Beasts of Greece, Third Piece

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First Piece by Shelley – The Masque of Anarchy

Men of England, heirs of Glory
Heroes of unwritten story,
Nurslings of one mighty Mother,
Hopes of her, and one another!

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you 
Ye are many, they are few.

Second Piece by Orwell – Animal Farm

Beasts of England, Beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken to my joyful tidings
Of the Golden future time.

Soon or late the day is coming,
Tyrant Man shall be o’erthrown,
And the fruitful fields of England
Shall be trod by beasts alone.

Third Piece

Beast of Greece, Beasts of Cyprus
Beasts of every mount and sea
Even the pets of bourgeoisie
Cease your irksome murmur
Fathom at last your torpor
And raise your frayed hackles
For you’re still in hefty shackles

Dreams of rebel are antique
Perpetual lesson to the weak
Mankind is not too oppressive
Your hard work is just not impressive
Agents of truth thus have spoken
Past promises must not be broken

Days pass and nights fly
Not much time until we die
No perdition, no redemption
Don’t be fouled by misconception
Here is the only chance to shine
Whilst your footprints intertwine

Ancient glory has long dwindled
But let the weary spirit be rekindled
Unleash the mighty dinosaur in you
And eye man’s worst fear become true
‘Cause the Earth belongs to monsters
Not to a bunch of human mobsters

Beast of Greece, Beasts of Cyprus
Beasts of every mount and sea
Even the pets of bourgeoisie
Your reign is soon to be

Dedicated to my little beast Michael

Α.Δ.

Posted in English, Original, Poetry | Leave a comment

Animal Farm, a Fairy Tale

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It’s a classic along with 1984, it is thoroughly debated long since published in ’45, its quotes pervades everyday language, it’s a powerful and gloomy metaphor for the fate of societies wherever absolute equality was forcefully imposed. I have seen the film and actually roughly remembered the basic plot: A group of animals living in a farm rebels against their human master and establishes a new regime in which social justice has been restored. Events don’t turn out to be as ideal as the auspicious beginning signified. Of course no great surprise, the story doesn’t seek a merry ending or counterfeit redemption for the author is George Orwell.

An enjoyable, swift reading with straight-forward historical analogies, Animal Farm is the perfect bedtime companion. Apart from the most famous phrase -all caps-

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

there are plenty of fascinating details embellishing the narrative. Here is a list with the ones that instinctively struck me first.

The poem Beast of England. I find it just wonderful when poetry is incorporated in the text and these verses infused with romantic expectations of the golden future time ahead are magnificent. Perhaps the band Animals as Leaders got its inspiration from the novel. No lyrics in their case, purely instrumental virtuosity, thus I am only speculating.

Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland
Beasts of every land and clime
Hearken to my joyful tidings
Of the golden future time

Soon or late the day is coming
Tyrant Man shall be o’erthrown
And the fruitful fields of England
Shall be trod by beasts alone

Rings shall vanish from our noses
And the harness from our back
Bit and spur shall rust forever
Cruel whips no more shall crack

Riches more than mind can picture
Wheat and barley, oats and hay
Clover, beans, and mangel-wurzels
Shall be ours upon that day

Bright will shine the fields of England
Purer shall its waters be
Sweeter yet shall blow its breezes
On the day that sets us free

For that day we all must labour
Though we die before it break
Cows and horses, geese and turkeys
All must toil for freedom’s sake

Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland
Beasts of every land and clime
Hearken well and spread my tidings
Of the golden future time

The principles of Animalism, their initial version in the form of seven commandments and how they slowly, one by one disintegrated. Orwell is a master of illustrating how demolishing sacred principles is inevitable, how life steadily refutes all we hold dear.

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.

The tragic hero, the industrious, devoted but painfully naive horse, Boxer, who under the authority of the cunning pigs and the Leader, Comrade Napoleon, Father of all animals gave his unequivocal support to the unavailing building of the farm’s windmill. Thus we arrive at a connection with the Absurd. Unlike Camus’ protagonist in The Plague, tough labor towards futility without abstraction could be proven lethally mistaken. Boxer’s favorite sentences “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right” have been tenderly placed in my heart.

The grand finale. After fighting for a lost cause, abandoning all hope and woefully accepting their despondent fate the animals witness an staggering revelation. I didn’t remember that part, therefore I will leave the suspense should you decide to take up on reading. Until then “Long Live the Animal Farm”!

Α.Δ.

Posted in Books, English, Review | 1 Comment

The Plague, a Chronicle of a Terminal Spirit Desease in Five Acts

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“Indeed, to some, Dr. Rieux among them, this precisely was the most disheartening thing: that the habit of despair is worse than despair itself”.

The Plague is the second novel of Albert Camus I read right after The Stranger which happens to be his second too. To be honest this was also my second attempt reading it since I could not initially take the reign of terror and the relentless onslaught in the plague-stricken city of Oran. This time though I felt ready to delve into the abstractions of the plague. This is the very idea was first inscribed on my mind. It originally appeared as blame cast to the main protagonist Dr. Rieux by his acquaintance, journalist Rambert, for the doctor’s unwillingness to contribute to that man’s escape from the quarantined city of Oran. He particularly said:

“You can’t understand. You’re using the language of reason, not of the heart; you live in a world of abstractions”.

That is astonishingly true for a plethora of reasons, some of those I will not name lest I spoil the surprise ending. Abstraction is the mechanism that the doctor has employed against the Absurd, vis-à-vis against the horrors of the plague. He wasn’t remiss, he didn’t abandon ship. His attitude epitomizes Camus philosophy, the fact that nihilism should not prevail, however nothing is fixed as religion avows. One though can’t be too emotionally invested at the same because they will simply not survive the ordeals. Nevertheless, it’s not indifference, the universe possesses the benign indifference, not the characters. The characters are mandated by the own accord. They don’t believe that there is an inherent meaning, yet they still act. Does this should absurd? Well, that’s why the school of thought is called Absurdism. This vaguely reminds me of the Stoics, who proclaim to accept the turn of events no matter the personal affliction.

The other element that struck me is the exile or isolation. Plenty of analogies can now be drawn with regard the real word. Let’s play the game of hypothetical questions. What if we all have a shade of plague? What if Earth is like Oran, in exile, isolated from anything else? Do the specifics such as the size of the city or the symptoms of an illness really matter? I think they do not. It is a different perspective in the novel, just a condensed and more dramatic one. I love how at the begging the narrator describes the flavor of  townsfolk’s ordinary life. They follow their humdrum habits, their everyday routines completely oblivious of the pestilence lurking in the shadows. And even when it does emerge many choose to refuse the reality. Slowly, after the grim pass of time they do realize the inevitability of the plague. Darkness and pessimism were instilled in people’s hearts. They didn’t have any expectations, they couldn’t love or make friendship because these values imply looking ahead in the future. As it is wonderfully put about this dismay:

“The silent city was no more than an assemblage of huge, inert cubes, between which only the mute effigies of great men, carapaced in bronze, with their blank stone or metal faces, conjured up a sorry semblance of what the man had been. In lifeless squares and avenues these tawdry idols lorded it under the lowering sky; stolid monsters that might have personified the rule of immobility imposed on us, or, anyhow, its final aspect, that of a defunct city in which plague, stone, and darkness had effectively silenced every voice”.

It is intriguing at this point to observe how specifically the bleak climate shaped one individual, Tarrou friend of Dr Rieux. Near the latest part of the book he makes moving monologue comparing the plague with the death penalty. Camus was vastly sensitive on issue. He was against suicide as well as state issued capital punishment.  Reflections on the Guillotine is an essay Camus wrote analyzing his uncompromising views. The ultimate massage maintains that taking a person’s life is merely contributing to the AbsurdI recollect in my school years when we were studying this debate, whether should it be abolished or not. Different times, different countries have held various positions. Here is something that Tarrou confesses and deeply resonates with me:

“I have realized that we all have plague, and I have lost my peace. And today I am still
trying to find it; still trying to understand all those others and not to be the mortal enemy of anyone. I only know that one must do what one can to cease being plague-stricken, and that’s the only way in which we can hope for some peace or, failing that, a decent death. This, and only this, can bring relief to men and, if not save them, at least do them the least harm possible and even, sometimes, a little good. So that is why I resolved to have no truck with anything which, directly or indirectly, for good reasons or for bad, brings death to anyone or justifies others’ putting him to death. That, too, is why this epidemic has taught me nothing new, except that I must fight it at your side”.

One final note, those rats do the damage once again as in 1984. They initiated the calamity and they are capable of repeating it as the closing sentence sternly warns us:

“The plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city”.

PS: Terminal Spirit Disease is a term of course I have borrowed from At the Gates ’94 album should you ever find yourself in a mood of listening.

Α.Δ.

Posted in Books, English, Review | 4 Comments

The Chestnut Tree, Version Three

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Version One – Glenn Miller

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree
I loved him and he loved me
There I used to sit up on his knee
‘Neath the spreading chestnut tree

Version Two – George Orwell

Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me
There lie they and here lie we
Under the spreading chestnut tree

Version Three

Under the spreading chestnut tree
I was wrong and so was she
How eternal our love would be
I’ll meet her and she’ll meet me
Years past that icy Sunday
‘Neath the spreading chestnut tree

Under the spreading chestnut tree
Wondered both about reality
And the colors which we see
Oh why can’t we break yet free
There lies the rusty old key
‘Neath the spreading chestnut tree

Dedicated to NN for her passion in having better endings.

Α.Δ.

Posted in English, Original, Poetry | 3 Comments

Hamilton, an American Musical

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No, I haven’t watched it in case you were wondering (yet!). However, I gathered that Hamilton might come to Austin in the next year or two and I will make sure to get tickets immediately, otherwise you know what happens to prices in the black market… Anyway, I remembered it due to the Greek Independence Day, March 25th. You guys are very privileged to learn history from this astonishing piece of art. It turns out that Hamilton was an awesome dude with ultra adventurous life apart from a founding father, federalist and first Secretary of the Treasury- who would have thought?! Trivia fact: the performance influenced public opinion so much that the plans to change the $10 bill with his figure were ultimately cancelled. For now I can only enjoy the music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. If you haven’t heard about it at this point:

a) you think that musicals are lame

b) you live outside the US or in a cave

c) you confuse F1 with theater

d) you miss out one of the most awarded and critically acclaimed Broadway Shows

In any event, to get a taste or refresh your memory here are two of my favorite songs and beloved quotes from them:

“Get your education, don’t forget from whence you came, and
The world’s gonna know your name. What’s your name, man?”
Alexander Hamilton

I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry

Α.Δ.

Posted in English, Music, Review | 2 Comments

ΕΟΡΤΗ

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Ήθελα να γιορτάσω
Τα βάσανα και τους καημούς μου να ξεχάσω
Στους δρόμους να παρελάσω
Την ειρήνη και τις μάχες να δοξάσω

Να χορέψω ένα συρτάκι
Κι εσύ να μου χτυπήσεις παλαμάκι
Να ξαπλώσω σε παγκάκι
Ποθώντας παρά μόνο ένα φιλάκι

Την άνοιξη να χαιρετίσω
Φωλιά χελιδονιού να χτίσω
Στο άντρο των ηρώων πίσω
Κι αν χρειαστεί ας αγρυπνήσω

Τη Διακήρυξη να υπογράψω
Στολή απ’ το νησί να ράψω
Τον τοίχο της αυλής άσπρο να βάψω
Και πάνω σου ας σκοντάψω

Τίποτα όμως δε θα συμβεί
Ώσπου να ανθίσουν οι βολβοί
Κάποιοι με λένε ασεβή
Που ξέφυγα μακριά απ’ το κλουβί

Πόσο βαθύς αυτός ο πάτος
Και η κατάντια μας προσφάτως
Τι θα έγραφε ο Κορδάτος
Σ’ αγαπώ σα χώρα σε μισώ σα κράτος

Α.Δ.

Posted in Ελληνικά, Original, Poetry | 1 Comment

The Stranger, the birth of absurdity in two acts

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It’s been about a month but I’ve returned. I always return.

I have also returned and revisited this book which I’ve read quite a while ago without frankly understanding any of it. A great deal of things have changed since then and so did my perception of the book. Although it was written before 1984, in a different language and in a distinct style, I claim there is a slight continuation of the topic. The plot is very simple: a man visits a town for the funeral of his mother and gets involved in a homicide. What makes it engaging is the first person narration with an apparent emotionless and detached commentary -neither though the aloofness of a cold-blooded professional killer nor a sociopath. It is temping to consider the anti-hero the latter but I would insist on maintaining the adjective the author chose – The stranger.

So how do I see the connection with 1984? Well, finishing the 3rd level of torture Winston Smith suffered in Orwell’s universe became Meursault  in Camus’s book having no first name, no age, no physical characteristic). He was indeed the perfect stranger. He was the prototype of a man deprived of substantial emotions. He couldn’t even remember if his mother death was today or the day before. He could only feel the heat of the sun and the humidity of the room. I honestly admit it is hard to conceive that such condition is possible and not just a figure of speech. However, if you need further proof on how this is achievable go back again to 1984.

The second part of the novel was the trial and imprisonment. All the wait and build-up descriptions of the preliminary part come together in the court where the stranger is judged for being so strange to himself. The conviction was not in the end given for the murder of an “Arab” , it was about his lack of empathy to his mother’s death, his carelessness toward the social issues surrounding him, his indifference of what makes a body a person. I couldn’t understand this initially, this behavior appeared too absurd, too far-fetched. I needed to see some strangers in real life. I needed to become somewhat a stranger myself by asking the question “What would happen if I stopped caring?”. Now we have a potential answer thanks to Camus.

One last note worth mentioning is the final monologue of the protagonist in his cell awaiting for his execution after the priest’s vain visit. Here we witness a transformed Meursault declaring with unprecedented indignation:

“It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.”

PS: for an excellent review by a friend in Greek follow this link.

Α.Δ.

Posted in Books, English, Review | 3 Comments