The Colossus of Maroussi → Ο κολοσσός του Μαρουσιού, Ο κολοσσός του Μαρουσίου, Ο κολοσσός του Αμαρουσίου

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The Colossus of MaroussiΟ Κολοσσός του Μαρουσιού, Ο κολοσσός του Μαρουσίου, Ο κολοσσός του Αμαρουσίου

The Colossus of Maroussi - Wikipedia

Η μεγαλύτερη, η μοναδική εντύπωση που μου έκανε η Ελλάδα είναι πως είναι ένας κόσμος στο ανθρώπινο μπόι. Η αλήθεια είναι πως κ’ η Γαλλία δίνει την ίδια εντύπωση, κι  όμως  υπάρχει  μια  διαφορά  ανάμεσά  τους  πούναι  πολύ  βαθειά.  Η Ελλάδα είναι πατρίδα των θεών, μπορεί νάχουν πεθάνει, μα την παρουσία τους την νοιώθεις ακόμα. Οι θεοί είχαν ανθρώπινες αναλογίες, είχαν πλαστή από ανθρώπους. Στην Γαλλία, όπως και παντού στον δυτικό κόσμο, αυτός ο κρίκος ανάμεσα στους ανθρώπους και στους θεούς έχει σπάσει. Ο σκεπτικισμός κ’ η παραλυσία πούχουν έρθει απ’ αυτό το σχίσμα στην ίδια την φύση του ανθρώπου δίνει την αίσθηση της αναπόφευκτης  καταστροφής  του  σημερινού  μας  πολιτισμού.  Άμα  οι  άνθρωποι πάψουν να πιστεύουν πως κάποια μέρα θα γίνουν θεοί, τότε ασφαλώς θα γίνουν σκουλήκια. Έχουν πει πολλοί πως κάποιος καινούργιος τρόπος ζωής θα ξεπηδήση στην Αμερική. Πρέπει όμως να θυμόμαστε πως ούτε καν η αρχή της δεν προβλέπεται να γίνη πριν τουλάχιστον χίλια χρόνια ακόμα. Ο τωρινός τρόπος ζωής, στην Αμερική, είναι καταδικασμένος τόσο σίγουρα, όσο και της Ευρώπης.

Κανένα έθνος στη γη δεν μπορεί να φέρη άλλο τρόπο ώσπου να βρεθή μια παγκόσμια αντίληψη. Μάθαμε, μέσα από πικρά λάθη, πως όλοι οι δρόμοι στη ζωή είναι ζωτικά δεμένοι, μα δεν χρησιμοποιήσαμε αυτήν την γνώση μ’ έξυπνο τρόπο. Ζήσαμε δυό παγκόσμιους πολέμους κι ασφαλώς θα δούμε και τρίτο και τέταρτο, ίσως και πιο πολλούς. Δεν θα έχουμε καμμιά ελπίδα για ειρήνη, ώσπου ν’ αλλάξουμε ζωή. Ο κόσμος πρέπει να γίνη ξανά μικρός, όπως ο ελληνικός – αρκετά μικρός ώστε να μπορή να κλείνη τον καθένα. Αν δεν έχη χωρέσει κι ο τελευταίος άνθρωπος μέσα εκεί δεν θα υπάρξη πραγματική ανθρώπινη κοινωνία. Η φρόνησή μου λέει πως θα κάνη καιρό να έρθη μιά τέτοια συμφωνία για την ζωή, μα κ’ η φρόνησή μου λέει πως μόνο αυτή θα ικανοποιήση τον άνθρωπο.

Ώσπου να γίνη ολοκληρωτικά ανθρώπινος, ώσπου να μάθη να συμπεριφέρεται σαν μέλος της γης, θα εξακολουθήση να πλάθη θεούς που θα τον καταστρέφουν. Η τραγωδία της Ελλάδας δεν είναι το πώς καταστράφηκε ένας μεγάλος πολιτισμός, μα πού χάθηκε ένα μεγάλο όραμα. Κάνουμε λάθος σαν λέμε πως οι Έλληνες ανθρωποποίησαν τους θεούς. Οι θεοί ανθρωποποίησαν τους Έλληνες. Ήταν μια στιγμή που φάνηκε πως καταλάβαμε την αληθινή σημασία της ζωής, μια στιγμή που κόπηκε η ανάσα, σα να κινδύνευε η μοίρα της ανθρώπινης ράτσας. Η στιγμή χάθηκε μέσα στη φλόγα της δύναμης που κατάπιε τους μεθυσμένους Έλληνες. Κάναν μυθολογία μία πραγματικότητα, που ήταν πολύ μεγάλη για να την καταλάβουν. Ξεχνάμε μέσα στην τρέλλα μας για τον μύθο, πως έχει διαφορά από κάθε άλλη φόρμα δημιουργίας, εκτός απ’ αυτήν που έχει να κάνη με τη σβελτάδα στην ζωή. Κ’ εμείς πλάθουμε μύθους, αν κ’ ίσως δεν το παίρνουμε είδηση. Μα στους μύθους μας δεν υπάρχει  θέση  για  θεούς.  Χτίζουμε  έναν  αφηρημένο  απάνθρωπο  κόσμο  από  τις στάχτες  ενός  απατηλού  υλισμού.  Θέλουμε  ν’  αποδείξουμε  πως  ο  κόσμος  είναι αδειανός, μια δουλειά που δικαιολογιέται με τη δικιά μας άδεια λογική. Είμαστε αποφασισμένοι να κατακτήσουμε και θα κατακτήσουμε, μα η κατάκτησή μας θάναι ο θάνατος.

Ο κόσμος ξαφνιάζεται όταν λέω τι αποτέλεσμα είχε πάνω μου το ταξίδι στην Ελλάδα. Λένε πως με ζηλεύουν και πως θάθελαν να πάνε κάποια μέρα κι αυτοί εκεί. Και γιατί δεν πάνε; Γιατί κανείς δεν μπορεί να χαρή αυτό που λαχταρά ώσπου να είναι πραγματικά έτοιμος γι’ αυτό. Ο κόσμος σπάνια πιστεύει αυτό που λέει. Ο καθένας που λέει πως θάθελε πάρα πολύ να κάνη κάτι άλλο απ’ αυτό που κάνει ή να ήταν κάπου αλλού από εκεί που βρίσκεται, λέει ψέματα στον εαυτό του.

Το να ποθής δεν είναι το ίδιο με το να επιθυμής. Το να ποθής είναι το να γίνης αυτό που βασικά είσαι. Μερικοί, διαβάζοντας αυτά, θα συμπεράνουν αναπόφευκτα πως δεν υπάρχει τίποτα άλλο να κάνουμε από το να πραγματοποιούμε τους πόθους μας. Κάποιες γραμμές του Μαίτερλινγκ πάνω στην αλήθεια και στην πράξη άλλαξαν όλη την αντίληψη που είχα για την ζωή. Χρειάστηκαν εικοσιπέντε χρόνια για να ξυπνήσω και να καταλάβω όλο το νόημα της φράση του. Άλλοι άνθρωποι μπορούν και συνταιριάζουν γρηγορώτερα την πράξη με το όραμα. Εγώ ξεφούσκωσα, ξαναπήρα τις ανθρώπινες αναλογίες, έτοιμος να παραδεχτώ την μοίρα μου κ’ έτοιμος να δώσω όλα όσα έχω πάρει. Σαν στεκόμουν στον τάφο του Αγαμέμνονα, ξαναγεννήθηκα. Δεν με νοιάζει τι θα σκεφτή ο κόσμος διαβάζοντας αυτά που λέω. Δεν έχω καμμιά όρεξη να πείσω κανένα να σκέπτεται σαν και μένα. Τώρα πια ξέρω πως η μόνη επιρροή που μπορώ νάχω στον κόσμο είναι αυτό που θα τους δώσω με το παράδειγμά μου κι όχι με τα λόγια μου. Κάνω αυτήν την ανιστόρηση του ταξιδιού μου όχι σαν προσφορά στην ανθρώπινη γνώση, γιατί η δικιά μου γνώση είναι ελάχιστη και δεν λογαριάζει στο παραμικρό, μα σαν προσφορά στην ανθρώπινη πείρα. Οπωσδήποτε πολλά λάθη έχουν γίνει, μα η αλήθεια είναι πως κάτι συντελέστηκε σε μένα κι αυτό είναι που απόδωσα όσο πιο πιστά μπορούσα.

… Ο φίλος μου ο Κατσίμπαλης, που γι’ αυτόν τόχω γράψει το βιβλίο αυτό, για να του δείξω την ευγνωμοσύνη μου σ’ αυτόν και στους συμπατριώτες του, πιστεύω να μου συγχωρέση αν μεγαλοποίησα τις αναλογίες του σ’ αυτές ενός κολοσσού. Αυτοί που ξέρουν το Μαρούσι θα ξέρουν πως δεν υπάρχει τίποτα το μεγαλόπρεπο εκεί. Ούτε κ’ υπάρχει  κάτι  μεγαλόπρεπο  γύρω  από  τον  Κατσίμπαλη.  Ούτε  και  σε  τελευταία ανάλυση έχει τίποτα τόσο μεγαλόπρεπο σ’ όλη την ελληνική ιστορία. Μα υπάρχει κάτι κολοσσιαίο σε κάθε άνθρωπο όταν αυτός γίνεται αληθινά κι ολοκληρωτικά ανθρώπινος. Και πιο ανθρώπινο πλάσμα από τον Κατσίμπαλη, δεν έχω ξανασυναντήσει. Περπατώντας μαζί του στους δρόμους του Μαρουσιού είχα την εντύπωση πως περπατούσα πάνω στη γη μ’ εντελώς καινούργιο τρόπο. Η γη είχε γίνει πιο δική μου, πιο ζωντανή, έταζε περισσότερα από άλλοτε. Κουβεντιάζαμε συχνά για τα περασμένα, είναι αλήθεια, όχι σαν νάταν πεθαμένα κι αποξεχασμένα, μα μάλλον σαν κάτι που φώλιαζε μέσα μας, κάτι που κάρπιζε το παρόν κ’ έκανε το μέλλον να φαίνεται προκλητικό. Κουβέντιαζε για τα μικρά και τα μεγάλα πράγματα με τον ίδιο σεβασμό. Ποτέ δεν του έλειπε καιρός να ασχοληθή με τα πράγματα που τον συγκινούσαν, γι’ αυτόν ο χρόνος δεν είχε τέλος, κι αυτό είναι το δείγμα της μεγάλης του ψυχής. Πώς μπορώ να ξεχάσω την τελευταία εντύπωση που μου έκανε σαν αποχαιρετιστήκαμε στην στάση του λεωφορείου μέσα στην καρδιά της Αθήνας;

Είναι άνθρωποι που είναι τόσο πλούσιοι, τόσο γεμάτοι, που δίνονται τόσο πλέρια κάθε φορά που τους χαιρετάς, που νοιώθεις πως δεν έχει σημασία αν ο χωρισμός είναι για μια ή δυο μέρες ή για πάντα. Έρχονται κοντά σου ξεχειλίζοντας και σε γεμίζουν και σένα μέχρι τα χείλια. Δεν σου ζητάν τίποτ’ άλλο από το να πάρης μέρος στην υπεράνθρωπη χαρά τους για την ζωή. Ποτέ δεν ρωτάν από ποιο μέρος του φράχτη βρίσκεσαι, γιατί ο κόσμος τους δεν έχει φράχτες. Με το να παίζουν καθημερινά με τον κίνδυνο, γίνονται άτρωτοι. Κι όσο δείχνουν την αδυναμία τους, τόσο πιο ηρωικοί γίνονται. Ασφαλώς μέσα σ’ αυτές τις ατέλειωτες, πολλές φορές φανταστικές μυθικές ιστορίες που είχε την συνήθεια ν’ ανιστορή ο Κατσίμπαλης, θα υπάρχη κάποιο στοιχείο αστείου και διαστρέβλωσης κι όμως ακόμα κι αν η αλήθεια θυσιαζόταν, στην πραγματικότητα ο άνθρωπος πίσω απ’ την ιστορία δεν θα πετύχαινε τίποτ’ άλλο παρά να ξεφανερώση την ανθρώπινη εικόνα του. Σαν γύρισα να φύγω, αφήνοντάς τον εκεί μέσα στο λεωφορείο, τα ζωηρά ολοστρόγγυλα μάτια του γύρευαν κιόλας κάτι καινούργιο για να χαρούν.

Χένρυ Μίλλερ, Ο Κολοσσός του Μαρουσιού, μετάφραση Ανδρέα Καραντώνη (εκδόσεις Γαλαξία, Αθήνα 1970) πρώτη αγγλική έκδοση Νέα Υόρκη 1941

Oι άνθρωποι φαίνονται να εκπλήσσονται και να γοητεύονται όταν μιλάω για την επίδραση που είχε πάνω μου αυτό το ταξίδι μου στην Ελλάδα. Λένε ότι με ζηλεύουν και ότι εύχονται να μπορέσουν μια μέρα να πάνε κι αυτοί εκεί. Γιατί δεν πάνε; Διότι κανένας δεν μπορεί να χαρεί την εμπειρία που ποθεί αν δεν είναι έτοιμος γι' αυτή. Οι άνθρωποι σπάνια εννοούν αυτό που λένε.
 
Όποιος λέει ότι φλέγεται να κάνει κάτι διαφορετικό από αυτό που κάνει ή να βρεθεί κάπου αλλού αποκεί που είναι ψεύδεται στον ίδιο του τον εαυτό του. Το να επιθυμείς δεν είναι μόνο το να εύχεσαι. Το να επιθυμείς είναι να γίνεις αυτό που ουσιαστικά είσαι. Μερικοί άνθρωποι, διαβάζοντας αυτό, θα καταλάβουν αναπόφευκτα ότι δεν τους μένει τίποτε άλλο από το να πραγματοποιήσουν τις επιθυμίες τους.

Μια γραμμή του Μέτερλινκ που αφορά την αλήθεια και τη δράση άλλαξε όλη την ιδέα που είχα για τη ζωή. Μου πήρε είκοσι πέντε χρόνια για να καταλάβω απολύτως το νόημα της φράσης του. Άλλοι άνθρωποι είναι πιο γρήγοροι στο συντονισμό οράματος και δράσης. Αλλά το θέμα είναι ότι τελικά αυτόν τον συντονισμό τον κατάφερα στην Ελλάδα. Ξεφούσκωσα, επανήλθα στις κανονικές ανθρώπινες αναλογίες, έτοιμος να δεχτώ τη μοίρα και προετοιμασμένος να δώσω όσα έλαβα.

Καθώς στεκόμουν στον τάφο του Αγαμέμνονα βίωσα μια αληθινή αναγέννηση. Δε με νοιάζει καθόλου τι σκέφτονται οι άνθρωποι ή τι λένε όταν διαβάζουν μια τέτοια δήλωση. Δεν έχω καμιά επιθυμία να προσηλυτίσω κανέναν στον δικό μου τρόπο σκέψης. Ξέρω τώρα πως όποια επιρροή μπορεί να έχω στον κόσμο θα είναι αποτέλεσμα του παραδείγματος ζωής που δίνω και όχι των γραπτών μου.

Προσφέρω αυτή την καταγραφή του ταξιδιού μου όχι ως μια συνεισφορά στην ανθρώπινη γνώση, γιατί οι γνώσεις μου είναι λίγες και δεν έχουν μεγάλη σημασία, αλλά ως μια συνεισφορά στην ανθρώπινη εμπειρία. Λάθη του ενός ή του άλλου είδους αναμφισβήτητα υπάρχουν σ' αυτήν την καταγραφή, αλλά η αλήθεια είναι ότι μου συνέβη κάτι και αυτό τι έδωσα τόσο ειλικρινά όσο ξέρω να δίνω.

Ο φίλος μου ο Κατσίμπαλης για τον οποίο έγραψα αυτό το βιβλίο, θέλοντας να δείξω την ευγνωμοσύνη μου σ' αυτόν και τους συμπατριώτες του, ελπίζω να με συγχωρέσει που υπερέβαλα συγκρίνοντας τις αναλογίες του με εκείνες του Κολοσσού. Όσοι ξέρουν το Μαρούσι θα καταλάβουν ότι δεν υπάρχει τίποτα το μεγαλειώδες σ' αυτό. Ούτε στον Κατσίμπαλη υπάρχει τίποτα το μεγαλειώδες. Ούτε, στο κάτω - κάτω, υπάρχει τίποτα το μεγαλειώδες σε ολόκληρη την ιστορία της Ελλάδας.

Αλλά υπάρχει κάτι το κολοσσιαίο σε οποιονδήποτε άνθρωπο όταν αυτός γίνεται αληθινά και ολοσχερώς ανθρώπινος. Ποτέ δεν γνώρισα πιο ανθρώπινο άτομο από τον Κατσίμπαλη. Περπατώντας μαζί του στους δρόμους του Μαρουσιού είχα την αίσθηση ότι περπατούσα στη γη μ' έναν εντελώς καινούργιο τρόπο. Η γη γινόταν πιο οικεία, πιο ζωντανή, πιο υποσχόμενη. Είναι αλήθεια πως εκείνος μιλούσε συχνά για το παρελθόν, όμως όχι σαν κάτι νεκρό και ξεχασμένο, αλλά μάλλον σαν κάτι που κρατάμε μέσα μας, κάτι που καρποφορεί στο παρόν και κάνει ελκυστικό το μέλλον.

Μιλούσε με τον ίδιο σεβασμό για τα μικρά και τα μεγάλα πράγματα· δεν ήταν ποτέ τόσο απασχολημένος ώστε να μην μπορεί να σταματήσει και να συλλογιστεί τα πράγματα που τον συγκινούσαν· είχε ατέλειωτο χρόνο στη διάθεσή του, κάτι που από μόνο του αποτελεί σημάδι μιας μεγάλης ψυχής. Πώς μπορώ ποτέ να ξεχάσω εκείνη την τελευταία εντύπωση που μου έκανε όταν αποχωριζόμασταν στο σταθμό των λεωφορείων στην καρδιά της Αθήνας;

Υπάρχουν άνθρωποι που είναι τόσο πλήρεις, τόσο πλούσιοι, που δίνονται τόσο απόλυτα, ώστε κάθε φορά που τους αφήνεις νιώθεις ότι δεν έχει σημασία αν χωρίζεστε για μια μέρα ή για πάντα. Έρχονται κοντά σου ξεχειλίζοντας και σε ξεχειλίζουν κι εσένα. Δε σου ζητάνε τίποτα εκτός από τη συμμετοχή σου στη δική τους υπεράφθονη χαρά της ζωής.


The best stories I have heard were pointless, the best books those whose plot I can never remember, the best individuals those whom I never get anywhere with. Though it has been practised on me time and again I never cease to marvel how it happens that with certain individuals whom I know, within a few minutes after greeting them we are embarked on an endless voyage comparable in feeling and trajectory only to the deep middle dream which the practised dreamer slips into like a bone slips into its sockets.

At that moment I rejoiced that I was free of possessions, free of all·ties, free of fear and envy and malice. I could have passed quietly from one dream to another, owning nothing, regretting nothing, wishing nothing. I was never more certain that life and death are one and that neither can be enjoyed or embraced if the other be absent.

It's good to be just plain happy; it's a little better to know that you're happy; but to understand that you're happy and to know why and how, in what way, because of what concatenation of events or circumstances, and still be happy, be happy in the being and the knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss, and if you have any sense you ought to kill yourself on tire spot and be done with it. And that's how I was-except that I didn't have the power or the courage to kill myself then and there. It was good, too, that I didn't do myself in because there were even greater moments to come, something beyond bliss even; something which if anyone had tried to describe to me I would probably not have believed.

I was like Robinson Crusoe on the island of Tobago. For hours at a stretch I would lie in the sun doing nothing, thinking of nothing. To keep the mind empty is a feat, a very healthful feat too. To be silent the whole day long, see no newspaper, hear no radio, listen to no gossip, be thoroughly and completely lazy, thoroughly and completely indifferent to the fate of the world is the finest medicine a man can give himself. The book-learning gradually dribbles away; problems melt and dissolve; ties are gently severed; thinking, when you deign to indulge in it, becomes very primitive; the body becomes a new and wonderful instrument; you look at plants or stones or fish with different eyes; you wonder what people are struggling to accomplish with their frenzied activities; you know there is a war on but you haven't the faintest idea what it's about or why people should enjoy killing one another; you look at a place like Albania—it was constantly staring me in the eyes—and you say to yourself, yesterday it was Greek, to-day it's Italian, to-morrow it may be German or Japanese, and you let it be anything it chooses to be. When you're right with yourself it doesn't matter which flag is flying over your head or who owns what or whether you speak English or Monongahela. The absence of newspapers, the absence of news about what men are doing in different parts of the world to make life more livable or unlivable is the greatest single boon. If we could just eliminate newspapers a great advance would be made, I am sure of it. Newspapers engender lies, hatred, greed, envy, suspicion, fear, malice. We don't need the truth as it is dished up to us in the daily papers. We need peace and solitude and idleness. If we could all go on strike and honestly disavow all interest in what our neighbor is doing we might get a new lease on life. We might learn to do without telephones and radios and newspapers, without machines of any kind, without factories, without mills, without mines, without explosives, without battleships, without politicians, without lawyers, without canned goods, without gadgets, without razor blades even or cellophane or cigarettes or money. This is a pipe dream, I know.

В един запустял квартал, където улиците носят имена на философи, аз бродех в толкова плътна и същевременно толкова кадифена тишина, та ми се струваше, че въздухът е изпълнен със стрити на прах звезди, чиято светлина издава недоловим звук.

I like the monologue even more than the duet, when it is good. It's like watching a man write a book expressly for you: he writes it, reads it aloud, acts it, revises it, savours it, enjoys it, enjoys your enjoyment of it, and then tears it up and throws it to the winds. It's a sublime performance, because while he's going through with it you are God for him-unless you happen to be an insensitive and impatient dolt. But in that case the kind of monologue I refer to never happens.

I hear people talking about peace and their faces are clouded with anger or with hatred or with scorn and disdain, with pride and arrogance. There are people who want to fight to bring about peace—the most deluded souls of all. There will be no peace until murder is eliminated from the heart and mind. Murder is the apex of the broad pyramid whose base is the self. That which stands will have to fall. Everything which man has fought for will have to be relinquished before he can begin to live as man. Up till now he has been a sick beast and even his divinity stinks. He is master of many worlds and in his own he is a slave. What rules the world is the heart, not the brain. In every realm our conquests bring only death. We have turned our backs on the one realm wherein freedom lies. At Epidaurus, in the stillness, in the great peace that came over me, I heard the heart of the world beat I know what the cure is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world.

There are so many ways of walking about and the best, in my opinion, is the Greek way, because it is aimless, anarchic, thoroughly and discordantly human.

It's good to be just plain happy; it's a little better to know that you're happy; but to understand that you're happy and to know why and how, in what way, because of what concatenation of events or circumstances, and still be happy, be happy in the being and the knowing, well that
is beyond happiness, that is bliss, and if you have any sense you ought to kill yourself on tire spot and be done with it. And that's how I was-except that I didn't have the power or the courage to kill myself then and there. It was good, too, that I didn't do myself in because there were even greater moments to come, something beyond bliss even; something which if anyone had tried to describe to me I would probably not have believed.

The war will not only change the map of the world but it will affect the destiny of every one I care about. Already, even before the war had broken out, we were scattered to the four winds, those of us who had lived and worked together and who had no thought to do anything but what we were doing. My friend X, who used to be terrified at the very mention of war, had volunteered for service in the British Army; my friend Y, who was utterly indifferent and who used to say that he would go right on working at the Bibliothèque Nationale war or no war, joined the Foreign Legion; my friend Z, who was an out and out pacifist, volunteered for ambulance service and has never been heard of since; some are in concentration camps in France and Germany, one is rotting away in Siberia, another is in China, another in Mexico, another in Australia. When we meet again some will be blind, some legless, some old and white-haired, some demented, some bitter and cynical. Maybe the world will be a better place to live in, maybe it'll be just the same, maybe it'll be worse than it is now—who knows? The strangest thing of all is that in a universal crisis of this sort one instinctively knows that certain ones are doomed and that others will be spared.

The Turk aroused my antipathies almost at once. He had a mania for logic which infuriated me. It was bad logic too. And like the others, all of whom I violently disagreed with, I found in him an expression of the American spirit at its worst. Progress was their obsession. More machines, more efficiency, more capital, more comforts – that was their whole talk. I asked them if they had heard of the millions who were unemployed in America. They ignored the question. I asked them if they realized how empty, restless and miserable the American people with all their machine-made luxuries and comforts. They were impervious to my sarcasm. What they had wanted was success - money, power, a place in the sun.

After dinner Karamenaios would drop in. We had about fifty words with which to make lingual currency. We didn't even need that many, as I soon discovered. There are a thousand ways of talking and words don't help if the spirit is absent. Karamenaios and I were eager to talk. lt made little difference to me whether we talked about the war or about knives and forks. Sometimes we discovered that a word or phrase which we had been using for days, he in English or I in Greek, meant something entirely different than we had thought it to mean. It made no difference. We understood one another even with the wrong words. I could learn five new words in an evening and forget six or eight during my sleep. The important thing was the warm handclasp, the light in the eyes, the grapes which we devoured in common, the glass we raised to our lips in sign of friendship. Now and then I would get excited and, using a melange of English, Greek, German, French, Choctaw, Eskimo, Swahili or any other tongue I felt would serve the purpose, using the chair, the table, the spoon, the lamp, the bread knife, I would enact for him a fragment of my life in New York, Paris, London, Chula Vista, Canarsie, Hackensack or in some place I had never been or some place I had been in a dream or when lying asleep on the operating table. Sometimes I felt so good, so versatile and acrobatic, that I would stand on the table and sing in some unknown language or hop from the table to the commode and from the commode to the staircase or swing from the rafters, anything to entertain him, keep him amused, make him roll from side to side with laughter. I was considered an old man in the village because of my bald pate and fringe of white hair. Nobody had ever seen an old man cut up the way I did. "The old man is going for a swim," they would say. "The old man is taking the boat out." Always "the old man." If a storm came up and they knew I was out in the middle of the pond they would send someone out to see that "the old man" got in safely. If I decided to take a jaunt through the hills Karamenaios would offer to accompany me so that no harm would come to me. If I got stranded somewhere I had only to announce that I was an American and at once a dozen hands were ready to help me.

It is not enough to overthrow governments, masters, tyrants: one must overthrow his own preconceived ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust. We must abandon the hard-fought trenches, we have dug ourselves into and come out into the open, surrender our arms, our possessions, our rights as individuals, classes, nations, peoples. A billion men seeking peace cannot be enslaved. We have enslaved ourselves, by our own petty, circumscribed view of life. It is glorious to offer one's life for a cause, but dead men accomplish nothing. Life demands that we offer something more—spirit, soul, intelligence, good-will. Nature is ever ready to repair the gaps caused by death, but nature cannot supply the intelligence, the will, the imagination to conquer the forces of death. Nature restores and repairs, that is all. It is man's task to eradicate the homicidal instinct which is infinite in its ramifications and manifestations. It is useless to call upon God, as it is futile to meet force with force.

Going through the pass, which demands a sort of swastika maneuvering in order to debouch free and clear on the high plateau, I had the impression of wading through phantom seas of blood; the earth was not parched and convulsed in the usual Greek way but bleached and twisted as must have been the mangled, death-stilled limbs of the slain who were left to rot and give their blood here in the merciless sun to the roots of the wild olives which cling to the steep mountain slope with vulturous claws.

As long as we refuse to think in terms of world good and world goods, of world order, world peace, we shall murder and betray one another. It can go on till the crack of doom, if we wish it to be thus. Nothing can bring about a new and better world but our own desire for it. Man kills through fear—and fear is hydra-headed. Once we start slaying there is no end to it. An eternity would not suffice to vanquish the demons who torture us. Who put the demons there? That is for each one to ask himself. Let every man search his own heart. Neither God nor the Devil is responsible, and certainly not such puny monsters as Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, et alia. Certainly not such bugaboos as Catholicism, Capitalism, Communism. Who put the demons there in our heart to torture us? A good question, and if the only way to find out is to go to Epidaurus, then I urge you one and all to drop everything and go there—at once.

The man who was talking had ceased to be of human size or proportions but had become a Colossus whose silhouette swooned backwards and forwards with the deep droning rhythm of his drug-laden phrases. He went on and on and on, unhurried, unruffled, inexhaustible, inextinguishable, a voice that had taken form and shape and substance, a figure that had
outgrown its human frame, a silhouette whose reverberations rumbled in the depths of the distant mountain sides.”

Оставен сам на себе си, човек винаги започва по гръцкия начин – малко кози или овце, примитивна колиба, педя засята земя, няколко маслинови дръвчета, пенливо поточе, флейта.

It was then that I made the discovery that his talk created reverberations, that the echo took a long time to reach one's ears. I began to compare it with French talk in which I had been enveloped for so long. The latter seemed more like the play of light on an alabaster vase, something reflective, nimble, dancing, liquid, evanescent, whereas the other, the Katsimbalistic language, was opaque, cloudy, pregnant with resonances which could only be understood long afterwards, when the reverberations announced the collision with thoughts, people, objects located in distant parts of the earth. The Frenchman puts walls about his talk, as he does about his garden: he puts limits about everything in order to feel at home. At bottom he lacks confidence in his fellow-man; he is skeptical because he doesn't believe in the innate goodness of human beings. He has become a realist because it is safe and practical. The Greek, on the other hand, is an adventurer: he is reckless and adaptable, he makes friends easily. The walls which you see in Greece, when they are not of Turkish or Venetian origin, go back to the Cyclopean age. Of my own experience I would say that there is no more direct, approachable, easy man to deal with than the Greek. He becomes a friend immediately: he goes out to you. With the Frenchman friendship is a long and laborious process: it may take a lifetime to make a friend of him. He is best in acquaintanceship where there is little to risk and where there are no aftermaths. The very word ami contains almost nothing of the flavor of friend, as we feel it in English. C'est mon ami cannot be translated by "this is my friend." There is no counterpart to this English phrase in the French language. It is a gap which has never been filled, like the word "home." These things affect conversation. One can converse all right, but it is difficult to have a heart to heart talk.

He could galvanize the dead with his talk. It was a sort of devouring process: when he described a place he ate into it, like a goat at tacking a carpet. If he described a person he ate him alive from head to toe. If it were an event he would devour every detail, like an army of white ants descending upon a forest. He was everywhere at once, in his talk. He attacked from above and below, from the front, rear and flanks. If he couldn't dispose of a thing at once, for lack of a phrase or an image, he would spike it temporarily and move on, coming back to it later and devouring it piecemeal. Or like a juggler,- he would toss it in the air arid, just when you thought he had forgotten it, that it would fall and break, he would deftly put an-arm behind his back and catch it in his palm without even turning his eye. It wasn't just talk he handed out, but language — food and beast language. He always talked against a landscape, like the protagonist of a lost world.

I don’t know which affected me more deeply—the story of the lemon groves just opposite us or the sight of Poros itself when suddenly I realized that we were sailing through the streets. If there is one dream which I like above all others it is that of sailing on land.

The road to Epidaurus is like the road to creation. One stops searching. One grows silent, stilled by the hush of mysterious beginnings. If one could speak one would become melodious. There is nothing to be seized or reassured or cornered off here: there is only a breaking down of the walls which lock the spirit in. The landscape does not recede, it installs itself in the open places of the heart j it crowds in, accumulates, dispossesses. You are no longer riding through something—call it Nature, if you will—but participating in a rout, a rout of the forces of greed, malevolence, envy, selfishness, spite, intolerance, pride, arrogance, cunning, duplicity and so on.
It is the morning of the first day of the great peace, the peace of the heart, which comes with surrender, I never knew the meaning of peace until I arrived at Epidaurus. Like everybody I had used the word all my life, without once realizing that I was using a counterfeit.

Our diseases are our attachments, be they habits, ideologies, ideals, principles, possessions, phobias, gods, cults, religions, what you please. Good wages can be a disease just as much as bad wages. Leisure can be just as great a disease as work. Whatever we cling to, even if it be hope or faith, can be the disease which carries us off. Surrender is absolute: if you cling to even the tiniest crumb you nourish the germ which will devour you.

I made a long speech in bad French in which I admitted that I was no critic, that I was always passionate and prejudiced, that I had no reverence for anything except what I liked. I told them that I was an ignoramus, which they tried to deny vigorously. I said l would rather tell them stories. I began—about a bum who had tried to hit me up for a dime one evening as I was walking towards the Brooklyn Bridge. I explained how I had said No to the man automatically and then, after I had walked a few yards it suddenly came to me that a man had asked me for something and I ran back and spoke to him. But instead of giving him a dime or a quarter, which I could easily have done, I told him that I was broke, that I had wanted to let him know that, that was all. And the man had said to me—"do you mean that, buddy? Why, if that's the way it is, I'll be glad to give you a dime myself." And I let him give it to me, and I thanked him warmly, and walked off.

They thought it a very interesting story. So that's how it was in America? Strange country ... anything could happen there.

"Yes," I said, "a very strange country," and I thought to myself that it was wonderful not to be there any more and God willing I'd never return to it.

"And what is it about Greece that makes you like it so much?" asked someone.

I smiled. "The light and the poverty," I said.

"You're a romantic," said the man.

"Yes," I said, "I'm crazy enough to believe that the happiest man on earth is the man with the fewest needs. And I also believe that if you have light, such as you have here, all ugliness is obliterated. Since I've come to your country I know that light is holy: Greece is a holy land to me."

"But have you seen how poor the people are, how wretchedly they live?"

"I've seen worse wretchedness in America," I said. "Poverty alone doesn't make people wretched."

You can say that because you have sufficient ….

"I can say it because I've been poor all my life," I retorted. "I'm poor now," I added. "I have just'enough to get back to Athens. When I get to Athens I'll have to think how to get more. It isn't money that sustains me—it's the faith I have in myself, in my own powers. In spirit I am a millionaire—maybe that's the best thing about America, that you believe you'll rise again.

"Yes, yes," said Tsoutsou, clapping his hands, "that's the wonderful thing about America: you don't know what defeat is." He filled the glasses again and rose to make a toast "To America!" he said, "long may it live!"

"To Henry Miller!" said another, "because he believes in himself.

Even if his talk carried him to Paris, for example, to a place like the Faubourg Montmartre, he spiced and flavored it with his Attic ingredients, with thyme, sage, tufa, asphodel, honey, red clay, blue roofs; acanthus trimmings, violet light, hot rocks, dry winds, dust, rezina, arthritis and the electrical crackle that plays over the low hills like a swift serpent with a broken spine. He was a strange contradiction, even in his talk. With his snake-like tongue which struck like lightning, with fingers moving nervously, as though wandering over an imaginary spinet, with pounding, brutal gestures which somehow never smashed anything but simply raised a din, with all the boom of surf and the roar and sizzle and razzle-dazzle, if you suddenly observed him closely you got the impression that he was sitting there immobile, that only the round falcon's eye was alert, that he was a bird which had been hypnotized, or had hypnotized itself, and that his claws were fastened to the wrist of an invisible giant, a giant like the earth. All this flurry and din, all these kaleidoscopic prestidigitations of his, was only a sort of wizardry which he employed to conceal the fact that he was a prisoner—that was the impression he gave me when I studied him, when I could break the spell for a moment and observe him attentively. But to break the spell, required a power and a magic almost equal to his own; it made one feel foolish and impotent, as one always does when one succeeds in destroying the power of illusion. Magic is never destroyed —the most we can do is to cut ourselves off, amputate the mysterious antennae which serve to connect us with forces beyond our power of understanding.

I had changed my francs into drachmas on the boat; it seemed like a tremendous wad that I had stuffed into my pocket and I felt that I could meet the bill no matter how exorbitant it might be. I knew we were going to be gypped and I looked forward to it with relish. The only thing that was solidly fixed in my mind about the Greeks was that you couldn’t trust them; I would have been disappointed if our guide had turned out to be magnanimous and chivalrous.

The Greek knows how to live with his rags: they don’t utterly degrade and befoul him as in other countries I have visited.

The following day I decided to take the boat to Corfu where my friend Durrell was waiting for me. We pulled out of Piraeus about five in the afternoon, the sun still burning like a furnace. I had made the mistake of buying a second class ticket. When I saw the animals coming aboard, the bedding, all the crazy paraphernalia which the Greeks drag with them on their voyages, I promptly changed to first class, which was only a trifle more expensive than second. I had never traveled first class before on anything.

Everybody goes the wrong way, everything is confused, chaotic, disorderly. But nobody is ever lost or hurt, nothing is stolen, no blows are exchanged. It is a kind of ferment which is created by reason of the fact that for a Greek every event, no matter how stale, is always unique. He is always doing the same thing for the first time: he is curious, avidly curious, and experimental. He experiments for the sake of experimenting, not to establish a better or more efficient way of doing things.

I like the monologue even more than the duet, when it is good. It's like watching a man write a book expressly for you: he writes it, reads it aloud, acts it, revises it, savours it, enjoys it, enjoys your enjoyment of it, and then tears it up and throws it to the winds. It's a sublime performance, because while he's going through with it you are God for him — unless you happen to be an insensitive and impatient dolt. But in that case the kind of monologue I refer to never happens.

A little later, strolling about the town, I, stopped into a shop near the museum, where they sold souvenirs and post-cards. I looked over the cards leisurely; the ones I liked best were soiled and wrinkled. The man, who spoke French fluently, offered to make the cards presentable. He asked me to wait a few minutes while he ran over to the house and cleaned and ironed them. He said he would make them look like new. I was so dumbfounded that before I could say anything he had disappeared, leaving me in charge of the shop. After a few minutes his wife came in. I thought she looked strange for a Greek woman. After a few words had passed I realized that she was French and she, when she learned that I hailed from Paris, was overjoyed to speak with me. We got along beautifully until she began talking about Greece. She hated Crete, she said. It was too dry, too dusty, too hot, too bare. She missed the beautiful trees of Normandy, the gardens with the high walls, the orchards, and so on. Didn't I agree with her? I said NO, flatly. "Monsieur!" she said, rising up in her pride and dignity, as if I had slapped her in the face.

"I don't miss anything," I said, pressing the point home. "I think this is marvellous. I don't like your gardens with their high walls, I don't like your pretty little orchards and your well-cultivated-fields. I like this …" and I pointed outdobrs to the dusty road on which a sorely-laden donkey was plodding along dejectedly. "But it's not civilized," she said, in a sharp, shrill voice which reminded me of the miserly tobacconiste in the Rue de la Tombe-Issoire.

"Je m'en fous da la civilisation européenne!" I blurted out.

"Monsieur!" she said again, her feathers ruffled and her nose turning blue with malice.
Fortunately her husband reappeared at this point with the post-cards which he had given a dry-cleaning.

― Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi
« Last Edit: 02 Feb, 2022, 00:08:02 by spiros »


 

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