A Kaleidoscope of Memory-Images

Not a theoretical directive from a bureau pretending to direct affairs, but rather another voice added to a chorus, another emanation in addition to all the others.

*

We are sitting in the Parko, drinking beer as usual.

– Yeah, I know what you mean, he says – Like starting from here we can change the world.

Exarcheia comes from the heart.

*

Rakomelo in the cafe to celebrate the end of the world in 2012.

– Maybe it really will end, we confide with half-hope to one another, almost coughing over the warmed-up liquor. The barman calls back to us our claim about the end of the world in yet another toast.

– No, no, interrupts an old customer in the back, clacking his worry beads as he slowly rises with effort and shuffles over to pay. – No, it is the end of paradise, he says somewhat cryptically. With good humour, the barman tries to correct him, but he is adamant: it is the end of paradise, not the world. And with that, he somewhat unsteadily goes out the door into the night. Yes, we reflect, he is in the right: the end of the working class paradise, the neoliberal paradise, the middle class social-democrat paradise, the scientific progress paradise, all the variations of the Christian heaven come down to earth. We are here at the vanishing of paradise: the social contract, the welfare state, democracy and all that. A new toast:

– Goodbye paradise, hello disaster! little glasses go up – To the catastrophe!

Yes, let us have a toast to this, our new era of storm clouds!

*

Merkel comes to visit. Athens is waiting. The sky is gray and apocalyptic: not the apocalypse of imagination, thunder and lightning, but the gray mournful waning of the world in its own banality. There is besieged Syntagma surrounded by its riot police, the shops all shuttered and closed, the walls covered with graffiti, and a hateful, angry feeling in the air. The surveillance camera on its gigantic concrete pole is watching the events with silent malevolence. There is something universally ugly, almost frightfully shabby about the scene: Athens is not a beautiful city any more, the riot police are standing there with tear gas at the ready representing the governmental views and projects, the shoppers have all retreated for a brief time, the leftists are chanting their meaningless slogans while slowly trying to filter away from the fighting, and meantime we are collecting chunks of marble and stones. All together now: the riot police are forced back aways under a hail of projectiles, hoots, and derision. More tear gas is the response. Clashes start to spread around the big mob in the center of the square.

It was not even such a big riot, so far as Athens is concerned, and yet anywhere else in Europe it would be sensational. Even so, it was special for the vision it distilled: here is the contemporary world, the modern era, that of a barely functioning coalition government determined to end the hedonistic apathy that was its only real support. When materialistic doctrines underlie a society, as they have only just done for the past two centuries in the West, there is no love possible between ruler and ruled, no organic connection in the society. This emptiness was especially evident on that day: this is what is left of all the fantastic promises of the past two centuries- a young mob throwing rocks at the universally despised police forces on streets littered with debris and ever-renewed tear gas, the leftists desperately trying to call an uncaring elite to old promises extorted from them under threat of civil war, and this same elite determined to annihilate its own society to save itself. And above all the vacant surveillance camera watching over the fray, the promise and practice of a new totalitarianism but one that is finding its pretensions and power everywhere falling short of its own mad desires, that finds everywhere only a lack of respect and consideration. Empty streets and running rioters, police hurriedly tramping along, Maalox and stun grenades, leaving behind them deserted, smashed storefronts surrounded by chunks of rubble: Welcome to the 21st century.

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