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August 1 2012 at 7:33 AM
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ara baliozian  (Login baliozianara)
Armenian Cafe


Wednesday, August 01, 2012
The aim of thinkers
– be they scientists, philosophers, or intellectuals –
is not to entertain the public
but to solve problems.
To say therefore
we need solutions, is to imply that
all our thinkers were no better than mental masturbators.
In the eyes of fascists
the only way to qualify as a thinker
is to recycle their propaganda.
One of the greatest misfortunes that can befall a nation
is political and religious control of its educational system.
Which amounts to allowing compulsive and habitual liars
to tell our children what’s right and what’s wrong.
I have no illusions about democracies.
The Americanized American is as brainwashed
as the Sovietized Russian and
the Anglicized Englishman.
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Patriotism teaches us to love our fellow Armenians
and to hate Turks, to which I can only say
I cannot be a patriot because
I love good Turks
and I hate bad Armenians.
Like all –isms, patriotism creates more enemies than friends.
Capitalism created communists,
and communism created
crooks, cannibals, and “crocodiles” (Chekhov).
There is a type of patriotic reader
who operates on the assumption that
he knows better,
he understand more,
and his belief system is morally superior.
Whenever informed by such a reader
that I am no better than a purveyor of ********,
I am reminded of a saying popular in Hollywood:
“It may be **** but it has integrity.”
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
When asked by journalists
what had made him to devote several decades of his life
to the writing of his 12-volume STUDY OF HISTORY,
Toynbee is said to have replied: “Curiosity.”
In his fascinating little book, PHNATOMS ON THE BOOKSHELVES,
Jacques Bonnet writes:
“In Victor Hugo’s play MARION DELORME, the king asks:
‘What is your reason for living?’
L’Angely replies: ‘Curiosity.’”
To our sermonizers and speechifiers
who preach love of God and Country I ask:
“How many Armenians have you alienated with your double-talk?”
And if you were to say my kind of writing may also alienate some Armenians,
all I can say is, “Good riddance!”
I am suspicious of Armenians
who after centuries of subservience to alien and bloodthirsty tyrants
assume subservience to be an integral part of the human condition.
I am suspicious of Armenians
who preach love but practice hatred.
Saroyan comes to mind.
He too preached love but hated his own children.
Above all I am suspicious of Armenians
who praise Armenian culture
but practice davul zurna, shish-kebab, and pilaf.
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
A sad day for American literature:
Gore Vidal is dead.
Saw a lovely Chinese film, THE ROAD HOME.
Most of the time I had tears in my eyes.
We cannot agree with one another
but we expect our enemies to agree with us.
Figure that one out if you can!
Armenians who are pro-Assad
on the grounds that he is pro-Armenian
should not be surprised at Turks
who raise monuments to Talaat and Kemal.
After assessing themselves as morally superior,
they assert moral superiority
but they succeed only in speaking with a forked tongue.
The malady of all sermonizers.
In one of his essays Aldous Huxley says
too much singing damages one’s critical faculties –
something to do with lack of oxygen in the brain.
He may have a point.
Beniamino Gigli was a fascist,
Pavarotti was blinded by his American success,
and Maria Callas by Onassis’s wealth.

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ara baliozian
(Login baliozianara)
Armenian Cafe


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August 4 2012, 7:43 AM 

Thursday, August 02, 2012
Dissent also means
refusing to recycle a tyrant’s propaganda.
The hardest challenge a writer confronts
is to speak with his voice.
Until then all he can do is speak with someone else’s voice
or recycle someone else’s propaganda.
Writers come in all sizes and shapes.
But no writer in the history of mankind
has ever silenced a tyrant.
When tyrants go about their murderous task of silencing writers,
they invariably target the best.
After persecuting, terrorizing, torturing, and killing countless heretics,
popes assert infallibility.
The ruthless cunning of the 1%
is rivaled only by the ignorance, stupidity, and cowardice
of the 99%.
Friday, August 03, 2012
No one gives up power without a bloody fight,
Hegel tells us.
And so it is.
Consider what’s happening today in Syria.
And if the Popes of Rome
no longer persecute, torture, and burn heretics
it’s not because they saw the light and became non-violent;
but because it took countless massacres and wars
(one of which lasted a hundred years) to stop them.
But that’s not all it took.
It took powerful reformers
like Luther, kings, emperors, and dictators
like Henry VIII, Napoleon, and Mussolini
to check their abuses of power.
It took dissidents like Voltaire, Gibbon, Renan, Marx, and Nietzsche.
As a matter of fact, the Popes had many more dissidents
than Stalin, Hitler, and Mao combined.
If they continue to have followers today
it’s because men need belief systems
as alcoholics and drug addicts need their poison.
Man, it has been said, cannot create a single worm
but he has created ten thousand gods.
The very same people who rejected Jesus
believed in Madoff.
Figure that one out if you can.
Allawa akhbar!
Saturday, August 04, 2012
To our bosses I say:
Don’t tell me how much you have accomplished.
Tell me instead how many you have alienated.
To our fund-raisers I say:
Don’t tell me how many millions you have raised.
Tell me instead how much of it ended in the wrong pockets.
To our benefactors I say:
Don’t brag about the number of schools you have built.
Tell me instead what’s being taught there.
To our academics I say:
Don’t tell me how many books you have published.
Tell me instead who reads them?
In Chekhov’s UNCLE VANYA I read:
“The ganders will cackle a bit – and then they’ll leave off…
They’ll cackle and leave off…”

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ara baliozian
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Armenian Cafe


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August 8 2012, 7:02 AM 

Sunday, August 05, 2012
One way to sum our past is to say that
we are victims of hit-and-run accidents
all of which could have been avoided
had we behaved more defensively –
or rather, had our leadership etc.
The overwhelming majority of Armenians today
are predisposed to doubt an honest witness
and to believe everything they are told by our 1%.
The main function of all educational systems
is to create dupes by convincing them that
as dupes they will go farther and accomplish more in life
than as individuals who operate on the false assumption that
they are fully equipped to think for themselves.
You may have noticed that
when an Armenian makes it in the odar world,
he stays away from the unholy tangle of Armenian affairs.
This may suggest that our affairs are conducted
not by our best but our worst.
Some people will do anything for money
especially if they find themselves on the verge of starvation,
say, like Armenians scribblers.
I once met a hireling of a benefactor
who wanted me to translate a volume of his verse.
I once even met a benefactor
who wanted me to write his memoirs.
On still another occasion I met a novelist
who was the secretary of a bishop.
Not only did this character take himself seriously
but he also expected me to do so.
Wonders never cease!
Monday, August 06, 2012
“Treason and betrayal are in our blood,” said Raffi.
He was a man of courage, daring, and integrity.
In modern parlance, he had cojones.
Compared to him I am no better than an orthodox coward.
The worst thing that I have said about us is
“subservience is in our blood.”
Which, if you think about it, boils down to the same thing.
If you say “Yes, sir!” to anyone with authority,
will you ever dare to say “No, sir!”
when he orders you to betray your brother?
Did we ever behead any one of our kings?
Did we ever condemn to death any one of our collaborators?
When Stalin reinstated Etchmiadzin
he did so for a pragmatic reason:
he ordered the Catholicos to bless the war against Hitler
and to encourage the youth to volunteer
instead of deserting the army;
and the Catholicos did what he was told.
He went further.
Under Gorbachev he (the Catholicos)
opposed independence.
Perhaps the Genocide was only a warning
which so far we have failed to heed.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
They say Americans are money-obsessed.
What about Russians?
Both Tolstoy and Dostoevsky died shortly after
family arguments over money.
After a stormy scene over money in Chekhov’s UNCLE VANYA,
a character says:
“The row they made this morning – and shooting, too – a regular disgrace!”
To which another comments:
“Yes…a subject worthy of the brush of Aivazovsky.”
We have all heard of man’s original sin.
What about God’s original sin?
Instead of creating good men,
He created bloodthirsty barbarians.
Nobody knows.
Nobody will ever know.
Sometimes it is easier to die for one’s country
than to live in it.
Perhaps I write too much.
Nobody will ever say I have read everything he has written –
not even I.
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
My mother believed everything she read in the papers
except what I wrote in them. As for me, I believe nothing,
including what I write.
To believe is a verb in whose proximity
I feel inadequate, alien, and thoroughly ill-at-ease.
To me a holy book is only a perennial best-seller
written, re-written, edited, and re-edited by mediocrities
whose number one concern is not truth but power.
Saw for the third time AMARCORD, my favorite Fellini.
Most of it is based not on reminiscence but
(according to his friends) is pure fantasy.
It was filmed not in Rimini, where Fellini was born and raised
but in a studio in Rome.
In Mavis Gallant’s DIARY, written in Madrid
and recently published in the NEW YORKER, I read:
“The children masturbate
the way children in other countries skip rope or roller-skate.
Spanish parents must consider it like teething –
they take no notice whatever.”

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ara baliozian
(Login baliozianara)
Armenian Cafe

Re: diary

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August 11 2012, 7:59 AM 

Thursday, August 09, 2012
We think that we think but we don’t think;
and when we speak
we speak more like parrots than reasonable beings.
Our ideas are not ours but someone else’s.
Marx said he was not a Marxist,
and yet the world is full of them.
Christ never said he was a Christian,
and yet there are billions of them all over the world.
I am all for free speech and against censorship.
That doesn’t mean I support pornographers or, for that matter,
imams who promise 73 virgins to sex-starved teenagers;
or habitual, compulsive, and dogmatic liars
who control our educational system.
I am for gun control;
that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to have a gun
when confronted by a violent intruder or drug-crazed addict.
There are Armenians today who support Basher Assad.
There were Armenians in the Ottoman Empire
who on the eve of the Genocide were pro-Turkish.
There were pro-Nazi Armenians
who fought against Bolshevik Armenians during World War II.
Life is full of contradictions that cannot be reconciled.
What’s the answer?
I wish I knew.
All I can say is, let’s begin by refusing to identify thinking
with recycling someone else’s propaganda
especially when that someone else is an enemy.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Armenians from the Middle East come in all sizes and shapes
but they all share on thing in common: anti-Americanism.
In their view American presidents like FDR and Truman
have killed more innocent civilians
than Hitler, Stalin, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and Attila the Hun combined.
Pearl Harbor, 9/11, the War of Troy: they were all plotted, provoked,
and executed by Americans.
The Serpent in the Garden?
A CIA agent in disguise.
Many years ago one of our elder statesmen warned me:
“An Armenian from the Middle East
will walk past an elementary school
and forever after brag about his university degree.”
As recently as last week,
because I dared to adopt a critical stance towards Basher al-Assad
I was dismissed as a dupe who has been brainwashed by Western media.
I have no illusions about America.
I have fewer illusions about the rest of the world,
including Greece, where I was born and raised,
Italy where I was educated,
Canada where I now live,
and Armenia, my so-called homeland
which i don't plan to visit.
If they hate America why do they live in America?
Their pat answer:
They don’t hate America.
They love Americans.
What they hate is American politics.
What if American politics enjoys the support of the majority?
The sad truth is they hate America,
they hate Americans,
and what they hate even more are fellow Armenians
who dare to disagree with them.
I speak from experience.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Whenever my critics run out of arguments
they accuse me of hating my fellow Armenians,
to which charge I don’t mind pleading guilty.
I will go further and say that
when it comes to hatred
I don’t single out Armenians.
I hate the hateful regardless of nationality.
I hate all fanatics who pretend to be moderates.
I hate double-talk.
I hate child-molesting priests and fornicating bishops
who preach chastity.
I hate moral morons who think dissent is a crime against humanity.
I hate bullies.
I hate intolerance.
I hate dogmatists who operate on the assumption that
anyone who refuses to share their prejudices,
misconceptions and fallacies deserves to die.
Unlike my critics, most of whom are no doubt good Christians,
I don’t love my enemies. I can’t!
And I don’t mind admitting that
I consider that a failing on my part,
and I look forward to the day when
I will love everybody,
but I also know that the chances of that happening
might as well be nil.
I am no angel and I remember to have read somewhere that
when a man tries to be an angel
he runs the risk of losing something much more valuable,
namely his humanity.
I plead guilty to the charge that
as a human being I am vulnerable to all the weaknesses
that flesh is heir to.
But I will say this in my defense.
I have at no time asserted moral superiority.
I leave that to my critics.

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