...as much I like the nomad backpackers, as much I like those people who have adopted and cherish only one particular place on earth. I can be a fancy tourist resort, a park, a block of houses in a town, just a street, a beach, a starved African country, a desert, a forest, a noman’s land, a wasteland. All these places for those people are *islands* : bigger than an average sized appartment, smaller than the earth, the ideal size for someone to have the illusion of ownership, or rather let’s say *control*, or at least a sense of *familiarity*..
Exactly the same as chimps, humans are territorial. Some are Abels (residents), some are Kains (nomads). I’m turning and tending to become an Abel these years. I’m learning to admire the residents. I found many people like that in Flickr. There is one that I like very much. Exactly like me who take only pictures of Ikaria, he takes pictures of only a forest, «Foret de Bouconne» in the Northern Pyrenees near the city of Toulouse, France. This forest is this man’s island, his isolation, (has become a part of) his identity..
There’s nothing spectacular or exotic about that particular forest. For sure it’s not Tolkien’s Fangorn. Oaks and beeches and mushrooms and streams and probably deer and wild boar as well like in the forest around Asterix’s cartoon village. It’s a European forest; how boring, how wonderful. I kissed and was kissed for the first time in a forest like this *; how commonplace, how unforgetable. But why?
Because if I kissed for the first time in Tahiti or in Brazil I wouldn’t remember it. It would be part of the setting, a *must do* thing. But I remember that kiss in that boring neat forest, because that boring neat forest is a part of my boring neat identity, my boring neat personality, my boring neat sense of «my own territory*. I kissed and was kissed in a place that I understand and I’m familiar with, the same as some others kiss inside the closet of their parent’s boring neat bedroom and yet the fact stays unforgetable.
There is another boringly neat and wonderful thing about the «Foret de Bouccones» : elle est geree par l’ association… e.tc.! It is administrated, managed by someone! Why the exclamation marks? Because such a thing as «management of a territory» (how illusive it may be) is completely unknown in Greece. As I walk now across other forests, on the «trail of the elves» in Ikaria, my boring neat personality revolts.
The *grouvalina* in me shouts back: «let it be, let it burn, let it be wasted, let it be unknown and be nothing. Nothing is ours. We’ll light a fire of the debris in the middle of nothing and dance naked around it.»
«Oh yes, great», the boring neat me says -all cool, » We shouldn’t forget to reserve special places in the forest for this.» How neat, how bureaucratic, how boring and disgustingly European (and *western* in general), oh, there’s no other way but management, I’m afraid.
->With holes of *unmanagement* (for my *grouvalina* to dance) -ok, I’ll permit many holes. And anyway, these holes are created by themselves…<-
* there is no photo of me kissing in that link, you peeps ! It’s just a photo of a crosspath.
** I found the second wonderful photo of the forest in:
It was by ‘zian’ ( http://www.agora-photo.com ) The original title is «Allee en automne – La brume s’engouffre dans cette allee de platanes. L’automne donne a ce lieu une pleiade de couleurs chaudes et envoutantes… «
Elle, I am going to come and see the forests of Ikaria, such as they are, in 2007, God willing if the crick don’t rise. Mainland Greece too and maybe Santorini.
Wednesday April 19, 2006 – 02:14pm (PDT)
«Good machine» this forest. It has the same shape as Naxos island. You are amazing Elenitsa. You can relate anything to anything. You are right. Good machines connect. I saw in your Flickrs that you have been exchanging flowers between that forest and Ikaria. Cute. «No island is an island» to paraphrase the well known «no man is an island». Do you agree?
Greg, for «crick» my dictionary writes something like «pain in the back of the neck». Ikaria has warm springs to cure this. I don’t like the surroundings and the facilities but they say they are good. Visit the woods and visit Santorini too. Contrasts from all points of view!! Hiker, eh? I saw your Flickr. Your country is BIG -:)) As a very cool friend of mine said once after he visited the States, «The US, oh, it’s exactly like Greece, only much bigger!» -lol
Thursday April 20, 2006 – 02:33pm (EEST)
- Simon G
(…enticed out of the forest and into Compose a comment…)
Eleni, I am honoured, charmed that you have visited The Forest with your rusty internet connection and seen so clearly into its managed heart.
If you were not escaping too many books I would say how your thoughts put me in mind of a book I love – perhaps you have read it – called The Other Side of Eden by Hugh Brody, a man who has spent a lot of time with various hunter-gatherer communities on the margins of our planet. Once the human species was all hunter-gatherer, but then someone had the bright idea of… goats … and oats. The population swelled, sons and daughters had to move out, cities were built, a nomadic lifestyle began and the rest is history.
A quote from one of the less poetic and narrative parts of the book:
«The profound dichotomy that has shaped the agricultural era may lie in an opposition between nomads and settlers, between people for whom home is place of timeless constancy, a centre in which humanity itself arose, and those who are on the move and, if at rest, rest only while preparing for further movement. the paradox, of course, is that this is the divide between the settled hunters and the nomadic farmers.»
Both Cain and Abel were farmers, both replaced the hunter gatherer.
From a review of the book:
«ANTHROPOLOGIST Hugh Brody describes the visit to London of Anaviapik, an Inuit who had never previously left the Arctic. Anaviapik is disgorged from a British Airways plane on a hot summer’s day swathed in a fox-fur-trimmed parka and «wearing sealskin boots with brown trousers tucked into their patterned tops». To Brody’s relief, Anaviapik survives this visit with equanimity. One thing he never masters, however, is the built environment. Every day Brody teases him, challenging him to find the short way home from the Tube. Every day he fails: «How amazing that the Qallunaat [white people] live in cliffs. I would never be able to find my way here without you.»
Back in the vast, white, apparently indecipherable landscapes of the Arctic Anaviapik has no such problem. On one occasion, Brody travels hundreds of miles with him by dog sledge. En route, Anaviapik diverts to a place he has not visited since 1938. «How did you remember the way?» asks Brody. «Inuit cannot get lost in our own land. If we have done a journey once, we can always do it again.» This is one of the many instances which brings home to Brody the profound difference between hunter-gatherers’ attitude to the land and our own. Theirs is an intimate knowledge of the land’s contours, its seasons and creatures. A transformed landscape, dominated by man’s activities, is alien and unattractive to them.»
Anaviapik however remains cheerful, keen to talk to as many people as he can wherever he can. He builds up a picture of a society where everyone’s family lives somewhere else. He hates having to sleep in a room on his own.
Where am I going with this? Don’t know.
Thursday April 20, 2006 – 05:27pm (CEST)
Nana, «crick» is American country slang for «creek,» a small stream. The full saying is «If God’s willing and the crick don’t rise,» as in high water or a flood, which presumably back in the day would impede or prevent travel. Yes I am a hiker, all my life, and I want to hike on Ikaria after seeing all of Eleni’s intriguing photos, and for the history. It is after all where Icarus washed ashore.
Thursday April 20, 2006 – 09:19am (PDT)
->One of my first favourite books was Giles Deleuze’s «Mille Plateaus». Then I read Brody too. Oh man, Simon G, I see that the ‘islands of trees’ have strong plethoric protectors. Thanks for that; oxyzen is my dope. Has anybody seen a forest after acid rain? I have.
-> Ah, Greg, that’s good news. Remember to ask our friend ‘Psalakanthos’ (Matt) about his experiences in Ikaria this year. He’s planning to visit other islands too. He’d better do that before mid-July when the pretty girls land.
Thursday April 20, 2006 – 12:45pm (PDT)
ΚΑΛΗ ΑΝΑΣΤΑΣΗ, ΕΛΕΝΗ !!! Happy Easter.
You are no cook, but I bet you can dye eggs red. Let’s have a photo. Or are there too many friends around and you too busy? Jimmy P is right to ask for photos of people. But you never ‘shoot people’. You talk and offer drinks («Zorba beer» -what’s that? Couldn’t believe my eyes. Another of Nana’s «inventions»?).
Friday April 21, 2006 – 02:40pm (EEST)
Bouconne is the «lung» of the city of Toulouse and the Toulousiens are very wise to preserve and to manage it. Who is Ikaria the «lung» of?
Is it a «party island» like Mykonos, Ios and Paros? «Party islands» are «lungs» too, in a way. But I doubt Ikaria is one.
I read a UN report saying that by now 1/2 of the world’s population live in cities. So which city people is (potentially) Ikaria the lung of? None’s? The Athenian suburbia’s? The philosophers’?
Find this and you will have the key to its preservation.
Tough, eh? Tough stuff turns you on. So prove it.
from Prof Athina assisted by the senior USDA staff
Friday April 21, 2006 – 10:26pm (EEST)
Let’s sit here sheltered under the rich spring foliage of the ‘Foret de Bouconne’ where very few people will hear us:
Yes, Prof Fiend Fulvia, the USDA is right: Ikaria is ‘the lung’ of the Athenian suburbia. The amount and the account of this influence was not included in the outstanding ‘Rebels and Radicals -Ikaria 1600-2000′ How could this be done from America? Even in Greece there is only one good book about the suberbia and that was a novel: Soti’s Triantafyllou, «Savato Vrady stin Akri tis Polis’. The writer has visited Ikaria more than once, I think. She nearly drowned once in the waves of Messakti beach.
I tend to believe that this relation between the suburbs and Ikaria would explain much of the famous *Ikarian enigma*. Not that I’m particularly interested in solving it. I want to know how the trick works, so that I reproduce it -;)) *weirdo* & *funny* & as genuine popular expression -LOL
Saturday April 22, 2006 – 04:14am (PDT)
Born and raised in the «suburbia» at a certain point in my life I got tired of seeing Ikaria as a «lung». It was too far from Athens (9 hours by boat). Something had to be done about it. So I moved and settled permanently inside it. I’d hate Ikaria becomes a suberb of a suberb of a city. This will mean that I will have to look for another «lung» for me and my family. A reasonable alternative for a suberb is …what? A PARK, of course! (with holes? yes, ok, with holes and lotsa fun -no problem)
__\\Buconne//__ is ‘cool’ I like it a lot.
Monday April 24, 2006 – 08:39pm (EEST)
This is the cover of a good book about the history of the island. After reading it, I was more determined to spend the winter in Ikaria.
When people ask me for the reason, I say ‘Leave me alone! I’m a Rebel and Radical’!!! Now I have some scholarly arguments to support my position.
Anyway, I’m not watching the big football match between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos on TV tonight. Men go nuts about it, but I’ll stay cool and I’ll blog a little. I’m not very keen on politics and I can’t write an essay about communism in Ikaria. But what I can do is to quote Pr A. Papalas’ book review from the website page of his publisher.
So here it goes:
« … Icaria, a long, craggy and destitute isle in the Aegean Sea is visible from Turkey. The toil and travail of its people symbolizes the journey all Greek People made to achieve a modern society. But unlike other Greeks the Icarians often chose a dead end path. Never in agreement with those around them, the story of the Icariaians shows the best and the worst of Greek society. The Icarians were loyal subjects of the Ottoman Empire who, because of poverty and lack of resources, were not expected to pay heavy taxes while most Ottoman Greeks were dissatisfied with Turkish rule and dreamed of independence. But just before World War I, when the Greek government did not want to annex the island because of international complications, the Icarians expelled the Turks and demanded inclusion in the Greek State. At that time the bulk of the young men were escaping the grinding poverty of the island by immigrating to the United States. Although the majority of these men stayed in America and brought wives from the island to the New World, they maintained local ties. Their influence, both positive and negative, affected many qualities of Icarian life. The Icarians did not find their expectations fulfilled as part of Greece and remained disenchanted with their conditions through the twenties and thirties of the 20th century. The forties brought first, the Italians, then the Germans, and finally the British. After the turmoil, many Icarians supported radical political solutions to their problems, sympathizing with a native a guerrilla movement and rejecting efforts to improve their island, seeing only the great Capitalistic conspiracy at work. In the last decades of the 20th century the Icarians finally entered the modern but at a too rapid rate leaving the people unable to cope with some aspects of modernity.»
«Anthony J. Papalas has assembled a true “peoples» history by bringing together unusual documents such as dowry agreements and Ottoman court records, memoirs, and accounts of Icaria by people who were involved in the events he describes, all interwoven with informative and perceptive descriptions from forty years of interviews with Icarians from all areas and conditions. Here is a history on the social level, not grand politics or great battles, but rather the everyday existence and immediate choices which, once made, shape succeeding events.»
(there is more in the webpage cited above )
Ευχαριστώ για την παρουσίαση αυτού του βιβλίου. Φαίνεται πολύ ενδιαφέρον! Θα το παραγγείλω.
Φιλικά, Κωνσταντίνος 🙂
Sunday January 15, 2006 – 08:46am (EEST)
Bolchazy-Carducci! They’re a local publisher based near Chicago, and I never realized they were so widespread. I have a shelf full of their books because they are the only ones publishing new editions of ancient Roman and Greek texts. They are always marketing their books at Latin teacher conventions, hoping they will order class sets, but I’ve never seen this one.
Sunday January 15, 2006 – 04:55pm (EST)
Hi Ψαλάκανθε! It’s a small world, isn’t it? Bolchazy also sells the same author’s ‘Ancient Icaria’. Just because of your nickname, you win a free copy of it translated in Greek : «Αρχαία Ικαρία» with many illustrations etc., far better than the American original in layout. Only that you ll have to travel to the island to get it 🙂
Monday January 16, 2006 – 10:56pm (EET)
Haha! Thanks.. see you in May, as soon as the semester ends and I can get a plane out of here.
Tuesday January 17, 2006 – 12:18pm (EST)
I think we will not be all dead from bird flu by then.
When you come, there will be a copy with your nickname on it waiting for you in the newsagent’s (in the same time a ‘βιβλιοπωλείο’) in Evdilos, the nearest town.
Wednesday January 18, 2006 – 01:09pm (PST)