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On his life as a diasporan Armenian, Berberian said, “Everything in the Diaspora – the identity, is tied only to the Genocide recognition. The generation after me listens to Western music, eats other type of food if their mother cannot cook Armenian food, marries a foreign national and most probably gives Western names to their children. I no longer know which criteria stand for Armenian-ness.”
Elaborating further on life, Berberian compared it to a cocktail party where you drink different types of drink. “That one cup of vodka is when you place your mother in the hospital. Those two cups of beer are your close friend’s death, and a martini is that girl who writes you positive letters. You will keep drinking until you feel like you are about to throw up. An artist thus creates art by sticking his finger down his throat and purging. You do that till you are completely emptied and have nothing else inside to then go back to drinking again to fill up.”
“A relative of mine once brought me Sumatran coffee from her trip to Indonesia – a rare and the most expensive type in the world. What makes it so special is that it is harvested only from what the Sumatran Luwak (Asian Palm Civet) consumes as a result of its ability to choose the best coffee cherries. The beans are partially digested in the civet’s intestines, hence keep their shape, and collected from its feces. To me this resembles the process by which an artist creates his art. Whatever is produced and sold at a high price later on is merely an article of décor. In the end an artist lives in that moment of creating and that is what is important about art,” told Berberian.
Thus an artist has to be a self-cleanser in a continuous way. “The essence of an artist lies in his honesty. If you are honest, the quality of your art will only improve. If you say silly things and people don’t laugh, you put yourself in a silly place. You are obliged to display wisdom. If there is something that I’d like to talk about but the humor part fails, then I don’t talk about it. Comedy is a very serious thing and it is very hard to keep the audience’s interest.”
To a question about the most powerful piece of advice he has ever received and can give, Berberian said he never looks at his talks as advice - I just want to share!"
But he himself did get some advice. "I was 14 when I met Saroyan. He was my idol. I asked him what I should do to become a writer. He said, "Hmm... You write!" That is the best advice I have ever received."
Berberian also appeared on CivilNet.TV the day before the forum and talked to Salpi Ghazarian about humor as a pivotal test in life. Watch the full interview here.