Original post : Tuesday February 6, 2007
«Ze Sntory Ov My Live»
(oops, I forgot to blow my nose, …HONK, ok, so here we go again…)
«The Story Of My Life»
Starring Eleni Ikanou (as Eleni Ikanou) and others (as others)
My name is Eleni Ikanou. I was born in B. capital city of B. 30+ years ago.
My father, Kostas, is Greek but my mother, Francesca, was not Greek. She was from M., a big city in I. She died from a severe heart attack a while after I was born.
Both my parents were immigrants in B.; my father was a first generation immigrant, my mother was second generation. That was during the coal&steel industry boom in B. after WWII. I was born on a Saturday of May at about the end of all this in the 1970s. I was a «fruit of love». My parents were not married when I was born. They intended to do that later when they would visit Greece in the summer. Things didn’t work out that way.
-> car ad
-> supermarket ad
-> cell phone ad
-> cheese ad
-> CD with the O.S.T. of «The Story of My Life» ad
My mother worked in the offices of the coal&steel company and my father mined coal in the pits. When I was a teenager I wanted to believe that my parents’ lives were as dramatic as the lives of the heroes in Zola’s novel «Germinale». They weren’t. My parents were happy, working, consuming and lovemaking in B. In Greece there was a military dictatorship. Mini-skirts (for women) and long hair (for men) were forbidden.
From babyhood to childhood I grew up under the broad warm wing of my father’s mother, Eleni K. So not only I didn’t feel orphan, but I was rather spoilt. Fortunately my grandmother, who came from Ikaria, did not show her love for me with words but with acts. Through her acts she taught me the old mediterranean laws of honour, obligation and gratitude; she showed me the basics of how to be ressourceful and self-sufficient («you do it or you do it», she said); she told me stories and she also taught me the basics of how to make and tell stories (she didn’t start with «once upon a time» but with a casual and sudden «hey listen, did you know…? You didn’t ! Oh no ! So sit down right now and let me tell you…»).
I heard so many wild narratives from her that I’d surely have been a crackpot or a fool, if she didn’t make me always look at her in the eyes («look at me, look at me; look at what I’m saying» she ordered). While she was talking her eyes changed colours and shades, shined on-off, closed and opened, and so gradually I learned how to make out which part of the story was true, which was a lie, which was just for fun or a game of the mind, which part was didactic etc.
«Look at the kid, mother» my father protested. «With the wild stories you tell her, she goes around with her mouth wide open. Her teeth will grow too big and she will never be able to close her mouth again»!
That was a joke of course. It was my father’s practical way to make my granny stop overexciting my imagination by filling my mind with stories. There was no other way to make her slow down and let go a bit, but via a practical threat that I would be deformed. That was because the great storyteller of my life, Mrs Eleni senior, was completely unable to understand the meaning of the word «imagination» («fantasia» in Greek). She thought it had to do with ghosts («fantasma» in Greek). «I never told any stories with ghosts to the kid», she answered.
Eventually my teeth grew too big for my mouth. The kids at school (the Greek Orthodox Community school in B.) had started calling me «hanos» (a small fish with a big mouth always open, «swallow all», «eat air», stupid). I didn’t let them say that on me for too long. I told my first full story in public at the age of 9. We were in the school bus and caught in a traffic jam. The story was the summary of a new James Bond film which I was supposed to have seen with my father the previous evening. How could I? I was too young. I improvised the plot from the photos that were posted outside the cinema.
The outcome was something like «James Bond Saves the Little House in the Prairie»…
I have a clear recollection of that first story I told out in public, because I was forced to narrate it to the school mistress later that day. There had been a scandal; the word had spread in the school that I was allowed to go out downtown in the evenings and watch James Bond films !
TO BE CONTINUED
(hopefully next week or earlier; whenever I cash the cheques from my sponsors)
NOTICE: For only this particular group of entries I’d rather not have any interaction. So please, my 7 stars, friends of this blog, hold and do not post any comments. To go on with the story the storyteller needs most to have a silent audience.
Thursday March 23, 2006 – 12:48pm (PST)
...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)