One final post

An absurdist philosopher once said ‘I was absent at the moment when I took up the most space’. Delving deep into my thoughts I realized it too but now I will be everywhere in my absence. After some -I hope not so serious- little posts comes a necessary end since everything with a beginning has a thermodynamic end. Blinded by primal fear or driven by incompleteness of utility we built complicated illusions to bypass reality. Yet there is a singular choice which echoes perpetually as an unequivocal manifest of existence. I love poetry because of this very reason, for it made me being a Greek understood my own choice: between freedom and death I will always choose freedom.  

Ύμνος εις την Ελευθερίαν

Σε γνωρίζω από την κόψη
του σπαθιού την τρομερή,
σε γνωρίζω από την όψη
που με βια μετράει την γη.

Απ’ τα κόκκαλα βγαλμένη
των Ελλήνων τα ιερά,
και σαν πρώτα ανδρειωμένη,
χαίρε, ω χαίρε, Ελευθεριά!

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Ο Σκοτεινός Ιππότης και η Πηγή

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Είχαν πει κάποτε στο Σκοτεινό Ιππότη ότι υπάρχει μια μυστηριακή πηγή νερού. Δεν ήταν βέβαια σίγουρο ότι υπήρχε στην πραγματικότητα. Η υποτιθέμενη τοποθεσία της βρίσκονταν σε ένα δαιδαλώδες άνυδρο μέρος, πολύ επικίνδυνο για να προσεγγίσει κανείς. Οι περισσότεροι που είχαν προσπαθήσει ισχυρίζονταν ότι πρόκειται απλά για ένα μύθο, ότι δεν υπάρχει στην ουσία πηγή. Ακούγοντας αυτά ο Σκοτεινός Ιππότης αποφάσισε να την επισκεφτεί, ήταν άλλωστε άνθρωπος που αγαπούσε τους μύθους. Ξεκινώντας την εξερεύνηση ήταν τόσο αισιόδοξος μάλιστα που δεν έφερε καθόλου νερό μαζί του παρόλο το φλεγόμενο καλοκαίρι. Οι προμήθειες απάντησε είναι για όσους δεν έχουν φιλοδοξίες.

Η πορεία αποδείχθηκε λιγότερο χαριστική. Ο Σκοτεινός Ιππότης είχε χαθεί στα δύσβατα βράχια, τους αγκαθωτούς ασπάλαθους ενώ ο ήλιος έκαιγε το σώμα του πάνω από τη σκούρη πανοπλία. Τα συμπτώματα της αφυδάτωσης άρχισαν να εκδηλώνονται. Είχε ανυπόφορη ζάλη, ναυτία, το στόμα και οι πνεύμονές του είχαν στεγνώσει. Στις παραισθήσεις του έβλεπε πληθώρα πηγών αξιοθαύμαστου κάλλους, με σκαλιστά μάρμαρα και περίτεχνες ζωγραφιές, με τρεχούμενο κρύο νερό, οάσεις μπροστά στο ερημικό μονοπάτι. Διερωτήθηκε τότε μήπως δεν ήταν μία αλλά πολλές οι πηγές, μήπως αυτό ήταν το νόημα. Δοκίμασε να πιει νερό, μα το νερό τους ήταν άυλο. Πώς να ξεδιψάσει με τέτοιο εικονικό νερό;
Η ζωή του διέβαινε απειλητικά κρίσιμο σημείο. Μετά από μέρες λειψυδρίας φτάνει σε ένα στενό άνοιγμα. Εκεί ήταν χτισμένη μια μικρή Πηγή άσπρης κοφτερής πέτρας από την οποία δεν έτρεχε ούτε μία σταγόνα νερό. Ο Σκοτεινός Ιππότης με τη λιγοστή δύναμη που διέθετε στάθηκε μπροστά της. Η πενιχρή όρασή του διέκρινε ένα γράμμα αρχαίας γραφής Ε. Το τρεμάμενο χέρι του άγγιξε απαλά το στρογγυλό στόμιο της Πηγής. Νόμιζε ότι ως εκ θαύματος θα άρχιζε να ρέει άφθονο νερό. Δεν έγινε ωστόσο όπως περίμενε, ποτέ δεν γινόταν έτσι. Ύστερα ένιωσε οξύ πόνο στο στήθος και με έναν ξαφνικό σπασμό λιποθύμησε στις λευκές καυτές πλάκες. Η λειψυδρία φαίνεται τον νίκησε.

Η Πηγή όμως δεν τον είχε απατήσει. Όταν επανήλθε από το κόμμα δεν ήταν διψασμένος. Όταν γύρισε πίσω δε χρειαζόταν πλέον νερό. Τον ρωτούσαν έπειτα πώς είναι δυνατόν επιβιώνει χωρίς νερό, τι συνέβη σε εκείνη την Πηγή; Ο Σκοτεινός Ιππότης χαμογελώντας άπλωσε αργά το χέρι του κι έχυσε το ποτήρι που του προσέφεραν. Το σχήμα που διαμορφώθηκε από τη ροή στο έδαφος ήταν ένα αμυδρό Ε.

Α.Δ.

Posted in Ελληνικά, Original, The Dark Knight, Thoughts | Leave a comment

The Gambler, a first encounter with Dostoevsky

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I have heard a ton of things about Dostoevsky but never had the chance to read him myself. Time has now come with one of his smaller works and a quite personal too. People have been telling me ‘Read it, you will like since you played cards, you will appreciate the atmosphere’. I did appreciate the atmosphere but no for this reason, not even close.

The book was about gambling in the roulette, a rather different setting than the cards in which there is variance in addition to mathematical strategy, namely game theory under incomplete information. This story was focusing on something else, it was concerned with passion, feelings, human psychology than probabilities and stochastic optimization.

I am new to Dostoevsky’s style of writing and it took a number of pages to get accustomed to 200 years back. There is the so-called transient phenomenon to overcome at the beginning. And to be honest I got addicted to the most recent writings of Orwell and Camus lately but hey – one ought not be monotonous. In this short review I will mention the aspects I liked, I didn’t like and I would like, without hopefully offending any hardcore fan.

What I liked. I liked the depiction of the central hero, Alexei, although I can’t say we have plenty of attributes in common. He was a modest teacher who fell in love with a step-daughter of a wealthier nonetheless declining family. He was bold, he had a character and he was willing to go to extremes to gain what he cherished. His addiction has actually double: of course he had a crippling relation with gambling but also his mentality toward Polina, the step-daughter, wasn’t the definition of healthy. Those two internal forces were competing each other and he got eventually torn apart (spoiler) without money or the girl. The tragic end, an end without redemption, comes as a warning-didactic message from the author who himself had certain issues with gambling. Do I feel some empathy about the hero in the end? I am not sure. At any rate, the final dialog between him and another main character, the equanimous and reserved Astley, who revealed the whole truth, has encapsulated probably the most dramatic instance of the novel.

What I didn’t like: the stereotypical traits of the nationalities involved were just that – stereotypical. The Germans were hard-working, meticulous and honest. The French were pompous and profligate. The Englishmen were calm, taciturn and diplomatic. The Poles were conniving and crooked. Finally, the Russians were passionate, daring nevertheless inadvertently self-catastrophic. It might be tempting to agree with that perspective because someone, somewhere,  matches vaguely the description, however I cannot concur to such choice. It constitutes a platitude to defend a position against prejudice, therefore I am merely confined to a single observation you wouldn’t be exuberant had it been attached to you.

What I would like. I felt that the later part of the book was lacking the detailed approach of the earlier. I would definitely liked to know more about the demise of the protagonist. Thankfully, the Fall compensates for this exact purpose. The ending was a bit abrupt, harried. It would have made the last scene much more powerful should the author had elaborated further on the decadence of Alexei. In less than a few pages the description of his disintegrating transformation to a crumbling soul was simply not enough.

Overall, despite my seemingly not so venerating commentary, I appreciated the little book and I am determined to read more Dostoevsky. Perhaps he will be more thorough on the larger novels, or too exhaustive I will leave you with my favorite excerpt when Alexei, in a brief moment of clarity, is contemplating over his conflicting inner impulses:

“I swear I felt sorry for Polina, but strangely since the moment I touched the gaming table the night before and began to rake in wads of money, it was as if my love moved into the background. I say it now, but at the time I still hadn’t noted clearly. Can it be that I’m really a gambler, can it be that I indeed loved Polina so strangely?”

My grandma used to say ‘Whoever wins in gambling, loses in love’. Yet in a way we all gamble when we love. Nothing to win cher ami.

Α.Δ.

Posted in Books, English, Review | 2 Comments

(χωρίς τίτλο)

Παλαιά Βουλή 1915

Ποίησις διά τήν θλιβερήν πολιτικήν, οικονομικήν καί κοινωνικήν συγκυρίαν τῆς χώρας, είς τήν ὁποία ἄνευ προηγουμένου δυστυχῶς εἰσέλθῃ . 
Τό χρέος, δημόσιον καί ὡς ἐπί τό πλεῖστον ἠθικόν, δυσβάστακτον πρός τούς πολίτας καί τάς τῶν οἰκογενείας καθίστατο, οὐκ ἔσται τέλος τῶν παθημάτων.
Στρατηγοί, βουλευταί, δικασταί, πρέσβεις, ἅγιοι ἀρχιεπίσκοποι καί ἀνώτατοι ἄρχοντες ὑπό τῶν παραπετασμάτων εἴτε σιγῶσι εἴτε λαλοῦσι, τε ἐκ δεξιῶν καί ἐξ ἀριστερῶν.
Διαφορά οὐδέ μία παρετηρήθη κατά τό Σύνταγμα.
Ἀναμένομεν ἐν ἀγωνίᾳ τήν συνέχειαν τῶν ἐξελίξεων.
Προσδοκοῦμεν ἄμεσον ἐπίλυσιν καί ζωήν τοῦ μέλλοντος.
Πιστεύομεν…

Φτώχεψες

Α.Δ.

Posted in Collection, Ελληνικά, Original, Poetry | Leave a comment

Exile and the Kingdom, 6 short stories after the Fall

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Where is your exile? Where is your kingdom? You might find yourself in one, yet it feels like the other. If you miss the Fall, Albert Camus has six shorter, less known stories to share with you. Coming from the former, Dante accepts the idea of neutral angels in the quarrel between God and Satan. And he puts them in Limbo, a sort of vestibule of his Hell. We are in the vestibule, cher ami. Here are some excerpts to give you a glimpse and let the rest travel with your restless summer nights.

The Adulterous Woman

“The last stars of the constellations dropped their clusters a little lower on the desert horizon and became still. Then, with unbearable gentleness, the water of the night began to fill Janine, drowned the cold, rose gradually from the hidden core of her being and overflowed her  in wave after wave, rising up even to her mouth full of moans. The next moment, the whole sky stretched out over her, fallen on her back on the cold earth.”

The Renegade or a Confused Spirit

“Hail, he was the master, the only lord, whose indisputable attribute was malice, there are no good masters. For the first time, as a result of offences, my whole body crying out a single pain, I surrendered to him and approved his maleficent order, I adored in him the evil principle of the world. A prisoner of his kingdom… There are no righteous men but only evil masters who bring about the reign of relentless truth.”

The Silent Men

“They were all there, in a the silent shop, under the yellow light coming through the glass panels… Yvars now felt only fatigue and his still heart heart. He would have liked to talk. But he had nothing to say, nor had the others. In their uncommunicative faces could be read merely sorrow and sort of obstinacy. Sometimes the word ‘calamity’ took shape in him, but just barely, for it disappeared immediately – as a bubble forms and bursts simultaneously”

The Guest

“In contrast with such poverty, he who lived almost like a monk in his remote schoolhouse, none the less satisfied with the little he had and with the rough life, had felt like a lord… This was the way this region was, cruel to live in, even without men – who didn’t help matters either. But Daru had been born here. Everywhere else he felt exiled”

Jonas or the Artist at Work

“‘What are you doing up there, Jonas?’
I’m working’,
‘Without light?’,
‘Yes, for the moment’
He was not painting, but he was meditating…. He still had to discover what he had not yet clearly understood, although he had always known it and had always paint it as if he knew it. He had to grasp at last the secret which was not merely the secret of art, as he could now see. That is why he didn’t light the lamp”

The Growing Stone

“The man ceased to smile and looked at D’Arrast with outright curiosity.
‘You are interested, Captain?’
‘I’m not a captain’, D’Arrast said
‘That does’t matter you, are a noble’
Not I. But my grandfather and those before him. Now there is more nobility in our country’
‘Ah, I understand; everybody is a noble’, the negro said laughing
‘No, that’ not it. There are neither nobleman nor common people’
The fellow reflected; then made up his mind.
‘No one works, no one suffers?’
‘Yes, millions of men’
‘Then that’s the common people'”

Α.Δ.

Posted in Books, English, Review | 3 Comments

Why the Dark in the Dark Knight (and not the Light)? A colorful exposition.

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“Οι ήρωες προχωρούν στα σκοτεινά.” Γ.Σ.

People asked the Dark Knight a straight question: why is he called the Dark Knight, and not perhaps the Knight of the Light or something equally optimistic? They argued that all men of valor in the past were associated, in a way, with the Light. Take for example Prometheus the Titan, who despite all resistance from his peers, brought the holy Fire to mankind. His action of course did not remain unpunished, commented succinctly the Dark Knight. Take another narrative, Christ the Prophet went farther and claimed he was the eternal Light. He too paid though for his claim, direly, the Dark Knight observed.

This unavailing conversation was stifling the area, people contended that maybe the Dark Knight chose this epithet because he moves in the shadows, always in an obscure background. Like most predators, they wait until the night falls and stealthily follow their prey who rests oblivious to its imminent calamity.  Nevertheless, the adamant Dark Knight refused to be considered a predator for he has no hunting drive in him. He sees himself more as a man of abstraction as a french philosopher would profess.

Noticing the frustration his reply elicited, he elaborated “I suspect what you might assume at this point, that I embraced the darkness since my actions are not perceived noble by some common standards. But I beseech you, liberate yourselves from the definiteness of virtue and vice. The quest of absolute morality has been each time reduced to a quorum, a tacit agreement of the present majority. The consequent relativity appears terrifying, chaotic, I well know. However, I assure you my friends, certainty has been proven far more horrifying”. Thus has the skeptic Dark Knight has spoken, perpetually challenging the crowds.

Confused and dissatisfied people were about to leave. They have been disappointed by the turn of events and to their credit the Dark Knight had not provided a solid explanation. He has been equivocating with witty tricks. What kind of glorious hero he was if he couldn’t even justify his own name? The Dark Knight then offered an honest answer “Hear me out dear friends, there is indeed a reason. I adopted the darkness due to my primal fear. The absence of Light has been indeed my utmost phobia, so formidable that I chose make it my emblem, to extricate myself from its enormity. At least that was what I originally thought”. The Dark Knight paused dramatically and gauged his audience’s reaction.

After taking a mindful breath, he proceeded “Yet I discovered that there was a more fundamental reason. What we usually call Light is simply the visible part of a spectrum. There is an abundance of Light outside of it. Our perception is limited from what we see and sometimes what we see is influenced by our sight. I am now the Dark Knight because I don’t trust the elusive nature of Light. I am now the Dark Knight because the truth lies in the unfathomable darkness of our universe, beyond any of our senses can reach. I am now the Dark Knight because I no longer vilify the Dark, I begin to understand it”.

Α.Δ.

Posted in English, Original, The Dark Knight, Thoughts | 2 Comments

Η Έλευσις των Βαρβάρων

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– Τι περιμένουμε στην αγορά συναθροισμένοι αιώνες ύστερα;

Τα έξυπνα προϊόντα να αγοράσουμε. Εκείνα που φτιάξανε οι βάρβαροι.

– Στο κοινοβούλιο αναταραχή διαρκής,
έδρανα εκκενώνουν, πληρούνται και πάλι εκκενώνουν.
Αυστηρά και άτεγκτα νομοθετήματα νομοθετούν οι βουλευτές.

Έτσι τα θέλουν οι βάρβαροι, βάρβαροι ως είναι.
Ουδείς τεχνίτης σκάλισε μαλθακή δικαιοσύνη.  
Έχει στομώσει βέβαια το τρομερό σπαθί.

– Ο πρωθυπουργός πια δε φοράει τα παραδοσιακά ιμάτια.
Χωρίς ρούχα θα τολμούσε να προφέρει κάποιος,
μονάχος κάθεται πρόχειρα σ’ ένα μικρό σκαμνί.

Η κορόνα και ο πορφυρός χιτώνας έχουν λήξει. Ευτυχώς.
Τα κοστούμια είναι εκτός μόδας.
Δεν εντυπωσιάζουν τέτοιες επισημότητες πλέον τους βαρβάρους.

– Οι αντιπροσωπίες του θεού όμως κρατούν ακόμη, 
τα χρυσά στολίδια, τα πλουμιστά ενδύματα, οι ατέρμονες λιτανείες.
Έπειτα συγχώρεση.

Στους βαρβάρους αρέσουν πάντα τα νηπενθή.
Αντίθετα με τη ζωή απέραντο το άλγος.
Nους θυσιαζόμενος για χαρούμενους βαρβάρους.

– Οι παρουσιαστές τηλεόρασης καθημερινά δίνουν ορατόρια.
Τα νέα σπεύδουν αδέκαστα δήθεν ν’ αναλύσουν.

Τα νέα, τα όχι πολύ σημαντικά, διασκεδάζουν τους βαρβάρους.
Κανείς άλλωστε βάρβαρος αρκετά σημαντικός.

– Ο κόσμος γαλήνιος σ’ ένα ψυχρό σύμπαν λίγη έγνοια αν ξοδέψει.

Δεν περιμένει τους βαρβάρους γιατί ποτέ τους δεν υπήρξαν.

Γίναμε εμείς οι βάρβαροι.
Αυτή ήταν η λύση.

Α.Δ.

Posted in Collection, Ελληνικά, Original, Poetry | 2 Comments