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Favorite Quotes by

1948 -

Called by some the Juvenal of our century, Eli Khamarov has provided the insights into our society which can only be made by an outsider. One critic put it best : "He embodies the eloquence of H.L. Mencken ... the humor of Marl Twain ... the insight of Juvenal ... and the criticism of himself."

The only son of a Russian father and German mother, Eli Khamarov was born in England in 1948. His family later ventured to Israel, where he "mis-spent" his youth. Becoming disillusioned with the political climate and politicians "whose noses flared at the smell of gunpowder," as expressed by Victor Ostrovsky, a former MOSSAD agent, a then older and wiser Khamarov moved to a quiet life on the coast of Maine, near Ogunquit. Having "observed life more than living it", Khamarov is putting his thoughts and observations to paper. Some of these thoughts have been collected here. (From cover jacket, "Surviving on Planet Reebok")

[By constant prodding, fans of Eli have persuaded him to enter the age of email; write to him at]

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Thoughts on ...

Society and Humanity

I feel sorry for Bill Gates and others like him. Some day he may be sitting on his deathbed, and perchance only then, he might realise what was essential to living, not only in his life but other's lives as well. His myopia is rooted in our system of rewards and punishments, and of keeping score. His eye is on the ball and not in the larger picture of the game. I wouldn't begrudge him his fortune if his product were earnestly the very best foot he could put forward. Unfortunately, any motivation he has to improve his products and his image are out of consideration for profits and not from an internal desire to succeed; in short, he has the wrong measure of success, like most Americans. Worse yet is that Mr. Gates represents to some what Capitalism is all about; he represents what it is---not what it could be.(From "America Explained!")
The main thrust of human occupation is to prolong our mortality.(From "America Explained!")
People say, "you get what you pay for", but that can't be true if Capitalism is to succeed. (From "America Explained!")
The Japanese say "don't lose face", but mine was already dragging on the ground. (From "America Explained!")
Academe was created with good intentions and is now run by ignorance and apathy.(From "America Explained!")
Capitalism is losing the human touch. You can see this more clearly here in America where it is being practised at break-neck speeds. Many people, mostly on the bottom rung of society, are being denied the American dream, and thus are living---it sounds so much like a sound byte---the American nightmare. As someone best put it, it is all elbowsQnot hearts. People are having a difficult time existing. We are not talking about living. We are talking about existing. People are aware of the perceived unfairness of the system of rewards in this society, but they have a hard time articulating that frustration. The rewards of the upper classes of society far outweigh the benefits they represent. But what is the alternative? Capitalism is such a wonderful system because it takes advantage of a human frailty, namely greed. This manifested itself in many ways. But greed must be checked, it must be limited. It mustn't be given free reign in the manner it has. When the rewards far outweigh the benefits, then we have created a major demon. When you have created a system in which it easier to see oneself on the receiving end of the system rather than change a system to a more equitable one, then many social problems will ensue. I need not point out all the social problems existing here in the United States. People are aware that something is wrong, but they are uncertain and feel powerless as to how to go about changing it. The people who are benefiting from the system are the ones who believe in the system, so that any changes will have to be forced into the system by those in the outer fringes.(From "America Explained!")
The human animal is an animal that doesn't feel comfortable under its skin. That's the result of having a brain. So, nature has put us into this unenviable position of having to fend for ourselves with no apparent purpose to it all, no grand design. If there is one, we are wholly unaware of it. Perhaps the only purpose of our creation is that we serve as witnesses of its own creation, a sort of egoistic universe. Perhaps we are here in part to figure out what it is all about, but it is a mystery into which the human mind will never probe. If it figures itself out, it will only be circular---the snake that swallows its own tail: it will be an empty shell. The whole infrastructure of the universe is based not on substance but on the infrastructure, how can I say this, it is based on the interactions and not the bodies which are interacting. I think the fact that I'm struggling to describe what is going on hints at our inability to describe it, the inadequacy of language and ideas, since ideas are dependent on language, and those unfathomable, unreachable aspects of the universe. Just because science has been a good predictor, a good describe, of what is going on, doesn't mean that the universe has to lay naked before us, that we will achieve to make her undress before us. She will go about her business as she will, whether it affects us or not. There is no malicious intent on her part, no bias. She just is. We have to come to accept that fact. We have to learn that we are part of the universe, not exclusive to it. Once we strive to achieve that, we will be the better for it. We will have reached nirvana, I suppose. That is the ideal, but I dread to tell you, it will not happen. It is not in the nature of humans to accept it. We are not equipped to reach it, so it has never existed in our potentiality to reach it. But that's alright. Nothing has been lost. But something wholly indefinableQnamely lifeQhas been gained from this experience. I suggest we make the most of it.(From "America Explained!")
Politics is the stomping ground where personal ambition and greed parade around as altruistic service. (From "America Explained!")
Both the rich and the poor feel they have to justify their positions. Which one do you think is the easier task? (From "America Explained!")
I apologize for not having thrown the full weight of my efforts on those things our society has deemed to be of importance today. (From "America Explained!")
It's a disconcerting thought to think that it might only be an abstract concept, called law, which is preventing one segment of society from killing the other. (From "America Explained!")
Mother Theresa is perchance one of the greatest persons to have lived. We may identify the importance of her work --- the universal import of it --- and at the same time feel a slight embarassment: for her work is an indelible reminder of what we ourselves should be doing. Thus we reward her with a Nobel Peace Prize to let everyone know just how important we consider her work to be --- concomitantly easing our own conscience. (From "America Explained!")
Civilization is a process in search of humanity. (From "America Explained!")
Truth may need no explanantion; but a footnote may be necessary. (From "America Explained!")
The injustices of this world and I are well acquainted. (From "America Explained!")
He who seeks domination, but disguises it as self-reliance, has relegated the remainder of society to mutual dependence. (From "America Explained!")
Television seems to make those who are profiled look as if all their everyday concerns are mitigated. (From "America Explained!")
Most people are awaiting Virtual Reality; I'm awaiting virtuous reality. (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
If we don't expect morality in the animal kingdom, then how can we expect it of ourselves? (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
I must have missed that day in school in which everyone else was informed about the suspension of the dictum "treat others as you yourself would like to be treated". (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
Not much humanity left in humanity. Humanity requires humility, and we have forgotten our own weaknesses. (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
People are inherently good. Bad people are created by other bad people; their survival is guaranteed because of their safety in numbers. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
The pace at which we operate in this society gives me the impression of the anxiety I image to be present in the Last Days when we are on the verge of leaving the planet and embarking on a journey to the stars. Are these the effects of overpopulation? (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Man's pursuit of his survival gives way to the system we have today. Most people do not take the time to analyze the full ramifications of their short-sightedness on the rest of humanity. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Paradoxes result only from an ambiguity in human language. Paradoxes are simply resolved by fine-tuning the definitions. (From "The Limits of Language")
The military was created to protect the leisure lifestyles of the ruling class. Do I sound cynical? (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Even the unabomber has some salient arguments to make. Must we demolish all of your own beliefs when a Nazi tells you 2+2=4? (From "Why you can't make it in America")
It is a sad world indeed in which the only tool women have at their disposal to rise within the hierarchy of society is so closely tied to the sexuality of men; conversely, it is a sad world in which the only mechanism by which men may rise within the hierarchy of society is so closely tied to the vanity of women. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Inasmuch as it seems a contradiction, those who do not find it in their souls to preserve the sanctity of human life, must, for the case of humanity, be eliminated from our midst...those who do not believe in the precepts of the Constitution of the United States should not seek refuge by it. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
We must strive for the idealistic, but then only by keeping the realistic in mind. (From "Fin de Siecle")
There are three types of people in this world: the Have's, the Have-not's, and the Harvard's (pronounced with a Bostonian accent). (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
"Society" is the imposition of the ignorance of the masses on those intelligent enough to recognize it as such, yet powerless to its effects. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Where has truth been hidden? Has the tact and diplomacy we exercise in our daily routines allowed us to amplify it into an architecture of lies so vast, that to destroy it is to destroy our own self-image? (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
When you step into the light, you are surrounded by darkness. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
You can tell I wasn't around when they decided on all the rules. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
War is in the interest of conflict. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Racism is a convenient device by which a large group of human beings can be selectively excluded from the feeding frenzy at the trough of society. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")

God and Religion

Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
God is the "stuff" between the dualities of nature; and that is the mystery of which we cannot speak. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
They wipe their feet at the door and enter without sin. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
On God and Religion: I'll see it when I believe it. (From "The Old Working Model")
Church is for sinners. (From "The Old Working Model")
God is the friend we never had. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
To admit there is no god is to provide free license to pillage and rape with clear conscience. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
God is the order in chaos. (From "The Old Working Model")
Jesus knew. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
If it keeps people off the streets, I can't see the harm. It's the ones left in the streets I'm worried about. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Many need it, others want it, and the rest must tolerate it. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
How can I believe (in) someone who won't give me straight answers? (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
The concept of God had to come up at some point in our social evolution. What better way to gain power without a device to remove it? (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
As soon as we are able to divorce ourselves from the idea that we are mutually exclusive to the universe, we will be the better for it. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
The belief in some being who can be the judge of all human matters is a very comfortable one -- all wrongs will be righted and all rights will be rewarded. (From "The Old Working Model")
Organized religion is further removed from god than the very people it condemns. (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
We need God and God needs us. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")


If I gave them credence, it was because I believed they had the same noble goals in mind. (From "America Explained!")
His reaction to being called a genius in the press: I know. I must be. It's taken them over 40 years to figure it out, while I've been aware of that fact all of my life. (From "America Explained!")
I wish I could enjoy my hypocrisy as much as others seem to enjoy theirs. (From "America Explained!")
I didn't deserve this world and this world did not deserve me. You may take that any way you like. (From "America Explained!")
I guess I've spent my life listening to what wasn't being said. (From "America Explained!")
It's a good thing people don't see what I see; it must make for contented lives. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
You might think I sound bitter, but I'll bet you I laugh more than other people. I have reason to. (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
If I win the Nobel Prize past the age of sixty, I'll just have to refuse to accept it. The people who needed to know will be long too dead. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Next time I'll pick a harder problem. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
I always run the risk of being misunderstood. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
I exist between the superficial security adopted by the mainstream and the grave reality of the outer fringes. I do not fit into either category, but I am their mediator. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
I have found it difficult to endear myself to those who could best positively affect the quality of my life. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
I have grown tired of downplaying my talents and abilities. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Never has my memory served me so well as when it reminded me of my own hypocrisy. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")


When asked what he thought about the Kennedys by an Atlantic Monthly editor, Khamarov replied, "What the Kennedys can do to a particular appendage of mine is not suitable to be printed in a magazine of your stature."(From "What Khamarov thinks...")
Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn't commit. And one never really forgets either---everything serves as a constant reminder of it. (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
The only solution to the problem of my penury is to throw money at it. (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
The problem with money is that too much of it is going around --- to other people. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
For once I would like to hear one of these so-called "humanitarians" who donates a large chunk of his largesse to humanitarian causes simply state that he does so in pursuit of the imminent tax deduction. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
It was probably one of us--the cognoscenti--who came up with the idea of money. Now it's taking a lot more of us to try to undo it. (From "The Cost of Money")
Everyone's fortune is pure chance and luck, save our own. (From "The Cost of Money")
Corporate policies and procedures are designed to protect those who wrote them. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
About the costs associated with education and its peripherals: We have started to tap into that segment of society which does not yet have the capital, but which is presumed to have the capital later in life. We are taking away money they don't even have yet. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")

Life and Death

What value is life if the kindest things said about oneself are done so only at one's eulogy? (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
What is most fearsome about death is that it takes away something that remains to this day wholly undefined. (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
Death is a refuge for those who see the true ways of the world. (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
True wisdom entails understanding the fragility of the human condition without ever entirely abandoning it; its fragility is not only a weakness but also a strength. (From "Schattenfreunde: Friends in the Shadows")
Death is like taking a test for which you didn't prepare. At first you regret certain things you may have done and things you didn't do, you'll try to stall and say in isn't happening, until finally you shut your book on life, and say "Ah, hell! here goes nothing." (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
The best things in life are unexpected --- because there were no expectations. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Nature was so proud of its creations that it necessitated the creation of man as witness. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Life has a sense of survival stronger than what Nature gives it credit for. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
I think of death on a daily basis. The child within me informs me of just how unfair that prospect is. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
I hate to get up in the mornings. One of these days will mark the day when I never have to get up in the mornings ever again. And I won't even be around to enjoy them. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")


I don't worry about Murphy's Law; it's his lawyer I fear. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Those who have chosen law and jurisprudence as their profession have ultimately decided their afterlife. (From "The Land of the Laws")
Lawyers have barricaded themselves between the law and the very people designed to obey them. (From "The Land of the Laws")
Lawyers capitalize on the uncertainties in life. (From "The Land of the Laws")
You serve your master, and I will serve the world. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Standing in judgement of others is a diversion from judging ourselves. (From "America Explained!")


To openly talk about sex in this country is to openly admit its power. I think it is more a problem for men than it is for women. (From "America Explained!")
Men are more like Republicans: cold, hard, and calculating; women more like Democrats: emotional, manipulative. Neither strikes a good balance. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats don't feel empowered even if they are in that position.(From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
It is an unfortunate circumstance of evolution that politicians do not live long enough to witness the effects of their legislation on the society they govern. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Politicians are that rare breed of animal that simultaneously exists at both ends of the food chain. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Satire has created less social depredation than the very politics that feed it. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
The collapse of our society is bound to coincide with that time when the wordsmiths and spin doctors are unable to coin a new phrase or soundbyte for what we have been hearing for the last 250 years; we will finally awaken to the fact and realize that they haven't been saying anything, but that they've done a masterful job of covering that up. (From "America Explained!")


I think American women can learn an important lesson from their European counterparts: that talking about the social advantages of their sex doesn't diminish it in any way. This is a lesson American women have yet to learn.(From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
It took me over 35 years to figure out that what women wanted and what they said they wanted were not the same thing. I made the forgivable mistake of taking them at their word. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Women can have a fatal effect: that smile that makes you feel it is directed toward you, but isn't. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
I don't care what kind of a sexual lifestyle a woman leads, as long as it includes me. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
The weakness of women is to be cognizant of their weaknesses and yet, still fall prey to them. (From "America Explained!")
I think most men have fooled themselves into thinking that they are the seat of power---because women have allowed them that dream. Women's subtle power is to make men think that the man is in charge. (From "America Explained!")
I think women have been in the very comfortable position of not having to make the "ugly decisions", but enjoying the benefits nevertheless. (From "America Explained!")
Many women believe that their time spent with a man is as valuable as the time and money he spends on her. (From "America Explained!")
To expect or talk about sex in a relationship with an American woman is a big mistake. In doing so, one has preempted her ability to offer it, because the majority of them have relied upon their sexuality to carry them through life, instead of developing other manifestations of their character. (From "America Explained!")
A good life is handed to the pretty girl. (From "America Explained!")


They stand like Pavlov's dogs at the mouth of paradise. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
She embodies all the qualities that we ourselves wish from humanity: that unspoiled-childlike view of the world. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")


Don't mistake the reading of a classic as an achievement equal to the work of producing one. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
They call you unlearned if you haven't read the books your rivals have read. (From "Schattenfreunde: Friends in the Shadows")
In order to recognize talent one must be in possession of it. (From "America Explained!")
Our schools, our universities -- our society -- is cranking out people who think they are thinkers, and who occupy their time thinking so. (From "On Thinking")
I had to quit school early because I saw people less intellectually endowed than myself rewarded for the idolatry and worship of the labors of others. (From "To Whom It May Concern")
The human spirit has died with the advent of modern schooling. (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
... and the room was filled with individuals who had met with success early on --- success bestowed upon them by the likes of them, say, their unintellectual peers --- and had fallen into the trap of believing they were as talented as their titles suggested. (From "To Whom It May Concern")
Academia forcibly tells you about all the great men and revolutionaries, and rebels, especially the rebels, who have changed the world for the better. But they wouldn't notice him were he standing right in front of them. (From "Apologia")


Doing research is like being in a darkened room, feeling the sides of an object to determine what color it is. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")


Marriage should be that institution in which we are reminded of the goodness in our humanity and forget the badness that accompanies it. (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
Marriage is the great amplifier of unrealistic expectations. (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")


... he grants his abstractions a body of thought ... (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")
The snowy days are the rainy days of winter. (From "The Shadow Zone")
Poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition. (From "The Shadow Zone")
Eloquence aids in the quick and elegant comprehension of an idea without prolonged reflection. (From "On Thinking")


The overworked city encroaches upon the land...
...Its inhabitants too busy to notice... (From "Lives of the Cognoscenti")


Cats are animals that know what their rights are. (From "Surviving on Planet Reebok")
Reprinted without permission

Some excerpts...

On Thinking

By Eli Khamarov

Unfortunately, I lack the eloquence of an Emerson, Voltaire, or Shakespeare. Eloquence aids in the quick and elegant comprehension of an idea without prolonged reflection. Nevertheless, it is my sincere hope that some new perspectives may be gleaned from these writings; it is the intended purpose of this exposition and, I hope, nothing more.

Many great thinkers have lived, and our society is ready for many more. I am not a well read man by any means, in fact, I find it quite difficult to read a book without the distracting visions it invokes. Before long, I have skimmed a multitude of pages and gleaned nothing but the simple sentence-idea which freed my mind in the first place. Oh yes, I did 'see' the words following the guilty passage, but unless I am able to return to the task of reading, those words shall never be read.

Because I am not well read, I am an original thinker. I rely upon myself to make the discoveries that others surely have made as well. So, when ideas are found, I may rely on books so as to aid in their appraisal and value, keeping in mind that these secondary sources are not a definitive standard. As one discovers, it is not uncommon that a Dante, Goethe, or another had made similar observations. After all, they were thinking men. They developed these ideas because they alloted themselves the time to do so. They are the gems of their generation, of their century, and history rewards them so.

Any thinking person has experienced the same; he has walked a similar path. It is a time of rejoicing, not lamenting, one's own rediscovery of an idea. It means that in all the paths you have traversed, you have come across a lesser path, as Robert Frost so elegantly put it, ``the path less traveled by.'' Your concern is the new surroundings, your eyes and mind are trained on the sights while the path serves as a guide for your feet.

Many people are afraid to explore the new for fear of failure, or worse, in their eyes, the fear of repetition; yet they contradict themselves. They repeat the works of others by reading them. This is very debilitating. They believe that the knowledge they have accumulated represents intelligence. Intelligence it is not, I stress. The mere rephrasing, reshuffling, rehashing, and paraphrasing does not represent original thought. Yes, in my anger at seeing this naiveté, I may have said, and certainly did think it was appropriate for them to continue their languid exercise so that their offspring may continue the practice and tradition: to find the young ones busily memorizing the works of myself and others. Emerson wrote, ``Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given; forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books.'' The modern scholar recites the works of others with the firm conviction that the ideas he is espousing are of his own mastery. A closed mind, more so than a closed book, casts a long shadow.

When I interject the main thoughts in these writings with those of another, I do so wholly for the benefit of those who do not believe that less well-known thinkers may reach the same conclusions as those of whom they revere. The best way to counter those that are deeply rooted in The System, as P. F., another great philosopher, has told me, is to confront their views with those ideas of the great thinkers that contradict their own; it makes for a real quandary.

I know the 'secrets' of Einstein, Feynman, and others alike. What made them successful, in the eyes of our society, is that they were never afraid of failure. They did not concern themselves with the thoughts of others. They did -- not think they did. They questioned the obvious. Einstein said, ``genius is asking the questions a child would ask.'' While the average modern scholar restricts himself to current dogma, others and I have been free to explore the countryside. Modern schooling, unfortunately, breeds an ossious polarization -- polarization to the extremes -- the inability to view the validations of unpopular views, because the focus of their casuistry has been reduced to mindless invalidation. This is very evident in politics, where two schools of thought clash for control: Idealism and Realism. One must recognize the validations of both sides: We must strive for the idealistic, but then only by keeping the realistic in mind.

Our schools, our universities -- our society-- is cranking out people who think they are thinkers, and who occupy their time thinking so. Instead of making actual contributions, the problems of today and tomorrow, like them, sit idle. The problems of today are the problems of tomorrow if they continue to remain untouched by intellectual intervention. For outstanding problems, the methods that have been developed thus far will not solve these problems -- if they did, I am sure you would have read about them by now. New methods need be developed, but I warn you, they will not be found in any book or in any classroom. They will be found by those who leave the classroom, those who leave early, before their minds are poisoned and tainted forever. They will, with patience, be found in some least explored region of mind and thought. Only the creative, the original, will find these solutions. The books only demonstrate the creativity and originality of those who came before us; it should serve as a model, as a stepping stone, as a gauge. Creativity and originality is not a quality or quantity that is passed on by book and memorization -- it is transferred to, bestowed upon, and granted only to those who set out and explore these time-lived problems. The explorers set prejudices aside and begin the task. Creativity and originality is cultured by doing, and only by doing; nothing stops it -- not time, not difficulty. Those who have had original ideas continue to strive in the hopes of recreating that spark of an original idea. They have experienced this climax before; it is an elixir that powers them in their tasks.

Imitate the thinkers. They are selfless. They give to society. But do not copy them. Many teachers of English unconsciously `require' students, because of their pedantry, to imitate their writing or their preferred style of writing. We do not want to send out into the world thirty or more bodies whose writing style is in direct proportion to, if not a clear reflection of, the teacher's style. We do not need thirty of them; the one suffices. It is necessary that each of these thirty becomes an original thinker, doer, and sayer. They must learn from their initial successes and failures, especially failures. One failure is worth seven and a half successes. Each failure is a new and useful insight of oneself and the world. If success marches in at the onset, there has been no benefit of seeing the world another way. And if you have success, you will be less inclined to seek an alternate solution or method, although this alternative method may be of wider scope. You have limited yourself, you have not seen other approaches. Success is right only once. Success gives the taste of success, and failure should remind us of it.

Eli Khamarov, November 1992

Reprinted without permission


By Eli Khamarov

Much in the same way Beethoven lamented his condition in his letters to his brothers, now known as the Heiligenstadt Testament, I must admit my discontentment with the variety of misfortunes that have beset me, whether they be self-inflicted or not. As arrogant as it may seem, I have developed a certain "Messiah-complex," which I may have been harboring since my childhood. I have always known that I have some incredible contribution to make to society, but for a long time I remained absolutely naive in my belief that society would be appreciative of and supportive of my efforts to improve the state of the world. I mean that society, surprisingly, especially the ones who would most ably be able to identify this talent, have neglected my contributions, and more importantly, my potential to contribute. I have never doubted my abilities to make a difference---to not fall into the trap of self-servitude---but have grown increasingly disconcerted with the fact that I may be viewed as someone who wishes to upstage those around me. That has never been my role, purpose, or agenda.

In third grade already, or maybe it was the fourth grade, I noticed the teacher scribbling things on the blackboard; these items were to be memorized and regurgitated as the system demanded. But I recognized at that stage of the game that there was absolutely no value in that whatsoever. What was significant was the process of creating that knowledge; anyone can memorize these facts: the real challenge is to stretch beyond such triviality. Einstein once wrote,"The search for truth is more precious than its possession." I also had a sense of the amount of labor that goes into producing knowledge, and let me assure you that it takes more than riding on the backs of others. Don't mistake the reading of a classic as an achievement equal to the work of producing one. I felt like I was the only one aware of this fact, the only one not willing to pride myself at memorizing the works of others. I feel now that maybe what I needed all along was for someone to truthfully admit to me that I was right, and then business could go on as usual. It's a nice dream. I wanted to be recognized for my understanding of this fact; I think I understand precisely what John Lennon meant when he wrote:

People like me are aware of this so-called genius at ten, eight, nine... I always wondered "Why has nobody discovered me? In school, didn't they see that I am more clever than anybody in this school? That the teachers are stupid, too? That all they had was information I didn't need." It was obvious to me. Why didn't they put me in art school? Why didn't they train me? I was different, I was always different, Why didn't anybody notice me?
Academia forcibly tells you about all the great men and revolutionaries, and rebels, especially the rebels, who have changed the world for the better. But they wouldn't notice him were he standing right in front of them.

Eli Khamarov, January 9, 1995

Reprinted without permission