. Baruir Massikian, their only legitimate successor in the 20th-century Armenian diasporadied a thoroughly disappointed, bitter, and angry man. When a delegation of Armenian elders visited his deathbed and appealed to him to leave his considerable wealth – he was a successful lawyer in Egypt, and a bachelor– to the Armenian Educational Foundation, he said he’d much rather leave it to a Cairo bordello.#TO UNDERSTAND ANOTHER IS TO UNDERSTAND MYSELF********************************************** CHINA THROUGH CHINESE EYES************************************************ “How do you see the future of China?”“Fear, worry, deception, distress, collapse.”*“We will die slowly and miserably.”*“No hope for political reform. There will be bloodshed.”*“Idiots will cause more and more people to emigrate.”*“There are too many books to read, too many people to meet, too many fun things to do. China, stay away from me.”*“When the Chinese begin to reflect on their mistakes, then China’s ‘good future’ begins.”*“China’s future will be the opposite of the present.”**Sixty years of systematic brainwashing means that at least two generations of people will continue to suffer from spiritual pollution.”#From NEW STATESMAN (London, 19-25 October, 2012): an issue dedicated to China today.)#

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Sunday, November 04, 2012******************************************** INTERVIEW (V): ************************* ON NATIONALISM************************************************ Q: In our first conversation you said you are against ideologies beginning with nationalism. What’s wrong with nationalism?A: To begin with, nationalism divides mankind into them and us, and to do so it invents lies.Q: Is it a lie to say Turks and Azeris are our enemies?A: It is, yes, and an obvious one at that if only because half of them may well be half Armenian; and I doubt very much if there exists a single pure-blooded Armenian today. I have met Armenians who assert they are direct descendants of the Mamikonians, Bagratunis, and Dikran the Great. Q: So have I? What’s wrong with that?A: But none of these gentlemen was Armenian. I suggest nationalists are products of a politically controlled educational system. I further suggest politics and education are mutually exclusive concepts. A politically controlled education may even be said to be the opposite of education because it perverts the meaning of the most important words – such as right and wrong, good and evil, justice and injustice.Q: You lost me there.A: Cases in point. We all know that killing is wrong and yet we are taught to believe killing the enemy in the name of God and Country is not only right but the sacred duty of all law-abiding citizens.Q: But when attacked, what are our options?A: We defend ourselves, of course. We don’t have to be brainwashed to do that. It comes naturally.Q: So you are saying in some cases killing is right?A: I am also saying to kill in self-defense is one thing, to be predisposed to kill another. Eliminate predisposition and you may eliminate half of all wars. Listen, we are not here to solve all of mankind’s problems. If we succeed in taking a single step in the right direction we may earn the right to say, mission accomplished.# INTERVIEW (VI)*************************************** METAPHYSICS************************************ Q: Is death an end or a new beginning?A: Neither.Q: It has to be one or the other.A: Man is a recycling contraption, very much like Planet Earth, the Solar System, the Milky Way, and the Cosmos. The Sun will incinerate our planet and we will end up in a Black Hole and emerge as another galaxy or planet which will evolve a new flora and fauna. Nothing will be added or subtracted. Everything will be recycled.Q: Are you saying metaphysics is physics?A: Exactly! And there are no theories and assumptions in what I am saying. I speak of observable and verifiable facts. If the cosmos were a book, our planetary system would be no better than a comma in it.Q: What is God’s place in your system?A: God is Unknown and Unknowable, and everyone who speaks in His name is either a charlatan or a compulsive liar.Q: What if he believes in what he says?A: In Sartre’s formula: “We may believe that we believe but we don’t believe.”Q: Are you an atheist?A: No! An agnostic. I know my limitations. I don’t claim to know that which I don’t know and have no way of knowing.Q: What about prophets and saints? Were they all charlatans?A: No. I prefer to think of them as men and women who have been misunderstood and misinterpreted in their own time, and overestimated by posterity.Q: What about Moses and his Ten Commandments? Charlatan? Liar?A: A politically ambitious leader and liberator or revolutionary. Also the most frequently ignored preacher. “Thou shalt not kill!” Do we really need a prophet to tell us that? And why is it that we have more killers today than at any other time in the history of mankind?Q: What about Jesus?A: I agree with Tolstoy, Gandhi, and the overwhelming majority of mankind including Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists: he was a great teacher but not the Son of God.# INTERVIEW (VII)**************************************** THE WRITING LIFE****************************** Q: You have been writing for Armenians now…for how many years?A: Thirty give and take a decade or two.Q: Tell us some of your challenges, experiences, problems, disappointments…A: Where to begin?Q: I remember once you called one of your critics an “inbred moron.”A: That was meant as a compliment. He deserved much worse descriptive terms; and he was not a critic but a kibitzer and a self-assessed expert on any give subject – a familiar type among us. I remember once when I mentioned Zarian, one of our so-called “experts” on Armenian literature thought I was speaking of Nairi Zarian: a notorious Bolshevik mediocrity. He had never heard of the other one.Q: Am I right in assuming critics are not your favorite readers?A: Critics I don’t mind. It is commissars that I can’t stand.Q: Define commissar.A: Anyone who assume to be in a better position to know what’s good for the community and the nation and based on that absurd assumption he proceeds to issue guidelines; or anyone who assume only an idiot would adopt Armenian literature as a career – since there is no money in it. As the offspring of Levantine “starving Armenians,” we have a natural tendency to overestimate the value of the profit motive. In the United States, for instance, Zarian himself was thought to be a CIA agent; and when he returned to Soviet Armenia, where he spent his final years, it was rumored that he had become a KGB agent. I have myself been accused of being not only in the pay of the CIA and the KGB but also of the Mossad and the Grey Wolves. Some of my readers may be loud-mouth idiots but they are idiots with a rich imagination.Q: If there is no money in literature, how do you survive?A: On my savings. For ten years I worked at a variety of jobs -- from factory hand to church organist. But my greatest asset is my lifestyle – bread and books, and the books I get free of charge from the public library.#INTERVIEW (VIII)************************************* WHO IS A GOOD ARMENIAN?****************************************** Q: You have been writing now for how many years?A: About thirty.Q: And you have published how many books?A: About thirty too.Q: How many commentaries?A: Let’s say about a thousand – glor hashiv.Q: And yet you have not yet achieved the status of a popular writer.A: Why stop there? In the eyes of some I don’t even qualify as a piece of sh*t.Q: How do you explain that?A: Explanations work only with reasonable men.Q: I like to think of myself as a reasonable person.A: Sorry, I didn’t have you in mind. What I meant to say is, I doubt if my explanation will make sense to the majority of our readers.Q: Let’s have it anyway – you never know…A: The trouble with us is that we were at no time de-Ottomanized or de-Stalinized in the way in which Germans were de-Nazified after World War II. As a result we continue to be at the mercy of individuals – be they leaders, speechifiers, sermonizers, schoolteachers and academics – who continue to think and operate with the old brain. One of our elder statesmen once confided to me that some of our most influential people in our communities are in fact Turks who speak Armenian fluently.Q: Was he serious?A: Dead serious. He even lowered his voice even though there was no one around.Q: Do you believe what he said?A: It makes no difference to me if a leader is a Turk or Armenian so long as he is a decent human being. When I deal with an Armenian I don’t ask myself if he is a good Armenian. What I ask myself is, is he an honest man? Can I trust him? Does he mean what he says? I have said this before and it bears repeating: I’d much rather deal with an honest Turk than a dishonest Armenian.#

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I don’t write to entertain. I write to understand and explain reality, especially when reality is against us. Thursday, November 01, 2012******************************************** INTERVIEW (II)*********************************** Q: Is nationalism an ideology?A: One of the worst.Q: As bad as fascism?A: Nationalism and fascism might as well be as synonymous as job-provider and blood-sucker.Q: What have you got against Romney?A: He is a hollow man. He’ll say and do anything to be president. He is as greedy about money as he is about power. Such men are the least qualified to be leaders – I am now paraphrasing Plato. He says in one of his dialogues: The more power a man wants the least qualified he is to handle it.Q: Do you believe in good and bad nations or in just and unjust wars?A: I believe in neither nations nor wars. They are fictions created by propagandists. Like Homer’s ILIAD.Q: Was Homer a propagandist?A: One of the greatest. He wrote about a war fought in defense of a floozy’s honor.Q: What about World War II?A: World War II was a direct result of World War I and to portray the Allies as the good guys is to cover up what went on in the 19th century -- imperialism, racism, slavery, the ruthless exploitation of natives and workers in general. Gandhi was right when he described the British in India as “a satanic force" -- a reminder of the fact that it was the Devil who created the 1% in his own image.# INTERVIEW (III)*************************************** Q: Let’s speak of books, beginning with your favorite writers.A: Too many to list here and I doubt if I can readily remember all of them.Q: Let’s begin with your first favorite writer.A: Dostoevky.Q: Which one of his books you read first?A: THE GAMBLER.Q: After THE GMABLER?A: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD, THE IDIOT, THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV…I read everything I could lay my hands on.I read them all with the impetuous greed of a teenager.Q: Have you reread them recently?A: I have tried…without much success.Q: How come?A: I first read them in Italian and Greek. In English they sound…less authentic, alien, depersonalized…Q: What impressed you most about Dostoevsky?A: His penetration of the human psyche. He humanized even ax-murderers of defenceless old ladies and child-molesters not by diminishing their responsibility but by emphasizing the forces that drove them to commit these horrible crimes.Q: Speaking of child-molesters: Do yoou think Nabokov’s LOLITA is an autobiographical work?A: Yes, of course, but only in the sense that Nabokov experienced the same feelings and thoughts as his central character. And it is to be noted that it is not Humbert Humbert who seduces Lolita but the other war around. Most readers miss that detail as I did when I first read it. Humbert is not a child-molester; it is Lolita who is a seducer of adults. Another point that is often missed: It is Humbert Humbert who pays dearly for his crimes, not Lolita.Q: Have you reread the book recently?A: Yes, several times and each time with an enhanced awareness of its many secret and subtle complexities and allusions.#INTERVIEW (IV)*************************************** Q: I know what you think about Romney – A: Wrong word!Q: Which one?A: "Think." He is not worth thinking about.Q: Could you expand on that?A: The man is so desperate that he is now promising “change” or rather the “hope” for change. Sounds familiar? He figures if it worked for the opposition four years ago it may work for him. A clear-cut case of transparent plagiarism. And he is promising not only seventeen million jobs, but “good” jobs, beginning with his own of course.Q: What about his policy on taxes.A: It’s not “if” but “when” he raises them he will call them “fees” or he will explain by saying the figures of the previous administration were doctored or cooked (figures always are) and that to balance the budget more drastic measures are required.Q: What do you think – sorry, wrong word again – about Ryan?A: A devout Catholic who owes his intellectual development (make it paralysis) to Ayn Rand -- a notorious atheist charlatan. Q: Is there anything we Armenians can learn from Americans?A: Learn from them? We could teach them.Q: Teach them? What exactly?A: Until very recently (in my own lifetime, as a matter of fact) American politics was dominated by WASPs: Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt – they were all White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Not any more! We were in the same place from the beginning -- with our Mamikonians and Bagratunis (Chinese and Jews respectively). One way to describe our politics is to say that it is a farce titled not ABEL AND CAIN, but CAIN AND CAIN.#