From Gostan Zarian's Notebooks, Diaries, & Conversations
Beirut / April 1954
Went to Antelias with Father Shahen and Shahan Berberian.
I told them, the Armenian church has become another shop.
April 6, 1954
Dinner with Shahen Vartabed and Shahan Berberian.
Old memories, new hopes.
Shahan understands a little of everything.
Generally speaking, the Armenian atmosphere is stifling.
Salzburg / December 12, 1956
Everywhere Mozart, Mozart, Mozart.
He has become a source of revenue, he who was buried in a paupers’ grave.
Vienna / March 14, 1957
For a number of years now, we have been living like monks.
Once in a while a play or a concert, nothing else.
I don't see any Armenians, which is no great loss.
Vienna / April 5, 1957
We must oppose the concept of art as entertainment.
Art must be a mission and a destiny.
One must be more than an artist.
Florence / November 26, 1957
Dinner with Mrs. Mann-Borgese [Thomas Mann’s daughter].
Long conversations about literature and her father.
I didn't know that Thomas Mann’s mother was a Brazilian
and he had thus a dual sensibility: German and Latin.
Mrs. Mann-Borgese is herself a talented woman and the author of many
She can't be said to be a great beauty,
but is endowed with qualities far superior to beauty:
a graceful bearing and a high degree of intelligence
Five months now that I have not seen a single Armenian newspaper.
So much the better.
The only thing that connects me to my fellow Armenians is the language.
We always forget that what interests us is not the nation itself
but our conception of it. (My case.)
Yerevan / 1961-1969
God created the world, but the Dutch created
Holland. Armenians would have done the same if
they had not relied too much on others.
With us, the emphasis is on cunning: a character
trait of slaves, devoid of creative impetus,
never a source of strength.
Dante once wrote to a friend: "I found the
prototype of my Inferno right here where I now
"The world is an opinion," Marcus Aurelius tells
We are like the stars, divided by infinite
spaces. By obliterating the physical dimension,
death (and here is its beauty) obliterates these
It has been the destiny of all great men to be belittled by little men.
Greater wisdom imposes a greater strain upon a man.
For an authentic writer nothing can be as easy as being difficult;
and nothing can be as difficult as being easy.
"Make it simple," Oscar Wilde once wrote to a friend from jail,
"otherwise I will think you have nothing to hide."
That which is simple has many layers of meaning.
Simplicity is like the skin that covers muscles, nerves, and all the
other secrets of the body.
That which is difficult has nothing to say. When you finally unravel its
mysteries you discover it is devoid of all sense. And those who praise
this kind of writing are either simple-minded dupes or cunning operators
whose hidden motives have nothing to do with literature.
It has been observed that persecuted minorities tend to cling to
second-hand verities and to consider material possessions as the greatest
The Armenian communities of the Diaspora are dominated by shopkeepers,
pseudo-intellectuals, and clergymen. A miscellaneous crew of rascals with
fat bellies and swollen egos. There you have the nucleus around which our
collective existence revolves. This indeed ought to be the central issue
of our literature of the Diaspora.
From Gostan Zarian's Notebooks, Diaries, & Conversation
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