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What is the secret of life?

Updated on October 25, 2016

My best friend of forty odd years has recently sent me a number of texts written by a man who in 1957 lost the Nobel Prize for literature by just one vote to Albert Camus. That man was Nikos Kazantzakis, better known outside of Greece as the author of ‘Zorba the Greek’. My friend thankfully sent me the texts in the original Greek and, unlike previous readings of some of them at a less mature period of my life, this time I was able to begin to comprehend something of what this relatively little known philosopher wanted to say and to see how powerfully connected his thoughts were to other great philosophers.

I want to share this new understanding with the twenty or so friends I have made here who regularly and faithfully take the trouble to read what I write, though in truth I do not always consistently return the compliment – shamefully using one feeble excuse or another.

In the simplified words of a plagiarist as unqualified to teach as I, let me try to pour the acquired reading of a lifetime into a cauldron of theoretical knowledge and to try to extract from this mixture the thoughts from it that might give you my understanding of what some great philosophers have tried to say.

Essentially, we are born from nothing and we end up in nothing, just like Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography. But imagine the following imagery: We are born with one foot levitating over a long ditch which is our grave and the other foot on a bar of soap, which constantly slides along a two lane asphalted road running parallel to the ditch, a road at times straight and level and beautifully maintained and at other times badly in need of repair, winding in every which way. From the moment of birth we slide along this road initially without any control at all, fully dependent on the luck of birth as to whether our bar of soap will glide smoothly over a well maintained part of the road, or trip over an unrepaired hole in the section that is badly maintained. If you are a child born in the least advantageous parts of Africa, it just might be your fate that you are born straight onto the badly maintained part of the road and before you take your first breath even, you hit a pothole in the road and you fall right onto oncoming traffic or the abyss over which your other foot is levitating. Your life ends before it has begun.

If you are born anywhere in Europe, you are practically guaranteed to be born on a stretch of asphalt that is in perfect repair, at least for the first number of miles. Depending on your parents’ financial situation, that well maintained stretch of road can be extended or minimised while you adapt to the experience of travel in this soap mode.

As you grow and as you acquire more confidence, you begin to learn how to move about on your travels and how you can experiment in order to enjoy the experience more. Most of us try to learn how to avoid hitting other travellers on the same road, how to avoid causing them – and ourselves- pain. We learn how to find the time and skill to pick up flowers along the way as we slide along and to hand those to fellow travellers as they come from the opposite direction heading for places which we cannot access and shall never see. Or we give the flowers to those going in the same direction as we, some of them keeping up with us and sharing the experience of travel in each other’s company and we discover how much more pleasant travel can be when accompanied by others who fit in with our way of progress through this adventure.

Occasionally we trip and we are ready to fall, but the hand of one of our travelling companions or the hand of a complete stranger reaches out to steady us and we avoid falling into the abyss. We begin to feel emotions of gratitude and we look out for the opportunity to return the favour either to the same person who helped us or to anyone one who might need our help and we discover the satisfaction of giving without expecting anything in return.

Each such incident is a rebirth. And each such incident is inevitably also a partial death as we are hurtling towards the only destination possible, the other abyss waiting for us at the end of the road.

But it is each such rebirth that we should celebrate, because each such incident confirms our humanity and our need for each other and our love for each other, confirming the truth of what Walt Whitman said in ‘Song of Myself’.

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.



*******



I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end

But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is now,

Nor any more youth or age than there is now,

And will never be any more perfection than there is now,

Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.


This is the period between the abyss we have come from and the abyss we are hurtling towards with an inexorable absolute certainty, a period of our very own personal eternal Spring, a period of Light, of LIFE!

And while we pick our flowers and laugh or catch our breath at our wobbling and at our friend’s swaying and while we exchange smiles of thanks with some and kisses with others, there are the inevitable monsters who instead of picking up flowers they pick up fallen tree branches to hit others with in order to better clear a path for themselves. These are the people who want to bring darkness to the light, to hurt, to terrify, to control and to profit. These people sometimes end up becoming rulers of Conglomerates or Countries and these conglomerates or countries implement the principles and thinking of their rulers.

In order to avoid being accused of directing my words against any one country of today, let me just say that if you read Thucydides’ ‘The Peloponnesian Wars’ you will see all of us living today described meticulously in that book written almost 2,500 years ago. In it you will find the best of us and the worst of us being described as if the years have not passed and as if progress and civilisation has stood still. WE SIMPLY HAVE NOT CHANGED! You will find the Athenians saying to the inhabitants of the island of Milos “If you are not with us, you are against us” and then proceeding to exterminate all the men and enslave all the women and children, because the people there said that they were peaceful people and did not want to make war on their relatives the Spartans. When the Athenians spoke of freedom and democracy, they meant freedom and democracy for themselves, not for anyone else.

And so through the years the strong have imposed their will on the weak while they themselves also travel on their own bar of soap to the inevitable end along with everyone else, some of them even succeeding in slowing down a little and delaying the inevitable. Just think of leaders who have been in power for many years, how they seem to outlast everyone else. Think of Mugabe using his country’s wealth as his personal fortune to do with as he wishes and how he apparently manages to extent his life using that wealth to buy the best possible medical care that money can buy. Think of the Queen of England and her husband, how with their wealth they seem to be able to cheat time.

So, Brothers and Sisters, we come out of a nothingness, out of an abyss and immediately we arrive we begin the return journey to where we have come from; the abyss. Along the way we learn and we teach, we hurt and are hurt, we help and are helped, we love and are adored, and we invent gods to salve our pain and our fears and we use those gods as crutches hoping that they will keep us on our bar of soap safer than anyone else, or at least just that bit longer. But in reality the aim of life is death. It is up to us to make that period of Spring called Life as pleasant to those around us as we can. Notice that I do not say make life as pleasant for ourselves as we can, because by aiming to make the lives of others pleasant, we end up with the wonderful friends we need to live a life that is complete.

Injustice is everywhere and will cause us some scary moments on our travels, trying to push us off our soap, but it is our duty to resist this injustice to the full extent of our power and more importantly to teach our children how important it is for them to be just to their fellow man and to extent a helping hand whenever they see a fellow traveller wobble unsteadily on his piece of soap. In other words explain to them the value of justice and how their own just acts elevate them spiritually, even though they may not find material benefit by being just.

An example of injustice is the case of my countryman George Papanicolaou, who has saved literally millions of women’s lives with his well known ‘Pap Test’. Like Kazantzakis, he died without receiving the Nobel Prize, perhaps because he was from a tiny country without much influence. But every woman reading this either owes him her life or at least her peace of mind.

  • Δεν ελπίζω τίποτα.
  • Δε φοβάμαι τίποτα.
  • Είμαι λέφτερος



Dimitris Mita

De Greek

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    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 5 years ago from UK

      Golden Field, thank you ;-)

    • profile image

      Golden Field 5 years ago

      Wow. Love your writing. So pretty.

      G. Field

      PS please take a look at my hubs

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Reeeeealy great. Drove around looking for a suitable place to buy a house at so you could visit me ;-)))

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hope you had a wonderful time!

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Hi, Kid. Just returned from a 2 week holiday in Greece ;-)

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Glad to see you are still about Dimitris!

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Cousin Lita, thank you for reading this and for passing by. I understand what you are saying, but do try to celebrate the smooth patches, as few and far apart as they might be :-)

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 6 years ago from Philippines

      My after thoughts after reading this? Since birth I'm wondering why my road has been rough and bumpy. I find only few smooth patches shared with friends, hahaha! For which I want to do this..."When we feel emotions of gratitude and we look out for the opportunity to return the favour . . . ." Thank you for being a friend,DG!

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Hi there Kate. Thanks for passing by :-)

    • KateWest profile image

      KateWest 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      All one can really do is seek adventure and truth and be true to oneself.

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Awwww..... How kind you are MT Thank YOU ;-)

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 6 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi De Greek-I think you were so clever using the soap metaphor to help simplify what can seem complex. I think it is sad that Nikos did not get the nobel prize. Our society is backwards where it really counts. Thanks for your inspirational hub.

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Glad you liked it Druid Dude :-)

    • Druid Dude profile image

      Druid Dude 6 years ago from West Coast

      Great read and great writing! My favorite way of summing up what you have written about, is sure to hit home, and, I hope, bring a smile. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, but never look a gifthorse in the mouth! Druid Dude.

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Glad to be of help hameidinger :-))

    • hameidinger profile image

      hameidinger 6 years ago

      De Greek?

      Thanks for this article, I learn more what is the secret of life :D

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Melodyandes, I am pleased that you think so :-)

    • melodyandes profile image

      melodyandes 6 years ago

      This hub is really helpful. Thanks

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Randslam, my good friend FP is automatically editing what I write as she reads, so that part is taken case of. I shall look at ePublishing with Kindle as you suggest, if I do not manage to find a traditional publisher. It seems quite difficult to expect people to SOMEHOW find one on Kindle and buy the story, but we shall see.

      Many thanks for your advice ... :-)

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 6 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      De Greek, keep your money and ePublish with Kindle. You get 70 percent of the sales money and don't need an agent. If you wish to have a good editing job done on your book, my business partner and I can do that for you--for a reasonable price.

      Check out our new website at www.wordisoutwritingservices.com

      I'm working on a 500 page fantasy novel about elves as we write. Put out good, high quality writing and you will reap the rewards on Kindle--without needing a literary agent--they are like lawyers and just take your money.

      Check out the Amanda Hocking story...she's made millions on Kindle...at the age of 26.

      Hope this helped, as writing and teaching and editing is my life. I like to help first time authors.

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      This is beginning to look like a Communist Conspiracy! Don’t You Lot realize that we great artists need peace and quiet in order to produce our masterpieces? I bet Shakespeare didn’t have to put up with all these interruptions, so SOD OFF!!! ;-))))

      By the way, does anyone know of a literary agent willing to give me the time of day? ;-)))

    • Christopher Price profile image

      Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

      Dimi-

      I pleased my comments coaxed a chuckle from both you and Raye. Rest assured I suffered no physical or psychological damage while milking the classic soap-on-a-rope comedy cliché. I have been known to twist the truth and fabricate the facts for humor's sake.

      Remember: Innuendo is not "just where you'll take it if you drop the soap".

      Yes, in my world, puns garner bonus points! :{)

      BTW, I too anxiously await your book.

      Cheers!

      CP

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      This is like a bloody epidemic! I am in teh process of writing my book, so Go Away! Find something decent to do you lot :-)))))

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Keep it clean boys! You know how virtuous the De Greeks are.

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 6 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      No trouble, and what woman doesn't want her man to have a bigger head? LOL!!!!

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Don't you two have anything better to do? You will give me a bigger head than I already have! :-))))

      Thank you sooooo much Tony and Randslam for taking the trouble to come back :-)

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 6 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      Tony is so right. Makes one want to become a "soapalistic" person. Here's to SOAPALISM!!!

      Yaayyyyyyyyy!!!!!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      "Injustice is everywhere and will cause us some scary moments on our travels, trying to push us off our soap, but it is our duty to resist this injustice to the full extent of our power and more importantly to teach our children how important it is for them to be just to their fellow man and to extent a helping hand whenever they see a fellow traveller wobble unsteadily on his piece of soap."

      I just love the truth of this sentence. Had to come back and comment again as I appreciate this Hub so much. And it certainly did not disappoint me.

      From my frequently wobbly piece of soap I thank you for this excellent piece of writing (I mean of course the whole Hub, not just the sentence I have quoted!) .

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Hi Raye, you are always welcome at any time :-)

      It's nice of you to say that you want to read my book when it is ready. I hope you are not disappointed in the end :-)

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Hi there Katie, I am pleased you agree :-)

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Sorry to have come across this sterling hub so late, my only excuse is that I have been traveling beyond the tarmac road as Gypsys will. The added pleasure is the comments though now I hope CP's comment doesn't mean he had to bear scars early in the journey, but he did make me chuckle! Can't wait to read the book. xx

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      A very beautiful truth. :) Katie

    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

      That is awesome. I seriously can't wait to read it.

      I'm off to check out the Youtube (or forward to my wife lol).

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Hi there John, good to see you again and no excuses needed. I am making bread using the same recipe for the third time and it is a wonderfully satisfactory process which I striongly recommend taht you try yourself. Or get the wife to do it :-))

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx0HXr-C_wQ

      I write these things when I want to impress myself with my thought process, but in the end what's better than hot bread and butter?.........:-))

      Thank you for passing by and I hope your studies bear splendid fruit :-)

      Oh, and I have written 25,000 words of my book laying the foundation of what will follow and I think that I know how it will all end :-)

    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

      Fantastic. And I love the imagery of us all shooting down the road of life with a foot on soap, the other nearly in the grave. And you ain't lying about Thucydides' book. That is a humbler alright, and infuriating to think how we have learned absolutely nothing. The only thing we've gained from then to now is flight and antibiotics. The rest is just more efficient versions of stuff they had then too.

      As expected, this was a fine diversion. I found I just could not start doing work for school or writing anything of my own today, and decided to look you up since it's been awhile. I won't offer any feeble excuses; you know the drill anyway. I knew I'd find a fine read. I'm off to the next.

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Hi Denise,

      Some people wrote the translation in the comments, which is:

      ...I hope for nothing,

      ................. I fear nothing,

      ................................ I AM FREE

      It's good to see that you maintain your healthy curiosity...:-)))

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Ok, I went back to this hub and now I am intrigued. No, I have not learned Greek since I last read your work. Yes, I do miss seeing you around more. So...what did you write at the end of this hub? Love ya, D

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      .

      Hi Katie,

      I hope that this might give you a LITTLE bit of courage and put your poor moms illness in a more bearable context.

      Thanks for passing by :-)

    • Christopher Price profile image

      Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

      Cheers DG-

      I'm happy to have made you chuckle.

      I have already left a brief comment on your justifiable revealing rant regarding the RSPCA, and I shall return to offer further support momentarily.

      CP

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      What a timely and inspiring message I needed. I will def be visiting again and again as these are very sage words of wisdom and truth. Thanks a million and many abundant blessings to you and yours. :) Katie

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Hi CP,

      You made me laugh with your last comment. I hope that piece of wisdom does not come from personal experience :-)))

      When you have time I would love to her your opinion of the RSPCA, as described in my last hub :-)

    • Christopher Price profile image

      Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

      De Greek-

      I imagine Kazantzakis would agree with your analysis of his epitaph. I was just considering his declarations as they would pertain to me personally...I find their air of concise certainty very appealing.

      I was raised Catholic and was an altar boy for 10 years, but I rejected organized religion long before it did me.

      One thing about riding that bar of soap through life...one should learn never to bend to pick it up without looking over one's shoulder!

      Peace, my friend.

      CP

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      .

      James, thank YOU for your kind words and for taking the trouble to read. And I intend to be with you for some time to come, barring a serious heart attack, stroke, or car accident :-)))

      .

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Nellieanna - I am! :-))))

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Brother CP, for some reason your excellent comment escaped me and it is only now that I can respond. I beg for your indulgence :-)

      Your take on Kazantzakis’ epitaph is very interesting and might very well be correct. Personally I am very influenced by the fact that he fought priests hypocrisy all his life and was excommunicated for his trouble. I rather like to think that he was addressing the priests even in death and he was saying to them:

      … I hope for nothing (I do not hope for an afterlife, because there isn’t one)

      … I fear nothing (you cannot threaten me with hell through your excommunication, because there is neither heaven or hell)

      … I am free (because I have no fear of what comes after death, I am free of you and your voodoo)

      I might be wrong of course, but that is my own take on it. What do you think? :-)

      Thank you for your generous and kind words :-)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this deep article, my friend. I could not have enjoyed reading it more than I did. Kudos to you! Glad you are still with us.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      But - who's counting???

    • Christopher Price profile image

      Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

      Dimi-

      Forgive my belated reading of this marvelous treatise. Your soap-road-and-ditch analogy is wonderfully apt and holds true throughout. Though I have claimed that periods of my life were like riding a roller coaster blindfolded, I am drawn to, and embrace, your slippery slide through life allusions...works for me!

      And so does the whole of your reasoning and resulting philosophy. I concur completely.

      As to the inscription on Kazantzakis’ tomb, my take is:

      "I hope for nothing"...and thus avoid disappointment.

      "I fear nothing"...life is to be lived, and death is inevitable.

      "I AM FREE"...NOW...now that I have tumbled from my bar of soap into the ditch.

      I know that it will only be in death that I can be totally FREE. If I lose all hope for myself, or mankind, it would be worse than death. And my worst fear will always be to have lived a life of no effect, to cause no ripple, to leave no tracks.

      Thanks for prompting some pleasant introspection with this skillfully written essay. And know that much of my enjoyment reading it comes from the humanity that infuses every phrase.

      It is people like you who keep hope alive! :{)

      CP

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      thedutchman - Thank you for taking the trouble to read and for your kind words. Nice meeting you :-)

    • thedutchman profile image

      thedutchman 6 years ago

      This article is very informative and inspiring. I love it. Thanks a lot! God bless.

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      a response Nine hours later does not count. You had a nap :-))

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      I'm up being WonderWoman, of course!!

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      What are you doing up at this time? Why are you not asleep, you baaaaaaad girl?! :-)))

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      Of course I knew what you meant, silly. I was trying to be cute. I'd written more as an edit of my comment there, but the edit time expired so it didn't print. Perhaps it would have made it more clear that I was trying to pull your leg a little. :-)

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      funmontrealgirl, thank you and it is nice to meet you :-)

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Nellieanna, of cours I meant, "See, you can't hold a grudge" :-)))

    • funmontrealgirl profile image

      funmontrealgirl 6 years ago from Montreal

      A great hub to stumble upon. Worth every second.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      I was blind, but now I see?

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Thank you for taking the trouble to read :-)

    • franko44 profile image

      franko44 6 years ago from Philippines

      A very thought provoking Hub. Thanks so much.

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Nellieanna,

      See? :-)))

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      DRBJ, Sweetheart,

      I hang my head in shame and I take it all back! :-))))

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      (Smile)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      I'm shocked, dearest Dimi, that you could think for even one moment that I was not "up to it." ????? ?? ???????? ???????. ??? ????? ??????. ?? ????? ????? ????? ???? ??????.

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      I freely admit my fault . You know you will forgive me in the end anyway, so let's make up now :-)

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      Doesn't this sound like it comes from the heart of a friend: - "This is truly magnificent and worthy of your writing and perception talents, Dimitris. There ought to be a vote category for 'Excellent'. It is." ?? And it always does come from my heart when I praise your work!

      Nothing has altered my sincere admiration for your work and your unique personality. I would have you no different. If I yell when it hurts, it is simply because I trust that as a friend, you prefer to be kind. So thank you and hugs.

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      .

      Lee,

      What a nice thing to say. Thank you. And thank you for remebering my "Courtesan" hub. It is sweet of you to say so :-)

      .

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      .

      Nellieanna

      ,If you have this impression, then I must have created it. If I have created it, even inadvertently, then it is my fault. Please accept my apologies. Friends? :-)

      .

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 6 years ago from New Mexico

      Best. Hub. Ever. (Except for the one about the courtesan, which is still my favorite) The contemplation of inevitable death does allow one to put things into proper perspective. Thinking about current events in Japan lets me see that I have NO real problems!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      I see you modestly, coyly accepting most praise. Toward my praise, the responses are often dismissive; & neither modest nor coy. It's how things work. :-) Kisses.

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Nellieanna,

      You have it wrong and I am surprised that an intelligent person like you does not understand how things work: You are supposed to praise me and I am supposed to be modestly coy ;-)))))))))))

      Kiss you :-)

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      mysterylady 89,

      The political power of the Church is enormous in Greece as well as in Italy and was even greater a few years ago. The priests acted as Kazantzakis expeced them to :-)

      And yes, the downhill slide continues :-)

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      Well, my dear Dimitris, -if I may be simply allowed my "too kind" original praises of your hub, and my recent "overboard" praise of it and of the comments it inspires, perhaps there's sufficient value in continuing to simply attempt to express my honest responses to your work. If there is some other constraint, that seems regrettable, but my admiration as expressed remains sincere.

    • mysterylady 89 profile image

      mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

      I do appreciate your reading my Dante hub and seeing the humor in it.

      I guess I can understand the Vatican's ban. After all, remember what they did to Galileo. But Greece? Now that was a shock! How far we have traveled (downhill) from the golden age!

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      mysterylady 89,

      I have read your Dante's Inferno hub and it certainly raises a smile and I understand what you mean. Also, of course, I naturally agree that it is not possible to know all teh languages in the world in order to be able to read great literature.

      As to Florida banning the film, they were not alone. It was also banned by the Vatican and also in Greece :-)))

      Religious fanatics fearing that their religions may not be able to bear scrutiny will always object to alternative prisms for looking at their faith.

    • mysterylady 89 profile image

      mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

      I know I lose many, many nuances of the original when I read a work in translation, but how much more I would lose if I did not read it at all! I could not possibly know classical and modern Greek, German, French, Italian, etc.

      The translator also makes a great deal of difference. If you ever get a chance, read my hub on the humor in Dante's Inferno. Ciardi imitated Dante's level of diction when he translated. With old, stilted translations, there is no humor at all.

      BTW, after thinking about Kazantzakis, I became furious all over again as I thought about Central Florida banning the movie of "The Last Temptation of Christ."

    • De Greek profile image
      Author

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Hi Jeremey,

      I think that the soap handed out MUST be of the same quality for everyone if there is to be any type of basic justice. I imagine that it is how close to the potholes we are born to that must make the difference. In addition, when it rains, I think of myself leaving a trail of bubbles behind as I slide along, those being my inflated ego trying to make an impression on other travellers, that being the only way a completely untalented and mediocre person has of impressing his peers! ;-))))

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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Nellieanna,

      Perhaps “beauty and magnificence” is going overboard somewhat, but it is certainly fun to chat with like minded people ;-))))

      In fact, I am quite convinced that the comments are far better than the text, because even my friend Lisa Preston who promised to come back has deserted me ;-))))

      AND,

      I am not teasing you anymore, you are a baaaaaaaaaaaaad girl.......:-)

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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      lbidd54,

      That is very kind, thank and nice to meet you :-)

    • Jeremey profile image

      Jeremey 6 years ago from Arizona

      The soaps vary in quality as well I would suppose. Very fun to read.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      These readers' comments and the majority of your replies to them add so much to the beauty and magnificance of your hub, Dimitris! It's wonderful to read the responses and added facts from so many well-informed readers!

    • lbidd54 profile image

      lbidd54 6 years ago from The beautiful Jersey Shore

      Very inspiring read. Thank you.

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

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      Jane

      GRAVEL! That’s the word I was looking for! Thank you for this :-)

      I am truly sorry to hear that you are going over a bad patch of road right now and I hope that you have a few friendly hands to keep you on your bar of soap until you reach the the good road - which you will come to eventually.

      Yes, loosing the Nobel Prize by just one vote must be tough. Even loosing to Camus :-)

      .

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

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      mysterylady 89,

      What could be better than a visit from a fellow Kazantzakis fan? :-) You are welcome. :-)

      The way he writes in the original Greek makes a huge difference to the text and to the meaning he wants to convey, as he uses - at times - the language of the man in the fields, or the fisherman. That, strangely, makes the text jump out of the pages but in a much more civilized and effective way than George Eliot who simply quoted the ‘crudeness’ of the illiterate.

      Something very odd with the Greek language: I watched a rubbish collector on TV being interviewed while at work, the reporter trying to gauge public opinion about something. That (youngish) man spoke like a university professor, both in the language he used and in the firmness of his convictions.

      And since you taught literature, one of the most emotionally shocking experiences of my life was watching the play “Troades”, the ancient Greek translated into Modern Greek. Without wanting to or meaning to, I felt the tears run down my cheeks. Then I found myself openly and seriously crying. And then I was simply shaking with uncontrollable sobs! Luckily for me the play was on TV ;-))))

      .

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      De Greek, this is truly marvellous...I loved it. Not only beautifully written but the sentiments within are just..well, great and true. The Greek lettering was a beautiful touch.

      I did like the travelling on a piece soap analogy, only I wish I could get off this gravel road, which makes for hard going and on to the perfectly repaired highway!

      Imagine missing the Nobel Prize by one vote? Jeeze. Still, losing to Camus is not too disgraceful I suppose.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      Sure, sure, dearie. ;-P

    • mysterylady 89 profile image

      mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

      In my library I have 5 books by Kazanzakis that I read many years ago (in translation). I also read and taught Camus. I am fond of both authors, and this was my motivation for reading your hub. It was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it. I agree with the view of life you expressed, and I do like the imagery of the bar of soap.

      I am glad someone translated the Greek!

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

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      randslam,

      My best friend has the same mania as you about the meaning of "Freedom" in our lives, believing (rightly I feel) that it is the only aim worth aspiring to. You should meet him and fight it out ;-))))

      .

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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

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      SUSIE DUZY,

      Nice to meet you and thank you for taking the trouble to read :-)

      .

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      Rand Zacharias 6 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      So glad you smiled...I cheated with "Google" Translate. I use it often with all of my international friends when they send me FB messages in French, German, Italian. But, Greek is often at the top of the list for translating into English...so it didn't take very long.

      I just enjoyed the message--as I said, Freedom is the undiscovered country and after a recent study on the besmirching of Nietzsche by his own "stupid, anti-Semitic" sister, the words of Kazantzakis were doubly profound.

      I thank you once again, for releasing his words.

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      SUSIE DUZY 6 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

      Very interesting hub. Makes one stop and think.

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

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      Winsome

      I understand that one side of your family has Greek roots and so Kazantzakis is an author you should look into, as he will make you feel proud for the part of you that is Greek ;-)))

      (Not to minimise the other side of your family tree of course, so I should say make you equally proud as the rest of you) …. ;-)))

      Many thanks for passing by :-)

      .

    • De Greek profile image
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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

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      randslam,

      You cannot imagine how much pleasure you have given me by making the effort to translate the text :-)))))

      Many thanks.

      His attacks on the immoral or commercial or uncristian behaviour of priests was legentary and he was excommunicated. It is only recently that the Greek Orthodox church has re-instated him into its ranks after death, but they are far too late as his point is already well made without them ;-))))

      Thank you again for giving me so much pleasure by making the effort :-)

      .

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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

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      Nellieanna,

      I am just a poor peasant from Cyprus and do not understand complicated thoughts :-)

      ,

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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

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      Shalini,

      How sweet you are to say such a thing to an egoist like me ;-)))

      Thank you. ;-)

      .

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      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

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      Docmo,

      How did you manage the translation? Well done! :-)))

      Yes, the translation is:

      ...I hope for nothing,

      ................. I fear nothing,

      ................................ I AM FREE

      The words on his tombstone.

      Kazantzakis’ books were banned by both the Orthodox AND the Catholic church and he was excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox church for questioning the behaviour of priests.

      Now I am curious how you managed it ;-))))

      Nice to meet you and thank you for passing by.

      ,

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      Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hello Dimitri, very lovely thoughts here. I love the last scene of Zorba where Nikos writes his characters as devastated by their experience and the young man asks Zorba if he would teach him to dance. When life has been exceptionally trying I think sometimes I hear the tinkling sounds of the Zorba theme and I hear him say: "Did you ever see such a beautiful mess?" and I smile and part of me starts to dance. =:)

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      Rand Zacharias 6 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      I hope for nothing.

      I am afraid of nothing.

      I am free.

      Is it close, DG? Very Nitzschean.

      "I think, therefore, I am" comes to mind.

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      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      No, brilliant as you are, I doubt you've either under-or-overestimated too many things about me, except perhaps my ability to respect a main theme of your hubs and unwillingness to dissipate it even slightly by pointing out what might pass as a bit of comic relief in a truly deep treatise.

      But yes, I did observe the conflicting/odd phrasing, as noted in my reply to your gleeful challenge above. When seeing it, though, I chose to underestimate your inability to resist the desire to trip up even at the expense of an otherwise masterfully good serious writ and to overestimate your dedication to its serious subject, - which I still admire fully. Your ability to write on any level is above question or reproach, even if you yield to the temptation at times to poke fun at my intelligence and/or sense of humor. :-)

      Your sincere praises are certainly welcomed, though your scorn is barely a prick. In fact, I'm simply concerned for your welfare, my darling, when responding to it. I fully appreciate your sincerity and all your peccadillos and would never want you any different than you are, so skillfully navigating on your slippery bar of soap through all obstacles and challenges and always coming up clean as a whistle! I applaud you! Bravo and Hugs.

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      Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India

      Dimitris - incredible! There are times, my friend, when your thoughts take wing and fly.....