Saturday, August 31, 2013

IMMORTALITY ******************************** On the radio this morning when asked if he believes in immortality, a self-described “Christian agnostic” replied: “Only in the sense that my DNA will survive in my children and grandchildren.” * WISDOM OF OLD AGE ******************************* Once upon a time I sought the company of fellow Armenians. Now I avoid them. Ignorance is a luxury only the young can afford. * TWO BIBLES ********************* There are two Bibles: God’s (written) and the Devil’s (unwritten). The first is used for sermons. * BEAUTY AND THE BEAST ******************************** Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould after he played Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto: “You played so beautifully in the cadenza that I almost came in my pants.” * IMMORTALITY (II) ********************************** I have already lived twice as long as the average Armenian writer. That’s long enough for me. # TRIBALTHINKING ********************************** If Assad is on our side, he can no wrong. If the rebels are against us they can do nothing right. The mindset of tribal people without a moral compass. * UNGRATEFUL BASTARD! ************************************* Because I diagnosed him as a sado-masochistic fascist and an advanced case of narcissism, he refuses to talk to me. Instead of gratitude for saving him from many trips to the shrink, I am treated as a hostile witness. But then, no one has ever said gratitude is our strong suit. * SHARING WISDOM ************************** Some readers refuse to share their wisdom with me. They only say “You know nothing and understand even less,” or words to that effect. Throughout our millennial history our writers have been misunderstood, ignored, rejected, abused, starved, even betrayed and murdered by the people and their representatives. So they can dish it out but they can’t take it? * PREVENTING MEASURE ********************************** There is a park, a lake, and a river a block from my house. To prevent anyone from crapping on my grave I have decided to have my ashes scattered in one of them. # ON THE RISE & FALL OF EMPIRES ************************************************* Two thousand years ago -- give and take a decade or two – England was part of the Roman Empire. Who could have predicted then that from the ashes of one empire another would rise? * What will the world look like two thousand years from now? If the Turks acquired an empire of their own, why not the Zulus? * What if after long centuries of degradation, darkness, and filth a new generation of Armenians says enough is enough! We want our own place in the sun. We want to choose our own allies and, with their cooperation and help, our own empire? * As I write, we are witnessing the gradual collapse of the American and Russian empires. Who will replace them? Can anyone guess? When it comes to the rise and fall of empires, your guess or anyone else’s is as good as mine. * To say we will never have an empire of our own is as absurd as to say we will. I choose to say neither. What I say is, in the realm of possibilities nothing is impossible. Or, in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre: “As far as men go, it is not what they are that interests me, but what they can become.” #

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WE ARE A NATION ********************************* We are a nation that has suffered genocide. Delete the Genocide from our history and our collective profile would disintegrate into fragments or tribes that have been loyal and obedient servants to first-class swine. * It addition to a profile the Genocide has also given us a rallying point, not to say full-time jobs to scholars, teachers, Turcocentric ghazetajis, fund-raisers, Genocide-Recognition tax collectors, activists, lobbyists, and memoirists. * Don’t misunderstand me. I am not implying we should be grateful to the perps. I am only saying let’s give the Devil his due. * All professions, we are told, are “conspiracies against the laity.” We have all heard of cynics who use someone else’s crucifixion to make a comfortable living. The blame-gave is the favorite sport of our leadership. Zohrab tells us it is a mistake to confront our problems with lamentation. * I am not casting aspersions. All I am saying is as human beings we share the frailties of our species. We are not a morally superior nation. But we are a nation. We… # TURKS QUOTE ME? ****************************** That may be because my critics keep calling me a “denialist.” * You expect me to believe you are a dedicated and selfless patriot? But my belief system tells me “the better they classify themselves, the worse they are.” * You want to know what I think of Arabs and Muslims in general? All I know about them is that they want to be loved by the world even as they hate one another unto death. Could something similar be said of us? * You say everything I say about Armenians proves that I don’t know them, I don’t understand them, I can’t stand them. So what’s wrong with that? The people have consistently rejected, even betrayed and starved our writers. If you don’t like the word justice, how about retaliation? Unless of course you are one of those who can dish it out but can’t take it. # POLITICIANS **************************** An American mayor on TV when told she doesn’t behave like a politician: “That’s because I am not a politician. I am a public servant.” * WISDOM ****************** To read the unwritten and to hear the unsaid are the beginning of all wisdom. * DISAGREEMENTS ************************** When an honest man disagrees with me I begin by questioning the validity of my own convictions. But when a crook disagrees with me I feel vindicated. * THEY ARE AHEAD OF US ********************************** Turks have produced their share of dissidents because they know what compulsive and habitual liars their politicians and academics are. * I REPEAT MYSELF? ***************************** So does our reality! * Q/A ***************** Did he use poison gas against his own people, including women and children? An irrelevant question. He is guilty as hell because his father is his role model. He thinks he can save the nation by reducing its cities to rubble. He enjoys the support of imams and Putin. Like all dictators, including their Muslim variants, he is a natural-born killer. * VOLTAIRE SPEAKS ************************** “…and because it was a religious war, there were no survivors.” # POLITICS ABC ************************* There are divisions everywhere, even within the family unit. A healthy family is one in which divisions are reconciled by means of mutual tolerance, understanding, compromise and consensus. * Divisions are symptoms of failure in leadership. Reconciling differences is one of the most important functions of the state. * To assume that you can stifle discontent and impose harmony by force or massacre is an Ottoman misconception. * Compromise and consensus don’t happen on their own. They are man-made. In politics they are results of competent statesmanship. * The Syrian leadership had several decades during which to reconcile its internal conflicts and differences. It failed to do so. What’s happening today is a consequence of that failure. * The blame-game explains nothing. Its sole aim is to deny failure and reject responsibility. * Honesty is a universal and invisible empire. We are either its citizens or cowardly liars who refuse to face facts and deal with reality. #

Saturday, August 24, 2013

INSANITY *********************** Because the plea of insanity is not an option, they speak of political, economic, social and cultural conditions beyond their control. Ask them why they keep dividing and subdividing the nation, they will say it’s the opposition that does that. Ask them why they hate to assume responsibility, and they will call you “a piece of sh*t who doesn’t have Mt. Ararat in his heart.” * DEMOCRACY ****************************** In a democracy there is always a remote possibility that the right thing will be said and done. * ON WRITING ************************* Gide is right: writing gets progressively more difficult. Mann is also right when he says writing is difficult especially for a writer. * MY AMBITION ************************ To write prose and verse that is as accessible as “to be or not to be,” “Our Father who art in heaven,” and “There is nothing new under the sun.” * NOTHING NEW ************************** Everything that needs to be said has been said. All we can do now is quote, paraphrase, abridge, repeat, and when necessary, expand. # ENEMIES ************************** If my enemy’s enemy is my friend, what about his friends? Who would have thought Turks would have more friends in Washington than us, even after millions of dollars wasted on politicians? * AT HOME IN THE WORLD ************************************** Some people are born equipped for life. I wasn't. Never learned how. Never felt at home in the world. Who represents Armenians more: our fat-bellied bosses, bishops, and benefuctors or our starving poets? * TIME ****************** It will take time, they say, assuming time to be on their side. It wasn't in the Ottoman Empire. Neither was it in the USSR and the Middle East, nor even in our own beloved homeland. * MONEY ********************** Making money: I can’t imagine anything more degrading. The only reason I made money was to quit making money. * JUSTICE *************** A headline in this morning’s paper reads: “Access to justice in Canada ‘abysmal’ law group report says.” So is everywhere else, alas! # THE WORD & THE SWORD ************************************* The OLD TESTAMENT and DAS KAPITAL are, without any doubt, two books that changed the world and almost everyone in it. * Who reads Hegel today? Only a handful of academics who do not always agree on what he said or meant to say. And yet Hegel fully qualifies as one of the most influential philosophers of all time if only because Marx is unthinkable without him. * What did Dante and Shakespeare change? Only the lives of a few translators. There are twenty-two published English translations of Dante and a new one (by Clive James) has just come out. * Hitler’s MEIN KAMPF and Thomas Mann’s THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN: which has been more influential? The only thing I can say with any degree of certainty is that, like the Good Lord, the“word” moves in mysterious ways and literary merit is not one of them. # UNFORGETTABLE LINES ********************************************** “In a forest it rains twice”(German saying). * There are some lines that once heard or read are never forgotten. Lines from movies: “I am going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” “The cat is in the bag and the bag is in the river.” “Gee, I wish we had one of those Doomsday machines.” * Closer to home: “Treason and betrayal are in our blood” (Raffi). * “The end is another beginning” (Baruir Sevag). * “To the poor everyone is generous with advice.” * “Pigs never see the stars.” * “Truth is a language that if not spoken is forgotten” (Hagop Baronian). * “Every Armenian has another Armenian whom he considers his mortal enemy” (Derenik Demirjian). * “You write a hit play the same way that you write a flop” (Saroyan). * “Let us learn to be human by observing animals” (Aramais Sahakian). * “He was a very passionate man. He was an Armenian” (Chekhov). * “You must burn in order to enlighten” (Toumanian). # Q/A ************** If we were introduced to our self as seen by others, would we recognize him? * ONLY IN ARMENIA ******************************* Can you win a political election if you have the personality of a non-person and the charisma of a robot? That question has been answered in Armenia. * THE SOPRANOS *************************** How can a non-Italian like David Chase, creator/writer/producer of THE SOPRANOS, know so much about Italians? The answer: very much like Mario Puzo he is Italian and his real name is DiCesare. For more on the subject see DIFFICULT MEN by Brett Martin (New York. 2013). * THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING NOSE *********************************************** In her biography of SAUL STEINBERG (New York, 2012) Deirdre Bair speaks of“Armenian noses, one bigger than the other”(page 355). I once heard one of our political activists say: “Our political parties have played a key role in the preservation of our identity in the Diaspora.” If the case of our disappearing proboscis is an index, they have been doing a lousy job. # ON FAITH ************************* Faith is not what it pretends to be. Faith is an imaginary antidote to imaginary fears. * ANSWERS ********************** To readers who say they don’t always understand my kind of writing, I say what I was told by adults whenever I asked an inconvenient question: “You will find out when you grow up.” * ON BEING TRANSPARENT *********************************** If we are an open book to others, it may be because we brag too much. Only idiots brag about what they don’t have. Smart, progressive, Christian? Don’t make me laugh! * HATRED UNTO DEATH ********************************** In his last book MORTALITY (New York, 2012) the late Christopher Hitchens regrets his early death from cancer because, he writes, he will not have the pleasure of reading “the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger.” I like that. I prefer honest hatred to dishonest sermons on forgiveness and love. * BAD ADVICE ********************** When told to be more tolerant and positive, I say, I refuse to entertain sentiments I don’t have. In the name of what, may I ask? To flatter the swollen egos of morally bankrupt nonentities? * EMPTY BOAST ******************** “No one understands Turks as well as we do!” Oshagan once bragged. My question is: What did we do with our superior brand of knowledge and understanding except wait until it was too late? # PEZEVENGS (corrected version) ******************************* There is a type of self-assessed “authentic” Armenian, born and raised in the shadow of Mt. Ararat, who views diasporan Armenians with Turkish surnames as second-class citizens or“white niggers” in need of his political and cultural guidance. * Thoroughly stupefied, brainwashed and moronizedby Kremlin propaganda this so-called first-class pure-blooded specimen whose preferred medium is Russian operates on the assumption that the USSR was a more civilized place than the Ottoman Empire and Stalin a morally superior butcher than the Sultan and Talaat. * Therefore, in solidarity with my Dajgahayer (Turkish-Armenian) brothers and sisters I plan to change my surname from Baliozian to Baliozoghlu. #

Saturday, August 17, 2013

TAVLU **************** As far as I know, none of my critics is an investigative reporter; and I have every reason to suspect most of them are no better than brainwashed ignoramuses like myself whose mantra was: Who the hell do you think you are to question the honesty and wisdom of bishops and benefactors – men of God and capital (make it, Capital and god)? * By the time I could afford to say “There is some shit / I will not eat,” I was no better than a middle-aged wholesale dealer in chauvinist crapola. * I know now that writing for Armenians is a waste of time and our writers – all 599 (or is it 722) of them – have made no difference. I envy Armenian writers who write for an odar audience. Consider Raffi Khachadourian who contributes regularly fascinating essays to the NEW YORKER. His last essay about tavlu was published about a month ago. I did not read it but I suspect millions around the world did. * If only I could convince myself writing about subjects in which Armenians are not even mentioned. But then, in what way writing about tavlu is different from writing about the eternal snows of Ararat or nightingales serenading the moon? * In our environment to survive as a writer is to write not about what you see in broad daylight at high noon but to behave like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black hat that does not exist. I repeat myself? Maybe, but only to those who read everything I write religiously. # PORTRAIT OF AN ARMENIAN ********************************************* Not only is he easily corruptible, he enjoys being corrupted. He considers it a privilege and an honor. He is flattered to be thought of as worthy of corruption. But perhaps I speak of myself as a young man. * I am fully aware of the fact that my status is that of a perennial loser and failure – very much like my people. That may well be why I understand them better than those who make all kinds of absurd claims on their behalf – smart, compassionate, progressive, civilized, generous, law-abiding, lovers of freedom, and so on and so forth. These claims have been made so frequently that they are now taken for granted and anyone who dares to question them is dismissed as “a piece of sh*t who doesn’t have Ararat in his heart.” * When death enters in the final act, it’s a tragedy. In that sense we are all actors in a tragedy even when we think of ourselves as comedians. * If I can write a readable line a day, a good sentence once a month or a quotable line once a year, I am satisfied. # ON TYRANNY ************************ A nation can be victimized by its own corrupt leaders as surely as by an alien tyrant. * ROLE MODELS ************************ My first reaction on reading a line written by an Armenian is to detect its hidden dishonesty. That maybe because respect for truth is not exactly our strong suit. Neither was it to our most recent role models, environments, and masters: Turks, Soviets, the Levant, and America. * FOUR ****************************************** Four Armenian taboo subjects: Dialogue, compromise, consensus, solidarity. Four popular subjects as defined by our political parties and Turcocentric ghazetajis: Turks, Turks, Turks and Turks. * A DEFINITION OF POETRY ************************************ The encounter of two words or ideas that have never met before – this according to an old Indian definition. An example that comes readily to mind: “An Armenian who does not have Ararat in his heart Is a piece of sh*t.” There you have it: the encounter of the purest (eternal snows) and the filthiest (a bad Armenian). #

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ON BISHOPS ****************************** To the reader who has compiled a list of bishops who served the nation faithfully and selflessly, I say: There are good men everywhere but they are invariably outnumbered by the bad; and good bishops owe their goodness not to their religion but to their humanity, which is present in all men, including imams, rabbis, gurus, Zen masters, and witch doctors. * ON BEING HONEST *************************** If you decide to be honest in an Armenian environment be prepared to be called pro-Turkish or even the “son of a Turkish wh*re.” I speak from experience. * ON BEING NEGATIVE ***************************** If I emphasize the negative it may be because the negative should be emphasized especially when it’s covered up. * ON WOMEN *********************** Women may be real to other women but to men they are works of fiction. * ON DISAGREEMENT *************************** To those who disagree with me today I say, in such matters what counts is tomorrow and to live without learning is to be brain dead. * THE WORD OF GOD ******************************** The word of God is the word of megalomaniacs and their archetype is Moses. #

Saturday, August 10, 2013

ASSERTIONS (MOSTLY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL) ******************************************** No one can be as stupid as a self-ASSessed smart man in love. * To excel in one thing also means to fail in a thousand others. * Gandhi is right: there are not atheists; only people with different belief systems one of which is based on the non-existence of God. * In the kind of world we live in, corruption and incompetence are not seen as crimes against humanity. If they were, who would escape hanging? * Our leaders have committed so many blunders that their capacity for them must be ascribed to a gift rather than bad judgment. * No need to be afraid of what I say. I could be wrong; and if I am I will be the first to rejoice. * I have behaved like a pig and I have behaved like a human being: I can tell the difference. # IF KARL MARX… ******************************* If Karl Marx had lived in the USSR under Stalin and said he disagreed with Kremlin’s version of Communism he would have been arrested by the KGB and spent the rest of his life in the Gulag. * When fanatics fight it is the moderates who die. * When it comes to self-interest there are no sheep, only wolves. * We gain nothing when we replace the Turkish master with an Armenian master. * I write as I do because I am no longer dependent on the charity of swine. # A LINE FROM MOLIERE *************************************** “Are we among Turks who lock up their women?” * To be too careful may also be a mistake. * Marriage is the best cure for love as suicide is the best antidote for fear of death. * If reason is on our side reality may be against us. That may well be the most important lesson history can teach us. * What doesn’t kill us may make us so sick that we wish we were dead. * We live in a world where good men are persecuted by bad men and where the ignorant behave as if they had a license to kill those who may know better. #

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday, August 07, 2013 ****************************** CHOICES ******************************* To live in the Homeland or in Turkey? Thousands of Armenians today choose Turkey. “Yes im anoush Hayastani!” * The God of Christians is an idol. I didn’t say that. Martin Luther did. * Two of the shortest sayings in the world: “Adam had’em” (microbes) and “Kirk krik” = forty broken (in Turkish). Freely translated “at the age of forty consider yourself half-dead.” * The secret of rewriting consists in deleting. If you can say the same thing in two words, why use three? * I see contradictions everywhere: moral failure in financial success and scratching the bottom in reaching the top. * Was the beginning of our cosmos the end of another? Does God recycle? * Two kinds of readers: the few who insult me anonymously and the many who ignore me. * Very often in life our choices are not between the good and the bad but between the bad and the worse, or between the worse and the worst. # FORGIVE MY FRENCH ********************************* My favorite political joke consists of a brief exchange between a speechifying Republican presidential candidate and a heckler. HECKLER: My grandfather was a Democrat; my father was a Democrat; I am a Democrat. CANDIDATE: If your grandfather were a jackass and your father were a jackass, what would you be? HECKLER: A Republican! * In the eyes of some we, all of us, are no better than jackasses. I speak from experience. Recently I was myself called “a piece of sh*t” by a committed patriot who spoke in the name of the eternal snows of Mt. Ararat. * Like all ideologies and belief systems, patriotism too is an instrument of deception whose aim is to divide, exploit, and deceive dupes. * The key to life is cooperation. If we are alive now it’s because of countless atoms in our body cooperating with one another. Let one of them deviate from its path and the result would be catastrophic illness and death. * As a nation we continue to be led by individuals who have consistently deviated from the right path by dividing us in the name of this or that ideology or belief system. In their eyes we may well be no better than jackasses who will believe everything they are told. * Some day in the near or distant future a historian may be justified in describing us as a nation of jackasses led by sh*ts – if you will forgive my French. # CONTRADICTIONS (IV) *********************************** Kipling: “When you know what you can do, do something else.” * What if what you do or say does not even register on anyone’s consciousness? What if nothing changes and when on those rare occasions something does change, the change is more likely to be for the worse. * I see contradictions everywhere. * The most important decisions in our lives are made behind closed doors. * The aristocracy does not work. Work is for the working classes. What the aristocracy does is create an educational system that promotes the importance of work. * If exploitation and thievery are both legal and profitable and if the 99% are more than willing to work for minimum wage, why deprive them of the privilege? * What if we have created an environment in which only liars and bloodsuckers prosper? * I see contradictions everywhere. Readers who demand a positive approach to our affairs blabber endless about massacres and genocide recognition. And consider our Turcocentric ghazetajis: the offspring of revolutionaries who promised heaven and delivered hall; and now they promise justice provided of course the 99% support their efforts financially. Mi kich pogh oughargetsek. * Samuel Johnson: “I can give you reasons; I can’t give you understanding.” I should like to see an Armenian writer producing such a line. # “C” POWER ************************* Louis B. Mayer on Ava Gardner: “She has cunt power.” (Mayer of Metro Goldwyn Mayer fame: no doubt an expert on the subject – he probably had more women in his stable than the last sultan had concubines in his harem). * Edmund Wilson on Saroyan: “…an agreeable mixture of San Francisco bonhomie and Armenian Christianity.” In what way is Armenian Christianity different from Gringo or Negro Christianity? I don’t know. I suspect neither does Wilson. * Armenians are smart but easily moronized. But then so is the rest of mankind. It is not that I have a low opinion of my fellow men; rather, I am beginning to see them through women’s eyes and think “Men are so stupid!” – especially when it comes to women’s “C” power. * Leonard Bernstein: “Love brings on tears.” Now I know why Bach’s Cello Suites make me cry. #

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Saturday, August 03, 2013 ***************************************** OLD WOUNDS *************************** Smart Armenians give up on their fellow Armenians at an early age, but, in Saroyan’s words, “mothers hang in forever.” * I don’t take myself seriously except when I quote or paraphrase better men than myself, if you know what I am saying… * Since I never made more than minimum wage I cannot be accused of exploiting anyone; and yet, I have been called a capitalist by some of my detractors probably because I don’t allow my income bracket to determine my writing style. * The overwhelming majority of regimes today, including the most advanced, civilized democracies are either corrupt or incompetent or both; and the overwhelming majority of people are either dupes or greedy for either money or power and probably both. I am reminded of Southern rednecks who used to deliver speeches in praise of “Anglo-Saxon democracy” and against “Jews, Catholics and niggers.” Old wounds or new cancer? # GRANDMASTERS OF THE BLAME GAME ************************************************* In the Decalogue of our leadership there is only one commandment repeated ten times: “Thou shalt not assume responsibility.” * If you can blame it on bloodthirsty Asiatic barbarians or the degenerate West or even our mountains and rivers and Almighty God Himself, why plead guilty as charged? * Who in his right mind would be against one nation under God? The answer must be obvious: the opposition! * Because I write against dividers I am myself accused of dividing the nation. How? Why? Elementary my dear Watson. I am a divider because I divide the nation between deceivers and dupes. * To be a good writer, I am told, means to see the good in everyone, including irresponsible idiots who recycle propaganda and see moral victory in military defeat. * A member of the Party, very much like a theologian, is brainwashed to believe his God is the only true God and all others are in cahoots with the Devil. If you believe that, consider yourself a certified moron, and if saying so is a crime against humanity, I plead guilty as charged. # WHERE I STAND **************************** The only way to survive as a writer in our environment is by writing what someone else wants you to write. The only way to become a best-seller in America is by writing what everyone wants to read. I want to achieve popularity by writing what no one wants to read. Figure that one out if you can. * In his youth Thomas Mann was a nationalist; so was Dostoevsky in his old age. Nabokov was different: he didn’t give a damn about czars, commissars, Mother Russia and the Orthodox Church. But then he went to the other extreme: he supported McCarthy in America and the war in Vietnam. * Sartre loathed the French bourgeoisie to such a degree that he supported Stalin, Mao and Castro. It takes all kinds. * As children we are shaped by propaganda – that is to say, lies. As adults some of us become aware of this fact. Many others never do. * Political parties win elections not because they know better but because they are superior liars and organizers. That’s the only way to explain the victory of Stalinists in Russia and fascists in Germany, Italy, Spain and many other countries. * I don’t write as a writer. I write as a layman who is on the side of victims even when they happen to be writers with bad ideas. * When not systematically slaughtered by our enemies, our writers were ignored, insults, starved, and betrayed by our own ruling classes and the indifference of the people. * As you can see, I don’t happen to be one who is easily infatuated by my fellow men even when they happen to be my “brothers.” #