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Thursday, April 29, 2010

ZORBA'S PORSCHE CAYENNE



Anthony Quinn’s staggering syrtaki steps proved a powerful boost to Greek tourism in the days of Zorba. Indeed, Nikos Kazantzakis’ lascivious figure became so popular that Greeks gladly adopted the persona of tzatziki-eating, freedom-loving, plate-breaking puppets.

And all was fine because this is how the world wanted us to be and how we wished to see ourselves...passionate people with a ravenous appetite for earthly pleasures!

The Zorba stereotype only went awry when he swivelled up in a Porsche Cayenne. Indeed, Greece boasts the highest per capita ownership of this luxury car. Naturally, foreigners began to wonder how Zorba’s lavish lifestyle was being financed in a country so near the brink of bankruptcy that Standard and Poor’s demoted its bonds to “junk” status.

A recent front-page headline in German Bild showed Greeks frollicking in the sun (thank goodness we still have that) with their frappes accompanied by a subtitle suggesting that this is how Greeks bide their time while waiting for a solution to their debt crisis. (I guess Germans shut themselves up in their miserable little rooms when facing financial tragedy.)

Truth is, we are not a nation of Zorbas as we would love to believe. If anything we are circus elephants dancing to the tune of the EU and US.

You may wonder how a huge circus elephant can be held docile while tied to a little pole. "Why doesn't he escape?" you ask, knowing that all he needs to do to be free is to swing his trunk. The truth of the matter is that, when first pegged, this powerful creature was still young. He pulled and resisted with all his might and found that nomatter how hard he fought he could not escape. He continued this struggle for some time without success. Eventually, he stopped trying and accepted his condition as fate. By the time he was in a position to succeeed his spirit had already been crushed. In his eyes, he is still the baby elephant he used to be.

And that’s Greece, folks – Tonnes and tonnes of powerful, all-consuming rage hinged to a pole. We have been reduced to nothing more than a nation of obedient onlookers watching our leaders and bankers lie, cheat, steal and swindle. Beyond the debt crisis there is a moral deficit that has yet to be addressed. (Sound familiar maybe?) So when judging us, remember, you should never define a country by its politicians and bankers alone.

But what of the circus elephant that holds all the people of Greece and is being lead by the rope by a swaggering group of swindlers? Perhaps Zorba has the solution to the problem, if only we would listen. Yes, Kazantzakis' Zorba, who said, "You have everything but one thing: madness. A man needs a little madness or else - he never dares cut the rope and be free."

So, it's time to get mad, I guess...

10 comments:

The Man Your Husband Is Worried About said...

So in your analogy, what action can Greece take to "cut the rope and be free"? (To establish my Greek "street cred," I'll tell you my great-grandfather was born in Greece.)

Purple Cow said...

For starters, I would like to see some officials get ousted from office. In the last 10 years over 300 UK deputies have been stripped of office due to corruption allegations whereas the number of resignations in Greece is less than 10 and there have been such blatant cases of public theft that do not justify this. So I'd like to see some punishment and perhaps confiscation of personal funds from people who have got us into this mess. This is a sentiment shared by most Greeks.

Of course, this will not be able to change much now that Greece has become basically a slave to the corporations and banking industry. With the entry of the IMF I think it will be harder still to become self-sufficient.

What we need is a leader, regardless of faction, who can put Greek interests first (current "socialist" Prime Minister with neo-liberal policies is an errand boy for the US who actually appears to be embarraseed to be Greek). I feel we need someone with more gumption...but if we had a leader who could put the interest of the country first and begin putting the economy in order he would have a nice looking fella from the CIA show up in the middle of the night and shoot him in the face. (Actually, it would probably be made to look like a plane crash but you get the general drift...)

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Farmgirl Paints said...

Since I know nothing about Greece or it's economical standing I can't really comment with anything important. But you do have me curious about this movie I've never heard of:) You really have a knack for writing!

Purple Cow said...

Better still, read the book by Kazantzakis - a figure that the Greek Orthodox church stupidly excommunicated.

Robin said...

I liked the quote at the end. I also read your comments. The amount of corruption sounds *overwhelming.* But maybe that's just my take.... I don't know.

On a happier note, you got hit again on HERE'S TO YOU DAY:-)

Juliana said...

Thank you for posting this, I think that we need to be more educated and that most Americans are not aware of this situation. Thank you for posting, I would be interested in reading the book

The Novelist said...

Stereotypes are an interesting thing. I wish I could say that I have never done it, but I wouldn't be very honest. I try not to, but it happens.

I saw that film years ago for a film class I was taking. That quote from the movie is very good.

Purple Cow said...

Robin, I enjoy your here's to you days...

Juliana, most Americans are comfortable and very far away from problem zones...and yet your country is a key player in international affairs. For instance, German Chancellor Angela Merkel only gave her consent for a loan to Greece when Obama called her...so you see, your country has so much influence - good and bad - in the rest of the world making global allies and enemies with every little phone call, every little decision and setting an international chain reaction in a world where nothing is clear cut.

Novelist - I'm not sure exactly if its in the movie as I have not seen it recently. But its definitely in the book...along with many other quotes. The one I liked the most was Zorba's views on marriage but it didn't quite fit with the nature of this particular post...

HAVE A HAPPY MAY DAY GUYS...AND A GOOD WEEKEND!

George said...

Oh yes - we all need a little madness. But I am doing my best to contribute to the general fund.

"gumption" sounds strange coming from an australian in athens. I thought it was just an English word. (of course we English think we are the originators of everything!!)

Anyway take care of yourself - there aren't many of us left.

ps. I shall now read "Zorba" - my daughter read it years ago and thought it brilliant.

Purple Cow said...

I don't know the origin of the word "gumption", George. But here's an English speech with only Greek words...

http://www.cs.ucr.edu/~themis/ewords/zolotas.html