“I do not believe in coincidence. I believe in destiny. This bas-relief divulged the secret of my life with astonishing simplicity, perhaps the secret of Zorba’s life as well. It was a copy of an ancient tombstone carving. A naked warrior, who has not abandoned his helmet, not even in death, is kneeling on his right knee and squeezing his breast with both palms, a tranquil smile flitting across his closed lips. The graceful movement of the powerful body is such that you cannot distinguish whether this is a dance or death. Or is it a dance and death together? Even if it is death, we shall transform it into a dance, I said to myself, encouraged by the happy sun falling upon the warrior and bringing him to life. You and I, my heart, let us give him our blood so he may be brought back to life, let us do what we can to make this extraordinary eater, drinker, workhorse, woman-chaser and vagabond live a little longer – this dancer and warrior, the broadest soul, surest body, freest cry I ever knew in my life.” Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco, 458-459
The Greek word for song ‘tragoudhi’ is aptly and profoundly associated etymologically with the same root as the word ‘tragodia’ (tragedy). And indeed Life is the bitter sweet music that makes us put one foot in front of another every day. Our experiences are the notes and melodies of our song. We dance our pain and our joy with equal passion. None knew this better than the modern Greek symbol and myth Alexis Zorba. We all long to be able to transmute pain and pleasure as he did. We too wish to dance life. And be vagabonds in the face of convention. This is a modern myth whose wisdom we need to heed during times like these.
What would Zorba say of how Angela Merkel’s much denied proposal to Greek President Papoulias to hold a referendum on the EU along with Sunday’s elections has inspired pro-austerity politicians and media alike to falsely frame the entire elections as a vote on whether to remain in ‘Europe’ or not ?
Alexis Zorba would probably have sadly shaken his head and answered “If a woman sleeps alone, it puts a shame on all men.”
Now I wonder what Zorba would say about the fact that Kasidiaris from the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn is now suing the two female deputies from leftist parties that he attacked on live national TV last week.
Maybe Zorba would shrug his shoulders and declare that “On a deaf man’s door, you can knock forever!”
And about the Greek crisis in general, the reply of Alexis Zorba is perhaps the only wise one to have. We could all learn how to dance to the tune of life from him. I can see him standing on the beach laughing, already dancing to transmute the pain into serenity. “Did you ever seen a more splendiforous crash?”
Keep dancing with your soul Ellada, and always remember how to cry the freest cry…