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Πέμπτη, 14 Δεκεμβρίου 2017

The Leonardo DiCaprio of Exarcheia, Translator's Note


This short story is one of thirteen that appear in Konstantinos Poulis’ acclaimed fiction debut  Θερμοστάτης [Thermostat] (Melani Editions, 2014). Poulis and I met on the remote Aegean island of Icaria in the heady Greek summer of 2015—the summer of the “Greferendum” and capital controls, when the fate of Europe seemed to hang in the hands of a tiny nation on the continent’s margins. When I passed through Athens on the way back to the United States, I made a point of stopping by Poulis’ favorite bookstore, Politeia, to pick up a copy of  Θερμοστάτης. On the plane ride home I read “The Leonardo DiCaprio of Exarcheia” and quickly realized that, without knowing it, I had just met one of the country’s most unique new creative voices.
Today Greece is best known for an illustrious antiquity and ongoing financial crisis. Traces of both appear in the stories collected in  Θερμοστάτης, yet in oblique and unexpected ways. In «Θρίαμβος» [“Triumph”], the narrator recounts a memory of how one teacher, a philologist, handled an awkward classroom moment by asking a student to read out loud from a piece of pornography—pornography written in the most elevated Greek literary style. In «Νά πῶς μὲ λὲν ἐμένα!» [“That’s what my name is!”], a man frustrated by his inability to understand conversations about the economy sets out to educate himself through impenetrable financial news articles—only to find true satisfaction between the covers of a poetry anthology.
But while these stories were written during the Greek crisis, they are not motivated by or about the crisis. They are stories, above all, about imagination, in the broadest, most thrilling and even perilous (as in the case of “The Leonardo DiCaprio of Exarcheia”) sense of the word. Throughout the collection, Poulis himself also imaginatively experiments with literary form: «Ἑνάμισι τετραγωνικὸ μέτρο» [“One and a half square meters”] is as short as the space it describes is small. In both architecture and dialogue, the stories also bear signs of their author’s decades spent as a theater practitioner: fresh from his degree (and to his mother’s dismay) Poulis first earned money by putting on impromptu performances in front of Athens’ Monastiraki metro station.
As the first piece in the collection, “The Leonardo DiCaprio in Exarcheia” is in many ways programmatic. Its main character, Takis, is a boy with a dream. But it is a wild, insistent dream that soon takes a life of its own—and Takis’ life along with it. The story steadily transforms into its own kind of dreamscape, its contours shaped by a narrator who, through digressive anecdotes and first- and second-person interjections, lures the reader into a contract of complicity in Takis’ fate. For unlike Takis, who is at first exhilarated, then baffled and imprisoned by, his dream, both narrator and reader know from the start that “this is just how dreams are—a land where 1 + 1 = 5 and dogs recite Milton.
Johanna Hanink


The Leonardo DiCaprio of Exarcheia

Takis was a good kid, cheerful and fun loving, adored by the whole neighborhood and with a knack for telling jokes. When he was in the school play everyone told him he should become an actor. But he didn’t become an actor, he became a barber. Or, to be precise, an assistant barber. The barber was Mr. Vassilis. He first hired Takis to help out because he knew his mother. Takis washed hair and started the haircuts, then the boss would come by and neaten them up. He took pride in his work. First it was his smile, next it was the way he liked looking after the place and bringing a little picture or potted plant back to it from the market. In the end, he became the life of the barbershop. He lived at home with his mother, who was crazy about him. You’ll probably say that’s just how mothers are, but she really was over the top.


Κυριακή, 22 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Περί 2015, με την ματιά στο 2019: Μια απάντηση στο σχόλιο-κριτική του Κωνσταντίνου Πουλή (*). Του Γιάνη Βαρουφάκη

Σε πρόσφατο σχόλιό του ο Κωνσταντίνος Πουλής εξέφρασε την πιο μεστή και ουσιαστική κριτική στην στρατηγική αντιμετώπισης των δανειστών που ακολούθησα πριν και κατά την διάρκεια της σύντομης θητείας μου στο Υπουργείο Οικονομικών. Περιληπτικά η κριτική του ήταν πως:

Τρίτη, 11 Ιουλίου 2017

ΑΝΑΣΚΟΠΗΣΗ S03E11: Δημοψήφισμα 2015

Ο Κωνσταντίνος Πουλής θυμάται τι ωραία που περνάγαμε με το δημοψήφισμα πριν από δύο χρόνια, τότε που ο ΣΥΡΙΖΑ ήταν ακόμη μικρό παιδί, γεμάτο όνειρα. Συζητά για την κατάσταση της αριστερής πτέρυγας του Μένουμε Ευρώπη με μια εμβληματική φυσιογνωμία του κινήματος, έναν τσολιά με πολύ παχιά φρύδια. Έκτακτη συμμετοχή του Αποστόλη Μπαρμπαγιάννη.

Πέμπτη, 1 Ιουνίου 2017

Golden Dawn and the Classics

The first book that Nikos Michaloliakos, leader of the Golden Dawn, published was, perhaps surprisingly, a collection of poems on the ancient Greek gods. When asked why he writes about the Greek deities he replied that so did Angelos Sikelianos and dozens of other poets, so why not? The truth behind this is that many of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazis are pagans, as were many of the original Nazis. Christianity was considered a branch of decadent Jewishness: National Socialism was the ideology of paganism, while Marxism and Liberalism were the ideological agents of Judeo-Christianity.

Τετάρτη, 26 Απριλίου 2017

Marine Le Pen, or the Normalization of the Far-Right




What a splendid symbol – a choice between a virtually non-existent political puppet of bankers and a representative of the losers in World War II. It is more like a comedy sketch for the affirmation of the status quo: if you don’t want the simple reproduction of the elite, you can always resort to the fascists. Let me say now, in all humility, that I don’t think this is all that is going on. Things are actually far worse.