Theo Angelopoulos: Ulysses' Gaze

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.

If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.

Theo Angelopoulos: Voyage to Cythera

Ο παρων και ο παρελθων χρονος

Ισως ειναι κι οι δυο παροντες σε χρονο μελλοντικο,

Και ο μελλοντικος χρονος εμπεριεχεται σε χρονο παρελθοντα.

Αν ολος ο χρονος ειναι παντοτινα παρων

Ολος ο χρονος ειναι χωρις λυτρωμο. 

(Η αποδοση στα ελληνικα ειναι δικη μου)

Burnt Norton, Four Quartets, T S Eliot

Theo Angelopoulos: The Weeping Meadow

Introduction

Theo Angelopoulos died in a accident on 24 January 2012. He was a Greek film director, producer and screenwriter.

Ο Θοδωρος Αγγελοπουλος πεθανε σε τροχαιο ατυχημα την 24η Ιανουαριου 2012. Ηταν σκηνοθετης, παραγωγος και σεναριογραφος.

As it happens with every great filmmaker, a lot has been written and said about Angelopoulos. Most of it is stereotypical and cliche, which Angelopoulos himself hated. As an example, I site his «left wing» ideology, that he was the filmmaker of the «defeated» side in the Greek civil war of 1944-1949. In addition, a lot has been written regarding Angelopoulos’ «sequence-shot», which imposes huge demands on the spectator, almost forcing him to delve into the image and its slow motion. Angelopoulos is notoriously difficult, but pays off handsomely the brave ones who can stand their ground in front of the ocean of slow images the director throws at them.

Όπως συμβαινει με καθε μεγαλο σκηνοθετη, εχουν ειπωθει και γραφτει πολλα για τον Αγγελοπουλο. Και τα περισσοτερα απο αυτα ειναι κλισε και στερεοτυπα που ο ιδιος ο Αγγελοπουλος απεχθανοταν. Αναφερω για παραδειγμα το οτι ηταν αριστερος, το οτι εκανε κινηματογραφο για τους ηττημενους. Επισης πολλα απο τα γραφεντα και γραφομενα εχουν να κανουν με τα παροιμιωδη πλανα-σεκανς του Αγγελοπουλου, που απαιτουν απο τον θεατη να εντρυφησει στα οσα βλεπει. Ο Αγγελοπουλος ειναι πολυ δυσκολος αλλα ανταμοιβει πλουσιοπαροχα οσους αντεξουν.

In his artistic development and path Angelopoulos followed a helix curve. Its description requires a separate article and I will not do it today. Today I want to focus on Angelopoulos’ treatment of time, a recurrent and self-standing topic in his movies.

Στην καλλιτεχνικη του διαδρομη ο Αγγελοπουλος ακολουθησε μια ελικοειδη πορεια. Και μονο η περιγραφη της απαιτει ενα ξεχωριστο αρθρο. Δεν ειναι αυτη η προθεση μου σημερα. Σημερα θελω να εστιασω στον τροπο με τον οποιο ο Αγγελοπουλος χειριστηκε τον Χρονο, που ειναι ενα συνεχως αναδυομενο και αυτοτελες θεμα στις ταινιες του Αγγελοπουλου,

Theo Angelopoulos: Voyage to Cythera

Part I: The sequence shot

Μερος 1ο: Το πλανο-σεκανς

«The past is never dead. It’s not even past»

Το παρελθόν δεν είναι ποτέ νεκρό. ∆εν έχει καν παρέλθει.
Requiem for a Nun, William Faulkner

The sequence shot is one of the trademarks of Angelopoulos and a major tool in his treatment of time in his films.

«The sequence shot offers, as far as I’m concerned, much more freedom,» Angelopoulos explained. «By refusing to cut in the middle, I invite the spectator to better analyse the image I show him, and to focus, time and again, on the elements that he feels are the most significant in it.» (The Guardian)

Το πλανο-σεκανς ειναι απο τα ιδιαιτερα χαρακτηριστικα του Αγγελοπουλου και σφραγιζει την διαχειριση του χρονου στις ταινιες του.

Σε αρθρο της βρεταννικης εφημεριας «Γκαρντιαν» διαβαζουμε τη σχετικη αναφορα – δηλωση του Αγγελοπουλου: «Το πλανο-σεκανς κατα τη γνωμη μου σου δινει πολυ περισσοτερη ελευθερια. Αρνουμενος να το κοψω στη μεση, προσκλαω τον θεατη να αναλυσει καλυτερα την εικονα που του δειχνω, και να εστιασει ξανα και ξανα στα στοιχεια εκεινα που αισθανεται οτι ειναι τα πιο σημαντικα μεσα σε αυτο.»

Theo Angelopoulos: The weeping Meadow

David Jenkins in his BFI article, helps us with the way Angelopoulos is deploying the «sequence shot»:

«His stock-in-trade is the immaculately choreographed sequence shot in which his camera lopes ominously and gracefully across landscapes, through rooms, shacks, courtyards, over and around huddled crowds of people who themselves produce artful formations as they mingle within the frame. His colossal geopolitical masterwork from 1975, The Travelling Players (O thiassos), offers just 80 separate shots during its four-hour running time. History, catastrophes, celebrations, political intrigues, social shifts are rarely recounted in the traditional linear sense – rather, they are daubed on to a vast and elaborate narrative fresco.»

Theo Angelopoulos - Reconstruction film poster

Ο Ντειβιντ Τζενκινς σε αρθρο του στον ιστοχωρο του Βρεταννικου Κινηματογραφικου Ινστιτουτου αναπτυσσει τον τροπο με τον οποιο ο Αγγελοπουλος χρησιμοποιησε το πλανο-σεκανς στις ταινιες του.

«Το σημα κατατεθεν του ειναι το αψογα χορογραφημενο πλανο-σεκανς, στο οποιο η καμερα του με χαρη αλλα και απειλη δρασκελιζει νωχελικα τοπια, δωματια, καλυβες, αυλες, περιτριγυριζει συνωστισμενα πληθη πουαναπτυσσονται σε καλλιτεχνικα σχηματα καθως εμπλεκονται στο πλανο. Η κολοσσιαια γεωπολιτικη δημιουργια του απο το 1975, ο Θιασος, προσφερει μολις 80 διαφορετικες ληψεις στη διαρκεια των τεσσαρων ωρων της. Η Ιστορια, οι καταστροφες, οι γιορτες, οι πολιτικες συνομωσιες, οι κοινωνικες μεταλλαξεις, σχεδον ποτε δεν παρουσιαζονται με γραμμικο τροπο, αλλα στιβαζονται στον τεραστιο και περιπλοκο αφηγηματικο καμβα του Αγγελοπουλου.»

Part II: Beyond technique

Μερος 2ο: Το επεκεινα της τεχνικης

«Αιών παις εστί παίζων πεσσεύων»

Time is a child playing dice

Ο χρονος ειναι ενα παιδι που παιζει ζαρια

Heracletus, Ηρακλειτος

Theo Angelopoulos: The traveling players

Barthélémy Amengual notes in his essay «The poetics of History»:

«History dictates to the filmmaker his two major themes: time and remembrance. Time is the body and the place of History. Remembrance is the human form of time.  Remembrance is the clerk of time, but also its palimpsest. The last shot of «Reconstruction» reproduces the first shot. The traveling players ends in 1952 at the spot where it started back in 1932: the rail station of Aegion. All the actors are there, including those who have died or left.»

Ο Barthélémy Amengual στο δοκιμιο του «Μια Ποιητικη της Ιστοριας» σημειωνει:

«Η Ιστορία υπαγορεύει στον κινηµατογραφιστή τα δύο µεγάλα του θέµατα: το χρόνο και τη/τις µνήµη/ες. O χρόνος είναι το σώµα και ο τόπος της Ιστορίας· η µνήµη, η ανθρώπινη µορφή του χρόνου. Η µνήµη είναι ο γραµµατικός του χρόνου,
µα και το παλίµψηστό του. Το τελευταίο πλάνο της Αναπαράστασης αναπαράγει το πρώτο. O θίασος ολοκληρώνεται το 1952 εκεί όπου είχε αρχίσει, το 1932: στον σιδηροδροµικό σταθµό του Αιγίου. Όλοι οι ηθοποιοί είναι εκεί, ακόµα και
οι απόντες: αυτοί που έχουν πεθάνει ή αποχωρήσει.»

Theo Angelopoulos: The traveling players

«In Angelopoulos’ films time, which is nothing but the bedrock of every change, manifests itself between the start and the end of the same sequence shot. If the sequence has begun with the dusk, it concludes with the dawn. Like a river, if it starts flowing from a source, it ends at a totally different place. Time stems from and flows in fornt of our eyes, as we see a rose bloom in accelerated motion. The moment (in the context of the sequence shot) extends itself; we have to wait for the sugar to dilute itself first. After a while time is transformed (in the flow of panoramic travelling shots) by acquiring Bergsonian duration and, almost in hiding it is submerged in history. The present becomes remembrance; not a frozen dot in the past, but a moving unit of becoming, a gathering of being, of the group, of the world.»

«Στον Αγγελόπουλο, ο χρόνος, που δεν είναι παρά η κοίτη κάθε αλλαγής, εκδηλώνεται µεταξύ αρχής και τέλους του ίδιου πλάνου-σεκάνς. Αν το πλάνο έχει αρχίσει σούρουπο, ολοκληρώνεται την αυγή· αν έχει αρχίσει σ’ έναν τόπο, εκβάλλει σ’ έναν εντελώς διαφορετικό· αν σε µια εποχή, καταλήγει σε µιαν άλλη. O χρόνος πηγάζει και κυλά µπροστά στα µάτια µας, όπως βλέπουµε ένα ρόδο ν’ ανθίζει µε αξελερέ. Η στιγµή (στο πλάνο-σεκάνς) παρατείνεται: πρέπει πρώτα να περιµένουµε να λιώσει η ζάχαρη· µετά από λίγο, µεταµορφώνεται (µέσα στη ροή των πανοραµικών τράβελινγκ) σε µπερξονική διάρκεια και, στα κρυφά, βυθίζεται στην Ιστορία. Το παρόν γίνεται µνήµη· όχι νεκρό παρελθόν σηµείο, αλλά κινούµενη µονάδα τού γίγνεσθαι, συνάθροιση του είναι, του ατόµου, της οµάδας, του κόσµου.»

Theo Angelopoulos: The traveling players

Part III: When the cycle closes

Μερος 3ο: Οταν κλεινει ο κυκλος

The secret roar of the approaching events is coming to them (the wise men).

Η μυστική βοή τους έρχεται των πλησιαζόντων γεγονότων.

C Cavafy, Σοφοι δε προσιοντων, Κωστας Καβαφης


Theo Angelopoulos: Ulysses' Gaze


In «Ulysses’ Gaze», the Greek filmmaker «A», played by Harvey Keitel starts his journey in the Balkans in a taxi driven by Thanassis Veggos, a legendary Greek actor. When they stop to rest on a snow-covered mountain, Veggos says:

«Do you know something? Greece is dying. We die as people. We have completed our cycle. I do not know how many thousands of years in the midst of broken stones and sculptures… and we die…

But if Greece is going to die, let her die quick! Because the agony lasts very long and makes a lot of noise.»

Thanassis Veggos in "Ulysses' Gaze"

Στην ταινια «Το Βλεμμα του Οδυσσεα», ο Ελληνας κινηματογραφιστης «Α», που τον υποδυεται ο Αμερικανος ηθοποιος Χαρβευ Καιτελ  ξεκινα το ταξιδι του στα Βαλκανια μεσα σε ενα ταξι που το οδηγει ο Θανασης Βεγγος. Οταν σταματουν να ξαποστασουν σε ενα ορεινο περασμα σκεπασεμνο με χιονια, ο Βεγος λεγει απευθυνομενος στο «Α»:  

«Ξέρεις κάτι; Η Ελλάδα πεθαίνει. Πεθαίνουμε σα λαός. Κάναμε τον κύκλο μας. Δεν ξέρω πόσες χιλιάδες χρόνια ανάμεσα σε σπασμένες πέτρες και αγάλματα… και πεθαίνουμε…

Αλλά αν είναι να πεθάνει η Ελλάδα, να πεθάνει γρήγορα! Γιατί η αγωνία κρατάει πολύ και κάνει πολύ θόρυβο.»

Eternity and a Day - Film Poster

Part IV: The return of the father

Μερος 4ο: Η επιστροφη του πατερα

Forthcoming is already present and becoming is already done.

Το γενόμενον ήδη εστί και το γίγνεσθαι ήδη γέγονεν

Ecclesiastes, Εκκλησιαστης

Theo Angelopoulos: Eternity and a day

During the Greek Civil War (1944-1949) Angelopoulos’ father was arrested by the leftists and disappeared without trace. Young Theo spent days going to mass graves with his mother, trying to locate the father. Eventually the father returned alive. In one of his interviews, Angelopoulos recounts:

«I was playing in the street when I saw him coming from a distance. Instead of shoes, he had his feet wrapped in rugs… I called for my mother. She came out of the house without breath. I remember how they run into each other… we got into the house… the emotions were so high that nobody was saying a word… we were watching each other in silence… he was not speaking either… we were watching the father, we were watching each other… We had soup for dinner, and it lasted for an eternity. I was 9 years old.»

The Hunters - Film poster

Ο πατερας το Αγγελοπουλου συνεληφθη απο τους αριστερους στη διαρκεια του Εμφυλιου Πολεμου και εξαφανιστηκε χωρις να αφησει ιχνη. Ο μικρος Θοδωρος περασε μερες με τη μητερα του, γυρνωντας απο τον ενα μαζικο ταφο στον αλλο, ψαχνοντας να βρουνε τον χαμενο πατερα, που τον νομιζανε νεκρο. Μετα απο πολυ καιρο, ο πατερας επεστρεψε ζωντανος. Σε ένα απόσπασμα συνέντευξής του («Θόδωρος Αγγελόπουλος», εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη, σελ. 189) θυμαται:

«Έπαιζα στο δρόμο, όταν τον είδα να έρχεται από μακριά. Αντί για παπούτσια είχε στα πόδια πανιά… Φώναξα τη μάνα μου. Βγήκε αλαφιασμένη. Θυμάμαι πώς έτρεξαν ο ένας προς τον άλλο… μπήκαμε στο σπίτι… από τη συγκίνηση δεν μιλούσε κανείς… σωπαίναμε και κοιτούσε ο ένας τον άλλο… ούτε αυτός μιλούσε… κοιτάζαμε τον πατέρα, κοιτάζαμε ο ένας τον άλλο… Το φαγητό ήταν μια σούπα, κι αυτή η σούπα κράτησε μια αιωνιότητα. Ήμουν 9 χρονών».

Theo Angelopoulos: Eternity and a Day

Epilogue

Επιλογος

I conclude this post wiht a comment I wrote on an article written by Nikos Xidakis in the daily newspaper «Kathimerini». Xidakis claimed that Angelopoulos was the filmmaker of the «defeated» ones. Here is what I wrote in response:

«In my eyes Angelopoulos depicted in his own personal and unique gaze the existential deadend he experienced, exactly the way he lived through it, conceptualized it, and formalized it. There is a hero in his films, the filmmaker does not deny this. He is a lonely and defeated hero, but not necessarily. Defeat is not always a given. Angelopoulos’ hero has many questions and is not ready to accept the «easy» answers. Whether he is searching for his lost dreams, like Manos Katrakis in the Voyage to Cythera, or lost pioneers, like HArvey Keitel in Ulysses’ Gaze, the hero has more questions than answers. Angelopoulos’ Word is also very important, it is a Pictorial Word. Angelopoulos’ shots transcend Time and Space, and interweave them into a mix that is difficult to tread, and becomes sometimes repressive. The fog and the drizzle are heavy on you. Your gaze is dampened by the endless snowed landscape. But as the old saying goes: «Every man carries his own sadness.» Angelopoulos was brave to share his sadness with us, and express it in his own way. He did this in a authentic way, without screens and covers. This does not mean that his sadness and its expression are necessarily accepted or liked. Deconstructing it or, even worse, trying to appropriate it as your own has no meaning.»

Theo Angelopoulos: Eternity and a day

Σε σχολιο μου πανω σε ενα αρθρο του Νικου Ξυδακη στην Καθημερινη, που δημοσιευτηκε μετα τον θανατο του Αγγελοπουλου, εγραψα:

«Για μενα ο Αγγελοπουλος αποτυπωσε με το δικο του προσωπικο και μοναδικο υφος το υπαρξιακο αδιεξοδο που βιωσε, οπως το βιωσε και το συνελαβε και το τυποποιησε. Υπαρχει ο ηρωας, δεν τον αρνειται ο σκηνοθετης. Ειναι ενας ηρωας μοναχικος και ηττημενος. αλλα οχι αναγκαστικα. Η ηττα δεν ειναι παντα δεδομενη. Ο ηρωας του Αγγελοπουλου εχει πολλα ερωτηματα και δεν ειναι ετοιμος να δεχτει τις ετοιματζιδικες απαντησεις. Ειτε ψαχνει τα χαμενα του ονειρα, οπως ο Κατρακης στα Κυθηρα, ειτε ψαχνει χαμενους πρωτοπορους, οπως ο Καιτελ στο Βλεμμα του Οδυσσεα, ο ηρωας εχει πιο πολλες ερωτησεις απο απαντησεις. Ο Λογος του Αγγελοπουλου εχει επισης μεγαλη σημασια, αφου ειναι Λογος Εικαστικος. Τα πλανα του Αγγελοπουλου διασχιζουν τον Χωρο και τον Χρονο και τους συνθετουν σε ενα μιγμα δυσκολοδιαβατο και πολλες φορες καταναγκαστικο. Σε βαραινει η ομιχλη και το ψιλοβροχι, σου θολωνει το βλεμμα το χιονισμενο ατελειωτο τοπιο. Οπως ομως λεγαμε παληα στην Ελλαδα, «ο καθενας με τον καημο του». Ο Αγγελοπουλος τολμησε να μας μιλησει με τον τροπο του για τον καημο του. Και το εκανε αληθινα, χωρις φερετζεδες. Αυτο δεν σημαινει οτι ο καημος αυτος και η εκφραση του πρεπει να ειναι αρεστος ή αποδεκτος. Ουτε και εχει καμια σημασια η αποδομηση του, ή ακομα χειροτερα, η αποπειρα οικειοποιησης του απο διαφορους.»

Theo Angelopoulos: The Dust of Time

Lynda Benglis – American Artist

Δευτέρα, 27 Φεβρουαρίου, 2012

Lynda Benglis at Le Consortium

Today’s post concludes a sequence of three consecutive posts dedicated to female American artists (poets are artists).

Lynda Benglis: Roberta (1974)

Sculpture, enamel, sculpmetal and tinsel on aluminium screeing and foil
Primary Insc: not signed, not dated.
79.1 h x 89.1 w x 41.3 d cm

Lynda Benglis is an American artist, mainly sculptor with Greek blood. Her father’s family was Greek in origin and she still has family on the tiny Greek island of Kastellorizo.

She was born in Louisiana in 1941 and after graduating from college moved to New York in 1964.

Christopher Knight writes in Los Angeles Times:

«When she arrived in New York shortly after, in the mid-1960s, art’s purity police were out in full force, busily patrolling what artists shouldn’t do when making paintings and mustn’t do when making sculptures.

If you sense a collision coming, take a bow. Benglis, after surveying Manhattan’s art landscape, did the only reasonable thing. In the face of its ponderous penitential virtue, she brought Mardi Gras to Soho.

The fiesta was undertaken neither lightly nor at random. Ambitious, she looked hard at the local art that had come before, from the 1940s to the early 1960s. Much of it was great; still, it’s always helpful to know how we get to where we are.

She looked at Jackson Pollock’s skeins of dripped paint and at Helen Frankenthaler’s big puddles of stained color. Barnett Newman’s zip-lines — those ambiguous vertical bars of color dividing fields of painted light and darkness — came under scrutiny. So did more recent work: Carl Andre’s checkerboards of metal plates that turned the floor into an artistic pedestal for people, Donald Judd’s orderly sculptural subdivisions of space and Richard Serra’s molten lead splashed into studio corners — all of them sculptures directly challenging the postwar primacy of painting. «

Lynda Benglis: Smile (1974) cast bronze

Benglis has a powerful sense of humour, which she manifested gloriously in her 1974 advert in Artforum magazine.

Hilarie Sheets comments in her New York Times article:

«She (Benglis) lampooned both the machismo of the art world and the way artists were expected to promote themselves in a market-driven system by exposing herself, with a dildo between her legs, in a 1974 Artforum advertisement that she paid for, earning her as many fans as detractors.»

Lynda Benglis: Phantom

Arttatler offer the followng insight into Benglis’ work:

«Benglis’s best-known works question the rigors of Modernism and Minimalism by merging material, form, and content; bringing color back into sculpture; and taking painting off the wall. These works include her richly layered wax paintings and poured latex and polyurethane foam sculptures of the late 1960s and early ’70s; innovative videos, installations, and “knots” from the 1970s; metalized, pleated wall pieces of the 1980s and 1990s; and pieces in a variety of other mediums, such as glass, ceramics, photography, or cast polyurethane, as in the case of the monumental The Graces (2003-05)»

Lynda Benglis: The Graces

In her 2010 interview to the «frieze», Benglis talked to Marina Cashdan about her art and work in a comprehensive way. I copy here one of the questions and the answer:

«MC: Is Robert Pincus-Witten’s term for your work, ‘the frozen gesture’, a misnomer, because your work feels more like it’s living, an act as opposed to a confined object?
Lynda Benglis: Well ‘the frozen gesture’ was something that I think both Yves Klein and Franz Kline had done. Symbolically, Klein jumped out the window: he was involved with gesture, process (his ‘women brushes’ painting with their bodies) and the symbolic (sponges soaked with his paint on monochromatic blue canvases). Kline took the gesture and made it iconographic. Frank Stella said that Kline was one of his favourite artists, so I think Stella himself took the canvas, the stretcher bars, and turned them on their side to make them painted objects, as did other artists who were using materials and geometry. They were presenting something that was, in a way, rebellious and sometimes simplistic, and it was called Minimalism. I saw that and understood it in the context of where art could go, but for me it was a statement that seemed very rococo. It was way out on a limb. I felt that art had to have more content, a multiplicity of meaning and associations. And even many of those so-called Minimal artists broke out of their own self-created mould! »

Lynda Benglis at Le Consortium

On the occasion of her first major retrospective in the UK, Benglis talked to «The Guardian’s» Laura Barnett, and concluded as follows:

«You can say, ‘Is there the influence of Greece?’ or ‘Do these works look like the sea?’ Those things are all there, but there are many other associations. I think all good art is really abstract. That’s how it transcends cultural differences. That’s how it speaks to us.»

Lynda Benglis: Untitled

Hellas, my Motherland – Μανα μου Ελλας

Κυριακή, 12 Φεβρουαρίου, 2012

Η Μανα μου Ελλας βρισκεται στο χειλος του γκρεμνου.

My motherland, Hellas (Greece), is on the edge of the cliff.

Και ακομη και αν δεν πεσει την μεγαλη πτωση σημερα, θα παραμεινει εκει, επικινδυνα κοντα στην αβυσσο, για μεγαλο διαστημα. Αγνωστο για ποσο.

Οι αναλυτες, οι οικονομολογοι, οι πολιτικοι, τα δημοσια προσωπα, οι ανωνυμοι πολιτες, εχουν πει πολλα, πολλες φορες.

Even if Hellas does not fall the big fall today, she will remain dangerously close to the edge of the abyss for a long and unknown period of time.

The political and financial analysts and commentators have covered the crisis over and over again.

Εγω σημερα θυμηθηκα ενα τραγουδι του Σταυρου Ξαρχακου σε στιχους Νικου Γκατσου: «Μανα μου Ελλας».

Το τραγουδι ειναι απο την ταινια «Ρεμπετικο» του Κωστα Φερη.

Οι στιχοι του τραγουδιου εχουν μεγαλη σημασια, αφου πιστευω οτι μεσα τους κρυβεται και το κλειδι που θα μας παει ειτε στην Κολαση ειτε στον Παραδεισο.

(Οι στιχοι και ενα κλιπ με το τραγουδι ευρισκονται στο τελος του αρθρου).

Today I remembered a song written by Stavros Xarchakos, in lyrics of Nikos Gatsos: «Hellas my motherland».

It is part of the soundtrack of the Kostas Ferris movie «Rembetiko» (1983).

The lyrics are important, as in my view they contain the key that will unlock the gates of Hell or Paradise for Hellas.

(the lyrics and a video clip of the song can be found at the end of this article).

Οι στιχοι του Γκατσου μας φερνουν με το ξεκινημα μπροστα στην Μικρασιατικη Καταστροφη, στο ξεριζωμα του Ελληνισμου της Μικρας Ασιας (και οχι μονο).

Και λιγο παρακατω με ιδιαιτερα επωδυνο και αμεσο τροπο ακουγεται η πικρη αληθεια: «τα ψευτικα τα λογια τα μεγαλα».

The lyrics of Gatsos take us from the start to the Minor Asia disaster of 1922, the uprooting of Hellenism from the western shores of Minor Asia (and more).

A few words later, we hear the painful direct truth: «the big words of lies».

Τα ψευτικα τα λογια, τα ψευτικα ονειρα, συμπληρωνω εγω, η κορυφη του ιδεολογικου και ψυχολογικου υποβαθρου που οδηγει στην Καταστροφη.

Σημερα βρισκομαστε μεσα στην θυελλα μιας αλλης Καταστροφης, που θα αποκαλουσα «Καταστροφη της Αεριτζηδικης Ευδαιμονιας».

The lies, the fake dreams I could add, the tip of the ideological and psychological iceberg that leads to disaster.

Today we are in the midst of another disaster, that I would call «the disaster of the bliss bubble».

Το 1922 καταστραφηκε και κατερρευσε η Μεγαλη Ιδεα.

Σημερα καταρρεει το μοντελο της Αεριτζηδικης Ευδαιμονιας που ειχε προωθηθει και κυριαρχησει στην ζωη της Ελλαδας απο τη δεκαετια του 1990.

Και στις δυο περιπτωσεις η κυρια ευθυνη ειναι δικη μας.

In 1922 we saw the downfall of the «Great Idea» (Megali Idea).

Today we experience the downfall of the «Bliss Bubble» that dominated Greece since the early 1990’s.

In both downfalls, we, the Greek People, bear the major responsibility.  

Οι λεγομενες Μεγαλες Δυναμεις, κατα περιπτωση, εχουν συμμετοχη και ρολο, αλλα οχι κυριο και καθοριστικο.

Εμεις ειμαστε οι ιδανικοι αυτοχειρες, αφου και στις δυο καθοριστικες για την Ελλαδα περιπτωσεις, η καταστροφη οφειλεται σε αυτοχειρια.

The so called «Great Powers» of course participated in the unfolding of the events, and played a role, but theirs was not the majr one.

We are the ones who committed suicide in both cases.  

Ο Γιωργος Βελτσος εγραφε στο ΒΗΜΑ την 1η Φεβρουαριου 2012:

«Πάντως το να έχεις ένα μαχαίρι στο τραπέζι σου κι αντί να κόψεις το φιλέτο σου το χώσεις στην κοιλιά σου σαν τον Μίσιμα, σου δίνει μια αίσθηση ανωτερότητας στα όρια της μεγαλομανίας. «

Εκτος απο την μεγαλομανια, που αποτελει το κοινο ψυχολογικο υποστρωμα των δυο καταστροφικων εποχων, θα πρεπει να προσθεσω και την πολιτικη διασταση του μοντελου της Αεριτζηδικης Ευδαιμονιας.

George Veltsos wrote in the newspaper «TO VIMA» on the 1st February 2012:

«When you have a knife on the table and instead of slicing your steak you stick it into your guts like Mishima did, you get a sense of belonging to the «beyond», verging on megalomania».

In addition to megalomania that provides the common psychological foundation to both disasters, I must add the political dimension of the «Bliss Bubble» model. 

Και αυτη ειναι η Εξαγορα. Οι ψηφοι των πολιτων, οι συμπεριφορες, ο καταναλωτισμος, ολα χτιστηκαν πανω στο κυριαρχο φαινομενο της εξαγορας. Για παραδειγμα, ο ψηφοφορος εξαγοραζεται απο τον υποψηφιο βουλευτη: η εξαγορασθεισα ψηφος αποτελει το εισιτηριο του υιου ή της θυγατερας εις τον Δημοσιο Τομεα, στενο ή ευρυ.

The political dimension of the «Bliss Bubble» is the «buyout». Let me explain here the meaning of the word. It means a lot more than a mere transaction. It means that in addition to the transaction, you surrender unconditional control to the other party. The votes of the public, the behaviours, the consumer patterns, have all been built on the dominant phenomenon of the «buyout». As an example, the voter is bought out by the candidate member of parliament: the «bought» vote becomes the voter son’s or daughter’s entry ticket to the safe heaven of the public sector.

Επειδη αυτο το φαινομενο δεν θα μπορουσε να ειναι καθολικο χωρις πολιτικη καθαγιαση, το αποκαλω πολιτικο. Ειναι οικονομικο στην παραγωγη εκδοχη του. Κυριαρχα ομως ειναι πολιτικο.

Εδω ευρισκεται και η ριζα του πολιτικου και κοινωνικου εκφυλισμου τον οποιο βιωνουμε σημερα.

This phenomenon could not have been dominant in Greece without political support and full endorsement. It is therefore a political phenomenon with economic aspects

This phenomenon that moulded the dominant social political and economic behaviour in modern Greece is at the root of the full scale social and political degeneration that we experience today.   

Μπορουμε λοιπον να κανουμε μια νεα αρχη; Μπορουμε να ξεφυγουμε απο την περιδινηση των επαλληλων καταστροφων και να χαραξουμε μια νεα πορεια;

Η απαντηση δεν ειναι στα χερια των ηδη χρεωκοπημενων πολιτικων, ολων των παραταξεων. Η απαντηση βρισκεται στα χερια μας.

Can we make a new start? Can we escape from the downward spiral of the two consecutive disasters and chart a new course?

The answer is not in the hands of the already outdated politicians of all parties. The answer is in our hands. 

Ας αναφερω ενα απλο παραδειγμα: Το μεγεθος της αγορας κρεατων στην Ελλαδα ειναι περιπου 1,4 δις ΕΥΡΩ. Απο αυτα, 836 εκατομυρια ΕΥΡΩ εισαγονται. Η αυταρκεια της χωρας σε χοιρινο κρεας ειναι περιπου 30%, σε βοειο δε μολις 14%. Τα συμπερασματα βγαινουν απο μονα τους. Αλλα οι πραξεις δεν μπορει να γινουν μονες τους. Δεν υπαρχει το αεναον παρα μονον στην ποιηση και την τεχνη. Θα πανε τα νεα παιδια, οι νεοι Ελληνες και Ελληνιδες να γινουν κτηνοτροφοι; Θα δεχθουν να δουλεψουν σκληρα και να εχουν ενα καλο βιοτικο επιπεδο χωρις χωρις να να γινουν πλουσιοι;

Let me offer a simple example. The meat consumption in Greece has a value of 1,4 billion Euros. Out of this, 836 millions are imported. The self sufficiency of the country in pork meat is only at 30%, while in beef it drops to 14%. You can draw your on conclusions. But actions cannot happen by themselves. Are the young Greeks going to raise cattle? Are they going to work hard and make a good living without becoming «rich»? That is abandoning the «Bliss Bubble» dream?

Δεν εχει νοημα να συνεχισω να αναφερω παραδειγματα. Ο νεος και η νεα θα πρεπει να παρει πρωτοβουλιες, να προσπαθησει, να απαιτησει, να επιχειρησει, και να πορευθει στον δρομο που δεν εχει σιγουρα αποτελεσματα. Προσανατολιζουμε τους νεους μας προς κατι τετοιο;

There is no point in bringing forward more examples. The young – in spirit – must take initiatives, make efforts in the direction of developing the economy, demand from the state and EU authorities real and not token support, and march on the road that offers rewards and risks at the same time. Are we going to encourage our youth to take this road? 

Δεν μπορει βεβαια ολοι να τα κανουν ολα, ή ολοι να πετυχουν. Αλλα πρεπει να προσπαθησουν. Και εμεις πρεπει να τους στηριξουμε, αντι να τα περιμενουμε ολα απο ενα Κρατος που καταρρεει, ή ακομη χειροτερα απο τους πολιτικους. Το αντιθετο πρεπει να γινει, εμεις θα πρεπει να πρεπει να υπαγορευσουμε στους πολιτικους αυτο που θελουμε να γινει. Εμεις θα πρεπει να παρουμε στα χερια μας την υποθεση της Αναπτυξης.

It is clear that we cannot all succeed in everything. But we must try, putting insecurities on the side, albeit acknowledging them. The megalomania that I have mentioned in a previous section is linked to the immense insecurity that engulfs Greek society. It is time to get rid of it, like we, the very same people, do when we are abroad, in foreign lands, across five continents. Where we take risks, we work hard, and we make it to the top of whatwever we do. 

Το κλειδι που θα ανοιξει τις Πυλες του Παραδεισου ειναι το κατα ποσον μπορουμε να υπαρξουμε πανω σε μια βαση αυτογνωσιας και αυτοπροσδιορισμου, πετωντας τα φτιασιδια, τις μασκες, τα προτυπα, τους μιμητισμους. Τελειωσαν τα ψεματα. Πρεπει να αντικρυσουμε την πραγματικοτητα και να ζησουμε με αυτην, μεσα σε αυτην. Απο αυτο θα κριθει η συνεχεια και το μελλον της ωραιας μας πατριδος.

This is the key that will open the Gates of Heaven. We need to take the road to an existence based on self knowledge and self determination, throwing away insecurity and fear.

This is the end of lies. We have to admit it to ourselves first, face reality and start living a real life, not an artificial one, no matter how painful this might be. This will decide the future of our country. This will also rebuild our deconstructed society.

Μανα μου Ελλας

(μουσικη Σταυρου Ξαρχακου, στιχοι Νικου Γκατσου, απο την ταινια «Ρεμπετικο» του Κωστα Φερη, 1983)

Δεν έχω σπίτι πίσω για να ‘ρθώ
ούτε κρεβάτι για να κοιμηθώ
δεν έχω δρόμο ούτε γειτονιά
να περπατήσω μια Πρωτομαγιά.

Τα ψεύτικα τα λόγια τα μεγάλα
μου τα ‘πες με το πρώτο σου το γάλα.

Μα τώρα που ξυπνήσανε τα φίδια
εσύ φοράς τα αρχαία σου στολίδια
και δε δακρύζεις ποτέ σου μάνα μου Ελλάς
που τα παιδιά σου σκλάβους ξεπουλάς.

Τα ψεύτικα τα λόγια τα μεγάλα
μου τα ‘πες με το πρώτο σου το γάλα.

Μα τότε που στη μοίρα μου μιλούσα
είχες ντυθεί τα αρχαία σου τα λούσα
και στο παζάρι με πήρες γύφτισσα μαϊμού
Ελλάδα Ελλάδα μάνα του καημού.

Τα ψεύτικα τα λόγια τα μεγάλα
μου τα ‘πες με το πρώτο σου το γάλα.

Μα τώρα που η φωτιά φουντώνει πάλι
εσύ κοιτάς τα αρχαία σου τα κάλλη
και στις αρένες του κόσμου μάνα μου Ελλάς
το ίδιο ψέμα πάντα κουβαλάς.

Το βιντεοκλιπ εχει την ερμηνεια της Βικυς Μοσχολιου, μιας πολυ μεγαλης ερμηνευτριας του ελληνικου τραγουδιου.

I like veal tongue, both as flavour and texture, and already have posted two recipes with it as the main ingredient. Today I revisit my favourite ingredient in a marriage with another marvel of nature, fava, which in Greece is a soft yellow lentil.

I boil the lentils in water with coarse salt, dry onions and bay leafs until they disolve and become mushy. I take them off the heat and let them to relax and cool off (for at least one hour).

I then proceed with the tongue. I prepare a mix of dry onions, celery, carrots, chilli, red and green peppers and soften them in a large pan with olive oil.

Once soft enough, I place on top the two small to medium sized tongues (mind you, they are veal tongues, therefore relatively small).

After five minutes I add some chicken stock until the tongues are almost covered and let them cook for two hours.

I remove the tongues from the pot, place them in a glass container and let them cool off before removing the skin and slicing them.

Serving is easy, and quite fun. In a deep dish, I first create a small hill wiht fava.

I then place the slices of tongue, cover the lot with the thick rich sauce, and sprinkle with chopped coriander.

Enjoy it!

Sweet Trio of Pleasure: Killing me softly

Κυριακή, 22 Ιανουαρίου, 2012

It is known that trios always make humans trace the thin and extremely dangerous border between heaven and hell.

Mermaids

No! It is not a mermaids trio I write about.

Mamacitas

No! It is not a «mamacitas» trio I write about!

Menage a trois

No! It is not a «menage a trois» I write about.

Today’s trio is a dessert that can send you to heaven, but if you overstep the mark you go straight to hell.

Having established the risk factors involved, I can now proceed to uncover the pleasures of this incredibly satisfying dish. As in other instances, I will follow an approach the first deconstructs and then constructs. In other words, I will present the components of the dish, and then the synthseis, i.e. the way the pieces come together.

Quince (kydoni)

Quince

Quince is one  of my all time favourite fruits, because it goes with almost everything in the winter time menu.

Quince Desser a la Greque - Kydoni glyko tou koutaliou (Source: RaDiCio)

But most of all, I absolutely fall dangerously low when I have in front of me shredded quince served as a sweet with syrup (kydoni glyko tou koutaliou).


Katiki Cream Cheese

The small town of Domokos in Central Greece

Katiki isa creamy white cheese made in Domokos, Central Greece, and has the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) designation.

Katiki Cream Cheese - Domokos Greece

It is made from Goat and Sheep milk, it is extremely low in fat (13%) and extremely light and tasty. In two words, I just LOOOOOOOOVE it!!!!!!!!

Semolina Halva

Greek Semolina Halva (source: Nirvana)

This is one of my all time favourite sweets, it has zillions of calories, but the road to heaven is NOT, I repeat NOT, covered with rose petals.

The key difference from the Turkish Halva is that in Greece we make it with olive oil, instead of butter. In any case, wherever I am and I find it, I just eat it, I do not have any nationalistic inhibitions.  I bypass the extremely interesting question: «Should Nationalism restrict or even inhibit Pleasure?» as it is a topic by itself.

Killing me softly

The trio came about after a nice lunch was over and I realized that I had prepared no dessert. Luckily, one of the guests had brought a wonderful platter with semolina halva on it, the day before I had bought fresh katiki cheese, and a good friend had sent me a jar with shredded quince in syrup. This combination of events created a spark in my otherwise dormant imagination and the trio was born.

Killing me softly

It is a joy in terms of texture, as the creamy soft texture of the cheese envelopes the crunchy robust texture of the quince, and the semolina joins in the fun providing the middle ground.

The combinations do not end in texture. The slightly savory taste of the cheese is supplemented by the sweet bitter taste of the quince, while the semolina finds itself again dominating the middle ground.

Enjoy it!!!!

Chance

Παρασκευή, 6 Ιανουαρίου, 2012

Christian Boltanski, Chance: French Pavillion, Venice Biennale 2011

«The work presented at Venice is optimistic in its reflection on chance and destiny; the chance of birth against the chance of death. Is everything pre-determined? Who controls destiny? Has our path already been decided? Is God present or absent? At the entrance to the pavilion, the visitor is invited to sit on one of the wooden chairs. A voice whispers to him. Each chair “speaks” in a different language uttering the words “Is this the last time?” Is this a message of hope? Or a troubling announcement?… The interior of the pavilion is criss-crossed by a moving walkway, that travels at great speed and upon which hundreds of photos of childrenʼs faces have been printed. The walkway stops randomly and one of the childrenʼs faces is lit up and an alarm sounds. Chance has picked out one child. The process begins all over again, until the walkway stops again and the alarm signals Chanceʼs next choice.» (Press Release)

Monument in Nuremberg, Germany

«O my soul, do not aspire to immportal life, but

exhaust the limits of the possible»

Pindar, Pythian iii

Messkirch, Germany

The sunset in Vouliagmeni is one of the most beautiful in the world. It is in harmony with Man.

You can reach all areas, you can swim, you can walk, even the rocks are hospitable.

Sunset in Vouliagmeni, Attica, Greece

Even in Wintertime there are brave souls who swim with their bodies.

When I look at them I always think of Schubert’s Winterreise, set on 24 poems of Wilhelm Mueller. Schubert called it «a cycle of terrifying songs». Here are two of them, sung by Mathias Goerne, accompanied by Alfred Brendel.

Täuschung – Deception

A light on the dark and icy road at night, might be a warm place to stay, or the deception of a beautiful face.

Der Wegweiser  – The Signpost

Straying restlessly away from the roads, he still seeks rest. There is always a signpost in front of him, pointing to the road from which no wanderer returns. Death?

Sunrise in Kaletzi, near Marathon, Greece

The landscape is barren. Three years ago multiple fires scorched the earth and destroyed beautiful pine forests all around.

But the sun every time it rises, makes the barren landscape look beautiful.

Richard Strauss was one of the greatest composers. «Morgen!« («Tomorrow!») is the last in a set of four songs composed in 1894, set in a poem of John Henry Mackay.

It is sung by Dame Janet Baker.

Tomorrow!

Tomorrow again will shine the sun
And on my sunlit path of earth
Unite us again, as it has done,
And give our bliss another birth…
The spacious beach under wave-blue skies
We’ll reach by descending soft and slow,
And mutely gaze in each other’s eyes,
As over us rapture’s great hush will flow.

Martin Heidegger's Feldweg in Messkirch, Germany

In 1948, one year before his death on 1949, Richard Strauss composed «Fier Letzte Lieder», his «Last Four Songs» for soprano and orchestra.

At Sunset is sung by Gundula Janowitz. Berliner Philharmoniker is conducted by Herbert von Karajan.

Im Abendrot – At Sunset

We have gone through sorrow and joy
hand in hand;
Now we can rest from our wandering
above the quiet land.

Around us, the valleys bow;
the air is growing darker.
Just two skylarks soar upwards
dreamily into the fragrant air.

Come close to me, and let them flutter.
Soon it will be time for sleep.
Let us not lose our way
in this solitude.

O vast, tranquil peace,
so deep at sunset!
How weary we are of wandering—
Is this perhaps death?

Sunset in Vouliagmeni, Attica, Greece

«Although The Myth of Sisyphus poses mortal problems, it sums up for me as a lucid invitation to live and to create in the very midst of the desert.»

Albert Camus, in the Preface to his book, March 1955.

Lunch of 26th December 2011 in Marathon, Attica, Greece

Δευτέρα, 26 Δεκεμβρίου, 2011

Sunrise of the 26th December 2011

The day of the 26th December 2011 is special. My best man «koumbaros» Manolis celebrates his name day. In addition, it is the anniversary of his wedding to my «koumbara» Marion. As it happens, this year it is the 20th anniversary of their marriage. One more reason to celebrate with a lunch that is a tribute to life and its enjoyment.

The first dish of the menu has a name that resounds with passion: «Besame Mucho». It is a new creation of my humble personality, invented in the middle of dark winter nights.

Raw Kokoretsi

The first ingredient of the dish is kokoretsi, lamb’s intestines wrapped around liver, heart, and sweetbreads of the lamb.

My butcher prepares them on 30 cm sticks. I bake them after I season them with coarse salt and black pepper.

Cooked kokoretsi

Once baked, I take them off the stick and cut them in small chunks. They are now ready to be served with the second ingredient of the dish, which is lentils.

Lentils – detail

I boil them with a lot of chunks of pickled celery root and leafs, carots, a bit of onion and a bit of garlic.

The first dish: Besame Mucho

I serve the lentils in the middle of the dish, and place the chunks of kokoretsi around it, with some fresh chopped home grown coriander and a few drops of vinegar.

After the enticing experience of «Besame Mucho», the palate needs a thorough cleaning.

Rucola outside my front door

This is accomplished by the green salad made with lettuce, spring onions, dill, coriander, and home grown rucola.

Ojos Verdes

Add a good olive oil, some lemon, and coarse salt, and you have one of the most refreshing and tasty salads in the world! I name this salad «Ojos Verdes».

And now to the second dish, as the ojos verdes were an interlude, albeit a very tasty and flavorful one!

This dish is the marriage of roasted piglet and mixed pickled cabbage, white and red, and bears the name «Love me tender, love me sweet».

Pickled cabbage

I prepare the pickled cabbage at home, and all I do after I Take out of the jar where it has been pickled, is to let it simmer gently for a couple of hours, adding a bit of olive oil.

Roasted Piglet

The piglet is roasted in the oven, with rosemary, coriander and garlic stems. I also add coarse salt and pepper.

Last but not least, the «breads» of the lunch. We had corn bread (in the upper half of the picture) and piroshki made of potatoes (the lower half of the picture).

Both were prepared by a good friend.

There was no room for anything after all this, but only for fresh fruits, apples and tangerines.

Many Happy returns dearest friends, and a Happy New Year to All!!!

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