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Chronis Missios: A tribute

by BalkanIdentity Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 03:26:03 AM EST

In November 2012 Chronis set sail. He is one of those few that were given that very rare grace to speak simply, as requested by Seferis:

Δε θέλω τίποτε άλλο παρά να μιλήσω απλά, να μου δοθεί
   ετούτη η χάρη.
Γιατί και το τραγούδι το φορτώσαμε με τόσες μουσικές
   που σιγά-σιγά,βουλιάζε ι
και την τέχνη μας τη στολίσαμε τόσο πολύ που φαγώθηκε
   από τα μαλάματα το πρόσωπό της
κι είναι καιρός να πούμε τα λιγοστά μας λόγια γιατί η
   ψυχή μας αύριο κάνει πανιά.
I want nothing more than to speak simply, to be granted that grace.
Because we've loaded even our song with so much music that it's slowly sinking
and we've decorated our art so much that its features have been eaten away by gold
and it's time to say our few words because tomorrow our soul sets sail.

(from An Old Man by the River Bank - G. Seferis)

Chronis did not learn to read and write at an official school as at second grade he was forced to drop out. His education formed in a place that somehow liberated his soul as it incarcerated and tortured his body. He extended his grace to us through his line-of-thought books starting with Καλά εσύ σκοτώθηκες νωρίς (Lucky you died early) (the only translation from Greek I could find is here and since my French is elementary I cannot vouch for its quality).

In this tribute I wanted to let some of his words express his deep concern for the fate of this world as well as his faith in the potential of humanity as personal beings forming a community but before I do so I have to at give a brief synopsis of the life that formed his world view.

For the New Year - afew


His first three books are autobiographic and from them the reader can piece together the events of his life dispersed in the time continuum of the yarn of a living story-teller. Following the thread that connects him from Homer to Makrygiannis and Seferis, Chronis narrates to his fallen comrade.

In anything but chronological order, he talks about his growing up in Potamoudia, a poor neighborhood of Kavala, where an intersection of workers at tobacco warehouses, refugees and underground communists lived their lives and threaded their community with the everyday heroism of those who know that they don't know what tomorrow brings. Moving to Salonica during the Nazi occupation he tries to support his family and scrape a living as a ten year old by selling cigarettes in the black market.

As a teenager, he joins the urban wing of the  Democratic Army of Greece and in 1947, barely seventeen, he is arrested, brutally tortured and sentenced to death. Day after day, for months on end he anticipated his execution until his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. In 1953, he is released to be enlisted for the compulsory military service and is immediately sent as a political exile first to Makronisos , and then to Ai-Stratis until 1962. In this brief interlude of relative freedom he became a member of the Unified Democratic Left (EDA). With the 1967 military junta in April he becomes an outlaw again and does what he knows best - organizing a resistance network. Arrested in November of 1967, he is sentenced to a long prison sentence which he endures in different prisons until the general amnesty with the fall of the colonels in 1973.

Through this life on the boundaries of law but immersed in communities, he sensed the few elemental truths. That life can be lived under any circumstance with dignity even if it is with the dignity of "great vanquished men" (to borrow the phrase Alvaro Mutis uses in his beautiful novella La Ultima Escala Del Tramp Steamer). That there is an inherent contradiction between power and humanness and its corollary that the powerful, be it interrogators, guards, or party apparatchiks, could become human only if they let their grasp on power go even for a brief moment.  That the relationship to everything that signifies life (love, a sunset, a breeze of air, a weed on the wall) is worth living with the intensity of knowing that you may not be alive tomorrow.

The excerpts below are from what I believe is his last interview :

Η κρίση που περνάμε, είναι πολυεπίπεδη, δεν είναι μονάχα οικονομική. Oυσιαστικά είναι κρίση αξιών και χρεοκοπίας του λογοκρατούμενου και τεχνοκρατικού πολιτισμού μας. Τους κινδύνους για την οικολογική κρίση, πια, του πλανήτη, δεν τους αμφισβητεί κανείς, και όλο και περισσότεροι άνθρωποι συνειδητοποιούν την ανάγκη να στρατευτούν σε τέτοιου είδους προσπάθειες για να σώσουν ή να βελτιώσουν το περιβάλλον. Αυτό, όμως, είναι το ένα μέρος: Ο περιβαλλοντολογι_ 4;ός ακτιβισμός. Διότι στην πραγματικότητα υπάρχουν δύο περιβάλλοντα:

Το ένα είναι το φυσικό περιβάλλον και το άλλο είναι το κοινωνικό περιβάλλον, το ανθρώπινο περιβάλλον.

Το πρόβλημα προκύπτει από το γεγονός, ότι το ανθρώπινο περιβάλλον είναι οργανωμένο κατά τέτοιο τρόπο και δρα κατά τέτοιο τρόπο, ώστε καταστρέφει το φυσικό περιβάλλον. Συνεπώς για να διατυπώσουμε ένα οικολογικό αίτημα, που θα σημαίνει την σωτηρία του πλανήτη και συνεπώς της ζωής πάνω σε αυτόν, πρέπει να προσπαθήσουμε να δούμε πως θα ανατρέψουμε τις πρακτικές που οδηγούν στην καταστροφή του και πως θα οδηγηθούμε σ' έναν βαθύτερο κοινωνικό μετασχηματισμό, ο οποίος θα αποκαταστήσει τη φυσική σχέση του ανθρώπου με τη φύση.

Αυτό σημαίνει, μια εξανάσταση της ανθρώπινης συνείδησης, σημαίνει μια καθημερινή απόκρουση της βαρβαρότητας του συστήματος και μιας διαφορετικής τοποθέτησης στη συμπεριφορά του ανθρώπου απέναντι σε αυτά τα προβλήματα. Και αυτό είναι πάρα πολύ δύσκολο. Γιατί αυτή τη κουλτούρα, ότι ο άνθρωπος είναι ο κυρίαρχος του πλανήτη, και ότι ο Θεός έπλασε τον άνθρωπο και τον διόρισε κυρίαρχο του πλανήτη και του είπε ότι: «όλα αυτά είναι δικά σου», την κουβαλάμε από τα γεννοφάσκια μας!

The crisis we are going through is multi-layered, not just economic. Essentially it is a crisis of values and failure of our reason-oriented and technocratic civilization. The risks of the ecological crisis are apparent and more and more people realize the need to enlist in such efforts to save or improve the environment. This, however, is one aspect: environmental activism. Because in reality there are actually two environments:

One is the natural environment and the other is the social environment, the human environment.

The problem arises from the fact that the human environment is organized in such a way and acts in such a way that destroys the natural environment. Therefore in order to formulate an ecological consciousness, which will mean the salvation of the planet and therefore life on it, we should try to see how we reverse the practices that lead to destruction and that will lead to a deeper social transformation, which will restore the natural relationship between humanity and nature.

This means a rising of human consciousness, it means a daily parrying with the brutality of the system and a different perception of human behavior towards these problems. And this is very difficult. Because we carry this culture, that man is the master of the world, and that God created man and appointed him master of the world and said that "all this is yours" from the outset!

Ταυτόχρονα αυτή η ολιστική οικολογία- οικολογική αντίληψη, η οποία δεν ασκείται μόνο σ' έναν οικολογικό ακτιβισμό αλλά βλέπει και θέλει και παλεύει να αναστρέψει τις καταστροφικές δομές του συστήματος και να εδραιώσει έναν καινούριο πολιτισμό, είναι σημαντική γιατί είναι η μόνη διαδικασία η οποία απαιτεί όχι την υπακοή ή την υποταγή των ανθρώπων σε μια πίστη ή σε μια ιδεολογία αλλά απαιτεί την αφύπνιση της συνείδησής του και την κατανόηση του νοήματος της ζωής.

Η ζωή είναι ένα χάρισμα. Είναι ένα χάρισμα που μας δίνεται μια φορά. Μια φορά! Και πρέπει να το χαρούμε, πρέπει να το δωρίσουμε, πρέπει να το ζήσουμε!

Simultaneously this holistic ecology that is not only exercised as ecological activism but sees and wants and strives to reverse the destructive structures of the system and establish a new civilization is important because it is the only procedure that requires no obedience or allegiance of the people to a faith or an ideology but to the awakening of consciousness and understanding of the meaning of life itself.

Life is a gift. It is a gift given to us once. Once! And we must rejoice it, give it, and live it!

Η οικολογία είναι επαναστατική, με την έννοια ότι στοχεύει να καταργήσει όλες τις αρνητικές δομές της κοινωνίας. Είναι η μόνη επανάσταση, θα λέγαμε, η οποία δε φέρει εξουσία και δεν εδραιώνει καμία εξουσία. Και ξέρουμε από την ιστορία ότι και τα πιο ωραία, τα πιο όμορφα, τα πιο ρομαντικά όνειρα των επαναστατών, σκοτώθηκαν από την εξουσία. Αυτή ήταν η αιτία της καταστροφής. Αυτή είναι η αιτία που μετατρέπει τα όνειρα σε εφιάλτη.

Είναι δυνατόν να μιλάμε για οικολογία και για πράσινη ανάπτυξη και να έχουμε την εκμετάλλευση του ανθρώπου από άνθρωπο;

Μιλάω για την κυβέρνηση και για την πράσινη ανάπτυξη! Σ' αυτή την πράσινη ανάπτυξη, λοιπόν, από τους πρώτους μετόχους είναι οι εταιρίες της BP, από τους πρώτους επενδυτές σ' αυτή την ιστορία. Δηλαδή είναι αυτός ο φαύλος κύκλος που έλεγε ο Ελύτης, ότι με έναν ανθρωποκεντρικό - τεχνοκρατικό πολιτισμό προσπαθούμε να διορθώνουμε τις ζημιές που έκανε ένας ανθρωποκεντρικός- τεχνοκρατικός πολιτισμός. Αυτός είναι ο φαύλος κύκλος.

Και τι θα πει ανάπτυξη, κι ως που πάει αυτή η ανάπτυξη τέλος πάντων; Αυτή η γραμμή που πάει; Έχει κανένα τέλος; Έχει κανένα τέρμα αυτή η γραμμή; Περάσαμε τη βιομηχανική επανάσταση, περάσαμε την επανάσταση την ηλεκτρονική, και το όφελος του ανθρώπου ποιό; Η ποιότητα της ζωής του, το νόημα της ζωής του έχει χαθεί, έχει αλλοτριωθεί! Η ζωή είναι αλλού και ο άνθρωπος ο σημερινός είναι αλλού! Οι περισσότεροι άλλα ζητούν κι άλλα ζούνε, άλλα επιθυμούν και άλλα πραγματοποιούν μέσα στην κοινωνία.

Είμαστε πια μια κοινωνία σχιζοφρενών. Από τη μια ένας αφύσικος πολιτισμός και από την άλλη η οντότητά μας σαν άνθρωποι. Είμαστε ψυχασθενείς. Απλώς ο καθένας νομίζει ότι ο άλλος είναι, κι όχι ο ίδιος!

Αν θέλουμε λοιπόν να οραματιστούμε ένα ανθρώπινο μέλλον, οφείλουμε κατ' αρχήν να το οραματιστούμε σε ανθρώπινα μέτρα. []

Θα κάνω μια παρένθεση: πήγα κάποτε στην Ιταλία και μπήκα σε μία από αυτές τις τεράστιες εκκλησίες που έχουνε. Στάθηκα μέσα σ' αυτό το πράγμα και χάθηκα πραγματικά. και ένιωσα έτσι, ανύπαρκτος. Αυτόματα σκέφτηκα κι ένα δικό μας, ένα εκκλησάκι σ' ένα λοφίσκο, που μπαίνεις μέσα και ακουμπάς το Θεό ρε παιδί μου! Εκεί εκμηδενίζουν εντελώς τον άνθρωπο. Ενώ, αντίθετα, μπαίνεις σ' σ' ένα ερημοκλήσι και βλέπεις τον Παντοκράτορα από πάνω να σου χαμογελάει, να απλώσεις το χέρι να τον πιάσεις!

Δηλαδή, ο άνθρωπος ο οποίος θέλει να επικοινωνήσει, ανεξάρτητα αν πιστεύει στον Θεό ή δεν πιστεύει στο Θείο, κλπ. Όσο υπάρχουν άνθρωποι -κι αυτοί λιγοστεύουν ολοένα και περισσότερο και αντικαθίστανται από τους μεταλλαγμένους- θα νιώθουνε αυτή την ανάγκη μιας διαφορετικής επικοινωνίας. Πολλές φορές όταν είμαι «φορτωμένος» και έχει Πανσέληνο βγαίνω στην βεράντα εδώ έξω ανοίγω τα χέρια μου -όπως όταν σταύρωσαν τον Χριστό- κι ανοίγω το στόμα μου και προσπαθώ να... καταπιώ το φεγγάρι. Στέκω, έτσι, πέντε με δέκα λεπτά, και κάποια στιγμή χάνομαι, σταματάω μόνος μου, γιατί δεν ξέρω αν θα γυρίσω πίσω...

Ecology is revolutionary in the sense that it aims to eliminate all negative structures of society. It is the only revolution, so to speak, which does not bring power and establishes no power. And we know from history that the most beautiful, most romantic dreams of the revolutionaries were killed by power. This was the cause of the disaster. This is the reason that turns dreams into a nightmare.

It is possible to talk about ecology and green growth and to still maintain the exploitation of man by man?

I speak about the government and sustainable development! In this sustainable development, large companies like BP are one of the first investors in this story. That is the vicious cycle Elytis talked about: that we try to fix the damage caused by an anthropocentric-technocratic civilization with an antrhopocentric-technocratic civilization. This is the vicious circle.

And what does growth mean and until where does this development go anyway? Where does this line go? Has it no end? We went through the industrial revolution, we passed the electronic revolution, and the benefit of man is what? The quality of life, the meaning of life has been lost, it has been alienated! Life is elsewhere than where our societies are today! Most of us long for one thing yet live another.

We are now a society of schizophrenics. On the side an unnatural culture and on the other our entity as humans. We are mentally ill. Everyone just thinks this is true for the others, and not himself!

If we want to visualize a human future, we need to visualize it in human terms.

I will make a parenthesis: I went to Italy once and I entered one of these giant cathedrals. I stood inside this thing and really got lost - I felt non-existent. I thought of one of our own, a chapel on a hill, where you enter and touch God! One feels as if it was meant to annihilate the person while, you enter in a deserted chapel and see the Almighty over you smiling, and you can reach out to touch him!

That is, the person who wants to communicate, whether he believes in God or not. As long as there are people-and they are increasingly scarcer and replaced by mutants - they will feel this need for a different communication and relationship. Many times when I'm "loaded" and it has full moon, I come out on the terrace, I open my arms- like the crucified Christ-and I open my mouth and try to ... swallow the moon. I stand so, five - ten minutes, and eventually become lost, I have to stop myself because I do not know whether I will find my way back ...

Είναι πάρα πολύ εύκολο να φτιάξεις μια ιδεολογία ή μια θεωρία για την κοινωνία και να καλέσεις τους ανθρώπους να την εφαρμόσουν. Είναι όμως τρομερά δύσκολο, ως ανυπέρβλητο, να ξεπεράσεις το εμπόδιο του εαυτού σου και της κουλτούρας που σου πότισαν από τα γεννοφάσκια σου και τα δεσμά που έχει δέσει γύρω σου το σύστημα.

Γι' αυτό ο δρόμος προς την απελευθέρωση από τη βαρβαρότητα, είναι ένας δρόμος πάνω από την πυρρά, που πρέπει να περάσει ο καθένας μας. Πάρα πολύ δύσκολος δρόμος.

[]

Όσο για έναν... εμπνευσμένο αρχηγό και ηγέτη εγώ πιστεύω πάρα πολύ ότι σε μια κοινότητα, η συλλογική γνώμη είναι πολύ πιο ασφαλής και πιο ισχυρή από οποιονδήποτε ηγέτη

Στο άλλο σημείο στο οποίο επίσης έχω διαφωνία με τον όποιον ηγέτη και την ιδεολογία, είναι ότι πιστεύω στο αυθόρμητο των ανθρώπων, δηλαδή, μέσα σε αυτή τη διαδικασία ανατροπής ή επανάστασης πρέπει να αναπτυχτεί ένα κίνημα όχι καθοδηγούμενο αλλά αυθόρμητο. Ένα κίνημα που γεννιέται από τη συνείδηση των ανθρώπων που ξέρουν που πάνε και ξέρουν τι θέλουν. Διαφορετικά, κινδυνεύουμε να ξαναγυρίσουμε σε μορφές εξουσιαστικές, κι αυτή τη στιγμή που σου μιλάω, εγώ ασκώ εξουσία.

Διότι υποτίθεται ότι είμαι η έδρα, ο καθηγητής, ο παντογνώστης, ο πολυγνώστης κλπ. Αυτό είναι μια εξουσία, όπως μια εξουσία είναι της μάνας προς το παιδί ή του πατέρα προς το παιδί ή όλα αυτά που συμβαίνουν γύρω μας. Πιστεύω λοιπόν στο αυθόρμητο των μαζών που παλιότερα εμείς οι κουμουνιστές καταριόμασταν σαν αναρχικό. Σήμερα μπορεί κανένας άνθρωπος να ορίσει τι σημαίνει αναρχικός; Βρισκόμαστε μέσα σε ένα σύστημα το οποίο είναι δομημένο με ανήθικους τρομοκρατικούς και βάρβαρους κανόνες. Το να αρνηθείς τους κανόνες και τη θέσπιση αυτού του συστήματος τι σημαίνει, ότι είσαι αναρχικός;
Με αυτή την έννοια είμαστε όλοι αναρχικοί! Γιατί όλοι αναζητούμε το κάλλιστο.

It is very easy to build an ideology or a theory of society and call people to implement it. But it is terribly difficult, almost insurmountable to overcome the obstacle of yourself and your culture that is instilled from the outset and the shackles that the system has tied around you.

So the path to liberation from brutality, is a road over fire, that everyone must pass - everyone. A very difficult path.

[]

As for inspirational captain and leader I believe that in a community, collective opinion is a much safer choice and more powerful than any leader.

Another point on which I also disagree with leaders and ideology, is that I believe in human spontaneity, i.e., the revolutionary process must grow organically rather than led. A movement born from the minds of people who know where they go and they know what they want. Otherwise, we risk going back to authoritarian forms, and even this time that I'm talking to you, I wield power.

Because I'm impersonating the teacher, the omniscient, the polygnost etc. This is a power, like the power of the mother over the child or the father over the child, and all that is happening around us. So I think the spontaneity of the masses that we communists formerly cursed as anarchic. Today can a man define anarchism? We are nested in a system that is structured with immoral and barbaric, terrorizing rules. Does denying the rules of this system and its establishment mean you're an anarchist?
In this sense we are all anarchists! Because we are all looking for the κάλλιστο (best).

I cannot finish without remembering that day when as wide-eyed freshmen 17 years ago, Sofia, Maria, Theodoris, Kostas, Kostas, myself embarked on the night train from Thessaloniki to Athens, watched the sunrise from Areios Pagos at the foothills of Acropolis, and then took the first bus to the village of Kapandriti - the only information we had about where he lived. We asked at the local tavern and the proprietor called Chronis  on the phone who decided to come there to see us. For the next few hours, we drank tsipouro and chatted like old friends. I think he was moved. He invited us to come to his place next time we visited.

We never did...

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... but there will always be the mark left by his words - a reminder that life needs to be lived to the fullest but also with integrity and feistiness.

The excerpts below are from his first book and with the translation by Volkovich (see link in text):

...Αλλά τότε μας είχανε για ρίξιμο, με είχανε ήδη φορτώσει με τρείς καταδίκες σε θάνατο, δυο ισόβιες και κάτι ψιλά, είμασταν ακόμη στην απομόνωση, στα μπουντρούμια του Γεντί Κουλέ, και μας δίνανε κάθε φορά από τρείς μέρες αναστολή για να μας σπάσουνε. Ξέρεις τι θα πει, κάθε τέταρτη μέρα τα χαράματα να μαζεύουμε τα ρούχα μας και να ακούμε τα στρατιωτικά αυτοκίνητα που έφερναν το εκτελεστικό απόσπασμα, ύστερα κλειδιά στην εξώπορτα, και μετά το πούστικο το τρίξιμο των χαρτιών και η εκφώνησις των ονομάτων, αργά και ευκρινώς. Και σήμερα κανείς απο την υπόθεσή, αλλά πήραν το Μαστρο-Στέφανο μαζί με δυο αντάρτες... Ο Μαστρο-Στέφανος ήταν στο ίδιο κελί μου, άντρας λεβέντης στην καρδιά και στην θωριά. Τώρα, όταν τα πίνω σε κανα ταβερνάκι με χωματένιο πάτωμα, αδειάζω ζούλα κανα ποτηράκι κρασί ή ούζο για παρτη του στη γη. Γιατί πάντα, οταν τον θυμάμαι, μια βαθιά πίκρα με σφάζει στην καρδιά. Όχι γιατί τον ρίξανε, πέσατε τοσοι και μάλιστα οι καλύτεροι, αλλά γιατί πήγε στο απόσπασμα με μιαν αβάσταχτη κι ανεκδήλωτη πίκρα. Ξέρεις τί είναι να'σαι στα χέρια τους, να'σαι σ'αυτό το σφαγείο που λέγεται αίθουσα στρατοδικείου, και να μην έχεις πουθενά να ακουμπήσεις το μάτι σου; Να'σαι τριγυρισμένος απ'αυτές τις αδιάφορες φάτσες που βιάζονται να σε σκοτώσουν για να πάνε να φάνε, όταν εσύ είσαι τόσο φορτισμένος τόσο γεμάτος από αγάπη κι απελπισία; Ξέρεις πια οτι πεθαίνεις, κάπου μέσα σου νιώθεις την ανάγκη ν'ακουμπήσεις το μάτι σου σ'ένα πρόσωπο δικό σου, ν'αφήσεις πίσω σου μια μνήμη συγκεκριμένη, να πάρεις μαζί σου μια ματιά απόλυτα δική σου από τον κόσμο που αφήνεις...

...Mais quand la dernière section des Jeunesses s'est fait piquer, la Sûreté m'a repéré comme secrétaire des quartiers est et j'étais bon pour un deuxième procès. Seulement c'était l'époque où ils avaient juré de nous liquider, j'avais déjà sur le dos trois condamnations à mort, deux perpètes et quelques bricoles, on était encore à l'isolement dans les geôles de Yendi-Koulè, et on nous baladait de sursis en sursis pour nous briser. Tu imagines ce que c'est, tous les quatre jours à l'aube, de rassembler tes fringues et d'entendre les jeeps de l'armée amenant le peloton d'exécution, puis les clefs du portail, puis ces putains de froissements de papiers, l'appel des noms, à voix lente et forte... Aujourd'hui, personne de notre groupe, mais ils ont emmené Mastro- Stèfanos et deux résistants. Stèfanos était un gars de ma cellule, un beau gaillard et un grand coeur. Quand je bois maintenant dans une taverne au sol de terre battue, je verse en douce un petit verre de vin ou d'oùzo par terre pour lui. Car j'ai toujours dans le coeur, quand je pense à lui, une immense amertume. Pas à cause de sa mort -- vous êtes partis si nombreux, les meilleurs d'entre nous -- mais parce qu'il est allé à l'exécution plein d'une amertume insupportable et cachée. Tu sais ce que ça fait d'être entre leurs mains, dans cet abattoir qu'est la salle du conseil de guerre, sans un seul endroit pour poser les yeux ? D'être entouré par ces visages indifférents qui sont pressés de te liquider pour aller bouffer, alors que toi tu es si plein, si lourd de tendresse et de désespoir ? Tu sais que tu vas mourir, tu sens au fond de toi le besoin de poser les yeux sur un être proche, de laisser derrière toi un souvenir précis, d'emporter avec toi une image bien à toi de ce monde que tu quittes...


Κι ο μαστρο-Στέφανος, ολομόναχος στο στρατοδικείο. Πήγε η γυναίκα του και του'πε να της δώσει διαζύγιο, ότι βρήκε έναν άνθρωπο νοικοκύρη να φτιάξει τη ζωή της και τα τέτοια. Ότι τα δυο τους παιδιά, με "μέσον" του άλλου, τα έβαλαν στο ορφανοτροφείο. Την ώρα που μ'αποχαιρετούσε, είχε μια γυαλάδα το μάτι του. Όλα καλά συντροφάκο, γειά χαρά, και μήν ξεχνάς την ιστορία... Οταν τον ρίξαν στο κελί ,σκοτάδι πίσα της κόλασης, του κάναμε τόπο να κάτσει, ψιλοβόγκαγε. Τον είχαν σακατέψει στην ανάκριση, κι ύστερα, τρεις μέρες που έμεινε μαζί μας, έβρισκε το κουράγιο να κάνει και την πλάκα του. Εντάξει συντροφάκο, υποφέρουμε, αλλά σίγουρα θα μας γράψει η ιστορία, έστω και στ'αρχίδια της, θα μας γράψει... Καλά ρε μαστρο-Στέφανε, η ιστορία είναι θηλυκό, δεν έχει αρχίδια. Θα βρει για μας συντροφάκο, μη νοιάζεσαι...

Et Mastro-Stèfanos au conseil de guerre, tout seul. Sa femme est venue lui demander le divorce, comme quoi elle a trouvé un type sérieux pour refaire sa vie et tout. Que grâce au piston de l'autre elle a casé leurs deux enfants à l'orphelinat. Au moment de me dire adieu, il a l'oeil humide. Tout va bien camarade, allez salut, et n'oublie pas l'Histoire... Quand ils l'ont jeté dans la cellule, un trou noir comme l'enfer, on lui a fait de la place, il s'est assis en gémissant doucement. Ils l'avaient démoli à l'interrogatoire, mais les trois jours qu'il est resté avec nous, il a même trouvé le courage de plaisanter. D'accord camarade, on souffre, mais l'Histoire écrira nos noms -- même si c'est sur du papier cul. Bien sûr, Stèfanos, t'inquiète pas, elle fera quelque chose de nous.




Orthodoxy is not a religion.
by BalkanIdentity (balkanid _ at _ google.com) on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 09:37:24 AM EST
The French is very good. This is a quick translation into English that won't do justice to it. You can then compare with the Greek...

...But when the last Youth section got caught, Security fingered me as district secretary and I was up for a second trial. Only it was the time when they'd sworn to liquidate us, I already had three death sentences on my head along with two life sentences and a few odds and ends, we were still in isolation in the Yendi-Koulè jails, and they were stringing us along from one reprieve to the next to break us. You can imagine what it's like, every few days at dawn, getting your clothes together and hearing the army jeeps bringing the firing squad, then the keys in the door, then that goddamn rustling of papers, the roll call, in a slow, loud voice... Today, nobody from our group, but they took Mastro-Stèfanos and two resistance fighters. Stèfanos was a guy from my cell, strong and good-looking with a great heart. Now when I drink in a tavern with a beaten-earth floor, I quietly pour a glass of wine or oùzo on the ground for him. Because I still have immense bitterness in my heart, when I think of him. Not because of his death -- so many of you departed, the best among us -- but because he went to his execution filled with unbearable and hidden bitterness. You know what it does to be in their hands, in the slaughterhouse that is the Council of War, without a single place to set your eyes on? To be surrounded by these indifferent faces that are in a hurry to liquidate you so they can get to their lunch, while you are so full, so heavy with tenderness and despair? You know you are going to die, you feel deep down the need to set your gaze on a being who is close to you, to leave behind you a precise memory, to take away with you an image that belongs to you of this world you are leaving...

And Mastro-Stèfanos before the Council of War, all alone. His wife came to ask him for a divorce, seeing as how she'd found a serious guy to rebuild her life with and so on. That thanks to this other guy's influence she'd got their two children into an orphanage. As he said goodbye to me, his eyes were wet. Everything's all right, comrade, and don't forget History... When they threw him into our cell, a hole as black as hell, we made room for him, he sat down moaning softly. They'd demolished him during the interrogation, but the three days he stayed with us, he even found the courage to joke. OK comrade, we suffer, but History will write our names -- even if it's on toilet paper. Of course, Stèfanos, don't worry, History will make something of us.

Thanks for this, Balkan Identity.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 10:27:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, thank you for taking the time to translate from French! I could have done it directly to English but I figured it would be nice to have a translation to French as well. It does seem pretty good actually and transmits the sense of the original.

Btw, I was wondering how he translated the last sentence which is the joke part. The crude literal English translation goes like this:
"Ok comrade, we suffer, but certainly History will write about us, even it is on her balls she will write about us ... Mastro-Stefane, History is female, she has no balls. She will find for us comrade, don't worry"

which essentially plays on two common phrases in greece using the verb write.

Orthodoxy is not a religion.

by BalkanIdentity (balkanid _ at _ google.com) on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 10:45:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The French uses a cruder term for toilet paper (I might have translated it "arse-wipes"). But it doesn't say "balls" and leaves out the reference to History as female.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 11:06:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if Alan Moore, the comic book writer, had read that. It is very reminiscent of his biography of Valerie Susan Page (although the comic version is so much more powerful than the mere prose)

I don't know who you are.  Please believe.  There is no way I can convince you that this is not one of their tricks, but I don't care.  I am me, and I don't know who you are but I love you.

I have a pencil, a little one they did not find.  I am a woman.  I hid it inside me.

Perhaps I won't be able to write again, so this is a long letter about my life.  It is the only autobiography I will ever write and oh God I'm writing it on toilet paper.....

it ends

My mother said I broke her heart, but it was my integrity that was important.  Is that so selfish?  It sells for so little, but it's all we have left in this place.  It is the very last inch of us, but within that inch we are free.
[....]

I imagine I'll die quite soon.

It is strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years I had roses and I apologised to nobody.

I shall die here.  Every inch of me shall perish.  Except one.

 An inch.  It's small and its fragile and its the only thing in the world that's worth having.

We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away.  We must never let them take it from us.

I don't know who you are, or whether you're a man or woman.  I may never see you.  I will never hug you or cry with you or get drunk with you.  But I love you.

I hope that you escape this place.  I hope that the world turns and that things get better, and that one day people have roses again.

I wish I could kiss you.

It is from V for Vendetta, which I believe is becoming quite influential in some places

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 01:00:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The parallels are indeed interesting. It is always mind boggling how much pain we humans have inflicted on each other - institutionalized in so many ways from prisons to inquisitions.

As the poet says, pain is human but we are not human only to be in pain...

Orthodoxy is not a religion.

by BalkanIdentity (balkanid _ at _ google.com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2013 at 06:25:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would seem that Chronis Missios arrived, via direct personal experience and introspection at conclusions very similar to those to which Karl Polanyi arrived through long study and great abstraction: our 'civilization' is destroying our lives as human beings. A biography with the sense of the man which you have conveyed would be an excellent companion to Ponanyi's The Great Transformation. Thank you for this.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 11:46:05 AM EST
Thank you for reading! I agree with you. Although I have not read The Great Transformation yet - it has been on my reading list - I feel the same thing.  That somehow Missios' personal history permitted him to live through the contradictions of communism and the wrath of capitalism and survive to tell the tale on a human level. In going through this he echoes Polanyi, as you say, but also Bookchin (Ecology and Revolution is an interesting essay written in 1965 where global warming is already discussed) and Chomsky.

I realize that his suggested solutions (where a return to a respect of nature and a break with power are necessary steps) may work on a personal level but may not be able to scale on a global level - but this is the riddle that we are called to answer both on a personal and on a community level.

Orthodoxy is not a religion.

by BalkanIdentity (balkanid _ at _ google.com) on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 12:30:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the contradictions of communism and the wrath of capitalism

It is perhaps the supreme irony of our times that the ultimate triumph of communism in China and the Soviet Union, and of capitalism in the US and Western Europe, were and are in their final stages virtually indistinguishable:  in each case a tiny, closely interconnected elite live like gods on Earth while The Rest of US® subsist on the crumbs that are left over.  In the final analysis, what defines us is not the ideology that we carry in our minds but the human identity that we carry in our hearts.

Now where are we going and what's with the handbasket?

by budr on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 04:54:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
wow, this was revelatory, what a beautiful diary about such a wise man and great writer.

European Tribune - Comments - Chronis Missios: A tribute

Because we've loaded even our song with so much music that it's slowly sinking
and we've decorated our art so much that its features have been eaten away by gold

this rang especially true.

European Tribune - Comments - Chronis Missios: A tribute

And what does growth mean and until where does this development go anyway? Where does this line go? Has it no end? We went through the industrial revolution, we passed the electronic revolution, and the benefit of man is what? The quality of life, the meaning of life has been lost, it has been alienated! Life is elsewhere than where our societies are today! Most of us long for one thing yet live another.

We are now a society of schizophrenics. On the side an unnatural culture and on the other our entity as humans. We are mentally ill.

this is the heart and crux of our existential dilemna, a personality split well described by Ronald Laing in the 60's in 'the divided self' and 'the politics of experience'.

to 'get along' we need to adopt a worldview and value system that go radically against the grain of our true collaborative, compassionate natures, anesthetise them, in some severe cases truncate them, with the appalling social results we see unfold before us now.

we are now enacting the effects of centuries of institutionalised wrongheadedness hard wired into our educational system. a constant crackpipe of false confidence, our obsession with domination rather than dominion, which would be the intelligent husbandry of our habitat and resources.

other animals are under the sway of externalities so much more than our species, that i think it inevitable that we take this responsibility, in a grounded, pragmatic way, with an eye to repairing the break in our sense of connectedness to our universe, and nurturing of the concomitant humility resulting from that perception.

this man speaks of the terrible, tragic, thanatic split in our consciousness that removes all sovereignty from our selves, and installs a concocted, grossly distorted slavery to forces we cannot understand instead, leaving us feeling helpless in front of the enormity, both of the scope of our planetary responsibility, and the cataclysmic fate that awaits us if we don't step up to our role, and sharpish at that... we know this, yet are seemingly powerless in the glowering face of it.

this man's writing has some of the limpid quality of kahlil gibran, a master of the prophetic mode, and also gifted in 'speaking simply'.

thanks so much, balkanidentity, you have gifted us with something really special here. what an heroic life... RIP.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 02:49:33 PM EST
I'll echo melo's last line, wow.


That is, the person who wants to communicate, whether he believes in God or not. As long as there are people-and they are increasingly scarcer and replaced by mutants - they will feel this need for a different communication and relationship. Many times when I'm "loaded" and it has full moon, I come out on the terrace, I open my arms- like the crucified Christ-and I open my mouth and try to ... swallow the moon. I stand so, five - ten minutes, and eventually become lost, I have to stop myself because I do not know whether I will find my way back ...


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 03:34:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The search for the Way.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 03:37:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Psychedelic training says you must let go, not worry about finding the way back, in order to approach the source. (You already know how to get back.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 05:01:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I come out on the terrace, I open my arms- like the crucified Christ-and I open my mouth and try to ... swallow the moon.

Black Elk would completely understand.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2012 at 02:08:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you melo. I knew that Missios' world view and distilled experience would resonate here and this is why I wanted to share this.

melo:


with an eye to repairing the break in our sense of connectedness to our universe, and nurturing of the concomitant humility resulting from that perception

 Interestingly, "mending the tear of the world" / tikkun olam is also called for in the Judaic tradition - if one thinks about it, the ecological catastrophe of today is simply the logical outcome and reflection of the primordial split of humanity and the world.

By now, we have the tools (summarized as "empathy" by Rifkin in the Empathic Civilization) but the scale and entrenchment of the problem is such that we are losing the battle for time. For me, Missios has been a strong voice of reminder for what needs to be done and I wanted to share  a small portion of it. The crux is how to do it - how to balance the personal and social effort...

Orthodoxy is not a religion.

by BalkanIdentity (balkanid _ at _ google.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 02:15:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BalkanIdentity:
Interestingly, "mending the tear of the world" / tikkun olam is also called for in the Judaic tradition

yeah, i was thinking that while the words appeared. it's sadly ironic that we don't see more of this side of judaism (or any other major religion, for that matter) today, when it is needed more than ever.

as you say, the crux is how to do it, become forces for change in the personal and social spheres, and then apply the insights to the split between our tribe's needs and those of the other tribe living next door, the over-investment in racial identity, leading to jingoism and a bloodsport team mentality...

those whipping up fervency in these populist memes are responsible for so many of our problems today, and much of it is indoctrinated into children very young, through sport programs at school, compounded by flag worship, anthem incantations with warlike references, oaths to domestic bodies, odes to folly... 'the thin red line' comes to mind .

"ours' not to reason why..."

thanks to your link i went and reread some bookchin, to top up the tank as it were.

powerful stuff, i am reminded why DeAnander would refer to him so much.

empathy is indeed the key! if we promoted that in schools with the same passion, what a different world we could engender!

a kind of moral eugenics, (such an ugly word!).

perhaps 'taking responsibility for our epigenome' has a sweeter ring!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 06:21:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We are mentally ill. Everyone just thinks this is true for the others, and not himself!

Walter Bishop (Character) - Quotes

Dr. Walter Bishop: We're all mutants. What's more remarkable is how many of us appear to be normal.


Now where are we going and what's with the handbasket?
by budr on Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 05:02:04 PM EST
It is an interesting parallel. I was concerned that the literal translation would sound harsh but on the other hand this is what he said. It seems that for Missios, mutants would be those that have lost entirely the ability to introspect and perhaps are so circumspect to leave the consumption paradigm that are essentially irretrievably lost from a true human experience.

Orthodoxy is not a religion.
by BalkanIdentity (balkanid _ at _ google.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 01:52:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Our culture is such that 'a true human experience' is, for most people, the rare exception rather than the rule. That is the essence of the message from before "Know thyself" was carved in stone to admonitions such as "Be here now". We should all be so gifted as to have true human experiences on a regular basis. It would become addictive. But that can be a problem as it can be and is perverted so regularly.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2012 at 02:18:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
adapt or migrate... we have no choice but to adapt at one point, as places to migrate to have dwindled.

to adapt we mutate, if we move to a hot climate from a cold one, our children's skin will slowly add melanin, and vice versa, though the speed of that kind of mutation leaves much to be desired.

where we can mutate rapidly is in the fields of consciousness. an idea can invade one's defences and profoundly alter one's worldview permanently in a very short time.

another word with a lot of absolutist baggage...'permanence'.

codependency is a form of adaptation, yet it is not considered healthy to act like a mitt romney, changing into anything at the slightest breath of wind.

we're supposed to have absolute principles, yet we have to be flexible enough to know when to confront them and if necessary be ready to substitute others.

do it too often, you're an opportunist, do it too little and you're a reactionary stick-in-the-mud!

it's whether the principle subbing feels like a downgrade, that's when the split starts between the human natural empathy, and the false self that is coerced into illusionary existence, through fear and modeling.

those whose empathy is least crushed by these indoctrinations end up great examples, such as the subject of this diary.

retaining empathy these days can feel like being a lonely lemming trying to head inland against the panicking crowd heading the other way.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 06:35:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reading this diary, the abyss of my encyclopaedic ignorance also gazes back into me.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2012 at 02:43:58 AM EST
nah, you know enough to map the whole of human destiny onto a grid of macroeconomics with laser-like social perceptions. ;)

here's an example of WHAT WENT WRONG, one of millions... the missionaries were some of the worst 'splitters' from what we knew, and what they wanted us to forget.

Rocking stone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Men Amber

There was a very sensitive rocking stone called Men Amber (sometimes written as Men-Amber or Menamber) on a high ridge in the parish of Sithney, near Pendennis, Cornwall. It is 11 feet (3.4 m) long, 4 feet (1.2 m) deep, and 6 feet (1.8 m) wide. It was toppled by Shrubsall, the governor of Pendennis, and his men about 1650 during Cromwell's Commonwealth. One rumored motivation for the dislodging was a purported prophecy of Merlin. Merlin had supposedly said that Men Amber would stand until England had no king.

Rev. Dr. William Stukeley wrote

Main Ambres; petrae ambrosiae, signify the stones anointed with holy oil, consecrated; or in a general sense, a temple, altar or places or worship

William Borlase in his 1754 book Antiquities of Cornwall, claimed that Men Amber was dislodged because:

the vulgar used to resort to this place at particular times of the year, and paid to this rock more respect than was thought becoming to good Christians

note the use of the word respect in this context!

take away the natural respect (awe), and replace it with barren authoritarianism.... and merrily down the ages to: 'how many fingers, Winston?'

btw, i am learning here at ET some things i never considered in my own abyss of ignorance, eg that with the populations we have now, and the historical need for centralised governance and economic planning, that understanding economics is essential to see what went wrong, why, and possibly the way to a fairer society.

any social movement that ignored macroeconomics at this point could only be over-romantic...

happy new year to you all ETers!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2012 at 04:16:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also:
There was a rocking-stone in Pembrokeshire, which is described in Gibson's edition of Camden's `Britannia', from a manuscript account by George Owen:
This shaking stone may be seen on a sea-cliff within half a mile of St. David's. It is so vast that I presume it may exceed the draught of an hundred oxen, and it is altogether rude and unpolished. The occasion of the name (Y maen sigl, or the Rocking-stone) is for that being mounted upon divers other stones about a yard in height it is so equally poised that a man may shake it with one finger so that five or six men sitting on it shall perceive themselves moved thereby.
Cromwell's soldiers rendered the rocking-stone of Pembrokeshire immovable after Mr. Owen had described it. They reportedly destroyed it because they felt it encouraged superstition.
Also in Cromwell's time.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2012 at 04:26:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Goldsmith was determined to demonstrate that nothing was impossible when the courage and skill of British seamen were engaged. The Logan Rock fell and was caught in a narrow chasm.

This upset the local residents considerably, since Logan Rock had been used to draw tourists to the area. Sir Richard R. Vyvyan (1800-1879) was particularly unhappy. They demanded that the British Admiralty strip Lieutenant Goldsmith of his Royal Navy commission unless he restored the boulder to its previous position at his own expense. However, Mr. Davies Gilbert, persuaded the Lords of the Admiralty to lend Lieutenant Goldsmith the required apparatus for replacing the Logan Rock. The Admiralty sent thirteen captains with blocks and chains from the dock yard at Plymouth, and contributed £25 towards expenses. Gilbert also raised more funds

After months of effort, at 4.20pm on Tuesday, the 2nd of November, 1824, in front of thousands of spectators and with the help of more than sixty men and block and tackle, the Logan Rock was finally repositioned and returned to "rocking condition" (Michell 1974). Apparently the total final cost of this enterprise was £130 8s 6d. However, it is not clear how much of the remaining £105 Goldsmith had to make up out of his own pocket.

How much was £130 worth in 1824?

According to this page, a Bank of England Clerk made £75 to £500 per year as late as 1837.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2012 at 04:31:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to this UK Parliament pdf, the spending power of a 2001 £ was 2% of an 1821 £.

That would put £130 in the 1820s at £6,500 in the 2000s.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2012 at 05:48:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which seems ridiculously out of proportion with the work described.

Depends no doubt on your definition of spending power. Parliamentary research probably didn't include putting rocking stones back in place.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2012 at 05:53:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking at Mig's link unskilled workers in 1837 appears to have made 0.5-1 £ a month, mostly depending on gender. Minimum wage today for ages 21 and up is 6.19£ an hour, which comes to about a thousand pounds a month. So in hiring unskilled male labor for pulling a rock, for the same money you should get a thousand time more workers in the early 19th century then today.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jan 1st, 2013 at 02:42:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I know what you mean but I would agree with melo. Your knowledge and understanding of anything from physics to macro economics keeps amazing me and it has certainly been very helpful over the years I have been a lurker :-)

A warm thank you to all of ET and my wishes for a meaningful and beautiful 2013!

Orthodoxy is not a religion.

by BalkanIdentity (balkanid _ at _ google.com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2013 at 06:30:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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