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Sunday, 19 August 2007

You are not ignorant and you know it

Yesterday I had a tutorial on Greek culture while sitting in a virtual café with Leftheris. I recall from our conversation, though I have a headache this morning, that he apologised for not understanding the phrase "feel very dry"? I enjoyed going over the many uses of 'dry' in English. 'Dry wine' (oxymoron it seems but isn't), 'dry humour' (at which you don't laugh but you are amused), a 'dry book' (bit boring), "dry up" (another way to say "shut up", or to find oneself 'lost for words' in the middle of a speech). I'm sure there are more meanings. But most interesting he said "In school since I was a kid" that the "system divides people, it does not unite them. They learn us how to hate (Turkish, Skopian, Bulgarian, Italian, Arabs, Albanian etc.) The truth is that the Balkan people share common history beliefs and blood. That is a loooooooong story not discussed over the net as u say...." I will say no more here, except that we spoke into the night of many things about which my ignorance was wider than the whole Mediterranean and beyond the gates of Hercules (through which I sailed west many years ago - on my long voyage to Ithaka). And then Leftheris accuses me with a smile "You are not ignorant and you know it. You follow Socrates technique; 'one thing I know is that I know nothing.' I see what you are doing! You try to lead the chat in where you want without the other party notices it! That is not wrong! I try it some times! I am not offended, no!" At this I am almost in tears of pleasure and rather drunk. Then I said that he took the most beautiful pictures of women. That tourist standing in front of the Parthenon, in black and white. A pictures for which she has not posed but that does not invade but...but...create...erm...strong feelings of...erm...that photo will never dry! It is out of time." To ease my embarrassment because i thought may be it was a relative he gave me a large Kalamata olive, said it was just a lucky shot, and told me to 'dry up' and we switched to a discussion of agriculture in the Peloponnese. Later we depart to our separate homes 2000 miles apart, but he shouted as he strolled into the dark, "Kazantzakis is my favour author. I love him. such a great man. so modest! He fought against religion, slavery, inner fears, taboos...he was a truly free man! FREE!!!"

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Simon Baddeley