Venice Revisited

ven5 Piazza di San Marco (taxi-gondola for the hotel Cipriani )

crand canal

Grand Canal

ven2Mama Alberta and Mama Simoneta

basilica

san marco squareBasilica (detail)

Right  Piazza di San Marco  crowded

Στην πλατεία του Αγίου Μαρκου ούτε απλωσιά είδα, ούτε περιστέρια, ήταν σαν να μόλις είχε τελείωσει ποδοσφαιρικόs αγώνας και οι φίλαθλοι είχαν ξεχυθεί στην πλατεία. …

Την Βενετία πρέπει να την επισκεφτεί κανείς άλλη εποχή, εκτός από καλοκαίρι 😉

Eating Pomegranates with my friend

sarahI met her some years ago in a leafy suburb of Dublin. The rule of attraction as always happens among human beings  was her appearance, her nordic appearance.  Her slim figure wrapped up with a white anorak and  her ‘signature’  long blond hair attracted my attention in the first place.  When I talked to her, her voice had the same effect on me as her appearance, soft posh intellectual  English accent.  Usually this kind of people who concentrate all the above ingredients of popularity are  quite indifferent about others , but not Sarah. Sarah was quite tuned to other people’s need for communication. So it was not too long that a real friendship was developed between us.   One of those friendship which one could share secrets and lies  without being  embarrassed, reveal their weakness but as well as their  strengths, fears and have a good laugh.

Despite my moves around the globe we kept in touch, even during her ordeal, fighting a common disease of our times, breast cancer.  And during this ordeal  she made an extraordinary   thing:  she wrote a book.

This summer she gave it  to me with her signature. I didn’t expect anything less than her. A book about her disease, explaining it by  scientific precision as   a bright first class educated person can explain. Sarah read English literature in Oxford with first class honour as well as she attended the prestigious UEA creative writing courses.  She wrote about her beloved mother who had the same disease and the same gene mutation BRCA1, about her father and the impact her disease had on her own small family.

Reading the book I realized that I had  already known the most of the facts and  I learned more about Breast Cancer, the BRCA1 gene mutation which Sarah described with medical accuracy, I learned more about her family, her politician father her late mother, another Oxford graduate and much loved by her.  I recognized somewhere myself with my daft questions and once more  I confirmed that Sarah comes from a certain stock -a  family of driven people,  “..we were the whole world’ with her father’s words. All of them have put in, with  their own way, a small stone in this very exclusive English  society. Sarah is a journalist in Sunday Times.

Sarah’s book  isn’t a simple memoir of her life , it’s well crafted  literature which, I’m sure, was the reason that  Clare Alexander, the guru of the literary agent in London, snatched her book to add it in her long list of the famous authors she promotes…..

The following is an extract from her book, just to illuminate her literary craft:

I always thought I would write novels about relationships. Subtle psychological studies of the contemporary family, its disintegrations and reformations; the long shadow play of gender;generations across time. Exquisite things in the realist symbolist tradition, where the fictional creatures took off from the page and held you in a separate rapture, about which there was nothing of shame or disclosure.

But reality supervened. It crashed on to the page. The third-person narratives got stuck. I couldn’t get my creatures up in the morning, let alone dressed and out of the house. The sat like a roomful of outgrown toys, slumped in the corner, when the children have long gone on to other things. They reproached me, with their twisted limbs, their ratty fur, glass eyes hung out on wire.

Instead, something else got up and running. It wasn’t nice. I didn’t like it. But I have to admit it had a certain vitality. The hideous familiarity of certain close relatives, or one of Dostoevsky’s drunks. Affable and manipulative, emptying out his pockets. What’s mine is yours, my dear. Including my degradation, of course.  Any comparison of offerings is vulgar; you know it yourself.  It chuckled at me softly as I fled, and returned at night, when I was Jumpy.

I took a mallet to its hands, as they crept under the shutters. I went for its knees; it just kept on coming. I am the way and the life, it said. Or your life, at any rate. I’ve got your card. It’s marked. ‘

Sarah-Gabriel_1460978c

P.S.  “Sarah”, reading your book one quotation stuck in my mind, perhaps because I knew  that you adore the Russian classical authors  : ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’ Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

Leadership and democracy

sailing boat

antique boat1

Καθώς πλησιάζουν οι Ελληνικές  εκλογές  και διαβάζω το βιβλίο ‘ Why Socrates died‘ by Robin Waterfield by  faber and faber,  παραθέτω μερικά αποσπάσματα έτσι για τροφή στη σκέψη.0903-Bunker

“Τhe incompatibility between the Athenian democracy and government is brilliantly imagined by Plato, in an extended ship-of state metaphor

‘Imagine the following situation on a fleet of ships, or on a single ship. The owner has the edge over everyone else on board by virtue of his size and strength, but he’s rather deaf and short-sighted, and his knowledge of naval matters is just as limited. The sailors wrangle with one another because each of them thinks that the ought to be the captain, despite the fact that he’s never learnt how. They’re for ever crowding closely around the owner, pleading with him and stopping at nothing to get him to entrust the helm to them. They think highly of anyone who contributes towards their gaining power of showing skill at winning over or subduing the owner, and describe him as an accomplished seaman, a true captain, a naval expert; but they crititicize anyone different as useless. They completely fail to understand that any genuine sea captain has to study  the yearly cylce, the seasons, the heavens, the stars and winds, and everything relevant to the job, if he’s to be properly equipped to hold a position of authority in a ship. In fact, they think it’s impossible to study and acquire expertise at how to steer a ship or be a good captain. When this is what happens on board ships, don’t you think that the crew of such ships would regard any true captain as nothing but a windbag with his head in the clouds, of no use to them at all?’

“Α Socratic leader : his first purpose would be the persuasion, by rational argument, of as many of the citizens in his care who had ears to hear, that the focus of their lives should be on improving their souls, and his second purpose would be the establishment of the correct legislative apparatus for achieving his  goal.

The only qualification on his call for true statesmen was his belief that perfect wisdom is unavailable for any human being, in any sphere of activity”

P.S   Η Δημοκρατία είναι δύσκολη, ακατάστατη, ανομοιογενής  και αντιφατική αλλά την ίδια στιγμή δημιουργεί ελπίδα και απελευθερώνει το ανθρώπινο πνεύμα  για να γράψει να  μιλήσει και να ψηφίσει, κάτι που θα κάνουν σχεδόν ολοι οι Ελληνες αύριο όσο και απογοητευμένοι αποθαρρυμένοι νάναι από την παρούσα κατάσταση κάπου η ελπίδα είναι κρυμμένη μέσα τους