AVETIK'S DIARY

 

One day my door bell rang. I opened the door. A jovial young man introduced himself: Otto Namman, Homicide Squad of the Berlin Police. He gave me a black notebook with red corners (made in China). It belonged to an Armenian emigrant N. N., who had recently been murdered in Berlin with seven unusually precise axe blows. It turned out that he had bequeathed his diary to me. After reading it I decided to shoot 'Avetik'. We hardly knew each other. Here are some excerpts from his diary.

Don Askarian

"Yesterday King Artashes visited me, he was quite nervous; he smoked his way through a whole pack of 'Gauloises'. At any rate he was not as embarrassingly theatrical as Hamlet's father. And his horse was real. He bears a great resemblance to the owner of the restaurant 'Dwin'. The king, not the horse. He is going to play him. The king.
The light was golden-grey, very diffuse, but the few solitary, nimble spots that, as ever on secret ways, found us, were very intense and amazingly sharply defined."*

"They say that a compatriot of Picasso's, also a painter, but much more talented than he, was ruined by his scheming. I simply must find the traces of this scheming in his paintings. In Picasso's. Must the cake of the German language be baked with possessive paws, index fingers and arrows? A charge against the possessive pronoun. Brought by me."

Today I saw a documentary film about the earthquake in Armenia. The Russians had it made in order to milk the west, starting with the Diaspora-Armenians. One woman, dead under concrete slabs, really looks like my mother. Did I cry in my sleep? Is she still alive? I have no money which I could send her."

"Reality is neither the subject nor the goal of true art, because it creates its own reality, which has nothing in common with the 'middle of the road' reality which is accessible to the collective eye."
Wladimir Nabokov 'Pale Fire' had to write 'Lolita' for money."

"Film as art form has degenerated into a poor bride; exported from maybe Asia, Africa or Latin America, she is bitterly humiliated at the side events of big film parties. The majority of TV-editors, directors, producers, critics and festival directors ought to be more brutally persecuted than the drug-mafia and pimp-rapists, for they take the tenderest beings, children, and turn them into addicted monsters and shrieking whores. This criminal Boheme, operating with a sharply pointed pencil (instead of a cocaine needle) destroy that which they do not begin to understand."

"As if under hypnosis, I went to the crossroads and lay down on the asphalt. The cars honked angrily, but all I could hear was the rushing of a stream under the earth. This stinking city means less to me than one single dragon-fly. as blue, purple and turquoise as the reflection of the sky in the water. Who can still love like that? In circling, perpendicular flight!"

"In Teheran, after the premiere of my film (mile long queues) a Turk was heard to say: 'Shame we didn't kill all the Armenians in 1915, then this film wouldn't have been made.' How am I to understand that? The invitation the Turkish Film Festival promised to send me still hasn't arrived. Were his compliments on my film made on behalf of the Turkish secret service? Another Turk visited me in my hotel. He said that he would pray for me, that I would be able to carry on making films."

"What does this journalist want from me? She didn't offer me any money for the interview. The blunt expression of your breast..."

"The majority of Germans suffer pathologically from racism. No foreigner has ever been able to achieve any success worth mentioning here Beckett, Picasso, Ionesco, Bunuel - None of them were French... I must get out of this filth as fast as I can."

"Antonioni could sketch the beyond of life so simply. Even in bad films you can feel his wonderfully sensitive soul."

"May lightning strike me if I ever write, speak, think one word of a lie."

"They come, disguised as highly talented film directors, actually persecuted, the poor bastards, home. Their films were banned, to get them sold in the West. To make up for that, the 'enemy of the people' was allowed to make the same film 3 times over in the Army film studios. They were banned from their professions, but allowed to work as spys in hard-currency hotels. That didn't bother anybody. But I suggest, as I believe in the strict protection of author's rights, that next to the portraits of Eisenstein Stalin's portrait should be hung in film museums, and some lions, bears and palms should be made out directly to the film sections of the secret services."

"Films should be shown in churches."

"The wobbling pillar of his fame were built on massive DM investments. His amazing lack of talent explained his threatening fertility. His membership of and chairmanship in many film organizations gave him the necessary power to influence public opinion. His viewers' ratings were faked and all his prizes were bought. Like a kraken he sucked all the money from public funds and television organizations. His last films achieved the most extreme degree of idiocy. One day he rang me up and offered me his help. I was supposed to send him my film-scripts. All of them. The vampire had no doubts..."

"Shame I'm not a writer."

"I fulfilled Nabokov's wish, went to the oak by the Grunewald Lake. Did he write here? There are poets in Germany after all. They are bad, provincial, but all the same they're not butchers. Or are they just the side-dish to the meat?' I can't get away from that book."

"Where is our painting, comparable to the poetry of Kutschak? The love scenes in the cinema are so pitiful... As turquoise as the sky's reflection in the water, circling and fluttering, in perpendicular flight!"

"Yesterday I had a macabre day: the famous kraken visited me. He was dying to read my scripts. I was silent. Actually he's more like a tadpole. He talked about his new film: a girl is lying on the floor, the camera moves in on her, the film hero pisses on her-on to her face in close up, now and again a commentary from Freud, the whole thing accompanied by Wagnerian sounds..."

* None of these notes were dated. (D. A.)