The Black Square

Aram MATEVOSYAN

Writer

Yerevan

Analyticon’s question is where Armenia should go – to Europe or Eurasia.

I am not indicating the direction just out of fear that my compatriots can suddenly take my words literally, as a call to go somewhere; and they leave, as they understood the appeal “go” after the establishment of the independence – and they “went away.”  Well, no, people. Going anywhere – is not a physical movement, not an emigration to Harbin or Istanbul. It is not the speculative migration flows that define whether the given nation is Europeanized or Asianized. There are other criteria, there are pre-historic times.

Karl Jaspers in his work “The origin and goal of history” presents the vectors of development of thinking in quite a popular style,  since the prehistoric  times up to the new technological age. It is true that the Armenian philosophic thought, as in many other cases, has its own localized opinion, but I am inclined to follow the way of the famous thinkers, stemming from the intuitive conviction that it is not local thinkers or dictators who determine the vector of development of a nation.

 

The humanitarian goal of a humanoid has been and still is the priority sphere of intellectuals.  In France  Camus, not De Gaulle, who became the bearer of the humanitarian vector, as Jaspers was in Germany, Buber – for Jews, Kierkegaard for the Danish people. So if the question is which vector should be choose, my answer is definite – intellectual. According to Jaspers’s development scheme, on the scientific and technological stage, various branches of mankind thought and moved identically. The speed-up of the development has already weaved all economies into a colossal mega-structure for a long time ago. And we start thinking about the development trend, then we should do it on the level of the mind, not otherwise.

 

In terms of economics, we all are in the same market space, and in terms of culture – in the same deadlock. Having signed the canvas in yellow, Joan Miro hammered a nail into the coffin of painting, meanwhile Jean Arp, presenting the river boulder as a waste of the creativity of a genius, buried the art of sculpture as a genre of arts. Well, go and paint, sculpt, the peoples, who have chosen the European vector.

 

The 20th century has created it and destroyed it itself. I think there will be no such a comprehensive saturation for a long time, as it was in that century. So, taking into account the developments of the 20th century, Europe and Eurasia are in the same register.  That is why I am speaking about the orientation that is more concrete and acceptable, i.e. the intellectual orientation, which is higher than the national or continental level. But if we want to reach the continental level, anyway, then according to the historiography, following Jaspers or without him, we have to admit that it is the Greek-European origin that lies in the basis of the Armenian thought, and only then the Christian one.

 

As early as in the 4th century the philosophic department of the Athens University was headed by an Armenian, if we believe to Raffi, and coming to the examples from the modern history, just mentioning the writer Grigor Zohrab would be enough for us to call ourselves Europeans. Well, it is true that Constantinople was occupied and Asianized by Turks, but before the Genocide, the 20th century the Armenian ethno-genesis had got a strong and deep-rooted European thought there, which afterwards gave birth, now in the Diaspora, to the contemporary embranchments of the Western Armenian thought: Archile Gorky and William Saroyan. The occupation divided the Armenian people into western and eastern parts, but the nation has remained committed to the same civilized, Christian tradition in its both parts.

 

As a guideline, the attraction of Russia is undoubtedly quite strong. For Russia’s Christian tradition, it was Dostoevsky’s works that made it fly high. This man pushed Russia into ranks of the leading nations. The nation that we have long years of joint life, but which, unfortunately, has drawn back in terms of the belief, and after the collapse of the Soviet empire is unable to offer anything else but a gas blackmail.

 

The contemporary Russian oligarchic thought unfortunately has got too far from the Christian tradition. The Asiatic thinking is hidden under the White Guardian camouflage, so   tying up the perspective of our development with Russia as a way to Europe would mean to catch the left ear with the right hand.

 

I do not consider the inclination toward Russia an orientation. Orientation supposes the free will of the one who determines his way. We proclaimed independence, but have not become independent. All our steps in the years of independence have been aimed against the blockade, being liberation movements. However, what we have now is just a little defile, connecting us with the Christian world – Georgia, and it can be closed at any moment. And apparently, the situation pushes us toward this way. With the loss of Cilician Armenia, we lost the chance to remain Europeans and became smaller. And the narrow backbone that makes us keeping the posture is the remaining intellectual thought. So this is the thing, by which we should pave the way.

 

Turkey’s pathological aspiration to spread pan-Turkism has always pushed us toward the Russia-Iran axis, which is fraught with the danger of Asianation.  In this article I involuntarily mentioned the word Christianity, sometimes out of place, but maybe just trying to catch and use it as a way for development, as an open opportunity, probably, with the hope for the righteous judgment, described in the New Testament. Maybe it is the concentrated curiosity, inherent in the contemporary Christianity that leads us to the Christianity itself. Europe exists as such only being a bearer of Christianity. However, the very European political elite does not know about it.

 

The systemic care and responsibility for the fate of the likes of us. The conscience tells it.  Renunciation of libertinism, asceticism, spiritual life. This is what is required, especially from the elite man. Who lives with such testaments, the elite of which country? There is only one reason. The elites of the Christian nations, especially the clergy, do not believe in the Doomsday. Europeans simply have not understood the meaning of the Apocalypse; so they put the Holy Book aside and declared the Christianity a cultural legacy. Apocalypse is a systemic concentration, the anxious perception of realities. He or she, who has chosen the way of humanization, will preserve the open opportunity for realization of one’s owns “I.” But those who are responsible for the collective governance, the Armenia ruler and priest are incapable to direct man just because they are lacking their own project of “I” and the deficit of people, who could not understand anyway that the New Testament without the Last Judgment becomes a collection of aphorisms, that life without the Apocalypse becomes a content-free and endless serial movie.

 

Our political elite insists that we are moving toward Europe, but such statements are just hearsay, inertial and unconscious. The European tradition is first of all Christian. Our elite is unaware how the Christian thought twisted out of pain, passing through two world wars of the 20th century. Armenians suffered the local but bitter Apocalypse in 1915, but they have not learned the lessons. The systematic alert of war makes the human thinking apocalyptic, i.e. an independent thinking. Such thinking supposes meeting with the Creator, but a decent meeting requires renunciation of depravity and mercenary spirit. If the apocalyptic thought had been shaped in us, then first of all it should have been reflected in the lifestyle of the clergy. If there is no renunciation and limitation in material, then there is no   perception and respect toward “I”.  Our clergy is convinced that the Biblical “proverb” about the end of the world is exaggeration. Well, the people, thinking this way, should be sobered up.

. . .

Presenting the canvas, painted in black, to the public’s judgment a century ago, Malevich made the creative task even more complicated for those to come and create after him. Cecil Taylor does the same in music now. The only way to realization of “I,” i.e. to belief is the way of creativity. Our ignorance does not allow seeing the ways toward belief that have been indicated by geniuses. Our ignorance does not let us evaluate the Last Judgment, described by John the Evangelist.

 

There are two judgments, two apocalypses. One flickers in the arithmetic of frightened prophecies ,when every new meteorite is getting closer to the earth and moving away, and the second   one displays itself in the creations that have overcome the fear of death and confirming the dignity of man, just as Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square.

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