Comments on Greek painting, art, contemporary thought

Our blog is an artistic, cultural guide to the Greek landscapes. At the same time it offers an introduction to the history of Greek fine arts, Greek artists, mainly Greek painters, as well as to the recent artistic movements

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Friday, April 30, 2010

Comments & Greek paintings, Greek artists: Trodden the dusty road of common sense, While all the forest sang of liberty...

Poetry & Greek artists, Greek painting, modern Greek painters

Yannis Stavrou, Spring in Attica, oil on canvas

Many a man hath done so; sought to fence
In straitened bonds the soul that should be free,
Trodden the dusty road of common sense,
While all the forest sang of liberty...

Oscar Wilde


Is it thy will that I should wax and wane,
Barter my cloth of gold for hodden grey,
And at thy pleasure weave that web of pain
Whose brightest threads are each a wasted day?

Is it thy will--Love that I love so well--
That my Soul's House should be a tortured spot
Wherein, like evil paramours, must dwell
The quenchless flame, the worm that dieth not?

Nay, if it be thy will I shall endure,
And sell ambition at the common mart,
And let dull failure be my vestiture,
And sorrow dig its grave within my heart.

Perchance it may be better so--at least
I have not made my heart a heart of stone,
Nor starved my boyhood of its goodly feast,
Nor walked where Beauty is a thing unknown.

Many a man hath done so; sought to fence
In straitened bonds the soul that should be free,
Trodden the dusty road of common sense,
While all the forest sang of liberty,

Not marking how the spotted hawk in flight
Passed on wide pinion through the lofty air,
To where the steep untrodden mountain height
Caught the last tresses of the Sun God's hair.

Or how the little flower he trod upon,
The daisy, that white-feathered shield of gold,
Followed with wistful eyes the wandering sun
Content if once its leaves were aureoled.

But surely it is something to have been
The best belovèd for a little while,
To have walked hand in hand with Love, and seen
His purple wings flit once across thy smile.

Ay! though the gorgèd asp of passion feed
On my boy's heart, yet have I burst the bars,
Stood face to face with Beauty, known indeed
The Love which moves the Sun and all the stars!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Comments & Greek artists: I want to sleep awhile, awhile, a minute, a century...

Poets & Greek artists, modern Greek painters

Yannis Stavrou, Attica Landscape, oil on canvas

Federico Garcia Lorca
Gacela of the Dark Death

I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to withdraw from the tumult of cemetries.
I want to sleep the dream of that child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.

I don't want to hear again that the dead do not lose their blood,
that the putrid mouth goes on asking for water.
I don't want to learn of the tortures of the grass,
nor of the moon with a serpent's mouth
that labors before dawn.

I want to sleep awhile,
awhile, a minute, a century;
but all must know that I have not died;
that there is a stable of gold in my lips;
that I am the small friend of the West wing;
that I am the intense shadows of my tears.

Cover me at dawn with a veil,
because dawn will throw fistfuls of ants at me,
and wet with hard water my shoes
so that the pincers of the scorpion slide.

For I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to learn a lament that will cleanse me to earth;
for I want to live with that dark child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Comments & Greek artists, Greek painters: I turn to you, Art of Poetry...

Greek poets & Greek artists, Greek painters

Yannis Stavrou, Rotonda, Thessaloniki, oil on canvas

Konstantinos Kavafis
Melancholy of Jason Kleander, Poet in Kommagini, A.D. 595

The aging of my body and my beauty
is a wound from a merciless knife.
I’m not resigned to it at all.
I turn to you, Art of Poetry,
because you have a kind of knowledge about drugs:
attempts to numb the pain, in Imagination and Language.

It is wound from a merciless knife.
Bring your drugs, Art of Poetry—
they numb the wound at least for a little while.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Comments & Greek painting, Greek artists: Isn't history the result of our fear of boredom?

Philosophic thoughts & Greek painting, Greek artists, Greek painters

Yannis Stavrou, Thessaloniki Landscape, oil on canvas

By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing.

Emil Cioran

Born in 1911 in Rasinari, a small village in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, raised under the rule of a father who was a Romanian Orthodox priest and a mother who was prone to depression, Emil Cioran wrote his first five books in Romanian. Some of these are collections of brief essays (one or two pages, on average); others are collections of aphorisms. Suffering from insomnia since his adolescent years in Sibiu, the young Cioran studied philosophy in the “little Paris” of Bucarest. A prolific publicist, he became a well-known figure, along with Mircea Eliade, Constantin Noïca, and his future close friend Eugene Ionesco (with whom he shared the Royal Foundation’s Young Writers Prize in 1934 for his first book, On the Heights of Despair).

Influenced by the German romantics, by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and the Lebensphilosophie of Schelling and Bergson, by certain Russian writers, including Chestov, Rozanov, and Dostoyevsky, and by the Romanian poet Eminescu, Cioran wrote lyrical and expansive meditations that were often metaphysical in nature and whose recurrent themes were death, despair, solitude, history, music, saintliness and the mystics (cf. Tears and Saints, 1937) – all of which are themes that one finds again in his French writings. In his highly controversial book, The Transfiguration of Romania (1937), Cioran, who was at that time close to the Romanian fascists, violently criticized his country and his compatriots on the basis of a contrast between such “little nations” as Romania, which were contemptible from the perspective of universal history and great nations, such as France or Germany, which took their destiny into their own hands.

After spending two years in Germany, Cioran arrived in Paris in 1936. He continued to write in Romanian until the early 1940s (he wrote his last article in Romanian in 1943, which is also the year in which he began writing in French). The break with Romanian became definitive in 1946, when, in the course of translating Mallarmé, he suddenly decided to give up his native tongue since no one spoke it in Paris. He then began writing in French a book that, thanks to numerous intensive revisions, would eventually become the impressive A Short History of Decay (1949) -- the first of a series of ten books in which Cioran would continue to explore his perennial obsessions, with a growing detachment that allies him equally with the Greek sophists, the French moralists, and the oriental sages. He wrote existential vituperations and other destructive reflections in a classical French style that he felt was diametrically opposed to the looseness of his native Romanian; he described it as being like a “straight-jacket” that required him to control his temperamental excesses and his lyrical flights. The books in which he expressed his radical disillusionment appeared, with decreasing frequency, over a period of more than three decades, during which time he shared his solitude with his companion Simone Boué in a miniscule garret in the center of Paris, where he lived as a spectator more and more turned in on himself and maintaining an ever greater distance from a world that he rejected as much on the historical level (History and Utopia, 1960) as on the ontological (The Fall into Time, 1964), raising his misanthropy to heights of subtlety (The Trouble with being Born, 1973), while also allowing to appear from time to time a humanism composed of irony, bitterness, and preciosity (Exercices d’admiration, 1986, and the posthumously published Notebooks).

Denied the right to return to Romania during the years of the communist regime, and attracting international attention only late in his career, Cioran died in Paris in 1995.

Nicolas Cavaillès
Translated by Thomas Cousineau

Emil Cioran


  • We would not be interested in human beings if we did not have the hope of someday meeting someone worse off than ourselves.
  • God - a disease we imagine we are cured of because no one dies of it nowadays.
  • Great persecutors are recruited among martyrs whose heads haven't been cut off.
  • I foresee the day when we shall read nothing but telegrams and prayers.
  • I have no nationality - the best possible status for an intellectual.
  • I'm simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?
  • If we could see ourselves as others see us, we would vanish on the spot.
  • If, at the limit, you can rule without crime, you cannot do so without injustices.
  • Impossible to spend sleepless nights and accomplish anything: if, in my youth, my parents had not financed my insomnias, I should surely have killed myself.
  • In a republic, that paradise of debility, the politician is a petty tyrant who obeys the laws.
  • In every man sleeps a prophet, and when he wakes there is a little more evil in the world.
  • In order to have the stuff of a tyrant, a certain mental derangement is necessary.
  • Intelligence flourishes only in the ages when belief withers.
  • Isn't history ultimately the result of our fear of boredom?
  • It is because we are all imposters that we endure each other.
  • It is not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late.
  • Jealousy - that jumble of secret worship and ostensible aversion.
  • Life creates itself in delirium and is undone in ennui.
  • Life inspires more dread than death - it is life which is the great unknown.
  • Life is possible only by the deficiencies of our imagination and memory.
  • A civilization is destroyed only when its gods are destroyed.
  • A distant enemy is always preferable to one at the gate.
  • A golden rule: to leave an incomplete image of oneself.
  • A marvel that has nothing to offer, democracy is at once a nation's paradise and its tomb.
  • A people represents not so much an aggregate of ideas and theories as of obsessions.
  • A sudden silence in the middle of a conversation suddenly brings us back to essentials: it reveals how dearly we must pay for the invention of speech.
  • Ambition is a drug that makes its addicts potential madmen.
  • Anyone can escape into sleep, we are all geniuses when we dream, the butcher's the poet's equal there.
  • Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an imposter.
  • By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing.
  • Chaos is rejecting all you have learned, Chaos is being yourself.
  • Consciousness is much more than the thorn, it is the dagger in the flesh.
  • Crime in full glory consolidates authority by the sacred fear it inspires.
  • Criticism is a misconception: we must read not to understand others but to understand ourselves.
  • Each concession we make is accompanied by an inner diminution of which we are not immediately conscious.
  • Ennui is the echo in us of time tearing itself apart.
  • Every thought derives from a thwarted sensation.
  • Everything is pathology, except for indifference.
  • For you who no longer posses it, freedom is everything, for us who do, it is merely an illusion.
  • Glory - once achieved, what is it worth?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Comments & Greek painting, Greek artists: wouldn’t it have been better if you dreamt on all fours?

Greek poets & Greek artists, Greek painters

Yannis Stavrou, Olive Grove in Attica, oil on canvas

Home erectus, remote starting point of the Iliad,
wouldn’t it have been better if you dreamt on all fours?

Nikos Karouzos

The Night is in my Interest

Indeed the night is in my interest.
First of all, it reduces ambition; moreover,
it corrects thoughts; then,
it collects the grief and makes it more bearable;
it dissects the silence with respect; in the gardens
it stresses smell,
but above all, night envelops.

Nikos Karouzos (1926-1990)

The Second Death

Home erectus, remote starting point of the Iliad,
wouldn’t it have been better if you dreamt on all fours?
Wasn’t the nightingale enough for you as it prayed
among the aphrodiasic branches of the trees?
What the hell did you want with the wanton Ode of the poet
in his bitter and blood-shattered guts?
Now you lose beauty twice
in a horrible uprooting, howling about life and art.
Ah mother what a tumbling down to grandeur . . .
It must have been the savage erection I reflect
which gave you oh homo erectus the feeling
of standing upright in this world.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Comments & Greek painting, Greek artists: Genius always gives its best at first; prudence, at last...

Aphorisms & modern Greek artists, Greek painters

Yannis Stavrou, Still Life, oil on canvas

For greed all nature is too little...

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Everything is the product of one universal creative effort. There is nothing dead in Nature. Everything is organic and living, and therefore the whole world appears to be a living organism.

Everywhere is nowhere. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.

Expecting is the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow, it loses today.

For greed all nature is too little.

For many men, the acquisition of wealth does not end their troubles, it only changes them.

Genius always gives its best at first; prudence, at last.

God is the universal substance in existing things. He comprises all things. He is the fountain of all being. In Him exists everything that is.

Great grief does not of itself put an end to itself.

He has committed the crime who profits by it.

He that does good to another does good also to himself.

He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.

He who dreads hostility too much is unfit to rule.

He who has great power should use it lightly.

He who is brave is free.

Health is the soul that animates all the enjoyments of life, which fade and are tasteless without it.

I don't consider myself bald, I'm just taller than my hair.

I don't trust liberals, I trust conservatives.

I never come back home with the same moral character I went out with; something or other becomes unsettled where I had achieved internal peace; some one or other of the things I had put to flight reappears on the scene.

I shall never be ashamed of citing a bad author if the line is good.

I will govern my life and thoughts as if the whole world were to see the one and read the other, for what does it signify to make anything a secret to my neighbor, when to God, who is the searcher of our hearts, all our privacies are open?

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

As long as you live, keep learning how to live.

Be wary of the man who urges an action in which he himself incurs no risk.

Behold a worthy sight, to which the God, turning his attention to his own work, may direct his gaze. Behold an equal thing, worthy of a God, a brave man matched in conflict with evil fortune.

Believe me, that was a happy age, before the days of architects, before the days of builders.

Brave men rejoice in adversity, just as brave soldiers triumph in war.

Call it Nature, Fate, Fortune; all these are names of the one and selfsame God.

Consider, when you are enraged at any one, what you would probably think if he should die during the dispute.

Constant exposure to dangers will breed contempt for them.

Consult your friend on all things, especially on those which respect yourself. His counsel may then be useful where your own self-love might impair your judgment.

Crime when it succeeds is called virtue.

Death is the wish of some, the relief of many, and the end of all.

Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.

Do everything as in the eye of another.

Do not ask for what you will wish you had not got.

Even after a bad harvest there must be sowing.

Every guilty person is his own hangman.

Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgment.

Every reign must submit to a greater reign.

Every sin is the result of a collaboration.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Comments & Greek artists, Greek painting: I listen, savouring the night stillness...

Poetry & modern Greek painters, Greek artists

Yannis Stavrou, Nocturnal, oil on canvas

abandoned sandstone that tells me to move on,
that here is nowhere, that I’m travelling...

Gregory O’Donoghue

Midnight. Only myself and a white-haired woman
have been set down at a dismantled rural station.
I watch her cross the tracks and fade
up a slope, vanish in a blur of conifers.

Lingering near the solitary building –
abandoned sandstone that tells me to move on,
that here is nowhere, that I’m travelling –
I listen, savouring the night stillness.

It is the aftertraces of flaring spirits
who’ve leapt after diminishing carriages,
it must be these making the quietness quicken.

And I’m numbed a moment at seeming to see
the snow-haired woman returning; it’s only
a chalky cat stealing in a crouch across
the moonlight, unless I am doubly mistaken.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Comments & modern Greek artists: ...can the European Mind -- or at least its most precious content -- be totally diffused?

Poetry & modern Greek painters, Greek artists

Γιάννης Σταύρου, Μοναχικό δέντρο, λάδι σε καμβά

But can the European Mind -- or at least its most precious content -- be totally diffused?

Must such phenomena as democracy, the exploitation of the globe, and the general spread of technology, all of which presage a deminutio capitis for Europe...must these be taken as absolute decisions of fate? Or have we some freedom against this threatening conspiracy of things?

Perhaps in seeking that freedom we may create it.

But in order to seek it, we must for a time give up considering groups, and study the thinking individual in his struggle for a personal life against his life in society.

Paul Valery

(From "The Crisis of the Mind" - "La Crise de l'esprit", translated by Denise Folliot and Jackson Mathews)

A great poet...

A great intellectual...

Paul Valery

The Graveyard By The Sea

(Translated by C. Day Lewis)

This quiet roof, where dove-sails saunter by,
Between the pines, the tombs, throbs visibly.
Impartial noon patterns the sea in flame --
That sea forever starting and re-starting.
When thought has had its hour, oh how rewarding
Are the long vistas of celestial calm!

What grace of light, what pure toil goes to form
The manifold diamond of the elusive foam!
What peace I feel begotten at that source!
When sunlight rests upon a profound sea,
Time's air is sparkling, dream is certainty --
Pure artifice both of an eternal Cause.

Sure treasure, simple shrine to intelligence,
Palpable calm, visible reticence,
Proud-lidded water, Eye wherein there wells
Under a film of fire such depth of sleep --
O silence! . . . Mansion in my soul, you slope
Of gold, roof of a myriad golden tiles.

Temple of time, within a brief sigh bounded,
To this rare height inured I climb, surrounded
By the horizons of a sea-girt eye.
And, like my supreme offering to the gods,
That peaceful coruscation only breeds
A loftier indifference on the sky.

Even as a fruit's absorbed in the enjoying,
Even as within the mouth its body dying
Changes into delight through dissolution,
So to my melted soul the heavens declare
All bounds transfigured into a boundless air,
And I breathe now my future's emanation.

Beautiful heaven, true heaven, look how I change!
After such arrogance, after so much strange
Idleness -- strange, yet full of potency --
I am all open to these shining spaces;
Over the homes of the dead my shadow passes,
Ghosting along -- a ghost subduing me.

My soul laid bare to your midsummer fire,
O just, impartial light whom I admire,
Whose arms are merciless, you have I stayed
And give back, pure, to your original place.
Look at yourself . . . But to give light implies
No less a somber moiety of shade.

Oh, for myself alone, mine, deep within
At the heart's quick, the poem's fount, between
The void and its pure issue, I beseech
The intimations of my secret power.
O bitter, dark, and echoing reservoir
Speaking of depths always beyond my reach.

But know you -- feigning prisoner of the boughs,
Gulf which cats up their slender prison-bars,
Secret which dazzles though mine eyes are closed --
What body drags me to its lingering end,
What mind draws it to this bone-peopled ground?
A star broods there on all that I have lost.

Closed, hallowed, full of insubstantial fire,
Morsel of earth to heaven's light given o'er --
This plot, ruled by its flambeaux, pleases me --
A place all gold, stone, and dark wood, where shudders
So much marble above so many shadows:
And on my tombs, asleep, the faithful sea.

Keep off the idolaters, bright watch-dog, while --
A solitary with the shepherd's smile --
I pasture long my sheep, my mysteries,
My snow-white flock of undisturbed graves!
Drive far away from here the careful doves,
The vain daydreams, the angels' questioning eyes!

Now present here, the future takes its time.
The brittle insect scrapes at the dry loam;
All is burnt up, used up, drawn up in air
To some ineffably rarefied solution . . .
Life is enlarged, drunk with annihilation,
And bitterness is sweet, and the spirit clear.

The dead lie easy, hidden in earth where they
Are warmed and have their mysteries burnt away.
Motionless noon, noon aloft in the blue
Broods on itself -- a self-sufficient theme.
O rounded dome and perfect diadem,
I am what's changing secretly in you.

I am the only medium for your fears.
My penitence, my doubts, my baulked desires --
These are the flaw within your diamond pride . . .
But in their heavy night, cumbered with marble,
Under the roots of trees a shadow people
Has slowly now come over to your side.

To an impervious nothingness they're thinned,
For the red clay has swallowed the white kind;
Into the flowers that gift of life has passed.
Where are the dead? -- their homely turns of speech,
The personal grace, the soul informing each?
Grubs thread their way where tears were once composed.

The bird-sharp cries of girls whom love is teasing,
The eyes, the teeth, the eyelids moistly closing,
The pretty breast that gambles with the flame,
The crimson blood shining when lips are yielded,
The last gift, and the fingers that would shield it --
All go to earth, go back into the game.

And you, great soul, is there yet hope in you
To find some dream without the lying hue
That gold or wave offers to fleshly eyes?
Will you be singing still when you're thin air?
All perishes. A thing of flesh and pore
Am I. Divine impatience also dies.

Lean immortality, all crêpe and gold,
Laurelled consoler frightening to behold,
Death is a womb, a mother's breast, you feign
The fine illusion, oh the pious trick!
Who does not know them, and is not made sick
That empty skull, that everlasting grin?

Ancestors deep down there, O derelict heads
Whom such a weight of spaded earth o'erspreads,
Who are the earth, in whom our steps are lost,
The real flesh-eater, worm unanswerable
Is not for you that sleep under the table:
Life is his meat, and I am still his host.

'Love,' shall we call him? 'Hatred of self,' maybe?
His secret tooth is so intimate with me
That any name would suit him well enough,
Enough that he can see, will, daydream, touch --
My flesh delights him, even upon my couch
I live but as a morsel of his life.

Zeno, Zeno, cruel philosopher Zeno,
Have you then pierced me with your feathered arrow
That hums and flies, yet does not fly! The sounding
Shaft gives me life, the arrow kills. Oh, sun! --
Oh, what a tortoise-shadow to outrun
My soul, Achilles' giant stride left standing!

No, no! Arise! The future years unfold.
Shatter, O body, meditation's mould!
And, O my breast, drink in the wind's reviving!
A freshness, exhalation of the sea,
Restores my soul . . . Salt-breathing potency!
Let's run at the waves and be hurled back to living!

Yes, mighty sea with such wild frenzies gifted
(The panther skin and the rent chlamys), sifted
All over with sun-images that glisten,
Creature supreme, drunk on your own blue flesh,
Who in a tumult like the deepest hush
Bite at your sequin-glittering tail -- yes, listen!

The wind is rising! . . . We must try to live!
The huge air opens and shuts my book: the wave
Dares to explode out of the rocks in reeking
Spray. Fly away, my sun-bewildered pages!
Break, waves! Break up with your rejoicing surges
This quiet roof where sails like doves were pecking.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Comments & Greek painters, modern Greek artists: the general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power...

Aphorisms & Greek artists, Greek painters

Yannis Stavrou, Green Boatι, oil on canvas

I put for the general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.
(Thomas Hobbes)

About the nature of the human kind...

Thomas Hobbes

A man's conscience and his judgment is the same thing; and as the judgment, so also the conscience, may be erroneous.

A wise man should so write (though in words understood by all men) that wise men only should be able to commend him.

All generous minds have a horror of what are commonly called "Facts". They are the brute beasts of the intellectual domain.

Curiosity is the lust of the mind.

During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man.

Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues.

He that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy.

I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.

I put for the general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.

In the state of nature profit is the measure of right.

It is not wisdom but Authority that makes a law.

Laughter is nothing else but sudden glory arising from some sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly.

Leisure is the Mother of Philosophy.

Not believing in force is the same as not believing in gravitation.

Science is the knowledge of consequences, and dependence of one fact upon another.

Such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves.

Such truth, as opposeth no man's profit, nor pleasure, is to all men welcome.

Sudden glory is the passion which maketh those grimaces called laughter.

The condition of man... is a condition of war of everyone against everyone.

The disembodied spirit is immortal; there is nothing of it that can grow old or die. But the embodied spirit sees death on the horizon as soon as its day dawns.

The flesh endures the storms of the present alone; the mind, those of the past and future as well as the present.

Gluttony is a lust of the mind.

The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them.

The Papacy is not other than the Ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof.

The praise of ancient authors proceeds not from the reverence of the dead, but from the competition and mutual envy of the living.

The privilege of absurdity; to which no living creature is subject, but man only.

The right of nature... is the liberty each man hath to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life.

The secret thoughts of a man run over all things, holy, profane, clean, obscene, grave, and light, without shame or blame.

There is no such thing as perpetual tranquillity of mind while we live here; because life itself is but motion, and can never be without desire, nor without fear, no more than without sense.

They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that dislike it, heresy; and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion.

War consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known.

Words are the counters of wise men, and the money of fools.

Words are the money of fools.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Comments & modern Greek artists, painters: I’m prehuman, a creature Indifferent to calm or tempest...

Greek poetry & Greek artists, Greek paintings, Greek painters

Yannis Stavrou, On Waves, oil on canvas

In this way escaping into distance
becomes a flight into time
Until the signs of an antique age
are all around me...

Nikos Fokas
The Ocean

I avoid the coastline like a shark.
When a bulge
of land appears
gaining depth and perspective
like an embryo gradually forming
The details steadily multiplying until
as in Creation
Man arrives at last, and human families
start moving about
endowed with cinematic quality,
Even before I discern an individual’s
eyes, nose or mouth,
Though I too an anthropomorphic
I take to the open sea.

From a secure distance
the mainland is just another cloud
Though looking back as I flee
I glimpse the phases of Creation
in retrograde, the closer
Lost inside the farther away
The more recent in the older
In this way escaping into distance
becomes a flight into time
Until the signs of an antique age
are all around me
as if God had not yet gone
beyond the horizon, a life
Still bearing the imprint
of apocalyptic scripture:

When waves are low, inclined
to final submission
like scraps of paper hovering
until held motionless by earth
Or when with uneven
momentary peaks corresponding
to uneven degree of horror
on a spiritual scale,
When the sea possesses the dimensions of heaven
Or fits wholly inside a flash of lightning,
I see fleeting fins
tails emerging from water
disappearing tentacles
Like limbs in museums, elliptical, unintelligible
parts of an invisible whole.

As if I were living in a time
before Man
Where the whale too participates
unsuspectingly in some general preparation
waiting for an arrival that
for its own sake shouldn’t happen – for truly,
Humans, your faces in the distance
empty yet of eyes, noses, mouths
as if half-finished or hidden
behind a murderer’s stocking-mask
I don’t want to see you close up:
I’m prehuman, a creature
Indifferent to calm or tempest –
Light in the Ocean, secure
As a floating plank.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Comments & modern Greek artists: about human kind...

Anthropology & Greek painting, Greek artists, modern Greek painters

Yannis Stavrou, Woman on Blue Background, oil on canvas

A new hominin, which is neither homo sapiens nor neanderthal, was recently discovered - the "X-Woman"...

Like neanderthals, this hominin dissapeared too - due to the dominant role of the human kind...

However, the next victim of the human kind is the human kind itself...

Maybe, this is the best solution for us as well as for the planet...

As the amelioration of the humans is absolutely impossible - according to facts...

Recent scientific news follow:

The X-Woman...

Scientists have identified a previously unknown type of ancient human through analysis of DNA from a finger bone unearthed in a Siberian cave.

BBC NEWS, March 25, 2010

By Paul Rincon

Science reporter, BBC News

The extinct "hominin" (human-like creature) lived in Central Asia between 48,000 and 30,000 years ago.

An international team has sequenced genetic material from the fossil showing that it is distinct from that of Neanderthals and modern humans.

Details of the find, dubbed "X-woman", have been published in Nature journal.

Ornaments were found in the same ground layer as the finger bone, including a bracelet.

Professor Chris Stringer, human origins researcher at London's Natural History Museum, called the discovery "a very exciting development".

"This new DNA work provides an entirely new way of looking at the still poorly-understood evolution of humans in central and eastern Asia."

The discovery raises the intriguing possibility that three forms of human - Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and the species represented by X-woman - could have met each other and interacted in southern Siberia.

The tiny fragment of bone from a fifth finger was uncovered by archaeologists working at Denisova Cave in Siberia's Altai Mountains in 2008.

An international team of researchers extracted mitochondrial DNA from the bone and compared the genetic sequence with those from modern humans and Neanderthals.

Origin unknown

Mitochondrial DNA comes from the cell's powerhouses and is passed down the maternal line only.

The analysis carried out by Johannes Krause from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues revealed the human from Denisova last shared a common ancestor with modern humans and Neanderthals about one million years ago.

This is known as the divergence date; essentially, when this human's ancestors split away from the line that eventually led to Neanderthals and ourselves.

The Neanderthal and modern human evolutionary lines diverged much later, around 500,000 years ago. This shows that the individual from Denisova is the representative of a previously unknown human lineage that derives from a hitherto unrecognised migration out of Africa.

"Whoever carried this mitochondrial genome out of Africa about a million years ago is some new creature that has not been on our radar screens so far," said co-author Professor Svante Paabo, also from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

The divergence date of one million years is too young for the Denisova hominin to have been a descendent of Homo erectus, which moved out of Africa into Asia some two million years ago.

And it is too old to be a descendent of Homo heidelbergensis, another ancient human thought to have originated around 650,000 years ago. However, for now, the researchers have steered away from describing the specimen as a new species.

Dr Krause said the ground layer in which the Denisova hominin fragment was found contain tools which are similar to those made by modern humans in Europe.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Commnents & Greek artists, modern Greek painters: Welcome joy, and welcome sorrow...

Poetry & Greek painting, Greek artists, modern Greek painters

Yannis Stavrou, Small Church in Attica, oil on canvas

John Keats
Welcome joy, and welcome sorrow

'Under the flag
Of each his faction, they to battle bring
Their embryo atoms.' ~ Milton.

Welcome joy, and welcome sorrow,
Lethe's weed and Hermes' feather;
Come to-day, and come to-morrow,
I do love you both together!
I love to mark sad faces in fair weather;
And hear a merry laugh amid the thunder;
Fair and foul I love together.
Meadows sweet where flames are under,
And a giggle at a wonder;
Visage sage at pantomine;
Funeral, and steeple-chime;
Infant playing with a skull;
Morning fair, and shipwreck'd hull;
Nightshade with the woodbine kissing;
Serpents in red roses hissing;
Cleopatra regal-dress'd
With the aspic at her breast;
Dancing music, music sad,
Both together, sane and mad;
Muses bright and muses pale;
Sombre Saturn, Momus hale;--
Laugh and sigh, and laugh again;
Oh the sweetness of the pain!
Muses bright, and muses pale,
Bare your faces of the veil;
Let me see; and let me write
Of the day, and of the night -
Both together: - let me slake
All my thirst for sweet heart-ache!
Let my bower be of yew,
Interwreath'd with myrtles new;
Pines and lime-trees full in bloom,
And my couch a low grass-tomb.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Comments & Greek artists, modern Greek painters: Don’t read me if you haven’t attended...

Greetings & Greek paintings, modern Greek artists

Γιάννης Σταύρου, Κόκκινα καράβια, λάδι σε καμβά

Happy Easter...

Nikos Karouzos
Romantic Epilogue

Don’t read me if you haven’t
attended the funerals of strangers
or at least memorial services.
If you haven’t
divined the strength
that makes love
the rival of death.
If you haven’t flown a kite on Clean Monday
without monkeying with it.
pulling on the string continually.
If you don’t know if Nostradamus ever
sniffed flowers.
If you haven’t been at least once
to the Deposition from the Cross.
If you don’t know any past perfect.
If you don’t love animals
and, especially, squirrels.
If you don’t hear thunder with pleasure,
wherever you are.
If you don’t know that the handsome Modigliani
drunk at three in the morning,
pounded furiously on a friend’s door
looking for Villon’s poems
and began to read for hours out loud
disturbing the Universe.
If you call nature our mother and not our aunt.
If you don’t joyously drink the innocent water.
If you don’t understand the Flowering Era
is the one you’re living in.
Don’t read me
you are
Don’t read me if
you haven’t quarrelled with the body . . .
Time I was going,
I have no more breath.


© Translation: Philip Ramp

Friday, April 2, 2010

Comments & Greek artists, Greek painters: And how terrible the day you give in...

Greek literature & Greek artists, Greek painters

Yannis Stavrou, Hydra island, oil on canvas

A great Greek Poet...

Konstantinos Kavafis

Too bad that, cut out as you are
for grand and noble acts,
this unfair fate of yours
never offers encouragement, always denies you success;
that cheap habits get in your way,
pettiness, or indifference.
And how terrible the day you give in
(the day you let go and give in)
and take the road for Susa
and go to King Artaxerxes,
who, well-disposed, gives you a place at his court
and offers you satrapies and things like that—
things you don’t want at all,
though, in despair, you accept them just the same.
You long for something else, ache for other things:
praise for the Demos and the Sophists,
that hard-won, that priceless acclaim—
the Agora, the Theatre, the Crowns of Laurel.
You can´t get any of these from Artaxerxes,
you’ll never find any of these in the satrapy,
and without them, what kind of life will you live?