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Living in Kafka's world (Ζούμε τον κόσμο του

Posted Jul 10 2013 12:00am
A non-Greek friend asked me to translate this article from today's Greek news report s. It's a pertinent addition to my blog: how Greek journalists report the crisis in general is something that is, generally speaking, unavailable to the non-Greek world. This translation will give you an insight into the way the Greek language is used to convey strong meaning. Keep in mind that the literary style of a newspaper article is quite different to the way such concepts are conveyed in English language newspapers: ie, it's definitely not the Guardian.

"Many people were surprised by the huge international appeal of the recent anniversary of the 130 years since the birth of Kafka. Yet it should not be a surprise: the world in which we live today, and especially that one which is before us now, has reached the point of being more "Kafka-esque" than any other period in the post-war years. People feel it, understand it, live it in their own skin. Besides, Kafka lived in the dark years of the Weimar Republic, which, internationally speaking, today's Greece can so systematically be paralleled more and more.
Brunch at my house yesterday: there are some meals I never cook or prepare, because my husband is such an expert at them, and does them so much better than me (eg tomato salad and fried eggs). I know what it means when he comes home in the morning during his day shift in the cab and wants to make brunch: "How's business today, honey?" "Oh, really good, I've picked up one fare today so far, 3.50 euro." (He'd been up since 5, he'd walked round the port of Souda twice with another cabbie, and it was 10am when he came home.)
"It is a world with all the inter-war characteristics of the loss of freedom and the decline of democracy, closure imposed by the uncontrolled continuous domination of a state that not only does not serve, but targets people who do not react. And this, by invoking a superior value, which, however, is never fulfilled and therefore never stops there, but leads nowhere, grounded in an unprecedented law of necessity which constantly violates the constitutional order: the editorial operations and retroactive new taxes are the last of the many examples.

"Kafka became great at describing in unparalleled clarity such a world in which man, the citizen, has no defense against the system. However, unlike the spiritual creators such as Kafka who was bloodily  self-critical and wanted the bulk of his work destroyed, the politicians - most of them at least - had no doubt about the importance of their self and their historical necessity, the importance of their existence, especially concerning what they are doing by building such a domineering world.

"Instead of placing themselves in the world and its course, it usually happens the other way around: They understand practically everything with a deeper point of reference to their own existence - that is something which everyone can understand. This allows for pathetic mediocrity in people who have done nothing in their lives to be portrayed as advocates of a society who ended up literally - and let's allow the slightly inappropriate expression - like their faces*.

"With this ingrained conceit, their utter disregard for the substance, the ease and superficiality, the mastery to say that black is white and to change the "I believe" and the "positions" as they see fit, most of our politicians have helped in slowly building these little worlds that resemble themselves. Worlds which, however, precisely because of these characteristics, there comes a time when they cannot stand anymore, collapsing under the weight of their own instability. To those worlds, which politicians co-authored, some great spirits come to reveal, in the full sense of the term.

"In the last sixty-plus years, Europe, the western part, at least (and as a part of it, including Greece, for a few decades) thought that it had definitely and irrevocably avoided  such a world. I was wrong.

"The emphasis on human rights and the quality of democracy in the postwar world, as well as the long-standing true effort to overcome national antagonisms in favor of the "common house" of Europe, has filled two generations with a naïve, as has been demonstrated, optimism. But the events of the very last few years were enough to be able to demolish them all.

"While, until the beginning of the third millennium, we lived in a world of optimism that suited having a "national" anthem using lyrics by Schiller and music by Beethoven for the greatest values, ​​such as brotherhood, today, we find ourselves living suddenly in another one, which much more suitably finds itself emerging through the magnificently dark pages of Kafka or, using another side of Beethoven, that of his darkest and largest musical works, in his last quartets.

"Of course, all this does not say anything to our politicians at a time when they speak of the damned, or they fight like roosters on the television screens. Well, this is precisely the problem. That they do not speak.

"And that people who destroyed this place (who are now arguing about who is less at fault) are also those who will supposedly "save" it ..."

*σαν τα μούτρα σου - like your face (meaning: that we are not as beautiful as we think we are)

Thanks to Google Translate for removing the time factor involved in typing when doing translations - it's never been so easy to translate anything. 

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