Wind-bound in Nicaria, circa 1740


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 Old stone shelter near Langada in Ikaria
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Hello readers!
I don’t expect this long article to become too popular. It’s just that several modern-day Ikarians show a lot of interest in knowing as much as they can about the more recent history of the island and they are usually very disappointed. Compared with other islands of the Aegean Sea, there is so little to say about Ikaria! No glorious battles, no illustrious rulers, no forts and fleets, no trading towns, no towers, cathedrals and famous monasteries; only mossy stonewalls and old thrifty houses scattered in the ravines, the valleys and the forests in the hills.
Εxcept one Greek Orthodox clergyman in the 17th century, no other educated person from East or West felt the urge to visit the island and write an account. If I’m not mistaken, the first book about the history of Ikaria appeared in the middle of the 20th century. Until then, there was no big narrative but only countless little stories told by the fireplace; persistent little stories which by force of repetition, became local legends; local legends some of which today, by force of time and culture gap, may sound like wild fairy tales.

Imaginary depiction of Charles Perry's ship wind-bound under Cape Papas in Ikaria
Neverthelss, there were some short descriptions of the life in the island during the Obscurity («Αφάνεια») as we like to call in Ikaria the first hard centuries of the Ottoman occupation. These were written by the very few European travelers who touched at our rough, inhospitable shores, often by chance or accident. In Pr A.J. Papalas’ book «Ancient Icaria» I found a reference to one of these documents, which, although brief and trivial, capticated my imagination. It is by Charles Perry, a wealthy medical doctor from England who travelled in the Levant from 1739 to 1742. After visiting Egypt, Perry sailed from Alexandria to Athens. On his way across the Aegean he visited and described the islands of Cos and Patmos. But after that island, as he was heading for Mykonos, his ship was caught in a storm and was forced to drop anchor in Ikaria.

Old settlement in Karkinagri Ikaria I liked Perry’s account. Reading his one and a half page about his accidental visit to Ikaria, I felt the genuine puzzlement of a man of the Century of Lights for the unwelcoming, extremely mountainous environment of the island and his also genuine astonishment (and contempt) for the attitude and the way of life of its inhabitants. But, most of all, I liked his account for a more personal reason: through the eyes of the good old British doctor, I saw some places of western Ikaria which I know very well, such as Karkinagri, Agios Isidoros and Langada, looking as uncanny and wild, as if we were talking about a remote, unfriendly rock in the middle of the South Pacific!
I found that very exciting! In my mind it fitted in with the other tales of my island and their mixture generated cores for several imaginary storylines! Maybe some day I’ll sit down Drawing of Imaginary Ikarians fiesting in the 18th century and write a similar story, this time not from the side of an enlightened European physician, probably wearing a powdered wig, but from the side of the «wretched, almost naked and savage» Ikarians!

😌
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Wind-bound in Nicaria, p.484 «We spent three days in Patmos, not disagreeably; and the fourth in the morning we set sail for Myconos; but the wind, which was otherwise pretty favorable, grew slack, next to a calm; so that it was with much-ado, with what wind we had, and the help of our oars, that we reached the west end of Nicaria in two days. We much lamented our hard fate, that we should thus long want a wind at such a favourable (for it) crisis of the year, it being near the Autumnal Equinox.
However, that night, about an hour after sunset, even whilst we were reproaching the malice of our stars, a fine gale sprang up. We failed not to embrace it immediately, and we went driving on, Jehu-like, with our sails full of wind and our hearts full of joy: But alas! How frail and transitory are human hopes and happiness, especially upon the sea? Within an hour after, the wind turned against us, and blew a storm; so that we were forced to change our course, and to seek shelter under a rock at the west end of Nicaria, which we did not attain, however, without much difficulty and danger.»

Wind-bound in Nicaria, p.485 «Here we lay wind-bound four nights, and above three days; during which irksome interval we amused ourselves in the best manner we could with fishing: But after we had spent two days without other recreation than fishing, that sport grew dull and tedious; and whilst we were looking out for some sport and divertissement, kind Providence (of its grace and favour) sent us the glad tidings that about a mile off, on the side of a high rocky mountain, there was a spring of excellent water, which was resorted to by great number of partridges. Upon this intelligence, (which we got the third day of our detention there) we immediately got ready arms and ammunition of all sorts, as well for the belly as the barrel -such as bread, butter, cheese, salt, pepper, wine, glasses, etc. We marched on directly, (flushed with the hopes of new game) with uncommon ardour, or rather avidity; and we were well recompensed our pains; for we passed that day very agreeably.
The mountain (though in general very steep) admits a sort of level in that place; and the spring of water issues out of a rock, in a very convenient and delightful spot, where nature or chance has formed a sort of grot, large enough to receive and accommodate a dozen or 15 persons. This natural grot (if we may so call it) is covered over, and secured against the weather, by a large flat stone of about 24 feet in diameter: This rests upon and is supported by other stones on all sides, except to the eastward; where, being open, it presents to view a sort of alcove. Here we passed the whole day (which but for that retreat would have been tedious) very agreeably -reclining upon the bed of our grot, with the water trilling along close by us, whilst our partisans upon the hunt for partridges, wild goats, and the like, of which they brought us in good store.»

Wind-bound in Nicaria, p.486 «There are some few inhabitants on this island, but those almost naked and savage, seldom seeing or conversing with any of the human species, except those of their own isle. The second day after we put in there, we sent out some of the mariners a shooting for us, who pursuing their game to the north side of the mountain, met with some of the natives. These were so affrighted at sight of strangers, that they fled from them with precipitation; but our people calling after them, and telling them they had brought them bread and corn, they at last prevailed on them to stop, and come to a party with them. These poor wretches, being at length persuaded of our good intentions, came to see us aboard our vessel, and afterwards brought us good store of grapes and meat. We were really at a loss to guess where they found those things; for the whole island, so far as we could see of it, is the most miserable, barren rock that ever was seen.
The 4th day, towards noon, the wind changing in our favour, we set sail for Myconos, which is 40 miles distant from the westernmost point of Nicaria. This (as it is to be supposed) is a run of about 7 hours, with a good brisk gale…»

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Pages 484-486 from Charles Perry’s book, «A View of the Levant», which I have arbitrarily named «Wind bound in Nicaria», can be found in Google books

Modern books about the history of Ikaria:

Pr A.J.Papalas 'Ancient Icaria' on Amazon.com A presentation of the Greek translation of Pr A.J.Papalas 'Ancient Icaria' in my blog In my blog a rather personal and enthusiastic presentation of Pr A.J.Papalas 'Rebels and Radicals', a book about the history of Ikaria after 1670

Comments on this article are very welcome!
Ελενη

😌
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Paper Island


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Why some islands are not just islands?

Why can some islands be both real and fictional?

Why do some islands attain a second life in literature?

What do some islands seem to attract big ideas, illusions and dreams?

Why are some islands, more often than others, chosen as sceneries of tales of escape?

Why do some islands appear in novels, satires, utopias and moral tales, more than other islands?

Why some islands, besides being made of rocks and soil like all islands, can also be, as I am calling them, paper islands?

First pages of Jesuit Johann Bissel's satirical novel of 1637 with engraved allegoric title and engraved utopian map of Icaria with imaginary names of cities, rivers, etc.

I say, the more an island is an island, the more it makes you dream

Because democracy is no good in dreaming, we can say it loudly :

  Some islands are more islands than other islands

«The élan that draws humans toward islands extends the double movement that produces islands in themselves. Dreaming of islands – whether with joy or in fear, it doesn’t matter – is dreaming of pulling away, of being already seperate, far from any continent, of being lost and alone – or it is dreaming of starting from scratch, recreating, beginning anew. Some islands drifted away from the continent, but the island is also that toward which one drifts; other islands originated in the ocean, but the island is also the origin, radical and absolute.»

Gilles Deleuzes 

I have found the words of this contemporary French philosopher through a comment by a learned person in Kristin’s blog or Mararoa’s blog which unfortunately I am unable to spot now. That comment linked to a chapter of the glorious wikispace «Dream Islands» which I think, sustains and explains my humble thoughts herebefore. That chapter is entitled:

Scope of Islands

Island as a ‘catch-all’ concept

After Deleuzes’s quote it goes:

«Islands burn into the minds of children from an early age. They emerge in the first literature where they are prominent in Homer’s Odyssey, and Plato’s island of Atlantis is perhaps the most famous mythical island of all time. The seclusion and autonomy that an island suggests has nourished the literary imagination for millennia, but the island setting as a site for the spiritual, emotional, or psychological transformation of human character has remained a constant in Western literature. The Greeks were the first to develop the island-book as such, but Roman writers showed much less interest in insular themes. On the fringes of Europe, Island stories were generously developed in the ‘imrama’, which were medieval Irish accounts of mythical Atlantic island voyages of chiefs and saints.
From Homer to Charles Kingsley the island narrative..

The other chapters of Dream Islands are very enlightening too. Notably :

An antidote

«Islands are no longer bound up so immediately with a self-sufficient agrarian life, its rituals and the cultivation of social solidarity. They instead begin to function as an antidote to the increasing division of labor and social stratification of the mainland. For modern islanders their environment functions as a vehicle for the display of individual temperament, talent, and interest, which runs against the grain of a standardized mainland global consumer culture. Islands therefore become loci of the impress of distinctive personality, interest, and emotion in sensuous production. In particular, they often function as a font of individual artistic production compared with the old rituals and epics, such as the poems of Homer, primeval biblical history and the Icelandic sagas, which linked everyone to common ways of life.

An important resource for modern islanders is nature. What we seek on islands is what we love in nature. Friedrich Shiller described…»

Classification of islands

«A dream island is a distinctive and desirable place to be, which is defined within a physical, cultural, administrative, biological, mental, or virtual boundary. It is likely that most people’s dream islands would fall within the physical, administrative and biological categories.»

(Don’t miss the link to «Cultural Islands» )

 Islands – poetry and art

«Paradise or Purgatory, Heaven or Hell, islands leave no one indifferent – and least of all the world’s artists, poets and writers, musicians and scholars, as reflected in the sampling the following links : Writings and Art

Unfortunately the link to the last chapter «Islands as Utopias» is no more valid. Instead, I am giving you a link to the standard Wikipedia :

List of fictional islands

That was all on the subject and I think it wasn’t too little. Read about one of the oldest ideas in the world and be inspired. But some day leave the paper behind and follow the dream to find out what truth there is to it. Defy the distance and sail through the shoals and the booming high surf.

A real island may be waiting for you thereafter and therein.

Ikaria, October 26, 2013

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The Almonds of Longevity


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Ikaria 112 
by isl_gr (Mnesterophonia)
Kalimera

in case you don’t know me, I am Nana (to agrimi),co-author in Eleni’s blog

who though I have a blog of my own, chose to write and post this entry here. The reason is that lately the views of our blogs took off very suddenly! This blog in particular has received several hundred views over the last days!

What was the matter?

The last time we were that popular was in Minoan times when we recorded the fall of Icarus at the shores of the island.

Onion03

Centuries after that we made a good score when we covered the declaration of independence of Ikaria as a communist state, making us another pocket of resistance to capitalism between Cuba and North Korea.

Onion03

Asking around we found out that the reason of our sudden recent popularity was the issuing of this seven page article by Dan Buettner in the prestigious NY Times:

The Island Where People Forget to Die

Therefore it seems that the dream of flight and freedom and the dream of a communist egalitarian society both fade against the biggest dream of all:

THE DREAM OF LONGEVITY,

perhaps (if aging wasn’t involved) the next best thing to Immortality.

But why does our island generate so many dreams?

I will tell you my opinion. I am an accountant and therefore, unfortunately sometimes I am on the practical side of things. The reason is nostalgia. The rough mysterious landscape (to the extent that outsiders are familiar with it) and our way of life (to the extent that outsiders are familiar with it) generates a nostalgia, a homesickness for old values, old raw ways, direct approaches to life, supposedly carefree and happy, forever lost in urbanization and globalization.

That was all I had to say.

We actually spend our evenings cracking almond shells. We have picked them from Eleni’s famous tree in the intro picture above. We sprayed the nuts with salt water, we roasted them and after they cooled off we stored them in glass jars. On these jars we have written:

Almonds of Longevity

The Almonds of Longevity

It’s funny. They taste slightly different – we think they are better than last year’s.

Do dreams have an effect on reality? Who knows? Come and see for yourselves.

Kisses from Ikaria

Nana

 


«Misokolaki» and other scary tales from Ikaria in comics


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(Ελληνικά στο μπλογκ της Νανάς).
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Finding a moment to advertise this comic art drawings and book exhibition which takes place in Athens next month.

comic art ikaria 1Kavo Papasbar tesera

16 February - 2 April 2009 in Bartesera, 25 Kolokotroni str. Athens
 Opening: 16 April - 8 pm

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misikolaki 2

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Among these stories there's "Misokolaki",
the kid with half his bottom chopped off.

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Misokolaki

– A Greek folktale from Ikaria island –

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misikolaki Ikaria 4

.(«The witch under the pear tree», drawing  by  Thanassis Psaros)

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Once upon a time on a faraway Greek island, an old man and an old woman lived alone in a small house near a forest. The old man was a woodcutter.
One night the old man and the old woman were peeling broad beans and putting them into a pot on the stove.
«If only we had children to bring a little joy and happiness into our lives» the old woman sighed loudly.
«Yes», said the old man. «If only we had children.»
Before they went to bed that night, the woman said a special prayer.
«O God», she prayed, «How I wish that all the broad beans in the pot could become children!»
Early the next morning the woodcutter and his wife were woken by a terrible noise. Their house was full of children. Some were playing, some were singing and some were quarreling. Others were crying out for food. The house was filled with a terrible racket. The old woodcutter was beside himself: the noise was more than he could bear. He grabbed his axe and began to chase the children. The frightened children darted everywhere to escape, jumping out of the windows and pouring out of the door. Within a few minutes they had all gone.
The house was suddenly silent. The old man and the old woman looked at each other in dismay.
«Now we ‘re all alone again», said the old woman.
«Yes», said the old man sadly. «What are we going to do?»
Suddenly a tiny voice came from under the bed. «I’m here», it said. A young boy crept out. He looked a little frightened; half of his bottom had been chopped off by the woodcutter’s axe.
The old lady and the old man looked at him in joy and wonder.
«Oh, little boy», said the old woman. «Don’t be afraid. You can live with us. We will make you well again.»
The young boy was happy to have found a home. The old couple gave him clothes and food, and a bed to sleep in. They called him Misokolaki, which means «Little half-bottom».
The next day the woodcutter told Misokolaki that now that he lived with them, he would have to help them with their work.
Misokolaki’s first chore was to guard the pear tree in the orchard. Every year, when the pears ripened, a cunning old fox would come and steal them. The old man gave Misokolaki a wooden flute to play while he sat in the tree.
Before Misokolaki left for the orchard, the old man warned him: «Be careful of the fox. It’s cunning and it may try to trick you.»
All day Misokolaki sat in the pear tree and played his flute. Then, at dusk, along came the fox. It looked up into the tree where the boy was playing his flute.
«Hey, Misokolaki!» the fox called out. «You play your flute so fair, please throw me down a pear.»
«Go away», said Misokolaki. You can’t have any pears.»
«But my little ones are hungry», the fox said, with tears in its eyes.
Misokolaki felt sorry for the fox and threw down some pears.
«Please, Misokolaki», said the cunning old fox. «Help me find the pears. It’s dark and I can’t see.»
Misokolaki forgot the old man’s warnings and climbed down to help the fox. No sooner had he touched the ground than the fox grabbed him and threw him into a sack. The fox threw the sack over its shoulder and set off for its home.
On the way, the fox stopped by a stream. It put down the sack and went to the water to have a drink.
Misokolaki quickly wriggled out of the sack. He filled it with rocks and prickly bushes and ran away.
When the fox returned, it threw the sack over its shoulder and continued on its way. Soon the fox began to feel something pricking its back
«Stop pinching me, Misokolaki!» the fox kept calling out, all the way home.
When the fox arrived home, its cubs danced about with joy. They were very hungry. They burnt lots of branches in the oven to make it red hot so that they could cook Misokolaki.
But when the fox emptied out the sack, only rocks and prickles tumbled out on to the floor. The fox was angry and it vowed that next time, Misokolaki would not escape.
The next day, Misokolaki again kept watch in the pear tree. At dusk, the fox returned to the orchard. Misokolaki was in the pear tree, playing his flute.
«Hey, Misokolaki!» the fox called out. «You play your flute so fair, please throw me down a pear.»
Misokolaki pretended he couldn’t hear. He kept playing his flute.
The fox began to cry loudly. «My little ones are hungry!» it sobbed. The tears flowed from its eyes like rivers.
Misokolaki felt sorry for the fox and threw down some pears. But the cunning old fox called out: «Please, Misokolaki, help me find the pears. It’s dark and I can’t see.»
The fox’s voice was so sweet that once again Misokolaki forgot all about the old man»s warning. He climbed down to help the fox. No sooner had he touched the ground than the fox grabbed him and threw him into the sack. This time the fox tied the sack very tightly so that Misokolaki couldn’t escape.
The fox carried the sack straight back home, without stopping on the way.
As the fox neared home, it called out to its cubs to light the oven. The fox untied the sack and let Misokolaki out, and the cubs danced around him with glee. They were so hungry that they could hardly wait to eat him.
Misokolaki would have to think quickly if he was to escape from the oven.
Now, the fox’s oven was built into the wall. It was so high off the ground that the fox had to stand on a stool to reach it. As the fox reached up to open the oven door, Misokolaki quickly grabbed its hind legs and with one mighty thrust, he pushed the fox headfirst into the oven.
The cubs scattered in fright and Misokolaki ran all the way home, as fast as his legs could carry him.
The old man and the old woman were overjoyed to see him. They had gone to the orchard to look for him, and were very worried when they couldn’t find him. Misokolaki told them all about his adventure with the fox. The old man called out to his neighbours from the village and invited them to come and celebrate. They were all happy because the fox would never steal their fruit again.
Misokolaki took out his flute and began to play. The villagers sang and danced until the sun rose up behind the mountains in the east.
(From a book by Petro Alexiou, illustrated by Clare Watson, HARCOURT BRACE JOVANOVICH, PUBLISHERS (Australia) © 1989 on behalf of Petro Alexiou ISBN 0 7295 0833 1, ISBN 0 7295 0800 5 (series). The author dedicates to his Ikarian mother who told him this tale.)
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Note:  The original Greek version which has survived in Ikaria is more poignant, rougher and bloodier. The wish for children is not intentional but rather trivial. The ‘broad bean’ children are not just naughty and restless. They cry and yell for food! The woodcutter does not just chase the children out of the house; he actually kills them one after the other with his hatchet! Misokolaki is spared if only he can carry out two tasks: keep the old couple company by playing the flute and climb on that precious pear tree to keep the thieves away. Finally, instead of a fox, there is an evil witch who eats human flesh. There is also the daughter of the witch to who the witch trusts Misokolaki to roast and she leaves, but Misokolaki turns loose, throws the daughter into the oven and he escapes. So when the witch returns, she eats her own daughter’s roasted liver thinking that it is Misokolaki’s. When she realises what has happened, she is furious and she rushes to the pear tree to find Misokolaki and kill him. Misokolaki is there, but the witch can’t climb the pear tree and get him. Blinded as she is by now with furry, she takes Misokolaki’s advice that the best way to shoot up and reach him is to stick a red hot iron bar up her ass! The witch does exactly that and she shoots up to the sky! She falls back on the ground and bursts in pieces. Misokolaki gets home to his step parents. They are very proud of him and they live happily ever after.

misikolaki Ikaria

 

.Comments

(9 total)

Great presentation as always, good witch. What’s your way to shoot up?

Sunday January 25, 2009 – 10:46pm (EET)

Imagination.

Monday January 26, 2009 – 03:44am (PST)

As children, we were not supposed to read such grostesque tales yet they are the tales I remember best! My favorite ones came from a small island called Adakale.

Monday January 26, 2009 – 10:18am (EST)

Tales of warning about hunger! also about family programming -hep;

Monday January 26, 2009 – 10:25pm (EET)

(Pear trees seem to figure in stories a lot.
Take for instance this one:
http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type1423.html#boccaccio
Eat pears, make a hut out of pear-wood, but avoid sitting up in pear trees.)

Tuesday January 27, 2009 – 02:32pm (CET)

(especially if they are like this!:)
thorny sage-leafed pear tree

Tuesday January 27, 2009 – 03:02pm (CET)

@ Can : yes, we are brought up to dislike the gruesome, yet there is truth in the gruesome. Speaking of islands and tales, the same tale exists in Mykonos! Can you imagine?

@ egotoagrimi : ok, but don’t overdo it with programming, ok? Leave some ends loose…

@ Simon G : thanks God you are here! I was worried that the winds in France took you off! Yes, the pear tree seems to be the next best after the apple tree in European lore. And the old varieties must have had quite a lot of thorns. That sheds light to another feat of Misokolaki. He was a fakir like Nana :lol

Tuesday January 27, 2009 – 12:30pm (PST)

It’s a tale about a young fakir?!?

Wednesday January 28, 2009 – 10:39pm (EET)

!!!

Thursday January 29, 2009 – 08:41pm (EET)

UPDATE

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Why why why none of these folktales speak about our  «immortal soul»? Is it only the body then? When somebody dies we have to remember him or her the way he or she looked in flesh and bones. If this is hard!.. Isn’t it better to pay the church to do that?

http://simonsterg.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/the-hunters-five-sons/

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WHY IKARIA? An interview with Eleni.


In Ikaria I went to be by myself, in the sense that I wanted to keep away
from the human hubbub and the noise. For me it is the island of controlled
loneliness. I went there to lay off, but also to work on a script.
There are open horizons all around. They can widen the imagination.
Over and above the place is located absolutely on the perimeter of
developements, without however being ever outside. It's in orbit
like a satelite and this is a very good seat for somebody like me
whose job is to generate ideas.

(This is Nana. The following interview is sure to debunk those who want to believe Ikaria as a soporiferous island. That’s all I had to say in place of an introduction. I should also say that I did a lot of mending to improve the word order so that the whole thing made sense. I mention this in case somebody thought we talk like that when we are between us…)

Yaaa…

– Ya sou.

After two years of hard work abroad, you spent an entire winter and spring in Ikaria. Why?

– In Ikaria I went to be by myself, in the sense that I wanted to keep away from the human hubbub and the noise. For me it is the island of controlled loneliness. I went there to lay off, but also to work on a script. There are open horizons all around. They can widen the imagination. Over and above the place is located absolutely on the perimeter of developements, without however being ever outside. It’s in orbit like a satelite and this is a very good seat for somebody like me whose job is to generate ideas. This, I mean the generating of ideas, by the way, is like a national sport for the locals. Everybody have various opinions on everything. There is a philosophical consideration of the reality, a continuous searching. That was good but at the same time it took all my self-discipline so that I was able to finish my work without being drawn away into this game; neither drift into the dramatic landscape nor be sucked up by the notorious slow times which the landscape imposes. When I was through with the work, ok then I let myself drift and be sucked up for a while.

So you used the island as a base, but you didn’t want to be sucked up?

– It’s precisely as you say. In order not to mingle and interfere with my work, whatever I saw and thought about Ikaria I wrote in my blog or I said it with photos in Flickr. Again a lot of discipline was needed; and I confess that I messed up quite a few times; thought of letting everything drop and become an Ikarian hippie. Fortunately I love my job and the friends I have there and the money that come from my work and provide for my independence; so I always brought myself back to order.

How much can you reveal here about the script?

– It’s nothing too original. It has to do with the way the general policies, ideas and popular trends affect a small insignificant place. About how these trends are digested, distorted or even, you may say, come up better. How they are «materialized» as a technocrat would say. At the same time the opposite can happen as well and there lies the juice of the story: how a small insignificant place can affect in its turn, if not the central events, at least a few, very few people of which some may be important in their own special way and prove able to affect the central events.

Is it about the 17N?

– No, no … (roaring laughter) …

Yet it has to do with Ikaria?

– There is a distant relation. My favourite island helped to inspire, that was all. The story takes place in another location which I thought was very alike. It’s not an island, though. After so much travelling I am pleased to say that there are many Ikarias in the world and many of them are in Europe, although we do not usually consider our continent as contradictory and exotic… (laughter) You may find an Ikaria, for instance, in some remote provinces, in valleys between mountains, or even in some uptown urban quarters -that’s not uncommon in mid-eastern Europe.

The year before last you walked the entire part of the E4 trail from Hungary to Greece. In this particular route how many Ikarias did you encounter?

– A lot. You can’t imagine how many. The only difference with the Ikaria we know, is that’s it’s an island, not metaphorically but actually. There are very strict geographical limits and that’s easier to take and more productive as far as the concept is concerned. On the other hand these limits are too restricted; the concept would be clear but the story would be limited. It might come out as a description of customs and folklore and I wanted to avoid this. Yet… look, I might not have written a script with a setting in Ikaria, however, after I finished the script, as an adjacent return from all those long hikes in the mountains and the ravines I turned up with a few nice fairy-tales.

Is it what you said already? I mean that you eventually let yourself get sucked up?

– I have always liked to invent and tell stories. Having all the time and space at my disposal in Ikaria for the first time I let myself set my strories on stage and I tried them with myself as an actor as well. So In the natural settings of the island I pretended to be «The Doe» and the «Fair Maid Sang» from two Greek folk songs that I adore; I improvised Ophelia of Shakespeare, «The Maid of the Castle» (that’s from Ikaria); and from the modern figures I acted the «grouvalina» in Chalares river – (laughter)

Why not play «the good terrorist» too?

– Whatever but not such fantasies, dear! Nor a nun or a missionary either, roles that sound to me very close to what you ‘ve just said. They get me down; not to tell you they dispair me. I reject anybody who prays for me or shoots a gun for me or in my name in order to save me without asking me.

How about an ecologist then?

– Yes, but only for me, not for the others. Yet why should I have acted this part? What else was I but an «ecologist» in the way I behaved in Ikaria? With my organic potato garden and my endless hikes in the hills, the herbs I collected and so on, what was I but an ecologist? But don’t you think this term has degenerated to mean almost nothing? Half of the Ikarian women I know, are «ecologists». It’s not a part for a fairy-tale. It’s a real attitude in life.

Did you also act Icarus?

– No. To begin with he was a man and secondly because the story has a bad end. From winged beings I played «Serafina», a female angel of my own invention … (laughter …pause)

Are you going to do something with these stories set in Ikaria? Professionaly, I mean.

– The island is very convenient for such RPG situations. First of all nobody gets you wrong as long as you don’t offend and disturb anybody; and then there is no strict code for a respectable lifestyle. You don’t have a problem if you appear in the supermarket in dusty clothes or dry weeds in your hair. I can tell you that they may take it like an honour…

As evidence that you had «friction» with the nature of the island? (laughter)

– Yes, as long as you are not like that all the time. This would be disrespect and «grouvalization». I, for instance, more than once have appeared sweat-soaked and in rags and the next time I showed up all clean and with my hair well-made in a nice and neat afternoon clothes set… (laughter)

That’s a useful tip for some people to know. Anyway, let’s get back to my question.

– I admit that I slipped off your question on purpose. These stories are my own personal, private things. I may narrate them verbally; I may give ideas to others; but I won’t turn them into «work» : written narratives with scenic directions and detailled dialogues. They are my own salutary schizophrenia and I want to keep them so that I can change them once in a while according to my mood. In short, they are my girlish utopias and I won’t sell them. Or at least this what I think of the matter right now. Who knows, maybe when I am old, I change my mind. Or maybe the environment of Ikaria goes bad, or another danger comes about and in that case I may decide to be a «committed writer» and raise hell. (laughter…) But for the time being and with the baby I am unable to think of such activistic situations. My baby is enough activism for me now –

(These last sentences were said while Sideraki had started to cry. And so here the interview with Eleni was interrupted and stopped. Yaaaa-aaa… We speak again soon.)

Athina Sk.

Comments

(7 total)

As you may have noticed, in this interview there are no links for photos and other supplementary information. You are free to use your imagination.

Monday January 29, 2007 – 09:48am (EET)

Fascinating; my goal is to drift off into the landscape, with neither haste nor hesitation. You hiked the E4 Hungary to Greece? I offer a humble bow.

Monday January 29, 2007 – 08:50am (PST)

Drifting into the landscape? Well said. That’s Nana’s specialty to a degree extreme. Labors for hours across thornbush lands for sport. The mad Cretan bloke doesn’t need paths -:

Oh please don’ t bow about the E4. ‘Twas a smashing experience. It offered me good reason to curl up like a cat in Ikaria soon after.
Btw, there is a E4 related thread in Flickr group «hiking».

Tuesday January 30, 2007 – 12:58pm (PST)

(for ‘simonsterg’)

Η ΛΑΦΙΝΑ

Όλα τα λάφια που βοσκούν όλα δροσολογιούνται
Και μια λαφίνα ταπεινή δεν πάει μαζί με τ’ άλλα
Μόνο στ’ απόσκια περπατεί, τ’ απόζερβα αγναντεύει
Κι όπου βρει γάργαρο νερό θολώνει το και πίνει

Κι ο ήλιος την ερώτησε κι ο ήλιος τη ρωτάει
Γιατί λαφίνα ταπεινή δεν πας κοντά με τ’ άλλα
Μόνο στ’ απόσκια περπατείς τα απόζερβα αγναντεύεις
Κι όπου βρεις γάργαρο νερό θολώνεις το και πίνεις

Ήλιε μου Σα με ρώτησες θα σου το μολογήσω
Δώδεκα χρόνους έκαμα μόνη χωρίς ελάφι
Δώδεκα χρόνους ήλιε μου στείρα χωρίς ελάφι
Κι από τους δώδεκα κι ομπρός εγέννησα λαφάκι.

Και σαν εβγήκε ο βασιλιάς να λαφοκυνηγήσει
Το βρίσκει μοσχανάθρεφτο και το διπλοσκοτώνει
Γι αυτό στ’ απόσκια περπατώ τ’ απόζερβα αγναντεύω
Κι όπου βρω γάργαρο νερό θολώνω το και πίνω

Κι ο ήλιος τότε δάκρυσε και τα βουνά ριγήσαν
Και το φεγγάρι έσβησε ν’ ακούσει το ελάφι
Κι οι λαγκαδιές κι οι ρεματιές μαζί του αναστενάξαν
Κλάψε με, μάνα κλάψε με, με ήλιο με φεγγάρι.

Tuesday June 10, 2008 – 11:45am (PDT)

(for ‘simonsterg’)

THE LAFINA

All the deers are grazing and drinking clear fresh water
All but a humble Lafina (she-deer) who doesn’t go along with the others
She is walking in the shadows, she is turning her head away
And where she finds spurting water, she stirs mud and then she drinks it.

And the Sun asked her, and the Sun is asking her
Why humble Lafina, you don’t go along with the others?
Why are you walking in the shadows, why are you turning your head away?
And why where you find spurting water, do you stir mud and then you drinks it?

Oh Sun, since it’s you who’s asking, I will confess to you
I had been without a calf for twelve years
Sterile, ny Sun, without a calf for twelve years
And after those twelve years were over, I bore a calf at last.

And when the King came out to hunt
He saw that it was well-bred, he shoots two arrows and kills it on the spot
This is why I am walking in the shadows and I am turning my head away.
This is why where I find spurting water, I stir the mud and then I drink it.

And then the Sun bleared and the mountains quivered
And the Moon extinguished on listening to the deer
And the dens and the ravines sighed with her
Cry for me, mother, cry for me with the Sun and the Moon.

Tuesday June 10, 2008 – 11:47am (PDT)

I liked the ideas

…and beautiful poem

now I need to stay silent

Wednesday May 13, 2009 – 09:02pm (EEST)

Stay silent as long as you wish. Silence in part of «The New Eloquence». Thank you.

Wednesday May 13, 2009 – 12:32pm (PDT)