Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

The poetic sense for realities in myths

Sometimes it appears as if there is no breaking out of such 'negative' systems of misunderstanding, because they leave really no space to experience all the senses, while there is no allowance for the many steps-in-between needed to clarify thoughts and give direction - cultural orientation - to our actions. Entangled in a web of symbolic interactions, even the politicians signing these contracts cannot call such experiences a truthful reality. That is especially the case with the Maastricht Treaty with regards to cultural affairs, as our discussion during the opening plenary session showed. Thus, in a departure from the usual debates, allow me to follow a thought that helped me shape this idea to try to clarify especially the term 'myth' in a positive sense, but outside the Fifth Seminar by having poets discuss at first this topic and then interact with the participants of the seminar, by letting you hear the 'different voices in European poetry'. A first experience you will have this evening at the History Museum of Athens University, when poets together with the Greek singer Savenna Yannatou will make a vocal presentation. Then, tomorrow evening, you will have the opportunity to hear their poetry during the closing event of the XVIth European Poetry Festival. This will take place in front of the Venetian tower in Aegina, a nearby island to Athens and Piraeus. I shall make some practical announcements with regards to checking out of hotel, getting the Ferry boat on time, etc. at a later time in this seminar. However, for the moment, it suffices to say that some of the poets have joined as well this seminar and shall participate in the various workshops such as Baptiste Marray, Jean Michel Moulpoix, Bruno Kartheuser, Liana Sakelliou-Schultz, Eugene van Itterbeek, Maja Panajotova and others, of which all except the first two had been in Crete. I find always poets due to their great abilities to translate each other works to be at the forefront of a truly international cultural network needed to gain time for the difficult work on the understanding of our 'cultural differences'. Their very different voices should underline that this concept is not a myth about Europe, but a reality within which these poets exist like fishes in various waters, metaphorically speaking.

Since the Fifth Seminar is taking place in Greece, I want to connect this with what this country represents. For it is not only the birthplace of democracy, given the fact that the Acropolis has outlived the slave society that had brought it about (Ernst Bloch), nor just the home of mythology, if we follow only the writings of R. Graves, but it has so many places with an incredible beauty, that one can be only astonished that it exists. That was our experience when we went through the canyon to reach an untouched bay at the end during that day off from the poetry symposium in Crete. At the same time, sometimes to undertake 'cultural actions' in this country is anything but easy; new things can happen every day, contracts suddenly broken and events turned into something so complex because of an inherent dynamic to grow inevitably into something larger, in order to achieve 'greatness', that people turn suddenly around, in fear of the large, but still capable to expropriate the ideas, while leaving all other commitments unfulfilled. I think it was Peter Handke who made this intriguing remark, that whenever Hollywood or some similar production centre wants to make a monstrous film about Western Civilisation, such as 'Ben Hur' or the 'Last Days of Jesus Christ', the producers and film directors pick either Rome or Jerusalem as their site to shoot the film; Peter Handke concluded, that they never pick Athens, because it is perhaps for them too complex a city. In turn this may explain why without much of my own doing, the Fifth Seminar has turned into a rather complex undertaking. For some of the inconveniences the next day may bring to you, when having to check out quickly, in order to get to Aegina in time, I apologise already in advance.

Let me turn, however, to what I want to call the poetic sense for reality in myth, or mythical stuff called as such when dealing with truth above the mere level of belief or not. The interplay with the imagination and the focus upon reality makes that apprehension comprehensible. Let us take a closer look at it, for it may allow even an interplay or rather a 'dialect' between the places here in Greece and all the other ones we refer to when speaking about Europe. In that way I will touch naturally upon things stated already by my previous speakers Andrι Loeckx, Liana Sakelliou-Schultz and Eugene van Itterbeek.

If I have to describe that something called the 'myth' of Greece, then it has to do not only with concrete people and landscapes, but especially with the 'light'. This is in itself connected to many other kinds of myths, perhaps the most powerful one being that of Prometheus: the one who brings fire. That is light already of a different order, but similar to Ikarus and his disastrous flight towards the sun despite of the warnings of his father and whose words he did not heed. Perhaps it is in human nature that everyone must find out for him- or herself how far one can go, or is it an inherent characteristic that our European cultures are built upon matters without which life would be inconceivable, but which are not innocent, i.e. ambivalent, as light for seeing, but also as the danger to burn ourselves. It seems that man tries to control this matter by giving it some presentable form, although this form will always have some mythical remnant or a contradiction as an inherent quality. Romantic songs produced by Hollywood try to hide that fact by converting cleverly the longing for a lasting love in times when that seems hardly conceivable into 'the eternal flame burning inside'. Thus I would like to draw a line between the matter of myths being taken into the direction of 'mythical pictures' and that what is the poetic sense for the reality of myths.

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