poetic reality no6: A Simple Type of Philosophy: Writing A Meta-Hellenic Scene in Poetic Terms

poetic reality no6: A Simple Type of Philosophy: Writing A Meta-Hellenic Scene in Poetic Terms

poetic reality no6: A Simple Type of Philosophy: Writing A Meta-Hellenic Scene in Poetic Terms 477 318 Athens in a poem

Athens, 19 March 2015. ‘Cavafy’s Barbarians attack Palamas’.[1] This is one of the newspaper headings following the targeting of the sculpture of Kostes Palamas in the centre of Athens together with that of Gregorios Xenopoulos (1867-1951) and Kiveli Andrianou (1888-1978) the day before. Palamas’ statue was sprayed with black paint, Kiveli was beheaded and Xenopoulos’ bust adorned a Hitler moustache. All three sculptures are placed in front of the City of Athens Cultural Centre on Akadimias Str. and, as sculptor Praxiteles Tzanoulinos notes, they are part of a group of sculptures that suffer most as they are located along the most common demonstration itinerary from Kaningos to Syntagma Sq. It is as if Palamas’ statue is, in a way, Tzanoulinos says, ‘forced’ to participate to protests and to an opposition to power, while Kiveli’s statue, which was beheaded again in 2006, and the busts found on the same area, like that of Xenopoulos, also suffer constant attacks. The sculptures of the trilogy – University of Athens, Academy of Athens, National Library – such as that of Regas Feraios and William Gladstone are vandalised almost each time there is a demonstration.[2]


Kostes Palamas' sculpture. Photo by Giannis Kolesidis. AME-MPE.

Kostes Palamas’ sculpture. Photo by Giannis Kolesidis. AME-MPE.


Kiveli's beheaded statue. Nick Paleologos. SOOC.

Kiveli’s beheaded statue. Nick Paleologos. SOOC.


Gregorios Xenopoulos' bust. March 19th 2015.

Gregorios Xenopoulos’ bust. March 19th 2015.

The first reactions were to an act of vandalism. But, can we create out of it all a metaphor to speak of current affairs? Can Athens be seen instead as a narrative, an ‘absolutely plural text’, a ‘galaxy of signifiers’ (as is Roland Barthes’s description of the nature of an “ideal textuality”), or as palimpsest, where heterogeneity and diversity are privileged? As Toni Morrison has suggested, ‘chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.’

In the first instance, we could say that the covering up of the poet’s face with black spray paint created a negative of what the poet represents (as the colours of the statue were inverted) while the symbol written on his chest gave to the sculpture the qualities of a palimpsest.

The forms and structures we see in the city, David Harvey tells us, reflect ‘social processes at work in particular times and places. The result is an urban environment constituted as a palimpsest, a series of layers constituted and constructed at different historical moments all superimposed upon each other.’ This is why, he continues, ‘if we are going to get to the heart of what the city is about,’ we need to focus on ‘processes rather than things and we should think of things as products of processes.’

What I am attempting to do here today is map a process; narrate the stages that created an event and led to certain reactions, leading these a step further into the world of meaningful metaphors which is the realm of poetry. As Jacques Rancière has suggested, ‘politics is first of all a way of framing, among sensory data, a specific sphere of experience. […] It is a specific intertwining of ways of being, ways of doing and ways of speaking. […] Literature does a kind of side-politics or meta-politics. The principle of that “politics” is to leave the common stage of the conflict of wills in order to investigate in the underground of society and read the symptoms of history. It takes social situations and characters away from their everyday, earth-bound reality and displays what they truly are, a phantasmagoric fabric of poetic signs, which are historical symptoms as well. For their nature as poetic signs is the same as their nature as historical results and political symptoms.’

The end result aims to be what can be called a ‘palimpsest memoryscape’. As Paul Basu has noted, ‘the memoryscape is continually “overwritten”, resulting in an accretion of forms [which] occurs in an uneven manner and […] is constantly being excavated and reburied, mixing up the layers, exposing unexpected juxtapositions, and generating unanticipated interactions. Such is the medium of the palimpsest memoryscape.[3]

It should be noted here that the three statues in front of the Athens Cultural Centre were targeted the day after a six-day occupation of the Athens Law School had ended. The protesters were supporting political prisoners on hunger strike since March 2nd, who were requesting the abolition of “Type C” prison facilities, the repeal of anti-terrorism laws and the immediate release of relatives of detainees involved with the Conspiracy of Fire Cells as well as the release of Savvas Xeros for health reasons.[4] The hunger strike lasted 48 days and ended in April, when a new bill concerning the above and another on prison decongestion[5] were voted in parliament.[6] The hunger strike and its solidarity campaign were tagged by the prisoners themselves[7] as ‘the first major political opposition to the coalition government led by Syriza’.[8] The main building of the University of Athens had also been occupied for the same reasons for 19 days from March 30th onwards.

We cannot be absolutely sure if the occupation of the buildings and the subsequent protests were linked to the black spray paint on Palamas’ face and the anarchist symbol on his chest, Kiveli’s decapitation and Xenopoulos’ Hitler moustache but, due to the timing of the events, this was certainly so in popular sentiment. Still, it was the single act of the so called attack on Palamas’ sculpture that attracted most of the attention because the Greek poet is a figure revered in Greek letters. In fact, in this year’s Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (13-22 March 2015) director Stamatis Tsarouchas presented his latest work with a piece on Palamas’ life and work and a particular focus on the poet’s political views. The title of the documentary was ‘(the national) Kostes Palamas – The Supreme Flower in Greek Literature’.

Kostes Palamas (1859–1943) was a central figure of the Greek literary generation of the 1880s. He was the author of the words to the “Olympic Hymn” but also a poet who criticized society with his Satirical Exercises at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. His “heavy shadow” moulded future generations of poets but he was also a political figure, in the sense that he took a stand in matters of the polis. Eventually, his funeral in 1943 was transformed into an act of resistance against the German Occupation with the poet Angelos Sikelianos’s recitation of “Thundering bells, / shake the whole country, from end to end”. Thirty years later, in 1973, Athens Polytechneio students protesting against the dictatorship in Greece distributed illegal leaflets with his verse while two years earlier poet Lefteris Poulios had written ‘An American Bar in Athens’ (1971) with Palamas a central figure. As Karen Van Dyck notes, Poulios “politicizes Palamas by dragging him out of the realm of aesthetics into the streets of Athens’.

Let’s go and piss on all the statues
in Athens; kneeling only in front of
Regas. And let’s go our separate ways
like grandfather and grandson after
a scrap. Beware of my madness
old man; on a whim I could
kill you.

from Lefteris Poulios, ‘An American Bar in Athens’ (1971)

In light of the general outrage that this act raised, the events of the previous days were seemingly forgotten as most pieces written thereafter did not make an immediate link to the hunger strike of the political prisoners and instead tagged the ‘members of a so-called anti-state movement’ or the ‘anarchists’ or the ‘anti-authoritarians’ as mindless protesters with no education or knowledge over who Palamas was. The general feeling was that the people behind the attack had deified violence and opposition to power for the sake of it and just wanted to become visible no matter the cost. The event was linked to the graffiti on one of the buildings of the Athens Polytechnic School earlier in March and the spraying of one of the walls of the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea which dates back to the 11th century. The lines there read ‘we break the fear, we go out to the street’.

Photo from inexarchia.gr

Photo from inexarchia.gr

A spiral of different reactions was sparked.

The acts were even linked to the cultural vandalism of ISIS – indeed the Kapnikarea incident was tagged by one piece as an ‘anti-authoritarian jihad’[9] – and the discussion then went on to cultural vandalism and an anti-social behaviour that stays unpunished. This last element, sparked comments on the generally felt lack of justice in the country as well as on the legalization of unlawful acts for which the city acts as a mirror.  When it came to the Athens Polytechnic School, many commented on the fact that the educational system is discredited overall with the public universities being targeted in the last four years. Perhaps, they said, that was the message the graffiti artists wanted to pass on to people.

Historian Petros Papapolyviou wrote that images of vandalised sculptures are everyday occurrences in the life of the average Greek who is used to a certain urban aesthetic where the meaning of beauty has no place, a type of ‘modern mithridatism’.[11]

Satirical artist Vangelis Pavlidis separated the advocates of anarchism from the ones destroying pieces of art and noted that the ones behind the acts of March 19th are the by-products of a society extremely hostile against young people, who are consequently left with no values and no potential.[12]


And if you insist on celebrating history,’ director Eleni Georgopoulou wrote on March 25th, in the event of the Greek Independence Day celebrations, which were very close to the night of March 19th, ‘then let us celebrate by conversing with Kiveli’s cut head, with the burnt Attikon cinema, with the smudges on the National Library. These are history too; one that is contemporary and sad.’[13]

March 2012: ‘Freedom or Death’. ‘Revolution’. ‘Yes, but what do you propose for the present day?’ Drawing by Panos Zacharis.

March 2012: ‘Freedom or Death’. ‘Revolution’. ‘Yes, but what
do you propose for the present day?’
Drawing by Panos Zacharis.

The meaning of beauty, young people and their wasted potential, the construction of history today, these were some of the more creative considerations the events of March 19th gave rise to. ‘The sculptures,’ Tzanoulino notes, ‘are no lifeless objects […] they are the witnesses of the history of the city, the country, of our own lives’.[10]

We see then that the seemingly lifeless sculptures gave voice to concerns about the present day state of city and country. When satirical sketch artist Soloup (Antonis Nikolopoulos) coupled the image of defaced Palamas with a few lines from the poem ‘Put out my eyes’ by Rainer Maria Rilke (Book of Hours, 1905), whom Palamas had introduced to Greek letters in 1914, what he did was put once again destruction and creation in one continuum, as Palamas had himself done in a 1928 poem where the act of reducing something to ruins is described as an act that needs the working of mind, heart and hand (Καὶ θέλει καὶ τὸ γκρέμισμα νοῦ καὶ καρδιὰ καὶ χέρι).

Put out my eyes, and I can see you still, Slam my ears too, and I can hear you yet; And without any feet can go to you; And tongueless, I can conjure you at will. Break off my arms, I shall take hold of you And grasp you with my heart as with a hand; Arrest my heart, my brain will beat as true; And if you set this brain of mine afire, Then on my blood-stream I yet will carry you.

Put out my eyes, and I can see you still,
Slam my ears too, and I can hear you yet;
And without any feet can go to you;
And tongueless, I can conjure you at will.
Break off my arms, I shall take hold of you
And grasp you with my heart as with a hand;
Arrest my heart, my brain will beat as true;
And if you set this brain of mine afire,
Then on my blood-stream I yet will carry you.

Palamas was no stranger to the space of the city as a cultural battleground either. He was himself  tagged as anti-national for being one of the voices in favour of demoticism, in the Greek language question that erupted with the 1901 ‘Gospel Riots’ caused by a translation of the New Testament into the people’s tongue by Alexandros Pallis. It was then when eight university students were killed and sixty wounded.

Soloup’s coupling of Palamas’ contemporary image with a piece of cultural memory (the translated text) – in light of recent events in the city – creates the perfect environment for exploring how poetry has also claimed for itself the right to memory construction within an urban environment. To mirror the acts of March 19th – when, as I said before, a negative of the past was created and the sculpture became itself a palimpsestic text – I have chosen here two long poems which treat old texts as ‘objective correlatives’ upon which they transcribe a new memoryscape. The one, Ereme Ge by Elias Lagios, was published in 1984 and the other, Kleftiko by George Prevedourakis, in 2013. The first one follows the form of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922) and the other of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), ‘America’ and ‘To Aunt Rose’.

Both poems use the Modernist tradition Eliot represented – and allude to the inheritance of Seferis, who was one of the main representatives of the Greek Modernist tradition of the 1930s – while their own writing represents a creative play with history.

Elias Lagios, the poet of Ereme Ge, performs a type of transcription that can be rendered as ‘meta-writing’ (metagraphe) which is an exercise in writing about writing with the purpose of thinking about writing in order to understand the process better. As G. I. Babasakis reports, Lagios considered writing a most significant gesture when it came to reading a piece of work, an act of reading itself which one can use in order to remember. A ‘meta-writing’ points to this process of remembrance through the act of reading/writing.

Harvest surprised us, coming over Kaisariani
Together with the sun; we barricaded cloud acropoles,
And the sudden rain crawled to the corner Patēsion-Stournara
As they celebrated freedom and we hit them…
Ich bin keine Russin, stamm aus Komajini, echt…
And when we were children we went to our uncle, an ELAS* man,
To become liberators; they executed him,
And I cowed. And he yelled, Alexē,
Alexē, where are you going? But I bolted the door of my house.

*[ELAS: The Greek People’s Liberation Army]

from Elias Lagios, Erēmē Gē (1984), ll.8-16, trans. K. Georganta.

Lagios did not translate The Waste Land in the traditional sense of the word but used the long history of the poem’s translation into Greek as a meaningful act in itself (Erēmē Gē itself echoes Seferis’ 1936 rendering of Eliot’s The Waste Land as Erēmē Chora).

Ereme Ge connected Dionysios Solomos’ poetry (from a verse from which Lagios borrowed his title) with Το Δεύτερο Αντάρτικο (The Second Rebel Movement) by Foivos Gregoriades, a four-volume book on the Greek Civil War (1945-1949) that ensued the Second World War in Greece. Already, the combination of Solomos’ verse, the poet who composed the Greek National anthem, with the work of Gregoriades, shows the poet’s intention to connect the fight for the creation of the modern Greek state and the subsequent creation of a national identity, supported by the narrative of the 1821 Greek revolution, with the fight for the creation of the modern Greek nation in the post-war years and the narratives that dominated then when, as Aristos Doxiadis and Manos Matsaganis note, ‘after the 1946-1949 Civil War, the mantle of nationalism was monopolised by the victorious Right […] portraying the defeated communists as enemies of the nation’ while ‘the nationalist rhetoric (‘Fatherland-Religion-Family’) reached an apogee with the Colonels’ coup d’état of 1967, and came crashing down together with the military regime in 1974’.[18]

Eliot’s ‘Unreal City’ is set in the City, London’s financial centre where Eliot was working at the time, in order to show how the homes of the living inhabitants were ‘consumed by a voraciously expanding commercial life’ to which much of the inhuman desolation suffusing the poem owes its source.[22] Lagios’ ‘Unreal Land’ («Ανύπαρκτη Χώρα»), a ‘glorified land’ («η χώρα μες στο κλέος», l.371), includes the Parthenon and the central monument dedicated to those fallen in battle (the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier located at the foot of the Greek Parliament) but also the space marking more recent troubles, such as Kaisariani, where resistance fighters and rebels where shot by the Nazis in 1944; the corner Patēsion and Stournara (a reminder of the rise of the students against the military junta at the Polytechnic School of Athens in 1973); and Soviet tombstones (remnants of the Cold War and the Greek Civil War).

Kleftiko, on the other hand, written by George Prevedourakis and published in 2013 builds on the tradition of the klephtic songs which were about the creation of a new consciousness where the desire for freedom came first (Apostolakis, 1950: 125). The Klephtic songs (or Kleftika) narrated the lives of people who were imagined as heroic not because they surpassed human standards but because they were driven to action by their desire to find freedom where it was lacking.[19] In this way, they were a subversion of the original folk songs and became symbolic of a resistance to oppression. It was with this function that they were revived during the Greek junta in the Greek partisan songs.[20]

In Ereme Ge we find ‘The deforming of man, so methodically broken / By his elected, foul bosses’ and in Kleftiko what is projected is the endless reproduction of futile circular plans to no avail. The aim of Ereme Ge is to record and safekeep images and stories that are not to be found in official renderings of history, so that the future can be imagined anew, and the aim of Kleftiko is to make the scenes decsribed very personal to the reader (that is why we find the constant repetition of ‘you’) so as to urge a reaction to all the things that have become commonplace and are therefore in danger of being accepted as the norm.

In Kleftiko’s second part (this time constructed around Ginberg’s ‘America’) it is the circular return to immigration that is at the core of Kleftiko’s microcosm: the poet repeats and addresses the imaginary world of ‘Fevgada’, a word echoing the Greek verb «φεύγω» (to leave or get out of). The pun is obvious yet what the poem addresses is not solely the fact of immigration itself – that is, the large numbers of people who have decided to immigrate in the past and in the present to seek a better life for themselves – but what this says about the state of the country and its people who seem to accept the return to this solution as a necessary and unavoidable event (and at the same time allowing for far right attitudes to emerge within a country which appears to be very comfortable with the idea of moving beyond borders).

I saw the best generations of my mind
broken by the most ludicrous Logic
hysterical, naked and in debt
crawling in Balkan roads at dawn looking
for ways to pay off a necessary dose,
who counted on that Other Greece – the “good one” – and here
you may laugh reader –
who ate the stew of normality
or fished out normalité from the bottom of Evros,
who turned all the bins of Athens upside down looking for the wide-angle lens
of dream, or the notebook with the angelic notes of a sinful novel,
Fevgada I never went to a Communist Youth festival
and still there are nights when I feel
the Kremlin inside of me in session,
sending my heart to Siberia
and spewing my liver out in Ikaria
winding up a jarring soul in the conservatoires of social-realism,

Fevgada – I do not sign!
besides, there are so many ways for me to betray you,
you want to hear a joke? – this is Democracy
I am with you in Perama
you crawl in my dreams breathing in shipwrecks,
crying in a national road crossing the Balkans
reaching the door of my house
in a meta-hellenic night.

from Kleftiko, trans. by Konstantina Geotganta

Kleftiko holds a mirror up for Greek readers to make them consider their deviation from the numerous generations of Greeks who faced the dilemma: ‘should you leave for the mountains or maybe leave the country again?’ (from the poem’s ‘attic’, «να πάρεις ίσως τα βουνά ή μήπως να ξανάφευγες για τα ξένα;») Linked to this main question is Prevedourakis’ dialogue with the line ‘Wherever I travel Greece wounds me’ in Kleftiko’s Part II.

This most popular line from Seferis’ 1936 poem ‘In the manner of G.S.’ has had a continuous appeal to readers and writers of Greek poetry alike due to its combination of three concepts which seem to define the way Greeks have thought about their country. First, there is the idea of continuous travel closely connected to the recurrent waves of internal and external migration, then the mention of the word ‘wound’ linked to the problem of reconciling the idea of the past that one has formed with the ever-diminishing prospects of one’s present future, and, last, the concept of the country, ‘Greece’ itself, and the way in which it has been branded to suit the needs of different target audiences including the Greek population.

September 2010: ‘Memorandum’, ‘Mandate’, ‘Real Estate Mafia’, ‘Siemens – We spent it together’, ‘Public Prosecutor for the Football’. ‘Wherever I travel reality wounds me...’ Drawing by Michalis Kountouris.

September 2010: ‘Memorandum’, ‘Mandate’, ‘Real Estate Mafia’,
‘Siemens – We spent it together’, ‘Public Prosecutor for the
Football’. ‘Wherever I travel reality wounds me…’ Drawing by Michalis Kountouris.

A poetic reference point, when this line is revisited it is mainly so as new light is shed to at least one of the anxieties it brings to the surface. In Manolis Anagnostakis’ 1970 poem ‘Thessaloniki, Days of AD 1969’ (translated here by David Conolly), for example, the talk is now about money and people transactions and a constant string of migration all under the shadow of the Greek junta:

In Egyptou Street -first turning right-
There now stands the Transaction Bank Building
Tourist agencies and emigration bureaus
They remember their fathers? words: you’ll experience
better days
It’s of no importance in the end if they didn’t experience
them, they repeat the lesson to their own children
Always hoping that the chain will one day break

Perhaps with their children’s children or the children of their
children’s children.
For the time being, in the old street as was said, there stands
the Transactions Bank
I transact, you transact, he transacts
Tourist agencies and emigration bureaus
we emigrate, you emigrate, they emigrate
Wherever I travel Greece wounds me, as the Poet said
Greece with its lovely islands, lovely offices, lovely

Greece of the Greeks.

Forty three years later, the poet’s line has been further transformed into another version of ‘lovely’ Greece, and this time it is openly challenged as it is juxtaposed with an alternative. In Kleftiko, the reader is forced to return to ‘Wherever I travel Greece wounds me’ to make sense of ‘Fevgada wherever I find Greece the wound travels me’ (loose translation of ‘Φευγάδα όπου και να ελλαδίσω με ταξιδεύει η πληγή’). The use of the same syntax and words but with a change of their order in the line and their use urges the reader to juxtapose the original ‘travel’ with the verb made out of the word ‘Greece’ (‘ελλαδίσω’) in the new line, place ‘wound’ instead of the poet’s ‘Greece’ and replace ‘wound’ with travel. The notion of travel has now become static as it always brings one back to the same place. As a result, the effect of the original line’s first half, which echoed a traveller’s nostalgia for home, has been shattered. There is no further setting out to anywhere since Greece is now a dark repetition one is unable to move away from. Ithaka has become a bad dream, the nostalgia for the eternal travel a wound (με πληγώνει/με ταξιδεύει) and Greece itself a place that inspires one’s flight from it. In Kleftiko, the country is Fevgada, a space where a dialogue with old forms and meanings can take place and also a play in parody where irony, repetition and allusions to other voices abound so that conventional ideologies can be subverted.[21]

In Kleftiko the scene is a ‘meta-hellenic’ night on a national highway crossing the Balkans and reaching the poet’s own door («Είμαι μαζί σου στο Πέραμα / στα όνειρά μου σέρνεσαι εισπνέοντας ναυάγια, / κλαίγοντας σε μια εθνική οδό που διασχίζει τα Βαλκάνια / μέχρι την πόρτα του σπιτιού μου / μέσα σε μια νύχτα μετα-ελληνική», Kleftiko, Part III). Seferis’ lost Argonaut Elpenor has become Mr. Partaloglou (another Mr Eugenides perhaps), a pawnbroker of gold jewellery (Kleftiko, Part II) in Fevgada, which is not a financial centre like The Waste Land’s London City but resembles Seferis’ country closed in by the ‘two black Symblegades’ as can be seen in Prevedourakis’ allusion to Andreas Pagoulatos’ Perama, the suburb of Piraeus, described as an enclosed sea («περίκλειστη θάλασσα»). In Kleftiko, there is no crowd flowing over London Bridge (The Waste Land, l. 61) but ‘London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down’ has become, together with ‘Three blind mice’, part of the city’s ‘oxidized mythology’ («μες την οξειδωμένη της μυθολογία»), a nursery rhyme for Greece’s post-war financial assistance (Kleftiko, Part IV).[23] As Vangelis Calotychos writes in The Balkan Prospect (2013) the metaphor of the bridge in the Balkans has gone ‘hand in hand with the notion of foreign intervention or importation that seeks to reorder thinking, speaking and acting’ (118). A story is here foretold, as in Eliot’s The Waste Land (‘the event has already happened / before it has’, Kleftiko, Part I) but the one who ‘perceived the scene’ and ‘foretold the rest’ as another Tiresias is now Bloomberg:

«the crisis is a crisis is a crisis is a crisis and in this crisis, it’s critical indeed that we foresee all those elements leading to Armageddon and global financial collapse, factors may I say, that were deemed systematically unreliable beforehand. Oh yes… gone are the times when we were riding high in. pink limousines, sniffing coca from the breasts of an Ukrainian teenage wonder. Now, our strategy can be summed up in the lines of gathering all the wealth, equities, bonds and resources into an independent establishment that would be ceaselessly refunded by sovereign (?) states and private investors alike, according to our logistical wishes and demands. The ultimate result of this ongoing process could engulf, roughly, 97% of humanity as collateral damage. ‘Do we give a fuck?’ I hear you wonder?… The answer is definitely not!»

(Kleftiko, Part II, text appears in English in the original)

Prevedourakis’ klepht is an inland refugee breaking up the identity between citizen and non-citizen or outsider, between lawful and unlawful fight, a border concept (to borrow Giorgio Agamben’s term) calling into question the rights of the citizens of the nation-state. It is as if Lagios’ and Prevedourakis’ poems open up a dialogue with a single line from Seferis’ 1935 Mythistorema: ‘No one remembers them. Justice.’ Zygmunt Bauman notes that ‘whatever we may know or imagine of the nature of “justice”, we derive from the experience of injustice – just like from the experience of displeasure, and only from that experience, we may learn or rather imagine what “pleasure” may look like’; as a consequence, ‘whenever we imagine or postulate “justice”, we tend to start from cases of injustice currently most salient, painful and offending.’(2011)

Taking into account the various meanings of ‘μετά’ in Greek both as preposition and adverb, the ‘meta-hellenic’ night described in Kleftiko denotes the temporal sequence of events, the relation between cause and effect (consequence) and an opposition to what has already occurred. The third element of the ‘meta-hellenic’ makes the people of Kleftiko, who are the ones who carry the inheritance of Elias Lagios’ Ereme Ge and also the ones who intervened to the sculptures of the city centre on the night of March 19th, border concepts in the sense that they are constantly on the point of becoming somebody else’s ‘other’. Like Lagios, they write over and over again a Greek Waste Land, asking who remembers what and what is the true nature of justice in this heavily meta-world we are living in?


Konstantina Georganta, Paper Presented at the ‘Democracy Rising’ Conference organized in Athens (16-19 July 2015) by the Global Centre of Advanced Studies and the School of Economics and Political Science of the University of Athens.


[1] Ισαάκ Σούσης, ‘Οι βάρβαροι του Καβάφη επιτίθενται στον Παλαμά’, Ημεροδρόμος (20 Μαρτίου 2015). Διαθέσιμο στην ιστοσελίδα: http://www.imerodromos.gr/varvaroi/.
[2] http://www.kathimerini.gr/816223/gallery/proswpa/synentey3eis/ta-agalmata-exoyn-ton-giatro-toys
[3] Basu, P. (2007). Palimpsest Memoryscapes: Materializing and Mediating War and Peace in Sierra Leone. In de Jong, F., Rowlands, M. (Eds.), Reclaiming Heritage: Alternative Imaginaries of Memory in West Africa. (pp. 231-259). Walnut Creek, US: Left Coast Press.
[5] http://en.enikos.gr/society/27148,At-least-1700-detainees-to-be-released-from-Greek-prisons.html
[6] http://www.avgi.gr/article/5476222/termatizoun-tin-apergia-peinas-kai-oi-kratoumenoi-tou-dak
[7] http://en.contrainfo.espiv.net/2015/04/10/greek-prisons-hunger-strike-termination-statement-by-revolutionary-struggle-member-nikos-maziotis/
[8] https://libcom.org/blog/continuing-hunger-strike-political-prisoners-15042015
[9] http://www.skai.gr/news/greece/article/277513/adiexousiastikos-tzihadismos-vandalismos-kai-sto-nao-tou-kapnikarea/
[11] http://papapolyviou.com/2015/03/19/otan-apokefalizontai-agalmata/
[12] http://www.iporta.gr/anoixti-porta/apo-to-blogk-tou-vaggeli/item/5398-oi-anarxikoi-tou-vaggeli-pavlidi#sthash.g132FbPH.dpuf
[13] http://www.protagon.gr/?i=protagon.el.article&id=40220
[14] Pericles Lewis, Cambridge Introduction to Modernism (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 147.
[15] Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane, eds, Modernism 1890-1930 ( Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1976), pp. 50, 91.
[16] See George Seferis, Collected Poems 1924-1955, translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard (London: Jonathan Cape, 1969), p. 479.
[17] Nasos Vayenas, «Ένα Σχόλιο για την Έρημη Γη» (‘A Comment on Erēmē Gē’), Αντί, 874-875 (28 July 2006), p. 39.
[18] Aristos Doxiadis and Manos Matsaganis, ‘National Populism and Xenophobia in Greece’, opendemocracy.net 27 November 2012, <www.opendemocracy.net/aristos-doxiadis-manos-matsaganis/national-populism-and-xenophobia-in-greece> [accessed 01 September 2013].
[19] It is argued that the songs were not originally meant for the klephts who, as bandits, had a short life span and were enemies of the people, but for the armatoloi who defended the people and whose loss would affect the lives of the people. See Politis, 1973, 35-36.
[20] See Limperopoulou, 2013:  Μπορεί να είχε αλλάξει ο πυρήνας του μηνύματός τους, η ύπαρξή τους, ωστόσο, αποδεικνύει ότι δεν είχαν υποχωρήσει τα αίτια που υπέθαλπαν τη διαιώνιση των παρακοινωνιών. Έτσι, ακόμα και μετά την εξάλειψη της ληστείας, όταν οι συνθήκες ευνόησαν την ανασύσταση τέτοιων ελεύθερων κοινοτήτων, το κλέφτικο ανασύρθηκε από την αφάνεια με νέα μορφή, με τα αντάρτικα τραγούδια την περίοδο της Κατοχής, που αποτέλεσαν και την τελευταία αναβίωσή του.
[21] On the role of repetition in parody, see Bakhtin (1981).
[22] Lawrence Rainey, The Annotated Waste Land with Eliot’s Contemporary Prose, 2nd edn (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005), pp. 9-11.
[23] ‘In all the history of diplomacy,’ Albert Resis writes of Winston Churchill’s six-volume The Second World War (published between 1948 and 1953), ‘surely no passage is more dramatic or more shocking than Churchill’s account of the meeting he held with Joseph Stalin in the Kremlin on the evening of October 9, 1944’. See ‘The Churchill-Stalin Secret “Percentages” Agreement on the Balkans, Moscow, October 1944’, (April 1978), 368.

Feature photo: Athens, December 2008. Aris Messinis, AFP, Getty Images.

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