Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Newsletter Sept./Oct 2013




The missing European dimension
Much is amiss, much has been left out ever since the crisis struck Europe after the Lehman collapse in 2008. Countries like Greece have been affected most severely. The toll of it all can be described best as men no longer knowing how to answer simple questions, but instead they just say:'mmhhh'. It is as if they have stones in their hearts. And naturally everyone knows even the strongest man is weak, if he has not a single penny in his pocket. And while people fret about whether they can make it or not, a game with fake numbers or figures seems to be going on. In the absence of a public truth, the European debate suffers considerably under a lack of substance.
This is why what Susan Watkins has written for the London Book Review is interesting, as it offers an overview of recent publications about Europe. It allows one to gauge a bit better why this European dimension seems to be missing. The titles alone can suggest already something along various discoursive standpoints:
- Un New Deal pour l’Europe by Michel Aglietta and Thomas Brand
- Gekaufte Zeit: Die vertagte Krise des demokratischen Kapitalismus byWolfgang Streeck. The English translation of that is 'about bought time' or the postponed crisis of democratic capitalism.  As to this contortion of wishing to link somehow aspiration for a democratic life while having to face the reality that the Troika dictates policy, it seems the sole interest has become the stability of the currency and the smooth functioning of the money market.
- Jürgen Habermas, translated by Ciaran Cronin, is well known for his emphasis upon the need to bridge the democratic gap but he does not seem to come around to question the policy being practiced but stays within an accountability of how the economy works. As this allows fear to dictate reason, it can spell out merely the difference between democratic politics and crisis management but is not sufficient to question all the consequences i.e. the very anti labour and anti trade union practices which follow the austerity measures.
- For Europe!: Manifesto for a Postnational Revolution in Europe by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Guy Verhofstadt. It is known that Daniel Cohn-Bendit seeks solutions in a transnational concept and may exhaust himself in reducing this to some kind of declaration about a needed transition from one type of governance to another. 
- Ulrich Beck, translated by Rodney Livingstone, is known as author of the book about the risk society. He sees discourse as an expression of a normative logic which tries to persuade the other side not to take a closer look at reality, so that in the end both agree to look the other way Susan Watkins remarks that despite his brilliant analysis he falls short of drawing any practical conclusions about the nature of the crisis.
- The Future of Europe: Towards a Two-Speed EU? by Jean-Claude Piris
- David Charter December 2012
The review by Susan Watkins is written in a very intelligent and illustrative way. It captures not only a cross section of intellectual contributions to the European debate, but provides as well a brief overview of the recent history and changes which have affected the decision making processes at European and national governmental levels. Insofar as the crisis has brought about the Troika, she argues rightly so that in this process the citizens have been left out completely. Naturally it would require a much more careful reading as to what the 'Memorandum of Understanding' implies. She does hint at the Troika practicing what the IMF has been doing all along, and then she goes on to point out that the policy dictated by the Troika has a dismal record. Almost all the countries where these austerity measures have been applied, they show not a recovery but an increase in human misery (unemployment figures reaching new heights, and this especially amongst the youth). She then tries to link this to what is the intellectual contribution during this crisis. I like her criticism of Habermas und Ulrich Beck, but would say she seems not to understood completely Habermas. The philosopher sees the European Union to be but a steeping stone towards 'world governance'. Her interpretation reflects some bewilderment in face of this challenge or rather it is an indecision about what type of government we are really striving for in Europe and in the world. She seems to reduce too much world governance to older power sharing models or rather to one power dominating. Moreover her analysis seems to use as reference an American-Europe model, so that at times she comes dangerously close to the usual conspiracy theory, as if if everything is the result of a well laid out plan and on top of it there is a single leader, whether now Obama or Merkel, who has all the say. However, we know how helpless can be a leader, especially if he misreads the signs of the times, see Cameron in the British Parliament, Obama in the Syria debate or Putin in view of the recent mayor election in Moscow. Naturally she wants to discuss much more the UK policy and attitude towards Europe and discuss this in terms of interventions made in the name of the EU at national, regional and local levels. Here again European governance differs from the American federal-state-city level. Moreover, I think governance is the result of not only certain events becoming major news to which then responses can differ greatly, but also EU policy is the outcome of a very complex process and which is quite cumbersome and slow at times. As the Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta would admit, it takes 30 summits before one decision emerges. It is not easy to govern Europe with now 28 member states. Yet the quality of decision making commented upon by the media and reflected by the general public is still something else. Now that everything is overshadowed by what took place in Syria on 21st of August, I could not help but compare it with the kind response the world showed once the news about Guernica 1937 came out. One qualitative response to the atrocities committed then was Picasso's Guernica. Compared with his mural, it can be said onhand of how the world of the 21th century reacts to the news about gas having been used in Syria on the 21st of August, so far no great art work has been able to articulate a similar response. That is most telling. It seems as if the world is engaged in a new form of propaganda and even Assad would use the social media to distinguish his government from the American one, insofar as he would imply his government does not resort to the social media while America does, in order to launch oppositions and to gather false evidence - so the explicit implication. But here one needs to step back and be reminded of the fact that the 21st of August is itself a most tragic date. It reminds of that day back in 1968 when tanks of the Warszawa Pact moved into Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague spring. And then shortly thereafter there came the other terrible news, namely when Pinochet launched his coup in Chile in 1973 and Allende and many others died, just so that forces with no respect in human life had the freedom to install a new economic model based on the police making sure people would be willing to pay the high prize. That does include the loss of life. In German the expression 'das wird in Kauf genommen', or those collatoral damages are included in the calculation, underlines the kind of cynicism once a world has lost any ethical responsiveness to human needs and human plight. Hence a new responsiveness shall be needed to what is happening and going on in the world whether in the Middle East, in Belfast, Philippines or Greece. Everything is an indication of what can direct our energies towards finding solutions. Most critical seems to rather than joining the one or the other side, not to allow a further polarization of society. Here an example can be taken as to what some people attempt to do in Libanon. For instance, there is one woman who says she does not want to leave the street to just those forces who wish everyone to join the one or the other side, but instead she creates street markets so that people without income can sell there self made goods, in order to have a chance of making a living. This needs to be emphasized, namely that there are measures by which the street as cultural and economic space can be used, in order to avoid a polarization of society. That is most crucial in Lebanon especially when some thought is given to the side effects of the conflict in Syria  Hezebollah playing a critical role in its support of Assad. Therefore, I would say the article by Susan Watkins is brilliant on the one hand, but it does oscilliates on the other dangerously close to that polarized version. That becomes more and more evident when she uses some clear enemy pictures to provoke an intellectual thought instead of looking more carefully at the quality of issue at hand and how could the issue be handled from the standpoint of a human responsiveness. Her analysis of the democratic deficit within European institutions is very illuminating especially when she describes the power of Economic Commissioner Rehn. However, she tilts at the same time again to a single version as if some leading person can do all the talking, when in fact the European Commission is still accessible and responsive to many other ideas about governance and therefore in search of forthcoming solutions e.g. the creation of the various platforms and also the use of the open method of coordination. The latter is used to link Council, Parliament and Commission. In other words, there are other models like the Troika. They represent other triangles of consultations and power deference within the set-up of European institutions to make governance possible. Naturally I agree with her view that the European Parliament fails to be anything but a dismal attempt at democratic self governance. It cannot initiate legislation in the name of the electorate and I agree with her how she views what Daniel Cohn Bandit proposes. It is at best a postnational or transnational slogan, and may quickly turn out to be a new myth of Pan European ignorance as to what European law, constitution and citizens' Rights should mean in terms of equality, freedom and solidarity. Interestingly enough Habermas talks as of late a lot more about solidarity and therefore he seeks to bring back politics to the ethical sphere of conceptual analysis, that is to a space where philosophy has some say and feels at least at home. But then Habermas may be at risk to repeat the mistake of Hegel who claimed if reality does not correspond to the concept, too bad for reality.
Hatto Fischer
Athens 10.9.2013



Europe and Greece in autumn of 2013

Fish stand at open street market

Is the use of the Greek flag a sign of Patriotism or what?



                                                            Fish market 7.9.2013

Admittedly, in midst of a severe crisis, but now that autumn has come, people shall not look so much into a distant future, as they are more perplexed and heavy in their hearts and soul. For when even a corner store closes, then it is not only a sign as to the toll the crisis takes, but something else is lost: informal social control providing safety and security in the neighborhood! While no one can figure out what is the real data, even though the Finance Minister of Greece, Stournas claims all figures add up, many expected after the German elections on Sept. 22, 2013 another reality shall reveal itself. But then dramatic developments linked to activities by the Extreme Party of Chrysi Avgi overtook everything else. For they no longer attacked only migrants, but at first members of KEE while they put up posters in Pireaeus and then came the fatal stabbing to death of Pavlos Fyssas, a hip hop artist singing anti-fascist songs. This, in combination with other things, including world wide concern as to the state of affairs in Greece, resulted finally in multiple arrests of even leading party members who sit in the Greek parliament. It adds now another dynamic as to what shall curtail, alter and shape politics in the months ahead. Most crucial is the meaning of 'law', or rather what interpretation of the constitution shall be applied, in order to fill the now vacant parliamentary seats e.g. by-elections or what? Critical times in history have always been when arbitrariness rules instead of the law.

In Greece, people have been for too a long time unsure which law applies in specific cases. Most disturbing is, for example, a planned change of the law with regards to the protection of the forests. Foreseen are modifications to allow building in the forest and even more disturbing would be an amendment proposed which states once a forest has burned down, it cannot be reforested and be called again a forest in which it is forbidden to build. As someone would put it, this would be a direct invitation to arsonists to do their work. A crisis should not be used to jeopardize a sustainable future of Greece and of Europe altogether, so wetlands, natura 2000 areas, forests and rural, equally cultural landscapes need further protection.




As for the closure of ERT on June 11th 2013, this issue has not been resolved as of yet. Even though the government has launched a new, equally alternative public station and which started to broadcast by the end of August 2013, but only sparse programmes, there is yet not reliable news. At the same time, the old ERT employees continue to broadcast via Internet.

Democracy, Solidarity and the European Crisis

When Jürgen Habermas gave his lectcure on 26 April 2013 in Leuven, he sub-divided it into three parts. The most interesting for him was the third one since conceptual analysis is something philosophy can do best. Significantly Habermas exemplified this onhand of the concept of 'solidarity' within the European context. He means by this a solidarity not only between people, but within the institutional context of the European Union, solidarity of Germany with, for example, Greece. Even though Habermas considers the European Union but a stepping stone towards world governance requiring that nation states give up a part of their sovereignty, still, it seems strange that this philosopher does not criticize so much the neo-liberal policy as if his reasoning is dictated by the fear what would happen if the Euro and with it the European Union would break up. 


Jürgen Habermas attended the World Congress of Philosophy when held in Athens, August 4 - 10, 2013.

Ethics in politics and philosophy - a soft reminder

An important contribution to the topic 'ethic and politics' was made at the philosophical conference held in Iraklion 2006 with Noam Chomsky, Agnes Heller, Martin Jay etc. Many of the abstracts provide important insights into what position can be taken up with regards to the question whether politics has to be / can be equal to ethics or if the two have to be separated?



After Norb Blei, now Seamus Heaney has joined the immortal poets. 

    Seamus Heaney

Night appears like a skull
Once eyes, in the past bright like stars,
have turned off the light
and plastic sheets cover
open fields once plowed
by him with a pen instead of a shovel,
and still he remembers father and grandfather
having done that same work every time
the season had come to give earth
some curvatures despite its gravity
to conflicts in Northern Ireland.
He wanted to find a mortal world
and found it in 'abundance'
best described when he came upon
a road in rural Greece in 1995.
A farmer must have just driven along
for scattered along the road were oranges
all fallen off an overloaded truck.
When Heaney returned thereafter to the hotel,
he heard the news that he had won the Nobel prize
and immediately thought of those oranges
as if many poems had been left on the wayside,
for so rich has been Irish poetry
that he knew he arrived there thanks
to three generations of Irish poets.


SELF STORAGE Dance performance

Christine Gouzelis and Paul Blackman

at 18.30

Thursday Oct. 17 / Friday Oct. 18 / Saturday  19 October 2013

Venue: Vyrsodepseio (Upstairs)
174, Orfeos st, Athens

For further information, see



European Capitals of Culture

Marseille 2013


See interview with


So far very little has been heard about both European Capitals of Culture in the year of 2013. The other city is Košice 2013

An interesting example of a European Capital of Culture seeking to prepare itself is 2018 Valletta

In May 2013, the official designation of the title coíncided with the conference titled: "small city - big dreams". Since then, V18 has initiated a cultural mapping exercise to gather knowledge on how to use streets, theatres, public squares, museums, cultural heritage, abandoned industrial buildings etc. It amounts to an interesting inquiry on how space can be used for cultural purposes. 

In Holland has been selected Leeuwarden 2018






Growing Concern about Nuclear engergy since Fukushima 11.March 2011




Reading / Indian Saga : Anjan Sen


The gaping flaming mouth of cosmic time
floats again and again
What will disappear into it?
The peace of the earth and the sky!

With the radiance of a thousand suns
Evolution flares up belief burns
Barriers mount upon the Vindhya vertically
Many kneeling Agasthyas stand halted

The inertia of the immobile one seeps into us
Apathy and unconcern harden into columns.


Original title 'Paath/ Bhaaratiya Gaathaa' ,Collected in "Paath /Bharatbarsha" ,1981 ,Calcutta
Translated  from Bengali by : E.V.Ramakrishnan


Anjan Sen states that his poem "Reading / Indian Saga" is related to our present time, when terrorism is linked to ,violence and fear of nuclear exploitation'. The poem is based on a "sloka of Bhagbat Gita" which was recited by the scientist Oppenheimer when he called the nuclear bomb as being "brighter than a thousand sun". "The gaping flaming mouth of cosmic time" was seen and experienced for the first time when an atomic bomb was dropped first over Hiroshima and then over Nagasaki.


India The criticism of Nationalism by Tagorea review of Tagore's thoughts on an important issue especially these days when the European crisis strokes once again the xenophobic and extreme Nationalist forces. The doctor and poet Dileep Jhaveri adds to this his own Interpretation of Nationalism while Rati Saxena believes the role of women in India has to change. Research European Structural Fund - Studies on Funding of Culture - Cultural policy of Local and Regional Authorities The research studies on how culture is funded through the Structural Fund (2007-2013), includes the study about Greece by Hatto Fischer. They are available online on DG EAC’s website: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/news/20120924-reports-structural-funds_en.htm Poiein kai Prattein - Publications Catalogue "Imperishable Water", 2012 with Haroula Hadjinicilou, Anna Arvanitaki, Hatto Fischer (ed.), Athens ISBN 978-618-80160-0-2 Hatto Fischer: The poem 'Destiny still flows' by Katerina Anghelaki Rooke - this concerns a discussion of the poem which inspired the action on Rhodes last year "Nation and Identity" by Kreisau-Initiative, with introduction by Hatto Fischer is crucial for answering the question whether or not Patriotism is an alternative to Nationalism. Youth met first in Kreisau, Poland and were inspired by this example set by the Kreisau Circle which went into resistance against Hitler on the basis of a non discriminatory approach for the day after Hitler fell. Article by Anna Arvanitaki and Haroula Hadjinicolaou, "Action on Rhodes" in Journal "Nissides" (small islands). Rhodos, Vol. 9, 2012 On the website materials of the Interreg III B CADSES Project HERMES (2003 - 2007)



Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth




Further materials have been added to both Kastelli 2006 and Chios 2007 when Kids' Guernica events were organized first by Poiein kai Prattein in Greece.


Alexandra Zanne in Gezoncourt worked with a Platform created by parents with children having special needs. She uses her camera to capture the traces these children leave behind and who have no own means to give their memory work an own critical base.
Christa Kleinbub initiated Action at Helene Lange school in Mannheim, Germany 
At the ame time The Helene Lange school supported a Kids' Guernica action in Togo, Africa.
Paul Dalli and the Mentoring Society shall initiate Kids' Guernica - Guernica youth related actions in Malta, while Ines Dulay Winkler undertook actions in Tübingen, Germany on 21st of September marked as 'World Peace Day'.
Hatto Fischer made a presentation to the Chinese-Greek forum at the Benaki museum on 9th of Sept. 2013.
Kids' Guernica International reported as well about activities in Barcelona.


Cultural Calendar

 2 Feb. 2 February each year is World Wetlands Day. It marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general, and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

3 Feb. reading by poet Yiorgos Chouliaras with actress Eudokia Statiri at Hytirio art cafe (in Gazi, Athens) on Sunday at 12.30

5 March Lecture by Iris Kaliampetsos on “Returning Lost Marbles: Antiquities Restitution and the Law” at Athens Centre, Pangrati

7-10 March The Association of European Cities and Regions for Culture -Les Rencontres- is holding its next meeting La Rencontre de Fingal/Dublin at the invitation of Fingal County Council in Dublin, Ireland. The meeting will take place in liaison with the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

4 - 7 April Hatto Fischer attending for Poiein kai Prattein theLAF Euro-Med Literary Exchange Strategy Workshop in Malta - organized by Literature Across Borders. Further details on LAF’s activities can be found online at:www.literature-across-frontiers.organd www.lafpublications.org

17 April Birthday of poet Brendan Kennelly - book launch by Sandrine Brisset

14 - 16 May Meeting of the Mentoring Society on Malta: DAVID project - which projects contribute to social literacy. Discussed shall be the Kids' Guernica project.

16 - 18 May Conference "small city - big dreams" to mark the official opening of Valletta's Imagine 18 programme for 2018

13 - 15 June in Budapest Annual conference of Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena about Catastrophe and Utopia: Central and Eastern European Intellectual Horizons 1933 to 1958


16 June Europa Nostra’s 50thanniversary Congress in Athens

12 - 13 July Reunion at London School of Economics

22 - 25 July Discussion with George Frangopoulos about Graffiti and Code Poetry

4 – 10 Aug. XXIII World Congress of Philosophy in Athens

9 Sept. Presentation of 'Kids' Guernica – Guernica Youth' in Chinese-Greek Forum held at the Benaki Museum (it replaced the intended, but not realized forum in August: "A Constructive Dialogue between Cultures") to prepare for a conference in China. Responsible: Spyros Mercouris, Open Horizon

18 - 22 Sept. The European Campus of Les Rencontres will meet in Tampere, Finland

21 Sept. Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth Action of Ines Dulay Winkler in Tübingen

21.9. Poetrywala is organizing a one-day poetry festival in Mumbai at the Sir J. J. College of Architecture. Responsible: Hemant Divante and Smruti Divante

22 Sept. German elections

23 - 29 Sept. On Homer’s sand shores Athens World Poetry Festival

17 - 18 Oct. Conference of the University Network of European Capitals of Culture in Marseilles on the topic "Cultural encounters: The Mosaic of Urban Identities". See http://www.uneecc.org/htmls/welcome_page.html

16/17/18 October Christine and Paul shall be performing 'Self Storage' at Athenian Dance festival.

24 - 25 Oct. „Kulturelles Erbe digital – Bedingungen und Perspektiven“ (cultural heritage going digital – conditions and perspectives) Conference in Cologne, Germany organized by Prof. Holger Simon <www.prometheus-bildarchiv.de/tagung2013>

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