A Forum for and the Background of the Mediation of Dialogue in Ancient and Modern Academies

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Homeland 2016

Why did it feel so at home to be in Greece this time, as if for the first time in the fullest sense?

Was it because of a wonderful and wondrous Aristotle Congress in Thessaloniki? Was it because of our so smoothly passing through time and through so many appropriations of cultures in the blessed city? Was it because it seemed that our past became, all of a sudden, it seemed, part of these beautiful and holy byzantine churches, as it had ever been? A capital, perhaps the one we pointed to in St. Dimitrios' Church: stemming from ancient temples and smelling sacrifices of fled guests, dressed in thyme and fear? So at the right place and, at the same time, out of place, like a good metaphor that carries and smells its origin, while well-integrated in the new context?

The Rotonda (or Church of St. George) in Thessaloniki, in which we had the honor and joy to attend a concert. Among the music chosen was one part of Theodorakis on Elytis' Axion Esti, and Theodorakis, again, on Sepheris' I held My Life. And the breaths were held captives. And the bodies were filled with Aegean Sea, on which the eyes surfaced, like dreaming stars, landing on the shores of Greek islands.

Was it because we were singing Elytis' Axion Esti every morning and evening over the Aegean Sea, and held our lives together with Sepheris' poem at noon in order to mix some moderation in our wine, and protect ourselves from the ruthlessly burning Greek sun, while shuddering and shivering? Was it Sepheris's lines, or Theodorakis' music that made us shudder and shiver, and what about that stuttering? Was it the love for myths that held our tongues back, and held us back on following logic? While a cloud crossed our skies, and a question mark overcast our minds: whose Greek do we love more: Sepheris' or Marcus Aurelius', both of which share the same language of Greek and the same content of holding one's entire life in one's hands? Oh why can one, especially if an only child, not choose, but want both, and all beauty?

Was it because we rolled down in this language, and felt to the bone how one it has always been, a common vessel for Aristotle, Simplicius, Palamas, Papadiamantis, Elytis and Gatsos, and we could not stop marvelling, nor forgetting to breath out because of marvel? Was it because we could not but share our tears for this common language and for the weight of this homeland in our chests, our chests that could not cease opening up? We did not dare to accommodate the question: for what?

Παναγία η Καρδιώτισσα, painted by Angelos Akotantos (15th century, Byzantine Museum, Athens; if I had to choose only one icon from the entire collection, this would be it: just a small footnote that Andrei Roublev's Ascension of Christ, temporarily in the exhibition, is out of competition; the same goes for the early El Greco in the neighbourhood...)

PS: How can such a diving into the Greek language not prepare you for...the world?
At night, one is covered by the blue itself (well, what else but Bellini's blue? I am sure, Plato would have agreed, had he known, yes: known, this blue).

Bellini's Virgin with the Standing Child, Embracing his Mother (São Paulo Museum of Art)

Another of Bellini's Madonna and another shade of Bellini's blue in Glasgow (Kelvingrove Art Gallery)


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