The Sea: A “Fluxus Eleatis” discourse

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Archilochus: Look Glaucus! Already waves are disturbing the deep sea and a cloud stands straight round about the heights of Gyrae, a sign of storm; from the unexpected comes fear.

Julia Kristeva: We are no doubt permanent subjects of a language that holds us in its power. But we are subjects in process, ceaselessly losing our identity, destabilized by fluctuations in our relations to the other, to whom we nevertheless remain bound by a kind of homeostasis.

W.B. Yeats: What can be explained is not poetry. 

First Steward: Good evening Mrs. T, Mr. FFF, welcome on board! Your cabin is ready. Is there something we can do for you before we show you to your cabin?

Mrs. T:  Good evening Mr. Gerassimidis! It is always nice to see you!

Mr. FFF: Good evening to you too! It is good to see you again! Are we on time?

First Steward: We are on time, and we are going to have calm seas.

Mr. FFF: What time is dinner served?

First Steward: We start at 8pm sharp. Shall I book a table for you?

Mr. FFF: Yes, please. Now you can show us to our cabin.

Mrs. T: How long is the journey?

Mr. FFF: Approximately 18 hours. Assuming the sea is calm. It could be 14 hours, but with all the interim ports of call the time increases significantly.

Mrs. T: Are we going to see the dolphins?

Mr. FFF: Only if we are lucky. But if we do, it is a spectacular ballet show. And the music of the sea with the humming of the ship’s engines in the background brings the experience to supernatural levels.

Ανωνυμος Ναυτης: Θυμαμαι την πρωτη μου αναχωρηση μ’ ενα μεγαλο ποσταλε. Τη στιγμη εκεινη που πραγματοποιουσα το λαμπροτερον ονειρο μου, ημουν γιοματος αμφιβολια και φοβο.

(Unnamed Mariner: I remember my first sailing on a big postale. The moment I was realizing my brightest dream, I was full of doudt and fear.)

Alvaro Mutis: This is how we forget: our affairs, no matter how close to us, are made strange through the mimetic, deceptive, constant working of a precarious present. When one of these images returns with all its voracious determination to survive intact, then what learned men call epiphany occurs: an experience that can be either devastating or a simple confirmation of certain truths that allow us to go on living.

Maqroll “el Gaviero”: I think I’ve exaggerated the true significance of the death of the Duc of Orléans. . . . There’s a monotony in crime, and it’s not advisable to have too much to do with it in books or in life.

Jon Iturri: For three consecutive days we stayed in Hotel Lisboa without exiting the room, which we had transformed into a kind of our own universe, where incidents of eroticism were coming one after another, with the only words given to describing our childhood years and how we discovered the world.

Alvaro Mutis: Because, of course, in a place like that, one experiences situations which are extreme and absolute. In there the density of human  relations is absolute. And there is one thing you learn in prison, and I passed it on to Maqroll, and that is that you don’t judge, you don’t say, that guy committed a terrible crime against his family, so I can’t be his friend. No, in a place like that one coexists. The judging is done by the judges on the outside.

Ανωνυμος Ναυτης: Δεν μπορω να καταλαβω κι εγω ο ιδιος τον εαυτο μου. Ειναι ωρες που νομιζω πως δεν ειμαι τιποτα περισσοτερο απο το μαυρο θερμαστη Τζοννυ, που ζει μοναχα για να τρωει. Ειναι ωρες που νομιζω πως ολα μεσα μου εχουν πεθανει και λεω πως η καρδια μου εχει σκληρυνει, καθως οι παλαμες μου. .. Εχω δει τοσα και τοσα… Κι αλλες ωρες παλι, νομιζω πως μεσα μου εχω ολη την καλοσυνη και την αγνοτητα, που λειπει του κοσμου…

(Unnamed Mariner: I cannot understand my own self. There are moments I think I am nothing more than the black fireman Johnny, who lives only to eat. There are moments I think that everything inside me is dead and I say that my heart is as tough as my palm… I have seen a lot… And then, I think that I have in me all the goodness and purity that the world is longing for…)

Mr. FFF: I have often pictured myself in Tangier, restless and subdued, loving it and hating it, looking from a hill all the way to the north, to Gibraltar, to the escape. Crossing the Pillars of Hercules, entering another life, another planet, another universe, getting away from all the mess. In this sense a sea journey always has this cleansing aspect. The sea takes away all the mess you carry with you.

Mrs T: Why in Tangier?

Mr. FFF: Because I still have this dream that I am in Tangier and I meet W S Burrows in one of the tea shops up on the hill. And then I get on a boat and leave him behind. We do not exchange a single word. We just look at each other and drink tea. As a matter of fact, nobody in the tea shop talks. They drink tea and smoke shisha. I wanted to ask Burrows why he killed Joan Vollmer.

W S Burrows: (we hear his voice through a cloud, but cannot see him) I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death, and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing. I live with the constant threat of possession, and a constant need to escape from possession, from control. So the death of Joan brought me in contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and maneuvered me into a life long struggle, in which I have had no choice except to write my way out.

Mrs. T: The sea cleanses, the sea kills, the sea destroys all evidence of a committed crime. The sea gives you refuge, the sea hides you away from the prying eyes of society, it is the protector of the all the runaways. Hide away, hide away sinful souls! But even worse is the running away of those who have not committed any crime, but run away from themselves. Even the sea cannot save them.

Headwaiter: Would you like to have a drink before your meal?

Mrs. T: I would like a bitter Campari with soda water, a slice of lemon and ice.

Mr. FFF: A double scotch on the rocks for me please.

Headwaiter: Certainly. Here is our menu for tonight. I recommend the grilled shark steak. It is as fresh as it gets.

Mrs. T: Did you catch the shark while sailing? I would loooove to have the juicy grilled shark steak with sea weed rolls stuffed with angulas. 

Headwaiter: I had these rolls in Bilbao, and I loved them,. Unfortunately I cannot offer them to you tonight. Could I possibly offer you instead boiled vegetables with mustard sauce?

Mrs. T: Of course, it was a long shot anyway! Boiled vegetables will be fine. But please hold the mustard sauce.

Mr. FFF: Shall we have a robust white wine with the shark? Like assyrtico from Santorini.

Headwaiter: Splendid choice, I can serve you “Santorini” by Sigalas, 2008.

Ανδρέας Σπερχής: Βεατρίκη!…Βεατρίκη!…Συγχώρησέ με.

(Andreas Sperchis: Beatrice!.. Beatrice!… Forgive me!)

W.B. Yeats

Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!

Υβοννη: Τι συμβαίνει και δεν ημπορεί κανείς να απολαμβάνη πάντοτε τον έρωτα σαν μίαν ωραίαν οπώραν {…}, σαν ένα ωραίο τοπείον, σαν ένα ωραίο ξένοιστο πρωί, πασίχαρο, αυροφίλητο, γιομάτο ευφροσύνη, σαν ένα μυροβόλο περιβόλι, ή σαν μια καθαρή αμμουδιά, λουσμένη από γαλάζιο πέλαγος ευδαιμονίας; Μήπως δεν φταίει καθόλου, μα καθόλου ο έρως  (εξηκολούθησε να σκέπτεται μα αιμάσσουσαν καρδίαν η Υβόννη). Μήπως φταίει ο τρόπος με τον οποίον αντιμετωπίζουν οι άνθρωποι τον έρωτα, τόσον εις το ατομικόν, όσον και εις το κοινωνικόν επίπεδον; Μήπως, αν δεν έμπαινε στη μέση το λεγόμενον «αίσθημα» και η λεγομένη «ηθική», θα ημπορούσε τότε μόνον να είναι ο έρως τέλειος και απλός και εύκολος, επ’ άπειρον πανήδονος και απολύτως παντοδύναμος – όλο χαρά (μόνο χαρά), όλο γλύκα (μόνο γλύκα), χωρίς απαγορεύσεις, στερήσεις, πικρίες, διάφορα «μούπες-σούπα» και άλλα αηδή και ακατανόητα, όπως η αποκλειστικότης, η εντός του γάμου αγνότης και όλη η σχετική με αυτόν απέραντη όσον και μάταια ηθικολογία και φιλολογία;

(Yvonne: Why is it that one cannot enjoy sex as a tasty fruit… as a beautiful landscape, as a wonderful morning, without worries, full of joy, fresh air, as a garden full of perfumes, or a shiny sandy beach, caressed by the blue sea? Could it be that this has nothing to do with eros? < continued to wonder with her heart bleeding >. Could it be the way that people handle eros both on a personal and on a social level? Could it be that if there were no “emotional” component and the so called “ethical” dimension, that eros could be perfect and simple and easy, endlessly hedonistic and absolutely omnipotent – full of joy – only joy – without prohibitions, bitter moments, all the incomprehensible  nonsense like fidelity, exclusivity, purity within the wedding and other similar stuff?)

Mr. FFF: (reading from the voluminous novel “Great Anatolikos”, of Andreas Empeirikos) Yvonne all of a sudden stopped crying. It was as if she saw a light, a bright light coming from a lighthouse off the southeastern tip of the coast of Ireland.

Υβοννη: Μήπως, μα τον Θεόν, ο μόνος Θεός ήτο ένας τεράστιος και παντοδύναμος Ψώλων και, ουσιαστικώς, υπήρχαν μόνον ηδοναί, διά του πανισχύρου Πέους του και του υπερπλουσίου Σπέρματός του χορηγούμεναι; Και μήπως αι ηδοναί αύται, τουτέστιν αι ερωτικαί, ήσαν αι πράξεις εκείναι, που επλησίαζαν ασυγκρίτως περισσότερον απ’ οτιδήποτε άλλο τους ανθρώπους προς τον Μεγαλοψώλονα Θεόν, τον απόλυτον Πλάστην και Κτήτορα του Κόσμου, τον απόλυτον Κύριον των Δυνάμεων, τον απόλυτο Άρχοντα των Ουρανών και της μικράς μας Γης;

(Yvonne: Could it be, that the only God were a huge omnipotent Phallus, and, essentially, there were only pleasures on earth, disseminated eternally by its powerful flesh and abundant semen? And it could it also be, that these erotic pleasures, were the actions that were bringing humans close to the Omnipotent Phallus, the Absolute Creator and Owner of the World, the absolute Keeper of the Forces, the absolute Master of the Skies and our little Earth? )

Stendhal: J’entreprends d’écrire l’histoire de ma vie jour par jour

Γιωργος Σεφερης: Μερα με τη μερα ζουμε τη ζωη μας – δεν τη γραφουμε.

(George Seferis: Day by day we live our life – we do not write it.)


Dimitri Mitropoulos: There is a plan for April 1052, a grand tour; travelling on a ship we will call on all Mediterranean ports, where the Philharmonic (New York) under my humble direction, will play, not on board the ship, but in the concert halls of the cities. The route is roughly this: Liboa, Barcelona, Palermo, Athens, Tel-Aviv, Napoli, Roma, Firenze, Milano, Genoa. Later we added Paris to the tour, which means that the whole Orchestra will get off the ship in Marseille and return to the States from Cherbourg on another vessel.

Mr. FFF: The ashes of Maria Callas have been scaterred over these blue waters.

Mrs. T: Why did she die?

Mr. FFF: Because she could no longer love. And life without the ability to love had no meaning for her.

Mrs. T: If you have the ability to love, other people love you?

Mr. FFF: Not necessarily. But you have piece with yourself.

Mrs. T: So you are saying that Callas died because she could not find piece with herself.

Mr. FFF: Yes, you could put it this way.

Mrs. T: Why is it so hard. if not impossible, to find inner piece if you have lost the ability to love?

Mr. FFF: When you lose the ability to love, you begin to view life as an end, the end. Death takes over the mystery of life and it no longer is a mystery, but a horrid affair.

Ανωνυμος Ναυτης: Δεν εχω ερωτευτει ποτε στη ζωη μου… Εγνωρισα χιλιαδες γυναικες. Ειναι ολες τους παντοτε ιδιες… Εχω καιρο να κοιμηθω με γυναικες. Γι’ αυτο το πραμα οι ναυτες με κοροιδευουν. Εγω δεν φταιω… Ειναι μια ιστορια που η αρχη της ειχε γραφτει στο επιβατικο, που ταξιδευα αλλοτε… Ειναι μια θλιβερη ιστορια…Δεν θυμαμαι πια τ’ ονομα της. Αυτο δεν εχει καμια σημασια. Οι γυναικες δεν θα’ πρεπε να’ χουν ονοματα, αφου ολες τους ειναι ιδιες… Ταξιδευε απο την Αλεξανδρεια για τη Μασσαλια με τη μητερα της. Ητανε κορη ενος βαμβακεμπορου, που ειχε ξεπεσει κι αυτοκτονησε…. Μου χαρησε ενα πορτοφολι απο ψαροδερμα και της χαρισα το Σταυρο μου… Υστερα απο τρια χρονια στο Μπουενος Αιρες κοιμηθηκα μια νυχτια με καποια γυναικα. Το πρωι οταν εβγαλα το πορτοφολι μου να πληρωσω, δεν ξερω πως, εβγαλε μια φωνη καθως το ειδε κι εγω αλλη μια, οταν ειδα ενα μικρο σταυρο καρφωμενο στη ρομπα της… Μπορει και να το’ δα στον υπνο μου. Μου φαινεται ομως πως ολες οι γυναικες ειναι το ιδιο.

(Unnamed Mariner: I have never fallen in love in my life…. I have met thousands of women. They are always all the same… I haven’ t slept with a woman for a long time now. One of the reasons the sailors make fun of me. It is not my fault… It is a story whose beginning has been written on a passenger ship, where I used to work… It is a sad story… I no longer remember her name. It does not matter. Women should not have names, as they are all the same… She was travelling from Alexandria to Marseille with her mother. She was the daughter of a cotton merchant who went bancrupt and committed suicide. .. She gave me a wallet made of fishskin and I gave her my cross… Three years later, in Buenos Aires, I slept one night with a woman. In the morning, when I took out my wallet to pay her, I do not know, she screamed as she saw it and I screamed back when I saw a small cross pinned on her dress… I could be dreaming. Nevertheless, it appears to e that all women are the same.))

Frederico Fellini:  I love shipwrecks. Decadence is indispensable to rebirth

Mr. FFF: A dear friend years ago was bragging about specializing in the hauling of shipwrecks. In his own sarcastic way he was referring to his need – of the time – to relate to women in the middle of a huge personal crisis.

Alberto Moravia: (on Frederico Fellini’s film “E la Nave va”) What is brilliant,” is the intuition that European society of the Belle Epoque had emptied itself of all humanism leaving only an artificial and exhaustive formalism. The result was a society founded on a continuous yet contemptible melodrama. The other genial intuition is that of the fundamental unity of the world back then which was completely bourgeois or utterly obsessed with the bourgeoisie. This idea comes through magnificently in the scene where immaculate opera singers perform leaning over the iron balcony of the engine room as sweat-grimed workers cease stoking the furnace with coal to listen to the splendid voices.

Frederico Fellini: Opera has an insane aspect that is truly fascinating. Opera is a ritual, a Mass, a shepherd’s song…

Dimitri Mitropoulos: Here I am, on solid earth again, after an unforgettable sea trip! If you could only see me from a distance, how I survived these 19 horrible days on the lousy ship. But as you can see, I did not die; I made music and played bridge, trying to fight against the complete lack of comfort, the detestable food and the continuous rocking of the boat… I have thought of you more than one thousand times, I was sad, sad in the thought that it will be a long time before I see again the people I love. I wonder if my musical gifts and talent deserve this sacrifice.

Frederico Fellini:  It (filming) makes us regard people and things as if the whole world was a set at our disposal, an immense prop de­partment on which we lay our hands without asking permission. It is somewhat like a painter for whom objects, faces, houses, the sky are merely forms at his disposal. For the cinema everything becomes a still life without limits; even the feelings of others are something placed at out disposal.

Ανδρεας Εμπειρικος: Χτες ακουσα τον μεγαλυτερο μπασο του κοσμου τον Chaliapin. Τραγουδησε την περιφημη αρια απο την οπερα του  Mussorgsky Boris Godunov οπου ειναι θειος. Τραγουδησε και πολλα ρωσικα τραγουδια δραματικα, λυρικα, και λαικα. Και παντου θριαμβεψε. Τι φωνη, τι μεταλλο, τι χρωμα τι δυναμη! Σε κεραβνοβολει και σε χαϊδεβει συναμα. Μεγαλος αρτιστας ο Chaliapin.

(Andreas Empeirikos: Yesterday I heard the greatest bass of the world, Chaliapin. He sung the famous aria of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. He was divine. He also sung many other songs. He triumphed in each one of them. What a voice, what metal, what colour, what intensity! It hits you like a thunder and at the same time it caresses you. Chaliapin is a great artist.)

Mr. FFF: My grandfather was very fond of Chaliapin. He had loads of his records. But he had to exchange them for olive oil during the second world war. Primum vivere, deinte philosophare.


Ανδρεας Εμπειρικος: Πατερα… Δεν μου φαινεται δυνατον να συνεργασθω με εναν ανθρωπο σαν και σενα παρα την μεγαλη αξια που σου αναγνωριζω σε πολλα επιπεδα. Δεν ειναι αρκετα ανθρωπος για μενα. ..Λοιπον αντι να ξαναμπω στις δουλειες σου παραιτουμαι απ’ ολες περα για περα και σου αφηνω γεια.

(Andreas Empeirikos: Father… It does not appear possible to work with a person like you, in spite of how valuable I consider you in many areas. You are not human enough for me… So instead of joining you again in your business I resign from everything and bid you farewell.)



Ανωνυμος Ναυτης: Ζαλιστηκα. Ετσι οπως τοτε παιδι, που μ’ επιανε η θαλασσα. Τι ατιμο πραμα η ναυτια… Ξερατο, χολες. Γινεσαι μπαιγνιο, κουρελι. Τιποτ’ αλλο δε σκεφτεσαι, παρα πως θα ξεμπαρκαρεις, μολις φτασεις στο πρωτο λιμανι. Εφτασες; Τα ξεχνας ολα και ξαναφευγεις. Αρχιζεις να συνηθας. Νομιζεις. Δε σε ζαλιζει πια το ποτζι, μα σε χαλαει το σκαμπανεβασμα. Παει κι αυτο. Σου μενει να συνηθισεις τωρα οταν σκαμπανεβαρει και ποτζαρει μαζι. Εισαι νετα. Κανεις αχταρμα. Αλλαζεις καραβι. Πρεπει να μαθεις τα κουνηματα του καινουργιου. Καθε καραβι εχει τα δικα του. Ενας φορτηγισος ζαλιζεται σ’ ενα ποσταλι. Παραξενη αρρωστια. Φαρμακο… η στερια. Οι κουφοι, εκεινοι που εχουνε χασει την οσφρηση, δεν ζαλιζονται. Μητε οι τρελοι.

(Unnamed Mariner: I am sea sick. As when I was a kid, and the sea was making me sick. What a terrible thing … sea sickness. You become a wreck. You cannot think of anything else, but how to get off, as soon as you arrive at the first port of call. Have you arrived? You forget everything and sail off again. You begin to get used to it. You think you are. You change ship. You have to get used to the movements of the new ship. Every ship moves in its own way. A cargo ship sailor gets sick on a passenger ship. Strange sickness. The only medicine is the ground. The deaf, the ones who cannot smell anything, they do not get sea sickness. Neither do the mad.)

Ιωαννης ο Θεολογος (Αποκαλυψη): Και εδωκεν η θαλασσα τους νεκρους τους εν αυτη, και ο θανατος και ο Αιδης εδωκαν τους νεκρους τους εν αυτοις, και εκριθησαν εκαστος κατα τα εργα αυτων.

(St John the Divine: The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.)

Participants

Archilochus, 7th century BC Greek poet, from the island of Paros

Andreas Empeirikos: Greek born and raised in Vraila, Romania, writer and psychoanalyst

Mr. FFF, Greek, wanderer

First Steward, Greek, passenger ship

Frederico Fellini, Italian film maker

Headwaiter, passenger ship

Jon Iturri, Basque sea captain

Saint John the Divine, author of the Revelation

Maqroll “el Gaviero”, unknown ethnicity, hero in many Alvaro Mutis novels

Unnamed Mariner, in the journals of Nikos Kavvadias

Unnamed Millitary Officer, South American

Dimitri Mitropoulos, Greek conductor and composer

Alberto Moravia, Italian novelist

Alvaro Mutis, Colombian writer

Captain Nick, Greek, captain of motor ship “Gloria”

George Seferis, Greek poet and Nobel Laureate in Literature

Andreas Sperchis, Greek of Wallachian origin

Stendhal, French writer

Mrs. T, unknown ethnicity, gourmant

Voltaire: French writer and philosopher

W.B. Yeats, Irish poet and playwright

Yvonne, a passenger of “Megas Anatolikos”

2 COMMENTS

  1. Ωραία η συλλογή με τους σκυλοπνίχτες. Συνετέλεσαν στο να έχει η θάλασσα νεκρούς να αποδώσει. Ιδία δε το Ηράκλειον. Θυμάμαι ήμουν παιδί όταν ταξιδέψαμε με αυτό στην Κρήτη, λίγο πριν το ναυάγιο.

    • Μανωλη!!!! Εχω ιδιαιτερα εντονες μνημες απο τα καραβια αυτα, μια και εκανα το δρομολογιο Πειραιας – Δωδεκανησα παμπολλες φορες. Αλλα και τα καλοκαιρια της αφραγκιας απο νησακι σε νησακι με τα υπεροχα πλοια που αδικως αποκαλεις “σκυλοπνιχτες”. Εχω ταξιδεψει και με 9 και με 10 μποφωρ (χωρις τον Γκουζγκουνη) και παρολες τις στομαχικες επιπτωσεις ολα τα αλλα πηγαν καλα. Το “Ηρακλειο” πηγε αδικα, και ακουστηκαν πολλα. Ηταν το οριστικο χτυπημα στον Τυπαλδο. Σε μια χωρα με τη ναυτωσυνη της Ελλαδας, της Ελλαδας των αιωνων, ειναι δυσκολο να δεχτεις οτι αυτο ητανε ενα “δυστυχημα”. Μου θυμιζει τους στιχους του Τσιτσαν稔ηταν προμελετημενο” απο το παπορι απο την περσια. Για να μην πω τιποτε για το “Σαμαινα” που πηγε και φουνταρησε στις Πορτες με μπουνατσα και αριστη ορατοτητα.

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