Thursday, April 28, 2005

Athens, Greece: Image Gallery

I've upload a few of my Athens photos at Tiscali. I may add more if I go through all my boxes of photos and scan them. These were the only I had in digital form on my hard drive.

The shrine pic isn't in Athens at all. I can't remember where that is.

The photo I've posted here was first published in the Athens News. It accompanied a piece I wrote on Mets, which you can view here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Answer to Quiz #5: Grigorios Palaiologos

The answer to Quiz #5 is Grigorios Palaiologos or Γρηγόριος Παλαιολόγος (1794-1844).

His literary work had been ignored for 150 years until the summer of 1989 when Manolis Anagnostakis, head of Nefelis house, published the first lot of previously unknown works, found in a collection belinging to the Vikelea Library of Heraklion. A few months later Hermes published more works.

The two novels are:
1. «Ο Πολυπαθής» [The Passionate One](?) published in Athens in 1839.
2. «Ο Ζωγράφος» [The Painter] published in Constantinople in 1842.

Palaiologos wrote these novels during the years 1929-1939 while in Athens on having been invited by Capodistria to work as a agriculturalist in Greece.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

QUIZ #5: The farmer and his novel.

OK. Time for another quiz "borrowed" from today's edition of Greek daily Ta Nea.

A strange thing occurred in the Greek literary world at around 1990. Three publishing houses—Hermes, Nefeli and the Ourani Foundation—published the same two novels at roughly the same time. Both novels had been written by a Constantinopolitan around 150 years earlier, but both novels and author had been forgotten.

This author may well have been forgotten for his literary activites, but he had not been forgotten for his other major pursuit: agriculture. He'd gained an important presence in the agricultural history books and his work is still recognised in the introduction of new means and methods of cultivation.


Who was he?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Dean Bakopoulos's moon longing

A while ago I read a rather haunting tale in Zoetrope All-Story. It was Dean Bakopoulos's first published story: Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon. It was a resonating tale, not easily forgettable. And Dean Bakopoulos became one of those authors I wanted to keep an eye out for...

Well, his novel Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon is out now.

Synopsis from the book's website:

The summer Michael Smolij turns seventeen, his father disappears. One by one other men also vanish from the blue-collar neighborhood outside Detroit where their fathers before them had lived, raised families, and, in a more promising era, worked. One man props open the door to his shoe store and leaves a note. “I'm going to the moon,” it reads. “I took the cash.”

The wives drink, brawl, and sleep around, gradually settling down to make new lives and shaking off the belief in an American dream that, like their husbands, has proven to be a thing of the past. Unable to leave the neighborhood their fathers abandoned, Michael and his friends stumble through their twenties until the restlessness of the fathers blooms in them, threatening to carry them away.

This is a haunting, unforgettable debut novel for anyone who has ever been left longing.

You may purchase it here.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

State says innocent; Church says blasphemer; Espresso saves the day.

Austrian artist Gerhard Haderer is legally in the clear and his illustrated book, Η Ζωή του Ιησού (The Life of Jesus), translated by Περής Ορφανίδης and published by OXY back in November 2002, will be placed back on the shelves of Greek bookstores around the nation. It is on sale via the OXY website, where readers are now engaging in candid discussion about the book, the banning and the fraudulent activity of Christianity in the free world.

The judge presiding over the artist's appeal yesterday said that the whole thing is a joke and that "no one is in danger of such things", that is, no one is in danger of being pulled up on blasphemy in Greece.

Something I didn't know: the whole thing began with the following front page:

This is the front page of newspaper Espresso on January 18, 2003.

There is Haderer's Jesus pictured. And the headlines read:

Christ goes with women
smokes hash
and goes

And in the smaller yellow lettering under the Jesus pic:
They are calling for the prosecuting attorney to intervene in the case of the sacrilegious biographical comic.

Ah! The "they"!

According to Athens the Espresso newspaper is the "guardian of our Greek-Christian tradition"!

Following Espresso's front page bombast the prosecuting attorney really did prosecute on behalf of the Church and State.

An Athens Indymedia reporter visited Kyriakos Tsouros back in January, after the first court hearing that gave Haderer a six month jail term (in absentia). Kyriakos Tsouros is the secretary of the SYNODAL COMMITEE FOR HERESIES (ΣΥΝΟΔΙΚΗ ΕΠΙΤΡΟΠΗ ΕΠΙ ΤΩΝ ΑΙΡΕΣΕΩΝ).

Tsouros maintains that Haderer's book is blasphemous, but shakes off any Church initiative in the prosecution of the case [refering to the first court case, which found Haderer guilty not the appeal which found him innocent] saying that «Η πρωτοβουλία για τη δίκη με αυτό το αποτέλεσμα δεν ξεκίνησε από την Εκκλησία, αλλά με αυτεπάγγελτη δίωξη του εισαγγελέα». That is, "The initiative for this court hearing did not come from the Church at all, but from an ex officio indictment by the prosecuting attorney."

Reminds me of the January 2004 fiasco over a painting by Belgian artist Thierry de Cordier depicting a wooden cross and a penis with semen dripping from the crucifix, which was displayed at Outlook, a Cultural Olympiad event. Public chaos ensued following statements attacking the work aired on right-winger Karatzaferis's television station. I wrote an article on the event.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Me a scandal? You a scandal!

The Greek Orthodox Church has been at the centre of a scandal and still hasn't recovered from its identity crisis a few years back...

...So: One way to keep eyes off your scandal is to point your finger at another scandal.

Hence the April 13 court case, which will address the case of Austrian artist Gerhard Haderer who has been convicted in abstentia of blasphemy [for a cute little book called The Life of Jesus] in Greece and given a six-month jail sentence in January. His appeal is on Wednesday.

OXY publications are also on the Church's black list. The book was banned soon after it was published in February 2005.

"Imagine you publish a book in Europe where you are protected by the laws of your own country, and that without your knowledge, it gets published in another, less free country." [Talk Left]

Greece is "less free" a country than other European countries?


1. Greece has a constitution. The constitution provides for religious freedom (Article 13); freedom of expression in the press (Article 14); and freedom of expression in the arts (Article 16).

2. Greece has blasphemy laws.

3. So does the artist's home country, Austria. Blasphemy laws "still exist in several countries, such as in Austria (Articles 188, 189 of the criminal code), Finland (Section 10 of chapter 17 of the penal code), Germany (Article 166 of the criminal code), Italy, The Netherlands (Article 147 of the criminal code), Spain (Article 525 of the criminal code) and United Kingdom. In the United States, the First Amendment guarantees a relatively unlimited right of free speech, although some US states still have blasphemy laws on the books." From

4. In Greece, a judge (I'm getting this from my reading of Thanasis Tegopoulos's editorial in today's Eleftherotypia) has the power to pronounce a law unconstitutional and choose not to rule on it.

5. The Greek courts have not done this, though the Haderer judgement is clearly unconstitutional. (?) (I'm no politics grad, so experts welcome to comment and correct).

6. There is also the historical background:
There's been a lot of talk in Greece lately about the separation of the Church and State. The two have been buddies since the inauguration of the modern Greek state, so it's a difficult relationship to sever.

It's not just the fanatics who say that "Greece means Orthodoxy". The formation of the modern Greek state is historically linked to the Church. The Greek Church was active in the formation of the Greek State. So it is difficult to compare Greece to the experience of other European states formed in opposition to the Church.

7. And we come back to the Greek Church and its scandalous present.

Was my initial reaction right? Is the Church just trying to get people's attention away from their own scandals to another scandal?

Poor Haderer. Poor scapegoat.