july/5

Saturday, July 01, 2006
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Cormac McCarthy, in BLOOD MERIDIAN (New York, 1985): “Do you know what happens with people who cannot govern themselves? Others come in to govern for them.”
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In whatever I read these days I see references to Armenians even when Armenians are not mentioned.
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In a textbook on history: “A state controlled system of education aims at indoctrination as much as pragmatic instruction.”
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Once, many years ago, when I published an interview with a prominent Tashnak intellectual, a Ramgavar intellectual wrote an angry letter to the editor saying everything the Tashnak said was a big lie. The Tashnak replied by saying everything the Ramgavar said was a bigger lie.
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The choice we confront today is between dead-end contradictions and creative dialectic. You may now guess what we can look forward to.
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Heine’s definition of aristocrats: “Asses who talk about horses.” Something similar could be said of Armenian partisan intellectuals when they speak about one another.
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To those who seem to have all the answers, Martin Heidegger has this piece of advice: “Try to reach the point from which the question can one day be asked.”
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Sunday, July 02, 2006
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A wrong answer that makes us feel good will always be more popular than a right answer that makes us feel bad.
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There are two radically different ways of viewing our genocide: (a) as an unpredictable occurrence, or act of God (or the devil, depending on your credo) like, say, a volcanic eruption, a tsunami, or cancer; and (b) as an inevitable but foreseeable result of actions freely and deliberately undertaken by us, similar to those of a chain smoker who operates on the irrational assumption that he is invulnerable because God, or Right, or justice happens to be on his side. The first school of thought implies that we were innocent victims of satanic forces beyond our control, and the second, that all our actions were symptomatic (see below for a definition) because driven by death wish whose reality we denied or refused to acknowledge.
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Examples of actions driven by death wish: tribal divisions, defeat, unconditional surrender, centuries of subservience, followed by a naive trust in the verbal support of the West, badly executed and catastrophically timed acts of isolated revolt against a ruthless empire fighting for its own survival.
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My primary aim here is not to expose our blunders or to cover up the criminal conduct of the perpetrators, but to emphasize the fact that we have been and continue to be a far greater threat to our own survival than our worst enemies.
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Freud’s definition of symptomatic acts: “Acts which people perform automatically, unconsciously in a moment of distraction; and to which they would like to deny any significance.”
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Monday, July 03, 2006
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THE WISDOM OF PROVERBS
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It is not at all unusual for a smart man to behave like a fool. That’s because to pretend to know is easy; to preach easier; but to do the right thing something entirely different.
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We know, for instance, that “unanimity is the best fortress,” but throughout our millennial history we have allowed tribal leaders (kings, princelings, nakharars, and similar riffraff) to divide us; and they have divided us for one and only one reason, to satisfy their lust for power (“too many chiefs, not a single Indian”). Which amounts to saying, we were taken in by their empty verbiage.
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We know that what tribalism does to a nation, nationalism does to mankind. We also know that preachers of nationalism are no better than mongrels (if not literally than morally) who speak with a forked tongue. We also know that “a maker of idols is never an idolater.” And yet, we have shed our blood in the name of nationalism and we continue looking up to speechifiers who go on preaching it to us.
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It is an established fact that most of our nationalist leaders survived the Genocide to write their memoirs, some of which run to more than a thousand pages. We are told, “behind an able man there are always other able men.” Likewise, behind a fool there are always other brown-nosing fools. And when their blunders are exposed, they write memoirs to explain why it was not they who were wrong but the rest of mankind; and as always, they find their share of dupes who are more than willing to be taken in by their regurgitated propaganda.
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To those who say, “We did not shed our blood for nationalism, but freedom. Our slogan was not ‘Armenia, Armenia ueber alles!” but “Freedom or Death!” Yes, of course, no doubt about that, it goes without saying, I believe you. And what did we do after gaining our freedom, may I ask? We became the slaves of the Kremlin. We refused to convert to Islam to save our lives only to embrace atheism to advance our careers. And why? The answer must be obvious: after centuries of subservience to foreign tyrants, subservience has become part of our character, and “character is destiny” — or, “habits are cobwebs at first, cables at last.”
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We know that tyrants oppress and liars deceive. The questions to be asked at this point are: Does it make any difference if the tyrant or liar is an odar or one of us? In what way are we better off in the knowledge that the enemy is not on the other side of the wall but among us?
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Tuesday, July 04, 2006
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Of all blunders, confusing ideology with theology is the most dangerous.
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Generalizations about fellow human beings belong to the realm of propaganda and as such should be dismissed as lies.
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A religious leader who says “believers are good and infidels bad,” and a political leader who says “we are among the chosen and our enemies the scum of the earth,” should be tarred, feathered, and driven out of every city, town, and village on the face of the earth. Then and only then we may have peace.
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One of the most hilarious scenes in American literature takes place in the first chapter of Cormac McCarthy’s BLOOD MERIDIAN (New York, 1985). A total stranger interrupts a sermon in a tent in the middle of nowhere and calls the preacher an impostor, a fraud, a usurper, a fugitive from justice wanted in four states, a child molester, and a man who has been caught “having congress with a goat.” “Hang the turd!” a member of the congregation yells. “Shoot the son of a bitch!” says another. Later, in a saloon, the stranger is seen drinking. When asked, “How did you come to have the goods on that no-account?” he replies: “I never laid eyes on the man before today. Never even heard of him.”
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Wednesday, July 05, 2006
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According to a recent best-selling book by an American sociologist, crowds behave more wisely than individuals. If true, how does one explain the fact that throughout history war-makers and propaganda have been more popular than peacemakers and objectivity? How does one explain the fact that in the name of such slogans as “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” “Workers of the World Unite,” “Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles,” and “Allahu akhbar,” crowds have been moved to commit some of the worst crimes against humanity? Closer to home: consider the fate of best-selling books that no one remembers after a year or two.
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My most popular book (sold over ten thousand copies), THE ARMENIANS: THEIR HISTORY AND CULTURE, is also my least honest book not because it contains lies – it doesn’t: every assertion in it is footnoted – but because it emphasizes the positive and ignores or covers up the negative. Which may suggest that crowds value bias and flattery over honesty and truth.
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A wise man – it may have been G.B. Shaw – once said there is only one way to end wars and that’s by shooting the war-makers. And yet, consider the fate of war-makers like Alexander the Great and Napoleon (who died natural deaths) and that of peacemakers like Jesus Christ (crucified) and Mahatma Gandhi (assassinated).
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