Adonis Diaries

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Is it Ethical? Using Trumped-up diary-forms to describe acts of genocide?

I posted this review of the French  book “I killed Armenians” by Jean-Claude Belfiore and received a comment by the author related to Note #6.

Note 5: The French author Jean-Claude Belfiore is from an Armenian mother and a Sicilian father. He published “Hannibal: An unbelievable destiny” The author did his best to fool the reader that the book is a genuine diary written by an actual Turkish officer Azil Kemal. The cover features an old picture of a Turkish officer, and throughout the book the author made sure to give the impression that the story was extracted from a diary.

The introduction informed us that the diary covered 4 block-notes, 100-page each, and written in Turkish but with Armenian characters! And that Azil was married to the Armenian Anzi and had a one year old son Erol-Hagop (Jack). At the end of the novel and in Italic the author mentions that it very probable that Hagop died a martyr with the French Resistance FFI in 1944 at the age of 20…

Note 6: It is infuriating to the reader to notice the great trouble that an author takes to fool the buyer. After the first two chapters, it become obvious that it is a novel written in a diary form. It is highly improbable that an officer under so much stress can write about his adventure extensively, clearly, smoothly and with minute details. Let alone insert very funny dialogues. A believable diary is an exercise to relieve the anxieties and frustrations of a person who needs to let a big load off his shoulders. You jot down a few sentences to remind you of the events for later editing.

Jean-Claude Belfiore  responded (an abridged translation from French):

“The Journal is a literary genre that many authors succumbed to such as (Sartre, Camus, Stevenson, Vittorini, Gide, Jules Verne, Genet, Mirbeau, Bernanos etc.!) In no case was the reader duped, and never did the author considered the reader an idiot.

It is as if you reproach the author of a detective novel to force the reader to believe that the murder really took place… Even a real diary of Anne Frank was rearranged to be legible.

Actually, I wrote in the first few pages “The back of the pages (of the diaries) were used for correction, a proof that the narrator was editing in a critical spirit“. It is possible to imagine that Azil Kemal edited his text. Your definition of a diary is reductive.”

Frankly, I was duped till the third chapter. I have this tendency of reading first the last chapter and then the introduction. In this case, and the succinct descriptions of the massacres in the early chapter led me to believe that this diary was genuine with some arrangement… By the third chapter I had my doubt since the book began to explain and expand on issues “essay fashion“. I fell back to back cover for the summary and was instructed that this was just a novel.

I was duped because I wanted to read a single diary written by a genuine Turkish author during that horrendous period.

My position is that when the diary-form concerns act of genocide, it is very much ethical to warn the reader upfront in the introduction, and in bold caption

This is a fiction novel and the diary is not genuine.” If the author relied on a few eye-witness accounts and other diaries for his novel, it is imperative to let the reader know. Genocide is a highly serious matter to use trumped-up diaries for political objectives.

The Irish independent leader Michael Collins said “Terrorism is effective only in democratic institutions where it can change people’s opinion”

Belfiore novel can be considered a form of terrorism to alter readers’ opinion of what took place a century ago, and pressure the French government to demand from Turkey a public apology… France parliament passed the label of Genocide to the mass massacre against Armenians.  That would be great if Turkey does apologize. However, it is my feeling that Belfiore adopted this trumped up form as a literary counter-terrorism terror…

If it were not for the early chapters, I don’t think I’ll make such as fuss.

Otherwise, the novel is a good eye-opener of how and why genocide of Armenians in Turkey could slip by during WWI.

The few events of genocide described may most probably occurred from doing a few research, but the stories are too harsh for not warning the readers of the fictitious nature of the stories.

I like to remind that people “fast read” and very few read the introduction.

The cover got me fooled and I felt duped: I wanted to read genuine diaries of that period.

This said, I don’t mind reviewing this book with a couple more posts.

Note 1: Ironically, the author preferred the accurate title “I killed Armenians” as in my second posts Part 2, instead of the first title “I committed genocide…. Why? The term genocide was coined in 1944, and it does not fit a diary written in 1915. There is no doubt in my mind that the author meant “genocide”, and that the novel main objective was political in nature.

Note 2:  The Ottoman Empire was one the mildest empires in matters of religious animosities in the earliest 2 centuries. It had the vastest diversity of sects and cults. The Empire opened its borders to the Jews who were persecuted in Spain under the Inquisition.  It was the aggressive Shias Safavid Persian Empire in the 18th century that opened the war of expansion eastward to the Ottoman Empire. The latest genocide against the Armenians was based on centuries of consistent lack of “loyalty” of the Armenians to the Ottoman Empire, and siding exclusively with every Russian expansion at the expense of the Turkish territories.  This attached link is not meant as an apology for genocide, but to comprehend the causes so that people endeavor to reform the political and social structure before the ineluctable befall a nation

Note 3: Since antiquity, tribes massacred tribes for the loot. Military generals assassinated entire towns to establish terror and make the advance easier.

Genocide is a modern trend of acute brutality. Genocide began in the early 15th century as the Portuguese and Spanish conquistadors expanded their territories overseas, annihilating entire civilization under the guise of Christianizing the barbarian infidels.

The USA attained the climax in genocide activities over 2 centuries: “A good Indian is a dead Indian

In the last century, every colonial power such as England, France, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Israel… endeavored to learn the most efficient methods and techniques for executing mass genocide. The motto of the extermination was “If anyone of these unwanted races escaped genocide, then the plan was a failure…”

I am revisiting history; (Apr. 21, 2010)

            History is a collection of stories that need to be revisited frequently; stories to be revised with new eyes and new knowledge.  Human behavior did not change perceptibly; if any, human cruelty to mankind and nature increased by several notches.  Suppose the worst despots of antiquity or even two century ago witnessed the two world wars that afflicted mankind within 30 years and then he watched the news of the dropping of two atomic bombs within a week then, how would he react comparing his atrocities compared to current mankind behaviors?

            In general, history stories are recounted Hollywood style packed with actions, heroes, traitors, smart generals, and foresighted leaders and monarchs.  Sure, the new Anglo-Saxon of Protestants landing in the US killed and massacred far more Indians than the Spanish Conquistadors managed to inflict in Latin America but these behaviors do not account for the disappearance of the Indians in the USA.  It is the slow and steady holocaust strategies applied on the Indians that did the trick. Indians died the slow death from new diseases they were not immune to them; they died the non hero death in more pain and suffering than gunshot wounds. The Indian were first chased out of fertile lands and then even the bison was denied them. As the herd of bisons arrived from the Canadian plains they were slaughtered for their fur by the new white comers. Indians who might have acquired some immunity to white diseases had to die of famine, depression, and loss of all hope in a future for the survival of their descendents. Thus, Indians stopped procreating in this new world of cruelty and blatant discrimination.

            The Moslem Ibn Khaldoun in 15th century North Africa, considered to be the prime sociologist and ethnographer, wrote that when a people lose hope in a better future then they decline procreating; when a people has high hope for their descendents then population increase.  If you revise history stories you can link, with high positive correlation, between periods of luxury and fast and increase in procreation. Once people realize that their sons have high chances to die in successive wars, be maimed or and made prisoners for nothing in return then they refrain from procreating; thus, the Empire starts a slow but steady decline.  Moslem Arab armies with rudimentary arms defeated the two main Empires of Byzantium and Persia within 20 years: thirty years ago, Byzantium and Persia waged non stop wars against one another to recapture a district here and another one there. The two people were already exhausted emotionally to enlisting soldiers and bankrupt economically to hiring mercenaries.

            You might offer a counterpoint: “How come after 70 years of slow and steady holocaust process inflicted by the Zionist movement (Israel State) on the Palestinian people this strategy did not slow the increased procreation of the Palestinians?”  My conjecture is that most Palestinians live in camps: Camp life is too depressing if devoid of kids playing, laughing, and cheering up the camp.  The more kids are playing around the more hope is sustained. Camp creates community supports and discrepancies among classes are not noticeable to prevent sharing the little families have and caring for kids of neighboring families.




December 2022

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