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ara baliozian
from my notebooks

Sunday, July 31, 2005
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Whenever a writer is not admired by his readers, he feels misunderstood. With me, it's the other way around. Whenever I am vilified and silenced I feel understood because I am perceived as a threat to those of my readers who have not yet learned to tell the difference between Armenianism and Ottomanism.
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If I am not a popular writer it may be because I do not think of literature as a popularity contest. I have no political ambitions and I can truly state, if nominated I shall not run, and if elected I shall not serve.
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It is a mistake to think that a writer ought to know more than his readers do. It is not a writer's function or duty to know more. He may even know less, but that which he knows may be different, and as such, worthy of reflection, not condemnation or censorship.
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Why label our intolerance as Ottomanism or Stalinism? Why can't we recognize it as garden-variety intolerance, which happens to be a universal phenomenon? Simply because our brand of intolerance was legitimized, promoted, evolved, matured, and refined under the sultans and Stalin.
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How to recognize an Ottomanized Armenian? As a writer I define an Ottomanized Armenian as one who violates my fundamental human right of free speech and pretends to do this in the name of patriotism, which has nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with Ottomanism and Stalinism.
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Some Armenians don't like reading me for the same reason that some Turks don't like reading Turkish writers who refuse to recycle the party line.
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Monday, August 01, 2005
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There are two kinds of readers: those who read to have their prejudices exposed, their fallacies corrected, and their ideas challenged, and those who read to be reassured that they already know and understand everything they need to know and understand. In short, some read to learn, and some read to remain infatuated with their own ignorance.
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Some people are smart. I am not one of them. When I see something wrong, I don't start wondering if it will be to my advantage to speak up or to behave like the three proverbial monkeys. I do not think emulating monkeys is smart. I do not calculate the pros and cons of a situation and decide to do what's in my own best interest. Call me a fool who has taught himself to think against himself and to act against his own interests.
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I am resigned to the fact that I will never know as much about our history and culture as a partisan who has been thoroughly brainwashed to recycle the party line.
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Those whose lies I expose have every reason to overestimate the power of words and the influence a writer exercises on his readers. But anyone who knows anything about the history of our literature will also know that even our ablest writers have been solitary voices in the wilderness whose warnings have been ignored. Result? Centuries of subservience to tyrants, oppression, massacre, purges, dispersion, fragmentation, alienation, assimilation
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Every morning on waking up I remind myself that the sun does not rise to hear my crowing.
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Tuesday, August 02, 2005
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There is a type of writer (and I used to be one) who makes an a priori decision to be positive. Even before reading his first line you know he will say nothing to disturb you. Which also means he will not be objective and honest because his aim is not to expose contradictions (see below) but to flatter egos.
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He who says Armenians are nice folk lies. Not all Armenians are nice, beginning with our dividers who divide in the name of a religion or an ideology whose aim is to unite.
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Ask any one of our dividers and he will tell you his ultimate aim is to unite the nation. Ask him how successful he has been so far in achieving his goal and he will play the blame-game, which happens to be our national sport.
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I remember as a child, whenever someone accused me of anything, I would deny it even when I was as guilty as hell. Politicians have a name for this tactic: they call it deniability.
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Armenians are brave, Armenians are fearless, Armenians are warlike, especially when they confront harmless solitary scribblers whose sole aim in life is to understand and explain our situation.
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It is not that I no longer believe in what politicians say, I question the sanity of those who do.
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Wednesday, August 03, 2005
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Some of our patriots should be reminded once in a while that patriotism and civility are not mutually exclusive concepts.
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To speak the truth means to be vulnerable to a minimum of one Big Lie, a hundred small lies, and a thousand liars.
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Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), political philosopher: "Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think."
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Kingsley Amis (1922-1995), English novelist: "If you can't annoy somebody with what you write, I think there's little point in writing."
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What is censorship if not fear of being exposed as a fool, a dupe, and a liar?
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Truth opens the doors of perception. Propaganda kicks the messenger in the butt and bangs all doors shut.
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At the root of all intolerance there will be a Big Lie.
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People don't kill in the name of truth. Christ killed no one. The same could not be said of Christians.
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I don't believe in reincarnation, but if I did I would have to assume I must have been a serial killer in a previous life and I am now being punished by writing for Armenians.
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ٵݻ` ɻ Ƿ۳, س۳