It’s All Greek to Me
Definition of GREEK Ελληνικά
/ ɡriːk /
- relating to an unihibited, cultural timelessness
- referring to a proto Indo European mentality that before history changes the Greeks, the Greeks will change history.
- the Americans of the Hellenic world 2,000 years ago.
- the D.N.A. of modern European culture and democracy.
- an inherently ecclesiastical state of mind, insofar as the altar of worship is the Greek psyche.
- an obsolete use of the word relating to the persuasive worship of Uranus.
Imagine if one day your subconscious, without you really knowing, had rung up a huge credit card bill. This part of your mind is far, far older. But it is also why your ancient ancestors survived. Now these two cerebral cultures—subconscious and conscious– that see the same world very differently, need to agree. How hard would it be to have an active dialogue with your subconscious? How long would this frustrating conversation take? Welcome to Greece and year seven of the European financial crisis.
I land in the midst of this conflict in Athens on a Friday morning. The flight is a marathon eighteen hour affair via Switzerland instead of the normal seven from New York. Exiting the airport, I’m approached by limo drivers. They charge 80 euros plus tolls for the long trip to my hotel.
I grab a taxi instead. My driver doesn’t speak English and keeps veering out of our right-hand lane. He gazes around at the scenery. Our car almost hits a scooter that is passing us on the right. On the right?? This jumped up bicycle is using the service lane as his personal expressway.
While it is snowing back home, spring has arrived here. Giant clouds hang low in an azure sky, obscuring a mountain. We pass a store called Leroy Merlin (only thing on it written in English). What the heck? Why, in Greece of all places, did someone combine a very 1970’s black exploitation film name with a pompous British magician from 5 A.D.? The commercials for this store must be amazing! I imagine a combination of Samuel L. Jackson from Jackie Brown and King Arthur’s Merlin. Leroy Merlin is standing there, his fingers mimicking a pistol pointed at you. “You wanna see a magic trick??! Bam! Bam! Motherfucker!” his fingers shooting magically deadly discount prices. Quentin Tarrantino would be behind the camera, filming like Orson Welles in his later years.
We arrive at the Holiday Inn Airport hotel. The trip took 10 minutes and cost 15 Euros. My reservation at a downtown restaurant doesn’t leave me much time. I rush through checking in and grab another cab downtown.
**ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ. Molon labe meaning “come and get them” a taunt, legend has it, that the Spartans threw at the King of Persia after his demand they surrender.