Witold Gombrowicz: Pornografia

Κυριακή, 27 Απριλίου, 2014

Witold Gombrowicz

Witold Gombrowicz

Existentialism tries to re-establish value, while for me the “under-value,” the “insufficiency,” the “under-development,” are closer to man than any value. I believe the formula “Man wants to be God” expresses very well the nostalgia of existentialism, while I set up another immeasurable formula against it: “Man wants to be young.” Witold Gombrowicz

About the author

In his “Testament—Conversations with Dominique de Roux”, Witold Gombrowicz said about himself: “I am a humorist, a clown, a tightrope walker, a provocateur, my works stand on their head to please, I am a circus, lyricism, poetry, terror, struggle, fun and games—what more do you want?”

Gombrowicz was born in a small town in Congress Poland, Russian Empire to a wealthy gentry family. “He was the youngest of four children of Jan and Antonina (née Kotkowska.) In 1911 his family moved to Warsaw. After completing his education at Saint Stanislaus Kostka’s Gymnasium in 1922, he studied law at Warsaw University (in 1927 he obtained a master’s degree in law.) Gombrowicz spent a year in Paris where he studied at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales; although he was less than diligent in his studies his time in France brought him in constant contact with other young intellectuals.” (4)

‘Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969) is part of a celebrated generation of mid-20th-century Polish writers, one that includes the doomed magic-realist short story writer Bruno Schulz, the Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz and Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, author of the great and sexily titled novel “Insatiability.” All these writers knew, admired and supported one another. ‘ (5)

Polish American Liner S.S. Chrobry

Polish American Liner S.S. Chrobry

In 1939, shortly before the Second World War errupted, Gombrowicz went to Argentine, more by chance than by design. He stayed there until 1963.

First Class Passenger List

First Class Passenger List

“In July 1939, fellow writer Czeslaw Straszewicz met Gombrowicz at Zodiak, a bohemian café in Warsaw. Straszewicz told Gombrowicz that he had been invited to participate in the Chrobry’s maiden voyage to Argentina. In exchange, he would write on the Chrobry for the Polish press. Gombrowicz asked Straszewicz if he could get the same deal and Straszewicz promised to pass Gombrowicz’s name to the Gdynia America Line. It obviously worked out, and Gombrowicz was added to the exclusive list of guests.” (3)

Gombrowicz was to stay in Argentina longer than he initially planned. The Nazis invaded Poland on the 1st September 1939 and Gombrowicz decided to stay in Argentina rather than return to occupied Poland. In 1953, still living as an expatriate in Argentina, Gombrowicz began his Diary with one of literature’s most memorable openings:

“Monday Me.

Tuesday Me.

Wednesday Me.

Thursday Me.”

Gombrowicz was not a mainstream writer. Indicative is his distaste for Borges.

Jennifer Marquart writes in her review of Pornografia: ‘One of my favorite (apocryphal) anecdotes about Gombrowicz is about how one day in Buenos Aires he was ranting about Borges to his friends (the two authors didn’t really get along), and one of them interrupted to ask if he had ever even read Borges. “Pfft. Why would I waste my time reading that crap?” (1)

Gombrowicz to Gomez

Gombrowicz to Gomez

Gombrowicz stayed in Argentina until 1963, when he crossed the Atlantic and went to Berlin, with a Ford Foundation grant for a year’s stay. After Berlin he went to France. His friendship ties, however, remained strong.

In a letter to his friend Gomez, Gombrowicz writes (9):

Poor Goma, you are unaware of one thing: I had been hiding before you, in part in order to spare you, and in part so as to avoid questioning, etc., that since the moment that I left Argentina, I haven’t had a single good day. (…) You, and also Ada think that I am lazily streched out on a bed of roses, and what’s more, together with Rita. And meanwhile, I am exhausting myself here bit by bit in each direction. In the last resort, maybe it is not all that dramatic. There are moments of good humour. But – my friend – I have never resembled an egoistic and demonic monster more than I do now. Bye, W.G. Now I weigh 68 kg I w e i g h e d 83 kg

Witold and Rita Gombrowicz with their dog Psina in Vence, France, 1967.

Witold and Rita Gombrowicz with their dog Psina in Vence, France, 1967.

During the crossing of the Atlantic from Buenos Aires to Europe Gombrowicz notes, upon reading Sein und Zeit in Spanish, “It’s rocking hard. […] Reading Heidegger is calming”. (10)

Pornografia

Pornografia was published in 1960. I read it in 1985 in a Greek translation, and since then it is one of my favourite novels. The story is as follows. Two middle aged friends visit the country side during the nazi occupation of Poland.

Luca Ronconi's staging of Pornografia

Luca Ronconi’s staging of Pornografia

“The narrator, Witold (Gombrowicz), and his companion, Fryderyk, leave the city and stay with Hipolit, his wife Maria and their daughter Henia and the farmhand Karol. It doesn’t take long for the men to grow bored of the quiet country life, causing them to devise intricate plans to get Karol and Henia to sleep together. They set up meetings and prod the teenagers with questions of sexual attraction to one another. These simple games escalate to a masterfully choreographed play, aimed at breaking-up Henia and her fiancé. Part joke and part perverse desire, Gombrowicz and Fryderyk’s plans take a bizarre turn following the murder of Henia’s future mother-in-law. Hidden notes, hostages, murder-conspiracies and the ultimate manipulation of youth, love and a detached thirst for power are now in play.” (1) ‘Henia is engaged to an upright young lawyer; Karol is a handsome 16-year-old farmhand. The narrator, who is named Witold, and his extremist friend Fryderyk soon decide that these two “children” belong together, even though they reveal absolutely no particular interest in each other. But what does that matter? … Karol admits that he would like to sleep with Henia’s mother; Henia confesses that marriage will keep her from giving in to certain of her sexual inclinations. Following such revelations, Witold proclaims that he is virtually “bathing in their eroticism.” ‘ (5)

Gombrowicz in 1965

Gombrowicz in 1965

“In cryptic conversations and memorably febrile internal monologues, the two men share their fantasies about the young people and scheme to make them a couple. But nothing comes of this folie à quatre until Vaclav’s mother is suddenly stabbed to death, and a resistance fighter who’s come to the end of his courage announces his intention of abandoning the cause and going back home. Goaded by a series of unsigned notes that play on their already considerable paranoia, Witold and Fryderyk hatch a monstrous new plan to bring Henia and Karol together.” (6)

In an interview (2) Pornografia’s translator into English, Danuta Borchardt, says: “Pornografia focuses, perhaps more than his other three novels, on the outer limits of the imagination—on the “forbidden”on the erotic fantasies of middle age and on living them through the young, and on manipulations that influence the young to the point of crime and murder.

Also, in Pornografia Gombrowicz tests the notion of belief in God versus non-belief. According to Jerzy Jarzębski, one of Gombrowicz’s foremost scholars: “Pornografia is blasphemous in the sense that it presents traditional culture and national customs in a state of exhaustion and atrophy.”

Jarzębski, suggests that Gombrowicz’s ideas may originate from the existentialists’ “death of God,” from old age generally, from World War II and the demands it placed on Polish society, and from the collapse of moral values.” Jennifer Marquart says it all in one sentence:

“It isn’t the actual act of sex that is pornographic, but its entanglement with power, domination, desire and obsession.” (1)

A page from Gombrowicz's diary

A page from Gombrowicz’s diary

‘Gombrowicz himself once dryly described “Pornografia” as “a noble, a classical novel. . . . The novel of two middle-aged men and a couple of adolescents; a sensually metaphysical novel.” ‘ (5)

When Gombrowicz finished the noval on 4 February 1958, he wrote in his diary:

“…One of my most persistent needs, during the writing of this…. was: to pass the world through youth; to translate it into the language of youth, that is, into the language of attraction… To soften it with youth…. To spice it up with youth – so it allows itself to be violated.” (quoted by Hanjo Beressem in source 7).

In the 2013 Summer Festival  “Spoleto 56 Festival dei 2 Mondi“, Italian Theater Director Luca Ronconi staged “Pornography”, based on Witold Gombrowicz’s novel.

The play is staged in Rome during April 2014.

Epilogue

As an epilogue, I quote from Gombrowicz’ Diary a paassage on the clarity of art.

“Clarity? Its clarity is the clarity of night, not day. Its brightness is exactly like that of a flashlight that extracts just one object out of the darkness, immersing the rest in an even more bottomless night. It should be, beyond the boundaries of its light, dark like the pronouncements of the Pythia, veiled, not spelled out, shimmering with a multiplicity of meanings and broader than precision. A classical clarity? The clarity of the Greeks? If this seems clear to you then it is because you are blind. Go at high noon to take a good look at the most classical Venus, and you will see the darkest night.”    

Sources

(1) Three Percent, a review of Gombrowicz’s Pornografia

(2) Translating Gombrowicz’s Pornografia - an interview with Danuta Borchardt, Raintaxi Online

(3) Gombrowicz on the Chrobry  (1939)

(4) Goodreads, Pornografia

(5) Book World: Michael Dirda reviews ‘Pornografia’ by Witold Gombrowicz. The Washington Post.

(6) Pornografia, Kirkus Review

(7) Hanjo Berressem. Lines of Desire: Reading Gombrowicz’ Fiction with Lacan.

(8) Friday: Me, The Paris Review

(9) Gombrowicz to Gomez, Culture.PL

(10) What you didn’t know about Gombrowicz, Culture.PL

Alvaro Mutis, Colombian Writer and Poet

Alvaro Mutis, Colombian Writer and Poet

Alvaro Mutis Jaramillo, one of my absolute favorite writers of all times, died on Sunday 22 September 2013 in Mexico City, aged 90.

His wife, Carmen Miracle,  was quoted as saying that Alvaro Mutis died in hospital from a cardio-respiratory problem.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos sent his condolences after Mutis’ death was confirmed by the cultural commission Sunday night.

“The millions of friends and admirers of Alvaro Mutis profoundly lament his death,” Santos wrote. “All of Colombia honors him.”

Colombian writer Gustavo Alvarez Gardeazabal called him “a remarkable narrator, remarkable poet and remarkable friend.”

I wrote about him back in 2010: An introduction first, Alvaro Mutis, and then Fragments.

Today in his memory I would like to share some exerpts (presented below in italics) from his interview by Francisco Goldman published in BOMB 74/Winter 2001.

Mutis was born in Colombia, the son of a diplomat, but he became a citizen of the world.

Tramp Steamer

Tramp Steamer

I am just passing through.

“I traveled with my family from the age of two. We went to Brussels. My father was in the Colombian diplomatic service and we were there for nine years. We traveled to Colombia by sea for vacations. Those trips were wonderful for me. They were like an extended holiday, because on a ship you are not responsible for anything. All you have to do is coexist with the sea and its life and watch it all go by. And again, when I worked for Standard Oil as Colombian head of public relations for five years, I traveled on oil tankers and had interesting experiences and met extremely curious people, many of whom appear in my novellas. So I loved traveling and moving around. And interestingly, without actively trying, I have always had jobs that forced me to move around. For over 23 years, I worked for Twentieth Century Fox and then Columbia Pictures as sales manager for the television division in Latin America, selling sitcoms and specials and made-for-TV movies. And I went from capital to capital to capital: Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, to Chile and back through Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and then back to Los Angeles. So my life became a long trip and I met thousands of people, in all different kinds of situations. And this was like a continuation of what I had experienced as a child. In this way I lost the sense of belonging to a particular country. I know that I am Colombian and will be until I die, and there are landscapes in Colombia that I love and am fascinated by, and they appear in my poetry, but I don’t feel a commitment to any one country because, after all, I’m just passing through.”

A hopeless view of the world

 “I’ve never been involved in politics. I’ve never voted. I have never believed and have no faith in the intentions of a man who wants to make life better for all men. I think this just leads to concentration camps and Stalinist purges, the Inquisition and all of that horror. I believe that man is a species one should be very suspicious of. Now, I have no bitterness, but I am not going to change things, and I don’t want to change them. I accept them as they are, and that is how I live. So, it is natural that Maqroll (note: Maqroll is the key character in his novels), without being my exact reflection—which he is not at all—should have my hopeless view of the world.”

Mutis with writer Garcia Marquez and sculptor Botero

Mutis with writer Garcia Marquez and sculptor Botero

I say no to things

“But he (note: he refers to Maqroll), unlike Saint Francis, does not want to make this renunciation into a regimen for others or for a community. He says no to things precisely because of his philosophy of not trying to change anyone—each person is the way he is and that’s it. Now, if I were to load up on—as Maqroll would say—luxury items and objects, and these objects were to define me, I would be forced to stay still, not move. This doesn’t suit me; I don’t need anything.”

On women

“He (Maqroll) has a great admiration for women and he realizes that they see much more deeply than we men do, and know much more than we do, and that the best thing is to listen to them and do as they say. He always creates a sense of complicity with the person he loves. He thinks, We are together, but with no obligations—we won’t get married or enter into a bourgeois lifestyle. I love you deeply, and whenever we meet we will be together, because it is wonderful to have a relationship with someone who is my accomplice, and someone who feels no sense of obligation towards me. So that is his attitude, and if women sustain him and love him, why is that? Because he is not obliging them to do anything—he’s leaving the next day, or will be arriving the day after. He is their friend, their accomplice. There is a basic friendship in love that I do believe exists.”

AlvaroMutis

On Monarchy and Democracy

Monarchy is a thing of the past, and a government with divine right and absolute power like that of Louis XIV or Charlemagne is the last thing I would want. In this day and age, something like that is impossible. The kind of monarchy that I am dreaming of does not exist. I agree with Borges when he said that democracy is “a deception of statistics,” I think that it is something that does not work, and we see it failing all the time. Something that we must keep in mind is that one of the most sinister characters, the most sick and diabolical murderers, Adolf Hitler, was voted chancellor of the German Reich by a majority. So, I say, like Ortega y Gassett, that when a lot of people agree about something, it’s either a stupid idea or a beautiful woman. Dictatorships, which I detest, especially these military dictatorships in Latin America, have had enormous popular support. I saw the Plaza de Mayo full of people yelling “Perón! Perón!” and it filled me with disgust, but that’s how it was. So, one must be careful with the application of the formula. But I don’t mean to frighten anyone. As I don’t follow politics, I have never voted, and the most recent political event that really preoccupies me and which I am still struggling to accept is the fall of Byzantium at the hand of the Turks in 1453.”

The absolute density of human relations

“I worked like everyone else. In those days, the jail was managed by the prisoners, who were divided into wards. I was the head of a ward, which was a huge responsibility—but not a privilege. There is one thing that I learned in prison, that I passed on to Maqroll, and that is that you don’t judge others, you don’t say, “That guy committed a terrible crime against his family, so I can’t be his friend.” In a place like that one coexists because the judging is done on the outside. This is vital, because in there, the density of human relations is absolute.”

Ο Νικολαος Μαυρης ηταν ο νονος μου.

Τον εχω στην καρδια μου και ενθυμουμαι πολυ καλα τις συναντησεις μας. Επισης εχω αρκετα απο τα βιβλια του.

Σε αυτο το κειμενο συνυπαρχουν προσωπικες αναμνησεις, στοιχεια βιογραφικα και αποσπασματα απο τα γραπτα του Δρος Νικ. Γ. Μαυρη (οπως πολυ συχνα υπεγραφε τα κειμενα του).

Αυτονοητα, αυτη ειναι μια προσωπικη ματια.

Θελω να εκφρασω αυτην την αυρα που απεπνεε ο Νικολαος Μαυρης, και ειχα την τυχη να απολαυσω.

N G Mavris in front of the “Roses” Hotel in Rhodes, 1950 – Ο Ν Γ Μαυρης στο ξενοδοχειο των Ροδων, στη Ροδο το 1950

Αιγυπτος και Κασος

Ο Νικολαος Γεωργιου Μαυρης (ΝΓΜ) ηταν ενας Ελληνας της διασπορας.

Γεννηθηκε στην πολη Zagazig της Αιγυπτου το 1899, γιος του γιατρου Γεωργιου Μαυρη απο την Κασο, ενα μικρο νησι στη Νοτιοανατολικη γωνια του Αγαιου, χωμενο αναμεσα στην Κρητη και την Καρπαθο.

Tο Zagazig ειναι μια πολη στο Δελτα του Νειλου, περιπου 50 μιλια βορια του Καϊρου και θεωρειται το κεντρο της εμποριας βαμβακιου και σιτηρων της Αιγυπτου.

Μερικες φορες ο ΝΓΜ αναφεροταν στην περιοδο της ζωης του που εζησε στην Αιγυπτο. Παντοτε με πολλη αγαπη και νοσταλγια.

Την θεωρουσε την πιο “αθωα” περιοδο της ζωης του. Εκεινες τις στιγμες ανεφερε και μερικες αραβικες λεξεις χωρις παντα να τις μεταφραζει.

Ητανε τοσο ωραιος ο ηχος των Αραβικων λεξεων, αντηχουσαν σαν μουσικη!

Zagazig, Egypt

Zagazig, Egypt

Σε αρθρο της, η Φωτεινη Τομαη στην εφημεριδα “Το Βημα“, μας ενημερωνει σχετικα με τον Ελληνισμο της Αιγυπτου:

“Κατά το τέλος του 18ου αιώνα ο ελληνισμός της Αιγυπτου δεν ξεπερνούσε τις 2.000. Η κατασταση αλλαξε ριζικα μεσα σε ενα αιωνα. Σύμφωνα με μια πρώτη επίσημη απογραφή της Αιγύπτου το 1907, οι κατέχοντες επισήμως την ελληνική υπηκοότητα κάτοικοι της χώρας ανήρχοντο σε 132.947. Το διάστημα μεταξύ 1880 και 1920 σημειώθηκε η μεγαλύτερη οικονομική ανάπτυξη των Ελλήνων της Αιγύπτου. Δημιουργήθηκαν κοινότητες με προεξάρχουσα εκείνη της Αλεξανδρείας, αλλά και του Καΐρου, σύλλογοι και εμπορικά σωματεία, αδελφότητες, ενώ ιδρύθηκαν νοσοκομεία, πτωχοκομεία, ορφανοτροφεία ακόμη και φιλανθρωπικά σωματεία για την ενίσχυση με συσσίτια των αδυνάμων να συντηρηθούν οικονομικά. Γενικά ο ελληνισμός της Αιγύπτου ανεδείχθη σε κυρίαρχη από οικονομικής πλευράς δύναμη, με έντονη πνευματική και κοινωνική δράση, λαμπρύνοντας την ίδια του την πατρίδα, την Ελλάδα, στη φιλόξενη γη της Αιγύπτου, μιας χώρας με μακραίωνη επίσης ιστορία.”

The old hardour in Fri, on Kassos island – Το λιμανακι της Μπουκας στο Φρυ της Κασου

Στον Προλογο του πρωτου τομου της Δωδεκανησιακης Βιβλιογραφιας του εκδοθηκε το 1965 (βλεπε και παρακατω), και απεσπασε το Βραβειον της Ακαδημιας Αθηνων το 1957, ο ΝΓΜ αναφερει:

“Εχει μια μικρη ιστορια το βιβλιο αυτο. Μια ιστορια που αρχιζει πριν απο πολλα χρονια, οταν ο γραφων – νεαρος τοτε μαθητης του Γυμνασιου στο Καϊρο – ενδιαφερομενος για την ιστορια της ιδιαιτερας του πατριδας, ερευνουσε διαφορα συγγραμματα και περιοδικα, ιδιως στην εκει Εθνικη Βιβλιοθηκη, με τον σκοπο και την ελπιδα να βρη κατι σχετικο με την ιστορια της Κασου.”

Απο τα γυμνασιακα του χρονια λοιπον ξεκιναει το μεγαλο ταξιδι της βιβλιογραφικης ερευνας, που τοσα πολλα απεδωσε και στα Δωδεκανησα αλλα και στην Ελλαδα.

Ειναι χαρακτηρισιτκη η προταση με την οποια ο ΝΓΜ κλεινει τον Προλογο:

“Ετσι γραφτηκε το βιβλιο αυτο, που για μενα δεν ειναι απλως ενα βιβλιο αλλα ενα αληθινο βιωμα, αφου τοσα χρονια το εζησα και με εζησε.”

N G Mavris, Governor of the Dodecanese, 1948

N G Mavris, Governor of the Dodecanese, 1948

Απο την Αιγυπτο στην Αμερικη

Το προθεμα “Δρ.” στο ονομα του, οφειλεται στο οτι ο ΝΓΜ ηταν ιατρος. Σπουδασε ιατρικη στην Αθηνα απο το 1918 εως το 1923.

Το 1923 επιστρεφει στην Αιγυπτο, οπου παραμενει μεχρι το 1925.

Το 1925 πηγαινει στο Παρισι οπου εξειδικευεται στην οφθαλμιατρικη, και παρακολουθει μαθηματα φιλολογιας και νομικης.

Το 1935 παντρευεται την Ιουλια Νικολαου, κορη Κασιωτη εφοπλιστη, με την οποια απεκτησε τεσσερα παιδια.

Το 1936 εγκαθισταται οικογενειακως στην Αθηνα, οπου θα παραμεινει μεχρι το 1940.

Πρακτικον Ιδρυσεως της Εταιρειας Δωδεκανησιακων Μελετων

Πρακτικον Ιδρυσεως της Εταιριας Δωδεκανησιακων Μελετων

Στις 15 Απριλιου 1936 ιδρυει μαζι με επτα αλλους Δωδεκανησιους διανοουμενους την Εταιρια Δωδεκανησιακων Μελετων.

Το “Πρακτικον Ιδρυσεως Εταιριας Δωδεκανησιακων Μελετων” αναφερει:

“Εν Αθηναις σημερον την 15ην Απριλιου 1936 ημεραν Τεταρτην και ωραν 7 μ.μ. οι υπογεγραμμενοι Δωδεκανησιοι διανοουμενοι συνελθοντες εν τη οικια του Δρος Νικ. Μαυρη απεφασισαμεν την ιδρυσιν οργανωσεως υπο την επωνυμιαν ‘Εταιρια Δωδεκανησιακων Μελετων’ οι σκοποι και αι κατευθυνσεις της οποιας καθορισθησονται δια του καταστατικου της υπο την εγκρισιν απαντων των ιδρυτων.

(ακολουθουν τα ονοματα και οι υπογραφες των ιδρυτων)

Μιχ. Μιχαηλιδης Νουαρος

Δρ. Νικ. Γ. Μαυρης

Εμμανουηλ Πρωτοψαλτης

Βασσος Βαρικας

Ανδρεας Παπανδρεου

Αναστασιος Φραγκος

Γεωργιος Θ. Γεωργιαδης

Βασσος Χανιωτης”

dodekanesian_archive

Η φωτοτυπια του Πρακτικου περιλαμβανεται στον εκτο τομο του περιοδικου συγγραμματος “Δωδεκανησιακον Αρχειον“, 1976.

Ο ΝΓΜ αναφερει (σ.187): “… η ωραια εκεινη προσπαθεια δεν ειχεν αμεσον συνεχειαν. Ολη η προσοχη και η δραστηριοτης των συμπατριωτων μας τοτε, ητο εστραμμενη  κυριως και πρωτιστως προς τους απελευθερωτικους μας αγωνας. … μονο μετα την απελευθερωσιν  των νησιων μας και την ενσωματωσιν των επραγματοποιηθη η ΔΙΛΕ (Δωδεκανησιακη Ιστορικη και Λαογραφικη Εταιρια)”

(Σημειωση δικη μου: Η ΔΙΛΕ θα επανασυσταθει το 1948 και θα εκδωσει την “Δωδεκανησιακη Βιβλιογραφια” του ΝΓΜ. )

Ο ΝΓΜ δεν θα παραμεινει στην Αθηνα για πολυ. Μετα απο μια συντομη παραμονη στο Παρισι, και με την εναρξη του Β’ Παγκοσμιου Πολεμου, ο ΝΓΜ μεταβαινει στην Αμερικη.

Αμερικη

Αναπτυσσει δραστηριοτητα υπερασπισης των υπο κατοχην Δωδεκανησων, διδάσκει μαθήματα νεοελληνικής λογοτεχνίας σε Πανεπιστήμια των Η.Π.Α. (οπως το Κολουμπια της Νεας Υορκης) και εκδίδει το περιοδικό Βυζαντινά-Μεταβυζαντινά.

The Dodecanesians are not enemy aliens, 1942

The Dodecanesians are not enemy aliens, 1942

Η πρωτη μεγαλη του επιτυχια στην Αμερικη ηταν η αρση του χαρακτηρισμου των Δωδεκανησιων ως “εχθρων” απο το Αμερικανικο Υπουργειο Εξωτερικων.

Απο το 1912 τα Δωδεκανησα ησαν υπο Ιταλικη κατοχη, σαν αποτελεσμα μιας συνθηκης αναμεσα στην Τουρκια και την Ιταλια.

Με δεδομενη την εμποελεμη κατασταση αναμεσα στις ΗΠΑ και την Ιταλια, ηταν φυσικο επακολουθο να θεωρουνται ολοι οι Δωδεκανησιοι “εχθροι”, λογω της Ιταλικης κατοχης, την οποιαν ομως αρχικα παρεβλεψαν οι Αμερικανοι. Ο ΝΓΜ υπεβαλε και παρουσιασε αναγορα σχετικη με το θεμα, και επεισε τους Αμερικανους δια το ορθον του αιτηματος του να παψουν να θεωρουνται οι Δωδεκανησιοι ως “εχθροι αλλοδαποι”.

Η αναφορα που υπεβαλε ο ΝΓΜ εξεδοθη το 1942 σε μπροσουρα με τον τιτλο: «THE DODECANESIANS ARE NOT ENEMY ALIENS»

(Οι Δωδεκανησιοι δεν ειναι εχθροι αλλοδαποι!)

Η επομενη μεγαλη μαχη που εδωσε ο ΝΓΜ αφορουσε ενα κορυφαιο Ιταλο αντιφασιστα, τον κομη Σφορτσα, και τις αποψεις του σχετικα με την επανενωση των Δωδεκανησων με την Ελλαδα.  Η έκδοση του γνωστού φυλλαδίου «Sforza contra Sforza » που κυκλοφόρησε κυρίως στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες, ανάγκασε τον ίδιο τον Sforza να παραδεχθεί την ελληνικότητα των νήσων.

N. G. Mavris, Sforza vs. Sforza, 1943

N. G. Mavris, Sforza vs. Sforza, 1943

O Ιταλός κόμης Sforza 1922 εγινε υπουργος Εξωτερικων της Ιταλιας το 1920, και αμεσως σχεδον απερριψε το συμφωνο Βελιζελου – Τιτονι (προκατοχου του) που προεβλεπε την παραδοση των Δωδεκανησων στην Ελλαδα.

Ο Σφορτσα ηταν αντιφασιστας και το 1926 εφυγε απο την Ιταλια, εχοντας παραιτηθει απο το κυβερνητικο του αξιωμα το 1922, με την ανοδο του Μουσολινι στην εξουσια. Απο το 1940 εζησε για λιγο στην Αγγλια και μετα στην Αμερικη, οπου παρεμεινε μεχρι το 1943, οποτε επεστρεψε στην Ιταλια μετα την καταρρευση του Μουσολινι.

Την περιοδο 1947-1951 διετελεσε και παλι υπουργος Εξωτερικων. Απεβιωσε το 1952.  

Ο ΝΓΜ ητανε πολυ θορυβημενος επειδη ο Σφορτσα στην Αμερικη δεν ειχε λαβει σαφη θεση για την επανενωση των Δωδεκανησων με την Ελλαδα. Το φυλλαδιο που εξεδωσε το 1943 ειχε σκοπο να ασκησει πιεση στον Σφορτσα για να λαβει μια θεση θετικη για την επανενωση, κατι που τελικα εγινε. Ο κόμης Sforza παραδέχθηκε δημόσια την ελληνικότητα των Δωδεκανήσων και στη Νέα Υόρκη συγκαλείται Πανδωδεκανησιακό Συνέδριο (1943), σε ψήφισμα του οποίου κηρύσσεται η Ένωση των Δωδεκανήσων με την Ελλάδα.

Μετά από την αποχώρηση των Ιταλών τα Δωδεκάνησα (1943) πέρασαν στη γερμανική κατοχή και το 1945 παραδόθηκαν προσωρινά σε βρετανική στρατιωτική κατοχή έως τις 31 Μαρτίου 1947, οπότε παραδόθηκαν στην ελληνική στρατιωτική διοίκηση.

Απο το φυλλαδιο αυτο θεωρω πολυ ενδιαφερον και το παραθετω, το ακολουθο αποσπασμα (η μεταφραση απο το αγγλικο πρωτοτυπο ειναι δικη μου):

‘Για περισσοτερους απο τεσσερις αιωνες υπο Οθωμανικη ηγεμονια, αυτα τα νησια (τα Δωδεκανησα) ησαν πληρως αυτονομα. Η μονη τους συνδεση με την Υψηλη Πυλη ηταν η πληρωμη ενος ετησιου φορου που αποτελουσε και την εμμεση παραδοχη της Οθωμανικης εξουσιας. Η κατοχη των νησιων απο τους Ιταλους το 1912 στη διαρκεια του Ιταλο-Τουρκικου πολεμου, χαρακτηρισθηκε απο τον τοτε υπουργο εξωτερικων της Ιταλιας κ. Τζιολιτι σαν “προσωρινη” και “οφειλομενη σε στρατιωτικους λογους”. ‘

Βυζαντινα Μεταβυζαντινα Volume I (1946) PART I

Βυζαντινα Μεταβυζαντινα Volume I (1946) PART I

Στην Εισαγωγη του Πρωτου Μερους του Πρωτου Τομου στα “Βυζαντινα – Μεταβυζαντινα”, ο ΝΓΜ γραφει (η μεταφραση απο το αγγλικο πρωτοτυπο ειναι δικη μου):

“Αισθανομεθα οτι η δημιουργια των ‘Βυζαντινων – Μεταβυζαντινων’, μιας περιοδικης εκδοσης αφιερωμενης αποκλειστικα στις σπουδες με θεμα το Βυζαντιο και τη Συγχρονη Ελλαδα, τεκμηριωνεται πληρως απο την σοβαρη ερευνητικη δραστηριοτητα και το ενδιαφερον πολλων γενεων Αμερικανων ερευνητωνπου ασχολουνται με το Βυζαντιο και τη Συγχρονη Ελλαδα… Η δραστηριοτητα του διακεκριμενου Ρωσου ερευνητη καθηγητη Α.Α. Βασιλιεφ στο Ουϊσκονσιν απο το 1925 και Νταμπαρτον Οακς προσφατα, εδωσε μεγαλη ωθηση στις Βυζαντινες σπουδες στην Αμερικη, και τους εδωσε επισης ευρυτερο και πιο συστηματικο χαρακτηρα με την εμπνευση του. “

Ο ΝΓΜ στην Ροδο το 1948

Ο ΝΓΜ στην Ροδο το 1948

Απελευθερωση  - Πολιτικός Γενικός Διοικητής Δωδεκανήσου

Τέλος στις αρχές του 1948, σύμφωνα με νόμο, τα Δωδεκάνησα αποτέλεσαν Γενική Διοίκηση με έδρα τη Ρόδο και πρώτο «Πολιτικό Γενικό Διοικητή Δωδεκανήσου» το Ν. Μαυρή.

Ο ΝΓΜ παραιτήθηκε στις αρχές του 1950, για να πάρει μέρος στις πρώτες βουλευτικές εκλογές της 5 ης Μαρτίου του 1950 με δικό του συνδυασμό, την «Ανεξάρτητον Πολιτικήν Ένωσιν Δωδεκανήσου» χωρίς να εκλεγεί.

Στις εκλογές της 9 ης Σεπτεμβρίου του 1951 εκλέχτηκε βουλευτής Δωδεκανήσου με τον «Ελληνικόν Συναγερμόν» του Αλέξ. Παπάγου.

Διετέλεσε ξανά Γενικός Διοικητής Δωδεκανήσου την περίοδο Δεκέμβριος 1952 – Απρίλιος 1954.

Μετά τη λήξη της θητείας του το 1954 εγκαταστάθηκε στην Αθήνα.

Για την περιοδο της διοικησης των Δωδεκανησων, ο φιλος του ΝΓΜ Κωστας Αγαπητιδης αναφερει σε ομιλια (1982) αφιερωμενη στον ΝΓΜ τις ακολουθες σημειωσεις του ΝΓΜ:

“Ο ψυχικος παραγων θα ειναι απο τα δυσκολωτερα πραγματα που θα με απασχολησουν. Η πολυχρονος, δηλαδη, σκλαβια, υπο την οποιαν εζησαν οι Δωδεκανησιοι, επεφερε τραυματα ψυχικα, δια την επιλυσιν των οποιων θα εμφυσηθει νεα πνοη. Ειμαι ακομα καταπληκτος απο τον στρατιωτικον χαιρετισμον μερικων κατοικων, και παιδιων ακομα. Προδιδει αυτο μιαν συνηθειαν κτηθεισαν απο την τρομοκρατικην βιαν και την πιεσιν, την ασκηθεισαν υπο των κατακτητων επι του λαου.” 

 

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Η Μουσα της Βιβλιογραφιας

Μετα τα Δωδεκανησα και την Κασο, η μεγαλη αγαπη του ΝΓΜ ηταν αναμφισβητητα η Βιβλιογραφια.

Η αγαπη αυτη συνοδευοταν απο ταλεντο και ικανοτητα.

Η «Δωδεκανησιακή Βιβλιογραφία» αποτελει το πρωτο μεγαλο βιβλιογραφικο εργο του ΝΓΜ.

“Η ιδικη μας προσπαθεια απεβλεψεν εις τον καταρτισμον μιας συστηματικης και εξαντλητικης, ει δυνατον, βιβλιογραφιας ητις θα περιελαμβανε – αυτο θα ητο το ιδεωδες – ολα τα σχετικα με την Δωδεκανησον δημοσιευματα , εις οιανδηποτε γλωσσαν, εις οιανδηποτε εποχην και επι οιουδηποτε θεματος και αν εγραφησαν…Εαν ομως η επιθυμητη πληροτης μιας βιβλιογραφιας δεν εξαρταται παντοτε απο την ιδικην μας θελησιν και προσπαθειαν, η ακριβεια των δηοσιευομενων, αποτελει αντιθετως, ιδικην μας και μονον ιδικην μας υποχρεωσιν και ευθυνην. Δια τον λογον αυτον η περιγραφη των λημματων εγενετο, κατα κανονα, εξ αυτοψιας. Τα ολιγα δε εξ αυτων των οποιων κατεστη δυνατη η εξ αυτοψιας περιγραφη, διακρινονται των αλλων εκ του ατερισκου (*) οστις προηγειται του σχετικου λημματος ”  (σελιδα κε’ του πρωτου τομου)

Ο πρωτος τομος εκδοθηκε το 1965 στην Αθηνα. Ενας δευτερος τομος εκδοθηκε αργοτερα, ενώ μέχρι σήμερα παραμένει ανέκδοτος ο τρίτος τόμος. Οπως αναφερει ο συγγραφεας στην σελιδα κε’ του πρωτου τομου:

 “Ολοκληρον το περισυλλεγεν υλικον αποτελουμενον απο δεκα, περιπου, χιλιαδας λημματα γραμμενα εις 18 γλωσσας εκτος της Ελληνικης, απεφασισθη, δια να ειναι πλεον ευχρηστον, να εκδοθει εις τρεις αυτοτελεις τομους.” 

Ο ΝΓΜ στον περιβολο της εκκλησιας της Φανερωμενης στη Ροδο

Ο ΝΓΜ στον περιβολο της εκκλησιας της Φανερωμενης στη Ροδο

Το δευτερο μεγαλο βιβλιογραφικο εργο του ΝΓΜ ειναι η ιδρυση και λειτουργια της Βιβλιογραφικής Εταιρείας της Ελλάδος. Με το παθος και την επιμονη του η Βιβλιογραφικη Εταιρια της Ελλαδος εξεδωσε Την Ελληνικη Βιβλιογραφια για μερικα χρονια.

Στον Προλογο της Ελληνικης Βιβλιογραφιας 1976, που εκδοθηκε το 1977, ο ΝΓΜ γραφει:

“Εδω, θα θελαμε να μονο να τονισωμε και παλι, την αναγκη να τηρειται, ο ατυχως μη τηρουμενος νομος για την υποχρεωτικη καταθεση στην Εθνικη Βιβλιοθηκη ολων των εκτυπουμενων εντυπων στη χωρα μας…. Μια ειναι, εν τουτοις, η σωτηρια, η μοναδικη λυση για να εχουμε πληρη Γενικη Βιβλιογραφια στον τοπο μας: να προχωρησει η Πολιτεια στη δημοσιευση του νεου νομου ‘Depot Legal’  

Αυτος ο νομος ψηφιστηκε τελικα το 2003. Σύμφωνα με αυτον (Ν.3149/2003) το υλικό που κατατίθεται στην Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη είναι κάθε αντικείμενο που δημιουργείται για να αποθηκεύσει ή να μεταφέρει, με οποιοδήποτε μέσο, πληροφορίες σε χειρόγραφη, έντυπη, γραφική, ψηφιακή, οπτική, ακουστική ή οποιαδήποτε άλλη δυνατή μορφή.

Στο τελος του Προλογου του 1976, ο ΝΓΜ αναφερεται και στην μητερα μου:

“Στην υπευθυνη της συνταξεως, φιλολογο κυρια Παναγιωτα Μοροπουλου, ξεχωριστες εκφραζουμε ευχαριστιες. Γιατι με δικη της πρωτοβουλια, ανελαβε να διευρυνει τις ερευνες και αναζητησεις που πιο πανω αναφεραμε, παρ’ ολους τους κοπους – σωματικους και πνευματικους – που μια τετοια προσπαθεια προυποθετει. Εργασθηκε επικεφαλης του συνεργειου μας και επετυχε τελικα μια πληροτητα που υπερβαινει καθε προηγουμενηαλλα και με ακριβεια παντα, και με ιδιαιτερη επιμελεια στη συνταξη και εμφανιση του τομου τουτου.”

(Ο προλογος του ΝΓΜ εχει ημερομηνια “Οκτωβριος 1977″. Τον Απριλιο 1977 πεθανε ο πατερας μου.)

Η τελευταια χρονια που επιμεληθηκε ο ΝΓΜ ηταν το 1977. Η εκδοση καθυστερησε δυο χρονια.

Ενα τεραστιο εργο βιβλιογραφιας του ΝΓΜ δεν εχει εκδοθει ακομη, και ισως δεν εκδοθει ποτε.

Ειναι η Ελληνικη Βιβλιογραφια 1864-1897.

(Σημειωση δικη μου: Ο ΝΓΜ αφησε την τελευταια του πνοη το 1978.)   

Ο Ερανιστης, Τευχος 47, Αθηνα 1970

Ο Ερανιστης, Τευχος 47, Αθηνα 1970

Ενα αλλο δειγμα βιβλιογραφικης τεχνικης του ΝΓΜ παρουσιαζεται στο τευχος 47 του “Ερανιστη“, με τιτλο “Βιβλια ουδεποτε εκδοθεντα“, Αθηνα 1970.

Το ακολουθο αποσπασμα ειναι χαρακτηριστικο:

“Οπως εινε γνωστον, δεν ειναι σπανιαι αι περιπτωσεις των αναδρομικων, ιδιως, βιβλιογραφιωνεις τας οποιας εχουν παρεισφρυσει τιτλοι ‘βιβλιων’ τα οποια ομως εις την πραγματικοτητα ουδεποτε εξεδοθησαν.

Τα βιβλια αυτα δια τα οποια, καθ’οσον γνωριζω, δεν εχομεν ημεις ειδικον ορον, ονομαζουν οι γαλλοι Editions supposees:  , οι αγγλοσαξωνες Bibliographical ghosts και οι γερμανοι vermutete Ausgabe.  …

Ο πλεον συνηθης (λογος για την παρουσια ‘ανυπαρκτων’ βιβλιων’) οφειλεται εις την τυχον υπαρχουσαν διαφοραν χρονολογιας μεταξυ της σελιδος τιτλου (εσωφυλλου) και του εξωφυλλου. Η διαφορα αυτη μπορει να εινε ενος ετους ή και περισσοτερων ετων….

Εις την δημιουργιαν ανυπαρκτων εκδοσεων συμβαλλει επισης η υπαρξις εις ενα βιβλιον δυο τιτλων, ενος ελληνικου και ενος ξενογλώσσου….

Αναλογα προβληματα δημιουργουνται επισης οταν προκειται περι αχρονολογήτων βιβλιων.

Ούτως, επι παραδείγματι, εχομεν εις την Βιβλιογραφιαν των Γκίνη-Μέξα τα εξης δυο λημματα που αφορουν το ίδιον βιβλίον.

*5384. – Διαλογος μεταξυ Ιωαννου και Δημητριου. Μερος πρωτην (sic). Ο Σολωμος και οι υποψηφιοι του. Εις 8ον, σελ. 43. Ανευ ετους, αλλα πιθανως τω 1851. Φ.Μ. [ιχαλοπουλος]. 

*6886. – Διαλογος μεταξυ Ιωαννου και Δημητριου. Μερος πρωτην (sic). Ο Σολωμος και οι υποψηφιοι του. Εις 8ον, σελ. 43. Ανευ τοπου και ετους, αλλα πιθανωτατα εν Ζακυνθω τω 1856. ΛΟΒ.Κ. Ι/ΙΙ.  “

Ιδιοχειρος αφιερωση

Ιδιοχειρος αφιερωση

Οδος Νεοφυτου Βαμβα 3

Απο τις ζωηρωτερες αναμνησεις μου αφορουν τις επισκεψεις στο σπιτι του ΝΓΜ στο Κολωνακι, οδος Νεοφυτου Βαμβα 3, στη δεκαετια του 1960.

Φθαναμε με την μητερα μου στο σπιτι (και γραφειο) του ΝΓΜ γυρω στις 5 το απογευμα.

Ηταν ενα ευρυχωρο μεγαλο διαμερισμα στον δευτερο οροφο. Δεν υπηρχε γυμνος τοιχος, παρα μονον στην κουζινα και την τουαλετα.

Ολοι οι αλλοι τοιχοι ηταν καλυμμενοι απο βιβλιοθηκες που στεναζανε κατω απο τα βαρη των βιβλιων που κρατουσαν.

Το πρελουδιο της συναντησης ητανε μια συζητηση αναμεσα στον ΝΓΜ και την μητερα μου, συνηθως με θεμα το παθος του, τη Βιβλιογραφια, αλλα και τη Λαογραφια.

Συντομο πρελουδιο ομως , για να προλαβουμε το θεατρο: Ιψεν, Στριντμπεργκ, Ντυρενματ.

Δεν θυμαμαι καλα. Παντα απογευματινη παρασταση, που τελειωνε λιγο μετα τις 8.

Και μετα το θεατρο με τα ποδια πηγαιναμε στο Εστιατοριο ΚΟΡΦΟΥ, στην οδο Κριεζωτου , που δεν υπαρχει πια.

(Σημειωνω οτι το εστιατοριο εκλεισε περι το 1975. Το κτηριο κατεδαφιστηκε και εγινε παρκινγκ αυτοκινητων.)

Το τυπικο γευμα ειχε βραστα κολοκυθακια (στην εποχη τους), φετα σφυριδα, και κρεμ καραμελ για επιδορπιο.

Οι σερβιτοροι με τα κολλαριστα σακκακια και την μαυρη γραβατα εκινουντο ως σε χορογραφια. Παλαια σχολη, άλλα ηθη εκεινη την εποχη.

Το γευμα ηταν και το πιο ζωντανο για μενα κομματι, αφου ειχα την ευκαιρια να μιλησω με τον νονο, κι αυτος ειχε την καλη διαθεση να με ακουσει και να συζητησει μαζι μου.

Δεν τον ακουσα ποτε να μιλαει αρνητικα ή ασχημα για ανθρωπο. Ητανε εξαιρετικα ευγενης και εσωστρεφης ανθρωπος.

Μου εδινε την εντυπωσε οτι στο μυαλο του κλωθογυριζανε πολλες σκεψεις ολη την ωρα.

Μονο στο ΚΟΡΦΟΥ εδειχνε χαλαρος και γελαστος.

Ο ΝΓΜ χαιρετα την Παναγιωτα Μαυρογενους το 1953

Ο ΝΓΜ χαιρετα την Παναγιωτα Μαυρογενους το 1953

Παρνηθα

Ο ΝΓΜ για το μεγαλυτερο διαστημα της ζωης του ητανε ενας ανθρωπος της μεγαλης πολης, του αστικου κεντρου.

Ο Κωστας Αγαπητιδης, στην Ομιλια που αφιερωσε στο ΝΓΜ το 1982 αναφερει χαρακτηριστικα:

“Οταν ηταν βουλευτης (1951-1952), μου ελεγε πως το ξενοδοχειο της ‘Μεγαλης Βρεταννιας’, οπου εμενε τοτε, ηταν ο,τι καλυτερο μπορουσε να υπαρχει γι’ αυτον ως διαμονη. Οποιαδηποτε στιγμη, βγαινοντας εξω, του ηταν πολυ ευκολο να παει στη Βουλη ή στην Πλατεια Συνταγματος, στη Βιβλιοθηκη της Βουληςγια τα παλια ή το Βιβλιοπωλειο Ελευθερουδακη για συγχρονα βιβλια. Μεσα σ’ αυτη την περιορισμενη εκταση μπορουσε να ζησει, να εντρυφησει, να δρασει, να συγγραψει, να ψυχαγωγηθει.”  

Και δεν ειναι βεβαια τυχαιο οτι οταν εγκατασταθηκε στην Αθηνα για τα καλα επελεξε το Κολωνακι για τοπο διαμονης του.

Προς το τελος της ζωης του ομως ο ανθρωπος του αστικου κεντρου παρουσιαζει μια “στροφη”.

Δεν γνωριζω τα αιτια, και δεν εχουν ισως καμια σημασια.

Ισως η επιδεινωση της υγειας του του επεβαλε τον αγερα της εξοχης.

Το γεγονος ειναι οτι ο ΝΓΜ αρχισε να επισκεπτεται συχνα την Παρνηθα, οπου λειτουργουσαν τα ξενοδοχεια “Ξενια” και “Μον Παρνες”.

Εμενε εκει αρκετες εβδομαδες τους θερινους μηνες.

Εκει ητανε και η τελευταια φορα που τον ειδα, το καλοκαιρι του 1978.

Τον επισκεφθηκα με την μητερα μου στην Παρνηθα, λιγο πριν αναχωρησω για την Αμερικη οπου θα σπουδαζα.

Ητανε εμφανως καταβεβλημενος και αδυνατος. Μιλησαμε ελαχιστα.

Με φιλησε και μου ευχηθηκε επιτυχια.

Ο ΝΓΜ απεβιωσε στις 3 Νοεμβριου του 1978.

Ο ΝΓΜ το 1959

Ο ΝΓΜ το 1959

Επιλογος

Η Δωδεκανησιακη Βιβλιογραφια ειναι αφιερωμενη απο τον ΝΓΜ ως εξης:

” Στα Παιδια μου. Για να γνωρισουν καλυτερα την πατριδα τους και να την αγαπησουν ακομη περισσοτερο.”

House by the Sea, Paros, Greece, painting by NM

House by the Sea, Paros, Greece, painting by NM

Casa sul Mare 
 
Il viaggio finisce qui:
nelle cure meschine che dividono 
l’anima che non sa più dare un grido.
Ora i minuti sono uguali e fissi
Come i giri di ruota della pompa.
Un giro: un salir d’acqua che rimbomba.
Un altro, altr’acqua, a tratti un cigolio.
 

casa sul mare2

 Il viaggio finisce a questa spiaggia
Che tentano gli assidui e lenti flussi.
Nulla disvela se non pigri fumi
La marina che tramano di conche
I soffi leni: ed è raro che appaia
Nella bonaccia muta
Tra l’isole dell’aria migrabonde
La Corsica
 dorsuta o la Capraia. 
House by the Sea, Paros, Greece, detail -  painting by NM

House by the Sea, Paros, Greece, detail – painting by NM

 
Tu chiedi se così tutto svanisce
In questa poca nebbia di memorie;
se nell’ora che torpe o nel sospiro
del frangente si compie ogni destino.
Vorrei dirti che no, che ti s’appressa
l’ora che passerai di là dal tempo;
forse solo chi vuole s’infinita,
e questo tu potrai, chissà, non io.
Penso che per i più non sia salvezza,
ma taluno sovverta ogni disegno,
passi il varco, qual volle si ritrovi.
Vorrei prima di cedere segnarti
codesta via di fuga
labile come nei sommossi campi
del mare spuma o ruga.
Ti dono anche l’avara mia speranza.
A’ nuovi giorni, stanco, non so crescerla:
l’offro in pegno al tuo fato, che ti scampi.
casa sul mare1
 
Il cammino finisce a queste prode
che rode la marea col moto alterno.
Il tuo cuore vicino che non m’ode
salpa già forse per l’eterno.
 
House by the Sea, Naoussa, Paros, Greece

House by the Sea, Naoussa, Paros, Greece

House by the Sea (translated by William Arrowsmith)
 
Here the journey ends: 
in these petty cares dividing
a soul no longer able to protest. 
Now minutes are implacable, regular
as the flywheel on a pump. 
One turn: a rumble of water rushing. 
Second turn: more water, occasional creakings.
 
casa2
 
Here the journey ends, on this shore
probed by slow, assiduous tides.
Only a sluggish haze reveals 
the sea woven with troughs
by the mils breezes: hardly ever
in that dead calm
does spiny Corsica or Capraia loom
through islands of migratory air.
 casa3
You ask: Is this how everything vanishes,
in this thin haze of memories?
Is every destiny fulfilled
in the torpid hour or the breaker’s sigh?
I would like to tell you: No. For you
the moment for your passage out of time is near:
transcendence may perhaps be theirs who want it,
and you, who knows, could be one of those. Not I.
There is no salvation, I think, for most,
but every system is subverted by someone, someone
breaks through, becomes what he wanted to be.  
Before I yield, let me help you find
such a passage out, a path
fragile a ridge or foam
in the furrowed sea.
And I leave you my hope, too meager
for my failing strength to foster
in days to come. I offer it
to you, my pledge to your fate, that you
break free.  
casa4
My journey ends on these shores
eroded by the to-and-fro of the tides.
Your heedless heart, so near, may even now
be lifting sail for the eternities.
casa5

Notes:

1. The poem “Casa sul Mare” is in the collection “Ossi di Seppia – Cuttlefish Bones”. It was published with the original poems and the english translation by Norton in 1992.

2. The critic and Montale’s friend Sergio Solmi observes about the “House by the Sea” that the poem adumbrates a theme dear to Montale, “the sense of a failed and enclosed life, despairing now of being equal to its original idea… escape from the ‘limbo of maimed existences’, succeed in living fully and saving itself”.

3. “For you the moment for your passage out of time is near”: is the “passage out of time” the poetic interpretation of “death”?

Robert Walser, German – Swiss Writer

Παρασκευή, 14 Δεκεμβρίου, 2012

Robert Walser’s death ground

“On Christmas Day, 1956, the police of the town of Herisau in eastern Switzerland were called out: children had stumbled upon the body of a man, frozen to death, in a snowy field. Arriving at the scene, the police took photographs and had the body removed. The dead man was easily identified: Robert Walser, aged seventy-eight, missing from a local mental hospital. In his earlier years Walser had won something of a reputation, in Switzerland and even in Germany, as a writer. Some of his books were still in print; there had even been a biography of him published. During a quarter of a century in mental institutions, however, his own writing had dried up. Long country walks—like the one on which he had died—had been his main recreation.” (1)

Robert Walser

One of the most remarkable and truly singular artists of the twentieth century, Robert Walser (1878-1956) has had a huge influence on a long list of literary, artistic and philosophical figures from Franz Kafka to Walter Benjamin and Herman Hesse, from W.G. Sebald to J.M. Coetzee; inspiring musicians such as Heinz Holliger, contemporary visual artists like Fischli & Weiss, Tacita Dean and Billy Childish, and filmmakers, like Percy Adlon and the Brothers Quay. (6)

Rober Walser, Der Spaziergang

Walser’s “walk” is many things at once: the walk of life as in Dante’s cammin di nostra vita; the fusion of a Romantic’s celebration of nature as the source of all knowledge and inspiration with a Modernist’s playful intertextuality and layering of language; the artistic process in conflict with the conditions of material existence. Palpable throughout the story are echoes of wanderers and outsiders that have always been suspect to settled society: the vagabonds, artisans, circus performers, journeymen, and nomads who were exempt from the duties and moral codes that order, tame, and impose limitations on human coexistence. I cannot help but suspect that Walser remained in the asylum to preserve his state of inner exile; in any case, there is ample evidence that he was anything but psychotic and that his nervous breakdown was in all likelihood caused more by the hopelessness of his professional, financial, and social situation than by inner demons. Walser must have sensed that he’d lost the audience receptive to his work and would not recover it, at least not in his lifetime. If his writing retained its mischief, whimsy and wonder, it also masked a defiant plea for the legitimacy of his vision and literary achievement. In an effort to have his taxes reduced, Walser’s walker/writer feels called upon to defend his profession and—by implication—justify his very existence: “There accompanies the walker always something remarkable, something fantastic […] by thinking, pondering, drilling, digging, speculating, writing, investigating, researching, and walking, I earn my daily bread with as much sweat on my brow as anybody. And although I may cut a most carefree figure, I am highly serious and conscientious, and though I seem to be no more than dreamy and delicate, I am a solid technician! Might I hope, through the meticulous explanations I have brought forth, to have convinced you completely of the obviously honorable nature of these endeavors?” (2)

Robert Walser

“Esteemed Gentlemen,
I am a poor, young, unemployed person in the business field, my name is Wenzel, I am seeking a suitable position, and I take the liberty of asking you, nicely and politely, if perhaps in your airy, bright, amiable rooms such a position might be free. . . . Large and difficult tasks I cannot perform, and obligations of a far-reaching sort are too strenuous for my mind. I am not particularly clever, and first and foremost I do not like to strain my intelligence overmuch. . . . Assuredly there exists in your extensive institution, which I imagine to be overflowing with main and subsidiary functions and offices, work of the kind that one can do as in a dream?—I am, to put it frankly, a Chinese; that is to say, a person who deems everything small and modest to be beautiful and pleasing, and to whom all that is big and exacting is fearsome and horrid. ” (3)

Robert Walser in 1937

“If I were rich, I wouldn’t travel around the world. To be sure, that would not be so bad. But I can see nothing wildly exciting about getting a fugitive acquaintance with foreign places. In general I would decline to educate myself, as they say, any further. I would be attracted by deep things and by the soul, rather than by distances and things far off. . . . And I wouldn’t buy anything either. I would make no acquisitions. . . . I would walk about on foot, just as usual, with the consciously secret intention of not letting people notice very much how regally rich I am. . . . It would never occur to me to take a cab. Only people who are in a hurry or want to put on noble airs do that. But I wouldn’t want to put on noble airs, and I would be in no hurry whatever. ” (4)

Thomas Schutte: Walser’s wife

This article was “ignited” by Thomas Schutte’s sculpture, “Walser’s Wife”, which I saw recently in Serpentine Gallery in London. I did not know of Walser until the time I saw his imaginary wife’s sculpted head. I figured that if an artist like Schutte was so moved by Walser that he went all the way to invent the wife and sculpt her head, it might be worth having a look at what this guy was all about. In the video clip below, Thomas Schutte, talks about Robert Walser in Chicago, back in February 2012.

Walter Benjamin, in an essay from 1929, made the ingenious suggestion that Walser’s cheerful people must all be convalescents; only recovered health could explain the intense pleasure they take in absolutely everything. More recently, the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben offered a gloss on the flatness, the thus-ness, of Walser’s frequently very matter-of-fact prose: this, he says, is how the world of left-behind objects and people will look after the Messiah has come and gone, abandoned in what Agamben calls the Irreparable. That works, too, for much of Walser’s writing, though it doesn’t cover the ironic moments. In these, it truly seems as if Walser has been laid under a curse: permitted only to speak well of the world, he is forced to express any sorrow or rage he feels in terms of the most unequivocal praise. The resulting sense of torment, endlessness, and absurdity puts one in mind of Kafka again. (5)

Robert Walser’s microscript

“Approximately ten years ago I began to first shyly and reverentially sketch out in pencil everything I produced, which naturally imparted a sluggishness and slowness to the writing process that assumed practically colossal proportions. This pencil system, which is inseparable from a logically consistent, office-like copying system, has caused me real torments, but this torment taught me patience, such that I now have mastered the art of being patient. . . .

This pencil method has a great meaning for me. The writer of these lines experienced a time when he hideously, frightfully hated his pen, I can’t begin to tell you how sick of it he was; he became an outright idiot the moment he made the least use of it; and to free himself from this pen malaise he began to pencil-sketch, to scribble, fiddle about. With the aid of my pencil I was better able to play, to write; it seemed this revived my writerly enthusiasm.” (7)

Susan Bernofsky, the translator of many  of Robert Walser’s from German to English, talks about his Microscripts.

Her Not All Her is a play about, from, and to the great Swiss writer Robert Walser, by the great Austrian writer and Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek. It highlights what Jelinek calls ‘the fundamental fragmentation’ of Walser’s voice, revealing Walser as ‘one of those people who, when they said “I”, did not mean themselves’.

Elfriede Jelinek’s play about Rober Walser

Elfriede Jelinek was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004.

Sources

1. The New York Review of Books, The Genius of Robert Walser

2. The Rumpus: The Walk (Der Spaziergang) by Robert Walser

3. Robert Walser, “Job Application”, quoted in (5)

4. Robert Walser, “Jakob von Gunten”, quoted in (5)

5. The New Yorker, Still Small Voice, The Fiction of Robert Walser

6. About Robert Walser 

7. From a letter written by Walser in 1927 to editor Max Rycnher, quoted in the Quarterly Conversation

Greece: voices from the past

Κυριακή, 25 Νοεμβρίου, 2012

Mermaid – Γοργονα

As Greece continues to suffer from the worst financial, social and political crisis since the civil war of 1945-1949, I retreated back in time, and heard some voices from the past.

Καθως η Ελλας συνεχιζει να ευρισκεται εις την δινη της μεγαλυτερης οικονομικης, κοινωνικης και πολιτικης κρισης μετα τον εμφυλιο (1945-1949), αποσυρθηκα εις τον παρελθοντα χρονο για να ακουσω καποιες φωνες.

Kokinia between the wars (1918-1939) – Η Κοκινια στον μεσοπολεμο

“Οι μικροαστοι επιθυμουν τη δικτατορια μοναχα σα φτασουνε στο τελευταιο σταδιο του φοβου ή της απογνωσης ή της αβουλιας. Μα οσο υπαρχουν ελπιδες μιας εθνικης και ατομικης ανορθωσης, θελουνε να βλεπουνε τους λογαριασμους του Κρατους, να τους συζητουνε ελευθερα και να νοιωθουνε πως μπορουνε να αλλαξουνε το προσωπικο κατα το κεφι τους, σα νοικοκυραιοι.

Petite bourgeoisie are in favour of a dictatorship only when they arrive at the last stage of fear, desperation, or lack of direction. But as long as there are hopes of a national and personal recovery, they want to see the finances of the State, discuss them freely and feel that they can change the political personnel as they desire, like good housekeepers. (1)

Greece between the wars – Η Ελλας στον μεσοπολεμο

Η κοινοβουλευτικη συντεχνια βρηκε μια λυση της πολιτικης κρισης, που εσωζε τους θεσμους διχως να προσβαλλει τις σταδιοδρομιες και τα φιλοτιμα των κομματων και των προσωπων: Κυβερνηση συνασπισμου. Τα κομματα της συμπολιτευσης και της αντιπολιτευσης μοιραστηκαν τα υπουργεια με ενα κοινο “προγραμμα περισυλλογης”, αφηνοντας εξω μερικες μικρες ομαδες των ακρων. Βρεθηκε ευκολα και ενας επιβλητικος γερος κοινοβουλευτικος, που ειχε καλες προσωπικες σχεσεις με ολους τους πολιτικους αρχηγους, και του δοθηκε η πρωθυπουργια. ..

The parliamentarians found a way out of the political crisis, that retained the institutions without assaulting the carriers and the pride of the parties and the political personnel: a coalition government. The parties of the majority and the opposition shared the ministerial posts on the basis of a common “recovery programme”, leaving out the small groups of the extremes. It was easy to find a respectable aged parliamentarian, who had good personal relationships with all the party leaders, and make him the prime minister… (1)

Open air market in Thission, Athens – Λαϊκη Αγορα στο Θησειο

Ενιωθε και κατι αλλο, που σε λιγο αρχισε να το νιωθει κι ενα μερος του κοινου: οτι η Κυβερνηση του συνασπισμου απο τη φυση της, ειναι ανικανη να παρει γενναιες πρωτοβουλιες και να επιβαλει ριζικες λυσεις στα οικονομικα και κρατικα ζητηματα, που παραλυανε τη ζωη του τοπου. Ουτε την ξεκουρδισμενη μηχανη της διοικησης μπορουσε να φρεσκαρει και να ξανακουρδισει, ουτε το στρατο να καθαρισει απο τα ταραχοποια στοιχεια του, ουτε αληθινες οικονομιες να πραγματοποιησει και να ισοσκλεισει τον προϋπολογισμο, ουτε την εθνικη οικονομια να διευθυνει και να τη συγκρατησει σ’ ενα ανεκτο επιπεδο μες στη συγχυση των διεθνων οικονομικων συνθηκων.

He also felt something else, which was also felt by the public: that the coalition Government was by nature unable to take bold initiatives and implement all-encompassing solutions to the financial and adminsitrative issues that were paralyzing the life of the country. The government could not refresh the broken down machinery of the state, nor clean up the army of its radical elements, cut public spending, balance the budget, and adequately manage the national economy in the midst of the international confusion.” (1)

Festival in Delphi – Δελφικες εορτες

“Γιατι λοιπον να μη μ’ ανησυχει και να μη με εξοργιζει οταν διακρινω ξεδιαντροπα να καλλιεργειται μια κουλτουρα δηθεν εθνικη απο ατομα ή οργανισμους ή κομματα και με εναν σκοπο, την υποδουλωση σας, τον πνευματικο και αισθησιακο ευνουχισμο σας, την υποπτη αντικατασταση της ανησυχιας απο την ακινδυνη παραδοσιακη γραφικοτητα; Κι υστερα δεν ειναι επισης καπως υποπτη η αυθαιρεσια ορισμενων κομματικων οργανισμων να οικειοποιουνται την προοδευτικοτητα σα να’ ναι γεννημα τους; Και ποία η διαφορα σ’ αυθαιρεσια μ’ εκεινους τους αλλους, τα τρωκτικα του τοπου μας, που ετσιθελικα οικειοποιουνται την εννοια του εθνους, ώστε όταν εναντιωνεσαι στις παρανομες επιδιωξεις τους να γινεσαι αυτοματα αντεθνικος; (2)

Maroussi

So why should I not be worried and outraged when I see people, organizations and parties promoting without shame a supposedly national culture with only one objective, your enslavement, your mental and sensual castration, and the suspicious substitution of concern by the harmless traditional stereotypes? Following that, isn’t it somehow suspicious to see some political organizations pretending that they are the owners of progressive ideas and beliefs? And in what do they differ from the others, the rats of our country, who declare themselves the owners of the concept of the nation, so that when you rise against their illegal designs you automatically become an enemy of the nation?” (2)

Technical Lyceum – Σιβιτανιδειος Σχολη

“Ο φασισμός στις μέρες μας φανερώνεται με δυο μορφές. Ή προκλητικός, με το πρόσχημα αντιδράσεως σε πολιτικά ή κοινωνικά γεγονότα που δεν ευνοούν την περίπτωσή τους ή παθητικός μες στον οποίο κυριαρχεί ο φόβος για ό,τι συμβαίνει γύρω μας. Ανοχή και παθητικότητα λοιπόν. Κι έτσι εδραιώνεται η πρόκληση. Με την ανοχή των πολλών. Προτιμότερο αργός και σιωπηλός θάνατος από την αντίδραση του ζωντανού και ευαίσθητου οργανισμού που περιέχουμε.

Fascism in our days appears with two faces. Either provocative, on the pretext of reacting to political or social events that do not favour them, or passive, where fear about everything going on around us is prominent. Tolerance and passivity give room to the challenge of fascism. We seem to prefer the slow and silent death to the reaction of the live and sensitive self inside us. (3)

George Theotokas (left). Athens 1941

Και μη βρίσκοντας αντίσταση από μια στέρεη παιδεία όλα αυτά δημιουργούν ένα κατάλληλο έδαφος για να ανθίσει ο εγωκεντρισμός η εγωπάθεια, η κενότητα και φυσικά κάθε κτηνώδες ένστιχτο στο εσωτερικό τους. Προσέξτε το χορό τους με τις ομοιόμορφες στρατιωτικές κινήσεις, μακρά από κάθε διάθεση επαφής και επικοινωνίας. Το τραγούδι τους με τις συνθηματικές επαναλαμβανόμενες λέξεις, η απουσία του βιβλίου και της σκέψης από τη συμπεριφορά τους και ο στόχος για μια άνετη σταδιοδρομία κέρδους και εύκολης επιτυχίας.

Not finding any resistance from a solid education, all these create a suitable ground for egocentricity to bloom, emptiness, and of course every animal instnct. Notice how they dance (the fascists) making these militarymovements, away from any desire to contaqct and communicate. Their song, with the coded repeating words, the anbsence of the book (reading) and thinking from their behaviour, and the goal of a comfortable career and easy success. (3)

M. Karagatsis in his youth

Βιώνουμε μέρα με τη μέρα περισσότερο το τμήμα του εαυτού μας – που ή φοβάται ή δεν σκέφτεται, επιδιώκοντας όσο γίνεται περισσότερα οφέλη. Ώσπου να βρεθεί ο κατάλληλος «αρχηγός» που θα ηγηθεί αυτό το κατάπτυστο περιεχόμενό μας. Και τότε θα ‘ναι αργά για ν’ αντιδράσουμε. Ο νεοναζισμός είμαστε εσείς κι εμείς – όπως στη γνωστή παράσταση του Πιραντέλο. Είμαστε εσείς, εμείς και τα παιδιά μας. Δεχόμαστε να ‘μαστε απάνθρωποι μπρος στους φορείς του AIDS, από άγνοια αλλά και τόσο «ανθρώπινοι» και συγκαταβατικοί μπροστά στα ανθρωποειδή ερπετά του φασισμού, πάλι από άγνοια, αλλά κι από φόβο κι από συνήθεια.

We experience day after day the part of ourself that is either scared or does not think, seeking to maximize personal benefits. Until we find the right “leader” to command this despicable side of our existence. But then it will be too late to react. Neonazism is you and us – as in the known play of Pirandello. It is us, us and our children. We accept to be inhuman when we face AIDS carriers, due to lack of knowledge, but so “human” and understanding in front of the humanoids of fascism, not only because of lack of knowledge, but also because of fear and habit.    (3)

Greek Civil War 1945-1949

Και το Κακό ελλοχεύει χωρίς προφύλαξη, χωρίς ντροπή. Ο νεοναζισμός δεν είναι θεωρία, σκέψη και αναρχία. Είναι μια παράσταση. Εσείς κι εμείς. Και πρωταγωνιστεί ο Θάνατος.

And Evil is lurking without precaution, without shame. Neonazism is not theory, thought, or anarchy. It is a show. You and us. And Death is the protagonist. ” (3)

Young women on a boat outside the port of Alexandroupolis – Κοπελλες σε βαρκα εξω απο την Αλεξανδρουπολη

“Στο αναμεταξυ (1921) οι νεοπλουτοι, μπουχτισμενοι απο ευκολοκερδισμενο παρά και λιμασμενοι απο μακροχρονια νηστεια, το’ χαν ριξει εξω. Γινοταν ενα γλεντι αλλιωτικο, ουτε πρωτογονο ουτε συμβατικο, μα κατι το ατοπο, το χυδαιο. Προβαλαν μεσα στην ξαφνιασμενη κοινωνια της Αθηνας ανθρωποι αγνωστοι, μυστηριοι, που κανεις δεν ηξερε πούθε βαστουσε η σκουφια τους, με τις τσεπες φίσκα στο χρημα και διχως συναισθηση τι παει να πει χρημα. Σπαταλουσαν ποσα αφανταστα σ’ ενα γλεντι κακογουστο κι άνοστο, μη λογαριαζοντας τιποτα, μην ξεροντας πως να διαθεσουν τα εκατομμυρια τους. Βασικη προϋποθεση του γλεντιου ηταν ν’ αποχτησουν αμερικάνικο αυτοκινητο και να τριγυρναν στους ανυπαρκτους τοτε δρομους της Αττικης, αραζοντας σε ξωτικα λιμανια – Ραφηνα και Σκαραμαγκα – που ο μη εκατομμυριούχος μοναχα στ’ ονειρο του μπορουσε να τα ιδει. Ησαν εκει κατι βρωμοταβερνες, που παρισταναν τα κεντρα πολυτελειας, που πουλουσαν τα τηγανητα μπαρμπουνια και τον μποτιλιαρισμενο σταφιδιτη σε τιμες αστρονομικες. (4)

Rafina 1930

In the meantime (1921), the newly rich, fed up by easily won money and starved by long abstinence, were going overboard. They were partying in a different way, neither primitive nor conventional, but somehow out of place and vulgar. Unknown, mysterious people, who nobody knew where they were coming from, were emerging in the midst of the puzzled Athenian society, with their pockets stuffed with money and no conception whatsoever of what money means. They were wasting unimaginable amounts of money in pasties of bad taste, disregarding everything, not knowing what to do with their money. A basiv requirement for them to have a good time was to buy an american car and roam the non-existent roads of Attica, arriving at exotix ports – Rafina and Skaramanga – which an ordinary person could see only in their dreams. There were some horrible tavernas there, pretending to be luxurious restaurants, selling fried barbounia and bottled wine at astronomical prices  ” (4)

Miss Europe, 1926

“Η Ελλαδα πεθανε και τη σκοτωσαμε εμεις – δεν ειναι ρητορικο σχημα. Δεν υπαρχει προηγουμενο λαου που με αποφαση της Βουλης (ομοφωνη) να καταργει τον τροπο της γραφης που συντηρησε τη γλωσσα του ζωντανη δυο χιλιαδες χρονια. .. Ο ευρωπαιος, οταν υιοθετησει το μηδενισμο, ελεγε ο Ντοστογιεφκσυ, εχει τα ιδια ερεισματα ζωης που συντηρουσε και θρησκευομενος: την προτεραιοτητα της λογικης, τον ωφελιμισμο, τη θεσμοποιηση των ατομικων εξασφαλισεων, γι’ αυτο και δυσκολα φτανει στην κοινωνικη αποσυνθεση και στο χαος. Ενω λαοι που επεζησαν μεσα στους αιωνες χαρη σε διαφορετικα ερεισματα ζωης – οπως οι Ρωσοι ή οι Ελληνες – οταν γινουν μηδενιστες, “βουτανε κατακεφαλα στον παραλογισμο” – δεν ξερουν μετρο. ” (5)

Musicians – Στης μαστουρας το σκοπο

Greece is dead and we killed her – this is not a rhetorical statement. There is no precedent of a people who with a unanimous parliamentary vote abandons the way of writing that has preserved his language alive for two thousand years…. The european, when becomes a nihillist, wrote Dostoevski, has the same pillars in life that he had when he was a believer: the priority of rational thinking, utilitarianism, the institutionalization of the personal, and so it is difficult for him to arrive at social disintegration and chaos. While peoples who have survived through the centuries thanks to other pillars in life, like the Russians or the Greeks, when they become nihillists, “they go all the way to insanity”, they know no restraint.  (5)

Korina in the Allatini Factory (6)

Θα σου παρουν τον ισκιο των δεντρων, θα τον παρουν

Θα σου παρουν τον ισκιο της θαλασσας, θα τον παρουν

Θα σου παρουν τον ισκιο της καρδιας, θα τον παρουν

Θα παρουν τον ισκιο σου… (7)

They will take away from you the shadow of the trees, they will take it

They will take away from you the shadow of the sea, they will take it

They will take away from you the shadow of the heart, they will take it

They will take away your shadow… (7)

Plakes, Volos

Sources – Πηγες

(1) Γιωργος  Θεοτοκας, ΑΡΓΩ 1936, Εστια. George Theotokas, ARGO 1936, Hestia Publishing.

(2) Μανος Χατζιδακις, Η πολιτκη στην τεχνη και η κακη τεχνη της πολτικης,   Ο Καθρεφτης και το Μαχαιρι, 1988, Ικαρος. Manos Hadjidakis, Politics in art and the bad art of politics, The mirror and the knife 1988, Ikaros Publishing.

(3) Μανος Χατζηδακις, Φεβρουαριος 1993, ΑΒΕΡΩΦ. Manos Hadjidakis, February 1993.

(4) Μ. Καραγατσης, Γιουγκερμαν, 1938, ΕΣΤΙΑ. M. Karagatsis, Yungermann, 1938, Hestia Publishing.

(5) Χρηστος Γιανναρας, Finis Greciae, 1986, Το Κενο στην τρεχουσα Πολιτικη, Εκδοσεις Καστανιωτη. Christos Giannaras, Finis Greciae, 1986, The vacuum in present day politics, Kastaniotis Publishing.

(6) Korina – Ceramics Allatini

(7) Γιωργος Σεφερης, Μερες Ε’, 15 Μαρτη 1947, Ικαρος Εκδοτικη. George Seferis, Days E’, 15 March 1947, Ikaros Publishing.

Ο ποιητης Νικος Καρουζος ταξιδεψε στον αλλο κοσμο την 28η Σεπτεμβριου 1990.

The Greek poet Nikos Karouzos died twenty two years ago this day.

Σχεδον δυο χρονια πριν, στα τελειωματα του 2010 ειχα γραψει ενα αρθρο για τον μεγαλο Ελληνα ποιητη.

Almost two years ago, at the end of 2010, I wrote an article about the great Greek poet.

The Greek poet Nikos Karouzos

Σημερα, τιμωντας την μνημη του για μια ακομη φορα, παραθετω ενα εκτενες αποσπασμα απο ενα κειμενο του που ξεκινησε να καμει κριτικη στον Καζαντζακη, αλλα επικεντρωθηκε στην “αγωνια κατάντικρυ στο μηδεν” (Νικος Καρουζος, Πεζα Κειμενα, Ικαρος Εκδοτικη Εταιρεια, 1998).

Today in his memory I publish an extract from an article he wrote criticizing Nikos Kazantzakis. The article is focused on the “agony in front of nothingness”. It goes like this:

“…. Ας παρουμε λοιπον, αν οχι τιποτ’ αλλο, το Ταο τε κινγκ,   το περιφημο βιβλιο του Λαο-τσε, την πιο αμυθοποιητη μεταφυσικη διδασκαλια της Αρχαιας Ασιας. Την αγωνια που μας βαζει συστηθους απεναντι στο μηδεν – απ’ τη χαμηλοτερη βαθμιδα της ως την υψηλοτερη, εκεινη που φανερωνει μ’ αλλα λογια την αγωνια ως υψωτικη μεριμνα – την κανει να υπαρχει, κατα τη διδασκαλια τουτη, το κτητικο-προσκολλητικο στοιχειο της υπαρξεως: η ατομικοτητα.

“… Let us then take, if nothing else, Tao te Ching, Lao Tse’s masterpiece, the most metaphysical teaching of Anceint Asia that is not prone to Myth. According to Lao Tse, the agony we experience in front of nothingness – from its lowest degree to the highest, where it is experienced as redemption anxiety – emerges out of the posessive – attachment attribute of our existence: individuality.

Martin Heidegger’s Feldweg in Messkirch, Germany

Εκεινος που δινεται στην μελετη 

γινεται πιοτερος μερα με τη μερα. 

Εκεινος που αφιερωνεται στο Ταο

ελαττωνεται μερα με τη μερα. 

He who devotes himself to learning

(seeks) from day to day to increase (his knowledge);

he who devotes himself to the Tao

(seeks) from day to day to diminish (his doing).

Lao Tse

Ελατωσου κι ακομη ελαττωσου

για να φτασεις καποτε στην απραξια. 

Με την απραξια

τιποτα δεν υπαρχει που να μη γινεται.

(Ταο τε κινγκ, 48)

He diminishes it and again diminishes it,

till he arrives at doing nothing (on purpose).

Having arrived at this point of non-action,

there is nothing which he does not do. ((chap. 48)

C D Friedrich: Der Wanderer

Θυμιζουμε την οντολογικη θεμελιωση της ταοϊκης διδασκαλιας:

Let us be reminded of the ontological foundation of taoism:

Ο γυρισμος ειν’ η κινηση του Ταο.

Τουτο φανερωνεται στο να’ ναι κανεις εξω απ’ τη δυναμη. 

Ολα τα οντα πηγαζουν απ’το Ειναι

το Ειναι πηγαζει απ’ το Μη-Ειναι

(Ταο τε κινγκ, 40)

In Tao the only motion is returning;

The only useful quality, weakness.

For though all creatures under heaven are the products of Being,

Being itself is the product of Not-being. ” (chap. 40, tr. Waley)

The Greek poet Nikos Karouzos

Το Ταο ειν’ ο δρομος προς το αδειασμα της ατομικοτητας, πηγης της κτητικοτητας και του εξουσιαζειν.

Tao is the way to get rid of individuality, which is the source of posessiveness and power.

Το Ταο ειν’ ο δρομος προς την απραξια, που σημαινει βασικα την μη προσκολληση στ’ αποτελεσματα του πραττειν, ειτε αυτα ειν’ αγαθα ειτε αυτα ειν’ ασχημα.

Tao is the road to doing nothing, which means non attachment to the results of acting, good or bad.  

Το Ταο ειν’ η κινηση προς την καθαρα πνευματικη χρηση του Ειναι, προς το μη-εγω που ειναι τα αταραχτο εγω της μη-ατομικοτητας, του μη-κτητικου-προσκολλητικου στοιχειου της υπαρξεως, προς την εξουδετερωση της αγωνιας, προς την μεταμορφωση σε πνευμα της υλης: την αταραξια.

Tao is the movement to the actualization of Being, to the non-Being, which is the undisturbed nucleus of non-individuality, of the non-posessive, non-aatached element of existence, to the neutralization of anxiety, to stillness.

Φτασε στην κενοτητα την υψιστη

και σ’ αταραξια διατηρησου…(16)

The (state of) vacancy should be brought to the utmost degree, and that of stillness guarded with unwearying vigour. (16)

Γιατι το ειναι και το μηδεν γεννιουνται το εν’ απ’ τ’ αλλο.(2)

So it is that existence and non-existence give birth the one to (the idea of) the other (2)

Σ’ αυτο το σημειο το ειναι και το μηδεν ειν’ ακριβως ο,τι ο Ηρακλειτος ονομαζει “ζων” και “τεθνηκος” που ειναι “ταυτο”.

Ειν’ η παντοδεχτρα ζωη κι ο παντοδεχτης θανατος, οπου αγωνια κι ο Καζαντζακης…

It is at this point that being and nothingness is exactly what Heracletus calls “living” and “decesaed” that are “the same”.

It is the all encompassing life and the all encomapssing death, where Kazantzakis’ anxiety originates.

Heracletus

ταὐτὸ ζῶν καὶ τεθνηκὸς καὶ ἐγρηγορὸς καὶ καθεῦδον καὶ νέον καὶ γηραιόν· τάδε γὰρ μεταπεσόντα ἐκεῖνά ἐστι κἀκεῖνα πάλιν μεταπεσόντα ταῦτα.

Ηρακλειτος (αποσπασμα 88)

And it is the same thing in us that is quick and dead, awake and asleep, young and old; the former are shifted and become the latter, and the latter in turn are shifted and become the former.

Heracletus (fragmentum 88)

By the (breaking) sea wave: A “Fluxus Eleatis” Discourse

Κυριακή, 26 Αυγούστου, 2012

Mr. FFF: Παρα θιν αλος. By the breaking sea wave.

MM: I see Priest Chryses praying. For his daughter Chryseis has been kidnapped by Agamemnon who does not want to release her.

βή δ’ ακέων παρά θίνα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης…

πήρε βουβός του πολυτάραχου γιαλού τον άμμον

Ομηρου Ιλιας, Ραψωδια Α34

Without a word, he went by the shore of the noisy sea (or ‘sounding sea’)

Homer, Iliad, A34

Mr. FFF: The priest Chryses prayed to Apollo to punish the Greek army, so that Agamemnon is forced to return to him his daughter, Chryseis.

Mrs. T: The deep sound of the sea is in stark contrast with the priest’s silent suffering.

Είπε, και την ευκή του επάκουσεν ο Απόλλωνας ο Φοίβος,
κι απ᾿ την κορφή του Ολύμπου εχύθηκε θυμό γεμάτος

Ομηρου Ιλιας, Ραψωδια Α43-44

He spoke, and Apollo Phoebus listened to his wish

and from the top pf Olympus he rushed away full of wrath

Homer, Iliad, A43-44

MM: Apollo shot the plague to the Greek Army, and Agamemnon had to return Chryseis to her father.

Mrs. T: As a compensation for his loss, Agamemnon took Bryseis from Achilles.

Mr. FFF: Achilles is furious at the loss of Briseis.

Briseis returns, sculpture by Michael Talbot

Δακρυσμένος τότε ο Αχιλλέας απ᾿ τους συντρόφους του μακραίνει και καθίζει

μπρος στον ψαρή γιαλό, το απέραντο το πέλαγο θωρώντας,

κι απλώνοντας τα χέρια ευκήθηκε στην ακριβή του μάνα

Ομηρου Ιλιας, Ραψωδια Α348-352

Achilles in tears strays away from his comrades and seats

on the beach, and looking at the vast sea,

unfolded his arms and prayed to his mother

Homer, Iliad, AHomer, Iliad, A348-352

Mr. FFF: Greeks of any age, starting with Homer, have a special relationship with the sea.

Mrs. T: The sea was considered to be the home of many deities.

MM: The sea was also a place of catharsis, a cleansing place for mortals.

Wie Meerekuesten, wenn zu baun

Anfangen die Himmliwschen und herein

Schifft unaufhaltsam, eine Pracht, das Werk

Der Woogen, eins uns andere, und die Erde

Sich ruester aus, darauf vom Freudigsten eines…

Wie Merekuesten…

Friedrich Hoelderlin

As upon seacoasts, when the gods
Begin to build and the work of the waves
Ships in unstoppably wave
After wave, in splendour, and the earth
Attires itself and then comes joy
A supreme, tuneful joy, setting …

(translation by David Constantine)

Wie Merekuesten…

Friedrich Hoelderlin

MM: I see the beach walking and…

Stephen Daedalus: Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount strand? Crush, crack, crick, crick.

MM: Stephen closed his eyes to hear his boots crush crackling wrack and shells.

Leopold Bloom: I am wandering around, avoiding to go home. I am on Sandymount strand. Following Stephen’s steps.

(young) Gerty: It is almost dusk. Roman candles are fizzing through the air.

Leopold Bloom: I cannot get my eyes off her!

(young) Gerty: I pulled my skirt up and revealed my garters.

Leopold Bloom: I surrender, I am too weak to resist.

(young) Gerty: I behaved as an exhibitionist. Will I ever be as important as Molly is?

Leopold Bloom:  I behaved as a true voyeur. I am aging.

Mr. FFF: I like garters.

Mrs. T: The description of the episode with Bloom and (young) Gerty made the US Courts to ban the book as indecent.

The beach shines like a mirror, swallowing the confusion of forms, creating whatever it likes.

Here by the beach, I will be covered, in whole, by a layer of sugar, like snow.

It is a sin to be absent from the present.

Nikos Gabriel Pentzikis, Mrs. Ersis’ Novel

Ο γιαλος στιλβει σαν καθρεφτης, καταπινοντας τη συγχυση των μορφων, σχηματιζοντας ο,τι θελει αυτος.

Εδω στην ακρογιαλια, ολοκληρον, θα με καλυψει σαν χιονι ενα στρωμα απο ζαχαρη.

Αμαρτια η απουσια απο το παρον.

Νικος Γαβριηλ Πεντζικης, Το Μυθιστορημα της κυριας Ερσης

Πῶς δύναται τὶς νὰ γίνει ἀνὴρ χωρὶς ν᾿ ἀγαπήσει δεκάκις τουλάχιστον, καὶ δεκάκις ν᾿ ἀπατηθεῖ ;

How could anyone become a man without falling in love at least ten times, and betrayed ten times?

Alexandros Papadiamantis

MM: I see the kissing-on-the-beach sequence where Lancaster and Kerr roll around in the Pacific Ocean’s frothy waves, lips locked as the surf washes over them.

Mrs. T: Lancaster’s sergeant (Milton Warden) with Deborah Kerr playing Karen Holms, another officer’s wife

Mr. FFF: The American censors deleted four seconds from that provocative love-making scene.

Mrs. T: From Here to Eternity was nominated for 13 Oscars and won eight, including best film and best director. It won rave reviews and became one of the highest-grossing films of the Fifties.

Du musst das Leben nicht verstehen,

dann wird es werden wie ein Fest.

You should not understand Life,

then it will be like a celebration.

Rainer Maria Rilke

MM: I see the beach swimming after sunset

Mrs. T: I have never done this.

Mr. FFF: I had a friend who rejoiced every time she had a chance to swim during the night. She could stay up all night swimming.

Τα πρωτα μου χρονια τ’ αξεχαστα τα’ ζησα κοντα στ’ ακρογιαλι,

Στη θαλασσα εκει τη ρηχη και την ημερη,

στη θαλασσα εκει την πλατιεα, τη μεγαλη…

Στη θαλασσα εκει…

Κωστης Παλαμας

I have lived my first unforgetable years by the beach,

There by the shallow and quite sea,

the wide, the great sea, there…

There by the sea

Kostis Palamas

MM: I see the Hotel des Roses in Rhodes.

Mrs. T: I like roses.

Mr. FFF: This is where I was going to swim when I was a kid. For hours on and on. 10am to 7pm. Full time job.

MM: I see the bay of Ladiko, near Kolymbia in Rhodes.

Mrs. T: Looks great!

Mr. FFF: It was even better when there was nobody there! Years ago, access to the bay was blocked and the man who had the keys was a good family friend.

MM: I see food and drinks by the beach.

Mrs. T: Allow me. First stop is Damianos Fishtavern, Ambelas, Paros island, Greece.

Mr. FFF: Wonderful setting, and dedication to serving good seafood all year round.

Mrs. T: It is amazing how different food tastes when you smell the sea breeze!

MM: I see food and drinks on the cliff.

Mrs. T: Second stop. Akelare Restaurante, San Sebastian, Basque Country.

Mr. FFF: Up on a cliff, overlooking the Atlantic, stands one of the shrines of gastronomy in the wonderful land of the Basque people.

Mrs. T: The place is full of the joy of life.

Η θέα

MM: I see seafood by the beach at night.

Mrs. T: Third stop. Ristorante Uliassi, Senigallia, Marche, Italia.

Mr. FFF: Now we are in the Riviera Romagnola, where the ITalians have invented the “beach without the sea”. Nevertheless, in this riviera, where everything happens, where the high and the low co-exist peacefully, Uliassi does his magic. It is worth the trip. Even if you do not make it to the sea.

MM: I see seafood on a balcony overlooking the beach.

Mrs. T: Aristodimos Fishtavern, Pachi, Megara, Greece.

Mr. FFF: Back to the homeland. An unassuming small seaside town 40 km from Athens presents the goods of the sea in a way that honors centuries of eating seafood.

Κουκλι σκετο, με το κλωναρι συκιας να βγαινει μεσα απο την προβλητα!

MM: I see Death encounters by the beach.

Mrs. T: Disillusioned knight Antonius Block and his squire Jöns return after fighting in the Crusades and find Sweden being ravaged by the plague. On the beach immediately after their arrival, Block encounters Death.

Mr. FFF: Black and White. The agony of Man in front of the inevitable. But the sea makes everything look natural. This is why the sea gives another meaning to life.

Mrs. T: (reading from a book): “The whole beach, once so full of colour and life, looked now autumnal, out of season; it was nearly deserted and not even very clean. A camera on a tripod stood at the edge of the water, apparently abandoned; its black cloth snapped in the freshening wind.”

Mr. FFF: (reading from the same book): “Some minutes passed before anyone hastened to the aid of the elderly man sitting there collapsed in his chair. They bore him to his room. And before nightfall a shocked and respectful world received the news of his decease.”

“Prayer does not change God, but it does change the one who prays.”
Soren Kirkegaard

“The essence of truth is freedom”

Martin Heidegger

Participants

Achilles

Ingmar Bergman, Swedish Film Director

Leopold Bloom

Briseis

Priest Chryses

Chryseis

Stephen Daedalus

Mr. FFF, wanderer

Caspar David Friedrich, German Painter

Martin Heidegger, German Philosopher

Friedrich Hoeldrlin, German Poet

(young) Gerty

Homer, Greek Poet

Soren Kirkegaard, Dane Philosopher

MM, partner

Kostis Palamas, Greek Poet

Alexandros Papadiamantis, Greek Writer

Nikos Gabriel Pentzikis, Greek Writer and Painter,

Otto Preminger, American Film Director

Rainer Maria Rilke, Bohemian-Austrian Poet

Mrs. T, gourmant

References

Akelare Restaurant, San Sebastian, Basque Country

Aristodimos Fishtavern, Pachi, Megara, Greece

Damianos Fishtavern, Ambelas, Paros Island, Greece

From Here to Eternity, A Film by: Otto Preminger

A Hole in the Head. A Film by: Frank Capra

Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite), A Film by Fatih Akin

Restaurante Uliassi, Senigallia, Marche, Italia

In the surging swell,
In the ringing sound,
In the world-breath
In the waves of the All
To drown,
To sink, to drown –
Unconscious –
Supreme bliss –

Tristan and Isolde: Act III, Scene III

MM: Mathilde A jumps in the torrent created by the rain. Her body is recovered a few hours later.

Mrs. T: Mathilde B shoots Bernard first, and then she shoots herself. Both are dead instantly.

Mr. FFF: Diane runs screaming to her bed and she shoots herself.

von Grimmelshausen: Werther new that one of the three of them, Albert, Lotte and Werther himself, would have to die. He could not kill anyone but himself.

Mathilde A: (reads her suicide note) I am going before your desire dies. Then we’d be left with affection alone, and I know that won’t be enough. I’m going before I grow unhappy. I go bearing the taste of our embraces, your smell, your look, your kisses. I go with the memory of my loveliest years, the ones you gave me. I kiss you now so tenderly, I die of it.

Mathilde B: I needed to talk to him (Bernard). This is all I was thinking about when I was in the hospital (recovering from a nervous breakdown). But when the time came for me to go, and I put on my raincoat, without plan, withour hesitation, I got the handgun that Philippe (my husband) ket in his study and put it in my pocket. I kissed hm passionately. We rolled on the floor. And when he was on top of me, and when the last intercourse was over, I pulled the gun and I shot him. He did not even realize what was happening. I then turned the gun to my left temple and pulled the trigger. It was over in less than thirty seconds.

Diane: When I saw the blue key on my coffee table I knew that the deed was done. Camilla was no longer in this world. It had to be this way. She betrayed me. She was going to marry Adam. She was also fucking about. She was no good. She had to go. But I had to go as well.

Werther: And so it is the last time, the last time that I open these eyes…Lotte, it is a feeling unlike any other, and still it seems like an undetermined dream for one to say to himself: this is the last morning. … Lotte, I have no idea about the meaning of the word: the last! To die! what does it mean? I have seen many people dying; but humanity is so limited that it has no felling for the beginning and the end of its existence. .. All these are perishable, but there is no eternity that can erase the warmth of life that I tasted yesterday in your lips and I now feel inside me! She loves me! These arms have held her, these lips have touched hers trembling, this mouth has whispered something to hers. She is mine! You are mine! Yes, Lotte, for ever.

Mrs. T: Who is this von Grimmelshausen?

Mr. FFF:He is a German scholar from the Black Forest.

MM: How come he is here with us?

Mr. FFF: He is traveller. He goes to places. He meets people. That’s how.

Mrs. T: Have you seen what is inside the brown leather bag he is carrying with im like a treasure?

Mr. FFF: I recall you back to order!

Mrs. T: Ok, I was just curious.

Madame Guyon: The noonday of glory; a day no longer followed by night; a life that no longer fears death, even in death itself, because death has overcome death, and because whoever has suffered the first death will no longer feel the second.

Matthias Claudius: Man’s way of thinking can pass over from a point of the periphery to the opposite point, and back again to the previous point, if circumstances trace out for him the curved path to it. And these changes are not really anything great and interesting in man. But that remarkable, catholic, transcendental change, when the whole circle is irreparably torn up and all the laws of psychology become vain and empty, where the coat of skins is taken off, or at any rate turned inside out, and man’s eyes are opened, is such that everyone who is conscious to some extent of the breath in his nostrils, forsakes mother and father, if he can hear and experience something certain about it.

Horace: How is it that no one is satisfied with his own condition?

Filippo Ottonieri: The reason is that no condition is happy. The servvants, as well as the princes, the poor as well as the rich, the weak as well as the powerful would all be extremely well satisfied with their lot and would feel no envy for the others were they happy; for men are no more impossible to satisfy than any other species; but they can be content with happiness only. Now, as they are always unhappy, should we wonder if they are never satisfied?

Julia Kristeva: To be sure, analytic discourse does not, or at any rate does not always suffer from the apparent excesses of amorous language, which range from hypnotic fascination with the presumed ideal qualities of the partner to hysterical sentimental effusion to phobias of abandonment. Nevertheless, it is want of love that sends the subject into analysis, which proceeds by first restoring confidence in, and capacity for, love through the transference and then enabling the subject to distance himself or herself from the analyst. From being the subject of an amorous discourse during the years of my analysis (and, in the best of circumstances, beyond them), I discover  my potential for psychic renewal, intellectual innovation, and even physical change. This kind of experience seems to be the specific contribution of our modern civilization to the history of amorous discourse. The analytic situation is the only place explicitly provided for in the social contract in which we are allowed to talk about the wounds we have suffered and to search for possible new identities and new ways of talking about ourselves.

Arthur Schopenhauer: Selfishness is “eros” (in Greek ερως), sympathy or compassion is “love”  (in Greek αγαπη).

Friedrich Nietzsche: The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.

Christiane Olivier: Is love, then, an impossibility? The couple is the fantasy of finding again, at last, a mother whom one has never yet met: for the woman, desiring; for the man, not stifling. It is the dream so well imagined by Verlaine: “I often have this strange, affecting dream of an unknown woman, who loves me and whom I love, and who each time is neither quite the same, nor quite other.” 

MM: Eros and Thanatos.

Mrs. T: Libido and Mortido.

Mr. FFF: Life instinct and death instinct.

MM: We are back in the field of the philosophy of the opposites!

Mrs. T: But are we? It appears to me that somehow Eros leads the actor to Thanatos! I see no opposites here, I see two complementary instincts.

Mr. FFF: I wish it were as simple as that. In my view Eros not only leads to Thanatos in the cases under consideration, it seems to me that Eros appeals to Thanatos to seal its eternal meaning. As if Eros does not attain its ultimate state unless it reaches Thanatos.

Jacinta: I was sixteen when, one night while I was sleeping, I had a dream. (Woe is me! And even when I was awake I relieved that dream.) I was going through a lovely forest and in the very depths of the forest, I met the most handsome man I had ever in my life seen. His face was shadowed by the edge of a fawn cape with silver hooks and catches. Attracted by his appearance, I stopped to gaze at him. Eager to see if his face looked as I imagined, I approached and boldly pulled aside his cape. The moment I did, he drew a dagger and plunged it into my heart so violently that the pain made me cry out, and all my maids came running in. As soon as I awoke from this dark dream, I lost sight of the fact that he had done me such injury, and I felt more deeply affected than you can imagine. His image remained etched in my memory. It did not fade away or disappear for ever so long. Noble Fabio, I yearned to find a man with exactly his appearance and bearing to be my husband. These thoughts so obsessed me that I kept imagining and reimagining that scene, and I would have conversations with him. Before you knew it, I was madly in love with a mystery man whom I didn’t know, but you must believe that if the god Narcissus was dark, then surely he was Narcissus.

Arthur Schopenhauer: They tell us that suicide is the greatest act of cowardice… that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.

Herodotus: When life is so burdensome, death has become for man a sought-after refuge.

ΜΜ: Freud claimed the death instinct drives people to death so that they can have real peace, and only death can get rid of tension and struggles. This is the case of Werther.

Mrs. T: When people feel extreme joy, they want to die and hope time will stop at that moment, which is also the evidence of death instinct, the transformation of life instinct into death instinct. This is the case of Mathilde A.

Mr. FFF: The death instinct exists in almost everyone’s subconscious. It is an irresistible instinctive power in human beings’ consciousness. Many people may deny that there is a death instinct in their consciousness. Indeed, people’s life instinct is very strong. However, if they examine their flashes of idea in their consciousness, they can find that just like death instinct, their desire for death is sometimes also very strong.

Jacinta: Because of this obsession I could neither eat nor sleep. My face lost its color and I experienced the most profound melancholy of my life. Everyone noticed the changes in me. Who, Fabio, ever heard of anyone loving a mere shadow? They may tell tales about people who’ve loved monsters and other incredible things, but at least what they loved had form! I sympathized with Pygmalion who loved the statue that ultimately Jupiter brought to life for him, and with the youth from Athens, and with the lovers who loved a tree or a dolphin. But what I loved was a mere fantasy, a shadow. What would people think of that? Nobody would believe me and, if they did, they’d think I’d lost my mind. But I give you my word of honor as a noblewoman, that not in this or in anything else I’ll tell you, do I add a single word that isn’t the truth. You can imagine that I talked to myself. I reproved myself, and, to free myself from my obsessive passion, I looked very carefully at all the elegant young men who lived in my city and tried to grow fond of one of them. Everything I did simply made me love my phantom more, and nowhere could I find his equal. My love grew and grew so great that I even composed poetry to my beloved ghost.

Julia Kristeva: Loss of the erotic object (unfaithfulness or desertion by the lover or husband, divorce, etc) is felt by the woman as an assault on her genitality and, from that point of view, amounts to castration. At once, such a castration starts resonating with the threat of destruction of the body’s integrity, the body image, and the entire psychic system as well. As a result, feminine castration, rather than being diseroticized, is concealed by narcissistic anguish, which masters and protects eroticism as a shameful secret.

MM: I love you so much I want to kill myself.

Mrs. T: I love you so much I want to kill you.

Mr. FFF: I love you so much I want to kill myself, but I will kill you first, before you kill me.

Albert Camus: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.  Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.  All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards.  These are games; one must first answer [the questions of suicide].”

Arthur Schopenhauer: To those in whom the will has turned and denied itself, this very real world of ours, with its suns and galaxies, is – nothing.

MM: Driven to suicide by eros is one thing, killing your lover and then killing yourself is another.

Mrs. T: It may not be premedidated, but evolutionary. You start by wanting to exterminate the cause of your living hell, your lover, and you do. And then, after you have done it, you figure out that the road has now opened for your own departure from this world as well.

Mr. FFF: This theory may apply to both Diane and Mathilde B. I would like to note though, that Time could be the differentiator. In Mathilde B’s case, she kills herself imeediately after she has killed Bernard. Whereas Diane kills herself after she realizes that the “contract” on Camille’s life has been successfully executed.

Participants

Albert Camus, French philosopher

Matthias Claudius, German poet

Diane Selwyn, protagonist in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”

von Grimmelshausen, a German nobleman and writer

Madame Guyon, French mystic

Mr. FFF, wanderer

Herodotus, Greek historian

Horace, Roman poet

Jacinta, character in Maria de Zayas’ “The enchantements of love”

Julia Kristeva, French-Bulgarian psychoanalyst

Mathilde A, the hairdresser in Patrice Leconte’s “The Hairdresser’s Husband”

Mathilde B, the woman next door, in Francois Truffaut’s “The Woman next Door”

MM, partner

Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher

Christiane Olivier, French psychoanalyst

Filippo Ottonieri, a very thin disguise for Giacomo Leopardi himself

Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher

Mrs. T, unknown ethinicity, gourmant

Werther, a fictional character created by Goethe

The Sea: A “Fluxus Eleatis” discourse

Πέμπτη, 21 Ιουνίου, 2012

Archilochus: Look Glaucus! Already waves are disturbing the deep sea and a cloud stands straight round about the heights of Gyrae, a sign of storm; from the unexpected comes fear.

Julia Kristeva: We are no doubt permanent subjects of a language that holds us in its power. But we are subjects in process, ceaselessly losing our identity, destabilized by fluctuations in our relations to the other, to whom we nevertheless remain bound by a kind of homeostasis.

W.B. Yeats: What can be explained is not poetry. 

First Steward: Good evening Mrs. T, Mr. FFF, welcome on board! Your cabin is ready. Is there something we can do for you before we show you to your cabin?

Mrs. T:  Good evening Mr. Gerassimidis! It is always nice to see you!

Mr. FFF: Good evening to you too! It is good to see you again! Are we on time?

First Steward: We are on time, and we are going to have calm seas.

Mr. FFF: What time is dinner served?

First Steward: We start at 8pm sharp. Shall I book a table for you?

Mr. FFF: Yes, please. Now you can show us to our cabin.

Mrs. T: How long is the journey?

Mr. FFF: Approximately 18 hours. Assuming the sea is calm. It could be 14 hours, but with all the interim ports of call the time increases significantly.

Mrs. T: Are we going to see the dolphins?

Mr. FFF: Only if we are lucky. But if we do, it is a spectacular ballet show. And the music of the sea with the humming of the ship’s engines in the background brings the experience to supernatural levels.

Ανωνυμος Ναυτης: Θυμαμαι την πρωτη μου αναχωρηση μ’ ενα μεγαλο ποσταλε. Τη στιγμη εκεινη που πραγματοποιουσα το λαμπροτερον ονειρο μου, ημουν γιοματος αμφιβολια και φοβο.

(Unnamed Mariner: I remember my first sailing on a big postale. The moment I was realizing my brightest dream, I was full of doudt and fear.)

Alvaro Mutis: This is how we forget: our affairs, no matter how close to us, are made strange through the mimetic, deceptive, constant working of a precarious present. When one of these images returns with all its voracious determination to survive intact, then what learned men call epiphany occurs: an experience that can be either devastating or a simple confirmation of certain truths that allow us to go on living.

Maqroll “el Gaviero”: I think I’ve exaggerated the true significance of the death of the Duc of Orléans. . . . There’s a monotony in crime, and it’s not advisable to have too much to do with it in books or in life.

Jon Iturri: For three consecutive days we stayed in Hotel Lisboa without exiting the room, which we had transformed into a kind of our own universe, where incidents of eroticism were coming one after another, with the only words given to describing our childhood years and how we discovered the world.

Alvaro Mutis: Because, of course, in a place like that, one experiences situations which are extreme and absolute. In there the density of human  relations is absolute. And there is one thing you learn in prison, and I passed it on to Maqroll, and that is that you don’t judge, you don’t say, that guy committed a terrible crime against his family, so I can’t be his friend. No, in a place like that one coexists. The judging is done by the judges on the outside.

Ανωνυμος Ναυτης: Δεν μπορω να καταλαβω κι εγω ο ιδιος τον εαυτο μου. Ειναι ωρες που νομιζω πως δεν ειμαι τιποτα περισσοτερο απο το μαυρο θερμαστη Τζοννυ, που ζει μοναχα για να τρωει. Ειναι ωρες που νομιζω πως ολα μεσα μου εχουν πεθανει και λεω πως η καρδια μου εχει σκληρυνει, καθως οι παλαμες μου. .. Εχω δει τοσα και τοσα… Κι αλλες ωρες παλι, νομιζω πως μεσα μου εχω ολη την καλοσυνη και την αγνοτητα, που λειπει του κοσμου…

(Unnamed Mariner: I cannot understand my own self. There are moments I think I am nothing more than the black fireman Johnny, who lives only to eat. There are moments I think that everything inside me is dead and I say that my heart is as tough as my palm… I have seen a lot… And then, I think that I have in me all the goodness and purity that the world is longing for…)

Mr. FFF: I have often pictured myself in Tangier, restless and subdued, loving it and hating it, looking from a hill all the way to the north, to Gibraltar, to the escape. Crossing the Pillars of Hercules, entering another life, another planet, another universe, getting away from all the mess. In this sense a sea journey always has this cleansing aspect. The sea takes away all the mess you carry with you.

Mrs T: Why in Tangier?

Mr. FFF: Because I still have this dream that I am in Tangier and I meet W S Burrows in one of the tea shops up on the hill. And then I get on a boat and leave him behind. We do not exchange a single word. We just look at each other and drink tea. As a matter of fact, nobody in the tea shop talks. They drink tea and smoke shisha. I wanted to ask Burrows why he killed Joan Vollmer.

W S Burrows: (we hear his voice through a cloud, but cannot see him) I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death, and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing. I live with the constant threat of possession, and a constant need to escape from possession, from control. So the death of Joan brought me in contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and maneuvered me into a life long struggle, in which I have had no choice except to write my way out.

Mrs. T: The sea cleanses, the sea kills, the sea destroys all evidence of a committed crime. The sea gives you refuge, the sea hides you away from the prying eyes of society, it is the protector of the all the runaways. Hide away, hide away sinful souls! But even worse is the running away of those who have not committed any crime, but run away from themselves. Even the sea cannot save them.

Headwaiter: Would you like to have a drink before your meal?

Mrs. T: I would like a bitter Campari with soda water, a slice of lemon and ice.

Mr. FFF: A double scotch on the rocks for me please.

Headwaiter: Certainly. Here is our menu for tonight. I recommend the grilled shark steak. It is as fresh as it gets.

Mrs. T: Did you catch the shark while sailing? I would loooove to have the juicy grilled shark steak with sea weed rolls stuffed with angulas. 

Headwaiter: I had these rolls in Bilbao, and I loved them,. Unfortunately I cannot offer them to you tonight. Could I possibly offer you instead boiled vegetables with mustard sauce?

Mrs. T: Of course, it was a long shot anyway! Boiled vegetables will be fine. But please hold the mustard sauce.

Mr. FFF: Shall we have a robust white wine with the shark? Like assyrtico from Santorini.

Headwaiter: Splendid choice, I can serve you “Santorini” by Sigalas, 2008.

Ανδρέας Σπερχής: Βεατρίκη!…Βεατρίκη!…Συγχώρησέ με.

(Andreas Sperchis: Beatrice!.. Beatrice!… Forgive me!)

W.B. Yeats

Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!

Υβοννη: Τι συμβαίνει και δεν ημπορεί κανείς να απολαμβάνη πάντοτε τον έρωτα σαν μίαν ωραίαν οπώραν {…}, σαν ένα ωραίο τοπείον, σαν ένα ωραίο ξένοιστο πρωί, πασίχαρο, αυροφίλητο, γιομάτο ευφροσύνη, σαν ένα μυροβόλο περιβόλι, ή σαν μια καθαρή αμμουδιά, λουσμένη από γαλάζιο πέλαγος ευδαιμονίας; Μήπως δεν φταίει καθόλου, μα καθόλου ο έρως  (εξηκολούθησε να σκέπτεται μα αιμάσσουσαν καρδίαν η Υβόννη). Μήπως φταίει ο τρόπος με τον οποίον αντιμετωπίζουν οι άνθρωποι τον έρωτα, τόσον εις το ατομικόν, όσον και εις το κοινωνικόν επίπεδον; Μήπως, αν δεν έμπαινε στη μέση το λεγόμενον «αίσθημα» και η λεγομένη «ηθική», θα ημπορούσε τότε μόνον να είναι ο έρως τέλειος και απλός και εύκολος, επ’ άπειρον πανήδονος και απολύτως παντοδύναμος – όλο χαρά (μόνο χαρά), όλο γλύκα (μόνο γλύκα), χωρίς απαγορεύσεις, στερήσεις, πικρίες, διάφορα «μούπες-σούπα» και άλλα αηδή και ακατανόητα, όπως η αποκλειστικότης, η εντός του γάμου αγνότης και όλη η σχετική με αυτόν απέραντη όσον και μάταια ηθικολογία και φιλολογία;

(Yvonne: Why is it that one cannot enjoy sex as a tasty fruit… as a beautiful landscape, as a wonderful morning, without worries, full of joy, fresh air, as a garden full of perfumes, or a shiny sandy beach, caressed by the blue sea? Could it be that this has nothing to do with eros? < continued to wonder with her heart bleeding >. Could it be the way that people handle eros both on a personal and on a social level? Could it be that if there were no “emotional” component and the so called “ethical” dimension, that eros could be perfect and simple and easy, endlessly hedonistic and absolutely omnipotent – full of joy – only joy – without prohibitions, bitter moments, all the incomprehensible  nonsense like fidelity, exclusivity, purity within the wedding and other similar stuff?)

Mr. FFF: (reading from the voluminous novel “Great Anatolikos”, of Andreas Empeirikos) Yvonne all of a sudden stopped crying. It was as if she saw a light, a bright light coming from a lighthouse off the southeastern tip of the coast of Ireland.

Υβοννη: Μήπως, μα τον Θεόν, ο μόνος Θεός ήτο ένας τεράστιος και παντοδύναμος Ψώλων και, ουσιαστικώς, υπήρχαν μόνον ηδοναί, διά του πανισχύρου Πέους του και του υπερπλουσίου Σπέρματός του χορηγούμεναι; Και μήπως αι ηδοναί αύται, τουτέστιν αι ερωτικαί, ήσαν αι πράξεις εκείναι, που επλησίαζαν ασυγκρίτως περισσότερον απ’ οτιδήποτε άλλο τους ανθρώπους προς τον Μεγαλοψώλονα Θεόν, τον απόλυτον Πλάστην και Κτήτορα του Κόσμου, τον απόλυτον Κύριον των Δυνάμεων, τον απόλυτο Άρχοντα των Ουρανών και της μικράς μας Γης;

(Yvonne: Could it be, that the only God were a huge omnipotent Phallus, and, essentially, there were only pleasures on earth, disseminated eternally by its powerful flesh and abundant semen? And it could it also be, that these erotic pleasures, were the actions that were bringing humans close to the Omnipotent Phallus, the Absolute Creator and Owner of the World, the absolute Keeper of the Forces, the absolute Master of the Skies and our little Earth? )

Stendhal: J’entreprends d’écrire l’histoire de ma vie jour par jour

Γιωργος Σεφερης: Μερα με τη μερα ζουμε τη ζωη μας – δεν τη γραφουμε.

(George Seferis: Day by day we live our life – we do not write it.)


Dimitri Mitropoulos: There is a plan for April 1052, a grand tour; travelling on a ship we will call on all Mediterranean ports, where the Philharmonic (New York) under my humble direction, will play, not on board the ship, but in the concert halls of the cities. The route is roughly this: Liboa, Barcelona, Palermo, Athens, Tel-Aviv, Napoli, Roma, Firenze, Milano, Genoa. Later we added Paris to the tour, which means that the whole Orchestra will get off the ship in Marseille and return to the States from Cherbourg on another vessel.

Mr. FFF: The ashes of Maria Callas have been scaterred over these blue waters.

Mrs. T: Why did she die?

Mr. FFF: Because she could no longer love. And life without the ability to love had no meaning for her.

Mrs. T: If you have the ability to love, other people love you?

Mr. FFF: Not necessarily. But you have piece with yourself.

Mrs. T: So you are saying that Callas died because she could not find piece with herself.

Mr. FFF: Yes, you could put it this way.

Mrs. T: Why is it so hard. if not impossible, to find inner piece if you have lost the ability to love?

Mr. FFF: When you lose the ability to love, you begin to view life as an end, the end. Death takes over the mystery of life and it no longer is a mystery, but a horrid affair.

Ανωνυμος Ναυτης: Δεν εχω ερωτευτει ποτε στη ζωη μου… Εγνωρισα χιλιαδες γυναικες. Ειναι ολες τους παντοτε ιδιες… Εχω καιρο να κοιμηθω με γυναικες. Γι’ αυτο το πραμα οι ναυτες με κοροιδευουν. Εγω δεν φταιω… Ειναι μια ιστορια που η αρχη της ειχε γραφτει στο επιβατικο, που ταξιδευα αλλοτε… Ειναι μια θλιβερη ιστορια…Δεν θυμαμαι πια τ’ ονομα της. Αυτο δεν εχει καμια σημασια. Οι γυναικες δεν θα’ πρεπε να’ χουν ονοματα, αφου ολες τους ειναι ιδιες… Ταξιδευε απο την Αλεξανδρεια για τη Μασσαλια με τη μητερα της. Ητανε κορη ενος βαμβακεμπορου, που ειχε ξεπεσει κι αυτοκτονησε…. Μου χαρησε ενα πορτοφολι απο ψαροδερμα και της χαρισα το Σταυρο μου… Υστερα απο τρια χρονια στο Μπουενος Αιρες κοιμηθηκα μια νυχτια με καποια γυναικα. Το πρωι οταν εβγαλα το πορτοφολι μου να πληρωσω, δεν ξερω πως, εβγαλε μια φωνη καθως το ειδε κι εγω αλλη μια, οταν ειδα ενα μικρο σταυρο καρφωμενο στη ρομπα της… Μπορει και να το’ δα στον υπνο μου. Μου φαινεται ομως πως ολες οι γυναικες ειναι το ιδιο.

(Unnamed Mariner: I have never fallen in love in my life…. I have met thousands of women. They are always all the same… I haven’ t slept with a woman for a long time now. One of the reasons the sailors make fun of me. It is not my fault… It is a story whose beginning has been written on a passenger ship, where I used to work… It is a sad story… I no longer remember her name. It does not matter. Women should not have names, as they are all the same… She was travelling from Alexandria to Marseille with her mother. She was the daughter of a cotton merchant who went bancrupt and committed suicide. .. She gave me a wallet made of fishskin and I gave her my cross… Three years later, in Buenos Aires, I slept one night with a woman. In the morning, when I took out my wallet to pay her, I do not know, she screamed as she saw it and I screamed back when I saw a small cross pinned on her dress… I could be dreaming. Nevertheless, it appears to e that all women are the same.))

Frederico Fellini:  I love shipwrecks. Decadence is indispensable to rebirth

Mr. FFF: A dear friend years ago was bragging about specializing in the hauling of shipwrecks. In his own sarcastic way he was referring to his need – of the time – to relate to women in the middle of a huge personal crisis.

Alberto Moravia: (on Frederico Fellini’s film “E la Nave va”) What is brilliant,” is the intuition that European society of the Belle Epoque had emptied itself of all humanism leaving only an artificial and exhaustive formalism. The result was a society founded on a continuous yet contemptible melodrama. The other genial intuition is that of the fundamental unity of the world back then which was completely bourgeois or utterly obsessed with the bourgeoisie. This idea comes through magnificently in the scene where immaculate opera singers perform leaning over the iron balcony of the engine room as sweat-grimed workers cease stoking the furnace with coal to listen to the splendid voices.

Frederico Fellini: Opera has an insane aspect that is truly fascinating. Opera is a ritual, a Mass, a shepherd’s song…

Dimitri Mitropoulos: Here I am, on solid earth again, after an unforgettable sea trip! If you could only see me from a distance, how I survived these 19 horrible days on the lousy ship. But as you can see, I did not die; I made music and played bridge, trying to fight against the complete lack of comfort, the detestable food and the continuous rocking of the boat… I have thought of you more than one thousand times, I was sad, sad in the thought that it will be a long time before I see again the people I love. I wonder if my musical gifts and talent deserve this sacrifice.

Frederico Fellini:  It (filming) makes us regard people and things as if the whole world was a set at our disposal, an immense prop de­partment on which we lay our hands without asking permission. It is somewhat like a painter for whom objects, faces, houses, the sky are merely forms at his disposal. For the cinema everything becomes a still life without limits; even the feelings of others are something placed at out disposal.

Ανδρεας Εμπειρικος: Χτες ακουσα τον μεγαλυτερο μπασο του κοσμου τον Chaliapin. Τραγουδησε την περιφημη αρια απο την οπερα του  Mussorgsky Boris Godunov οπου ειναι θειος. Τραγουδησε και πολλα ρωσικα τραγουδια δραματικα, λυρικα, και λαικα. Και παντου θριαμβεψε. Τι φωνη, τι μεταλλο, τι χρωμα τι δυναμη! Σε κεραβνοβολει και σε χαϊδεβει συναμα. Μεγαλος αρτιστας ο Chaliapin.

(Andreas Empeirikos: Yesterday I heard the greatest bass of the world, Chaliapin. He sung the famous aria of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. He was divine. He also sung many other songs. He triumphed in each one of them. What a voice, what metal, what colour, what intensity! It hits you like a thunder and at the same time it caresses you. Chaliapin is a great artist.)

Mr. FFF: My grandfather was very fond of Chaliapin. He had loads of his records. But he had to exchange them for olive oil during the second world war. Primum vivere, deinte philosophare.


Ανδρεας Εμπειρικος: Πατερα… Δεν μου φαινεται δυνατον να συνεργασθω με εναν ανθρωπο σαν και σενα παρα την μεγαλη αξια που σου αναγνωριζω σε πολλα επιπεδα. Δεν ειναι αρκετα ανθρωπος για μενα. ..Λοιπον αντι να ξαναμπω στις δουλειες σου παραιτουμαι απ’ ολες περα για περα και σου αφηνω γεια.

(Andreas Empeirikos: Father… It does not appear possible to work with a person like you, in spite of how valuable I consider you in many areas. You are not human enough for me… So instead of joining you again in your business I resign from everything and bid you farewell.)



Ανωνυμος Ναυτης: Ζαλιστηκα. Ετσι οπως τοτε παιδι, που μ’ επιανε η θαλασσα. Τι ατιμο πραμα η ναυτια… Ξερατο, χολες. Γινεσαι μπαιγνιο, κουρελι. Τιποτ’ αλλο δε σκεφτεσαι, παρα πως θα ξεμπαρκαρεις, μολις φτασεις στο πρωτο λιμανι. Εφτασες; Τα ξεχνας ολα και ξαναφευγεις. Αρχιζεις να συνηθας. Νομιζεις. Δε σε ζαλιζει πια το ποτζι, μα σε χαλαει το σκαμπανεβασμα. Παει κι αυτο. Σου μενει να συνηθισεις τωρα οταν σκαμπανεβαρει και ποτζαρει μαζι. Εισαι νετα. Κανεις αχταρμα. Αλλαζεις καραβι. Πρεπει να μαθεις τα κουνηματα του καινουργιου. Καθε καραβι εχει τα δικα του. Ενας φορτηγισος ζαλιζεται σ’ ενα ποσταλι. Παραξενη αρρωστια. Φαρμακο… η στερια. Οι κουφοι, εκεινοι που εχουνε χασει την οσφρηση, δεν ζαλιζονται. Μητε οι τρελοι.

(Unnamed Mariner: I am sea sick. As when I was a kid, and the sea was making me sick. What a terrible thing … sea sickness. You become a wreck. You cannot think of anything else, but how to get off, as soon as you arrive at the first port of call. Have you arrived? You forget everything and sail off again. You begin to get used to it. You think you are. You change ship. You have to get used to the movements of the new ship. Every ship moves in its own way. A cargo ship sailor gets sick on a passenger ship. Strange sickness. The only medicine is the ground. The deaf, the ones who cannot smell anything, they do not get sea sickness. Neither do the mad.)

Ιωαννης ο Θεολογος (Αποκαλυψη): Και εδωκεν η θαλασσα τους νεκρους τους εν αυτη, και ο θανατος και ο Αιδης εδωκαν τους νεκρους τους εν αυτοις, και εκριθησαν εκαστος κατα τα εργα αυτων.

(St John the Divine: The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.)

Participants

Archilochus, 7th century BC Greek poet, from the island of Paros

Andreas Empeirikos: Greek born and raised in Vraila, Romania, writer and psychoanalyst

Mr. FFF, Greek, wanderer

First Steward, Greek, passenger ship

Frederico Fellini, Italian film maker

Headwaiter, passenger ship

Jon Iturri, Basque sea captain

Saint John the Divine, author of the Revelation

Maqroll “el Gaviero”, unknown ethnicity, hero in many Alvaro Mutis novels

Unnamed Mariner, in the journals of Nikos Kavvadias

Unnamed Millitary Officer, South American

Dimitri Mitropoulos, Greek conductor and composer

Alberto Moravia, Italian novelist

Alvaro Mutis, Colombian writer

Captain Nick, Greek, captain of motor ship “Gloria”

George Seferis, Greek poet and Nobel Laureate in Literature

Andreas Sperchis, Greek of Wallachian origin

Stendhal, French writer

Mrs. T, unknown ethnicity, gourmant

Voltaire: French writer and philosopher

W.B. Yeats, Irish poet and playwright

Yvonne, a passenger of “Megas Anatolikos”

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