Pathos and Reality, Notes on the Present


No matter how united, mutually complementing and reflecting systems state and society are, there are certain fields, frames and ways of connection which from time to time demonstrate the dominance of one side and that of the other one, and have an impact on the formation of each other’s ideological framework. The Republic of Armenia from the Pan-Armenian National Movement to today’s Republican Party of Armenia has always had active connections with its society through its ideological-sermonizing tentacles. This bond was implemented both via people in “close” relationships with authorities including publicly influential individuals, certain influential, beneficiary groups and via direct and indirect influence of state institutions.
Public connections can be implemented and can receive new narratives both from inside including the result of  change of new ideological flows, intragroup fermentations and areas of influence, and from the outside world, as a result of country’s, authoritative groups’ impulses and impulses of more global, external and informative nature.

The evaluation of such informational flows and the risks they include, is a constant and extremely crucial work, because due to the risks’ evaluation, beneficiary groups and social layers of society are formed, developed ormore strengthened, which also have the problem of increasing the level of their self-sufficiency and of acquiring certain attributes of self-sufficiency as compared to the ideological homogeneity in a society.
Now it is necessary to speak about the codes through which a society, in a molecular level its influential beneficiary groups, accept, process and reproduce the information. It is known that the information itself and the language via which it is conveyed (verbal or visual) are those main means, through which social communication is carried out within those social groups and then within the limits of a country and society as well.
When speaking about social relations, ancient Greeks would use the pathos-logos-ethos magnificent triplet, which coded information, knowledge and then society’s attitude. Here pathos was the emotional field, ethos the norms and logos-consciousness. They believed that only harmony(homeostasis) between various powers of life can provide a happy life and development. And if one of these powers,even logos, is dominant, the state/society is in danger[i].

Pathos is the index of enthusiasm and sentimentalism existing in a society  and continuously conquering new horizons,  and that of intellectual infertility, which is rather the response to the absence of critical thinking and practical autonomy. Sentimentalism, ritualism, festivity, through which a country mobilizes the society, if needed are created, built and used in everyday life as a result of the combination of pathos and bureaucratic practices. They are attractive and easy to understand due to their simplicity and directness, contrary to other narrow group discourses containing elitist models and trying to “discipline the people still aspiring for maturity” from positions of the “big, mature”. It’s interesting that pathos can also unite elitist and populist approaches combining the bearers of salvific concepts with “masses waiting for salvation” mainly in theoretical field, because in practical case,  the situation is utterly different, more scattered, more molecular and more intricate having contradictory elements at the same time.

It’s under the influence of such systematic pathos that the saying “parallel reality” can be formed;  a world of desires, imaginations and perceptions, where fame, honor, glorious past,  Armenianism, “the Armenian gene”, Aznavour, duduk, pomegranate and any other emblematic and valuable symbols complete and create a field of meaningful self-sufficiency for people, who are in the field of pathos or are ready to enter it. This parallel world has its symbols: pomegranate, duduk, Garni-Geghard and others, has its geography: sea to sea Armenia[ii], Greater Armenia, Armenia down the Kura river and so on, has its heroes: Tigranes the Great, Vardananq, Andranik, Monte and others, has its plots: the first Christian nation, with an anticipation of a compulsory awe for Armenians and for the Armenian from foreigners, the different combinations of which are endless sources of national-individual pride for people.

This case is the combination of national propaganda and pathetics, when the rationalization of the question, which can lead to contradictory ideas and questions, is by any means impossible, because no authority follows it just because of the fact that  the first thing for nationalism is  homogenization which is homogeneity, unanimity, solidarity and so on.

These narratives and their propaganda are especially and mainly displayed in critical situations for a society: from complaint protests to a border war, from Olympic games to interstate meetings and negotiations. That is to say, in those cases when it is necessary to decide the limits of the national, unite and speak from positions of unity.

The main problem of this world and the pathos serving as its cement is  that it does not have a present, that it is either directed to the glorious and nostalgic past: Golden century, Greater Armenia, sea to sea Armenia or to the future: “Long live the Armenia that will come tomorrow”, Armenia-Singapore, Armenia-Europe.
The ideological-practical purpose of pathos is to prioritize the Armenian people and the Armenian, explain to the world the exceptionalism, uniqueness and reputation of Armenians and then be worth of acceptance and confirmation. Of course, here are traps, because the combination of  discourses of ethnic nationalism and elitist unity results in a concept  according to which anything that is originally “Armenian”, “national” is unique and valuable, and anything that is not such, is not Armenian.

In extreme cases this can even lead to mutual accusations concerning “Who is Armenian, who is not”, “Who has these values, who does not”.

Such contradictory trap of discrimination, which is of course the response to national, ethnic fears, e.g. the response to the terror of genocide. A reality, when it was believed that Armenians were massacred just because they were Armenians, and the Armenian was being annihilated for just being Armenian.
Here is the disastrous side of  the concept and the world of pathos, when the imaginary world and the blissful reality have no supplication and are mainly opposite the real life, which itself leads to apathy, lukewarm, thoughts about escape, roots of depoliticization in extreme cases even hatred for everything that is ‘Armenian’. When proper and improper narratives on the Armenian people and the Armenian can emerge, spread and develop uncertainty, the credit and quintessence of which are polar opposite expressions we all know, like: ‘Are you Armenian? Cool, isn’t it?’ and ‘ Are not these the Armenians’-the other side.

Placing the names of “the constellation”, top ten “most famous Armenians”: Sevak, Grigor the Illuminator, Petrosyan, Saroyan, Aivazovsky, Komitas, on new paper money is one of poignant examples from latest developments of our daily life and brand-pathos solutions.Or say after April Four-Day War, when everyone would mention those four days as the ‘beginning of a new life’ and everyone hoped that it was a starting point to change everything, to forget the bad and the evil, to become one nation. Or say, radio and TV shows like “the Armenian gene”, “Armenians of the world” and others.

Instead of an epilogue we can just remember one more time that a society filled with elitist-populistic mixture and irrational nationalistic ideas, can and should be set free from this pathetic trap of its phobias and taboos, uniqueness and messianism, only by unveiling irrational world(by words of Weber), by evaluating common sense, certain targets, by recreating and reinterpreting  nomos and logos. Only in this case we can speak about the possibility of a new quality of society and new quality of state, where pathos will only be pathos and not just an important factor created by the system. Otherwise expressions like “Are you Armenian? Cool, isn’t it?”  and ‘ Are not these the Armenians’ like Scylla and Charybdis will constantly break our ships on our way from traditionalism to modernism.


[i]Aristotle, Rhetoric. NY, Modern Library, 1984

[ii] “sea to sea Armenia” is a famous expression used by Armenians to refer to the kingdom of Tigranes in the 1st century BC, which extended from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.



Aristotle, Rhetoric. NY, Modern Library, 1984.


Author: GorMadoyan © All rights are reserved.

Translator: Liana Papyan