Monday, December 14, 2015

Soundings of A Cretan Eye / I / Aye

In the introduction to the epic poem and magnum opus, "The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel", by the philosopher-poet-author-statesman-teacher, Nikos Kazantzakis, his translator, Kimon Friar, explains Kazantzakis' elan vital:

Odysseus is the “man of many turns,” which for Homer probably meant the much-traveled man, for his enemies the man of chameleon duplicity, unstable and unscrupulous, and for his friends the resourceful and versatile man, ready for all emergencies. He is cruel yet compassionate, modest yet boastful, cunning yet straightforward, heavy-handed yet gentle, affectionate yet harsh, aristocratic yet public-spirited, sensual yet ascetic, a man of mixed motives in a constant state of ethical tension. Only such a complex and contradictory character could hope to give the Greeks, from ancient days to the present, a sufficiently satisfying pattern of their lives and aspirations, and this is why his myth is no less living today than it was almost three thousand years ago. Only one of the twelve Olympian deities had a character equally complex—she who in Homer was Odysseus’ constant companion and protector, and for whom the Athenians named their city as a tribute to both their involved temperaments: Athena. Kazantzakis and Odysseus are creatures of double vision, of the third inner eye, or the “Cretan Glance” which, caught between two conflicting currents—one ever ascending toward composition, toward life, toward immortality, and the other ever descending toward decomposition, toward matter, toward death—glimpses the ideal synthesis and yearns for its almost impossible embodiment in life and work.