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

2084

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Είναι φανερή πλέον η επίδραση που είχε η δυστοπία του βιβλίου ως πηγή έμπνευσης. Η φωτογραφία τραβήχτηκε από το κτίριο στο οποίο δουλεύω αμέσως μετά την ανάγνωση. Δεν ήξερα ότι εν τέλει βρίσκομαι τόσο κοντά στο Υπουργείο της Αγάπης. Ευχαριστώ το FractalArt που ακόμη μια φορά με τίμησε με τη δημοσίευσή του.

Σ’ ένα άψυχο υπόγειο αποκλεισμένος
Εκεί που λιώνει αργά το σίδερο της σκέψης
Δεσμά νέα πιο γερά ώστε να φτιάξει
Είδα απ’ την ασπρόμαυρη οθόνη τοίχου
Φευγαλέα τη γλυκιά μορφή σου να γλιστρά
Πριν πικρά κηρύξω τέλος αδικαίωτο
Κουράγιο ψέλλισα σαν άγαρμπο αστείο
Μπροστά στα πόδια ανηλεών ενόρκων
Έτοιμων να προστάξουν χωρίς αναβολές
Όλα μια θλιβερή ψευδαίσθηση της ύπαρξης

Όλα; Κι ο θυμός σου για τη φτώχια της δουλείας
Ανθρώπων που τώρα σαν τα κοράκια ζουν
Κατασπαράσσοντας τα ίδια τους τα σπλάχνα
Όλα; Κι η παιδική χαρά στην πλατεία του χωριού
Κάτω απ’ το γηραιό πλατάνι που παίζαμε μικροί
Μελανά χρόνια αφότου τους είχανε κρεμάσει
Όλα; Κι η ιερή υπόσχεση που μου ΄δωσες
Πως όταν ακόμη στα κάτεργα πεθάνουμε
Την αγάπη κανείς δε τη σκοτώνει
Όλα ή τίποτα πάντα θα χάνεις είπαν

Έσφαλαν παρόλη τη σοφία όμως είχα κερδίσει
Τη στιγμή που σχεδιάζαμε ανέμελα
Ψαρόβαρκα δίχως κουπιά νότια της Κρήτης
Το πεταχτό φιλί της τελευταίας φοράς
Που έλιωσε ευθύς το χιόνι του χειμώνα
Ενώ εκείνος άγριος εκδίκηση ζητούσε
Το γέλιο μόλις ένα γράμμα απόστρατο
Που ξημερώματα έγραφα γεμάτος πάθος
Έφερε στην αγκαλιά σου άγιος μύθος
Όσο σφιχτά κρατά η μνήμη μου ήδη έχω κερδίσει

Δε ξέρω πλέον σε ποια οθόνη βρίσκεσαι
Μπορεί η εικόνα τούτη άλλοτε ποτέ να μην προβάλλει
Δεν έχει σημασία αν στην απομόνωση μείνω γυμνός
Ούτε αν φρίκης άρμα ολόκληρο με σκεπάσει
Δυστυχία καθώς βαστιέται σε δυο τρίχες των μαλλιών της
Ανακάλυψα στο βλέμμα σου τη χώρα των ονείρων
Όπου ιδέες αιώνια κατοικούν κι όμορφα τέρατα
Πλάι της επιθυμίας μου για ‘σένα την απρόσιτη
Στάλα αχλής στα πολύχρωμα φτερά μιας πεταλούδας
Έτσι γεννήθηκε η δύναμη να αντέξω

Α.Δ.

Posted in Ελληνικά, Original, Poetry | 1 Comment

Nineteen Eighty-Four, A Love Story in Three Acts

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My thoughts still wander after reading this book. I put a conscious effort to avoid exaggerations, however I will make a bright exception this time, 1984 is the most powerful, astonishing and life-changing book that I have read so far. I dare to say it, not with pride but with a deep emotion of self-retrospect and humility. I had seen the film in my late childhood, what can you expect though from an teenager? As Orwell states it, a text is meaningful insofar you already know what is entails. It was too early to appreciate the concepts, to understand the characters, to connect the reality around with the events described. It’s okay, the seed was planted and given the right moment, I would search for it again.

I distinctly recall claiming that I adore dystopian scenarios. I thought it is kind of fun to foresee a pessimistic outcome of humanity in the distant future. Some of the terms Orwell used have become ingrained in our language, eg. Orwellian, Big Brother, telescreens. Unforgivably, I took this heritage for granted, like museum art which no one honestly believes it’s alive or has an effect in today’s society. It didn’t take the words of the book as cryptic prophecies. I view it than as a touching allegory which includes a great deal of contemporary aspects. Surely, I despise the rhetoric that projects we live in a totalitarian regime, helpless with no voice whatsoever. I didn’t perceive Orwell’s creation as one perfectly isolated political system which controls every individual. The magic for me lays on the relationships people develop and how they evolve through them.

Admittedly, Winston Smith’s, the hero, condition intensely resonated with me. His isolated, monotonous working environment, his reclusive thoughts and forbidden diary, his views about the neediest of the world and the need for change, his contemplation of his mother and beloved partner, even the Victory coffee constitute a persona not foreign to me. I can readily relate to him on multiple levels through the breathtaking depiction of Orwell. One of my favorite instances, which also made me realize the everlasting impact of literature, was the metaphor created in Winston’s mind of a crystal paperweight he would have wanted to contain his cherished loved one, Julia, the secret room they rented, his whole existence.

I am dead serious, 1984 is a love story in 3 acts, although not in the traditional manner with trivial conflicts and petty problems. It is the kind of romance which makes you question not if there is glorious, eternal, unique love in general, but if you are capable of such big ideals. The plot of the romantic relationship develops strangely in the first chapter, builds a momentum in the second and culminates in the very end. It’s now a happy end of course nevertheless it is an inevitable one which pushed me, the reader, to doubt my own contentiousness, my behavior as an adult person. It might sound surprising that this narrated dismay didn’t yield a flare of pessimism. My feeling consists of genuine shaking of well-established beliefs along with a sorrow of relief.

One final remark is ingenious idea of the new language, Newspeak, Orwell invented. The terminology he came up with, such as thoughtcrime, Thought Police, Ingsoc, Ministries of Love, Peace Plenty and Truth, oldspeak, never ceases to amaze me. He explained the notion that vocabulary was gradually changing and decreasing in order to facilitate less independent thought, move as far prevent divergence  from the mental state. If all the above possibly don’t make too much sense, then you just need to doublethink it.

Α.Δ.

Posted in Books, English, Review | 20 Comments

Paradigm shift: Planet Earth 2

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There has been quite some time since the last installment of BBC’s Planet Earth Series, more than 10 years. Along with “Life”, they probably constitute the best nature’s documentaries ever produced. They had set the bar so high that is now inevitable to follow another series without comparing and contrasting it to their standard. So the question naturally arises, what was more to offer in Planet Earth 2, what was still missing?

Before answering let me -again- express my love and admiration towards David Attenborough.  I see him like the grandpa I never had. He is 90 and still pursuing his passion, inspiring all of us to view the world through his own eyes. That is a goal to live by, that is something to look up to. His warm and soothing voice instilled with genuine curiosity and thrill about this world’s phenomena is making me feel this little planet is worth knowing and fighting for. David is though more than an exquisite narrator, he is a true explorer, a naturalist who has cut new ground in places like Madagascar and filmed for the first time events back in the 60’s. I ‘m referring of course to Zoo Quest, his first major broadcasting. A more modern 2011 revisit of the mini-series is found here, always about Madagascar. Below a picture of him in the closing scene delivering a powerful message to be discuss in the conclusion.

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Regarding this series now we had to restrict ourselves for only 6 on-hour episodes instead of the usual 10, not counting the bonus compilation one “A World of Wonder”. The previous format was maintain as each episode illustrated the individual topic and in the end there was a dedicated section of how a particularity cumbersome part was caught on camera. As they put it, 117 filming trips. 40 countries. 3 years in the making, this is the list:

  1. Islands
  2. Mountains
  3. Jungles
  4. Deserts
  5. Grasslands
  6. Cities

Each an every one of them had splendid and absolutely memorable moments. I have a friend who is obsessed with sloths for example and the opening scene of of the documentary is -spoiler alert- a sloth swimming across the ocean. Was it secretly orchestrated? Is BBC taking requests from the audience? She told me that David’s favorite animal is also a sloth, that explain the coincidence! Simply adorable, see for yourself the reason.

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What I amazed me more is an incident in the “Islands” where the notion of unconditional love is portrayed in the animal kingdom. The case is regarding the bird species Albrtross in the island Snares, south of New Zealand near the Antarctica. These creatures have the instinct of locating their unique mate while they can wait a tremendous amount of time for their partner to return safely. Thus, the locals have coined the sense of loyalty and resolution to them, in a way that a person can be as faith as an Albatross. Just imagine that a bird can develop stronger emotional bonds than human for minute to fully comprehend the astonishing essence of it. I don’t want to spoil the suspense any further, that’s why I would highly encourage you to watch the trailer.

The paradigm shift although was not the 4K video nor the unique moments captured. What wrote Planet Earth 2 indelibly in my mind is David’s final plea in the “Cities”, an episode about life’s adaptation in the most recently existed habitat, the moving post-humanism idea that people and rest of the planet can coexist harmoniously in an viable equilibrium which is in great peril today. The exact quote goes as follows.

This is a new urban world that we have now designed and built with others in mind. Create the space, and the animals will come. Is this a vision of our cities of the future? It could be possible to see wildlife thriving within our cities across the planet. We, after all, are the architects of the urban world. Now, over half of us live in an urban environment. My home, too, is here in the city of London. Looking down on this great metropolis, the ingenuity with which we continue to reshape the surface of our planet is very striking, but it’s also sobering. It reminds me of just how easy it is for us to lose our connection with the natural world. Yet it’s on this connection that the future of both humanity and the natural world will depend. It’s surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth.

Α.Δ.

Posted in Documentaries, English, Review | 3 Comments