Ara Baliozian Writing

From armeniapedia.org
Jump to: navigation, search

Thursday, January 06, 2005

HEAVEN AND HELL

To understand reality means to read the mind of God. But reality remains elusive, God incomprehensible, and the future beyond our powers of prediction.

If virtue is rewarded and evil punished, how to explain the fact that Stalin died in bed and Gandhi was assassinated?

Mullahs and televangelists tell us, reality, or the world in which we live, is transitory and ephemeral, and what matters is the reality that comes after we die. Theologians reject this as simplistic. Heaven and hell, they tell us, must be seen as states of mind that we experience here and now on planet earth. Writes Karl Barth, one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century: "Resurrection means not the continuation of life but life's completion. The Christian hope is the conquest of death, not flight into the Beyond."

This raises another question: Did Stalin spend the last years of his life in his own private hell? Did Gandhi die blissfully in the certainty that he had done the right thing?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I have said this before but it bears repeating if only to remind myself that, since beggars can't be choosers, I cherish the very few readers that I have, including those who become unhinged when they read me. If I knew how to pray I would ask the Good Lord that some day in the near or distant future these readers will acquire that minimum degree of inner balance and common sense without which understanding oneself, let alone others, becomes an impossibly complex and an almost insurmountable challenge.

JEWISH SAYINGS

"If you can't bite, don't show your teeth."

"You can't fill a sack that's full of holes."

"Don't offer pearls to men who deal in onions."

"Once upon a time angels walked the earth; today, they are not found even in heaven."

"Anger is a fool."

"Whoever is consumed by rage hears no thunder and sees no lightning."

"He who seeks the truth must listen to his opponent."

"A brother turned enemy is an enemy for life."

ON JEWS

So much wisdom, and so much suffering in the hands of barbarians and fanatics!

ABOUT MYSELF

I will never be a popular writer because I write about our present mores and morons to an audience that prefers recycled crapola.

Friday, January 14, 2005


Sunday, July 31, 2005

Whenever a writer is not admired by his readers, he feels misunderstood. With me, it's the other way around. Whenever I am vilified and silenced I feel understood because I am perceived as a threat to those of my readers who have not yet learned to tell the difference between Armenianism and Ottomanism.

If I am not a popular writer it may be because I do not think of literature as a popularity contest. I have no political ambitions and I can truly state, if nominated I shall not run, and if elected I shall not serve.

It is a mistake to think that a writer ought to know more than his readers do. It is not a writer's function or duty to know more. He may even know less, but that which he knows may be different, and as such, worthy of reflection, not condemnation or censorship.

Why label our intolerance as Ottomanism or Stalinism? Why can't we recognize it as garden-variety intolerance, which happens to be a universal phenomenon? Simply because our brand of intolerance was legitimized, promoted, evolved, matured, and refined under the sultans and Stalin.

How to recognize an Ottomanized Armenian? As a writer I define an Ottomanized Armenian as one who violates my fundamental human right of free speech and pretends to do this in the name of patriotism, which has nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with Ottomanism and Stalinism.

Some Armenians don't like reading me for the same reason that some Turks don't like reading Turkish writers who refuse to recycle the party line.

Monday, August 01, 2005

There are two kinds of readers: those who read to have their prejudices exposed, their fallacies corrected, and their ideas challenged, and those who read to be reassured that they already know and understand everything they need to know and understand. In short, some read to learn, and some read to remain infatuated with their own ignorance.

Some people are smart. I am not one of them. When I see something wrong, I don't start wondering if it will be to my advantage to speak up or to behave like the three proverbial monkeys. I do not think emulating monkeys is smart. I do not calculate the pros and cons of a situation and decide to do what's in my own best interest. Call me a fool who has taught himself to think against himself and to act against his own interests.

I am resigned to the fact that I will never know as much about our history and culture as a partisan who has been thoroughly brainwashed to recycle the party line.

Those whose lies I expose have every reason to overestimate the power of words and the influence a writer exercises on his readers. But anyone who knows anything about the history of our literature will also know that even our ablest writers have been solitary voices in the wilderness whose warnings have been ignored. Result? Centuries of subservience to tyrants, oppression, massacre, purges, dispersion, fragmentation, alienation, assimilation…

Every morning on waking up I remind myself that the sun does not rise to hear my crowing.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

There is a type of writer (and I used to be one) who makes an a priori decision to be positive. Even before reading his first line you know he will say nothing to disturb you. Which also means he will not be objective and honest because his aim is not to expose contradictions (see below) but to flatter egos.

He who says Armenians are nice folk lies. Not all Armenians are nice, beginning with our dividers who divide in the name of a religion or an ideology whose aim is to unite.

Ask any one of our dividers and he will tell you his ultimate aim is to unite the nation. Ask him how successful he has been so far in achieving his goal and he will play the blame-game, which happens to be our national sport.

I remember as a child, whenever someone accused me of anything, I would deny it even when I was as guilty as hell. Politicians have a name for this tactic: they call it deniability.

Armenians are brave, Armenians are fearless, Armenians are warlike, especially when they confront harmless solitary scribblers whose sole aim in life is to understand and explain our situation.

It is not that I no longer believe in what politicians say, I question the sanity of those who do.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Some of our patriots should be reminded once in a while that patriotism and civility are not mutually exclusive concepts.

To speak the truth means to be vulnerable to a minimum of one Big Lie, a hundred small lies, and a thousand liars.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), political philosopher: "Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think."

Kingsley Amis (1922-1995), English novelist: "If you can't annoy somebody with what you write, I think there's little point in writing."

What is censorship if not fear of being exposed as a fool, a dupe, and a liar?

Truth opens the doors of perception. Propaganda kicks the messenger in the butt and bangs all doors shut.

At the root of all intolerance there will be a Big Lie.

People don't kill in the name of truth. Christ killed no one. The same could not be said of Christians.

I don't believe in reincarnation, but if I did I would have to assume I must have been a serial killer in a previous life and I am now being punished by writing for Armenians.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Is Marxism right or wrong? That’s like asking, is a volcano right or wrong? Like the Koran and the Bible, DAS KAPITAL has reshaped the perception of countless people and the political map of entire continents.

Many people have read the Koran and the Bible. How many have read DAS KAPITAL? Very few, probably one in a thousand or even ten thousand. Many others, among them myself, have tried to read it and have given up after the first few pages.

Is Marxism a science, a philosophical system, or a religion? To the believers, it is all three.

If it is incomprehensible to most laymen, why is it so popular? People are attracted to the incomprehensible. Consider the mysteries of our own religion. Consider the popularity and longevity of astrology.

What is its source of strength? The short answer is, propaganda. We call ourselves Homo sapiens (man the knower), but “man the propagandizer” would have been far more accurate.

If propaganda is the source of many wars, revolutions, and massacres, why is there no law against it? Because all organized groups (religions, ideologies, and political parties) engage in it. Some day if we ever meet extraterrestrials that have never experienced war on their planet, we may be astonished to discover that the secret of their pacifism is an educational system that rejects propaganda as a medium of communication.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Whenever an Armenian wins an argument against a fellow Armenian, the nation loses because once more consensus eludes all three.

For every article against Turks, our pundits should write at least two about Armenians, and I don’t mean petty little success stories (which may be moral failures) but articles exposing our filth. To concentrate only on Turkish criminal conduct means to cover up our own, which also means to conspire with crooks against their victims.

With every drop of knowledge I acquire, I discover an ocean of ignorance within me.

According to Aldous Huxley,”War has been one of the principal occupations of civilized human beings”; which amounts to saying, behaving like barbarians is a favorite pastimes of civilized men.

If you wait long enough it will come to you, and the chances are, by the time it does, you will no longer need it.

The less I need, the happier I am.

Huxley again: “Too much evil and too much suffering can make it impossible for men to be creative.” He could have added, “…or to value creativity in others.”

Saturday, May 27, 2006

AN ARMENIAN PIANIST

In his travel impressions of Jerusalem, titled “Usually Destroyed,” first published in ADONIS AND THE ALPHABET (1956), and more recently included in his COMPLETE ESSAYS: Volume V: 1939-1956 (Chicago, 2002), Aldous Huxley writes: “Here, finally, was St. James’s, of the Armenians, gay with innumerable rather bad but charming paintings, and a wealth of gaudily colored tiles. The great church glowed like a dim religious merry-go-round. In all Jerusalem it was the only oasis of cheerfulness. And not alone of cheerfulness. As we came out into the courtyard, through which the visitor must approach the church’s main entrance, we heard a strange and wonderful sound. High up, in one of the houses surrounding the court, somebody was playing the opening Fantasia of Bach’s Partita in A Minor – playing it, what was more, remarkably well. From out of the open window, up there on the third floor, the ordered torrent of bright pure notes went streaming out over the city’s immemorial squalor.” As Huxley goes on reflecting on music, art, and religion, he hears his guide say: “In the year of Our Lord 1916, the Turkish Government massacred approximately 750,000 Armenians.”

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Of the many forms of cowardice, fear of free speech is the worst. I have said this before but it bears repeating.

Some of the most devastating comments on Armenians, like the following, were made not by our critics and dissidents, but by darlings of the establishment, among them Hagop Garabents (Jack Karapetian): “Once upon a time we shed our blood for freedom. We are now afraid of free speech.”

Whenever I speak of corruption in high places, some of our defenders of the establishment are eager to inform me that, very much like the rest of mankind, we have our share of rotten apples. What they don’t say is that, the only way to explain the longevity of our rotten apples is that they enjoy the tacit support of semi-rotten apples like themselves.

When you are wrong, they make fun of you, but when you are right, they hate you.

I wear the insults of my readers like a medal of honor. As for those who insult me anonymously: I don’t see any reason why I should take cowards, that is to say, men without honor, seriously.

Monday, May 29, 2006

QUOTATIONS FROM JEAN-FRANCOIS REVEL (1924-2006)

“Man has not yet acquired a taste for truth and freedom.”

“In free countries, information is seldom designed to inform.”

“Among the arts, the art of leadership is one of the least developed.”

“Why is it that men feel the need to support a regime whose aim is their own destruction?”

“I have met many remarkable personalities that were not famous, and many celebrities who were not in the least remarkable.”

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sidney Morgenbesser (b. 1921), American philosopher: “”To explain why a man slipped on a banana peel, we do not need a general theory of slipping.”

Love of freedom was the only reason why we rose against the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the last century, or so I was brought up to believe. It never even occurred to me to ask, "Does that mean during the preceding 600 years we hated freedom?"

Sometimes what remains unsaid can be much more revealing than what is said.

There is a Rashomon-type witness in every historian. A thousand historians writing about the same occurrence will have a thousand, sometimes even a thousand and one, different versions of it. A dupe is one who believes only the version that is flattering to his ego.

We rose against the Empire because we saw an opportunity; which means that our idealism was modified by a touch of opportunism.

The Empire was disintegrating and may even have been a shadow of its former self, true. But in so far as we believed as rabbits we were strong enough to deal with a wounded tiger, we behaved like dupes of our own illusions or wishful thinking.

We had the moral or verbal support of the Great Powers, also true. But in so far as we believed that their support would translate into military alliance, we behaved like dupes.

Reality is not an extension of our ego. If we want to understand and learn from it, we will be better off to choose the version that is most injurious to our vanity or least favorable to our self-interest.

To persist in thinking that which we thought a hundred years ago only means that we have learned nothing during the last hundred years.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Standing between a hungry carnivore and his kill can be as dangerous as standing between a civilized man and his source of income.

I think it was Jean-Luc Godard who once remarked that the most complex philosophical system can be reduced to a cliché. Consider the following passage in Levi-Strauss: “Sartre deplores the ‘mythopoetic thinking’ of primitives which he contrasts with the ‘logico-empirical’ thinking that permits the construction, or even the use, of machines that can melt cities.” Or, “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” (the more things change the more they stay the same). Or again, can we really speak of progress if a primitive kills with arrows and civilized man with weapons of mass destruction.

Benefactors operate on the assumption that they are helping people who are in need of their help. But what if, by helping the wrong people, they end up doing more harm than good? Hence their need to surround themselves with flunkies whose most important function is to remind them, as princes among men, they can do no wrong.

Once upon a time when I could not yet think for myself, I never questioned my infallibility. Now, all my efforts are concentrated on avoiding being spectacularly wrong. Some day I hope to be right once or twice a year.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

GET OUT THE SHOVEL

John Stossel (American TV correspondent and author. Title of his latest book): MYTHS, LIES & DOWNRIGHT STUPIDITY: GET OUT THE SHOVEL – WHY EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG.

The difference between dialogue and argument is this: dialogue moves towards consensus, argument polarizes.

Armenian dialogue: an oxymoron.

You have a better chance to learn from an argument if you lose it.

When confronted with a statement he neither understands nor wants to understand, an Armenian will contradict it simply because he perceives it to be anti-Armenian, thus implying that only pro-Armenian statements are valid, only chauvinist Armenians are good Armenians, and only dupes are honest.

There are two kinds of disagreement: honest and hostile. The first is a result of divergent experiences, the second a result of brainwashing – that is to say, disagreement in the name of this or that received idea, ideology, or religion, and the misconception that if I speak in the name of God or Country, I can’t be wrong. It follows, if I kill in the name of patriotism, it is not murder; and if I massacre in the name of Allah, why apologize?

To get angry during an argument means to reason not with your brain but with your gut. Hence the old Chinese saying, “He who loses temper has wrong on his side.”

If you begin an argument with the intention of winning it, you have already lost it if only because you have condemned yourself to learn nothing.

An Armenian argument may be defined as one in which both sides lose not only the argument but also their dignity, assuming of course they had any to begin with, which is assuming a great deal.

Friday, June 02, 2006

In my first book, THE ARMENIANS: THEIR HISTORY AND CULTURE – A SHORT INTRODUCTION (Toronto, 1975), I included a chapter subtitled “National Characteristics,” in which I bragged about Armenians being adaptable, as if being adaptable were one of the cardinal virtues, as if adapting ourselves to authority no matter how brutal were a certificate of integrity, as if adapting ourselves to being subservient were a major achievement.

Our revolutionaries challenged the might of the Ottoman Empire, true, but they did so not as self-reliant thinkers but as double dupes of the Great Powers and of their own megalomania. I say this because I refuse to spend the rest of my life adapting myself to their propaganda line and the lies of chauvinist charlatans who have adapted themselves into thinking they are our betters but who may well be our worst.

The present is an extension of the past and history repeats itself. Today there are those who have adapted themselves to the lie that if things are left alone in the Homeland they will improve in one or two generations, as if anything has improved in the Diaspora during the last four generations, or for that matter, during the last thousand years. Which may suggest that we are so adaptable that we can even live with corruption, incompetence and degeneration and pretend they represent development and progress.

We are adaptable? So is the mafia. So are parasites and viruses. So are collaborators with evil empires.

WHAT IT TAKES

To survive as an Armenian writer, you need, in addition to the genius of a Shakespeare, the skin of a crocodile, the cunning of a fox, and the taste buds of a dung beetle.

Because I am critical of Armenians, some of my Turkish readers may think I am anti-Armenian, and some of my Armenian readers may suspect I am pro-Turkish. I am neither. Even when I discuss Turks or Armenians I do not write exclusively about them. I write about human beings regardless of nationality. I write about human beings even when they behave like swine. I know from personal experience that there is nothing easier for a human being than to behave like swine.

I don’t expect anyone to believe me. Shaw is right: the trouble with liars is that they believe no one.

The German head of state on the radio this morning: “A nation that doesn’t understand its past cannot have a future.” Do we understand our past? Not yet. We may begin to understand it only on the day we learn to answer such questions as, “Why is it that treason and betrayal are in our blood?” (Raffi); and “Why is it that Armenians survive by cannibalizing one another?” (Zarian).

What about Turks? Do they understand their past? They might begin to understand it only on the day they realize that to massacre innocent civilians in the name of Allah is to confuse god with the devil.

MAXIMS AND REFLECTIONS

To insult someone anonymously is to add cowardice to bad manners.

If you are afraid of writers, don't read; if you are afraid of losing an argument, don't contradict.

The wife of a wealthy fool will be prettier than the wife of a poor philosopher.

Every dupe operates on the assumption that he cannot be duped.

Don't assume, but if you must, assume against yourself - you will be on safer ground that way.

When it comes to the failings of other nations, we have 20/20 vision, but when it comes to our own, we are blind, deaf, and dumb.

When two fools agree, they think they have achieved wisdom.

If you criticize or insult someone without understanding or reading him, you expose your own shortcomings more than his.

Dialogue has very few friends but many enemies, among them: ignorance, prejudice, power, dogma, arrogance, ego, barbarism, and in general, anything that is connected with ideology and religion.

On the subject of horizons, dwarfs will never agree with giants.

All fools can plead not guilty on grounds of ignorance.

JEWISH WISDOM

"When a crook kisses you, count your teeth."

"A friend you have to buy; enemies you get for nothing."

"Some academics are no better than jackasses because all they carry is a lot of books."

"A deaf man heard a mute tell him how a blind man saw a cripple run - on water."

Saturday, January 15, 2005

LET US NOW PRAISE HONEST MEN

Some day I will fall silent -- no doubt about that. But that should not be cause for celebration to anyone, because if what I have been saying contains even a single particle of truth, it will not be forgotten or ignored. In saying this, I don't think I am being sentimental about truth. I happen to know that there are a thousand lies for every truth and they too will be repeated and recycled to the end of time. Even so, truth will continue to be a source of dread to all tyrants and their henchmen, who operate on the assumption that if they silence or starve one, or even a thousand honest men, that will be the end of honesty.

Have I said this before? I may have. I don't remember. But if you do, allow me to thank you. All writers cherish faithful readers with good memories, because they are the ones who elevate the status of what they have written to "It is written."

ON GOD

To believe in God is the greatest of luxuries because it means to have at your disposal an inexhaustible source of forgiveness.

MORE JEWISH SAYINGS

"Two dogs can kill a lion."

"Henchmen are worse than their masters."

"When men quarrel, even God's anger does not frighten them."

"Bad men do well in this world, saints in the next."

"The one-eyed need sleep, too."

"We anger God with our sins, and men with our virtues."

"Where love is, no room is too small."

"It is easier to know ten countries than one man."

"The heaviest weight in the world is an empty pocket."

Eventually we must move into a metaphysical, unscientific, or purely imaginary realm that can be neither proved nor disproved, and that is the realm in which charlatans prosper.

Friday, January 07, 2005

IDEAS AND POWER

Do people with power and money respect ideas and intellectuals? Only those that legitimize their power and prestige, that is to say, only propagandists and brown-nosers.

MILLIONAIRES AND POETS

A benefactor is quoted as having said to one of our intellectuals: "I hire and fire people like you every day." And to a poet: "Desert-dwelling Arabs may need poetry. We don't!" I agree. We don't need the kind of versifier who sings of nightingales serenading the moon. But what we need even less are millionaires parading as commissars of culture and setting literary policy.

BENEFACTORS AND INTELLECTUALS

Once, when I wrote that millionaires are in the habit of supporting only mediocrities, never major writers, "Wrong!" I was told by an angry reader, who went on to explain that he knew for a fact that Shahan Shahnour had enjoyed the financial support of a benefactor. "True or false?" I asked a biographer of Shahnour, and was told: "I doubt if any one of our benefactors even knew who Shahnour was… On second thought," he went on, "Shahnour did receive a monthly check from a benefactor but the amount was so insignificant that after a while he didn't bother cashing them."

TALAAT AND STALIN

Did Talaat and Stalin respect ideas and feared intellectuals? I have every reason to suspect they didn't even care to know the names of those they butchered.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

READERS

Turks make fun of me and Armenians insult me. I must be on the right path.

ON THE ORIGINS OF TRAGEDY

Oedipus didn't know he was killing his father and marrying his mother. Ignorance born of arrogance may be said to be the source of all tragedy.

Where there is an oversized ego there will also be an undersized brain.

WARNING

Nothing can be as dangerous as assessing oneself as smart, perhaps because such an assessment is invariably used as a license to behave like a certified moron.

ON OBJECTIVITY

The only way to be objective is to discard all convictions with a single trace of wishful thinking in them.

CRITICS

Since in almost everything I write I speak against intolerance and charlatanism, some of my critics accuse me of both transgressions hoping thus to persuade me to hate myself. This maneuver is so transparent that only a self-assessed smart-ass could employ it.

THE LEAN AND THE FAT

The poor pray for their daily bread, but the rich know man does not live by bread alone.

ON GOD

I understand those who speak in the name of God. I too speak in the name of God, with one difference. My God doesn't exist. He is more like a point of reference, an abstraction, a concept like zero and infinity. And since my God doesn't exist, He is honest enough to promise me nothing.


Sunday, January 09, 2005

LITERATURE

Literature as high-class entertainment? Nonsense. Literature as biopsy. That's more like it.

JOURNALISM

In Armenian journalism we have no one remotely comparable to Ben Bagdikian, whose central concern as an investigative reporter has been to expose American incompetence and corruption. And what has been the central concern of our own pundits and journalists? To reform the rest of the world by exposing its shortcomings, blunders, and crimes. In other words, they have become past masters of the blame game. In their eyes, there is nothing wrong with our own leadership and our problems must be ascribed to outsiders. Which means, their main function is to enlighten and educate the world. If that's not megalomania run amok, I should like to know what is.

THE POSITIVE AND THE NEGATIVE

We emphasize the positive in order to cover up the negative. We brag about our adaptability and cover up our high assimilation rate. In the ghetto near Athens, where I grew up, we (the white trash) spoke Greek with an Armenian accent, but professional Armenians (lawyers, businessmen, doctors) who lived in classier suburbs, spoke Armenian with a Greek accent. It is an undeniable historic fact that the assimilation rate among able and successful Armenians has been much higher than among lower-class Armenians. From Byzantine emperors of Armenian descent to Loris-Melikov, Mikoyan, and Deukmejian, the standard of our leadership among odars has been incomparably higher than among us. It is no exaggeration to say that, when it comes to political leadership and elites in general, ours within our own communities fully qualifies as white trash.

INTELLECTUALS

A final word on our intellectuals: I have every reason to suspect that a bishop today makes more money in a single year than all our intellectuals put together throughout their lives. There you have the reason why we have dozens of well-nourished bishops and not even a single lean intellectual. I have heard of many writers who were employed by bosses, bishops, and benefactors, but I have never heard of a single boss, bishop or benefactor working for an intellectual.

Monday, January 10, 2005

MURDER OR SUICIDE?

In his book, COLLAPSE: HOW SOCIETIES CHOOSE TO FAIL OR SUCCEED," Jared Diamond echoes Toynbee when he maintains, "societies aren't murdered, they commit suicide: they slit their wrists and then, in the course of many decades, stand by passively and watch themselves bleed to death." He could have added: "…and whenever someone comes along and describes what's happening, they call him a pessimist, an alarmist, and their first instinct is to silence and ignore him."

READERS

Last week alone one reader identified me as a capitalist and another as a communist. Which may suggest that, what defines the meaning of a text is not what is stated there in black and white by the writer, but the phobias, complexes, blind spots, and limitations a reader project on what he reads.

REALITY AND THE MIND OF GOD

The greatest thinkers in the world contradict one another not because some are right and others wrong but because reality is an equation with an infinite number of unknown quantities or irrational numbers, and to understand it amounts to reading the mind of god.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Thursday, July 28, 2005

TWO SCANDALS A headline in one of our weeklies reads: "2000 Armenian Prostitutes Operate in United Arab Emirates." My guess is we have a corresponding number of writers prostituting themselves by saying what others want them to say rather than what must be said.

WHAT MUST BE SAID Why is it that so many women engage in prostitution? What is being done about it? If something is being done, why wasn't it done before? And if nothing is being done, who should be held accountable?

It is understood that a corresponding list of questions could be asked about our writers - be they academics, journalists, and pundits. As a reader I should like to have answers to these questions as opposed to more commentaries, editorials, press releases, and articles on Turks, kefs, hantesses, food festivals, graduations, scholarships, exhibitions, and anniversary celebrations.

ZOHRAB SPEAKS Speaking on prostitution and related topics, Krikor Zohrab had this to say a hundred years ago: "We all of us condemn prostitution; yet, how many of us engage in that line of work! Lawyers who perjure themselves for a few pieces of silver; journalists who sell their conscience to vested interests; doctors who prolong a useless treatment; young men who marry wealth. In what way are these individuals different from common prostitutes?"

Even more to the point: "A newspaper is not a chameleon. It should not change its colors to please readers. It is bound to make enemies. I would measure the moral success of a newspaper by its willingness to make enemies."

Zohrab was assassinated by orders of Talaat in 1915. Armenian writers are no longer assassinated by foreign tyrants, only silenced and forced into prostitution by our "betters."

Friday, July 29, 2005

Writing consists in trying to make sense of the senseless to the brain dead.

I can give you reasons, I can't give you the ability to understand them. That would be like trying to improve on god's work.

Propaganda is a carefully planned and organized effort to prevent you from thinking for yourself.

Man has created ten thousand gods except a god of common sense and decency.

You cannot decapitate a man and expect him to sing an aria from "The Barber of Seville."

The question we should ask every day: If we are smart, why do we allow ourselves to be led by donkeys?

Our partisans are brought up to believe we are sheep and they are our shepherds. What they don't tell us is that as shepherds it is their duty to lead us to the slaughterhouse.

Turning the other cheek becomes a meaningless gesture if you are going to hate the man who slaps you.

In the bibliography of THE BLACK SEA: A HISTORY by Charles King (270 pages, Oxford University Press, 2004) I read the following line: "There is a great deal of poor-quality work on the Armenian genocide…"

An infallible man can do nothing right.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

It is now time that we think of lamentation and hatred as experiments that failed and try another approach.

The problem with hatred is that it is no solution. Rather it is a problem that creates other problems. An Armenian who hates Turks will also hate a fellow Armenian who does not share his hatred.

Some values are anti-values and some values are worthless.

Saroyan once said that he felt sorry for the Turks. Simenon went further when he said it is the victim who creates his victimizer.

Writing for Armenians has been a learning experience. I have learned more about human nature than Freud learned by analyzing neurotics.

The spirit of contradiction in some Armenians is so highly developed that if you were to agree with them they would disagree with you.

By calling our military defeats moral victories we alter our status from perennial losers to perennial winners and can go to bed with the certainty that god is on our side and we never had it so good.

One way to define freedom of speech is by saying even the ablest statesman is not qualified to tell even the worst scribbler what to write and how to write it.


People are more or less the same everywhere. Left to their own devices they are more than willing to live in peace with one another, as they have been doing in the United States, Canada, and Australia. It is the men at the top who transform average, law-abiding citizens into killers in the name of a phony abstraction.

When it comes to criminal conduct, the French are fond of saying "Cherchez la femme." But when it comes to mass hysteria, war and massacre, it is "Cherchez le leadership." The people are guilty only in so far as they allow themselves to be brainwashed by a charlatan in whose eyes they are only a means to an end, the end being his power and prestige.

In ancient times emperors declared themselves to be gods. More recently, kings and sultans ruled with the authority invested on them by Almighty God Himself. In our own days dictators ruled as if they were gods. This may suggest that leadership and megalomania might as well be twins. And if you think we are immune to this aberration, may I remind you that we too have been at the mercy of individuals who speak in the name of god, capital, or ideology.

"What we need is not criticism but solutions," I am told again and again by dupes who think our writers have been no better than nightingales serenading the moon or daydreamers contemplating the eternal snows of Mount Ararat. And this misconception is widespread because our literature, as subsidized by our bosses, bishops, and benefactors, has been distorted, misrepresented, and perverted beyond recognition.

Anyone who has read our writers from Khorenatsi in the 5th century to our own days (Zarian, Shahnour, Massikian) knows that their central concern has been our problems and their solutions. My guess is, we have more solutions than problems, but these solutions have been buried and forgotten as effectively as our writers, most of whom were either butchered by our enemies or silenced by our own commissars of culture.

Censorship has been and continues to be a constant in our literature and press. We have an entire army of speechifiers and sermonizers who speak in the name of god, capital, and ideology, but we have no one who speaks in defense of human rights and free speech, because human rights and free speech are incompatible with authoritarian, that is to say, anti-democratic power structures.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

There seems to be an unspoken law among us that says, “If you disagree with me, you are my enemy.” Result? We have three sets of enemies: Turks, the corrupt West, and a fraction of our fellow Armenians. Whoever first said “Mart bidi chellank” (We will never acquire the status of human beings) fully qualifies as one of our major prophets.

To say or to imply “If you contradict me you are my enemy,” is a fallacy based on another fallacy, namely, “I know and understand all I need to know and understand,” which happens to be the unspoken assumption of all tyrants and fascist dictators. It follows, all dissidents and critics are enemies of the people and they don’t deserve to live.

People who say they know and understand all they need to know and understand, usually rely on someone else’s knowledge and understanding, which means that their knowledge is inadmissible because based on hearsay.

Stalin relied on Marx and completely ignored Marx’s statement “I am not a Marxist.” He also ignored one of Marx’s central pillars of thought, that of dialectic, which means dialogue, and dialogue is possible only when contradiction (or antithesis) is allowed to follow assertion (or thesis). And because Stalin ignored that aspect of the Marxist system, his empire collapsed and the Soviets “mart cheghan.”

There are two approaches to our genocide: to ascribe it (one) to pure evil, and (two) to historic, social, and cultural conditions. When Toynbee first wrote about the Genocide he ascribed it to pure evil. But when he studied the Turkish side of the story by making Turkish friends and learning the Turkish language, he realized the Genocide was an occurrence that could be explained and understood. However, he at no time said or implied that to explain is to justify – which is where we tend to go wrong. Whenever someone tries to explain the Genocide we accuse him of being a denialist (among us, the lowest form of animal life). And worse, we call him an enemy, and in doing so we condemn ourselves to have three sets of enemies, in other words, to be perennial losers.

If we call the Turks Asiatic barbarians, what do we call the Nazis? European barbarians? What do we call Americans (in relation to their treatment of natives and blacks)? American barbarians? What do we call Stalin (a next door neighbor)? A Caucasian barbarian? What do we call Mao, compared to whom, Stalin was only an amateur serial killer, (according to a recent biography).

The list of crimes against humanity is endless and they all begin in the convolutions of the brain, and to call a fellow Armenian an enemy, and worse, to silence him – as our “betters” do – is the mother of all crimes against humanity.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Whenever I express an honest opinion I make an enemy, as if honesty were anti-Armenian.

Whether we like it or not, we are all in the business of recycling a party line because none of us knows the whole truth. We may know a fraction of the truth but never the whole truth. But a fraction of the truth is how propaganda is defined.

I too recycle a party line, and more specifically the party of Baronian, Voskanian, Zarian, and Massikian; the party of Socrates and Solzhenitsyn; the party of Toynbee and Pamuk, who went on trial today not because he spoke the truth – only the Good Lord knows the whole truth – but because he expressed an honest opinion; and it’s not that honesty is anti-Turkish, rather it does not recognize any specific religion, ideology, and power structure that speaks in the name of god or truth.

I have said this before and it bears repeating: god and truth have generated more victims than the most diabolical big lies invented or imagined by man.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

EXCUSE MY FRENCH

E.M. Forster, the author of some of the very best books on England and India, in a letter to a friend: "Most Indians, like most English people, are shits."

I was born and raised in a ghetto near Athens that looked like an oversized gypsy encampment. Greeks called us "Turkish gypsies" and treated us like shit.

At the age of twenty I came to Canada and tried to make a living working at minimum-wage jobs in factories and department stores. That's when I discovered that even the best among them are capable of behaving like shit when dealing with white trash.

I lived in Italy for a number of years and I found it difficult to resist their charm. But whenever I use that word I am reminded of Albert Camus. "Charm," Camus once said, "is shit." When I think of Mussolini and his Fascists I cannot help agreeing with Camus.

There are two drawbacks in being an Armenian writer: you work for less than minimum wage and whenever you refuse to recycle someone's party line you are treated like shit.

If some of my readers are to be believed - and I for one do not feel qualified to question their honesty -- I am myself a first-class shit.

Perhaps the only difference between tyrants and the rest of us is that tyrants have the means to deal with the shits whereas all we can do is resort to name-calling.

===RANDOM THOUGHTS ON NATIONALISM, RELIGION, AND RELATED ATROCITIES===

"LET SUDAN KNOW THAT GENOCIDE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED," reads a headline in our paper today. This means that so far genocide has been tolerated; which also means that we live in a world where pickpockets are arrested but serial killers are allowed to roam free, to rape, plunder and slaughter with the blessings of church and state.

No one is in a better position to appreciate the value of moderation, tolerance and doubt than one who has suffered in the hands of a fanatic.

One way to explain an Armenian fanatic is to say that he is what he is because he has adopted the Turk as his role model.

An Armenian fanatic is like a sheep that has suddenly acquired the teeth and appetite of a wolf.

Why is it that I feel closer to humanity when I am alone?

At the beginning was the word. Which means, we become what we say.

Have you ever tried to shake hands with someone who is kicking your ass?

Every ideology has its commissars and every religion its inquisitors.

Nice guys can be nasty, but good men, never!

Our religion tells us to love our enemies, and our patriotism teaches us to hate the Turk. It follows; a patriotic Armenian cannot be a good Christian and vice versa.

The defeated Azeri is my brother, the victorious Turks is the enemy of mankind.

Plato: "Only the dead have seen an end to war."

St. Augustine: "Never fight evil as if it were something that arose totally outside of yourself."

Pablo Casals: "Love of country is a wonderful thing, but why should love stop at the border?"

Thursday, July 14, 2005

In our environment those who can't understand the present predict the future.

Unhappy is the nation whose prophets mouth the slogans of charlatans.

Ours is a democracy modified by corruption, incompetence, and assassination.

Our charlatans tell us it may take anywhere from 15 years to two generations (half a century) for things to improve. That's because, they explain, it is not easy to de-Ottomanize and de-Stalinize a nation.

But Armenians are smart, enterprising, and adaptable. To survive they emigrate. They emigrate even to Siberia and Turkey where they hope to get a better deal. And our "betters" encourage emigration because they know if the number of the unemployed and destitute goes up, so will general discontent which may lead to riots and, inevitably, to embarrassing headlines in the international press.

The solution, according to our charlatans, patience -- a euphemism for subservience, namely, that which our Ottoman and Soviet masters taught us.

Our charlatans expect us to believe that our "betters" know better. What they don't tell us is that our "betters" may well be our worst.

What if patience and subservience in our case mean passive acceptance of corruption, thievery, abuses of power, prostitution, and crime in high places? No matter. We are expected to believe that our men at the top know their business. Yes, maybe. But what if their business is taking care of number one and emasculating the nation?

Our charlatans tell us our bosses, bishops, and benefactors know better because they speak in the name of god and Capital, and when god and Capital speak, scribblers should shut up and listen; and if they don't, they should be silenced, that is to say, they should have their tongues cut out, Ottoman style.

Friday, July 15, 2005

THE IRRESISTIBLE CHARM OF CAPITAL. RICHELIEU AND PROUST. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT.

Capitalists think money is a blessing from God. Their hirelings have no wish to bite the hand that lays the golden egg; and their brown-nosers live with the hope of some day being the beneficiaries of their largess.

Richelieu: "If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find something in them to hang him." Marcel Proust: "People know more about us than we think." So you thought you could hide your true face behind a mask?

Though in its brief span of existence on earth homo sapiens has invented ten thousand gods, men of faith continue to believe that their god is the only true god. There is nothing wrong with the idea of god, of course. What is wrong is the mental paralysis it seems to induce in some men. This paralysis may be said to be the source of all fanaticism and evil. I am afraid Turks and our massacres have a similar effect on our genocide imams.

Every sin, crime, or aberration carries hidden within it its own punishment. Mental paralysis is a fanatic's punishment.

  1. .

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Freedom of speech is a writer's most valuable possession. Take it away from him and you might as well cut out his tongue.

Our literature is a cemetery of silenced voices. To our publishers and editors I ask: When was the last time you published an editorial in defense of free speech? If you don't defend free speech, who will? And even more to the point, can you de-Ottomanize or de-Stalinize a community by adopting Ottoman and Stalinist methods?

I have heard a number of Armenians say, "I can't write freely about Turks because I have relatives in Turkey," but I have never heard of an Armenian in Turkey who suffered on account of what someone said in Australia, America, or Brazil.

Even Jewish writers who wouldn't dream of denying the Holocaust are willing to concede that "the Holocaust has been exploited and even distorted." (See Christopher Hitchens, LOVE, POVERTY, AND WAR: JOURNEYS AND ESSAYS, page 262). Don't expect such an admission from our genocide imams - they are not mature enough, or objective enough, or honest enough.

There are decent Armenians as there are decent Turks, Kurds, Gypsies, Arabs, and Zulus. All my efforts are concentrated on making honesty and decency more acceptable in our environment.

When a deceiver speaks of tolerance, he means tolerance of deception, and he can always count on the support of his dupes.

If it weren't for religion, Napoleon once remarked, the poor would butcher the rich. That's where our bishops come in. Our benefactors build churches and our bishops anoint them Princes of Cilicia, Kings of Armenia, and Emperors of Transcaucasia.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Of the many forms of cowardice, fear of free speech is the worst. I have said this before but it bears repeating.

Some of the most devastating comments on Armenians, like the following, were made not by our critics and dissidents, but by darlings of the establishment, among them Hagop Garabents (Jack Karapetian): “Once upon a time we shed our blood for freedom. We are now afraid of free speech.”

Whenever I speak of corruption in high places, some of our defenders of the establishment are eager to inform me that, very much like the rest of mankind, we have our share of rotten apples. What they don’t say is that, the only way to explain the longevity of our rotten apples is that they enjoy the tacit support of semi-rotten apples like themselves.

When you are wrong, they make fun of you, but when you are right, they hate you.

I wear the insults of my readers like a medal of honor. As for those who insult me anonymously: I don’t see any reason why I should take cowards, that is to say, men without honor, seriously.