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as i see it

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  • as i see it

    Sunday, February 22, 2009
    ***********************************************
    MEMO TO A YOUNG ARMENIAN WRITER
    ************************************************** ****
    Always keep in mind that you will never be able to make a living by sharing your wisdom with readers who are much wiser than you.
    *
    No matter how good you are, you will have your critics, some of whom would gladly stone you to death. Think of Tolstoy on Shakespeare, Schopenhauer on Hegel, Turgenev on Dostoevsky, Russell on Sartre, and Sartre on himself.
    *
    When asked which church or community center you go to, say “I am with the good guys.”
    *
    The three pillars of fascism are: nationalism, anti-intellectualism, and anti-Semitism. I may have told you this before but some things bear repeating, maybe not as often as first nation this and first nation that, but at least once or twice a year.
    *
    One of our skinheads, who had verbally abused me for several years on a daily basis, once called to apologize. We had a long conversation. Shortly thereafter it became clear that he had not called to apologize but to gather more ammunition against me.
    *
    When it comes to enemy propaganda, we have 20/20 vision. When it comes to our own, we are blind.
    #
    Monday, February 23, 2009
    ***********************************************
    READING
    ************************************************** ****
    Since I don't do much traveling, I enjoy going places by proxy. I just finished reading Farley Mowat's big book on Siberia – SIBIR: MY DISCOVERY OF SIBERIA (Toronto, 1970) – a fascinating place that has attracted many travelers, among them Chekhov.
    Mowat writes that Russians love partying and their favorite drinks are Georgian wine and Armenian cognac. I suspect our cognac has done more damage to the Soviets – if only to their livers and longevity – than all their dissidents and ours combined.
    I am now reading Paul Theroux's GHOST TRAIN TO THE EASTERN STAR: ON THE TRACKS OF THE GREAT RAILWASY BAZAAR (New York, 2008), where he revisits places that he first wrote about thirty years ago – from London to Tokyo and all the way back via Siberia. Theroux is one of my favorite travel writers and his PILLARS OF HERCULES, about the countries on the Mediterranean coast, is a classic in the genre.
    When told by a Romanian academic that Turkey cannot join the EU for another ten years because “they have problems with human rights of the Kurds and the Armenians,” Theroux dismisses Kurdish demands as unreasonable, “and the Armenian business was a hundred years ago.” He goes on to identify himself as “a mild Turkophile” and reflects that “the massacre of Armenians a century ago, the later expulsion of Greeks, and the Kurdish outrages and Turkish reprisals are lamentable facts of Turkish history; still, no city in Asia is so self-consciously reform-minded and it is lucky in its writers, who are public intellectuals in the European mode – Orhan Pamuk was one of the many who denounced the downplaying of the Armenian slaughter. He represented a public conscience.” I should like to see one of our own writers in that role.
    #
    Tuesday, February 24, 2009
    ***********************************************
    More on Paul Theroux's GHOST TRAIN TO THE EASTERN STAR: ON THE TRACKS OF THE GREAT RAILWASY BAZAAR (New York, 2008).
    ************************************************** **************
    While in Istanbul, Paul Theroux has long conversations with several Turkish writers, among them Orhan Pamuk and the young, dynamic, outspoken, and stunningly attractive Elif Shafak.
    Speaking of Pamuk's trial, he writes it was a case of “a lion being judged by donkeys.” “Pamuk's crime,” he explains, “ was his mentioning to a Swiss journalist that 'a million Armenians and thirty thousand Kurds were killed in this country and I'm the only one who dares to talk about it.'”
    “Turkey has amnesia,” Elif Shafak tells him. “Turks are indifferent to the past, to old words, to old customs...We need to know about the Armenians.”
    Another speaks “about the burden of being a Turkish writer abroad. Westerners whose knowledge of Turkey was limited to MIDNIGHT EXPRESS and doner kebab would challenge them saying, What about the Armenians? What about the Kurds? How come you torture people?”
    In Baku we learn that there are Armenocentric Azeris as surely as there Turcocentric Armenians.
    “Azerbaijan is a police state,” Theroux is informed by a foreign diplomat. “TV is controlled. Print media is somewhat free, but an opposition editor was gunned down last year.”
    An Azeri tells him America should declare war against Iran because Iranian are bad people, but “Armenians are worse...In the 1990s they had captured the Azeri province of Nagorno-Karabagh, killing 20,000 Azeris and displacing a million more.”
    “In football, Armenia is our enemy. In life too,” another Azeri tells him.
    And, “We are overwhelmed by emotions! Armenians don't make any distinction between Turks and Azeris. Hey, it's all about 1915. When I was at Harvard, I met Armenians from Yerevan and had no problems. But Armenians from Watertown were very belligerent.”
    “...in March 1918 in an Armenian uprising, Armenians killed 30,000 Azeris.”
    Paul Theroux may identify himself as a moderate Turkophile but what's uppermost in his mind is to be objective, to report rather than to editorialize. We could learn from him.
    #
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009
    ***********************************************
    FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
    ************************************************** **************
    On the radio: four answers to the question “Do you believe in the present economic crisis?” asked at random in a train station:
    “No! I think that's something politicians talk about and I don't believe them.”
    “Yes. Some people I know have lost their jobs, but I am not worried because I am a teacher.”
    “(Laughing) I don't care because I have very little money.”
    “Sorry, I can't answer, my train leaves in four minutes.”
    *
    Julien Green: “Thoughts have wings, words only feet. That's a writer's greatest source of anguish.”
    *
    “We are Armenians!” yes, I know. But what kind? Ottomanized, Levantinized, Sovietized, Americanized?... Because most of our disagreements are rooted not in our views but in our identities or cultural backgrounds.
    *
    A French magazine calls Fidel Castro and Kim Jong-il of North Korea “the living-dead.”
    *
    If like me you prefer dialogue to long descriptive passages, Vladimir Sorokin's THE QUEUE (New York, 2007) is for you. Originally published in 1985, this is a Soviet-era work of fiction that consists in brief exchanges between people waiting in a long line hoping to buy whatever it is that's being sold at the other end.
    #

  • #2
    Re: as i see it

    Thursday, February 26, 2009
    ***********************************************
    POLITICIANS AND INTELLECTUALS
    ************************************************** **************
    Arnold Toynbee: “Society is the total network of relations between human beings. The components of society are thus not human beings but relations between them.”
    *
    A politician will never say or do anything that may question his ability to lead and to do what must be done, even when he is catastrophically wrong, and even if it means violating the human rights of his fellow countrymen.
    By contrast, the function of an intellectual is to say what must be said even if it means exposing the incompetence and criminality of politicians and in the process risking his own survival.
    As for propagandists: as extensions of politicians, they specialize in exposing the crimes of the opposition and ignoring and covering up their own.
    I am not implying here that politicians and propagandists are always wrong and intellectuals aways right. What I am suggesting is that it is not easy to reconcile the demands of self-interest with objectivity.
    *
    PARALLELS
    *******************************
    There is a passage in Toynbee that explains even if indirectly what befell us a hundred years ago in the Ottoman Empire. In what follows, all you need to do is replace the words Egyptiac and Hyksos with Ottoman and Armenian:
    “At this moment the apparently defunct Egyptiac society was recalled to life and action by an overwhelming impulse to chastise the Hyksos trespassers who had ventured to desecrate a swept and garnished house by their unclean presence. The stimulus was so powerful, that it raised the Egyptiac society not just from the deathbed but actually from the bier on which it was being carried to the grave, and in this demonic xenophobia the society seemed to have discovered at the thirteenth hour, the long-sought elixir of immortality.”
    The final lines of this quotation may also suggest that the glue in nationalism is provided more by fear and hatred of the enemy and less by love of one's fellow countrymen.
    #
    Friday, February 27, 2009
    ***********************************************
    HEAVEN AND HELL
    ************************************************** **************
    If the system is good to you, you will be good to the system. Millions believed in Stalin because he promised heaven and earth, and he even delivered some of it in the guise of full employment, prosperity, power, and glory. And these believers, like all believers in organized religions, did not stop to question the validity of dogmas that legitimize intolerance, persecution, torture, murder, war and massacre. One could go as far as saying faith is the real source of all evil.
    *
    A belief system should be judged not by its promises but by its victims. Consider militarism, a belief system that promotes honor, courage, self-sacrifice, glory, and heroism: what mortal could resist these noble attainments? What decent human being would dare to suggest that their opposites, among them cowardice and dishonor, to be superior virtues? And now, listen to Toynbee on these military virtues:
    “It is flying in the face of all experience to jump to the conclusion that the only place where we can ever hope to find these precious things is the slaughterhouse where they have happened to make their first epiphany to human eyes.”
    *
    Closer to home: who supports the present regime in our homeland? First and foremost, our fund-raisers who, according to insiders, make a very comfortable living beyond the wildest dreams of those they claim to help. Unmask these bloodsuckers and you will come face to face with wheeler-dealers whose role models are Wall Street chief executive officers.
    Moral of the story: Don't be a fool. Don't believe everything your are told or read in the papers. Demand accountability and make sure the firm that does the accounting is not run by a brother-in-law or a co-conspirator. And last but not least, next time someone speaks of heaven, makes sure he doesn't mean your hell.
    #
    Saturday, February 28, 2009
    ***********************************************
    RANDOM THOUGHTS
    ************************************************** **************
    When a doctor kills instead of curing, his license is revoked. This law governing the practice of medicine does not apply to Wall Street chief executive officers probably because law-makers and CEOs are co-conspirators.
    *
    During World War II Armenians fought on both sides – on the Soviet side in the name of defeating fascism, on the German side in the name of liberating the Homeland. Both sides were convinced theirs was a noble cause. Neither had the initiative or intelligence to ask what's so noble fighting Hitlerism in the name of Stalinism and vice versa? It is simply astonishing the ease with which self-assessed intelligent people are moronized.
    *
    You want to know what makes Armenians so mean? Six hundred years of kissing Ottoman ass.
    #

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: as i see it

      Sunday, March 8, 2009
      ***********************************************
      IF
      ***********************************************
      If I speak well of some Turks it's because I have heard about good Turks and even met and dealt with some of them. If I am critical of my fellow Armenians it's because, very much like the rest of mankind, we are far from perfect. If, on the other hand, you think Armenians are beyond criticism, I can only say, you must be just about the luckiest man on earth because obviously so far you have dealt only with good Armenians. Either that or you are a nationalist, that is to say, blind in one eye.
      *
      I was brought up to believe reality is not what I see but what I was told to see. I have wasted so much time seeings things that weren't there.
      *
      Reading teaches us that our blunders, defeats, and humiliations are not unique to us and that countless others have been through the very same experiences.
      *
      It’s not easy civilizing barbarians. But what is infinitely harder is civilizing barbarians who brag about their past civilization.
      #
      Monday, March 9, 2009
      ***********************************************
      KILLERS
      ***********************************************
      “But he was such a kind man!” neighbors say of a serial killer. I am not implying kindness is suspect. What I am saying is that there is a killer in all of us.
      *
      Regardless of what you say, you will have your share of critics who belong to the Richelieu school of criticism that says, “If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find something in them to hang him.”
      *
      I don't expect to be published in a newspaper or magazine where archbishops advertise the sale of Oriental rugs in their cathedral. Neither do I expect to be welcome in an Internet discussion forum whose moderator is the son of a bishop or the hireling of a benefactor.
      *
      To be an honest man means to make many enemies and very few friends.
      *
      When in a hurry, go slower than your normal speed.
      *
      “After all, we are Armenians!” – meaning , anything we say or do must be accepted and forgiven, including that which would be normally unacceptable and unforgivable. Some Armenians use Armenianism the way cold-blooded killers use the plea of insanity.
      #
      Tuesday, March 10, 2009
      ***********************************************
      ON JUSTICE
      ***********************************************
      I gave up publishing books on the day I realized we had more writers than readers. That may well be another first for us -- first nation to produce more writers than readers, and first nation to massacre more trees per capita than any other nation on earth. One thousand academics in the United States alone – and academics, as everyone knows, must either publish or perish. And then we have, what a friend of mine calls, “a massacre mafia” -- academics whose field is the Genocide and who review and promote books written only by members, they ignore all others.
      Once when I wrote something to the effect that massacre books may promote a victim mentality, several reader wrote in protest to say that they don't feel like victims. But suppose a member of your family has been traumatized by a criminal, say, like a rapist. Would you remind her of the rape every chance you get? You may deceive yourself into thinking you are not a victim on the conscious level, but what about your subconscious where the real action is?
      Writing books may well be another way of establishing our immortality and as such a legitimate reaction to genocide, granted. But writing books that no one reads?
      Like the offspring of all oppressed and victimized people we are first and foremost bundles of unsettled scores for whom verbal abuse is the only safe way to get even. Instead of constantly reminding us of our victimhood, we should be taught the value of such mantras as “Let the dead bury their dead,” and “What's done is done and cannot be undone.” I am not promoting amnesia. What I am doing is reacting against our masochists.
      Speaking about verbal abuse: once when I took it upon myself to remind a garbage mouth reader that insulting me simply because he disagrees with me is wrong, he said, “Sue me!” thus expressing an awareness of the fact that the rule of law is mightier than xxxxxing, and one competently written legal brief is worth a thousand lamentations and as many insults.
      You want justice? Get a lawyer.
      #
      Wednesday, March 11, 2009
      ***********************************************
      NOTES AND COMMENTS
      ***********************************************
      The real conflict is not between ideologies or belief systems but between those who cling to what they have (even when obtained by piracy or exploitation) and those who have nothing to lose.
      *
      Sometimes the only way to disarm your accusers is by pleading guilty to crimes that didn't even cross your imagination to commit. It is not easy to satisfy someone who has tasted blood.
      *
      The ideal citizen is a fool who allows himself to be brainwashed and manipulated. All others are classified as trouble-makers and malcontents. That's the way it is with gravediggers – they prefer to deal with corpses.
      *
      I don't write to have anyone's agreement. I write the kind of things I would have liked to have read in my formative years when I was programmed not to think for myself.
      *
      We live as though our problems were insoluble; but we argue as if we had a minimum of two solutions for every one of our problems.
      *
      Some people are so outrageously wrong that they don’t have to be corrected. Sooner or later life, facts, the reality principle will speak to them much louder than any logical argument or appeal to common sense and decency.
      #

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: as i see it

        If you look at our prehistoric past it suggest that early human societies were tribal, and that within these tribes a hunter class, charged with providing food for the tribe and protection from predatory animals which eventually evolved into a warrior class to protect the interests of the tribe generally against all threats be it animal or human. Before long they became essential to each tribe’s survival. As more complex social-political systems developed and civilization advanced the duties of warrior classes around the globe underwent some changes. But their primary role remained constant:
        To protect and promote their culture’s survival.

        We need to make the distinction here between a Murderer, Killer, and I like to add Warrior.

        Murder is committed in cold-blood, without a reason. A murderer is someone who kills and enjoys it for an individual motive….. a motive that has no real purpose or cause. Murderers and rapists have no noble reason for their crimes as they target innocent or defenseless people…….they could care less about the consequences. They lack any implication of honor or ethics, but total disregard for human life.

        A warrior may be required to kill, but it should be for a purpose or cause greater than his/her own welfare………for an ideal. Simply fighting doesn’t make one a warrior. There are codes of honor to follow. Warriors can lose and loose badly – and the people who win aren’t always worthy of the honor. He restricts his killing to willing combatants and hates war above all but is prepared for what must be done. They may stray, but that is an error, not the norm. They have honor in battle and do not take advantage of the weak.
        A warrior is not a murderer because a warrior has a code that he lives by which is influenced by morals that must be justified.
        They exist for one primary purpose. That purpose is to defend their communities from any forces that may seek to undermine them: from the “Barbarians at the Gate.” The trick is that they must find some way to accomplish this goal without become the barbarians themselves.

        The survival of a society does not depend just upon the rescue of citizens or holding land. The survival of a culture depends as much, if not more, on the continued existence, recognition, and the preservation of it that can be destroyed or removed by other means than genocide or territorial conquest. This identity is defined by its deepest values…………..the values that its people believe are worth defending, worth dying for.

        These are the values that shape us/I and isn’t this worth the fight to maintain?

        Division is our enemy……….unity and strategy is our salvation.
        Last edited by Eddo211; 03-11-2009, 08:29 PM.
        B0zkurt Hunter

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: as i see it

          nicely said eddo. Another great question that arises is... where can we, in our modern world, hope to find these deep values worth dying for? Obviously the initial answer for the modern man is... "Huh? Wha...are you talkin about, worth dyin for!?". This is typical, because they've been nursed with ideas that economic security is pretty much the only thing that's good for them and society, that, and abiding by a variety of norms which maintain some basic levels of social order. Oh.... and lets not forget... their romantic brainwashings of what is sexy, materialistic status symbols, "true love" as it is portrayed by the media... The problem is that they have no conceptions of what kind of world they would live in should a form of order arise that protects those higher, deep values which we have prehistorically and throughout the ages, what noble warriors, have fought for. Instead, everything is geared to turning men into little girls who hope for promises from their protectors and their media! In fact, we are taught to either fear any noble conceptions, or to moralize them in banal contexts of little life impacting significance, or to consider them obsolete, being confused by modern examples of global supremacy by a bourgeois class who knows not how to fight, but in the event of war, will through his brainwashed subordinates in the front lines, men who don't know what to fight for either, given that their "leader", who is actually just a greedy multimillionaire, can only instill lies in an attempt to motivate his troops to win a fight that is good for him, and him alone.

          We're all so confused now when we consider our leaders, especially when we consider, or know of their statements to be lies... So in these modern times, a man, a warrior must be shrewd in his quest for finding real things to fight for. The fedayeen didn't have to be shrewd to recognize what to fight for, the reasons during their times were obvious and overly abundant. Artsakh, or Syunik were battles won through triumph for the survival of our right to exist on those lands and continue our sacred traditions that have existed timelessly in us, and not because they are part of strategic equations in the minds of a restricted group of powerful people (the later dimension behind warfare has great consequences in the outcome, and geopolitics certainly do exist, however they alone cannot explain triumphant outcomes for a people fighting THEIR war). To confuse the two reasonings in examining the motives behind a people's participation in such a war is ludicrous.

          Thus, not every war is right, not every fight, or disagreement is right either. So be shrewd in knowing what is sacred for your people, and you will find out what it worth fighting for. To not know what is sacred is to lose your virility as a man who can give form to a destiny for something greater than himself. Even if you don't fight in the battlefield, you can still keep your virility by adhering to these principles.
          Last edited by jgk3; 03-12-2009, 01:12 PM.
          I was taught how to think.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: as i see it

            Originally posted by jgk3 View Post
            .....where can we, in our modern world, hope to find these deep values.......
            Those values are in every one of us and can be reached, no matter how assimilated one may be: every man counts.
            I believe it………and this not because we are so unique as a race, but because of our history, our great victories, our bitter defeats, and our enormous struggle for survival as an ancient people that has forged our subconscious no matter where we are on this planet…not only for our own cause……but that of justice for all humanity without greed and prejudice…….that can connect us.

            We got a bigger fish to fry. We can beat each other up later.

            United we stand………….Divided we fall.
            B0zkurt Hunter

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: as i see it

              Originally posted by Eddo211 View Post
              Those values are in every one of us and can be reached, no matter how assimilated one may be: every man counts.
              I believe it………and this not because we are so unique as a race, but because of our history, our great victories, our bitter defeats, and our enormous struggle for survival as an ancient people that has forged our subconscious no matter where we are on this planet…not only for our own cause……but that of justice for all humanity without greed and prejudice…….that can connect us.

              We got a bigger fish to fry. We can beat each other up later.

              United we stand………….Divided we fall.
              I get this odd feeling that you may be right about this, that our consciousness of our legacy can somehow be awakened in Armenians who know little to nothing about it and live assimilated lifestyles, happened to me afterall and at some point, I started taking this consciousness more seriously.
              I was taught how to think.

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