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from my diary
ara baliozian

Sunday, July 24, 2005
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NICE GUYS
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If I were to single out my greatest blunder, it would have be the fact that I trusted my judgment into the hands of people who did not deserve my trust. But is this not also the quintessential Armenian blunder and the blunder of all underdogs and slaves in general?
*
I feel bad whenever readers insult me, but I feel better when I think that even hoodlums find me compulsively readable. This may not be as good as the Nobel Prize but it may well qualify as a step in the right direction.
*
Once upon a time when I said and repeated Turks were nasty folk and Armenians nice guys, I was allowed regular space in a dozen publications in Canada, the United States, the Middle East, and sometimes even Australia and South America. Perhaps because flattery is like money, it speaks many languages and it has universal appeal. But when I decided to call a hoodlum a hoodlum, regardless of creed, rank, ideology, and financial status, I was given the kind of treatment reserved only for a skunk at a garden party.
*
I have said this before and it bears repeating, Armenians are hard to please. They will criticize you even when you flatter them. They will criticize you if only because you did not flatter them enough. After you call them nice guys, they will expect you to call them smart and generous as well.
*
Smart? How smart can a nation be whose best and brightest spent seven centuries kowtowing and brown-nosing sultans, pashas, padishas, and commissars - the very same hoodlums who deflowered their daughters and coerced their sons to fight and die for them?
*
Generous? Even when I worked for multimillionaires, or rather their flunkeys, I was never paid more than minimum wage, and if you were to subtract my expenses, I had to survive on a negative income.
*
Whenever I mention money in my writings, I am told an artist should be above such petty considerations. "Think of Beethoven," I was reminded once. "Can you imagine him thinking about money while composing his divinely inspired sonatas, concertos, and symphonies?"
*
As a matter of fact, it is because I think of Beethoven that I write as I do. Most of his published letters deal with crooked publishers, royalties, and money. His contempt for the aristocracy (his potential patrons) knew no bounds. Once, during a walk in the park, he even rebuked Goethe for taking his hat off and bowing to a prince.
#
Monday, July 25, 2005
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On the radio this morning (abridged and paraphrased): "The madrassahs in which poor Muslim boys are taught to hate infidels were until recently subsidized by rich Muslims. But now that poor Muslims are slaughtering rich Muslims, rich Muslims have declared jihad on jihadists."
*
Title of a novel: "The Last Two Armenians," or "The Abelcainian Brothers."
*
Whenever a reader insults me anonymously, I reflect that he is transferring his animus against Turks onto a more accessible and less threatening target.
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More often than not I am criticized for writing about my own experiences as opposed to the experiences of my critics, the implication being that my experiences are counterfeit and theirs pure gold.
*
And then there are critics who believe the failings of other nations justify and legitimize our own. It follows, our failings are not failings but inevitable facts of the human condition. If they are inevitable, they should be covered up and ignored. This is the kind of reasoning not of smart people (which we claim to be) but of moral morons (which we accuse others of being).
*
I see our high rate of alienation and assimilation as an extension of the old Armenian adage, "Mart bidi ch'ellank!" (We shall never acquire the status of human beings.)
#
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
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A reader demands to know if I am for or against assimilation. My answer: I am for anything that will make one a better human being regardless of race, color, and creed.
*
The art of writing consists in being readable not only by readers who are for you but also those who are against you. Judging by the number of readers who are against me, I must be on the right path.
*
It has been observed that rubles play a central role in Dostoevsky's fiction. One could say the same about the role of benefactors in our collective existence.
*
The trouble with being a proud Armenian is that every other Armenian you meet will be a source of embarrassment.
*
If you want to see an Armenian as he really is, pretend to be dependent on his goodwill. As a writer, I don't have to pretend
*
If you are a brown-noser, as I was once, there will come a time when you will wonder if it was worth it. I assure you, it never is. If you have any doubts, consider our 600 years of subservience: what did it get us?
*
Suppose you say the sun rises in the east and you are contradicted. What do you say? You say nothing because you realize you are dealing with someone with missing parts. Which may suggest that we argue only when we are in doubt, and we argue not to convince others but ourselves.
#
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
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We tend to assert infallibility based not on our own ideas but on those of a schoolteacher or parish priest, which may suggest that we were taught many things except how to think for ourselves.
*
Theo Van Gogh's killer stated that he did what he did driven by his faith. He should have said, driven by what he was taught by an imam who was himself taught many things except how to think for himself.
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We were as much victims of Turkish barbarism as our own miscalculations. We misunderstand the Genocide if we emphasize the first and cover up the second.
*
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), English novelist and essayist: "It takes two to make a murder."
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Franz Kafka (1883-1924), Czech author: "My guiding principle is this: Guilt is never to be doubted."
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Don King, the American boxing promoter once explained that he is a survivor because he has "wit, grit and bullshit." It's astonishing how many manage to survive with only the third item on the menu.
*
My most dogmatic critics are those who pretend to understand me but who don't even understand themselves.
*
Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), English novelist: "Failure makes people cruel and bitter."
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If you are a failure and you consider yourself a success, you condemn yourself to remain a failure.
*
Two kinds of people cannot take criticism gracefully, the very insecure and the very arrogant.
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ٵݻ` ɻ Ƿ۳, س۳