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Sunday, August 21, 2011

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ON IGNORANCE…

AMONG OTHER THINGS

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More often than not

ignorance is not a result of not knowing

but of not wanting to know.

*

To be a dupe means to place

patriotism and propaganda

above honesty and objectivity.

*

My Armenian and Turkish critics

sound remarkably alike – no doubt

as a result of 600 years of cohabitation

compounded by fear of reality.

*

Dupes come in bunches.

Where there is one there will be another.

They need each other’s warmth

like swine in a cold barn.

#

Monday, August 22, 2011

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UNANSWERED QUERSTIONS

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Because I support the idea

of a united and strong Armenia,

I engage in treason?

And because my critics are for

a divided, weak, demoralized Armenia,

they are patriots?

But the question, the real question,

which nobody cares to ask is:

We survived the Turk,

will we survive our patriots?

*

What if, when it comes to extermination,

our leaders are better at it than

the Sultan, Talaat, and Stalin combined?

What if there is more truth in what we hate

than in what we pretend to love?

What if we serve the Devil

even when we speak and act in the name of God?

*

Because I write in open forums

where even Turks can read me,

my readers take notice of what I say.

Otherwise they would have ignored me.

They would have pretended I don’t exist.

They would have saved their spittle

for their real enemies – the opposition.

*

For more on this subject, see

A FIRST-RATE MADNESS:

UNCOVERING THE LINKS BETWEEN LEADERSHIP AND MENTAL ILLNESS.

By Nassir Ghaemi. 340 pages. The Penguin Press. $27.95.

#

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

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THEN AND NOW

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A hundred years ago

Armenians had to be forcibly driven out from Turkey;

they are now exiting from Armenia on their own.

*

I should like to see a comparative study

of Armenian assimilation rates

in the Ottoman Empire and the United States of America.

*

How many Armenian-Americans can read and write

in Armenian today?

After two or at most three generations in America

assimilation sets in.

But even after six hundred years

in the Ottoman Empire – that is roughly

twenty-four generations – we had a vibrant Armenian literature

in Istanbul.

Name a single Armenian-American writer today if you can.

*

We like to blame Talaat and Stalin

for the slaughter of two generations of our major writers,

but we forget that these writers

were betrayed by Armenians.

*

The only authentic Armenians today

are the skeletons of our 5th-century ancestors

and even the best of them

were odars with mixed blood.

*

Our nationalists may portray themselves as superpatriots

but their true intent is extermination – if, that is,

we judge them by their actions

rather than by their verbally stated intentions.

*

When words and actions don’t match

you may safely discard words as lies – unless of course

you happen to be a certified dupe.

#

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

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ON LEADERS (II)

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In theory, patriotism, even nationalism,

stands for freedom from imperial oppression,

beginning with free speech.

In practice, try to disagree with one of our superpatriots

and see what happens.

There is a hangman in all our nationalists.

*

Only readers who cling to their Ottomanism and Sovietism

confuse my anti-Ottomanism and anti-Sovietism

with anti-Armenianism.

*

The God of the Old Testament

is a jungle chieftain who thinks men

are such ignorant savages that

they have to be told murder is a no-no.

*

The secret ambition of all leaders

is to be almighty and infallible, like God.

This is as true of the Pope as it is of Stalin.

*

Who are our leaders?

In the Diaspora they are faceless Levantine wheeler-dealers

at the mercy of social, political, cultural, and economic forces

beyond their control – in short:

they are in over their heads.

In the Homeland they are dehumanized bureaucrats

accountable only to the Kremlin.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

#

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

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SUMMING UP

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The ideal dupe is he

who doesn’t believe he is one.

*

The true believer is he

who believes anyone who doesn’t share his belief system

is the dupe of a heresy.

*

Mankind is divided between deceivers and their dupes.

As for the silent majority:

they might as well be an absent factor.

*

If we judge an idea by its history,

we shall have no choice but to assert

belief systems are the source of all evil.

*

“Since it was a religious war,

there were no survivors.”

*

If you think religious wars

are a thing of the past, think again.

*

Think again!

A useless, not to say, an absurd suggestion

to a believer who by believing

he declares his inability to think for himself

and must therefore rely on someone else’s thinking – no,

not thinking but believing,

which can also be defined as “not thinking.”

*

And if you believe the age of prophets,

like the age of religious wars

belongs to the irrevocable past,

I for one will not be surprised to learn that

in the eyes of some historians

the 20th century is already known

as the century of false prophets –

Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Kemal….

#

“Believe those who are seeking the truth.

Doubt those who find it.”

Even better:

Believe only those who are engaged in rejecting lies.

#

Friday, August 26, 2011

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WORDS

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We are told

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

We are told

to judge a tree by its fruit,

a man by his actions,

and an idea by its history.

What about religion?

If religion is such a good thing

why has it killed and continues to kill so many people?

Who will believe you if you say

“my religion is the only true one;

all others are heresies?

Not even your co-religionists.

Consider the case of Catholics and Protestants,

Shias and Sunnis, and generally speaking,

all orthodoxies and heresies.

But contradictions don’t end there.

In the Old Testament we are told

“Thou shalt not kill.”

But elsewhere God commands His Chosen People

to slaughter not only their enemies

but also their cattle.

Are we to believe even God contradicts Himself?

Or is it only when He uses words?

#

Saturday, August 27, 2011

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MEMO TO MY TURKISH READERS

********************************************

Do you really think

you can run away from justice, like Talaat?

Surely you can’t expect us to believe

that your sources are more authentic

than Pamuk’s, Akcam’s, and countless other

western historians among them Turcophiles like

Arnold J. Toynbee and Bernard Lewis.

Last but not least,

you can’t be serious when you dare to suggest

you know better than Kemal

who at no time denied the reality of large-scale atrocities

and the only reason he didn’t use the word “genocide”

is that it had not yet been coined.

#

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

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FROM MY NOTEBOOKS

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We all try to do the best for ourselves

and more often than not

our best turns out to have been our worst.

*

To brag is wrong except when a nation does it –

and they do it all the time.

*

We don’t think unless we are cornered into thinking.

What we do instead is grab the most convenient

or flattering explanation

and hang on to it to the bitter end.

*

The disappointments of success

are as deep as the disappointments of failure.

*

The very same individuals who are against free speech

control our educational system, and with it,

our perception of reality.

*

In politics if you win you brag,

if you lose you lie.

*

To combat the dread of death

we pretend to live.

*

It is in the blood (or collective unconscious) of the strong

to divide and rule the weak,

and it is in the blood of the weak to be divided.

*

To say free speech is our “greatest enemy” (Zarian)

is to imply we are our own greatest threat

to our security and development as a nation.

In that sense, the enemy is indeed us.

*

Plutarch: “But when the body called the Five Thousand –

which in fact were only Four Hundred…”

#

Monday, August 29, 2011

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OBSERVATIONS

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There is a type of Latin-American writer,

I read today, who is convinced

“literature can fend off injustice and ugliness

and redeem the world.”

Once upon a time we too had such writers.

But do we have them today?

If you know of one, can you name him or her?

*

I am constantly urged not to speak about Armenians

as I do on open forums, in the same way that

Turkish writers are urged, nay threatened,

not to speak of Turkish crimes against humanity.

Propagandists on both sides are not interested in facts,

only in figments of their own imagination.

*

How easily are love and lust confused? --

also arrogance and self-esteem.

Search for the worst in the best

and don’t be surprised if you find it.

*

Man is prone to superstition

because he cannot answer the most important questions

and his need for answers exceeds

his love of truth or his understanding of reality.

*

We all love to be loved and hate to consider the possibility

that we may not deserve it.

#

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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HYPNOSIS

********************************************

Knut Hamsun on Hitler’s Germany:

“It’s mass-hypnosis that does it…

Mass hypnosis is an awful thing,

just look at theaters and circuses.”

*

They are hypnotized into thinking

Turks are too civilized to have committed atrocities

and we are hypnotized into thinking

all Turks are bloodthirsty barbarians.

One could say that the aim of all propaganda

is mass hypnosis.

Or, after the subject has been hypnotized,

you can convince him of anything.

*

To the Turks, Kemal is a messianic figure

who raised the nation from the rotten corpse of the Empire.

If only we too had a Kemal of our own.

On second thought, we may be better off without one.

*

One way to explain an alienated Armenian is to say that

he is an Armenian who refuses to be hypnotized.

#

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

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AS I SEE IT

********************************************

The older I grow,

the heavier the burden of memories.

Which is why I don’t consider Alzheimer’s

an undesirable condition.

*

Perseverance is a good thing

but not when it comes to digging your own grave.

*

I don’t write to save the nation.

I can’t even save myself from boredom.

*

I drink to drown the Turk in me,

but the bugger is a swimmer with Olympic ambitions.

*

Political leaders of the West were almost unanimous

in their desire to befriend Gadhafi.

Which may suggest the world is ruled by men

whose IQ is lower than that of a backward African mob.

*

The Buddha is right: no one can save another – especially one

who has made up his mind to go to hell.

#

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

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AN EXCHANGE ON FACEBOOK

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“You have only 400 friends?

I have 5000 of them.”

“Maybe so, but I also have 10,000 enemies.”

“That I don’t believe.”

“If you agree with me that offending an Armenian

amounts to making an enemy for life,

do the math! At one time or another

I have offended sermonizers, speechifiers,

panchoonies, commissars, chauvinists,

Turcocentric ghazetajis, bosses, bishops, benefactors

and all their gigolos and gigolettes…

10,000 may indeed be a conservative estimate. Yes?”

#

Friday, September 02, 2011

*****************************************

AS I SEE IT

********************************************

On the day we succeed in throwing out the rascals

we shall come face to face with the void.

*

Mubarak on trial:

How many political leaders would escape the death penalty

if they had to face justice?

*

Gadhafi urging his supporters to kill the “rats”

even as he behaves like one.

*

Tell me who your friends are…

even better, tell me who your enemies are

and I will tell you who you are.

*

An honest politician?

Only morons believe in oxymorons.

*

All deceivers begin by deceiving themselves.

They are their own first dupes.

*

I have little sympathy for survivors.

All my sympathy goes to the victims who did not survive.

*

Castrating rapists is barbaric

except when the victim is someone I love.

#

Saturday, September 03, 2011

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CANNIBALISM

********************************************

The average dupe does not know who and what he is.

Hence his need to identify himself –

as if a label, any label,

be it ethnic, religious or ideological,

will confer on him a reality he does not possess.

He may be – or rather his DNA may be –

5% Armenian or Turkish and the rest

a Russian salad of many tribes, nations, and races,

but in an Armenian environment

he will identify himself as an Armenian

and in a Turkish environment as a Turk.

He will go further and kill and die

in the name of god and country –

a non-existent or false god

and a country that has belonged

and will eventually belong to others.

*

Collective existence is a farce.

There are no leaders,

only pretenders to the throne

whose first and most important project

is not to serve the people

but to obstruct the path of the opposition.

*

Religions and ideologies may preach compassion and justice

but they all end up practicing cannibalism.

This thought occurred to me

after listening to a radio documentary

on female genital mutilation.

*

I wouldn’t be surprised in the least

if a future study of history

from the beginning to our own days

will be titled “The Age of Cannibalism.”

*

A Libyan rebel leader on Gadhafi:

“He called us rats, but he is the larger rat.”

*

Unmask a political leader and expose the rat.

#

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

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FROM MY NOTEBOOKS

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Overheard: “Corruption in Armenia

is like the weather in America:

everybody talks about it

but nobody does a damn thing."

*

Life is a game in which after you learn the rules,

the rules are changed.

*

Zohrab is right:

in life, those who adopt prostitution as a way of life

outnumber the others.

*

If there is a moral in the Arab spring, it is this:

The status quo may collapse when you least expect it.

I therefore say to our bosses, bishops, and benefactors:

Let that be a lesson to you.

*

Their lack of awareness is such that

they assume their brand of patriotism

(which is no better than treason)

is superior to selfless intellectual labor.

*

Our eleventh commandment:

Thou shalt not apply tribal solutions to national problems.

*

I define a good book as one

that if you haven’t finished it by bed-time

you look forward to next morning

with the impatience and anxiety of a lover.

*

Automatically contradicting what your adversary says

is not an argument but a symptom of entrenched prejudice.

#

Monday, September 05, 2011

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REFLECTIONS

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Armenians are brainwashed to hate Turks.

They learn to hate their fellow Armenians on their own.

*

I question the validity of all miracles

but I keep hoping for one:

figure that one out if you can.

*

It is the height of arrogance for a nobody

to strike a modest pose.

*

Men of power depend on kiss-ass incompetents

much more than on honest critics.

*

Not being a masochist

I don’t consider the death of a thousand cuts bliss.

*

A teenager who wins a chess tournament

and another who is forced into prostitution:

guess who is going to make a headline on the front page.

#

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

*****************************************

ROBLEMS

********************************************

After silencing me

they say they need solutions, not criticism.

And they pretend to ignore the obvious fact that

without free speech and dialogue

there can be no solutions.

*

Don’t let them fool you.

We don’t need solutions.

What we need are honest men

whose number one concern is not number one.

*

There are two kinds of solutions:

authoritarian and democratic.

Authoritarian solutions are based

on the erroneous assumption that authority,

even when catastrophically wrong,

must be assumed to be right.

Which also means,

anyone who dares to question the validity of this assumption

must be labeled an enemy and

silenced, excommunicated, exiled, starved,

burned at the stake or shot.

This is as true of the Kremlin as it is of the Vatican.

*

Labels change but human nature remains constant.

*

We are racists not because we hate Turks

but because we hate our fellow Armenians.

*

If you say my criticism is motivated by self-hatred,

I could say that your rejection of my criticism

is motivated by self-infatuation.

*

If love of mankind means

loving greed, intolerance, prejudice, fanaticism,

cruelty, stupidity, and ignorance,

I want no part of it.

#

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

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LEADERS AND DUPES

********************************************

Incompetent leaders can do more harm

than competent enemies.

*

It is an established fact known to all except dupes

that the criminal rate among political leaders

is higher than among ordinary citizens.

*

I understand dupes:

I have been one most of my life.

*

According to Cicero:

“Freedom is participation in power.”

If we are free, ours is the freedom

of ants, birds, and herbivores –

free to be stepped on, shot at, and devoured.

*

Nothing works as planned.

Turks believed they can convince the world.

They now know they can’t even convince their own

except the dupes who will believe anything.

*

Subservience to alien tyrants is understandable.

But subservience to our own?

#

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

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ON LOVE

********************************************

In a scientific text I read the following:

“The original purpose of the sense of hearing

was to enable an organism to hear the love song of a wooer.”

Further down:

“The higher forms of life,

and possibly the lower ones as well,

would have become extinct a long time ago

if it were not for the pleasures of love –

which are thus more important

than anything that reason is able to produce.”

*

I think therefore I am?

Hell no!

I love therefore I survive.

*

Let’s reason together?

Wrong!

Let’s make love.

*

Why do you think the memoirs of a bordello madam

will sell many more copies

than a treatise on reason by an eminent philosopher?

*

We are a dysfunctional nation

because we preach love of country

and practice hatred of fellow countrymen.

*

To our leaders the Homeland is a symbol

with which they identify – and when they speak of love

in a patriotic context, it is they who want to be loved

because they know they are unworthy of anyone’s love.

Bugger the old farts!

#

Friday, September 09, 2011

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ON LOVE (II)

********************************************

Only an Armenian who has not “known” a Turkish woman

or an Armenian woman who has not know a Turkish man

(in the literal as well as Biblical sense of the word)

is capable of harboring anti-Turkish sentiments.

I will go further and say that

there is no such thing as a Turk

or, for that matter, an Armenian.

National identity is an artificially created label

based on propaganda rather than any other factor.

*

Take a child, any child,

place him in an environment whose educational system

is controlled by individuals who identify themselves as Turks

(or any other nationality you care to mention)

and forever after that child will identify himself as a Turk.

*

It is a statistically and historically established fact

that when they first set foot on Armenian soil,

Turks (or rather, those who identified themselves as such)

were a minority.

It follows, after 600 years of co-existence and concubinage,

they are now very probably more Armenian than Turkish.

*

Wars and massacres are declared and committed

not by nations but by politicians and their brainwashed dupes.

All nations have such criminal gangs

and it would be the height of absurdity to assert

Armenians are an exception.

*

I am not denying the fact that

“Turks” massacred “Armenians.”

What I am saying is that criminals (and their victims)

will use any excuse to justify their actions

and prejudices respectively;

and to ascribe the crimes of a few

on the majority might as well be

a working definition of racism.

*

After writing these lines

I read the following by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“For what man who is master of himself

does not laugh at a king?”

Likewise, for what man who can think for himself

does not laugh at the likes of Kemal

in whose system of thought

Kurds are Mountain Turks and Armenians Christian Turks,

instead of human beings who happen to be living

in a territory called Turkey today

but was known by another label yesterday

and will be known by still another tomorrow?

#

Saturday, September 10, 2011

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NOTES / COMMENTS

********************************************

Between power and wisdom,

who will choose wisdom?

*

Birth is not a beginning

and death is not an end.

We think of them as such

because our perception of reality is limited.

In cosmic time, a lifetime is shorter

than a fraction of a second.

*

From the TALMUD:

“Who is rich?”

“He that rejoices in his portion.”

“Who is a hero?”

“He who conquers his urge.”

*

I like all sentences that begin with the words,

“It has been said.”

*

Lord Byron on Italy:

“They make love a good deal here,

and assassinate a little.”

*

On women:

“My wife is perfection itself – the best creature breathing.

But mind what I say – don’t marry.”

*

Camus on love:

“Loving a human being amounts to killing all others.”

*

“Les seuls paradis sont ceux qu’on a perdus.”

#

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

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AS I SEE IT

********************************************

All children believe in what adults tell them

especially in matters dealing with God and Country.

The world conspires to make us dupes;

and by the time we realize what happened

we have either killed or died as soldiers, terrorists,

and believers in false gods and big lies.

*

We are not smart – we never were

in things that really matter.

For 600 years we dropped our pants and exposed ourselves

to the Turks.

Tell me, my friend,

how smart is that?

*

The more we try to control events,

the deeper the realization of our powerlessness.

*

The source of all wisdom is within your subconscious,

very much like the Kingdom of God.

*

Strinberg: “Ever since childhood,

I have looked for God and found the Devil.”

Perhaps because they are one and the same.

Either that or our perception of reality is so defective

that we confuse one with the other.

*

The astonishing ease with which blessings become curses.

#

Monday, September 12, 2011

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ON FREEDOM

********************************************

Imperial powers prefer to deal with corrupt regimes

because the corrupt are more easily manipulated.

This is as true of America as it is of Russia.

Remember that next time you speak of our big brothers.

*

Freedom in a democratic context

means much more than free elections.

It means freedom from want,

freedom of expression,

freedom of assembly, movement, and faith.

Have we ever been free?

Do we know what freedom is?

Freedom to grow a fat belly – is that

the beginning and end of all freedom for us?

*

During the day they speechify

on freedom and patriotism,

on God and Country,

but at night they engage in wheeling-and-dealing.

Hence their favorite slogan, “Do as I say…”

#

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

*****************************************

CORRECT ME

IF I AM WRONG

********************************************

On man’s inhumanity to man:

If you have ever asked yourself,

How can one human being do such a thing

to another human being?

My tentative answer is:

Some human beings cease to be human

when they join a party or group

that subscribes to a belief system.

*

They oppressed us with fire and sword.

We oppress ourselves with ignorance and intolerance.

The result is the same.

The massacre continues.

*

Even people who act in the name of the Devil say

“God is with us.”

*

To fanatics moderation is treason.

So is reason to the unthinking.

*

Freedom of speech allows the fanatic

to expose himself as a fool.

*

We should have a commandment

or a constitutional amendment to protect free speech

instead of a tacit consensus to violate it.

*

Memo to my anonymous critics:

Democracy and intolerance of dissent

are mutually exclusive concepts.

If I am wrong I can be corrected.

But if those in power are wrong

the damage can be as incalculable as another genocide.

#

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

*****************************************

CORRECT ME

IF I AM WRONG (II)

********************************************

In theory we are all against the massacre

of unarmed and innocent civilians,

but give us a chance and we will gladly even the score

and call it justice.

This is only a guess, of course,

based on how mean we can be in disagreement.

*

To how many of my critics I could say:

“Don’t stop, please! Keep writing.

You are a living proof of everything

I have been saying about Armenians –

narrow-minded, rude, intolerant, ignorant, dogmatic,

self-satisfied, loud-mouth…”

*

God is not in the business of explaining the incomprehensible.

We must either find a meaning in our genocide

or dismiss it as incomprehensible.

By making of it a collective obsession

we accomplish nothing but reinforce our image

as perennial victims and losers.

As for justice: let’s leave that to belly-slitting lawyers –

we can afford them.

*

It was only after observing the ease with which

we are Americanized that I was able to identify

our Ottomanized and Sovietized brothers.

*

A peculiarity of dupes is that

they tend to take themselves and their views very seriously.

*

Let’s make one thing clear once and for all.

They did not divide and rule us.

We divided ourselves.

#

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

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NARCISSISM

********************************************

It is narcissism and nothing else

that allows a political leader to think

he is the best thing that happened to his nation…

until he is driven to exile,

or arrested, condemned to death, or assassinated.

There is probably more narcissism in politics

than in any other line of work.

*

It is narcissism and nothing else

that allows Turks to believe

our genocide is a fiction of our imagination.

Likewise it is narcissism of the most primitive kind

that allows us to think

we are smart and progressive

when the historic evidence proves otherwise.

*

It is narcissism and nothing else

that allows the very rich to behave like swine

and to believe they are la crème de la crème.

*

The astonishing ease with which both men and women

confuse an ephemeral infatuation with eternal love.

*

The rule is and must be

anything that flatters are vanity

should be dismissed as a lie.

#

Friday, September 16, 2011

*****************************************

THREE HEADLINES

********************************************

The headline of a commentary in my morning paper reads:

“Canada’s self-image needs a reality check.”

There follows a list of misconceptions and fallacies

that have become common currency in Canada,

a country with a long democratic tradition and a free press.

You may now imagine the number of our own misconceptions

that have been consistently covered up

by our controlled press and authoritarians power structures.

*

The headline of another commentary on the same page reads:

“Is it time to rethink think tanks?”

Can we do that?

Do we have them?

There are 4500 active think tanks in the world,

we are informed here.

My question is:

Is any one of them Armenian?

*

In the section dealing with local news,

another headline reads:

“Region’s suicide rate still high.”

Do you know – does anyone know -- our own suicide rate?

Does anyone care to know?

#

Saturday, September 17, 2011

*****************************************

GANDHI

********************************************

Gandhi was a double dissident –

critical of British colonialism

as well as many facets of Indian life.

In a new biography we are told:

“This made him a rather more balanced nationalist

than the many who remarked on the victimhood of their race

or argued for the superiority of their own culture.”

See Jad Adams, GANDHI:

THE TRUE MAN BEHIND MODERN INDIA

(New York, Pegasus, 2011, page 56).

#

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

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THE GOOD BOOK

********************************************

My ideas are subversive and dangerous?

What about the ideas in the Bible?

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

“Without vision the people perish.”

“Thou shalt not bear false witness.”

“Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

The trouble with our censorship is that

its ultimate aim is to violate

not only my human right

but also God’s divine right of free speech.

#

Monday, September 19, 2011

*****************************************

AS I SEE IT

********************************************

Divisions don’t bother me as much as

the lies that are spoken in their defense.

*

Liars don’t bother me as much as

their efforts to make you believe that

they believe in their own lies

and they expect you to do likewise.

*

I may consider making an effort to agree

with our bosses, bishops, and benefactors

on the day they make an effort

to agree with one another.

*

My answer to those who tell me

if I do this that and the other

I may be more popular:

My obscurity is too well established

to be vulnerable to any kind of

promotional or advertising campaign.

*

I have committed so many blunders

that I don’t deserve to live.

The only thing that keeps me going

is the fact that almost everyone I know

has committed worse blunders

yet nothing could be further from their thoughts

than suicide.

*

Instead of voicing your suspicions

redouble your vigilance.

#

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

*****************************************

OBSERVATIONS

********************************************

He who violates my human right of free speech

is in no position to determine his degree of guilt or innocence.

If it were up to fascists to judge themselves,

they would be unanimous in pronouncing their victims guilty.

*

The sons and daughters of well-known Armenian writers

that I have met or heard from

prefer solitude to the proximity of their fellow Armenians.

That may be because they know something

most Armenians don’t -- namely: to survive

in our environment one must either lie

or be penalized for his honesty.

*

I repeat myself?

That may be because I am a bad writer

and you are a worse reader

for reading a writer who is not worth reading.

*

All problems and solutions begin and end

in the convolutions of our breains – which of course

does not apply to the brainless.

*

Love is the mightiest creative force of all

because it sees somebody in nobody

and meaning in the meanigless.

#

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

*****************************************

READING

********************************************

Gerald Durrell’s memoir MY FAMILY

AND OTHER ANIMALS (1956) contains

a hilarious portrait of Gostan Zarian.

Gerald Durrell: not to be confused

with his better-known brother Lawrence

(THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET)

who also wrote extensively on Zarian.

*

A headline reads:

“Syria blames terrorists for country’s violence.”

The trick here is and it has always been,

to portray yourself as a victim even as you victimize.

*

In detective stories I am more interested in the dialogue

than the plot.

*

If only there were writers

who specialized in rewriting difficult texts –

Hegel rewritten by Chekhov.

*

Dupes hate critics.

They view criticism as enemy action.

*

Poetry, it has been said,

is when two words meet for the first time – as in

“fearful symmetry” (Blake) and “beeloud glade” (Yeats).

*

His handwriting is so bad that

his “morale” looks like “merde.”

*

I am a failure because my readers know better.

If only I could choose a different audience…

#

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

*****************************************

AS I SEE IT

********************************************

It never ceases to amaze me

the greed with which we cling to the illusion

of our own importance no matter how often

we are exposed as irrelevant.

*

Our genocide?

The West wouldn’t allow it.

The recognition of our genocide?

If we write enough books,

produce enough eyewitness accounts,

and organize enough demonstrations,

the West may finally see the light.

*

Historic lands?

All of America is someone else’s historic land,

so what?

*

Perhaps truth or reality itself is a territory

beyond our comprehension,

and God Himself is the negation of the “I”

and everything connected with it.

*

If Calderon is right and “life is a dream,”

it may not even be our dream but someone else’s.

*

In my younger days our elder statesmen

would seek me out and give me advice – all of it useless.

*

History may become more comprehensible

if you think of serial killers as failed political leaders.

*

What if I am wrong?

I will be dead wrong on the day I assert infallibility.

#

Friday, September 23, 2011

*****************************************

FROM MY NOTEBOOKS

********************************************

If you search long enough for something

you are sure to find a substitute.

*

The more I deal with Turks

the more I like my fellow Armenians;

and the more I deal with Armenians

the better I understand Turks.

*

A writer is someone who has developed the art of speaking

even when he has nothing to say.

*

My mother believed what she read in the papers

except what I wrote.

*

Spengler: “The less one needs others,

the more powerful one is.”

*

My ambition in life when young:

To come to terms with death.

My ambition now:

to die in order to have the final answer

which may or may not exist.

*

There are no questions and answers in reality –

both begin and end in the convolutions of our brains.

*

We are told space must have an end.

We are also told space is being created

with the speed of light.

It follows, no matter how fast we travel

we will never see what’s on the other side of space.

*

Love means being always on the verge of tears.

Love feels as though your insides

were being surgically removed

without anaesthesia.

If you have not experienced love,

you don’t know bliss.

#

Saturday, September 24, 2011

*****************************************

SHRINKS

********************************************

Almost everyone I have been reading about recently

has been analyzed. I have never been near an analyst

and I doubt very much if I ever will find myself

in the same room with one.

What could he tell me that I don’t already know?

And what could I tell him?

Where would I begin?

I am misunderstood and spat upon by hoodlums?

Who hasn’t been?

Homer, it is said, was kicked out of seven villages,

all of which, after he died, claimed to be his birthplace.

To this day no one knows where he was born or,

for that matter, buried.

#

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

*****************************************

CONTRADICTIONS

********************************************

They fascinate me and I see them everywhere.

AVANIM (Stones) an Israeli film

whose unstated but clearly implied moral is:

Rabbis may be as much of a threat to the survival of Israel

as Palestinians.

*

Search for the enemy within and you will find him.

*

They may talk of God

but the means they employ belong to the Devil.

This is as true of rabbis as it is of imams and popes.

*

They may praise rebirth and resurrection

but what they promote is death of the spirit.

*

DECEPTION

**************************

What could be easier than deceiving children?

And are not adults children is disguise?

Do we ever give up – are we capable of giving up --

childhood illusions?

Are we not our own most gullible dupes?

*

A GOOD ANSWER

**************************

When asked if Cary Grant was homosexual or bisexual,

one of his wives (he had five of them) is reported to have replied:

“I was too busy f***ing him to ask.”

There should be a Nobel Prize for the best remark of the year.

#

Monday, September 26, 2011

*****************************************

REFLECTIONS

********************************************

Most of my life I kept my thoughts to myself

out of fear of offending men in positions of power.

I was a coward but refused to admit it.

I behaved like a fool and thought I was wise.

Nothing comes more easily than to preach heroism

and to promote cowardice

in the name of tradition, law and order,

respect for authority, and countless other

fictional considerations.

*

If you are a fool

do not attempt to share your wisdom

with better men than yourself.

*

Are you wise or brave enough to admit

you are a fool?

*

To the rich, money is the quintessence of all wisdom.

*

Between the virtues of the rich

and the vices of the poor,

which would you choose?

*

The criticism of idiots

is more of a testimonial than an indictment.

*

More important than education itself is

who does the educating.

#

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

*****************************************

NOTES & COMMENTS

********************************************

To know perfection

we must first experience the degradation

of life on earth.

Heaven will not be heaven for me

if I can’t play the Beethoven Sonatas like Schnabel

and Bach like Glen Gould.

*

Anonymity will make a hero out of a zero.

*

Promises are one thing, delivery another.

The two might as well be strangers to one another.

*

Whenever I see an odar

joining one of our discussion forums on the internet

I would like to post the following message:

"Welcome to this forum, dear friend.

Please remember to ignore the hooligans among us.

They represent no one but themselves."

*

It must be obvious by now that

one doesn’t have to be a Turk in order to behave like one.

Nothing comes easier to an Ottomanized Armenian

than to behave like a Turk with the certainty that

he is discharging his duty as a patriotic Armenian.

The same applies to Sovietized Armenians.

#

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

*****************************************

TWO PHILOSOPHERS

********************************************

Once, when after a loud argument,

Socrates’ wife poured a pail of dirty water on his head,

he said: “It generally rains after thunder.”

More recently, while massaging his wife’s neck,

Louis Althusser (1918-1990) strangled her,

he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

*

Women disappoint men

because they find men disappointing.

*

The difference between dialogue and Armenian arguments is that

the aim of the first is synthesis or consensus,

the aim of the second is verbal assassination.

*

Gide: “Le plus grand bonheur, aprиs que d’aimer,

c’est de confesser son amour.”

*

Valery: “Combien de gens meurent dans les accidents,

pour ne pas lacher leur parapluis!”

#

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

*****************************************

A TOUMANIAN FABLE ABRIDGED

*************************************

Early one morning when the fox hears a rooster crowing,

he thinks: "Breakfast!"

When he is told by the rooster in the tree

that he is not alone but with a friend,

he thinks: "Lunch too!"

But when he finds out the friend is not

another rooster but a dog,

the words breakfast and lunch are replaced with

"Feet, do your stuff!"

*

BLESSINGS

*************************

An Arab blessing

(as quoted by Flaubert in a letter from Cairo):

"I wish you all kinds of prosperity,

especially a long prick!"

What’s next in line?

"May you deflower a hundred virgins"?

*

While in Cairo, Flaubert is said to have explored

the Armenian community.

I wonder if he discovered anything of interest.

*

PROVERBS

**************************

I love exotic proverbs especially when they are phony.

Example: A Burmese saying (which I just made up):

“You cannot feed a hungry tiger

with the bones of a hummingbird.”

*

CELEBRITIES

**************************

There is a type of minor celebrity

who behaves like a major celebrity

in the hope of being confused with one.

There is also a type of nonentity

who wants you to believe he is a future celebrity.

*

GIDE ON WAGNER

*******************************

“L’Allemagne n’a peut-etre jamais rien produit

a la fois d’aussi grand ni aussi barbare.”

*

ONE-LINERS

***********************

Balzac: “Les moeurs sont l’hypocrisie d’une nation.”

*

Baudelaire: “Life is a disease. Everyone knows that.”

*

Because reality is against us, we say God is with us.

#

Friday, September 30, 2011

*****************************************

ABOUT HEGEL

*************************************

Hegel is not an easy philosopher.

As a matter of fact I have never heard anyone say

“I enjoy reading Hegel.”

Even Hegelians don’t always agree

on what he said or meant.

With one exception:

the Francophone-Russian Kojeve.

Kojeve’s interpretations of Hegel

are readable, accessible, insightful,

and eminently unHegelian.

Some samples follow:

*

“Man, to be really, truly ‘man’

and to know that he is such,

must impose the idea that he has of himself

on beings other than himself.”

*

“Christianity is born from the Slave’s terror

in the face of Nothingness, his nothingness.”

*

“The Christian frees himself from the human Master

only to be enslaved by the divine Master.”

*

“He does this for the same reason that

he accepted the human Master:

through fear of death.”

*

“For Hegel, as for Marx,

the central phenomenon of the bourgeois world

is not the enslavement of the working man,

of the poor bourgeois by the rich bourgeois,

but the enslavement of both by Capital.”

#

Saturday, October 01, 2011

*****************************************

AS I SEE IT

*************************************

If I were to say to my shrink:

"Most of my problems stem from the fact that

I was born an Armenian," he would reply:

"I was born a Jew. Only Turks are after your ass.

The whole world is after ours."

*

Those who violate my human right of free speech

do so because they are convinced

they are better men than myself;

and they are better if only because

they are closer to God and Country.

Some of them may even deliver lectures to me

on good Armenianism.

They seem to be totally unaware of the fact that

only certified morons assume that

God, Country, and good Armenianism

have only one definition: their own.

*

It is a scientifically established fact that

prejudice makes people stupid.

*

Hell is more accessible than heaven.

*

Lovers are mutual parasites.

*

Love and hatred are chains.

So is indifference.

*

Very often all great reformers do

is replace big lies with bigger ones.

*

There is more authority in silence than in speech.

One reason why the dead enjoy more respect than the living.

#

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Sunday, October 02, 2011

*****************************************

IN LOVE

*************************************

When in his eighties Pablo Casals fell in love

with one of his students and wanted to marry her,

his doctor was against it saying it could be dangerous;

to which Casals replied:

“If she dies, she dies.”

*

READERS

**********************

Some readers resent the fact that

I refuse to reproduce their sentiments and thoughts.

They believe a writer should be like a secretary –

take dictation.

I see that as another symptom of our sultanism.

*

Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821): “I don’t know

what the life of a rogue can be like

since I have never been one;

but the life of an honest man is abominable.”

*

Anything that is not worth rereading

can’t be worth writing.

#

Monday, October 03, 2011

*****************************************

DENIALISTS

*************************************

Denialists have a powerful argument in their favor:

Everybody lies.

*

My aim in life:

to humanize the dehumanized.

Call me a megalomaniac.

*

The arrogance of the half-learned:

I know all about that.

I was there once.

*

Life’s favorite trajectory:

from arrested development

to advanced degeneration.

*

We have been ruled by barbarians

for such a long time that

we don’t mind our own.

Either that or we see them

as the lesser of two evils.

#

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

*****************************************

AS I SEE IT

*************************************

Until very recently,

we, Armenians of the diaspora,

were not allowed to know

the identity of our political leaders;

and now that we know them,

we understand why they preferred to remain anonymous.

*

One of the best things about life is that it’s short.

*

Actions have consequences,

consequences have repercussions,

repercussions have echoes

and so on ad infinitum.

*

Memo to our editors:

silencing writers,

burning books,

burning men,

concentration camps,

gulags:

they all begin with censorship.

*

It is impossible to struggle

against the certainties of ignorance

with the doubts of knowledge.

#

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

*****************************************

ON A VARIETY OF THINGS

*************************************

Some of my Turkish readers are outraged

when I criticize Turks.

Like all dictators, Kemal knew that

the only way to be popular

is to flatter the collective ego of the nation.

Which is why most Turks are convinced

they are beyond criticism.

*

I don’t always write what I think and feel

because I don’t really know what I think and feel.

All my thoughts and feelings contain

their own deviations as well as contradictions.

*

I resent it when someone steals my stolen lines.

I work hard to find lines that are worth stealing.

Let him do the same.

*

Here are some aphorisms by Antonio Porchia (1886-1968),

an Argentine writer of Italian descent

who appears to know all about us:

*

"Truth has very few friends and those few

are suicides."

*

"A door opens to me. I go in and am faced

with a hundred closed doors."

*

"You think you are killing me.

I think you are committing suicide."

*

"Some things become so completely our own

that we forget them."

*

"They will say that you are on the wrong road,

if it is your own."

#

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

*****************************************

COMMENTS

*************************************

With every book I publish,

I acquire a new friend and lose two old ones.

Any day now the number of my friends

will bear a negative sign.

*

I feel most alone when

in the company of my fellow Armenians.

*

William James:

"A great many people think they are thinking

when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."

*

The absence of God

plays a more important role in the life of atheists

than the existence of God in the life of most believers--

judging by the way they live.

*

Is it humanly possible to ignore or forget the truth

after hearing it?

#

Friday, October 07, 2011

*****************************************

COMMENTS (II)

*************************************

As soon as you settle on the answer

of an important question,

you begin to suspect there may be more merit

in its contradiction;

in the same way that after you take a woman in marriage,

all other women appear more desirable.

This may suggest that the world was created

not by God but by the Devil;

and if I am not mistaken

there is an Armenian medieval Christian heresy

that says as much.

*

Andre Malraux: “I am an agnostic.

But you know better than I that

no one can escape God.”

He should have added,

“and the Devil.”

#

Saturday, October 08, 2011

*****************************************

DIARY

*************************************

Very early this morning, on the radio,

a demonstrator in Athens:

“What’s happening today is not about saving Greece;

it’s about saving the banking system.”

*

Obama’s greatest blunder:

to ask men from Wall Street

to fix Wall Street.

Imagine asking predators

to reform the law of the jungle.

*

In a televised press conference

the other day when asked

why he did not prosecture the men

responsible for the economic collapse, Obama replied:

“What they did was immoral; it was not illegal.”

When the same question was asked to an economist:

“Their actions were criminal

and they should have been indicted.”

*

Who would have thought the Arab spring

would influence and shape

the Occupy Wall Street movement in America today?

Yanks being taught democracy by Africans!

What a strange place the world we live in is!

How gloriously unpredictable human beings are!

*

In an Op-Ed commentary this morning, I read:

“Russians say they are often more afraid

of the police than of criminals.”

Elsewhere Putinism is seen as an effort

to revive Stalinism.

What else would you expect from a former KGB agent?

*

Anonymous: “The rotten apple is the first to fall,

and it never falls far from the tree.”

*

A line from a western with Errol Flynn:

“There I was, no ma, no pa, brung up by Comanche Indians.”

*

I am reminded of a line by Updike

to the effect that as a boy

he was more influenced by Errol Flynn than Jesus Christ.

#

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

*****************************************

*

I feel most alone when

in the company of my fellow Armenians.

Thus spoke Ara Baliozian, the Canadian version of Vahe Avetian – “a Swedish political analyst of Armenian descent”.

But, please, continue. Your contribution to Spyurkahay literature will remain in the annals of our history. :D

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

*****************************************

OBSERVATIONS

*************************************

In evil men we see ourselves exposed.

*

To see meaning in the meaningless:

that’s the truest mark of creativity.

*

Forgiving others is easy.

What’s hard, perhaps even impossible,

is forgiving oneself.

*

Never take a whole paragraph

to say what can be said in a single line.

Never take a whole line

when a single word will do just as well.

And never underestimate the power of silence

which can be more eloquent than

the most eloquent speech.

*

Instead of eighty and ninety,

the French say four-twenties and four-twenties-and-ten.

This may suggest that human intelligence or inventiveness

is limited and after a certain point

it becomes inoperative.

*

If in a democracy the majority can be

systemativally moronized,

in what way democracy may be said to be

different from tyranny?

#

Monday, October 10, 2011

*****************************************

A JOKE

*************************************

“One Jew tells another that,

that very morning, he asked a passerby

what he’d think, if the next day,

as was rumored,

they’d kill all the Jews and all the haidressers.

And the passerby answered,

‘Why the hairdressers?’”

*

After reading this joke very early this morning

I wept and laughed uncontrollably

for almost an hour.

#

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

*****************************************

FROM THE MEMOIRS

OF AN UNEMPLOYABLE MISFIT

*************************************

For ten long years I worked for a living

in factories, department stores, and offices.

The work itself i didn’t mind.

What I despised were the men I had to work for

and the subservience of my coworkers.

And because I have always had trouble

disguising my feelings,

I was fired shortly after I was hired.

I don’t know of anyone in my circles

of friends, relatives, acquaintances, and neighbors

who has been fired as often as I have.

Don’t get me wrong.

I am not complaining.

They were right to fire;

so was I in finding all forms of modern employment

repellent.

*

If I am ever hired as a teacher,

one of the very first things I will say to the class will be:

all ideologies and religions have their own propaganda line

that contradicts the competition.

There may be some truth in all of them

but in so far as they divide mankind,

they are big lies.

You may now guess

how long my career as a teacher would last.

#

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

*****************************************

DIARY

**********************************

Watched Chaplin’s GREAT DICTATOR.

His imitation of Hitler speechifying was wildly hilarious.

I couldn’t stop laughing.

To all our speechifiers I say:

“Let that be a lesson to you.”

*

STRANGERS

**********************

You may say whatever you wish about me

or anyone else for that matter

and you will be partly right.

That’s because we are not one but many

and some of them are strangers we may never meet.

*

JUSTICE

*********************

Madame Justice is not blind.

She has 20/20 vision – but only for her friends.

During our Ottoman and Soviet periods,

and today, under our own semi-sultans and neo-commissars,

she has consistently ignored us.

*

FRIENDS?

******************

You don’t have to go out of your way

to make a mortal enemy out of an Armenian friend.

He will see something invisible,

hear something in audible,

and react as if you were plotting his murder.

*

ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES

*****************************************

So do words.

What if what I write may result in the destruction of the nation?

I am responsible only for what I say.

I cannot be held responsible for what others do.

#

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

*****************************************

FROM MY NOTEBOOKS

**********************************

Two favorite aphorisms on love and marriage:

Balzac: “The fate of the house hangs on the wedding night.”

Chinese proverb: “The rose has thorns only for those

who would gather it.”

*

In Roger Ebert’s LIFE – ITSELF: A MEMOIR

(New York, 2011, page 226) Lee Marvin is quoted as having said:

“'You ever hear me sing an Armenian song?’

Marvin sang an Armenian song.”

*

A question without an answer:

What prompted God to introduce imperfection

in a perfect world by creating man?

*

A glance is enough to change two destinies.

#

Friday, October 14, 2011

*****************************************

AS I SEE IT

**********************************

Whenever I reply to a critic, I make an enemy;

and whenever I am not diplomatic enough

in my replies – diplomacy not being my field –

I make a mortal enemy.

*

Once when I asked the nationality

of a dazzling beauty – a teenage waitress in the cafeteria

of a department store where I was employed as a stockboy –

she said: "Canadian."

When I asked for more details, she replied:

"Let’s see now, Irish, Polish, German, Cherokee,

French, Italian and Ukrainian.”

*

"We are a wounded nation,"

I am reminded once in a while by our propagandists,

"and you don’t kick someone who is down," – thus

equating truth with a kick in the groin.

But truth is a kick only to those

who prefer to live in a world of lies.

#

Saturday, October 15, 2011

*****************************************

FROM MY NOTEBOOKS

**********************************

On the Tea Party:

The forces of evil know how to get organized.

On the Occupy Wall Street movement:

It never pays to give up one’s faith in mankind.

*

For twenty days – or is it forty? – they were ignored.

Now, everyone is talking about nothing else.

*

Solidarity can move mountains.

Without solidarity,

all solutions will be dismissed as unrealistic and utopian

by the very same people who consider it

their patriotic duty to divide the nation

in the name of this or that orthodoxy or ideology,

thus giving patriotism a bad name.

*

Where there is solidarity

even bad solutions may improve matters.

Where there is no solidarity

even the best solution will be ignored.

*

I have met good, patriotic Armenians

who give up on Armenianism after the first insult.

*

After being insulted ten thousand times,

sometimes I reply with an insult

on the grounds that I have earned the right.

If you disagree with my MO,

you can go to hell!

*

“Help those who need the help,”

reads a headline in the Op-Ed page this morning.

The implied subtext: “Prevent future revolutions.”

#

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

*****************************************

OCCUPY WALL STREET

**********************************

A single anonymous slogan

strikes me as more eloquent

than a hundred academic analyses

by learned economists.

*

“Wanted: corporate accountability.”

*

“Where is the penalty for financial incompetence?”

*

“I can’t afford my own politician.”

*

And the one that must strike fear

in all presidential candidates:

“We are the 99%.”

*

By the time this thing is over,

there may be enough slogans to fill a volume.

I for one am looking forward to it.

*

As for the Republicans who dismiss the movement

as leaderless (as if that were a liability)

or class warfare:

all I can say is that

no matter how rotten the status quo,

it will have its supporters and defenders.

From Nero and Caligula to

Idi Amin Dada, Stalin, and Saddam:

they all had their supporters and beneficiaries.

#

Monday, October 17, 2011

*****************************************

FROGS AND ELEPHANTS

**********************************

Anyone who decides to depend

on the kindness of strangers

must sooner or later come to terms with the fact that

most strangers are not kind.

*

We cannot speak of the moral failings of a volcanic eruption

or the questionable logic of an earthquake.

Neither can we speak of justice

for victims of massacres.

As far as they are concerned,

what’s done is done and cannot be undone.

As for those who editorialize and speechify endlessly

about genocide recognition:

they remind me of a certain American presidential candidate

who promised “Yes, we can!”

and delivered, “No, I can’t!”

*

What a book one could write

on the promises of politicians!

“When I hear 9-9-9

I want to dial 9-1-1.”

To which I can only say,

“It takes one to know one.”

The good news is,

so far no one has dared to say

“It ain’t 99%. It’s only 98.5%.”

*

They call it class warfare

and hope to win with their 1%?

That’s not optimism.

That’s megalomania run amok.

Reminds me of our revolutionaries

at the turn of the last century:

“A frog trying to rape an elephant,”

to quote one of our elder statesmen.

#

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

*****************************************

WALL STREET

**********************************

Leaderless?

With leaders like them, who needs one?

*

“Incoherent, confused, and self-contradictory?”

What about “LIBERTE, EGALITE, FRATERNITE?”

*

A commentary Headline in the Op-Ed page:

“Ballot is still the best way to bring change.”

Not if the choice is between bad and worse,

or between the gutless and the greedy.

*

“National Media, Corporate PR.”

*

"Against Politics, Bankers, Gangsters.”

*

“Eat the Rich.”

*

“Greed is the opium of the Rich.”

*

“99% of the world unite –

you have nothing to lose but your bloodsuckers.”

#

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

*****************************************

COMMENTS

**********************************

We are told “Thou shalt not kill!”

but we are also coerced into killing

in the name of God and Country.

Power structures and organized religions

are full of #[email protected]% -- if you will forgive my French.

*

You are free as long as you do what you are told?

Try to make sense of that!

*

Can you really know someone

who doesn’t himself?

What about an institution

that contradicts itself?

*

Wars become inevitable only

when we do nothing to prevent them.

#

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

*****************************************

COMMENTS

**********************************

Don’t judge a man by his opinion of himself

or a political party by its propaganda.

*

You may hope to be forgiven by a Turkish enemy

but by an Armenian friend, never!

I speak from experience.

*

Whenever I disagree with an Armenian,

every Armenian who agrees with him

becomes my enemy.

*

African proverb: “Until lions have their historians,

tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.”

#

Friday, October 21, 2011

*****************************************

GUESSING GAMES

**********************************

An unforgettable line from a forgotten American movie:

A lecherous hombre with a foreign accent

to a scantily clead sexy teenager:

“I want to balanga you with my bonnie johnnie.”

My guess is, as children that’s how we learn languages:

we may not understand the words

but we can guess their meaning.

As when in winter a man shivers and says,

“I am cold,” for instance;

or when he says “I am thirsty”

and is given a glass of water.

But as we grow older,

we seem to lose that particular faculty.

*

One of my favorite Jewish jokes goes something like this:

Two old friends meet on a road somewhere in Russia

and after a brief exchange one of them says to the other:

“You tell me you are going to Minsk

because you want me to believe you are going to Pinsk,

but I happen to know you are going to Minsk:

Why must you always lie to me?”

#

Saturday, October 22, 2011

*****************************************

ON THE ETIOLOGY

OF GENOCIDE

**********************************

“There is nothing more valuable than our honor!”

declared a Muslim in Montreal

after murdering his three teenage daughters

because they had boyfriends.

(It is to be noted that he called it “treachery”).

There it is: the perfect justification

for killing defenseless civilians.

*

After dismissing me as anti-Armenian,

less than mediocre and totally unprintable,

they demand solutions from me.

They must be in deep %#$&

and they expect us to believe

we never had it so good

because we are in the best of hands.

*

Fear of free speech might as well be

synonymous with running away from the truth.

*

Mel Brooks: “Comedy is when you fall down an open manhole.

Tragedy is when I cut my finger.”

This may explain why sadists outnumber masochists.

*

Chinese saying: “The great man is a public misfortune.”

*

Japanese proverb: “A wise falcon hides its talons.”

#

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

*****************************************

POLITICS

**********************************

The secret aim of all propaganda

is not to spread lies – be they small, middling, or big –

but to convince you to believe

your brain is a useless organ;

and it becomes useful only when authorized by the state

or a central authority.

This may explain why fools have as many certainties

as the wise have doubts.

Speaking for myself: my only certainty is that

when fools are in charge,

war and massacre are sure to follow.

*

What a book one could write on politics

as the art of deception.

*

Kemalism in four words:

“Fez, no. Yataghan, yes.”

*

No one will ever accuse me

of taking myself seriously.

On more than one occasion

I have identified my role in our collective existence

as that of a @#$%-disturber.

*

A statesman is a politician who has done one right thing.

#

Monday, October 24, 2011

*****************************************

EARTHQUAKE

**********************************

It must be obvious by now that

the regime in Ankara has invested more money and manpower

in rewriting history and in persecuting Kurds

than in providing safe housing for its citizens.

*

THE RICH AND THE POOR

************************************

The rich like to believe the poor are lazy

and the poor like to believe the rich are greedy.

Who is right?

As far as I know no pundit has so far

dared to suggest that

we owe the present global economic crisis

to the laziness of the poor.

*

A ROLE MODEL

****************************

Crime doesn’t pay?

But it paid and paid handsomely to Gadhafy

for almost half a century.

I wouldn’t be surprised if future dictators

adopt him as a role model.

#

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

*****************************************

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

**********************************

We are expected to believe that

our revolution at the turn of the last century

in the Ottoman Empire was a success

even if the patient died.

*

Propaganda is designed to flatter the vanity of a few

even if it means insulting the intelligence of the many.

*

What Talaat and chief executive officers

on Wall Street have in common is the certainty that

if the law is on their side

they can get away with murder.

*

Richelieu: “If the poor are too well off

they will be disorderly.”

It follows, the poor must remain poor for their own good

and in the name of law and order.

*

Pushkin: “Where there is a trough, there will be swine.”

The only reason textbook on political science

don’t begin with that line is that

all educational systems are controlled by politicians.

*

Proust: “The pleasure an artist gives

is to make us know an additional universe.”

#

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

*****************************************

SUMMING UP

**********************************

After six centuries of servile subservience

a sudden eruption of violent uprisings.

I dare anyone to suggest that

our collective destiny has not been shaped

by cowards and fools.

Treating them as heroes with good intentions

is to forget that hell is paved with them.

*

Bullies at the mercy of bigger bullies:

that just about sums up our present leadership.

Dzour nesdink, shidag khossink!

#

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

*****************************************

REFLECTIONS

**********************************

There is a dupe, a coward, and a bully in all of us.

That’s the only way to explain world history.

*

Q: If you were an animal,

what animal would you be?

A: A vegetarian tiger.

I hate predators.

They are the commissars of the animal kingdom.

*

Good writing consists in deleting.

Silence can be more eloquent than

a torrent of rhetorical verbiage.

A history of silence will have no quotations.

*

If there are homophobes it may be because

they were traumatized by serial pedophiles,

among them such authority figures as priests.

*

After every line I write I ask myself:

Why should anyone be interested in this?

What if he already knows or understands what I am saying?

What if he is ahead of me when it comes to certain ideas

and experiences?

#

Friday, October 28, 2011

*****************************************

SOCRATES

********************************

When asked where he came from,

Socrates is said to have replied:

"Not from Athens but from the world."

And yet, when he was condemned to death by the Athenians

and was given an opportunity to escape,

he said he’d rather die in Athens

than live anywhere else.

*

BEETHOVEN’S SHADOW

********************************

When Vahe Berberian once suggested that

Beethoven’s somewhat overblown shadow

unfairly eclipsed the reputation and worth

of many other equally great composers,

among them Boccherini,

Paul Jungmann, the quintessential German –

blond, blue-eyed, intense, unsmiling – said,

one should not speak such nonsense

in the presence of children.

Forever after music was never discussed in his presence.

*

PROPAGANDA AND LITERATURE

********************************************

All our problems must be ascribed to our enemies,

our propaganda tells us.

The enemy is us, literature reminds us.

And propaganda is more popular than literature

because no one likes to be told

he is a fool or a pervert bent on self-destruction.

#

Saturday, October 29, 2011

*****************************************

ON LOVE AND DEATH

********************************

Love is an arrow, marriage a boomerang.

*

Where there is love

there will be a pierced, broken, shattered, or shish-kebabed heart.

*

There is a Greek myth

whose intent is to emphasize the fact that

the woman you love

and the woman you marry are seldom one and the same.

The critical passage in it reads:

“No lovely naked bride awaited him

on the marriage bed,

but a tangled knot of hissing serpents.”

*

Your children will break your heart

as surely as your parents (when they die).

*

I first fell in love at age eight

with my schoolteacher.

She married another,

had a nervous collapse,

attempted suicide,

and became physically unrecognizable,

by which time I was nine and in love with another –

this time a coeval.

*

My dictionary defines “passion” as “suffering.”

*

The woman you love

and the woman you cease to love –

what a difference!

Not just black and white

but everything and nothing.

*

According to a Frenchman,

“the heaviest body in the world

is the woman you have ceased to love.”

*

After mentioning a dead person

it is customary to say, “may s/he rest in peace,”

when it is not the dead that are in need of peace

but the living.

*

Stendhal, the author of ON LOVE,

one of the best books on the subject:

“All my life I have always seen what I imagined

rather than reality.”

*

And Tolstoy: “In the presence of others,

women – especially when they are young –

pretend so skillfully that no one can see them as they are.”

#

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

*****************************************

BROTHERS

********************************

The West has its share

of dupes, fools, fanatics, racists, skinheads,

serial killers, child molesters,

and chief executive officers –

in short, hoodlums and hooligans –

as Turkey has its share of denialists.

It’s beyond me why anyone in his right mind

would expect them to be morally superior.

#

Monday, October 31, 2011

*****************************************

OVERPOPULATION

********************************

In my lifetime alone

world population has increased

from three to seven billion.

Scientists tell us the planet cannot sustain

this rate of growth.

Contraception is the only solution.

So far politicians have done nothing in that direction

because they don’t want to offend the Catholics.

But I believe the Pope is as much to blame

as film producers who glamorize sex

and treat pregnancy (if at all) as if it were

an alien, disconnected, and rare condition.

#

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

*****************************************

REREADING TOYNBEE

********************************

After Shakespeare, he is for me the most quotable English writer.

But whereas Shakespeare is universally admired,

Toynbee continues to have more enemies than friends,

especially among his fellow English historians,

probably because he exposed their mediocrity.

In that sense, he reminds me of our own Zarian.

I love Toynbee’s ideas; but what I love even more

is his Mandarin prose.

*

ON GOD

*****************

“I believe that Man has been given the capacity to see God, and I believe that this is the summum bonum towards which all creation groans and travails.”

*

THE CHOSEN

************************

“The Jews, the Japanese, the British ‘sahib’, the Nazis…all seem to me to have been chosen by no one except themselves.”

*

ON HIS CRITICS

************************

“Their pummelings have given me a mental massage that has loosened the joints and muscles of my mind and has set it moving on a new course.”

*

A GOOD QUESTION

*********************************

“If the Turkish atrocities could be explained as anachronistic outcrops of a residual savagery in the hearts of recent proselytes to a Western

way of life, how was a Western historian to explain the apostasy of Germans who were native-born children of the Western household?”

*

ON PATIENCE

************************

“A capacity to suffer fools gladly and to do this with gusto, not as a martyrdom, but as a fine art which the practitioner can practise with zest.”

#

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

*****************************************

IN THE NEWS

********************************

Until very recently

Ayatollah Khamenei and Ahmadinejad were as close

as “kolo kai vraki” (bum and pants).

Today “one of Ahmadinejad’s advisers

stands accused of raping 340 virgins during the last year.”

Not even a writer with the fertile imagination

of Gabriel Garcia Marquez could have written such a sentence.

For more, much more, on the subject,

see Abbas Milani, “Desperate Dictatorship,”

(THE NEW REPUBLIC, Oct. 6, 2011, page 30).

*

Peace is wonderful.

Friendship is great.

Love is best.

But one must be a pervert of the worst kind

to love creeps like Khamenei and Ahmedinejad who,

after conspiring to commit countless crimes against humanity,

end up hating each other.

*

Where there is too much talk of God,

can the Devil be far off?

#

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

*****************************************

SWAN SONG

********************************

If you have any hopes,

prepare yourself to see them shattered.

*

The source of all my problems?

I value honesty above everything else.

So much so that

I’d much rather listen to the braying of an honest jackass

than to the seductive song of a phony nightingale.

*

When it comes to painful experiences

I have the memory of an elephant.

As for happy ones:

I can’t think of a single one that did not end badly.

*

The first thing I did when I came to Canada

from war-torn Greece was to buy a loaf of bread

and a cup of coffee.

The bread tasted like @#$%

and the coffee was so hot that it burned my tongue.

After that everything went downhill.

*

The only thing that cheers me up these days

is the prospect of death.

#

Friday, November 04, 2011

*****************************************

PARALLELS

********************************

In an interview published in TIME (Oct. 10, 2011, page 64),

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

has this to say on the Israelis:

“As long as they refuse to apologize for the nine people

of Turkish descent who lost their lives

on the flotilla, as long as they refuse to pay compensation

to the families and as long as the embargo on Gaza

has not been lifted, the relations between the two countries

will never be normalized.”

*

On President Bashar Assad of Syria:

“It is impossible to preserve my friendship

with people who are allegedly leaders

when they are attacking their own people,

shooting at them, using tanks.”

*

It can truly be said of Erdogan and Turks

that they are a clear-cut case of the blind leading the blind.

To my Turkish friends and readers I therefore say:

“See you in the ditch.”

#

Saturday, November 05, 2011

*****************************************

ON INSANITY

********************************

In his biography of Alexander the Great,

Plutarch writes:

“One of the largest and most handsome lions,

which was kept in Babylon

was attacked and kicked to death by an ass.”

*

Shaw may be right:

the insane should be punished more severely than the sane

if only because they are more unpredictable and dangerous.

*

And speaking of insanity:

if you are in love,

you should remind yourself at least once a day

that your beloved is less a real person

and more a product of your imagination.

*

I don’t agree with a reality that makes crooks wealthy

and honest men poor,

and because I speak of this reality,

some of my readers hate me

as if I were responsible for everything

that has gone wrong in their lives.

*

Subtract imagination from love

and the result may be closer to contempt than affection.

#

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

*****************************************

METAPHYSICAL REFLECTIONS

*****************************************************

If God knows neither fear nor doubt,

can He really understand man?

*

When we speak of God

it is useful to remember that we speak of Him

not as He is but as we conceive Him to be;

and it is a serious blunder to conceive of God

in our own image.

*

We may have the answers to the most important questions

only after we die. In that sense,

death may be not an end but a beginning.

*

To God past and future are one

and both might as well be a fraction of a second.

*

What if the Big Bang as we know it

is only the last bang in an infinite series of bangs?

*

Everything we say about God is based on hearsay evidence

and therefore inadmissible.

*

God and men are more fiction than reality.

*

Reality (or God or Truth) is so different

from what we imagine it to be that

if the two ever met

they would not recognize each other.

#

Monday, November 07, 2011

*****************************************

FROM MY NOTEBOOKS

*****************************************************

To go down into the gutter with your adversary

is almost to agree with him -- if not with his words

than with his way of life.

*

No Armenian writer loved his fellow Armenians

as much as Khachatur Apovian – and he committed suicide.

*

I don’t criticize ideas;

I criticize their absence,

*

In a controversy to be silent

is to support the status quo.

#

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

*****************************************

HOW MANY ARMENIANS?

*****************************************************

We have more questions than answers.

Who qualifies as an Armenian?

What if half of Turkey is half Armenian?

Because an Armenian girl was legally raped as a teenager,

does it follow that her offspring

acquired the national identity of her rapist

who may have been himself half Armenian?

An Armenian who is against us,

is he not more Turkish than Armenian?

A Turk who is with us

is he not more Armenian than Turkish?

If to divide-and-rule is enemy action,

do our dividers qualify as Armenian?

How many of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors

(who support only one faction) qualify as Armenian?

If we say only Armenians who are for solidarity

qualify as Armenian,

who will dare to say he is against solidarity?

If we preach solidarity and practise divisions

do we not speak with a forked tongue?

Can an Armenian who speaks with a forked tongue

qualify as a human being?

Confused?

You should be.

i am.

Who said reality is easy to figure out?

#

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

*****************************************

OBSERVATIONS

*****************************************************

After a disaster,

those who are partly or wholly responsible for it,

will come up with a thousand reasons why

the disaster was inevitable.

Don’t believe a word they say.

Their priority is not to understand and explain

but to mislead and deceive.

Their aim is not to learn from history

in order not to repeat it,

but to salvage their powers and privileges.

*

To say where there is power there will be abuse of power

is like saying where there are people

there will also be the law of gravity.

*

Haves and have nots?

It would be more accurate to speak of

bloodsuckers and their victims.

*

Deceivers and dupes?

Even better: predators and herbivores.

*

Class warfare?

I suggest telling bloodsuckers

to minimize their intake of blood

does not qualify.

*

There are many things that can be seen

even by a legally blind man,

but most of us are so carefully and consistently indoctrinated

that we are willing to testify under oath

we saw nothing.

*

Sh*t happens because most men are sh*ts.

And more often than not

a deceiver is as much of a sh*t as a dupe.

*

Voltaire on the origin of religion:

“From the meeting of the earliest scoundrel

with the very first fool.”

#

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