Sunday 17 March 2024





Happiness is 



 ...simply a temporary condition 

that proceeds unhappiness. 

Fortunately for us, it works the other way around 

as well. But it's all a part of the carnival, 

isn't it?”



Federico Fellini

Note: The picture above is a Self-Portrait of Giorgio de Chirico in Costume ( c.1948 )

Thursday 24 August 2023





Trees & the Law 



"Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows 

how to speak to them, whoever knows 

how to listen to them, can learn the truth. 

They do not preach learning and precepts, 

they preach, undeterred by particulars, 

the ancient law of life."

· Herman Hesse ·



Note: The first painting, probably an aquarelle, is untitled and made by Philippos Gheskos, the son of Konstantinos Gheskos, the most prominent painter of my home town, Volos, and one of the acclaimed artists of the country. He, the latter, made the second painting featured above, titled "Landscape".

Thursday 9 February 2023


The Greek language 


“...for me is a cosmogony. It is not just a language.” 

Luis José Navarro 

Today marks the International Greek Language Day – a celebration of the language which is spoken uninterruptedly for the last 40 centuries, using the same alphabet for the last 28 centuries and having the same spelling for the last 24 centuries. 

It was the Greeks of Italy who were the first to propose an international day for the Greek language – to celebrate the vital, fundamental role played by the Greek language in the shaping of Western civilization throughout the centuries.

One of the oldest languages in the world, the Greek language is the fundamental language, in scientific terms and usage, of Western science; esp. astronomy, mathematics, logic and philosophy. Countless Greek words enrich other languages, culminating in the international medical terminology in which about 80 percent of the scientific terms have a Greek root.

As for the ancient Greek literature – the epic poems (the Iliad and the Odyssey), the Platonic dialogues, the works of Aristotle, to name a few. The New Testament of the Christian Bible was also written in Koine (> common) Greek. The study of the ancient Greek writings and society, along with the ancient Latin texts and traditions from the Roman world is what constitutes the discipline of Classics; the classical Western canon. 

The Greek government eventually adopted the proposal – in 2OO7 the plenary session of the Greek parliament unanimously accepted it as an official institution. They selected the 9th February because it is also the official commemoration day of the Greek national poet Dionysios Solomos – the first to systematically cultivate the vernacular version of the Greek language (replacing the archaic-like form of Modern Greek that was used at the time) and thus paved the way for its use in literature .

However, it is not solely an academic or literary language. It is a contemporary colloquial one, too. And not only in Greece, by the Greeks. Don't be surprised if I tell you that you –whoever you are, wherever you are–, speak Greek but you don't know it. Check these words out: academy, air, anatomy, athlete, base, centre, chair, character, chorus, church, cinema, climate, comedy, cosmos, cycle, decade, democracy, dialogue, diet, disc. 

What is their translation in your, if not English, language?

Can you find some more?

Notes: Luis José Navarro is a professor of the Greek language and classical philologist. / The photograph captures the pages of the greek edition of "A Child of Books" by both the Irish writer and illustrator Oliver Jeffers and London-based visual artist Sam Wilson

Tuesday 7 February 2023


Happening Now 

Small, red, and upright he waited,

gripping his new bookbag tight

in one hand and touching a lucky penny inside his coat pocket with the other,

while the first snows of winter

floated down on his eyelashes and covered the branches around him and silenced

all trace of the world.” 

· Anne Carson ·


Monday 26 December 2022





The Italians have panetone, the Germans stollen, the French both berawecka (pompe à huile) and the coquille de Noël, and the English the Christmas pudding – all sweet doughs with fillings of many fruits (glazed, candied or dried) diced. We, in Greece, have something quite different – a bread with a very distinctive taste, neither sweet nor savoury. The late Evi Voutsina, an acclaimed food reporter, cook and gourmand herself who wrote for Gastronomos magazine, loved it for its multi-layered texture of deliciousness, the robust taste of sourdough and the Christmas symbolism of its ingredients – warmth, mental power, well-being, rejuvenation.

So, this Christmas have some slices of the sourdough walnut bread especially for "...our loved ones, for all those who work, for the homeless of the world, for the soldiers who fight..."

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Note: The blueish sentence in italics is bits and pieces drawn from the "Valse de Noel" or "A Waltz for Christmas" – the book (a joyful song, actually) Boris Vian wrote in 1955 for children and which, Natalie Choux , artist of many media, illustrated in 2O17.

Wednesday 12 October 2022


Her name


...did not come as a surprise. Annie Ernaux, writer and professor of literature, was among the Top 5 writers to get the  2022 Nobel Prize in Literature, according to the bookies' odds. On 6th October, she finally did. For "...the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory."

This is  a, nonetheless, non-comformist choice as the ones the Swedish Academy prefers – the way Ernaux reconstructs the past is extraordinary not only in its use of language but also, in the way her works link to sociology and its pioneering genre that was beyond its time.  It is also a wide nod to the world, a nod in favour of women and their right to their bodies – first, USAwards and then towards Iran. As a symbolism, this prize aims against obscurantism and all sorts of authoritarianism –of both individual attitudes and regimes–, in an insightful manner.  

A very dynamic choice, indeed. A key hint to designate the reality of current affairs. If you haven't read any of her books yet, please do – they're worth every minute of your time.

Notes: Two years ago, I wrote about her book "A man's place". / You can watch the committee announcement here. The portrait of the French laureate is by Niklas Elmehed the official artist for the Swedish Academy Laureates Portraits.

Sunday 4 September 2022



The Painter


Sitting between the sea and the buildings

He enjoyed painting the sea’s portrait.

But just as children imagine a prayer

Is merely silence, he expected his subject

To rush up the sand, and, seizing a brush,

Plaster its own portrait on the canvas.

So there was never any paint on his canvas

Until the people who lived in the buildings

Put him to work: “Try using the brush

As a means to an end. Select, for a portrait,

Something less angry and large, and more subject

To a painter’s moods, or, perhaps, to a prayer.”

How could he explain to them his prayer

That nature, not art, might usurp the canvas?

He chose his wife for a new subject,

Making her vast, like ruined buildings,

As if, forgetting itself, the portrait

Had expressed itself without a brush.

Slightly encouraged, he dipped his brush

In the sea, murmuring a heartfelt prayer:

“My soul, when I paint this next portrait

Let it be you who wrecks the canvas.”

The news spread like wildfire through the buildings:

He had gone back to the sea for his subject.

Imagine a painter crucified by his subject!

Too exhausted even to lift his brush,

He provoked some artists leaning from the buildings

To malicious mirth: “We haven’t a prayer

Now, of putting ourselves on canvas,

Or getting the sea to sit for a portrait!”

Others declared it a self-portrait.

Finally all indications of a subject

Began to fade, leaving the canvas

Perfectly white. He put down the brush.

At once a howl, that was also a prayer,

Arose from the overcrowded buildings.

They tossed him, the portrait, from the tallest of the buildings;

And the sea devoured the canvas and the brush

As though his subject had decided to remain a prayer.

 John Ashbery 


Note: The painting above is the "Grand Illusion" by a contemporary greek painter, Juliano Kaglis /  “The Painter” is drawn from "The Mooring of Starting Out: The First Five Books of Poetry" (Ecco Press, 1997)