Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Obama's paradox - the legacy of Aeschylus

Letter to friends in the United States

Obama seems not to be able to get out of grief due to so much shooting, but at the same time a hospital is hit in a far away place like Kunduz in Afghanistan with innocent people, including staff of Doctors without frontiers, being killed. Always this strange coincidence of killing at home and the taking of lives abroad! That sort of comparison reminds of the novel by Uwe Johnson, Diary of the Year, lasting from August 1967 to August 1968, in which he compares the number of people killed in Viet Nam with the number killed just around the corner in New York.

There has been a lot of focus on local police power since Ferguson. The New Yorker quotes a Scotsman who writes he grew up to trust a policeman to be called upon if in need of help, but when he came to the United States, it was a different matter. The confrontation with that power within a society obviously enraged reminds of what Martin Luther King has said about the need of such a dream that everyone can step outside that vicious cycle of violence. James Boggs was of the opinion that excess in consumption reflected in over excess of poverty produces a dangerous mix. Now that dear Grace Boggs has passed away after reaching the amazing age of 100, Rich and others at the Boggs centre shall keep up her legacy, indeed revolutionary spirit. It is directly related to what James and Grace attempted to do when I visited Rich and Janice in Detroit for the first time in 1987 and together we visited SOSAD - Save our Sons and Daughters from killing each other. At that meeting when seeing a black girl playing with a white doll, I thought of Eldridge Cleaver's book 'Soul on Ice'. In that book he describes what it does to one's own mentality and outlook when brought up with an aesthetics bearing the imprint of 'Anglo Saxon White Protestant' ethical background as described best by Carlo Williams Carlos.

Why write all of this? It was prompted by myself becoming not only interested, but directly involved in Eleusina due to being Candidate City for the European Capital of Culture title to be designated to a Greek city for 2021 when it is again the turn of Greece to have one city with such a title. The first was Athens in 1985. It was followed by Thessaloniki 1997 and by Patras in 2006. This project entails so many dimensions all based on intricate details that it is surely a good way of getting to know Europe through such a city and vice versa what the efforts to obtain the title stimulates in terms of activities and investments in culture. For instance, I shall be going to Valletta in Malta since that city shall be ECoC in 2018 and is now preparing itself with a major conference on 'cultural mapping'.

So if you wish to get to know Eleusina known for the Aeschylus festival in honor of this great dramatist, and connect with what can be said under the condition of being an attempt to reason with what is basically unreasonable, namely the killing of other people as has just now happened again in Ankara, I found it of interest to discover following paragraph in Wikipedia when referring to the influence of Aeschylus and what Robert Kennedy made before he was assassinated himself shortly after Martin Luther King was killed as well. It says that

"During his presidential campaign in 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy quoted the Edith Hamilton translation of Aeschylus on the night of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Kennedy was notified of King's murder before a campaign stop in Indianapolis, Indiana and was warned not to attend the event due to fears of rioting from the mostly African-American crowd. Kennedy insisted on attending and delivered an impromptu speech that delivered news of King's death to the crowd.[42]

Acknowledging the audience's emotions, Kennedy referred to his own grief at the murder of his brother, President John F. Kennedy and, quoting a passage from the play Agamemnon (in translation), said: "My favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote: 'Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.' What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness; but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black... Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world." The quotation from Aeschylus was later inscribed on a memorial at the gravesite of Robert Kennedy following his own assassination.[42]"

So with you being in America and looking over the Atlantic puddle at Greece which has been through rough weather especially since 2009, but not only, I wonder what you can do to relate to Eleusina in your own way? Recently the city did a project about refugees the influx of which is now challenging Europe in all basic assumptions about integration and open society. You find already some texts and images on the website,but please take it as a work in progress. In getting to know Eleusina I simply wish to take you along with me, and then we can see if we meet there in near future since I have discovered this to be a surprise as to what this city entails as potential to bring about a cultural synthesis of creativity and productivity, and which is afterall the name of our NGO: Poiein kai Prattein, namely 'create and do'. .

So curating at such a place events linked to poetry, philosophy and literature, it will mean going into the neighborhoods as you see in the photos. These small scale buildings once built to receive the refugees of 1921 when the tragedy of Asia Minor meant Izmir or rather Smyrna burned as depicted in the film by Maria Iliou. Somehow these remaining structures will be important for Europe to learn from on how to come to terms with the current influx of refugees. Especially Germany is undergoing here a major transition and some called it even an identity crisis. Whatever, cultural adaptation is under way as one friend wrote just now he is preparing a book for them to learn basic German. He and his sons are working in a refugee camp in Berlin. That means Europe has to get its act together while the crunch time for the Greek government due to the huge deficit is not at all over even though the recent election has produced some sense of stability for the time being.

With these thoughts I just wish you could become involved in shaping a new reference point for the European debate in Eleusina. It should also include a dialogue with what is happening in the world as perceived and shaped by you in the United States.

warmest regards

hatto fischer

Athens 13.10.2015

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