Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Newsletter Dec '14 Jan '15



                 Looking out to Athinas Street in Athens       @hf 21.12.2014

"We are merely guests in life - just passing by."

                                                   - Andre Malraux

"the photo… it does indeed make you think and ponder about life which passes by… Sometimes I feel that we are simply actors in a play and the end of our life is the end of the play. It is all so temporary, so trivial… and it passes all so very quickly that I find it very hard that some people are so much obsessed with power and glory… it is so very foolish to waste one’s time on these things."

                                                 - Carmel Cassar, Historian in Malta

"As I near the end of my 77th year, I readily identify with being a passing guest at a long

                                                  - Dan Georgakas, Film critic and Historian, NY

"Hummmmm, not totally agree that we are passerbys or guests. I think we are all participants in this life whether super active or not, positive or negative. The play is just a slice of life, a photo if you will, of something that has or will affect your life for that brief moment. If you act like a guest in life you will never break out of the conforms of a guest and never participate to what you are capable of or curious about."

                                                   - Katita Stark, Consultant, Toronto, Canada





What lies ahead in 2015?

The EU has designated this Year to Development


The photo of people passing by was taken while looking out from a shop on Athinas Street in Athens. It reminded me of a saying by Andre Malraux: "we are all but temporary guests in life, just passing by!"

Life passes by and often is hardly noticed. And yet in looking back at the year 2014 which just passed, it brought home over and again how precarious can be life! There was the first Malaysian plane which disappeared and has not been found till now. Then, Israeli started its incursion into Gaza on July 17. It left over 2000 people dead and thousands more homeless. Tragically on that very same day another Malaysian flight was shot down over Eastern Ukraine. And this is not all. 2014 was marked by one killing streak after another, and especially many innocent children whether in Pakistan or Nigeria lost their lives. All of this makes one wonder how life can be upheld when it is so simply wasted? Often the arbitrary killing serves no other purpose but to send just another chilling message.

Looking ahead to 2015, it can be said many people share one common factor, namely an 'unknown' future as to what lies ahead. The Greek crisis has not subdued. There is no real confidence as of yet evident that something has been learned out of the crisis. Instructive is the photo exhibition 'Depression Era' as this collective of 36 photographers seek to reflect this period 2011 to 2014 as if an era of depression.

Europe is likewise not at ease. There are many unknowns ahead. Many believe that the UK elections will confirm a current trend towards a political wish to depart from the European Union. Those who voted in this year's referendum for an independent Scottland will try again but this time by entering British Parliament as a coalition of forces. They are united in a wish to dismiss altogether established politics and the institutions the elite has learned to master, in order to govern exclusively from the rest of the people. Another answer to this is the search by alternative movements for a new definition of the 'commons'.

When LSE director Calhoun gave a speech in Athens on 10th of December 2014, he used the term 'anti-politics' to designate contemporary political protest movements. He suggested this is correlated with the disenchantment of many during a period of crisis, but little did he seem to know that this term was already used by the writer Heinrich Böll when he discussed with Kopelew 'anti Communism in East and West'. They called that ideological trend in the Cold War the best school of thought to prepare people for 'anti-politics'.

In 2014, there have commenced many commerations of First World War which started 100 years ago. By having entered a parallel time of 2014 - 2018, one wonders what lessons have been learned since the WWI and WWII, and which did contribute to the creation of the European Union.

In 2015, it shall be Mons and Pilsen as the two European Capitals of Culture, after that come Wroclaw and San Sebastian 2016, while at the end of this four year period, it will be Valletta and Leeuwarden in 2018. During that time Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth shall exhibit peace murals created by children and youth all over the world first in Wroclaw 2016 and then in Valletta 2018.

Linked to that is the work by war photographers such as Reinhard Schultz. These photographers seek to be a witness while events unfold. Needless to say, no day passes without a newscaster like the BBC bringing images of violent conflicts and of war. It seems as if all of us are made into permanent participants of war, whether we like it or not. There is hardly anyone who can express via this media how much one is repulsed by all of this. Instead this madness seems to spill over into daily life everywhere, whether now someone takes 30 people hostage in Sydney, Australia or someone uses a truck to drive into a crowd of people in Paris, France. Or street protest flares up when a white policeman kills an unarmed black man. But as fast as these breaking news hit the headlines, as fast they disappear and are replaced by other similar news of yet another suicide bomber having killed 100 people at a bus stop or a new incidence of girls being kid-napped to be sold as if a commodity.

There is a danger to make the abnormal appear to be the normal way of life. In that sense, this contemporary life cannot be compared to when people entered First World War in 1914 as if adventure. Rather the growing uneasiness begins nowadays at home.

How then to face all these and more challenges which lie ahead? It is a matter of heeding the lesson drawn by those youth and children who painted in Tripoli, Lebanon a mural and gave it the title "to remember you need to forget". There is a strong longing for peace, and that entails memory work to remember those who have lost their lives before they could realize their own dreams. In that sense, it is time to heed 'the dreams of humanity' in relation to what children image when they throw peebles into the lake of Ioannina where the exit of the old year is marked by a festival of light - see http://luminousfestival.gr/

As the poet Yiorgos Chouliaras, most recent winner of the Academy of Athens prize, would put it, Ioannina reminds everyone that the heart is not in the middle, but to the left of the human body - likewise the heart of Greece is where something authentic is retained and which did attract the film maker Angelopoulos.

The 'atonement with peace' is still what poetry does best and therefore provides light for the road ahead. To this poetess from Tunesia, Najet Adouni would add:

"it is interesting to know what other poets do.....I like the metaphor: as if poems become oil for the river of time. That is great. In the stream of time is always the water connected with the image of a famous mountain...Each poet has his way to explain things but we meet in creation and images, for a poem is a vast life. I feel different when I talk about poetry, I feel great and high...I can touch the sky....How beautiful is it to read something which makes you feel all these things."

Most appropriate for what lies ahead is what recently elected Pen President of Wales, poetess Menna Elfyn emphasized in her greetings of the New Year when she quoted Jack Gilbert's line from one of his lovely poems: "We must risk delight."

Hatto Fischer

Athens 28.12.2014

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