12/22

Sunday, December 19, 2004
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TRANSLATION FROM ARPIAR ARPIARIAN
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“We sent our representatives all the way to Berlin to liberate us from the yoke of Kurdish and Turkish bloodsuckers, as if our own bloodsuckers were not worse than any Kurd or Turk.”
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There are two things on which our turn-of-the century writers agree: the detestable nature of our bourgeoisie in Istanbul and the suffocating influence of the clergy in the provinces. To which I can only add: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
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FOR OR AGAINST
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Others may speak of their silent majority; we can speak only of an indifferent one.
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Agreement and disagreement in our context might as well be meaningless. For everyone who agrees with you, there may be 2 or even 22 who may disagree, and 222 who will not give a damn one way or the other.
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But when two schmucks agree, they assume they have achieved national consensus.
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IMAGINARY INTERVIEW
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-Your greatest mistake?
-Being born an Armenian.
-Your second greatest mistake?
-Writing for Armenians.
-Why is that a mistake?
-It’s like writing for an army of Napoleons?
-Why Napoleons?
-Make it, lunatics who think they are Napoleons.
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Monday, December 20, 2004
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The central concern of all intellectual labor is human nature. “Scientific experience,” writes Spengler, “is spiritual self-knowledge.”
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By devising extensions of the human body, technology reveals the secret direction of our desires.
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To say that psychology, historiography, mythology, philosophy, sociology and the writing of fiction share in common an interest in human nature is to say the obvious.
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Consider the following thought by Freud as a case in point: “It is not our hatred of our enemies that harms us: it is our hatred for the people we really love that destroys us.” What better key to our own history or status as perennial losers and victims!
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The following passage by a historian (Toynbee), that explains many aspects of universal history, including – and especially – our own, could have been written by Jung or Freud: “The egocentric illusion‚Ķthis most fantastic of all freaks of Maya‚Ķ has always beset every living organism in which an ego has ever asserted itself.”
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When our own turn-of-the-century novelists like Arpiarian, Gamsaragan, Nar-Dos, and Zohrab wrote about the repulsive nature of our bourgeoisie in Istanbul, they might as well have been echoing Spengler’s sentiments in the following passage from THE DECLINE OF THE WEST: “The parasitical city dweller, traditionless, utterly matter-of-fact, religionless, clever, unfruitful, deeply contemptuous of the countryman‚Ķ.”
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And speaking of religion:
All social movements are conceived by underdogs and confiscated by top dogs. Which amounts to saying, eventually, Marx will be followed by Stalin, and Christ by anti-Christ (Renaissance popes and American televangelists).
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Tuesday, December 21, 2004
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A history of late 19th- and early 20th-century Armenian literature reads today like a work of science fiction of another nation, from a different planet, in a distant galaxy.
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Whenever I read biographies of Abovian, Raffi, Baronian, Arpiarian, Gamsaragan, Voskanian, and many, many others, I marvel at their fearless dedication and stubborn refusal to compromise or to cushion their blows. And the question I keep asking myself is: What the hell happened to our literature? The only answer I can come up with is also the most obvious: our bosses, bishops, benefactors and their parasitical panchoonies finished the job begun by Talaat and Stalin.
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Unlike Odian’s Panchoonie, today’s Panchoonie is as smooth, well fed, and soft-spoken as any American Chief Executive Officer. He sports a blue suit, red tie, a laptop and a salary of over a hundred thousand dollars (according to an insider in New York, whose word I have no reason to doubt).
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If a writer like Baronian or Odian were to appear among us today, he would be silenced and starved before anyone can say Jack S. Avanakian.
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I don’t write to change things – my megalomania has its limits. I write to remind our midgets and their dupes that once upon a time, giants walked among us – giants whose shadow would be enough to pulverize their bones.
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What will a history of 21st Century Armenian literature written a hundred years hence read like? Imagine, if you can, the description by a blind man of a non-existent black hat in a dark room.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2004
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IMAGINARY INTERVIEW (II)
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-What’s your racket?
-I am in the business of being misunderstood.
-Any money in that?
-Only insults.
-What kind of insults?
-Being called all kinds of names.
-Such as?
-Son of a whore, disgrace to the nation.
-What nation?
-Armenian.
-Romanian?
-No, Armenian.
-Aramaean?
-No, no. Armenian.
-What’s the difference?
-Aramaeans are extinct.
-And Armenians aren’t?
-Only the real ones.
-You mean, the phonies aren’t?
-Right.
-So, why write for them?
-To defend the honor of the real ones who can no longer defend themselves.
-But since they are dead and buried, they are in no position to express their appreciation: am I summing up the situation correctly?
-I couldn’t have said it better myself.
-In that case, your situation is shituation.
-You took the words right out of my mouth.
-As a matter of fact I did: I read some of your things on the Internet.
-So, tell me. What do you think?
-About what?
-My things.
-You really want to know?
-I do.
-You are wasting your time.
-I agree.
-So, why go on?
-I was hoping you would tell me.
-Sorry, friend. I can’t help you there. Unless, of course, you believe in an afterlife.
-I don’t.
-Then I ask you again: if the living insult you and the dead will not thank you, why go on?
-How about, to balance the score.
-But who will know – if the living don’t give a damn and the dead can’t speak?
-I will…and now, you will too.
-Is that enough?
-No, but it may be a step in the right direction.
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