Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 November 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2015 19 OPINION The cost of an integrated musical note NIKOLAOS PAPAKONSTANTINOU Although the commercialisation of a poet under the free market rules is an oxymoron, a multitude of publications about C.P. Cavafy is more than evident within a short period of time. Manufactured media stories release articles and interpretations that mostly obscure, rather than enlightening, the readers. Quality and non-quality theatrical performances refer to the life of Cavafy and his poetic work. Lyrics are posted in underground stations and on public buses in Athens. Slowly and steadily the popularisation of Cavafy's poetry is achievable; however, without someone being sure of which direction such an attempt is leading to. In the era of speed, legend and industrialised quotes ready for usage - as this is imposed by social media - an integrated concept is considered as lengthy and unnecessary in everyday life. Cavafy is becoming an alibi, bridging the daily deficiency with an effort of looking for egresses and something more substantial. Even if the primary intention of a published article is to sell a story about Cavafy, at the cost of the poet's misinterpretations, the seed has already been planted and it is the readers' responsibility to care about its cultivation. It's been a while since a family friend was trying to decide which piano would be the best option to purchase. Coming and going from various stores in Athens, he noticed that most of the sellers were saying some people pay the entire (integrated) musical note for the best piano. This cost is exactly what the general public is not willing to undertake in relation to the poet. It is easier to insist in ‘half measures’ - incomplete understanding - while refusing to undertake the costs for this ‘integrated musical note’ of the poet's voice. However, all these publications refer to the first step introducing C.P. Cavafy to even more people. So why is there so much publicity about Cavafy's poetry? Primarily, Constantine P. Cavafy had predicted that he would be the poet of the future, which is gradually happening. His poetry consists of a rare type of writing, which readers encounter during specific times through the centuries. It starts from the minstrel poets of the ancient world, we meet it at the poetry of Studite monks during the Byzantine era and through the Alexandrian Cavafy who reached the highest level of this writing style in the modern literature history. Cavafy is an ecumenical poet and this is not inevitable only through commercialised facts, such as the selling out and republication of his books in Russia during 2008 as well as the recent translations of his poetry in Chinese in 2009. Although he lived and created his poetry in Alexandria of Egypt, Cavafy's routes are linked with Constantinople. That's where the Phanariot perception and education envision towards the understanding and interpretation of humanity through an ecumenical prism. The poet's writing and expression are almost a prose with a rare wisdom distillate that has the ability to talk about the present (back then) through historical events and the meanings of these poems to remain valuable and timely almost a century later. Something which perhaps could surprise the readers is that Cavafy was inspired by decadence. The poet approaches the events which are often revealed through Antony while he was abandoning the wreck- age of Alexandria; someone would expect Cavafy to be more influenced by the glory of Alexander the Great. Many times his writing has a sarcastic mood, a fact that refers to the period in which the poet with his mother and brothers had moved to England during his childhood. This part of his British education might be the ‘key’ of an expression that facilitates the translation of his poetry from Greek to English. If we support, with any parallel discrepancies which may arise, the idea that the ancient Greek culture was the ground on which the Western world was built, someone can clearly discern Cavafy's consciousness about the core concept of Hellenism. While the Alexandrian poet's background is Constantinopolitan, his maturity did not allow him to dichotomise his artwork as well as the readers through his writings; paying equal respect and judgment towards two great worlds of ancient Greece and Byzantium. This Alexandrian could read the historical continuity without excluding any of the positive or negative aspects of our past by placing it into parentheses. Walking at the Acropolis Museum which is located opposite the ancient rock of Acropolis, one can discern that the floor consists of glass. Over there, the visitor, under his/her feet, will view a part of the ancient Athenian community that has left its mark throughout the centuries. The houses of the ancient Athenians are small. Their spaces served their daily needs rather than some kind of vanity. The passion and the confrontation with the most significant meanings of life - or what the ancient Athenians perceived as most significant - was taking place at the market (agora). At the market where every citizen had the chance to exchange freely his ideas, it is where the democratic spirit rose in human history for the very first time and this is precisely stated by the poem Satrapy. It looks like the Alexandrian wills to remind us of its necessity in modern Greece too: Your soul is hungering for other things: The praises of the Demos and the Sophists, - The difficult, invaluable "Well done"; The Agora, the Theatre, the bays. Freedom of thought has no borders A personal experience in light of the 19 October blockade anniversary VAIOS TRIANTAFYLLOU I was returning to the United States from a seven-day ‘People to People’ trip to Cuba when I was ‘randomly’ searched at Miami International Airport. After waiting in line for almost half an hour, I faced an officer of the Department of Homeland Security for a series of customary questions regarding products I was bringing back to the US. The discussion escalated quickly as the officer started asking me about the standard of living in Cuba, as well as the efficiency of its socialist economic structures. His tone suggested that I had to provide the ‘right answers’. When he erroneously argued that everything in Cuba is state-owned, I interrupted him by mentioning cooperatives, or small enterprises, co-owned by both the state and individuals. I was immediately confronted with strong advice not to "buy their propaganda" and to listen to him because he knew what he was talking about. At the time, I was completely aware of the state of affairs between Cuba and the US; they had just begun to improve due to actions by the Obama administration. Almost a month after my airport incident, President Obama announced his intention "to remove Cuba from the American government's list of nations that sponsor terrorism". Following the administration's lead, Republican Congressman Tom Emmer introduced a bill in the GOPcontrolled House of Representatives to end the blockade enacted by President Eisenhower against Cuba. Eisenhower enacted "a partial trade embargo" on 19 October 1960, which became an "embargo on all trades" by John F. Kennedy in 1962. This was a response to the Cuban nationalisation of private property of large American corporations including The Coca-Cola Company, Exxon Mobil Corporation and the First National Bank of Boston; according to The Boston Globe, these properties were valued at $7 billion in today's currency. The blockade became a determining factor in the outcome of Cuban politics. In an effort to apply the principle of socialisation to the means of production, Fidel Castro and the other revolutionaries failed to distinguish what belonged to them from what did not. Instead of achieving a compromise on external matters, they chose to condemn the fate of their people. Without the aid of the US, Cuba became dependent on the help of the Soviet Union. The Cuban people became further isolated and impoverished after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Castro evolved from a national hero in 1959, when he envisioned the establishment of a just socio-economic system for the Cuban people, to a dictator, leading a totalitarian regime up until his retirement in 2008, when his brother took over. That was exactly what the officer was trying to convince me of. He urged me not to fall in the trap of confusing a totalitarian regime for one that stands for the people's rights. Nevertheless, he carried out this effort through the use of rather totalitarian means. The officer, and in projection, the DHS, was not interested to know whether or not the People to People program was effective. He wanted to confirm that, after my visit, I embraced his viewpoint, and even if I didn't, he was determined to impose it upon me. The role of Homeland Security is to protect the American people, as well as internationals living here. However, does the protection of some rights imply the infringement of others, such as the freedom to one's opinion? It is one thing to ensure that a person will not interfere with social welfare and an- other to impose upon them specific thoughts by means of emotional abuse. This makes me wonder, is it the job of a DHS officer to engage in political or economic debates with travellers? What is the point of having an officer grandstand and create an unnecessary spectacle? I believe that countries should merely serve as organisational structures striving to make decisions in the interest of all people, not to divide them. The blockade causes annual losses of $685 million to Cuba and results in deplorable living conditions f citizens. Therefore, I consider this foreign policy to be inhumane and disgraceful; I wonder if the officer w have been open to me contributing this opinion to our discussion. The ‘random’ check I w through should hav been a routine procedure of typical questions. I would be more than happy to have such a debate with anyone, but not with a man carrying a firearm representing the federal government. This is not about defending my views. This is about defending my freedom to my views. In fact, it is about defending anyone's freedom to have any view. It is about respecting one's perception of reality, a precondition for the establishment of freedom, and therefore, democracy.
7 November 2015