Saturday, June 29, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013 ********************************* FROM THE DIARY OF A NOBODY ***************************************** My ambition, my real ambition in life is to introduce humor in hell. * Armenians have a legal mind: they never ask a question whose answer they don’t already know. An Armenian in search of wisdom is like a Greek bearing gifts. * Confronted by total annihilation men may learn to co-exist. As for Armenians: I am not sure about them. After all, every rule must have its exceptions. * I was asked once to translate the diary of an unknown and unpublished writer on the grounds that “he could be another Shakespeare.” * On another occasion I was asked to translate a poem on the grounds that after reading it a friend of the family had said: “This should be translated!” # IF ********* If you say Turks are the scum of the earth, I ask: What’s the difference between them and the rest of the world? * If you say there is nothing wrong in hating a bad writer who spreads lies, I ask: What about incompetent leaders who lead the nation to genocide? * Why does the average smart Armenian allow himself to be brainwashed by charlatans? The obvious answer must be: Because it allows him to live in a fantasy world wherein (a) Armenians are the good guys, (b) They are God’s chosen, and (c) their military defeats are moral victories. * Am I saying anything you don’t already know? * Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and the USSR: they remind me of myself as a child when I respected no one and feared everyone. # IT BEARS REPEATING ********************************** They call me negative because my favorite subject is not massacres. * Everything I say to my fellow Armenians, American, French, English, German, and Russian writers have said about their fellow countrymen. * Mankind has been and continues to be at the mercy of hoodlums – Goebbels not Goethe, Hitler not Hesse, Richard III not Shakespeare, Stalin not Solzhenitsyn. * In the eyes of their contemporaries neither Socrates nor Jesus were successes. I wonder how many Greek mothers were overheard saying to their sons, “Behave! Do you want to end up like Socrates?” And Jewish mothers… * Never speak kindly of yourself: no one will believe you. * Why do I write as I do? The answer must be: Because I am no longer dependent on the charity of swine. #

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 ********************************** ON EDUCATION ************************ Those who control our educational system do so not because they support learning but because they want to cover up the nefarious role they have played in our decline as a nation. They are as hungry for knowledge and understanding as sultans and commissars. * I share my understanding; they share their propaganda. They identify themselves as patriots and me as a traitor. * Q: Can someone with the moral compass of an ape and the charisma of a robot win a democratic election? A: Yes, of course! Q: Where? A: Armenia. * If you don’t know where to begin, the end is as good a place as any. # SNAFULAND *************************** What does the Homeland share with the Diaspora? In both dissidents are rejected and brown-nosers prosper. * Consider what happened to Greeks and Jews after they rejected Socrates and Jesus respectively. A nation that rejects its critics digs its own grave. Nothing new in that. Americans have a word for it: Snafu, meaning “Situation Normal All F***ed up.” * Far from being the best and the brightest, ruling classes are more representative of the lowest common denominator. * Individuals may learn but mankind as a whole – judging by the number of present conflicts, wars, and related atrocities – seems to be immune to instruction. We are all citizens of Snafuland. # PLUTOCRACY ******************************** Success, real success, means total and uncompromising contempt for success as defined by failures. * Overheard on the radio early this morning: “From a market economy we have become a market society. In California today if you don’t like your prison cell you can get hotel-style accommodations for $90 a day.” * Which one of our political bosses today is not a millionaire or the hireling of one? What happened to the generation of Nikol Aghbalian, Rouben Der Minassian, Ohandjanian, Vratsian, Aharonian? How could they vanish without leaving a trace? # AM I RIGHT OR WRONG? ************************************** Or rather: Am I moving in the right or wrong direction? I suspect I am moving in the right direction when I think the opposite of what I was taught as a child. Allow me to explain. When the educational system of a nation (also known as its brainwashing apparatus) agrees with its political system (that claims to have a single aim in life, namely, the welfare of the people) I have no choice but to agree with Hamlet’s verdict – there must be “something rotten in the State of Denmark.” * MEN AND WOMEN ************************* The Fall of Man and to fall in love: in both instances the main characters are a man and a woman; or, in the words of Anonymous, an old wise man who is never or very seldom wrong: “Men and women, women and men: it will never work.” #

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013 ************************************** DEMOCRACY ***************************** In my formative years I don’t remember anyone remotely interested in explaining to me the difference between democracy and fascism; and I am no longer surprised when a reader demands to know what’s so great about democracy. * When those in power forget they are servants of the people, abuse of power and fascism become inevitable. * Knowledge is power, we are told. What we are not told is that individual knowledge is powerless against collective ignorance. * I don’t hate my enemies as much as I hate myself for allowing them to intimidate me. * Not to be able to read between the lines is also a symptom of illiteracy. # EASIER SAID THAN DONE *************************************** We are a nation of dreamers – make it daydreamers. We brag about being survivors even as we are experiencing two “white” genocides (exodus and assimilation). * “The Jews survived,” an elder statesman once informed me, “because of their Book. We need such a book and I am writing it.” He sent me a few fragments which I could not finish reading. * To explain their financial bankruptcy a Mekhitarist monk once said to me: “We were deceived.” They were deceiver because they were promised great wealth. All they had to do, they were told, was liquidate their assets and invest the cash in the stock market. Blinded by greed it never even occurred to them to suspect their financial advisers were a criminal gang. * I once wrote a short story that began with the words: “When I first read a Sherlock Holmes story, I wanted to be a detective. When I first heard a Rossini overture I decided to be a composer. When I saw Marlon Brando in ON THE WATERFRONT I wanted to be an actor. When I read Casanova’s MEMOIRS….” * What happened to my daydreams? Who and what am I today? The answer: Not just a scribbler but an Armenian scribbler, that is to say, the lowest form of animal life. # THINGS TO REMEMBER *********************************** Mankind: a collection of nobodies at the mercy of misguided fools. * Learn to read between the lines – that’s where the money is. * Success is a trap. Failure a challenge. Treat a success story as you would treat a warning. * Decisions are based on what is known and predictable; but it is the unknown, the unknowable and the unpredictable that conspire to bite your ass. * To be lucky means to knock on the wrong door and to have the right man answer it. To be unlucky means to rely on luck. * A Turkish scholar once informed me that as an Armenian I was in no position to be objective about a great man like Talaat. * The central function of politics is to brainwash fools to believe they are smart. #

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 ************************************* QUESTIONS WE NEVER ASK *************************************** Baronian and Odian: were they patriotic Armenians? What about Baruir Massikian when he saw more merit in a Cairo bordello than in our own institutions? What about Zarian when he said our political parties have been of no political use to us? Why is it that politicians, even when they are pathological liars and mass murderers like Hitler and Stalin identify themselves as great patriots? Why is it that we equate patriotism with blindness? A final question: What is the most frequently misunderstood and abused word in the world? * Moral: Next time you hear one of our speechifiers use that word, start counting your spoons. # POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE ************************************* “To emphasize the positive is better,” I am reminded once in a while by concerned readers. To identify those who poison the well: if there is a positive way of doing that I am all ears. * ACADEMICS ********************* Where there are academics there will be two schools of thought. Case in point: “Under capitalism man exploits man. Under communism it’s the other way around.” * Trust an academic’s judgment as much as you would trust the judgment of a religion or political leader who speaks in defense of his belief system or ideology – that is to say, his power, prestige, and source of income, not necessarily in that order. * SPEAKING FOR MYSELF ********************************* To paraphrase Socrates again: No one will ever accuse me of speaking in defense of my source of income for the simple reason that it has never exceeded minimum wage. None of our national benefactors has ever said to me what one of them is quoted as having said to one of our distinguished educators and poets: “I hire and fire people like you every day.” # THEN AND NOW **************************** As a child I thought words meant what they said. I now suspect they mean the opposite. * What is justice? It depends on who is in charge of dispensing it. * I write as I do not because I know better but because I got tired of saying “Yes, sir!” to idiots. * To make a comfortable living by exploiting someone else’s crucifixion or massacre: What a racket! * There are two kinds of people: Armenians and odars and I feel alien in the company of both. # GUILTY ************************** Unlike Turks we are not guilty of committing and covering up genocide. We are, however, guilty of placing our trust in a leadership so incompetent that, in the words of a friend, “cannot even lead a dog to the nearest fire hydrant or catch a flu bug in an epidemic.” * If incompetence were a crime against humanity how many of our leaders would escape hanging? #

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013 ************************************** DIALOGUE *********************** Dialogue: I am all for it; but not with a closed mind, or a self-righteous fanatic, or a member of the party (it makes no difference which party), or a bully who believes the word compromise is for the weak and the unprincipled: in short, an Armenian. * There is a type of reader – and I have had several of them myself – who begins by saying “I read everything you write,” and ends by saying “You are a disgrace to the nation.” * There are two schools of thought: the first says “We need critics,” and the second: “The only good critic is a dead critic.” Did I say two schools? Make it one. * I am a slow-learner. It took me many years to realize that you cannot argue against a propaganda line. # A NOTE ON OUR PARTISANS AND PANCHOONIES ********************************* “We have played a key role in the preservation of our identity and culture in the Diaspora,” I heard one of our speechifiers saying. They brag a lot -- our partisans and panchoonies; they lie a lot too. I should like to hear at least one of them saying they have also alienated a few. * I once received a letter from one of our political parties that said in effect they will support me provided I first write a series of profiles of their leaders. In my reply I said that I was not qualified to do that job because I didn’t even know who their leaders were. I should have added, neither did I care to make their acquaintance. # AS I SEE IT ************************* If you say “God is on my side,” God is sure to withdraw His support. * What is our unspoken policy towards writers? Treat them like shit until they come to terms with reality. * Nothing in life happens the way things happen in books and movies. * Being an Armenian is a rare privilege, or so I was brought up to believe, until I realized it is closer to being a nightmare. * All wars need Big Lies, so do all divisions. * We are a failed nation at the mercy of a failed regime run by former KGB agents. Enjoy! #

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sunday, June 09, 2013 ************************************ MONKEY BUSINESS ****************************** One does not have to be a prophet to engage in prophecy. All one has to do is adopt the past as one’s guide – that is to say, reality, facts, history as opposed to wishful thinking, illusions, and daydreams. * Raffi Hovannisian lost not because he did not enjoy majority support but because the oligarchs controlled the bureaucracy. We will rise against the oligarchs only after the Russians themselves do so. In the meantime all attempts at reform and revolution are doomed to failure. They are doomed to failure because we are essentially a nation of slaves. Raffi (not Hovannisian but Hagop Meliq-Hagopian) was absolutely right when he said “Treason and betrayal are in our blood.” So is subservience. In the Homeland we are subservient to the Kremlin; in the Diaspora to our bosses, bishops, and benefactors. * Our revolutionaries are not revolutionaries. They never were. They rose against the Sultan only when the Turks themselves did so and only when they relied on the verbal support of the West. There is an academic word for this kind of conduct, it’s called mimesis – in common parlance, monkey business. * We may have a better chance to understand ourselves if we study apes. The alternative approach is to place our trust and our destiny into the hands of bloodsuckers, speechifiers, and sermonizers, that is to say compulsive and habitual liars. * Speaking for myself, I would have more trust in an ape; at least an ape is less prone to engage in double-talk, deception, and betrayal. # IN PRAISE OF BEING FALLIBLE ******************************* “You are not always right,” a reader informs me. To be always right has never been one of my ambitions. As a matter of fact, if I had a choice between being always right and being always wrong I would choose being wrong if only because being always right would place me in the same category as some of the worst charlatans, bullies, and mass killers in the history of mankind. * Even when dead wrong, however, I like to believe I never deliberately mislead my readers or exploit their limitations by recycling a propaganda line or speaking in defense of a power structure or regime. How many of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors can say as much? * A good friend of mine once said to me: “I agree with you but I don’t say so in public because they may think you have brainwashed me.” But I am not in a position to brainwash anyone if only because I don’t write for children who cannot yet think for themselves. I write for adults who are free to reject what I say whenever they disagree with me. Neither do I subscribe to a specific ideology or belief system that happens to be my main source of income, prestige, or power. I operate more like a solitary voice in the wilderness and, in the words of Socrates, “My poverty is proof of my honesty.” # SITUATION / SHITUATION **************************************** The higher a man rises the bigger the size of his blunders. How many dared to say to Stalin “You are wrong” and lived to tell the tale? Closer to home: How many have dared to say to our bosses, bishops, and benefactors, “By dividing the community you dig its grave”? * Infallible men are not born but made and what makes them are dupes, cowards, and “yes men” afraid to say the emperor has no clothes, no brain, and no balls. * In the USSR they said Stalin was wrong only after he dropped dead and was buried. “Bishops are men of God,” I was informed by a reader once. “You should speak of them with greater respect.” If bishops are men of God, bosses source of power and prestige, and benefactors sources of income, that only means our own mini-sultans and neo-commissars continue to live, rule, and scare the shit out of anyone who dares to question their wisdom, integrity, honesty, dedication, patriotism, infallibility, and statesmanship. “Mart bidi ch’ellank!” # THE HUMAN CONDITION *********************************** Honest men: do they exist? I am not sure. I would define an honest man as one who has not yet been exposed as a crook. * From Roman emperors to Ottoman sultans – mankind has been at the mercy of ruthless crooks and pathological liars. Has anything changed? * If Zohrab was taken in by Talaat and Stalin by Hitler, can anyone claim to be immune to propaganda? * If we are smart, why do we consent to be subservient to a political leader with the moral compass of an ape and the charisma of a robot? Are North Koreans, Syrians, Turks, Russians, and Latinos better off? What about Greeks and Italians? * What about the Swiss? Where would they be without the money of blood-sucking tax cheats? What about Canadians? Listen, I live in Canada and I read the papers. Don’t talk to me about honest men. I could go on… #

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saturday, June 08, 2013 ************************************* AS I SEE IT ********************************* Some divide and conquer, others are divided, conquered, butchered and never learn. * One does not speak of ropes in the house of a hangman, neither does one speak of vegetarianism in the house of a butcher – which is what we do when we speak of genocide recognition to Turks and Yanks. * You want peace? Criminalize brainwashing. * We overestimate the value of what we know even when what we know is a big lie. * The aim of literature? To call an idiot an idiot. * We need solutions? A big lie! What we need is implementation. # POLITICS AND RELIGION *************************************** When I say I don’t believe in god I mean the god of rabbis, imams, and bishops (including the one in Rome). * Anyone who has had the patience and perseverance to read the final pages of EXODU and the first pages of LEVITICUS will be justified in suspecting that god is a control freak badly in need of a shrink. * The faith of rabbis, imams, and bishops has deep ties with power, prestige, and income. Take away one of these ties and you may end up holding an empty bag. * The difference between fascists and the ideology of our own political parties is that fascists criminalize free speech and our political parties silence dissent. The result is the same. * And now consider what they share in common: nationalism, anti-intellectualism, and anti-Semitism, namely “the three pillars of fascism.” * The secret ambition of all sermonizers and speechifiers is to brainwash you to believe you belong with the 1% even when you are the scum of the earth. I speak from experience. During World War II in Greece I was both stateless and homeless but I was “educated” to believe my god was the only true god. * I am not an atheist. I believe in the Unknown, the Unknowable, and the Incomprehensible because I believe Nothing cannot create Something. # MY MESSAGE **************************** If you are a reasonable man use your brain. If you are a patriotic Armenian stop saying ‘Yes, sir!” to our dividers and grave-diggers. If you are a good Christian stop hating your brother. If you are smart stop being a dupe. Remember, Jesus did not say the Kingdom of God is in the words of speechifiers and sermonizers but "within you." Remember also in a democratic environment leaders are not your masters but your servants. They don’t tell you what to think; you tell them what to do. # ARMENIANS IN BOOKS ******************************** In her brilliant and erudite study of Nabokov – THE SECRET HISTORY OF VLADIMIR NABOKOV (New York, 2013) – Andrea Pitzer mentions and discusses Armenian refugees, massacres and genocide on a number of occasions. Among individual Armenians she quotes and discusses are Nina Berberova, an early admirer of Nabokov, herself a brilliant novelist and the author of a remarkable autobiography titled THE ITALICS ARE MINE; and Azat Oganesian, about whom she has this to say in her Acknowledgments: “Translators played a key role on my research. King among them is Azat Oganesian, my research assistant, who poured through and translated interminable numbers of articles I sent him from RUL, the Russian-language newspaper in Berlin, as well as making trips to various libraries on his own to help with this project.” #

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wednesday, June 05, 2013 *********************************** Adultery should be condemned in all men except politicians on the grounds that the more they f*** women the less they will f*** the nation. * Anti-Semites always proceed from the erroneous historical assumption that Jews are the only people on the planet who occupied a territory by force of arms and abused the rights of the natives. * My bad memories outnumber the good ones. Which is why I look forward to Alzheimer’s. * Descriptions of experiences are like shadow of shadows. When a friend’s mother died, I shared his grief. But when my mother died I wanted to die. * Democracy has also been defined as the tyranny of the masses. # IN BRIEF *********************** There are casualties of war as surely as there are casualties of peace and we are casualties of both. * After eating Turkish and Russian shit we are now asked to eat our own. * In case you don’t like blunt talk, allow me to inform you that no one is paying me to engage in diplomatic palaver. * To be a dupe of political propaganda means to be a moron who is brainwashed to believe he is smart. * Ever since I gave up on my fellow Armenians they have stopped disappointing me. * To be a born-again human being is more important than being a good Armenian. # PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS ************************************************ It must be obvious by now that when it comes to solving problems, politicians may not the best men for the job. One could even go further and say they may well be the worst. * An idiot will be more receptive to the words of a crook and a liar than to those of an honest witness. * Turks quote me: in the eyes of my critics, it follows I must be in cahoots with the Sultan, Talaat, and Kemal. * The mother tongue of both political and religious leaders is propaganda. * Theology is a systematic effort to understand and explain the unknown, the unknowable, and the incomprehensible. * If I knew how to solve problems, I would begin with my own. * Most so-called solutions are based on the general theory that one man’s hocus pocus may well be better than another's abracadabra. # FREE SPEECH, ARMENIAN STYLE ******************************** Once when I dared to criticize one of our cultural organizations I was told by one of its hirelings: “Who the hell do you think you are?” He was not questioning my opinion. What he was questioning was my right to have one. In his view the function of someone in my position is to recycle propaganda. Only qualified people have a right to an opinion. * One does not bite the hand, or any other part of the anatomy, that lays the golden egg. * To rely too much on god is almost to surrender to the devil. * Nothing works as planned even when it works as planned. * Some of the worst things in life happen when you least expect them. * Your best friend may be your worst nightmare. It happens in the Bible. It happens in life. It happens among Armenians. It has happened to me. I am not questioning the validity of Armenian friendship. I am questioning my naiveté and status as a dupe. #

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Saturday, June 01, 2013 **************************************** WHO’S WHO ************************* “You are a disgrace to the nation!” Am I really? What about our oligarchs and kleptocrats whose greed is surpassed only by Wall Street CEOs who have been successful in convincing themselves and others that they are too big to fail? What about our brown-nosers who have not yet kissed an ass that didn’t smell like roses? What about our superpatriotic paranoiacs who see inauthentic or second-class or bastardized Armenians everywhere? What about our bosses, bishops, and benefactors whose sole contribution to our collective existence has been the introduction of meaningless dogmatic divisions that make us more vulnerable to so-called historic, economic, social, and cultural forces beyond our control? What about our crypto-Stalinist neo-commissars who miss the good old days? What about our dupes who believe everything they are told? Am I really a disgrace to the nation or those who dare to speak in its name? # WHEN I WAS YOUNG ****************************************** When I was young I relied on the judgment of my elders. Now that I am old I can rely on no one but myself; and when I consider the long list of blunders that I have committed I have no choice but to conclude that I must just about the least reliable person on earth; and if you think those who are now in charge of our collective destiny are wiser than I am, all I can say is that we all entertain illusions that we hate to give up notwithstanding the evidence against them. * To put it differently: you are right not to trust my judgment but you have fewer reasons to trust the judgment of your “betters” because historic reality tells us in no uncertain terms they may well be the worst scum on earth. # DEATH WISH ************************** Judge a man by his actions not his words. Judge an ideology or religion by its history not its sermons and speeches. It follows, if we were to judge a nation by its history we may have to conclude that Syrians don’t think they deserve to live, Armenians don’t think they deserve to be a nation, and Turks use the nationalist or Kemalist card the way a serial killer uses the insanity plea. Perhaps death wish plays a larger role in human affairs than we like to admit. Perhaps in politics what matters more than lust for power is the instinct to kill and die. If, that is, we base our conclusions on facts as opposed to speculation and propaganda. #