Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

From Marble to Cement by Pedro Mateo

All or nearly all of us here who inhabit places overpopulated, we are either talking about cities or villages in the province or capitals with millions of people in various countries in the world. Some have written inspired by the place where they live, poems, stories or chronicles. They have written about life in the city either with the apocalyptic vision of Rimbaud or about one single moment in time, resembling a living photograph taken by time which accumulates everything. Some, among us, have designed as we say today, model-cities, and were lucky enough to realize their plan and to make a lot of money with this enterprise. We all know life in the cities and because live in them we enjoy it and we suffer it daily. We enjoy it because of the human contact-possibilities it offers, the body and spiritual pleasures in its streets etc. and we endure it because of the deafening noise of the traffic, the horrible bureaucracy, the lack of sense in the town planning and the means of transport, the ugliness as a consequence of speculation of piling up building, the one on the top of the other etc. as we all know, despite the fact that some of us were not born in the heart of the city and we reached it, at different ages, avoiding the countryside, the origin, the cradle of all the extinct (passed) interior civilization and the cultural penuries, that choked us with its short sightedness and non-existence. We reached the big metropolis to study and to develop as human beings, to find a little job in the industry or in services, something suitable to modern life. We reached the great metropolis with the vision of a paradise in our wide open eyes, a paradise of entertainment, culture, where the spending of money is the norm and also a whirlpool, equally on the Parliament benches where arms of destructions are fabricated with the land dictating laws and ministerial decrees which are later to be violated because of the accumulation of privileges, as well as the consumption of alcohol, drugs, stimulants, and fuel.

Essentially to enter a city is always the same process: some gates open, a threshold is crossed. That’s how Parmenides relates the story in his poem when he arrives at the City of Truth. He was coming from the Kingdom Heliades of the Night, guided by Heliades and with the wheels of the chariot with the beautiful horses making a lot of noise. In old times cities were protected by walls and gates; suburbs existed like today and were called “outside the walls” including cemeteries and habitations leaning against the walls surrounding the city and that were growing continuously to be swallowed by new walls or to be destroyed by successive wars. Today the access to our cities takes much longer and is much more expanded; you come in through big auto ribbons marked by yellow and orange light colors of madness and ruthless desires. After underground and over ground passages, deviations, turns and short cuts, temporal changes of routes because of endless new road works or remodeling, one reaches at least the heart itself of the city.

To enter the city of Athens from the West one follows, in some parts, the Ancient Road that used to lead to the sanctuary of Elefsina. This ‘way’, ‘the road of the soul’ according to Angeles Sikeliannis, is today a crazy window shop of high furnace and torches like Olympic ones, illuminated jetties which enter a dead sea in order to support black pipes carrying raw petrol and conveying belts carrying grey cement: a new Hercules dedicated complacently to the work of construction. Rests of palm trees air the dust together with the stifling exhausts. Deep in one can see the azure mountains, distant and close at the same time, at the Sunday outing.

And we go on, we go on: open flowers, guarding dogs going deaf alienated because of the endless passing of huge trucks, traffic signs, incitements for mass consumption, houses to sell, houses in ruin, without receipt or contract, beautifully packed with a ribbon, the house of mental health facing a wine press with wine fountains made out of noble materials “to be pulled down”, cars with their guts hanging out at gas stations for fast cars shining like poems, barracks like dreams next to the sea, yellow, imposing, motorized, new monsters that gulp down butterflies, monsters which give the fight to no one, not even children who are used by now to consider them like toys packaged up with fancy wrapping papers in the supermarket corridors. And in the gutted earth lots of pipes, in the open air the various layers of ancient perforation, abandoned pipes like old shoes thrown in the middle of a field, without laces, with the soles gaping because the sun and the rain.

Behind the few ranges of trees which happily renew their leaves in spring, one can discern the modern city. What was the vision of Rome that Nero had just before ordering it’s burning down? We do not know; but we know the clear and unruly vision of Rimbaud when contemplating the huge expansion of London. He sees it from a distance enveloped in a “thick and eternal smoke of coal”. He sees it from within, there where lives “death without fears”, “a desperate love” and “a beautiful crime chirping in the mud of the alley”. Like him we can say in the tone of an old incantation our own Ave Maria: “I am the ephemeral and not too discontent citizen of a plain metropolis, plain because good taste as we know it has been eluded in what concerns the arrangement and the face of the houses, as well as the planning of the city…all those millions of people who do not need to know each other carry in such identical ways their education, their jobs and their old age that the trajectory of their lives must be by many times shorter than what crazy statistics show for the people of the continent”.  (Rimbaud, p. 145)



There we are in Athens, Instead of coal we have now gasoline; with the dry deaths, the love affairs and love deception of the city, all sorts of crimes which cry and chirp, enforced everywhere. There is no redemption because the “redemption” of the new “Oedipus” close their eyes, to open them only behind masks. Hundred years old, Ernst Juenger tells us that we are witnessing a battle between the Gods and Titans, a battle where the whole family heredity of humanity is at stake. The honorable notaries of the state have nothing to do with this. Will and testament explicitly stated will be violated by the heirs. The dead man remains alone.



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