Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sunday, July 28, 2013 ************************************ DIARY ******************** Because our youth in the Homeland was galvanized by petty cash, some thought that cause for celebration. As a skeptic with a touch of pessimism in all things Armenian, all I am prepared to say is, “Inshallah!” * I have no reason to trust Turkish or Azeri patriotism. Neither do I trust American, German, or Russian patriotism. Now then, tell me please, why should I trust Armenian patriotism? * One good thing about old age: the end can’t be too far and the end of a bad thing is bound to be good. * Muslims don’t respect one another but they are unanimous in demanding the respect of the world, including and above all the respect of infidels. Are we different? # NEXT DAY ************************ On Armenian TV today an interview with a community leader from Greece named Kurdoghlian – probably Kurdoghlanian (literally son of a Kurd). * Question: Will we ever know how many of our community leaders are odars or even Turks (according to one of our elder statesmen) who speak Armenian fluently? Please note that I have nothing against odars. As an Armenian I am even flattered that some of them choose to work for us. Unless of course the only reason they do so is that the pay is good; or as a community we are too ignorant, backward, and na├»ve to tell the difference between a good leader and one that is both corrupt and incompetent in addition to being a habitual and compulsive liar. * 11th COMMANDMENT ********************************** “Thou shalt not look up to dividers for moral and political guidance.” * ON EXPLANATIONS ****************************** We say an explanation makes sense only when it runs parallel to our limitations and prejudices. # REFLECTIONS ********************************** Blunders are not planned. They are more like unintended consequences of our ignorance, inaudible echoes of our limitations, and invisible reflections of our stupidity and arrogance. * The biggest mistake we make is to assume that man is a reasonable being. In reality Homo sapiens is less sapiens and more ignoramus. * The rotten apple false. Time is the true revolutionary. But unlike Chopin’s Etude, its tempo is Adagio molto. * I criticize myself in others. * The function of literature is to say what everyone suspects to be true. # FROM MY NOTEBOOKS ******************************************* To stand on your own feet does not mean to step on someone else’s throat. * Old age: not a confrontation but a siege. * If luck is on your side even your liabilities become assets. * My first job at the age of seven or eight was that of an apprentice to a blacksmith in the neighborhood. I didn’t think of it as work. I even looked forward to it. * To be a Romanian, according to Saul Steinberg, means to “carry a curse, the place from which you come, we carry it inside us. It doesn’t heal easily. Maybe never.” * The astonishing ease with which we make false assumptions about ideas, people, oneself. Every devout believer is convinced anyone who does not share his belief is wrong, maybe even in cahoots with the devil. * An academic once tried to explain to me why a poem by Hardy was a masterpiece. I felt as though I was being taught a new language. * In the last pages of Richard Burrton’s diary many entries consist of a single word: “Booze…” At one point he writes: “Both Elizabeth’s and my manners are appalling…” * When asked what he reads, Glenn Gould is said to have replied: “Everything by Thomas Mann, Kafka, and the Russians…” #

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013 ********************************** NOTES & COMMENTS ********************************** “You are not an Armenian writer!” I consider that a compliment. I don’t write as an Armenian. I write as a human being. There is no merit in being a member of an exclusive club at the expense of your humanity. * As a child I was exposed to many lectures on obedience and respect, but I don’t remember a single occasion in which subservience was mentioned. * If only I could count the number of times I should have said nothing instead of saying the wrong thing. * I am suspicious of men say “I know” more often than “I don’t know.” * The only time I feel sure about my moral stance is when I act against my own interests. * Nobody can be as free as a nobody. The higher you rise, the heavier the chains. * We have no choice but to admit that we have played a central role in our history – in our defeats (countless) as well as victories (very few), in our tragedies (without number) as well we comedies (one or at most two). # HAVE I SAID THIS BEFORE? ***************************************** “You repeat yourself.” “And you are an idiot.” “Why am I an idiot?” “Because you waste your time reading someone who says the same thing over and over again.” “I thought I was being helpful.” “You want to be helpful? Say that to our speechifiers and sermonizers.” “Say what?” “You repeat yourself.” * HE REPEATED HIMSELF ********************************** A headline in a French magazine: “The Zen Master was a serial killer.” Further down: “What’s the number of his victims? Hard to say. There are new revelations every day.” * EITHER/OR ********************* Solidarity is not our forte. Either that or we have a highly developed sense of mutual disapproval. * ON BAD MARRIAGES ******************************* Blame neither the man nor the woman. Blame instead the games nature (or the irresistible urge to procreate) plays on both. * THE CONSOLATIONS OF MEDIOCRITY *********************************************** “Like Shakespeare, Bach, and Vermeer, he was not much prized by his contemporaries.” # ON A REVOLTING DEVELOPMENT ************************************ My worst enemies are former best friends. You will surprise me if you say you are surprised. * ON MORAL SUPERIORITY ******************************* Have you ever heard a morally superior man brag about his moral superiority? No, of course not! It never happens. Only pimps and shits brag about their moral superiority. Something similar could be said of patriotism. Whenever an Armenian brags about the superior brand of his patriotism I know his next move will be to crap on me – in the name of patriotism, of course! * THEM & US ************************************** If you can’t brainwash them, silence them. If you can silence them, why reason with them? If they are silenced, who will listen to them? #

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013 *************************************** ON WRITERS AND WRITING ********************************** It has been observed that one of the most frequently used words in the Armenian language is “kidem” (I know). There is very little that an Armenian doesn’t know and that little cannot be worth knowing. * The average Armenian (assuming such a creature exists) has nothing but contempt for writers except when he decided to be one himself. * The ambition of every Armenian writer is to become famous in the odar world; as for being famous among Armenians: Who in his right mind would want to be a target of verbal abuse, betrayal, starvation, and an early death? * Style is being yourself provided of course you know who you are and where you are going. * If you read me because you want to feel proud as an Armenian, you’ve got the wrong man. You want pride? Read Charents and ignore his killers. * To write means to introduce meaning into countless fragments of reality. No one can do justice to all the fragments if only because only God knows all of them. * I know where I am going; I also know most of my readers don’t want to go there because it is against their religion, and their religion is a watered down cocktail of phony patriotism and verbal piety with very little alcoholic content. # NOTES & COMMENTS ************************************ Our environment, the very environment we have created, can church out only unprincipled mediocrities. If you want to achieve excellence you have no choice but to work in an alien environment. * When I was young and happy, I wanted to be happier because I thought I deserved better or so I liked to believe. But gradually I learned that happiness, true happiness, means coming to terms with one’s misery. * Our genocide in the Ottoman Empire had a beginning and an end. The moral collapse of our leadership has neither. What it has instead is a millennial history of gradual decline and degeneration with no end in sight. # FF ****************************** When two dissimilar intellects separated by time and space agree on an idea, it is safe to assume that there must be some truth in it. * Case in point: Tolstoy: “The higher I rise in the opinion of others, the lower I sink in my own.” * Saint-Simon: “My self-esteem has always increased in direct proportion to the damage I was doing to my reputation.” * In today’s parlance: “F*ck fame!” #

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 ******************************* Q/A *************************** Q: What do Christians, Muslims, Nazis and Stalinists have in common? A: Their most cherished ideas – ideas for which they have killed and died – are propaganda. What they think to be more real than reality itself is pure fiction. Their greatest truths are big lies. This is not an opinion on my part. This is what they themselves believe about one another. * The greatest offenses against God and men are inflicted with total lack of awareness. * Warning: Be aware of what you believe in: it may kill you. # DIARY ************************ Two new books of conversations – my favorite genre – with Orson Welles and Ava Gardner. The only book by Goethe that I enjoyed reading is his CONVERSATIONS WITH ECKERMANN. * In life when the predictable happens it does so in an unpredictable manner. * Turcocentrism is our present opium. * Silenced by rabbis, Jesus brought forth the papacy and the Dark Ages. All actions have unintended consequences. * I have never killed anyone. That doesn’t mean I don’t harbor a cold-blooded killer within me. * Am I right or wrong? Or rather: What if I am right? * If I lied it’s because I was a dupe of lies. * If I can write a single readable line a day, I am satisfied. * We don’t have critics. What we have are hirelings writing in defense of their source of income. # OBSERVATIONS ***************************** Like Pollyanna I like to see the best in the worst. Revolutions? When the men at the top start killing one another it can’t be all bad. * When a million people believe in the same lie they build a cathedral to prove its truth. * The best argument against nationalism is not even an argument but a simple statement of fact: “I only know the skin of the earth, And that it has no name” (Pablo Neruda). * There is nothing new under the sun. Neither is there anything new in what I have been saying. And yet, some of my readers like to pretend otherwise. * Our leaders have been wrong so consistently and for such a long time that it must be ascribed to some kind of special gift rather than a failing or a vice. # FROM MY NOTEBOOKS ********************************* God and religion are here to stay? So are understanding, tolerance, and men who place doubt above the certainty of dogmas. * Role models? I didn’t have any. All my role models were negative – I didn’t want to be like them. * “Some day I will write a book on the subject and prove you wrong.” An Armenian will say anything to win an argument. * A faithful member of the Party: ” What you say is wrong. We believe in free speech. None of my articles has ever been rejected or altered.” * A self-assessed smart Armenian is an idiot. * About the 1%: creating or killing jobs is not their central concern. Money is. * When I was a fascist I didn’t know I was one. * Persian saying: “It is better to be in chains with friends than in a garden with strangers.” #

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013 **************************************** GOOD NEWS ******************** The good news is: silencing dissent is no longer as easy as it used to be. * THE RIGHT QUESTION ********************************* When something goes wrong, I no longer ask “Who is to blame?” but what was my contribution. * FREEDOM ********************* Freedom is overrated by slaves. Consider what we have been doing with ours. * LINES ******************** There is a line that divides knowledge from ignorance, and the line is invisible. Whenever a line is invisible men will imagine they can see it because they have 20/20 vision. * MEN AND WOMEN ******************************** Some men are more like women and some women are more like men. Or, as the Turkish saying has it: “Among ten men nine are sure to be women.” Beware of men who stress their masculinity and women who rely too much on their femininity: they are up to no good. # FORGIVE MY FRENCH *********************************** “Morsi was democratically elected.” He was, yes, to be a servant of the people, all the people and not a fraction of it that tends to view all others as heretics and infidels, that is to say, the lowest scum on earth. * And speaking of scum: to be democratically elected does not mean to have a license to amass a fortune by means of thievery. * During World War II the French called Petain, their head of state, “putin,” or is it “putain” (forgive my French) because he collaborated with Hitler. * As long as our bishops enjoy the support of a benefucktor why should they give a damn about the collection plate? And as long as our “Putains”enjoy Putin’s support, why should they give a damn about serving the people? # EXPLANATIONS ******************************** If you decide that the men at the top can be trusted because they know better, you have no choice but to believe that even when they lie, cheat, and steal they do so for your own good. * Speaking of misplaced trust and the men at the top: Not only did they slaughter indiscriminately they also wanted to collect the insurance money. They thought they could fool odars as easily as they had fooled Armenians for centuries. * To a politician, ideas can be useful only in so far as they can be exploited as effective tools of deception. * It is myself that I criticize in others. What I really say is: I was there once and I was dead wrong. If I have lived long enough to tell the tale It may be because I am just about the luckiest man on earth. I have no other explanation. #

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 *************************************** CONFESSIONS ************************** Whenever I am told I am a disgrace to the nation, I think: what if it’s the other way around? * Only a patriot with the IQ of a jackass identifies the Homeland with the regime. * Writing has nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with objectivity; in the same way that what a politician says has nothing to do with the truth and everything to do with propaganda. * Before making an assertion consider its contradiction, yoou may see more truth there. * Do not repeat what you were taught as a child: remember your schoolteacher had a family to support. * “A dog knows his master but not his master’s master.” * If you think I write as I do because I am some kind of daydreaming eccentric with illusions of grandeur, I say: ever since I came to terms with my own mediocrity, I write with greater freedom. That’s the only difference between me and other writers and me. # REALITY VERSUS FANTASY ***************************************** Sooner or later all belief systems and ideologies fall into the hands of cynical manipulators, opportunists, power-hungry mediocrities and their assorted dupes who at all times and everywhere outnumber decent human beings who can think for themselves. * The history of Christianity was written not by Christ and his Apostles but by Popes and Martin Luther (“a wild boar” in the words of a contemporary pope). * The history of nationalism was written not by Mazzini but by the likes of Mussolini, Franco, and Hitler. * The history of the British Empire was written not by “gentlemen” but by “shopkeepers” (Napoleon). * Had Marx foreseen the Gulag, my guess is he would have burned DAS KAPITAL. * To speak of religion and ideologies and to emphasize the role of their founders at the expense of their successors is to engage in high-altitude thinking, that is to say, to inhabit a world of abstractions, fantasy, and propaganda. # WINNERS AND LOSERS ************************************* In a jungle documentary on TV I saw nine lions attacking a buffalo and devouring it even as it was defending itself. It made me think of the medieval Armenian heresy – the Paulicians I think – who believed the world was created not by God but the Devil. If I am not mistaken, the foremost authority on this heresy is an Armenian who is quoted frequently in Toynbee big book, CONSTANTINE PORPHYROGENITUS. * If you speak the truth, liars will conspire against you. To remain silent when liars conspire against you amounts to joining their conspiracy. * Pirandello: “If you confront a man with his own image, there will arise a crisis.” It follows; understanding oneself cannot be a pleasant experience. Which is why most people are dupes who prefer to live in a world of lies; and if the lie is delivered by a king or pope, or for that matter, boss, bishop or benefactor, and contradicted by a scribbler who can’t make ends meet, guess who will be the winner or loser. # PROBLEMS (XXXII) *********************************** Our main problem is not “brainless leaders” (Avedik Issahakian) but brainless leaders who have been brainwashed to believe they are the brains of the people. * Happy is the man who believes he cannot be contradicted – also a damn fool. * Charles Peguy: “Fame potentially is the dictatorship of reputation and therefore always potentially impure.” Which is why I prefer to be just an honest witness with a name that has the double demerit of being difficult to remember and pronounce, and identified me as someone who (to quote a good friend) bears a Turkish “damgha” (seal). Or even better – as a reader from the Homeland once put it: “Baliozoghlu, you are no better than a piece of shit.” * You may gather by now that our Sovietized brothers and sisters don’t like to stand on ceremony. In their eyes we of the Diaspora might as well be white trash (“aghber”). * But then, nobody ever said to be an honest Armenian comes without a price. To console myself I remember an often repeated Hollywood phrase: “It may be shit but it has integrity.” #

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Thursday, July 04, 2013 *************************************** AS I SEE IT ************************* Can there be such a thing as an honest capitalist in the eyes of a Marxist? Or a good infidel in the eyes of a Muslim? Or a good Armenian in the eyes of another Armenian? * Kemal was smart: he knew he could count on the ignorance and stupidity of the average Turk. Our bosses, bishops, and benefactors are smart too… * Atheists are not born but made and what makes them is the arrogance, intolerance, and cruelty of men who speak in the name of God. * The enemy within is invincible. * “Homo homini lupus” (man is wolf to men). What is an Armenian to another Armenian? A lamb? * The Turks were smart: they knew they could get away with murder. We were dumb: we thought they wouldn’t dare! # ON POETS ******************************* In a recent issue of the NEW YORKER, that until recently consistently refused to print profanities, I read the following exchange: “You asshole,” she snarled. “You’re the asshole,” I said. “I hate you.” “Ditto,” I said. “Ditto and square it.” Because I favor short lines some readers think I am a poet. I am not! I don’t remember to have ever written a single line about nightingales serenading the moon or the eternal snows of Mount Ararat. Not my style. * As a failure I write about failures. It tales one to know one. And I don’t write. I snarl! * And speaking of poets: In Armenian-American parlance poets are referred to as vodanavorjis. # SPEAKING FOR MYSELF ********************************** The 1% may know better but when they are wrong they are catastrophically wrong – universal bankruptcy, wars, massacres, genocides… * I have more critics than a dog has fleas. I like to reply to all of them including the contemptible ones. But I draw a line to those who are beneath contempt. * In the first one-third of my life I was mostly busy committing blunders. In the second, I tried very hard not to repeat them. And in the final third my main concern is coming to terms with my mortality. As for saving the nation: I leave that to our dime-a-dozen pundits with Napoleonic ambitions. * If I can make a nuisance of myself to a handful of readers, I ask for nothing more. Now then, go ahead and call me a megalomaniacal daydreamer. #

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Sunday, June 30, 2013 ************************************** STATUS QUO *************************** All dupes are brainwashed to trust the judgment of their superiors even when their superiors happen to be the worst scum on earth. * The world is at the mercy of bloodthirsty cannibals who like to parade as peace-loving vegetarians. * Genocides come in all sizes, shapes and colors, including red, blue and orange. * The fist thing tyrants do is confiscate the idea of patriotism and call everyone who opposes them unpatriotic. * Once oppressed always an oppressor. Once a dupe always a brainwasher. You take it when you have no choice. You dish it out the first chance you get. # FROM MY NOTEBOOKS ********************************** When asked which side you support, always say (to quote a good friend of mine) “I am with the good guys.” * Nobody ever warned me that the right path may also lead to a dead end. * I write therefore I learn. * Every belief or ideological system produces its share of academics. Grub is better than no grub. * I write to share my anger. * Bishops, imams, and rabbis: you either believe in all of them or none. To choose one and reject the others amounts to say “I refuse to think for myself; I prefer to be a dupe of propaganda.” # YOU WANT A FRIEND? ****************************************** It has been said that it takes five generations to produce an English gentleman. It took more than two thousand years to produce the average Armenian wheeler-dealer and his dupes… You may now draw your own conclusions. * Armenian identity is like a layer cake whose bottom layer is shrouded in mystery and whose top layer is more Ottoman and Soviet than Armenian. * For 1500 years our writers – from Khorenatsi and Yeghishe (5th century AD) to our own days (Zarian and Massikian) have exposed the corruption and incompetence of our political and religious wheeler-dealers with the result that they are more corrupt, incompetent and divided than at any other time in our history. What does that tell you about Armenian contempt for selfless intellectual labor? * As they say in Washington: “You want a friend? Get a dog!” # NOTES AND COMMENTS ************************************** A dupe is a dupe regardless of nationality, ideology and religion. Kemal’s dupe and Stalin’s dupe might as well be twins. Now then, go ahead and say Armenians are smarter than Turks. * Our history in a nutshell: We owe our misfortunes to enemy action – beginning with the enemy within. * Worth remembering: All orthodoxies, heresies and divisions in general are conceived by the 1%. * I have lost many friends but I have never lost a single enemy. * All belief systems have a ready answer for every possible question, a plausible explanation for every objection, and a counter-argument for every argument – just like Jehovah’s Witnesses. #