Saturday, April 27, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013 ************************************* VARIATIONS ON A FAMILIAR THEME ************************************************ After behaving like swine they assert moral superiority. This is as true of nations and tribes as it is of empires; as true of the Ottoman Empire as it is of our own political parties and mafias. * When a fanatic says “God is on my side,” you can be sure of one thing: he can’t tell the difference between God and the Devil. * All belief systems are perversions. * Not to expose lies means being subservient to liars. # ONLY IN AMERICA **************************** In America if you fail as a writer you can make a comfortable living as a teacher of creative writing. * I don’t know what they do in Armenia but in the Diaspora you make yourself as invisible as possible – not to be the bud of jokes as a vodanavorji or a medavoragan (freely translated as versifier and assh*le). * ONLY IN ARMENIA ************************ Where idiots are in charge, the smart will be persecuted. * Ours is a nation whose lunatic fringe is the dominant minority. * Literature is to the mind as water is to the thirsty and bread to the hungry. But some people experience neither thirst nor hunger because they are walking cadavers. * Politicians create enemies to cover up the fact that they are the real enemies. # ON EVIL & RELATED ATROCITIES ******************* The only way to understand evil is to recognize it within us. Which is why the judgment of the self-righteous cannot be trusted – and who could be more self-righteous than bishops, imams, and rabbis who speak in the name of god? * One man’s god may be another’s devil. * To be diplomatic, tolerant, and civilized means to say the opposite of what you think and feel. * After I make an assertion I am haunted by its contradiction. * To be a writer means to be a re-writer. #

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 ************************************ AGENDA ****************** William H. Gass: “I write because I hate.” * I should have said that. My style. I hate lies and atrocities regardless of race, color, and creed; and I hate those who don’t share my hatred if them. * My aim in life? Not to add a single regret to my long list of them. # Wednesday, April 24, 2013 ***************************** ON TURKS ************************* Turks are brought up to believe they belong to a civilized, progressive and westernized nation. If you mention the Armenian genocide, they will say it’s a lie, it never happened, and Turks did what every other nation would have done when its existence is in peril. * ON ARMENIANS ************************** Armenians are brought up to believe they are too smart, experienced, and progressive to need the empty verbiage of a minor scribbler. * ON ARMENIAN LITERATURE ************************************* “Armenian literature is a cemetery,” said Baruir Massikian. The best career move an Armenian writer can make is to allow himself to be slaughtered by a bloodthirsty foreign tyrant. * ON NARGETASI ***************************** Naregatsi, our Shakespeare and Dante combined, is like Mark Twain’s weather: everybody speaks of him but nobody reads him. I don’t mind admitting that the only time I read him was when I was asked to review Kudian’s translation. Did anyone else review it? I don’t know. I don’t remember. I doubt it. # AGENDA II ********************************** Overheard on the radio this morning: “As an African writer do you think of yourself as a bridge between Africa and the West?” Answer: “When I write I don’t think of myself as a bridge. All I am interested in is producing a good sentence.” * Q: As an Armenian writer – A: Please, don’t call me that. I can’t imagine a worst insult than being called an Armenian writer. Q: What should I call you? A: Anything but that? Call me someone who likes to raise questions in an environment where there is an abundance of wrong answers. Q: Could you give an example of a good sentence in our context? A: How about, “Our political parties have been of no political use to us. Their greatest enemy is free speech.” Q: Who said that? A: Zarian. Q: Another example? A: “An Armenian’s tongue can be sharper than a Turk’s yataghan.” Q: Zarian? A: Right. Q: How about something of your own? A: Our collective failings far outnumber our individual successes. # TRAGEDY #2 ************************************ Committing blunders is easy; admitting them difficult. * Dividing the community is easy; admitting to being a divider impossible. * One reason Obama will not recognize the Genocide is that his advisers have informed him that as a tribal people we divide our votes 50/50 – half Democrat, half Republican. As a result our influence on the outcome of elections is zero, nada, zilch, vochinch. We might as well be an absent factor. * Our dividers – be they pundits, partisans, Turcocentric ghazetajis, editors, publishers, bosses, bishops, and benefactors, are fully aware of this fact but pretend not to notice the mammoth in the room. * We were slaughtered as a nation but we vote as a tribe. That indeed is our second greatest tragedy. #

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday, April 20, 2013 ****************************************** BROTHERS ************************** If you go against the dominant mindset of your time, you can’t go wrong. You may be a perennial reject but the chances are you will be closer to the truth than the crowd. * At the turn of the last century Turks thought the fewer Armenians the better. During World War II Germans had a similar disposition towards Jews. Remember the American slogan: “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” * One reason Americans did not exterminate Negroes is that Negroes played a key role in their economy. Closer to home: our own attitude towards our critics and dissidents: the fewer the better but none is best. (I speak from experience.) * All genocides begin in the hearts of men and we are no exception. Now then, go right ahead and assert moral superiority. # NOTES & COMMENTS ******************************* Using profanities in an argument is like raising your voice to strengthen your position. It works only if your adversary is intimidated by noise. * I no longer search for the company of good men. If I can recognize and avoid the proximity of cold-blooded killers I am satisfied. * To those who accuse me of seeing only the dark side of our reality, I say: We have a long-standing literary tradition that prefers fiction to fact. Mine is a balancing act. * To lose a false friend is like defeating a dangerous enemy. * In the world of scholarship as in life the most valuable asset is a readiness to renounce a cherished idea. # NOTES / COMMENTS ************************************ Individuals may admit their failings but nations never! All nations are habitual and compulsive liars. This is as true of Americans as it is of Russians; as true of Turks as it is of Armenians. * We like to say we had a Golden Age when the West was wallowing in its Dark Ages. The question we avoid asking is: Who is responsible for frittering away our heritage? * A new revolution or regime opens the path to a new class of mediocrities, opportunists, and bureaucrats – sharks for short. More often than not the difference between the old and the new is in name only. Scratch the label and expose the scum of the earth. #

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013 ********************************* ON WAR AND PEACE ************************************* There are no just wars. A war in which innocent civilians die cannot be said to be just. * Countless wars have been fought since the beginning of time and in all of them there were winners and losers. * No nation on earth can assert military invincibility or, for that matter, moral superiority. Only Americans believe in their own moral superiority only Muslims believe in theirs, and so on... * If Americans and Jews were to behave like Turks did at the turn of the last century the world would witness a series of genocides on several continents. * Muslims may think they are invincible because they have Allah and oil on their side, in the same way that we (Armenians) thought we had the might of the Great Powers of Europe, plus God and the justice of our cause (freedom from oppression) on our side. It didn’t do us any good. It was all an empty illusion. * All political leaders (including Kemal, Arafat, and our own) are first and foremost baloney artists. They may successfully brainwash their dupes but they cannot fool reality. * If so far Americans and Jews have not behaved like Turks it may be because there is a difference between the autocratic East and the democratic West. * If Muslims want to coexist with their enemies they have no choice but to reject their undemocratic ways and realize that the concept of fundamental human rights is not an invention of the corrupt and decadent West. But even if it were, that does not make Muslims more progressive, civilized, and just in the eyes of the world. * Our choice is seldom between good and evil but between bad and worse; and sometimes even between worse and worst. # Hegel’s famous last words: “No one understood me except one, and even he didn’t understand me.” # The Nazis believed God to be on their side. So do jihadists today. The God of fanatics is the Devil. # ON MODERATION ******************************* “Moderation in all things,” Greeks said even as they condemned Socrates to death. * For every believer there is a non-believer. Who is right? Neither. Who is wrong? Both. * Trust your friend but respect your enemy. * Modify your assertions with their contradictions. That may not be the best way to live but it is the only way to survive. # REFLECTIONS ********************************* My real education began on the day I realized I was a brainwashed dupe and a self-satisfied idiot. * Words and reality (like ideas and God) move in two different dimensions that like parallel lines never meet (except in eternity). * Scientists tell us space has an end. What does this end look like? Is there some kind of invisible wall? What’s on the other side of the wall? * God is not a being, Thomas Aquinas tells us, but “being itself.” Whatever the hell does that mean? * Plato put it best when he said reality is like fire and words only shadows. * It is to be noted that after having a mystical experience Aquinas gave up writing and said something to the effect that all writing was no better than verbal trash. #

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013 ************************************* SERMON ************************** In what way am I morally superior to a cold-blooded killer if I harbor a killer within me? In what way are Americans morally superior to Muslims if they (Americans) have killed more Muslims than Muslims have killed Americans? In what way Muslims are morally superior to Americans if the only reason they have killed fewer Americans is military inferiority? * Closer to home: we have been so busy exposing Turkish criminal conduct that our own moral status has become an alien dimension. As Zarian would say: “Danger, danger, danger!” * There is only one way to feel morally superior and that is (to echo Saroyan) by feeling sorry for the morally inferior. * The Scriptures tell us there is no difference between an adulterer and a man who lusts after another’s wife. Likewise there is no difference between a killer and a man who preaches hatred and revenge which he identifies as justice. * Perhaps what I have been trying to say here is we all swim in the same sh**! # Saturday, April 13, 2013 *********************************** THEOLOGY ********************** The aim of human speech is to say one thing and do the opposite: to say God is love and truth and to worship lies and the Devil; to say “Thou shalt not kill” and to go to war; to call Diasporan Armenians “aghber” (trash) and to behave like trash. Theologians and sermonizers are familiar with this phenomenon but prefer not to speak about it. * THERE WILL BE BLOOD ******************************** As soon as the Kremlin realizes the present regime in Yerevan to be a liability, it will replace it with another. Will anything change? It remains to be seen. “No one gives up power without a bloody fight,” Hegel tells us. Is he right? We may have an answer soon. * DOES POWER CORRUPT? ********************************* Power does not corrupt. It only exposes the corruption that was already there. * AMERICA AND ARMENIA *********************************** Unhappy is the nation whose two most important sources of education are TV ads and state propaganda. # FROM MY NOTEBOOKS ********************************* In life nothing works as planned. An honest autobiography would be a long list of disappointments. * My first book was a best-seller. My second book was banned. That’s when I knew I was on the right track. * We adopt a belief system because we are told all the others don’t make sense. * If you write in defense of dupes, deceivers will conspire against you. # REMEMBER! **************************** Patriotism is the favored word of tyrants. * Political parties need honest men as surely as religions need saints. * “A man of principle is a majority of one.” # Saturday, April 13, 2013 ************************************** SITUATION / SH*TUATION ************************************* In the eyes of the world our regime in Yerevan has lost its virginity. The people are against it. But even if replaced nothing will change. * Believe nothing you are told. There are no good guys in politics. Power prostitutes. * Some of our greatest brains praised Lenin and Stalin. Even our best and brightest are no better than a bunch of dupes. * Where there is too much talk of freedom and independence, oppression is sure to follow. * Throughout our millennial history foreign tyrants have always relied on their Armenian collaborators to moronize the people. # TURCOCENTRISM REVISITED ******************************************* In Turcocentric circles I am know only as someone whom Turks like to quote. All I can say in my defense is that the Devil too can quote the Scriptures. Does that mean the Good Lord is pro-Devil? * I gladly admit to being not a Turcocentric but an Armenocentric writer. So were Baronian and Odian; or for that matter Zarian and Massikian; and before them Naregatsi who in his LAMENTATION blames no one but himself for his many failings and transgressions. * A human being is not a lump of clay at the mercy of forces beyond his control. The Turks did not recreate us in their own image. We consented to be recreated. That is worth repeating and emphasizing. We are what we have become because we chose freely to be who we are. The rest is propaganda and our favorite sport: the blame game. # DIARY ******************** “I enjoy reading you.” I am less interested in your enjoyment and more in your torment. I don’t write to entertain. Flattery is as irrelevant to me as the words of a brainless critics or dupe who believes what he is told especially what he is told flatters his ego. * In Deirdre Bair’s SAUL STEINBERG: A BIOGRAPHY I am informed that if you are depressed you can go to the nearest emergency and ask to see a shrink. This may be common knowledge but it’s news to me. * I remember once when asked by a French friend if I have ever been analyzed I said something to the effect that analysis is for the bourgeoisie and that as a perennial slum-dweller it has never even occurred to me to visit a shrink. I was astonished when he informed me that in France analysis is available to everyone free of charge. * Perhaps deep inside somewhere I continue to be a subject of the Ottoman Empire where the insane were treated like criminals. #

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Monday, April 01, 2013 ************************************* TWO QUESTIONS *********************** Even after successive waves of Hamidian massacres in the Ottoman Empire and Stalinist purges in the USSR, Armenian writers like Siamanto and Totovents couldn’t stand life in America and returned to Istanbul and Yerevan respectively. Now then, my question is: How many of our writers now living in exile have returned to their homeland after Independence? Is it conceivable that there was more tolerance and freedom under the bloody Sultan and the iron rule of Stalin than under our own oligarchs? * I am personally acquainted with an Armenian writer in exile who is not allowed to visit his dying father in Yerevan. My second question is: Is it conceivable that our oligarchs are more commissars and less Armenian? Or more robots and less human beings? # Wednesday, April 03, 2013 ******************************************* ON LIFE, AFTERLIFE, AND RELATED ATROCITIES ************************************************ On life after death: the chances are we will return to wherever it was that we came from before we were born. But that may not be the end of the story… * Nationalism teaches us to have 20/20 vision when it comes to our assets and pretend to be deaf, blind and stupid when it comes to our liabilities. * There is a natural tendency in all of us to subscribe to dogmas whose sole intent is to divide the community and to reject what common sense, decency, logic, and self-interest dictate. * To contradict is a temptation an Armenian cannot resist. * When we rely too much on our understanding we tend to forget or ignore the fact that, that which is incomprehensible may well be closer to the truth. # Tuesday, April 02, 2013 ************************************ CRIME AND PUNISHMENT *************************************** We owe our dogmas and divisions to individuals whose ultimate aim is the destruction of the nation; and if they are not aware of this it’s because they have allowed themselves to be moronized by their own propaganda. * We have bosses, bishops, and benefactors by the dozen and dupes by the thousand but not a single consensus seeker. * Nationalism also means to believe nothing you are told except flattery. * It took Turks 600 years to realize sultans were up to no good. It may take them a little longer to realize Kemalism is a morally and politically bankrupt ideology. * If there is a god, garbage collectors will go to heaven and politicians to hell. * Where there is subservience there will also be intimidation -- or bullies and cowards. # Wednesday, April 03, 2013 ***************************************** UNDERSTANDING THE ENEMY ****************************************** We may understand why we hate our enemies but we don’t always understand why they hate us. * If we have trouble understanding our enemies it may be because we have been brainwashed to believe we are lovable; and we are lovable even when we behave like repulsive apes; and we are smart even when we speak like inbred morons. * We like to believe if our enemies hate us it’s because there must be something fundamentally wrong with them. Turks are bloodthirsty savages. In the eyes of Americans, Muslim terrorists are ignorant fanatics. * Instead of examining our conscience we blame others. We use the lies of our propaganda to reach a truth which is a bigger lie. * We forget that we are not as cute as we think we are. No one is. To take propaganda seriously means to moronize oneself. * Instead of wondering why Americans hate Muslims, Muslims should ask themselves why do Sunnis butcher Shias and vice versa? Instead of wondering why Turks hate Armenians, we should ask ourselves why does Armenian hate Armenian? * Why Muslim terrorists hate Americans unto death? Why did Americans hate one another unto death in their Civil War (in cosmic time, yesterday)? # Saturday, April 06, 2013 *************************************** ON CHARM ****************************** “Charm is shit!” I hate the man who said that. I should have said it first. * Death may be the end of the road for us but the road itself is without end. * Robert Frost: “And nothing to look backward to with pride And nothing to look forward to with hope.” Our history in two lines. * I am what my critics made me. * The 1% may be replaced but not toppled. * Beware of the man who is humble only before God. * Divide the enemy and the battle is half won. Let the enemy divide us and the war is lost. # Saturday, April 06, 2013 ***************************************** MEMOIRS OF A SURVIVOR ************************************** Unmask an Armenian and expose a celebrity without recognition, a king without a crown, and a tyrant without power. * I remember once when I tried to arrange an interview with a minor Armenian celebrity, I was treated with such contempt that I cancelled the interview without notice and decided never to interview another Armenian again. * Success has this in common with power – it corrupts. * The offspring of survivors I am myself a survivor: my parents survived Turks; I survived Armenians. * In the official version of our recent story, the operation was a success but the patient died. * Recycled propaganda is verbal vomit. # Saturday, April 06, 2013 ********************************** WAR CRIMINALS ****************************** Who is crazier – the Second Amendment gun nut or the unbalanced teenager or adult who kills defenceless children? Speaking for myself: I don’t know. Hard to say. * I suggest there is a mass murderer in all of us waiting for the right combination of circumstances to make an appearance. * Consider the frequency with which law-abiding patriotic citizens that have committed or cooperated in the commission of atrocities, massacres, and genocide in the past. How many of them surrendered and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity? What about political, military, and religious leaders who legitimize and promote intolerance, hatred, and war or mass murder? Last but far from least: How many popes, imams, and rabbis have been identified as war criminals? I am not casting aspersions, just asking questions. #