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William Saroyan's Famous Quote


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#21 hagopn

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 01:37 AM

At the risk of opening some festering old wounds.
No, no we are not talking about someones auntie christie , neither are we speaking about popes and other poops. :pooh:
Seems there are few others that share my view, (including the likes C K Garabed, see below) of this outburst of Old Billy, perhaps during a drunken stupor.. I dont, I never did understand the message. Any others here do?
Did Old Billy know History, in particular Armenian History, beside what he heard from great uncle and aunt? Was he born and raised in Armenia? Why not? Did he know that Armenia was practically and virtually wiped off the map so many times, and eventually reduced to an area smaller than Fresno?
Could he have spoken those words at the risk of being hanged at the nearest tree in his ancestral Bitlis? Why did his ancestors flee Bitlis **and moved to Fresno, at the present less tha 10% of what it was before Baghesh became Bitlis?
Yes, we all shoot the breeze after a couple of glasses of oghi..
Note. This nonsensical outburst has done us as much good as that other farting by hitler.
**The original name of Bitlis was Baghesh. The Arabs renamed it Bitlis.
http://hy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Բաղեշ
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Quote.
Obviously, I had found the quote impressionable; otherwise I would not have done what I did. I would read the quote every now and then with some sense of comfort that our growing sons may read it, too, and over time establish some understanding as to who we are and where do we come from. Over time I established a familiarity with it. When novelty gives way to familiarity so do feelings give way to reason of varying degree. It is then that it occurred to me to ask myself: "What is this quote really saying?"
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Published in Keghart.com (http://www.keghart.com)

http://www.keghart.c...royan-quote.jpg

Saroyans Popular But Nonsensical Quote
By Vahe H. Apelian, Ohio, 9 January 2014
I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered.
Go ahead, destroyArmenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.
Many, I bet most, English-speaking Armenians have seen William Saroyan's quote. Some may have also bought an inscription of the quote on a plaque. I was no exception. In fact, I ordered the larger size and hung it on a wall in our house. Saroyan looms larger than life, especially for Armenians. His image may have helped to bolster the impression. He was a bear of man with an oversized and impressive mustache. That is how he remains etched in my memory.
Obviously, I had found the quote impressionable; otherwise I would not have done what I did. I would read the quote every now and then with some sense of comfort that our growing sons may read it, too, and over time establish some understanding as to who we are and where do we come from. Over time I established a familiarity with it. When novelty gives way to familiarity so do feelings give way to reason of varying degree. It is then that it occurred to me to ask myself: "What is this quote really saying?"

First and foremost I saw a pervasive paranoia in the quote: I should see any power destroy this race. Go ahead, destroy Armenia, etc. etc. etc. Surely we have had and have our share of enemies but I bet more people on this planet do not know us to ever bother to think of harming us.
Destroy, but who?
Destroy this small tribe of unimportant people. Is that what we are? Is this what I want our children to read growing up...that we come from a tribe of unimportant people? How would my sons teacher and friends react, I thought, if my son took the plaque to school for a morning class show-and-tell? I felt aghast.
On further thought, I realized that there is more in the quote that kills the spirit than uplifts it. After all, we are speaking of a people whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Gosh, imagine trying to explain this to a child you are raising to be proud of his or her heritage.
Granted, that there are affirmative statements in the quote about Armenians coming together, laughing, singing and creating a new Armenia. All that is good and well, but offers little solace after all the paranoia, doom and gloom.
Eventually it occurred to me that the plaque did not cite the source of the quote. Internet search-engines were of no help. I started having doubts whether Saroyan had really said it.
Sometime later I came across a discussion in Armenian media which alleged that Saroyans quote is a sanitized version of his utterance. The writer said that Saroyan started it with an obscene expression. If I were to use it in an article, more likely than not, editors will censor it. The commentator said that the original quote contains the word mother but not as in the Holy Mother of God expression. It would not surprise me that Saroyan would use a foul expression. As I said, he loomed larger than life and had his way when it came to words.
I still don't know for sure if a foul expression precedes the quote. However, it makes more sense to me that it does. Saroyan, more likely than not, said what he said in rage. We are not supposed to sound rational when angry. Our rage is an outlet to express our frustration more so than to make sense. Surely what we say in our rage in not meant to be educational.
For all those who would like to display the quote in their homes, I suggest them to have it inscribed in verbatim and indicate the source once they find it. Its the right thing to do. After all, words, even foul expressions, make sense and may even sound less offensive if they are used in context. Otherwise, one may consider doing what I did with its sanitized version: I tucked it away.

 

When I wrote something similar on Armenia.net back in 1992 or 1993, which we used to  affectionately call "Armonet", people truly got angry.  "How dare you criticize William Saroyan?"   Iconoclasm is my job.  That's what I do-- :)

 

Quite frankly Vahe is back pedaling too much.  My motto is, Sempre Avanti!  If you're going to say it, then, damn it, SAY IT.

 

Saroyan was being an egomaniac.  His quote reminds me of our "Father of History" and his description of the Armenian nation as "Pokr atzu enq," yet another unnerving expression that shows near-total ignorance.  He wanted to be another Movses Khorenatsi, defining us, putting us on the table for public consumption like some plate of mixed nuts and diced soujoukh.

 

I have never liked the saying.  In fact, we were quite a large nation even 5000 years ago, and our legends, myths, ideas, music, etc. is everywhere in the civilized world!  I have heard so often defeatist mumblings such as "Armenians in Poland assimilated and disappeared from history."  Did they now?  I would say that Armenians redefined Poland's culture, and we have yet to do research to give them the attention and credit they deserve!  With the exception of a notable few, a handful really, particularly on the past diasporas, the research we do mostly consists of how well we died in 1915! 

 

Have you ever had a Pole run up to you once having found out you're Armenian and interested in history in order to show his Armenian family's escutcheon, his family crest, proudly saying that his family came from such and such a region in ARmenia?  An acquaintance of mine tells of this when he lived in Poland for a short spell.  These people are itching to find their identities.  How much are we trying to find out about who we truly are and have been, seriously?  THere are some fascinating researchers out there, and yet how much are they truly brought to the public's attention? 

 

Saroyan was a famous play write.  Good for him, but he was no historian or authority on our identity!   Our influence as a people, as a civilization, go far beyond what we realize.


Edited by hagopn, 31 January 2014 - 01:45 AM.


#22 onjig

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 01:56 PM

I think Saroyan was a good man, an Armenian, who worked hard and became well known, good for him. He was Armenian in his heart and well liked by Armenian people. Armenians were proud of him and proud to hear him mentioned.

 

In early California, Armenians were not well treated by many, jealous of their success. Signs, big signs, Foster and kliser size were set up on roads leading into Fresno, Visalia, and several cities in California. These signs read things like: Armenians are not wanted here! Armenians are not white." 

I over heard the telling of the boys, Myrig had ten brothers, together pulling down a sign and dragging it out into open country. " Burned up the motor in Lawyer keck's [ Kecklician] Cadillac" Why would that happen? I asked. "These were big signs, roads weren't smooth like now." This was Uncle Joe [Joseph Adalian] speaking. "Folks had a buggy and we used wagons to go into town, horses to work in our vineyards." " Not many people had cars."  

 

Uncle Joe, moved to Los Angles during the depression, became a mechanic and opened Southwest Garage, was drafted into the army at the age of 47, given a commission as Sergent and served in North Africa during WW II, keeping the tank, trucks and jeeps moving. In Africa Uncle met Richard [Dicran] an Armenian from back east. One day together, Richard driving the jeep in Algiers North Africa, there was a crash, Uncle received a broken leg and was shipped home on furlough for three weeks, before returning to war. He, Uncle Joe lived with the folks, after moving to LA area until his time to walk with the Lord.

 

Re: Saroyan. He like you and I, wrote things, thought things and said things at twenty that we might say and write differently today. I am proud of him, have a library of his works, he is one of us.


Edited by onjig, 01 February 2014 - 02:09 PM.


#23 hagopn

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 02:00 PM

Oh, there's no doubt in my mind that he was a genuine Armenian and genuine good man, perhaps, as you say, rough on the edges sometimes, but a good man regardless.  He definitely was a very talented man and portrayed Armenians in such a beautiful and positive manner.  I consider him a national hero, no less.  But he was no historian nor an authority on our legacy, but he certainly was an observant man, a compassionate man, who saw us the way we would like to see ourselves.


Edited by hagopn, 01 February 2014 - 02:01 PM.


#24 hagopn

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 02:02 PM

And truly thank you for your family's stories.  I enjoy reading them very much.  Are you thinking of writing and publishing?



#25 onjig

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 06:28 PM

It would be good to record them, at least for the family, myrig told me to. 

 

I was trying to point out that Armenians in the central valley of california had some things to deal with. Saroyan grew up there at lived it.

 

Thankyou hagopn, for your appeciation and understanding. 



#26 hagopn

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 06:40 PM

It would be good to record them, at least for the family, myrig told me to. 

 

I was trying to point out that Armenians in the central valley of california had some things to deal with. Saroyan grew up there at lived it.

 

Thankyou hagopn, for your appeciation and understanding. 

 

Dear friend, I am well aware of the troubles Armenians faced in the San Joaquin valley.  One of the stories I recall is from the Hovanissian family, of the famed historian and his family, from the Depression era.  One important detail is the Armenian ability to prepare for the worst in the event of disasters such as this sort of food shortage or outright famine.  The story went that the general population resented the Armenians for having large quantities of preserves, which, as I have written previously, the ARmenians are absolute experts at doing, preparing long term preserve - even bread - that lasts through the Winter (in Armenia herself) or the Great Depression in the case of the San Joaquin Valley.  The Armenian "maran"*** is notoriously well stocked in today's village in Armenia as well, and this might have been one reason that the Armenian population during the Blockade from 1991 to 1994, particularly the "freezing years" of 92-93, in addition to overfishing the lakes in Armenia for their protein needs, were not suffering from widespread famine.

 

***(մառան = pantry, but not really, more like a huge storehouse, sometimes underground, with the stored items in a large storage container or multiple containers of a variety of sorts, suspended from the ceiling to avoid direct contact with the surrounding storage room.  Fascinating technology, really)


Edited by hagopn, 01 February 2014 - 06:46 PM.





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