“..μια μέρα του καλοκαιριού θερμή
που ο νους μου ανέβαινε στα ιδανικά,
αυτόν εδώ ονειρευόμουν τον νέον Ερμή.”
The context of the above lines refers to the travel of the mind to its ideals.
It is a small part of my favourite poem Tyaneus Glyptis of C.P. Cavafy.
The carver, the protagonist of the poem, narrates under which circumstances he dreamt and conceived the idea of his most brilliant work -Hermes sculpture- which he presents now in front of a group of potential buyers. He let us know that it wasn’t just a random day of the year, that he came up with this inspiration, but it was a hot summer day that his mind was traveling up to its ideals. And I wonder: Why is he making this a big deal? Hot, summer, day. All three words trigger my imagination. Hot means naked body. Summer means naked body under the sun. Day means light.
Lockdown in Berlin-Neukölln, March 2020. Social distancing and isolation suggested and formed by governments around the world because of a pandemic. (I would like at this point to switch the word ‘social’ to the word ‘physical’ distancing. I find the term ‘social distancing’ extremely violent for human beings, and though it is happening since the trend of social meeting points are closed, we have found for sure many ways keeping social intimacy with many people around us).
Back to our carver and our isolation circumstances. Not summer, not hot, some sun, yes, in a flat in the urban Berlin, a social trauma to deal with, and of course the debate with a deadly virus. How do these facts encourage our fantasy? How does the current situation bring fresh possibilities? Can we be in that case relaxed, for our mind, for our nous to ride to higher conscious areas?
Some of us regained the precious “time” – but not every prisoner is Oscar Wilde. Is the monotony and the dreariness in the line of the supermarket powerful enough to motivate our imagination? I wonder how many artists or scientists or philosophers or poets conceived of their life work in the pasta corridor. I am not against groceries. And I like pasta. But I like the great ideas more, and to be truly honest, I like the hot sunny summer days.
I have had this poem by Cavafy hanging on my wall since 2009.
During quarantine, mostly in the mornings, I was staring at it, cerebrating on my Hermes, struggling to expand myself under the sun and in a summer fateful kiss.
Oh, my dearest. I miss you terribly.
I am writing this letter now, months after I left you. It is because two things have occupied my thoughts the past weeks – the two things that can drive my mind up to the ideals; art and love in any form.
I hate being abstract, but, my darling, we need to be happy that this virus deconstructed us.
Greetings from the North,