NICOLAS CALAS (1907-1988), SURREALISM, HELLENIC POETRY
IN THIS WEBPAGE HELLENIC POETRY PRESENTS SOME ARTICLES, POEMS AND BOOK REVIEWS FOR THE HELLENIC POET NICOLAS CALAS (1907-1988)
Iannis Xenakis Polytope Mycenes Alpha
Psichramis Fotis Iannis Xenakis Polytope Mycenes Alpha 1978 mp4
Polytope (Mycenes Alpha) – Hybrid Cinema (1978)
Directed by Fotis Psichramis
Mycenae-Alpha is an electroacoustic work that Xenakis composed in 1978 as part of an installation of lights, movement and music that took place at Mycenae Acropolis in Greece. The massive multimedia performances Xenakis called polytopes Mycenae-Alpha is also the first work to be composed entirely on the UPIC system. The UPIC is a tool for the graphic composition of electroacoustic music which was first developed in the late 1970s by Xenakis and his staff at the Center for Studies in Mathematical and Automated Music in Paris.
Xenakis created the music using the UPIC which makes sound based on drawings that Xenakis made.
The work has become a classic of computer-generated music. By taking the shapes and movements of natural phenomena, such as molecules in a gas, Xenakis developed a method of digitally mapping those images into the computer and using them to trigger sound events of similar aural shapes.
Completely fascinating stuff. The film seems to be an exploration of Greek mythology and history, or rather, in this way represents those ideas that are at the heart of Xenakis’ massive multimedia event called “Polytope de Mycenes”, of which the main part of the film is an audio-visual document, interspersed with images of, for instance, the Greek fight for liberation or ancient artefacts. The music is not just that short electronic composition called “Mycenae Alpha”, but makes use of choirs, orchestra and a lot of percussion. The event and the music present Xenakis at his most ritualistic, and at the same time most accessible. Archaic and visionary at the same time, and simply great. I really envy the people who saw this ‘live’ in 1978, but even in this filmed way it’s pretty entrancing. And as there’s no cd recording available, this fine-sounding recording also helps to fill an important gap in anyone’s Xenakis collection.
Nicolas Calas’s represented the self in conjunction with his perception of two cities, Athens and New York. The perceptions of identity in the case of migrant intellectuals like Calas are largely determined by the real and imagined space of the cities where they lived and created and not the “imagined community” of the nation. For Calas, spatiality and temporality in these two cities reveal his evolving perceptions of his own identity. From a spatial conception of time and history that permits him to liberate the self from a nostalgic and entrapping Athens, Calas moves in New York towards an understanding of the urban space as a constantly changing spectacle, and of himself in this space as a perpetual stranger. The figures of strangers and the strange figures that he adopts as personae in his work dramatize his identity as a stranger and suggest that, perhaps, being a stranger is the paradigmatic condition of the migrant artist and intellectual in modernism.
. . . but the heart of the stranger will flourish with joy
in the streets of the city.
Those concerned with national identity construe self-perception in relation to an “imagined community” interacting with an (imagined) national geographical space. In the case of migrant intellectuals, however, self-perception may be determined by a space that is imagined, but does not necessarily coincide with the geography of the nation. Cities as modern, transnational spaces within national territories become during the twentieth century the home of many who, propelled by their own desire or by history, migrate from one place to the other. The modern metropolis is often the real and imagined space that forms the relation between self and community. As Raymond Williams remarks “[i]t is a very striking feature of many Modernist and avant-garde movements that they were not only located in the great metropolitan centers but that so many of their members were immigrants into these centers, where in some new ways all were strangers” (1989:77). Cities are also the place in which intellectual activity and artistic experimentation reach their height, providing the context for new types of encounter. James Clifford, reflecting precisely on this aspect of cities, points out that the surrealist Paris of the 1920s and the 1930s could be “rewritten” as a place of transient encounters and that cities “could be understood as specific, powerful sites of dwelling/traveling” (1997:30). The symbiotic relationship between the modernist and avant-garde aesthetic and the urban environment magnifies the general metropolitan consciousness that emerged with modernity. (2) Writing in, for, and about the city was a common practice for modernists and avant-garde writers alike; it was also a kind of rewriting of the self in relation to a specific space. (3)
Placing Nicolas Calas (1907–1988) against this background provides an illuminating way to understand the poet, whose identity was largely formed by cities. His writings illustrate the important movement from the national to the urban as the frame that determines his migrant identity. I follow Calas’s perception of Athens and New York, the two cities essential to his life and work that punctuate his writings and, in direct or oblique ways, mirror each other in a game that is played out in two languages, Greek and English, and unfolds in poems and theoretical and critical texts. (4) His changing representations of himself reflect changes in the urban experience as it was lived by an intellectual who can be said to represent a generation that underwent migrations and experienced the turmoil of making the modern city its home. With each relocation, Calas reconfigures himself through his perception of each (imagined) city. This two-part relationship—imaginary of the city and perception of the self—are illustrated by Calas’s representations of three landmarks, two from Athens and one from New York: Omonia Square, the Acropolis, and Radio City. Through these landmarks, Calas’s perception of spatiality and temporality in the two cities is considered in ways that demonstrate how these conceptualizations of time and space affected his perception of the self. Finally, this changing self-representation is discussed in relation to some of the personae that Calas adopts. Figures of strangers and strange figures that appear throughout his work will help us problematize the type of identity that emerges from the urban consciousness.
Lisa Gerrard & Klaus Schulze – Ocean Of Innocence
Athens—space as time
Calas published his first collection of poems in October 1932 under the simple title Ποιήματα (Poems). (5) This collection is divided into four sections: “Βοή” (“Clamor”), “Φωνές της νύχτας” (“Voices of the night”), “Ρυθμοί τοπίων” (“Rythms of landscapes”), and “Ήρεμοι ήχοι” (“Calm sound”). (6) The poems in “Clamor”represent city life as an orchestra of sights and sounds: the clamor from harbor workers, the demonstrations, the boredom and revolt occasioned by a university lecture, the Acropolis, the circulation of cars and people around Omonia square, and the erotically charged mechanical motion of the city. Calas describes this as
είναι η ποίηση που αγαπώ/ που μου λέει όσα με συγκινούν / ειν’ το τραγούδι των πόλεων (it is the poetry that I love / that tells me everything that moves me / it is the song of the cities) (1998:13).
This “song of the cities,” as well as the almost cinematographic impression of these poems, recalls the “city symphony,” a film genre that flourished in the 1920s, in which the city is presented as the main character and the quintessential modern space. (7) His poetic “city symphony”
balances the aesthetics of “proletarian art” that Calas expounded upon in the theoretical texts of the period8 and a modernist sensitivity, to which he seems inexorably drawn.9 In a 1932 article «Προβλήματα προλεταριακής τέχνης» (“Problems of proletarian art”) he declares that proletarian art could benefit from the expressionist and surrealist use of symbols. This use is:
σύγχρονος προδίδει την επίδραση του κινηματογράφου, της μεγάλης ταχύτητας του μικροσκόπιου, του τηλεσκόπιου, του φασματοσκόπιου. Η τεχνικήαυτήείναι η μόνη έωςτώρα που μπόρεσε να εκφράσει την εντατική μηχανική ζωή των πόλεων (1982¨109) modern, it betrays the influence of cinema, of high speed, of the microscope, of the telescope, of the spectroscope. This technique is the only one up to now that was able to express the intensive, mechanical life of the cities.
Borrowing elements of this “technique,” Calas composes a “symphony” that aims to capture the layers of the city in which he lives: swirls of action, mechanical-organic fantasies, and a specific conception of its spatiality and temporality. His perceptions of Omonia Square and the Acropolis are particularly telling in this regard. They reflect, on the one hand, his desire to see Athens as a dynamic center of human activity and, on the other, his ambivalence towards the city. (10) That said, the bustling, motorized, and modern Omonia Square seems appropriate for capturing the rhythms of contemporary life. The Parthenon is a less obvious choice. We will see, though, that the Parthenon provides Calas with more than an opportunity to criticize the old at a superficial level, and certainly more than a negative or an ex contrario symbol. (11) Both Omonia and the Parthenon become powerful sites through which the city is reconfigured.
«Στρογγυλή Συμφωνία» (“Round Symphony”) picks up in its title the musical theme of the city song and sketches Omonia as a place of incessant movement of people, cars, and objects, (1998: 32-36). (12) In this way Calas finds the pulse of the city in Omonia and modernity in the continuous, cyclical movement around the square. Everything seems to «γυρίζουν γυρίζουν φριχτά» (“turn turn dreadfully”) or, in a kind of slow motion, «γυρίζουν γυρίζουν σιγά» (“turn turn slowly”) on the «στρογγυλό δρόμο» (“round street”). Various images of the circle—wheels, balls, tops, coins, and a record on a gramophone—are used to depict the endless circulation around this pivotal point of the city. People of any kind, «οι κουτσοί οι τυφλοί και οι γέροι» (“the crippled, the blind, and the aged”), η κοκότα που κάνει τροτουάρ / και ο ομοφυλόφιλος νέος/ και πίσω από το νέο / απόστρατος ανθυπολοχαγός (the whore who hustles / and the homosexual young man / and behind the young man / a retired second lieutenant), all churn together with street cars, paper, and dust. This endless, indiscriminate, automated repetition strips both human beings and objects of essential differences as they are caught in a type of motion that seems to mechanize the human. The vivid descriptions of mechanical motion betray a typical modernist reaction to urban life: it is at once repulsive and fascinating.
It is precisely this ambivalence that is spelled out in the second part of the poem, in which an alternative to the vertiginous movement—a fantasy—is proposed. A series of clauses introduce a wish and the possibility of stillness and quiet: Να μπορούσε να σταθεί όλος ο κόσμος/ που περνάει τα βράδια απ’ την Ομόνοια/ να κάτσει για μια στιγμή/ και να δώσει ζωή τις πέτρες/ και να πουν μεταξύτουςοι άνθρωποι / δυο λόγια απλά/ σαν άνθρωποι (could but all the people stop / the people who pass at night through Omonia Square / and sit for a moment / and give life to stones / and could but the people say to each other / two simple words/ like people). This wished-for stillness and respite is concluded with the vision of people who:
θα γλυκομιλούν λέγονταςόσα όταν περνούσαν βιαστικά
σκοντάφτοντας ο ένας στον άλλον
ποτέ δεν είχανε σκεφτεί θα περπατούν οι λέξες θα φτιάχνουν […]
τι δε θα φτιάχνουν […]
στη γενική εκείνη ανθρώπινη αρμονία.
will sweet-talk saying
all that when they were passing hastily
stumbling on each other
have never thought
the words will be walking
they will make […]
what won’t they make […]
in that general human harmony.
The last line followed by ellipses suggests something cannot be said or has been interrupted, thus curtailing the fantasy of stillness and “human harmony.” The next section opens with the exclamatory «Αλλά πού!» (“No such luck!”), followed by yet another description of the circular movement of people and goods. (13) The tone now, however, is different: the anxiety of repetition, obvious in the beginning of the poem, is replaced by an acceptance of the vertigo. The poet’s voice emerges from the crowd to declare his own feelings: «αγαπώ τις πλατείες σαν την Ομόνοια γυμνές» (“I love squares that are naked like Omonia”). While the description is still, in some sense, negative, the poet expresses his fondness for Omonia and its exposed or naked state. Perhaps it is because όλη η Αθήνα βρίσκεται στην Ομόνοια μέσα / κι οι πιο κρυφοί πόθοι κει πέρα ζουν (all of Athens can be found in Omonia Square / and the most secret desires live there). The beloved but angst-ridden square is a meeting point for everyone in the city or, if we read this line in a slightly different way, the square becomes a miniature of the city. Omonia is thus promoted to the status of a heraldic image of Athens, a space containing it entirely in a mise-en-abyme, reproducing it in its circular movement, and substituting for the city by resemblance. This iconic equivalence, by means of which the city becomes a gigantic reproduction of the endless roundabout of Omonia, is significant for the broader representation of Athens and its modernity.(14)
In the end, Omonia becomes a square in every city: της κάθε μεγάλης πόλης η πλατεία / γυρίζει τρελά τους ανθρώπους/ γυρίζουν πίσω από φόβο/ γυρίζουν πίσω με ελπίδα ή δίχως ελπίδα (The square of every big city / turns men around madly / they turn back out of fear / they turn back with hope or without hope). Likewise, the condition of the modern city (and the self it engenders) is not specific to Athens. Omonia captures not only the swift circularity of modernity, but also its anonymous individualism and isolation: γυρίζει η Ομόνοια απ’ το πολύ το κρασί/ ή το λίγο φαϊ/ και την άψυχη ζωή της μας δείχνει / η ησυχία που την πλημμυρεί/ η ησυχία που κυκλώνει την ύπαρξή μας/ και μας ζαλίζει (Omonia turns from too much wine / or too little food / and shows us its soulless life / the silence that inundates it / the silence that circles our existence / and dazzles us). Despite, or perhaps because of, the constant movement around the square, what is revealed is the silence and isolation of modern life. The road that encircles Omonia circumscribes the individual; what in Omonia is a circle of noise and motion, for the individual becomes a dizzying circle of emptiness and silence. The exposed, or naked square that Calas loves permits the poet to see the existential void produced by modernity:
δεν ενδιαφέρεται κανείς να μάθει
ποιός είναι ο λόγος των τόσων γύρων
αρκείται μονάχα στων άλλων τη ζάλη
και σήμερα οι άνθρωποι, έτσι είναι η ζωή
σκοτώνουν την κάθε μέσα τουςκακοφωνία
στη ζάλη των κύκλων
nobody cares to know
what the reason is for so many rounds
he is only content with the dizziness of the others
and today people, such is life,
kill every cacophony within them
in the dizziness of the circles.
Mayakov+sky Platform – Rara Avis ( in a state of Ecomethe )
By choosing Omonia as the icon of modern Athens, Calas harnesses urban space into a confined arena of endless repetition. The roundness of the square and of the surrounding road annuls the fundamental purpose of a street—to get somewhere. Within the circle of Omonia there is no beginning and no end, everything turns in a seemingly inescapable, cyclical dead-end. Although the square is a center and reference point, the perspective within the poem is that of the individual speeding around it. The incessant movement around Omonia, the center of traffic in Athens, borrows its mechanical repetition from the means of transportation that converge on the square. The whole spectacle is depicted through a series of momentary impressions that succeed each other rapidly, as if through
the windshield of a passing car. As Christine Boyer would have it, the modern city seen through speeding vehicles favors a new perception of space and time, described as “a multidimensional traveling view that [is] itself a new spatialization of time” (1994:41). This “new spatialization of time,” however, is turned back on itself in the case of Omonia by means of repetition. The traveler’s view of the world is confined to a limited number of impressions that systematically repeat themselves as he turns around the square. Space seems to be over-determined by repetitive time, and, ultimately, repetitive motion undermines the space and erases its meaning. The iconic equivalence of Athens and the square implies, finally, a city lured and trapped in a modernity that endlessly consumes itself in an unproductive, self-devouring, and vicious cycle.
The sense of confined space also permeates Calas’s other early poems, especially through the depiction of the city streets. In “Clamor” the streets «στένεψαν» (“got narrower”) (1998:16), they are «αδύναμοι» (“weak”) (1998:18), (15) «βραδείς» (“slow”) (16) (1998:27), and the city consists of «μακρινούς ατέλειωτους και μπερδεμένους δρόμους» (“far away, neverending, and matted streets”) (1998:42). Streets, where the automobile should reign as the ultimate modern expression of speed and freedom, are instead restricting the space they are supposed to liberate, leading into a claustrophobic maze. (17) This perception obtains a political dimension in the poem «Διαδήλωση» (“Demonstration”). An armed attack against demonstrators redefines space, and reveals the city as a warren where demonstrators are trapped, with no perspective whatsoever:
Παντού παντούθε δρόμους μονάχα βλέπουμε
μπρος και μετά δεξιά ζερβά δρόμους δρόμους πλατιούς στενούς με ράγιες με άσφαλτο και χωρίς άσφαλτο
αδιάφορο όλα της πόλης…
Άδικα γυρεύουμε να ξεφύγουμε απότη συντροφιά των σφαιρών
συμφωνία οριζοντίων γραμμών
δρόμοι μολύβι ανθρώποι
ποιος είπε πως οι παράλληλες σμίγονται στο άπειρο
κι εδώδεν είναι το άπειρο
αλλά ανθρώπινα έργα (1998:18)
Everywhere from everywhere we only see streets
in front and after
right and left streets
wide streets, narrow, with rails
with asphalt and without asphalt
irrelevant all belong to the city…
In vain we are trying to escape from the company of the bullets
symphony of horizontal lines
streets, lead, people,
who said that parallels meet in infinity?
they unite here
and this is not infinity
but human deeds
As opposed to the “round symphony” of the circular street, here we find a “symphony of horizontal lines” of the parallel streets that, defying any logic, seem to converge in the “here” and the “now” of the city. The limitlessness, the horizontality, and the lack of reference points compound the violence of the police attack—«συντροφιά των σφαιρών» (“company of the bullets”)—and create the impression of a vast, almost two dimensional, space where there is no perspective to be had.
Just as the circle of silence is transposed from Omonia onto the self, this lack of perspective spills over from the city streets to the individual. In another 1933 poem, «Άλλη πόλη δεν θα βρεις» (“You shall find no other city”), the line «Όπου κι αν πάω αναγνωρίζω την κατεύθυνση των δρόμων» (“Wherever I go I recognize the direction of the streets”), resonates with the Cavafian title reminding the reader of the impossibility of escaping an oppressive city (1997:30). The city, as in Cavafy’s famous poem by the same name, becomes a metonymy for the self; overly familiar streets form a kind of trap from which the individual cannot escape.
Iannis Xenakis – Ikhoor
Members of the Arditti String Quartet
The string trio may be a delicate, Classical ensemble, but the opening of Xenakis’ Ikhoor (1978) sounds more like The Rite of Spring than a work of Haydn. The title means “nectar of the gods”: these are not, however, the genteel gods of “evolved” civilizations and this is not tea they are drinking. This is powerful, gritty music, taking the primal pulsations of rhythm as a starting point and in turn building a series of evocative episodes; it is no accident that Ikhoor was conceived in close proximity to Xenakis’ percussion work Pléïades.
The Stravinskian down-bows of the opening are quickly pulled into polyrhythmic strands, the accented contours coming back into sync now and then as if to offer reassurance of having the earth beneath the listener’s feet. As the three players briefly “lock in” again, this time in the high register, they diverge one by one into a sliding glissando that brings the music back down to the lower register and into a new world. This second section is completely sustained, creating a dense band of sound that constantly evolves by means of narrow glissandi. Gradually, though, rhythmic pulsations begin to emerge from this texture, leading to the next episode. This, another dance-like passage, is built from interlocking patterns of repeated notes which again break out into polyrhythms. A passage of more rapid glissandi leads to the relatively serene sonority of natural harmonics whisperingly adorned with rapid runs in one instrument or another, culminating in a long, high trill. Finally, two-thirds of the way through, Xenakis allows the strings to play a melody, a modal tune that all three sing “together”: the fact that they play it at different tempos is but a minor complication that creates a kind of resonance that enhances the sonority. Eventually, the instruments get all knotted up, extricate themselves with a few reminiscences of previous material, and finish with a long glissando passage that slowly fades away. [allmusic.com]
Art by Hans Hartung
This entrapment, however, seems to give rise again to ambivalence; the poet oscillates between suffocation and fascination. Enthrallment and terror are impressively conjoined in «Ερωτικό» (“Love Poem”), where the city is depicted as a sexual, living organism (1998:43–44). The erotic power of the city has a peculiar grip on the poet. Here the tramways are “serpentine bodies”: φιδίσια σώματα αστράφτουνε προκλητικάτη νύχτα / τρίβοντας δονικά με το γοργό τους πέρασμα δίδυμες ράγες (serpentine bodies shine provocatively in the night / rubbing voluptuously the twin rails with their swift passage) and the wide avenues are «με σπέρματα λαδιών χορτασμένες» (“satiated with sperm of oils”). The arousing power of the city is described as “sadistic,” implying a relationship with the city both tortuous and gratifying: ο έρωτας αδιαφορεί για πόνους και σπασίματα και προχωρεί/ σαδικά λαβώνοντας υπάρξεις (love ignores pains and breakings and advances / hurting lives sadistically). The spatial restriction is now transposed to an emotional and personal realm in which the identification with the city takes on a physical, corporal dimension. Interestingly, the poet declares that the captivating cruelty of the mechanized city—«οι μηχανές είναι στις πόλεις που τυραννούν παραπλανεύτρες χάρες» (“the machines in the cities they torture are graceful seductresses”)—cannot be repressed «με τους υστερισμούς νοσταλγών παλιάς μορφής ζωής» (“with the hysterias of the nostalgic for old forms of life”).
This type of hysterical reaction identified as nostalgia becomes Calas’s target when he turns to the other important landmark of the city, the Acropolis. The 1934 poem «Ακρόπολη» (“Acropolis”) attaches a negative symbolic value to the monument, suggesting cheap idealism, tourist exploitation, and dangerous nostalgia (Gianakopoulou 2002:258). The obvious message of the poem is that the Parthenon is a clichéd symbol of the nation, antiquity, and classical beauty, and is the quintessential tourist destination. It is seen as the projection of a populism deriving directly from Psycharis’s account of Greece, of Western idealizations coming from Renan, Boissonas, or the new tourist bible, the Baedeker guide (Giannakopoulou 2002:262–265). Another section of the poem attracts, our attention, however. Close to the end of this litany of spite and anger for the current perceptions and abuses of the monument, we read:
κυλινδρικά επίσης οι λέξεις ετούτες ζουμερά πέφτουν
λέξεις εμπνευσμένες από τη φρίκη που μας προξενούν
οι κανονιές του Μοροζίνη—
τα κανόνια κι αυτά κυλινδρικά
κάθε μέρα γκρεμίζουν τις ακρόπολες
words inspired by the horror provoked in us
by Morosini’s cannon-fire—
the canons cylindrical too
every day demolish the acropolises
“These words,” assuming the poet means the poem itself, are inspired by the cannons of Morosini, which managed to demolish part of the Acropolis in 1687. This moment in the Parthenon’s history gave birth to the modern image of the ruined Parthenon, an image “discovered” by European Romanticism and fiercely criticized by Calas. Against the exploitation of the monument that came afterward, Calas finds inspiration in the actual moment when the cannons fire and «γκρεμίζουν» (“demolish”) the “acropolises” (in plural) as a commodified entity. The poem “Acropolis” aspires to function like the cannons of Morosini, and to “explode” the Parthenon as the quintessential national and cultural commonplace, “every day.” The repetition in the circular space of Omonia, finds here a different and very productive expression in the demand to explode repeatedly the Parthenon.
Calas’s attachment to the explosion of the Parthenon is spelled out three years later, in the 1937 Τετράδιο Δ’ (Notebook D’ ), the last collection of poetry before his final departure from Greece, and the one closest to surrealist aesthetics. (18) In the poem «Πρόμυθος» (“Promythos”) the following line (to which he will go back often throughout his career) appears: «Μα η τέχνη είναι πυριτιδαποθήκη, απόδειξη ο Παρθενών!» (“But art is a powder magazine, the Parthenon proves it!”) (1997:73). The repetition of this line in his subsequent French and English writings underscores its importance for Calas’s conception of art, identified thereafter with the exploding Parthenon.19 Calas perpetuates the Morosini attack as the privileged moment in the history of the monument; he continually (“every day”) explodes the Parthenon as an ideal of aesthetic perfection in order to replace it by the avant-garde ideal of art as a constant source of violent subversion. The Parthenon is not to be contemplated in its ancient harmony (a humanist perspective), nor in its beauty of the ruins (a romantic perspective), but in its transitional, chaotic, and violent phase of explosion (the avant-garde and, specifically, the surrealist perspective).
At this point, it should be remembered how André Breton described the aesthetic ideal of surrealism in his definition of “convulsive beauty”: “Convulsive beauty will be erotic-veiled, exploding-fixed, magical-circumstantial, or will not be” (1962:687). The antithetical couple “exploding-fixed” illustrates for Breton the equilibrium between motion and stillness, the potentiality of movement in the absolutely still. (20) This potential for both explosion and stillness is materialized in Calas’s perception of the Parthenon and its history. By recalling Morosini, Calas invents a modern image of the Parthenon in which the ruins are not simply a witness of time, but are understood in their dual potential: necessarily fixed in eternity, but fixed there by a chaotic explosion. (21)
By privileging this moment in the Parthenon’s life, Calas endorses, in fact, a certain vision of history, a vision that stands against nostalgic reconstructions that seek to bring a dead past into a living present as a token of authenticity. The past for Calas is part of the present and the future and not a nostalgically recalled point of origin. This vision of history is compellingly exposed in the poem «Διαβάζοντας βιβλία ιστορίας» (“Reading history books”) (1998:28–31). As the title declares, the poet reads a history book and «ιστορίες χθεσινές προχθεσινές» (“stories from yesterday from the day before yesterday”) become alive in a swirl of flames that instigate investigation and discoveries for the present: βάζοντάςμε να γυρέψω σε παλιούς καθρέφτες/ αποτυπώματα σημερνών ελπίδων (making me look for traces of today’s hopes / in old mirrors). In the poem, the inspiring history book is like an old mirror which creates countless reflections. On the other side of the spectrum stand κάτι άσχημα βιβλία ιστορικά/ εξαιρετικά θαμπά/ σαν καθρέφτες αχνιστούς/ που από φουμάδες/ σ’αφήνουν να δεις/ μόνο τον καπνό (some ugly historical books / extremely hazy / like tarnished mirrors / which from the blazes / they let you see/only the smoke). In these ugly books the “mirror” of history does not function as it should; instead of reflecting the image of the past, it becomes an opaque surface that does not permit any permutation and, thus, cannot be inspiring.
Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke – Shadow Magnet
Calas elaborates more clearly this vision of history as a mirror only after he leaves Greece. In his 1942 book Confound the Wise, he talks about the “obsession of history” from which surrealist critique has liberated him (1942a:106). For surrealists “[t]he forms of the past can only interest us when they become disturbing,” something which “will tear the past from the reminiscence of history and will project it in a mirror in which we see what we are and what we want to be.” And he concludes: “To play with history, as a mirror plays with space, is the justification of dreaming” (1942a:108). The surrealist conception of history as a mirror in which the past can be reflected and, through doubling, become disturbing, further develops elements already in place in his Greek poem.
A bad history book is like a tarnished mirror: it becomes an instrument of nostalgia and subjugates the past to the reminiscence of history. In so doing, it daunts dreaming.
History, as “justification of dreaming” and history as a mirrorreflection that takes a “disturbing” form of the past as “it flashes up at a moment of danger” (Benjamin 1968:255) and projects it on the present, is what Calas seeks from the past. When he explodes the Parthenon, he is, indeed, playing with history as a mirror plays with space. He takes a
moment in history and, by isolating it, makes it disturbing. His writing is the mirror which plays with history and projects onto the present what “we want to be” now. This dream-image of the Parthenon, as opposed to the nostalgic one, reinvents the past, and transforms it into present experience. The nostalgic mood chiefly as “an expressed desire to be connected with the past, even if fictionalized in legendary form and stylized in visual imagery” (Boyer 1994:303), is sabotaged since the past appears in a form that is by definition impossible to stylize—an explosion.
Recall that for Freud in “A disturbance of memory on the Acropolis,” the Parthenon is the theater of an experience of “derealization” in which “the subject feels . . . that a piece of reality . . . is strange to him.” This derealization has two characteristics; first, it serves “the purpose of defense” and second, it depends on distressing experiences from the past that have been repressed by the subject (Freud 1968:239–248). (22) Indeed, Calas’s idea that mirroring disturbs moments of the past in order to reinvent the past is extremely close to the Freudian concept of derealisation. There is, however, an important difference which is typical of the surrealist use of Freudian theory: while Freud sees in the derealisation ignited by the Acropolis a neurotic, and thus abnormal, state, which he tries to resolve, Calas sees in his own version of derealization—mirroring— the key to dreaming, the key to creativity. The disturbing past makes Freud uneasy as he stands on the Acropolis and leads to a falsification of memory. The disturbing past of the Acropolis helps Calas to reinvent and revivify memory, and thus to escape from an overbearing history and a commodified present. By the end of his sojourn in Athens and thanks to the most stereotypical image of the city, his ambivalence and anxiety toward the city seem to be resolved through a reconfiguration of time, history, and memory. (23)
That this is an attitude Calas adopted also for his own self becomes clear in his poem «Συμβόλαιο με τους δαίμονες» (“Pact with the demons”) in Notebook D’. The title is an obvious reference to the Faustian theme, but the topos of the pact with the devil is reversed. Whereas usually the pact concerns the future—after signing the pact, the person’s life will change—this pact concerns the past: «Δεν μπορώ να ζήσω αν δεν βρεθείγια μένα κάποιο άλλο παρελθόν» (“I cannot live unless another past is found for me”), the poet declares (1997:75). Whatever positive change happens in the future would be the result of changing the past, which becomes, in this way, an experience of crucial importance for the present.
The kind of change Calas is seeking is close to a psychoanalytical revisiting of past experiences as a means of changing the individual’s perspective on his present life. Through this psychoanalytical perspective, time is experienced (as space is experienced) and not only remembered or contemplated. Time thus becomes almost cyclical, an idea that Calas expresses in the following way: όσα έχουν συμβεί μ’ αυτά που θα γίνουν ξανάρχονται / όταν φτάσω πάλι εκεί όπου βρίσκομαι τώρα / θα μπορώνα βαδίσω και μέσα στο σκότος και μόνος και σιωπηλά (what has happened comes back together with what will be / when I will arrive again there where I am now / I will be able to walk and in the dark and alone and silently) (1997:75). Past, future, and present rotate in a cyclical movement, reminiscent of the movement around Omonia square, and almost abolish the idea of linear time. This abolition permits the poet to walk alone, finally, in the dark and in silence; it permits him to say «ακολουθώ το παρελθόν που πάει μπροστά μου» (“I follow the past that goes ahead of me”) (1997:76). What was terrifying—an oppressive past and a repetitive space that entraps—becomes positive.
We see, then, that the deconstruction of the Parthenon seems to give a “solution” to both traps: the Athenian space and history. The city’s modern space has a kaleidoscopic quality formed by compressed, superimposed impressions which, in the case of Omonia, takes on the oppressive character of a house of mirrors. (24) These new kaleidoscopic qualities of space, however, through modernity’s “new spatialization of time,” are transposed onto time. Time, in turn, obtains a spatial quality that has the potential to liberate the past from historicism and plant it firmly in present experience. In this way, what was negative for space becomes positive when this new spatiality affects conceptions of time and history. In a modernity in which alienation and reification incite views of the past that tend toward the nostalgic, turning the past, literally and metaphorically, into a museum, Calas’s way of reviving the past without lapsing into nostalgia, of reactivating it as part of the “now,” also gives meaning to the present, endowing it with the possibility of memory as experience and not as mummified relic (Boyer 1994:195). The new dream-time has the potential to transform the city and to unblock it from a possibly soulless modernity.
This invention of the past comes relatively late in Calas’s Athenian period. While in the poem “Acropolis” Calas already seeks to liberate himself from the overriding clichés that grip the Parthenon, it is only in the poems of 1937 that he manages to complete his talismanic formula for the explosion of the Parthenon as an ideal of art. It seems that this convulsive reconfiguration of the symbol, and of Athens, became possible only as the city was left behind in search of another space. By leaving Athens, in defiance of the omen “You shall find no other city,” Calas invests in a new identity. He becomes a wanderer, or, as he will say a few years later, the one “who is still pursuing” (1942a:82).
Stranger in the City: Self and Urban Space in the Work of Nicolas Calas
Effie Rentzou, Princeton University
Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Volume 26, Number 2, October 2008, pp.
Mayakov+sky Platform + Kostas Varnalis – Entropic Tavern
Lena Hoff, Nicolas Calas and the Challenge of Surrealism. Copenhagen: Museum
Tusculanum Press. 2014. Pp. 450. 23 halftones, 8 color plates. Paper $65.
Lena Hoff’s Nicolas Calas and the Challenge of Surrealism is a fine study of an understudied and perhaps underappreciated (at least in English-language scholarship) itinerant poet, journalist, critic, and all-out provocateur. A strongly Marxist thinker, who did not believe in so-called proletarian art in the social realist sense (despite an early essay arguing for it), and a lifelong surrealist, who at every turn sought to modify Freudian thought as well as surrealist doctrine, Nicolas Calas (also known as Nikolaos Kalamaris, Nikitas Randos, and M. Spieros) is often mentioned in the Greek context as the one true surrealist—a characterization that Hoff somewhat unquestioningly embraces. But she also provides a much-needed examination of Calas’s work that digs deep into the archive in order to take into account the full breadth of his productivity— from poetry to art reviews to social criticism—and that outlines the rich and varied intellectual contexts in which Calas lived and wrote. “Without desire to change, surrealism is reduced to a cult,” Calas wrote, and it is his permanent revolt that Hoff tracks patiently and in great detail (254).
Turn any modernist/avant-garde stone and you will find Calas there: a correspondent and critic of the first Greek promulgator of modernism Yorgos Theotokas in the early 1930s; a translator of T.S. Eliot, whose work he did not much like, and the first to compare him to C.P. Cavafy (though George Seferis would do both much more famously a few years later); a member of the French surrealist group in Paris in the mid-to-late 1930s; a collaborator of Andre Breton in 1940s New York, his initial emigration there partly financed by paintings given to him by Pablo Picasso and Giorgio de Chirico; a correspondent of Leon Trotsky, while the latter was in Mexico; a correspondent and translator of William Carlos Williams; a research assistant for Margaret Mead; a contributor to the American surrealist magazine View, but also to Artforum; a regular columnist for The Village Voice in the 1960s; a beloved art history professor at Fairleigh Dickinson in New Jersey from 1963 to 1975 and begrudging visiting teacher at Allen Ginsberg’s Naropa Institute in Boulder, CO, in the late 1970s; and, no longer scorned by the Greek intelligentsia, a recipient of the Greek State Poetry Prize in 1977.
The first chapter takes us from his birth (as Nikos Kalamaris) to a wealthy industrialist Greek family in Switzerland in 1907 through his incarnation as M. Spieros, his pen name when writing socialist columns in the Greek press. In between, Calas studied law at the University of Athens, launched his career as a critic by attacking prominent poets (such as Kostas Karyotakis), and already at the age of 22 participated in ideological wars between journals, finding his intellectual home in none, as he struggled to define, under Trotsky’s influence, a politicized but not necessarily limitedly proletarian art.
The second chapter focuses on Calas’s surrealist awakening, placing him (a little cursorily) in the context of the Greek 1930s avant-garde and analyzing his first poems in Greek. Although Hoff includes an astute, brief comparative reading of Calas and
Odysseas Elytis, she resists seeing parallels to Greek poetry in Calas’s work. I think she is right to claim that it is difficult to “plac[e] Calas in the same category as [Andreas] Embirikos, [Nikos] Engonopoulos and Elytis” (104), but a closer, more engaged consideration of this question—and what exactly the “category” under discussion ought to be—would certainly have been fruitful. For instance, Hoff identifies Calas’s resistance to the notion of Greekness as crucial for distinguishing him from other poets, but the poetic evidence that she presents shows a skeptical attitude towards both the unquestioning embrace of antiquity and modern Athens that you might find, if not in George Seferis, at least in Andreas Embirikos.
Iannis Xénakis – Pléïades, I
Pléïades, for 6 percussionists (1978)
Les Percussions de Strasbourg
Xenakis’ reputation as one of the twentieth century’s foremost composers of hard-driving music for percussion is no doubt a result of his long association with the outstanding six-member Percussions de Strasbourg. Pléïades (1978) is one of three works including Persephassa (1969) and Idmen B (1985) that Xenakis wrote expressly for this ensemble.
Named after the constellation of the daughter of Atlas, Pléïades is indeed a work of cosmic proportions. Written in four movements of some 45 minutes’ total duration, it is Xenakis’ most ambitious instrumental work aside from the full-length ballet Kraanerg. Three of the four movements utilize an instrumentation derived from a single family of instruments — mallet (“keyboard”), skin, or metallic instruments — while the fourth is a combination of the other three. This work is fiercely difficult for the performers, presenting densely layered polyrhythms and intricate patterns and requiring enormous strength and concentration. For the listener, the music is an exotic dance full of powerful rhythms and evocative sonorities; the movement for mallet instruments, for example, makes use of a pitch formation that resembles the pelog scale of the Javanese gamelan. Xenakis adds his own twist by reconfiguring the scale so that it does not repeat at the octave. In this way, different melodic patterns and harmonic tensions are generated in each register.
The composer makes much of the timbral distinction between the wooden instruments (marimba and xylophone) and the metallic vibraphones, posing the groups against one another. In the movement for metallic instruments, Xenakis calls for an instrument constructed specifically for this piece. The sixxen is configured like a keyboard, but is fashioned from metallic bars that are less pure in tone than those of the vibraphone. Heard in a live setting, they are piercingly loud; on recordings, they sound like a gamelan, their “exotic” tuning adding much in the way of color.
Xenakis proposes two orders for the presentation of the four movements: One begins with the “mélange” movement, while the other ends with it. Both options are plausible, since this movement is comprised of the materials used elsewhere in the piece, and it can therefore aptly serve as either introduction or summation. In either case, Pléïades is a true tour de force. The performance challenges it poses has granted it the status of a benchmark work which readily measures the skill of percussion ensembles. [Allmusic.com]
Art by Paul Klee
Chapter 3 addresses Calas’s years in Paris at the end of the 1930s, examining the poems he wrote in French during that time and his important theoretical surrealist book Foyers d’incendie—the first work to be published under the pseudonym that would later become his legal name in the US—in which he introduces the idea of “revolutionary sadism.” Hoff draws a compelling parallel between the two endeavors: “Just as the revolutionary must be a sadist in order to transform society and overcome obstacles, so the poet must cultivate a sadistic attitude in order to create a radically new poetry” (162). However, even though Hoff speaks generally about Calas’s “use of hallucinatory images” and ably unearths the poems’ many sources and references (whether to mythology, Salvador Dali, or Karl Marx), thus laying down the important groundwork for interpreting them, she does not fully engage with them qua poems, or explain exactly how they are “radically new” (166).
Hoff’s fourth, and perhaps strongest, chapter traces the evolution in Calas’s thought as he moves from Europe to the United States during the height of the Second World War and tries to adapt to new sociopolitical realities. Calas becomes an impresario of surrealism in New York, still holding fast to the movement’s promise and political commitments. In this, he is unlike the movement’s founder, Andre Breton, with whom he had a falling out at this time precisely over the degree of politicization now necessary or even possible in art. Calas during this period publishes one book of essays in English, Confound the Wise, and is very active in prominent artistic and literary journals, also briefly editing the Greek newspaper The National Herald. But what may be the most interesting aspect of Calas at this moment, and thus also about this chapter, is the work that he did not publish, or of which he published only fragments. Hoff’s deep knowledge of the Calas archive makes this chapter and the ones that follow it truly compelling, relying as they do on those unpublished materials, some of which are found in the book’s extensive Appendix. She explores his intriguing ideas about “The New Prometheus”—“a hero who was willing to assume full individual responsibility and a rebel force to inspire the common man to continue his struggles for social transformation and liberty in the face of tyrants” (175)—and the ways in which he revises the terms but not the core of his political thinking (for example, moving from the revolutionary sadism of Foyers to the concept of a “militant attitude,” from the artist-as-revolutionary to the “responsible” artist; passim). Glossing perhaps a little quickly over the “intellectually dry and difficult period” (225) of Calas’s 1950s, Chapter 5 moves to his penultimate incarnation as an art history professor, an art critic for esteemed periodicals, such as Artforum and Art International, a “polemical columnist” (230) for The Village Voice, a gallery advisor, and an exhibition curator. Re-inspired to engage with politics by the New Left and the protest movements and willing to seriously and critically engage with new artistic movements (pop art, performance art, and so on), Calas at the same time remained true to his belief in both the “necessity of militancy within the political struggle” and in an evolving, adaptive surrealism (233). As Hoff highlights through her examination of unpublished manuscripts and letters, Calas’s willingness to recognize and respond to the changed sociopolitical and cultural landscape led to disagreements with newly formed American surrealist groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s, clearly marking his uniqueness as a thinker in the American postwar context.
Lisa Gerrard – The Host Of Seraphim
In the sixth and final chapter, Hoff follows Calas back to Greece and to poetry, outlining the links between his early and late work. She adeptly tracks his complex allusions and the targets of his satirical poetic critiques (ranging from nationalism and religion to revered Greek poets like Kostis Palamas and Seferis to the Greek royal family)—her reading of the anti-royalist «Ευτυχούπολις» (Happy City) is especially rich—offering a useful overview of the general tenor of his published Greek poems and discussing unpublished poems that Calas wrote in English; her analysis of an untitled poem beginning with the line “In the isles of Byron and Sappho” is masterful.
Hoff’s intention throughout the book is to reconstruct, explicate, and situate Calas’s work, and the richness and usefulness of her own work in this respect cannot be overstated. She is excellent at highlighting parallels between Calas’s thought and that of international figures from different realms, including Trotsky, the surrealist poet Benjamin Peret, the Russian futurist Vladimir Mayakovsky, and the theorist Herbert Marcuse; this is the international context in which Calas very clearly belongs. But though invaluable, this contextualization at times makes Calas himself seem elusive, a tissue of influences rather than an original thinker, even as Hoff insists on his originality. For instance, Hoff writes that “the originality of Calas as a poet lies precisely in his multiple transformations and artistic restlessness which, together with his insistence on poetry as a form of critique or protest, were defining aspects of the avant-garde experience” (63). Which is it? Is Calas original, or is he typical of the avant-garde? Hoff often seems to be trying to save Calas from being merely a Greek poet, which results in the book’s not only dispensing with some of the Greek poets, too, but also in its not fully grappling with Calas’s own ideas, sometimes taking his views at face value or too neatly integrating them in existing (non-Greek) paradigms.
One way to make Calas’s own voice come through more strongly might have been to delve more deeply into his poems. The book’s main—and perhaps inevitable— weakness in my mind is the surface analysis of almost all of the poems that it presents. Puns are pointed out and explained and references elucidated, but in an attempt to offer an overview of Calas’s poetic work, Hoff spends very little time specifically showing us what makes it worth reading, other than its adoption and adaptation of particular modes and themes (mythological, surrealist, Marxist, satirical, autobiographical). Hoff argues that “Calas stands alone in his original attempt to inspire the creation of a Greek avant-garde, fusing poetic innovation with political radicalism” (120); this may be true, but in her account of his poetry, the latter subsumes the former. Tending to read the poems as if they are mini-essays that showcase one aspect of Calas’s beliefs or another, Hoff runs the risk of making them sound more banal than they are. Calas’s inventive poetic form (aural and visual elements, stanza and line structure, diction, register, syntax, and punctuation) is rarely considered, even though, as Hoff acknowledges, “Calas believed that form was essentially inseparable from content” (95). This is somewhat justified by the extensive scope of Hoff’s project, but the accumulation of lengthy and barely analyzed citations towards the end of the book still feels unsatisfactory.
Calas referred to himself in Artforum in the early 1980s as a “poet, diagnostician, and polemicist” (264). The great contribution of Hoff’s book is to present a picture of Calas that gives equal weight to each of these facets of Calas’s personality. There has already been a renaissance of work on Greek surrealism in recent years: from Michalis Chrysanthopoulos’s (2012) and Nikos Sigalas’s (2012) books in Greek to Effie Rentzou’s (2010) incisive study in French. I trust that Hoff’s Nicolas Calas, with its lengthy Appendix of unpublished materials, its exhaustive bibliography, and its extensive citations of poems, letters, and essays—some published and many translated for the first time (the originals always helpfully appear in-text or in the notes)—will serve as an important sourcebook for the further study of Calas, and I hope that it will spur critical work on many of the important questions it broaches.
Claremont McKenna College
Chrysanthopoulos, Michales (Χρυσανθόπουλος, Μιχάλης). 2012. «Εκατό χρόνια πέρασαν και ένα καράβι»: Ο ελληνικός υπερρεαλισμός και η κατασκευή της παράδοσης [“A hundred years have passed, and a boat”: Greek surrealism and the construction of tradition]. Athens: Agra.
Rentzou, Effie. 2010. Litterature malgre elle. Le surrealisme et la transformation du litteraire: la France, la Grece, confrontations [Literature despite itself. Surrealism and the transformation of the literary: Comparisons between France and Greece]. Paris: Editions Pleine Marge.
Sigalas, Nikos (Σιγάλας, Νίκος). 2012. Ο Ανδρέας Εμπειρίκος και η ιστορία του ελληνικού υπερρε- αλισμού: Ή μπροστά στην αμείλικτη αρχή της πραγματικότητας [Andreas Embirikos and the history of Greek surrealism: Or facing the inexorable principle of reality]. Athens: Agra.
Mayakov+sky Platform + Brian Ang – Qua Insurrection
Cinepoem and music by N.O.Koumoundouros (Nicholas Komodore) MAYAKOV.
Recitation by Brian Ang. From his poem Theory Arsenal THEORYARSENAL
However, Calas also had a couple of champions of his satires. Nanos Valaoritis, whose literary avant-garde journal Πάλι (Again) first published these poems in the 1960s, was positive towards Calas’s new form of expression and the strange idiom of the satires. In a letter, dated 5 May 1960, he commented:
I find [them] tremendously biting and with a healthy irony. […] You will excuse my liberty to correct your Greek which you have become a little unused to in the grammatical sense, but I must say that your style has great originality and probably its strangeness comes also from the fact that for so many years you have not used it, in the current or the intellectual sense. These poems for me have a freshness and a biting acid quality which is necessary and also at moments very beautiful, and one feels that, unlike so much Greek poetry today, carefully chosen to express a very definite feeling and not just mumbo jumbo as most Greek poetry today with very few exceptions. There is behind them authority of mental, moral, and emotional attitudes and experiences which strike me immediately as authentic and profound. (Calas Archive, Nordic Library, Athens, file 30.3.15)3
Calas’s first anti-royalist poem «Ευτυχούπολις» (“Happy City”), a pun on the Danish Glücksburg royal dynasty ruling Greece, was initially published in the second issue of Πάλι in 1964–1965.7 He was most probably inspired to write this satire by two recent events alluded to in the poem: Constantine II’s succession to his father King Paul in March 1964 and the symbolic beheading of the statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, 24 April 1964, by unknown vandals. (8) Furthermore, in September of the same year, Constantine II married Anne-Marie, the Danish princess and sister to the future queen of Denmark, Margrethe.
Πάνε στο Σάπιο ν’ απολαύσουνε
την αίγλη της αποτυχίας των.
Ο γερο-παλατιανός πατριωτικότατα
μασάει μια κοπενχάη
ενώ στο διπλανό τραπέζι
γύφτισσα υπενθυμίζει στο γιό του
πως στη Δανία εκαρατομήθη άγαλμα σειρήνας.
Μα το θέμα δεν έχει ποιητική οξύτητα
θα δώσει ή δεν θα δώσει η κυρία Παλατιανού
το ετήσιο γκάρντεν πάρτυ της μιά
κι η κυρία Ερέτιμος δεν είναι πια στο υπουργείον Συνωστισμού
κι ο διευθυντής του διεθνούς Τουρτουρισμού επαύθη;
Με αριστερούς θα πισινίσει τώρα η Χρυσίδα;
Καλύτερα να μην ανοίξει την νεόδμητο στέρνα της
καλύτερα να πνιγεί! Μα τότες ποιά η ωφέλεια;
Περιφρονούνε στ’ ανάκτορα τα θεατρικά.
Θα συμμορφωθεί κατά τι με την νέα κατάσταση
και κάθε βράδυ προτού να πάει στο τένις
θα σεργιανίσει στο λαϊκότατο το Ζάππειο
κι εκεί καθώς λένε συχνάζουν επιβήτορες.
Εν τω μεταξύ
η γύφτισσα υπενθυμίζει στους αριστερούς το
«Φοβού τους Δαναούς και δώρα φέροντας!»
They go to the Rotten Gardens
to revel in the glory of their failure.
The old courtier very patriotically
eats a Danish pastry
while at the neighboring table
a gypsy woman reminds his son
that in Denmark the statue of the Little Mermaid was beheaded.
But the issue has no poetic acuteness
will the Lady of the Palace give or not give
her annual garden party since
the honorable Lady E.R.E. is no longer in the Ministry of Co-ordinated
and the director of International Cold Tourism has been dismissed?
Will the Golden Lady swim in the same pool now as leftists?
She better not open her newly built cistern
better she drown! But then what would she gain?
At the Palace, theatricals are frowned upon.
She will somewhat conform to the new state of affairs
and every night before going to the tennis club
she will stroll amongst the common people in Zappion Park
which, as they say, is full of studs and grabbers.
In the meantime
the gypsy woman reminds the leftists to
“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!” (9)
Iannis Xenakis – Persepolis
Iannis Xenakis Persepolis GRM Mix
Mixed By, Engineer – Daniel Teruggi
A re-issue of the “polytope” (composed in 1971, first performed for the 2500th anniversary of Iran’s founding by Cyrus) on CD1 with remixes on CD2.
Original recording mixed at INA-GRM (Paris, France) and engineered in Studio 116A by Daniel Teruggi, under the consultation of Iannis Xenakis. Radu Stan of Editions Salabert provided the original tapes and scores for the mix, as well as attended the mixing.
“No and Never”
Although Calas wrote a poem entitled «Όχι και ποτέ» (“No and Never”) especially for Αντίσταση, it failed to get published at the time. In a letter to Calas, dated 17 February 1968, Raptis acknowledged the reception of a satirical poem, which he seemed to like, and promised to publish it in the following issue of his journal (Hoff 2002:38). However, when the May–June 1968 issue failed to include his poem, Calas wrote back to Raptis asking why it had not been published at the same time as suggesting that it be sent to another resistance paper (Hoff 2002:45). Since Raptis did not respond to Calas’s question regarding the fate of his poem, we have no way of knowing the reason for why it was rejected. Perhaps as a kind of “repayment,” Raptis published the thematically linked «Η οσφύς του λαγού η μοναρχική μου αγάπη» (“The Back of the Hare My One and Only Monarchical Love”) that we shall also take a look at here, in the political journal Για το Σοσιαλισμό (For Socialism) (no. 4, 1975) which he brought out upon his return to Athens following the fall of the junta. While “No and Never” was not published at the intended time during the junta years, it was discovered during the organizing of the Calas Archive (now located at the Nordic Library in Athens) and is thus reproduced here in its entirety for the first time. (15)
ΟΧΙ ΚΑΙ ΠΟΤΕ
Έχουμε κι εμείς μια «Κηφισσιά», χωρίς δέντρα και πρασιές
όλο μπουζούκια, ρετσίνα, «παιδιά» και «Ζορμπά»
Αντίς από τ’«Αστέρια» έχουμε την «Αστόρια»
Έχουμε και βάσανα. Σεις βασανιστές, Ηρακλείδες του Στέμματος
Χούντα, Χέσσα, χεσμένο μίνι βασιλιά κι αντιβασιλέα Μάξιμον
σταματήσαν την χαρά. Ποταποί παττακοί ψιττακίζουν
Κυματίζει η Κυανόλευκος σα σημαία ευκαιρίας για λεφτά με χούντα
Ξένες εταιρείες θαυματουργούν. Παναμάς θα γίνει ο Μωριάς
κι ο Ερμής μπανάνα και μπουναμάς του Τουρισμού
χάριν του τουρτουρισμού ο ρωμιός θα νηστεύει τρις της εβδομάδος
και κάθε μέρα θα κάνει δίαιτα ηθικής και λογοκρισίας
για ν’ αδυνατίση η Ελευθερία
Στο λιμάνι των ελεύθερων ξενιτεμένων
μια χούφτα γραικών με Μελίνα και μελάνι
με λόγο σε χαρτί και δίσκο. Μουντζώνει την χούντα
βροντοφωνώντας την ταυτότητά της
Το «όχι» της Αντίστασης, και το «ποτέ»
μιας και άλλης μιας και πάλι άλλης νέας Μπουμπουλίνας
(Calas Archive, Nordic Library, Athens, file 17.3.24)
NO AND NEVER
We have our own “Kifissia,” without trees or greenery
full of bouzoukis, retsina, Greek kids and “Zorbas”
Instead of the “Stars” we have the “Astoria”
We also suffer torments. You suffer tormentors, the Strongmen of the
The junta, Hessa, shit scared mini king and viceroy Maximus
they put an end to all joy. Perverted Pattakos and his pack prattle on
The Greek flag flaps like a flag of convenience for money together with
Foreign companies work wonders. Morea will turn into Panama
and Hermes become banana and a bonus for tourism
thanks to the cold tourism the Greeks will fast three times a week
and follow a daily diet of morality and censorship
so that Freedom will grow thinner
In the harbor of the free emigrated
a handful of Greeks with Melina and ink
with speeches on paper and records give the junta the finger
thundering out their identity
The “no” of the Resistance, and the “never”
of another and one other and yet another young Bouboulina
Denez Prigent & Lisa Gerrard Gortoz A Ran – J’attends videoclip
Denez Prigent & Lise Gerrard – Gortoz A Ran – J’attends (Black Hawk Down OST) video clip with high quality audio (for watching in 480p (with better audio), put &fmt=18 after the adress)
Lyric (with english translation):
-Gortoz a ran
- Gortozet ‘m eus, gortozet pell
-skeud teñval tourioù gell
[I was waiting, waiting for a long time
In the dark shadow of grey towers ]
-E skeud teñval an tourioù glav
-C’hwi am gwelo ‘c’hortoz atav
-C’hwi am gwelo ‘c’hortoz atav
[In the dark shadow of rain towers
You will see me waiting forever
You will see me waiting forever]
“The Back of the Hare My One and Only Monarchical Love” Calas would return to the subject of the Glücksburg family and the rule of the Colonels in «Η οσφύς του λαγού η μοναρχική μου αγάπη» (“The Back of the Hare My One and Only Monarchical Love”) published in 1975 in Raptis’s new political journal, as previously mentioned. The satire recounts the history of the Greek monarchy, the rule and the fall of the Colonels, and the return of Karamanlis, chiefly by employing the satirical methods of grotesque caricature and vulgarity.
Ο ΟΣΦΥΣ ΤΟΥ ΛΑΓΟΥ Η ΜΟΝΑΡΧΙΚΗ ΜΟΥ ΑΓΑΠΗ
Πρώτοι μας δυνάστες οι Βιτελοβλάχοι
Κόθωνας με Αμυαλία. Μετά
ξέρασεν ο Βόλγας την Αφροδίτη Βρωμάροβνα
που τόκισε τους Γλυκοβούργους με χυλόπιτες
και τους Ρωμιούς με αναθέματα.
Του πετεινού ο γιος αντίς από την Πόλη
πήρε την Ασοφία.
Ένας του γιος ασπάστηκε τη Μαϊμού.
Κι ο άλλος εγκαινίασε μεταξωτό πολιτισμό.
Η Χέσσα μηχανεύτηκε ανάπαυλα πράματα
κι ο Κοπρώνυμος Β’ Άνω Μωρία.
Πάνε τώρα οι Γλυκοβούργοι
αλλού να φάνε την κοπενχάη τους
στο Τυχεράν της Ιρανίας ίσως.
Εδώ ποταποί παττακοί ηρακλείδες
του στόματος ψιττακίζουν
έρχεται, ερχέζεται ο Βάσος Υλικός.
Ελλάς εργατών κι αγροτών, Ελλάς ποιητών
φοβού τους Δαναούς. Προσοχή
Ήτταν ή Επί Τανκς.
THE BACK OF THE HARE
MY ONE AND ONLY MONARCHICAL LOVE
Our first despots were the Wittel-Vlachs
Otto the Bumpkin with no-brains Amalia. Then
the river Volga spewed up, instead of Aphrodite, Olga the Dirty
who lavished the Glücksburgs with mittens at an interest
and the Greeks with anathemas.
The cocky son got unwise and conquered Sophia
instead of Constantinople.
One of his sons received the kiss of death from Mr. Monkey.
While another paved the silky way for the culture of Metaxas.
Hessa was contriving behind the back of Paul
and King Dunghill II devised utter nonsense with his Anna Maria.
Now the Glücksburgs have to go
and eat their Danish pastry somewhere else
Iranically, perhaps, in lucky Tehran.
Here, perverted Pattakos and his pack of claptrap Strongmen
prattle on like parrots
His Royal Riches
is coming or going to the shits.
Greece of workers and countrymen, Greece of poets
Beware of Greeks. Caution
Defeat or Ready the Tanks.
A Pyrotechnic of Multiple Puns: Decoding the Political
Satires of Nicolas Calas
Lena Hoff (UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM)
Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Volume 28, Number 2, October 2010, pp.
Mayakov+sky Platform + Raspberry Fields – Glaukopis against Weltschmerz & Ersatz
Film constructed as a negentropic equation. Electronic music originally performed and composed by experimental performance/electronica project Raspberry Fields. Film and Field recordings by Nicholas Komodore.
a)Architectural poem animation (stages of the design of a communal garden)
b) Permutations of gender and color in cinema under Capital (16mm montage of found footage)
c) Palestine as the indestructible black box of humanism and struggle.
e) Abstraction is the only Utopia and that is not a compliment (35mm still photos)
f) Amphoteric Value