24-year old author introduced his book
(with help from low-tech amplification)
"We will remain utopians dreaming
of the ideal but in fact feeling disgusted
by its realization."
This expression taken from Karen Karslyan's
new (and first) novel "X Frames/Sec",
reflects the 24-year- old author's view
that his world has become one in which words
have lost meaning or become mutated by computer
symbols and trademarks. In this world Armenians
write emails in Latin script and English
and Russian expressions used in Yerevan
mix with curses, lashing the shore of a
The book has a specific flow, carried by
its main character, a university student
and his friend "Kid", in the streets
of Yerevan. ("getting vomited out of
the Mashtots Avenue bookstore and jabbering
they turned left to Aram Street")
Presentation of "X Frames/Sec"
took place on May 2 in CCEA (Center for
Contemporary Experimental Art). The book,
which contains Karen Karslyan's romance,
"Fragments of Personality" series
and other works, was published in "Bnagir"
literary magazine as its fourth issue. Before
publication it had been placed on the website
Karslyan wrote the novel in 2001. Prior
to the online version, he couldn't find
a publisher for his book, he said, because
the text contains obscenities.
"I tried to publish it in the Writers
Union, where first books of young writers
are published," says Karslyan. "The
president of the Writers Union said that
he agreed the book should be published,
but as president he couldn't do that. Then
there was another place where it was refused.
If there wasn't Bnagir I should have raised
money and I don't know when it could be
Bnagir is the first and the only literary
periodical, where there is no censorship.
Texts which are not published in other places
because of frivolous content find a home
there. Bnagir's last two issues have been
published through a US embassy grant.
"The courage of language used in this
book is very interesting," says poet
Marineh Petrosyan. "The freshest and
the timeliest of current Armenian are brought
into literature. It's the layer of language
that hasn't penetrated the field of literary
Petrosyan says most contemporary Armenian
literature follows the pattern of 19th century
romanticism. "Any political or social
change is not firm if it hasn't been reflected
in linguistic thought. That's why it's a
paradox that remote from political positing
Karslyan's literature becomes actual in
terms of realization of language perception."
The sourceof the story is an entrance of
the "Lezbos University", a fictionalized
version of Brusov Linguistic University,
where the author is working on his post-graduate
degree and teaches American-English literature.
book was received during a reception
at the art center, known for its avante
Karslyan's novel characterizes the university
as a place in which "those standing
outside had the least chance of hunting
a chap inside unpleasant blend of menstruation
odor and 'anti-vampirant' perfume".
The university is called "Lezbos",
as during soviet times the institute was
famous for the great number of girls studying
The boys in "X Frames/Sec" lined
around the university entrance hoping to
meet girls (like in real life Brusov) include
"Kid" who "having gripped
the hands of several girls he was introduced
to he eventually came to feel a deadly ache
beginning somewhere in the testicles".
The novel is weighted with accounts of
students' sexual desires and includes "a
middle-aged mediocrity, John S. Cheeks the
The stream of writing takes boys away from
the university through Yerevan streets and
the streets in their turn fall into the
stream of the author's reference to the
unconsciousness (sidewalks turned into rail-tracks).
" . . . and the half-mad piper sliding
on these tracks
in quick motion,
squeezing his fingers into the pipe eye-sockets,
roving pipe-pants, pipe-coat, pipe-nose,
Karslyan's technique of writing has a propensity
for animation, where cartoon is presented
as text. It's like in "Fragments of
Personality" series, where a mouth
comes closer to an ear for telling something
but without telling anything a mouth turns
into an ear.
"I always wished to make a movie,"
the author says. "However, as it's
not possible, I reproduced my desire in
text movie. A movie dictates
people with what speed they must watch it,
24 frames per second. That's why the novel
is titled "X Frames/Sec"
X is indefinite space of time. Movie director
Godard says, 'movie is a truth 24 times
per second'. I say that literature is a
truth X times per second. Literature cannot
know how long it takes to read it."
The book's stream of consciousness writing
includes the sexual fantasies of a daughter
in a Diaspora family in which the torrent
of thought co-opts the dream of text itself:
". . . they are tying me up fast with
elastic radio-waves and atmospheric precipitations".
The novel ends with the words "You
have successfully installed the program".
"If there is no proper program a computer
won't open a file," explains Karslyan.
"People turn into computers. Some realities
or alternative thinking are installed in
people, they read and imagine many realities
in different way in accordance with new
installed program. For instance, in the
romance a balloon symbolizes the death of
an individual, how the air is slowly leaving
him and he dies, and in another part it
symbolizes breasts of a mother.
"It is an installation package so
that a reader could understand that type
of files and the reality would take shape
of pluralism. What I've written in the end
of my novel, saying that the text has been
installed in people, makes the process of
people's transformation into computers more
prominent. It's a protest against computers.
People must be reminded every second that
they are people."