•August 4, 2009 • 1 Comment

Throughout rural Greece, in the smaller villages which are the heart of Greece, death is never far away and still embraced as a part of life without any effort to alienate the aged or the memory of the dead.

White marbled cemeteries sprinkle the landscape as regularly as the small villages, never more than a short walk from a town centre, often occupying a prominent position. In coloured contrast to the white marble adorning the homes of the dead, the widow dressed in black is as equally ubiquitous.

Almost regardless of temperature, punishing heat or shivering cold, the widow can been seen regularly attending the memory of the dead throughout the Hellenise. Attended candles , fuelled with olive oil, keep the flickering light of the dead alive in many roadside-shrines, cemeteries and homes.

Greece has not yet modernised to the extent of forgetting the importance and dominance of death and its impact on the individual – those that have passed and those left behind.

Still in Greece the priest is a respected figure, and himself, like the widow dressed in black, is often seen in social places, as part of the normal run of life. The local priest is master of the bell, which, when rang, fills the air of all villages, calling and regulating time in rural Greece. The rings of the funeral bell are particularly compelling, with its erringly regular slow beat, informing all within hearing of death.

The symbolic nature of light, whether candle or sun, can often be overlooked. The sun’s reappearance each day is a matter of physical law, viewed scientifically. Viewed spiritually, it can be perceived as a powerful symbol of resurrection and re-birth.

Never is the night so dark or cold as shortly before the day’s rising, with only the slight flicker of a candle illuminating the darkness. It’s re-emergence is the triumph of each day, re-energising and renewing all which its new rays fall upon.

The music from the song, “My Heart Is In The Highlands”, suggested this video on a Greek cemetery, after the singing was edited out to leave just the solemn and regular music of the organ. The video, although solemn in nature, is not meant to be pessimistic, morbid or gloomy, but emphasises the onset of a new light, which ought to be cause for optimism, hope and rejuvenation amid the decay of physical death.

Graves are often laid facing east for this reason. The video was shot in two parts; one at dusk with the shooting made mostly in a westerly direction with the fading light.; and the second half, after a brief lapse into black, is shot mainly facing an easterly direction, to capture the new light at dawn and what it can represent, along with the other symbols of Greek Orthodox Christianity.   less


Standing At A Bus Stop

•May 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Here you are at a blog, your eyes sufficiently focused, your attention suitably aroused – possibly. I expect from myself some words which apparently are going to satisfy your expectations – possibly. Have I lost you yet, is your finger ready on the mouse button to leave – possibly? We survived the first few lines, let’s venture a bit further.

I’ll start by denouncing what I am doing, blogging. Shame on you for coming here and greater shame on you for reading this nonsense. Of course shame on me for writing a blog anti-blog. Blogs are a pile of nothing heaped on top of more nothing which is probably supported by even more nothing. Somewhere down there might be something, but I can’t see it. You support this nothing by reading blogs. Worse still is the cad who writes a blog, like me. Blogs are but one reflection that mankind has reached such affluence that it no longer knows what to do with itself, now that basic issues of survival and reproduction have been solved by many and life made generally meaningless by a culture spoilt by its own technological achievements.

The pinnacle of civilisation now is what everyone can have, a blog. If you believe your schooling, all history, all wars, all science, all intellectual endeavour have striven for the mighty end of allowing you a blog to read and write. We blog therefore we are. Without a blog our lives are apparently meaningless non-events which no-one cares about. Happiness is now to be discovered in your comments page and your hit rate.

We can’t live forever, it seems, but a blog helps us all remember that doing such a thing would almost certainly send one insane in any case. I’m looking forward to death at the right time, but in no hurry. Then I won’t have to read blogs, nor write them. I won’t have to hear of the word “blog” or “blogging”. Whether life ends at death or is a new beginning somewhere else or in another body around here, I shall at least expect to enjoy some reprieve from blogging. No new born ever arrives with a laptop, nor an internet account, nor any expectation that it be able to read a blog on it’s mother’s breast. I can expect a few years of grace at least. On my gravestone I would like the words, “Here rests me with no blog but one last post”.

Death promises me an immunity from blogging. Even before I heard about blogging I had considered seriously issues about death. There was probably no need for blogging to be invented for me to become mindful of death. It’s been a preoccupation of mine since about the age of 9, when standing in front of public clock transfixed waiting for a bus home from school I had a vision of myself. It was a bit startling at the time to see quite vividly this image, so much so that I can still imagine distinctly right now the same vision, my mortal self developing along the lines of life at different stages until at the end I was nothing but bones. It seems I had been told very clearly at the tender age of 9 I was going to die in this so called “vision”. No intellectual breakthrough for sure, but like they say a picture is worth a 1000 words.

Despite me being here quite undead, I’ve never doubted the message of the vision. I always had my father around later telling me he was going to die. It seemed hard to forget the idea. Since then I have sort of been filling in time waiting for the truth of the vision to make itself fully known. No-one blogs much about death. It seems a roomy subject, uncrowded by too many thoughts in a crowded world of blogging, which I have concluded is nothing more than a nothing. I enjoy solitude, loathe crowds and big cities. I don’t even like small towns any more. Being on the internet is a compromise for me while on death watch, a way of still keeping in touch with a humanity which I am firmly convinced has lost its way and now lives in a state of begrudging servitude doing it knows not what, like blogging. I watch myself and others with amusement doing such nothing things as blogging. One has to laugh otherwise one would die from despair. No need to worry too much about that because it is going to happen anyway according to the vision, my dad and this blog – a holy trinity of sorts.

You might think these thoughts of death, and more importantly my attitude to blogging, arises from despair. Sometimes that is true, especially when I read a blog. I can feel despair with the best of them. In a sense it is all despair but not an unhappy one. I often feel an explosion of love for nature and people, but it only seems to make me more preoccupied with death and ending my association with bloggers and blogging. It is the connection with what underlies life which make me joyous. It’s there, i know, but ironically the need to live often overshadows it – a strange contradiction. The way I reason, the sooner life is out of the way, the greater chance I’ll have actually enjoying it, especially if it doesn’t involve blogging.

I am a stranger in a strange land, a wolf without its pack, a blog without a comment. I’m stuck between buses, waiting in front of the clock, tick-tocking away, until it’s time to board the 250 Express back home from another day of school. Waiting for a bus is a boring business, clock or no clock, vision or no vision, blog or no blog. Now instead of a bus stop on a busy North Sydney road, I sit in a flat overlooking the Aegean Sea and its surrounding mountains. Right now the sun is setting and a red glow is slowly fading behind them in the distance. Another vision of the clock, ticking itself away, with the bus making its way slowly towards my stop and then homeward with me. It seems only appropriate to do something as senseless as write a blog while sitting at a bus stop, no matter how proverbial, to amuse oneself during the wait.

Here in this silly blog, a world of nothing, the journey awaits. Bloggers want life, yet they represent a walking death, clinging to a nothing illusion. I am anti-blogging, you are blogging, a neat distinction of no reality like every other blog. From the superficial and meaningless, which is blogging, I can look forward to departure. My blog anti-blog will fall, as it has arisen. Now I know what I should blog about: sitting under a clock at a bus stop awaiting a bus I only have a rough time-table for.

I hope you enjoy my fun loving blog.