First of all, I would like to clarify that for me personally, the Young Greek Generation of our own Greek Society, age wise, is represented by the “young adults” in their twenties and thirties, who today make up the majority of my former students, both male and female. Most of the young people I taught were in their adolescence and their early adulthood, which meant a very “turbulent”, “enigmatic” and “existentially difficult” period of their life!!!
I feel very lucky that Life has provided me with the opportunities and the means to be able to transmit some knowledge to my young students, but above all to instill in them the “critical existential factors” of self-knowledge, self-confidence and self-respect; human qualities which could support and enhance a more creative and independent personal behavior and thought process, superceding the “virtual reality” and the “spiritual mediocrity” of their own Society!!! Similarly, for me personally, it was equally as “precious” existentially, intellectually as well as spiritually, the fact that from my youngest student who was 5 years old to my adolescent and young adult students (male and female), I derived a lot of knowledge about “real life”, as well as receiving from them a lot of “positive energy” and especially “love feelings”, since with them I functioned as a “partner” and as a “friend”, and not as an “emotionally distanced guide” or a “purely professional instructor”!!!
I have always sought and aimed at creating those “universal human relations” between teacher and student, similar to those which had existed in Ancient Greece. Some such historical paradigms were the School of Pythagoras during the 6th Century B.C. in Syracuse in Italy, which included both male and female students, the very close relationship between Socrates and his young male students in Athens during the 4th Century B.C., famous students like Plato, Alkiviadis and Aristophanis, as well as the legendary intellectual and cultural guidance of Alexander the Great by his teacher Aristotle, while he was growing up in Macedonia!!!
*doodle- an aimless, more or less automatic scribble, outline, design, or improvised sketch, traced while one is mentally occupied with something else.
A few years ago, I had followed a Greek Television Interview (broadcasted by Greek National Television) of the world famous Philosopher and Academic, Cornelius Castoriadis (1922-1997), a Greek National with family origins from Asia Minor, which ethnically and culturally were vital and dynamic components compared to the “economic backwardness” and the “intellectual conservatism” reflected in the political culture of Greek Society then but even today!!!
At a certain moment in his academic and existential development, Cornelius Castoriadis took the decision to leave Greece, his homeland, and establish himself in France where he studied and eventually became a University Professor. He chose to live permanently in Paris where he taught Philosophy in many outstanding French Academic Institutions. He distanced himself ideologically and pragmatically from the “anachronistic political culture” of his own country which to a large degree was being maintained and reinforced by Greece’s Political and Economic Establishment, by the majority of Greek Academics who always wanted to be “on friendly terms” with the economically and politically “very powerful” Greek Orthodox Church of Greece, as well as by the Communist Party of Greece (K.K.E.), this illegal Greek political party (under the Greek Constitution then) to which he belonged during the early years of his life. In the end and very early on, Cornelius Castoriadis decided to leave the Greek Communist Party because for him it was directly controlled by the political directives coming out of Moscow!!!!
In this television interview on Greek National Television (EPT) , Cornelius Castoriadis expressed his personal position on what is “the ideal academic environment” in order to achieve a real and creative educational process for all young students. He clarified that ‘the students would have to feel an erotic affinity towards their own professors, whether male or female, but also that the professors would have to feel erotically attached to the knowledge they are transmitting to their own students’!!!! This was the “real essence” in the relations between teacher and student in Ancient Greece, a cultural factor on which Cornelius Castoriadis was an expert since he taught it in French Universities, as well as writing many essays and articles about its academic significance!!!
If Cornelius Castoriadis were to have pronounced this cultural and academic axiom within a student forum in any Greek University, the Greek Ministry of Education and “Religious Studies” would have immediately removed him from the position of University Professor, while at the same time, the Greek Orthodox Church of Greece would have “officially pronounced” him an Atheist, an Immoral Human Being and a Sinner!!! One can therefore better understand and justify the reasons why Cornelius Castoriadis, this Civilized Person and Great Teacher chose very early in his Academic Evolution to “pack up his bags” and live permanently in France; a country which “supported” him, “promoted” him and “honoured” him until the end of his life!!!!
I have given English language lessons as well as French language lessons to children, adolescents and young adults, even though my basic and core university studies in Canada and in England dealt with the economic and political sciences, specializing on the Middle East and North Africa. Here in Greece, I worked for a “state research centre” for 4 years, undertaking specific study projects concerning the socio-political significance of Islam, the influence of Islam on the political evolution of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey during the 19th and 20th Century, as well as participating in a study concerning the political struggle of Greek-Cypriots in liberating their homeland from the “colonial yoke” of Great Britain.
At a certain moment, I became conscious of the fact that all of my “educated” and “talented” Greek colleagues in this research institute which was “indirectly linked” to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were “not so keen” on the political future and development of their own country, focusing more on their “own personal careers”, meaning on a permanent position in a Ministry or in a Greek Embassy abroad; ensuring for themselves a “good salary” and of course a “respectable social status”!!! I “spat at” all of these “well educated Greek patriots” and decided to give English and French lessons to children and adolescents, starting in private tutorial language schools, supplementing my income with private language lessons in English and in French at all levels. Finally, after 8 years of working in private language schools, I decided to do private language lessons just because most of the owners of these private language schools cared more about “profit” and “their own pockets” than about the “correct learning” of their own students. Typical Greek Businessmen Swindlers!!!
During the last 25 years, I have worked as a private language tutor of English and French, but mostly English, to young people of all ages. Many of these young people I prepared to undertake higher studies abroad, always in the English language. Higher studies which involved university degrees in “education” and in “business administration”, as well as in the “social sciences” such as psychology and sociology. At the same time, I had students (mostly male) with learning disabilities and serious psychological problems, such as Dyslexia and Hyperactivity, as well as mental depression and personality disorders!!! I believe that I was able to “gain some ground” with these “special young people” just because I truly believed in their own potentialities and capacities as creative human beings, and as a consequence they came to believe in themselves!!! Here, I would like to emphasize the fact that with all of my young students who I taught privately, the time period (on the whole) of my direct involvement, lasted from 3 to 8 years.
A common characteristic amongst many of my private students, whether male or female, is the “phenomenon” that during the lesson, due to the fact that they felt at ease and that there was empathy between us, they “unconsciously” made scribbles on small pieces of paper, on pages of their own note books, and even on my cigarette and cigar packages, reflecting how free and comfortable they felt then. All of these doodles and spontaneous sketches by my students I kept. I kept them all, because all of these creative artistic expressions were very precious “existentially”!!!! These “rough designs” for me personally represented “symbolically” the psychological disposition of every male or female student at those particular moments of the lesson, but more critically, these “particular designs” reflected some aspects of the psyche and the inner personality of that particular individual, meaning some aspects of his or her own “subconscious”!!!
In February 2009, I wrote a small text in my internet page, trying in a simple way to analyze an “improvised sketch” which had been made by a female private student, Chara, 26 years old, on a page of her notebook during our lesson in my house. I would like here to quote a small passage of this text which better clarifies the great “existential significance” of the “human subconscious” in defining the “human personality” which I personally relate “directly” to the spontaneous designs and sketches created by my students during our lessons. This same type of “psychological analytical formula” has been utilized by many psychiatrists and psychologists around the world!!!
In my brief text I say the following: ‘The first great teachers of psychiatry like Freud, Jung and Adler, espoused the idea that the “human subconscious” was the most “inventive” and “creative” tool in human expression (spontaneous doodles by my students in our case), and that this wholesome and primeval part of the human specie was wrongly pushed aside for the sake of an “artificially organized human civilization”!!!! According to these great scientists (of the human psyche) and wise men, it was this artificial marginalization of the “human subconscious” which produced the various human psychoses , the self destructive human violence and humanity’s alienation from nature’s equilibriums’!!!!
The “spontaneous” design or sketch of my former male student Petros(not his real name) that we shall examine later on, was traced during our lesson at my house, on my package of cigarettes, since Petros does not smoke; very indicative of his personality and the quality of life he leads!!! This happened more than 10 years ago!!!
Petros is of Greek nationality and is today in his thirties, while this year he had twin boys with his companion, a young Greek woman of approximately the same age with whom he has had a long relationship. I personally believe that “in general terms”, they are quite compatible as both of them have a common philosophy on life which is more “natural” and “pragmatic” than most young people of their own age or generation. Both of them “to a large degree” are striving to get closer to “Real Life” and the Reality of their own life, distancing themselves from the “virtual everyday realities” of a traditional Greek Society as well as a traditional Greek Family Structure. Their daily efforts “existentially” and “socially” are both bold and personally constraining, knowing full well the “institutionalized social games” which are constantly being played by an “anachronistic” Greek Society and by a “conservative” Greek Family Foundation; two very “powerful” socio-cultural components which did not permit Western Enlightenment to modernize our Peoples and our Nation until this very day!!!
Those “foolish” and “virtual” social games being played by a “retrogressive” Greek Society and by an “outdated” Greek Family Institution promote a “personal social recognition” of and a “personal social accommodation” with “antiquated everyday personal demands” which impose a personal dependence on “unnatural living patterns” such as guilt feelings, intense survival insecurities, constant social competitiveness and the outstanding traditional societal axiom that an individual, whether young or old, rich or poor, should trust no one, absolutely no one!!!
In the same “anachronistic cultural context”, Greek Society “collectively” instills in every Greek person, whether male or female, the “complete abandonment” of the erotic dimensions of their own personality as well as their personal right for freedom of expression!!! All this “existential distortion” is realized in a “subtle” yet “despotic” societal manner!!! Similarly, Greek men and women are obliged since childhood to accept(brainwashing) that there is a “general popular consensus” on maintaining “obsolete social institutions” such as the “family clan”, the “place of origin” of that family clan as well as the “supposedly” sacred and close clan and family relations which “carry a lot of weight” in their ordinary naming, such as “sister in law”, “brother in law”, “god father”, “god mother”, “god son”, “best man”, “best woman”, etc., which “pragmatically” and in “real everyday life” have very little to do with “human empathy” which comes from “basic human feelings” tested through time, but with an “artificial” personal exposure and image!!!
All of these “quasi” kindred relationships with their “socially sacred” name appellations reveal or demonstrate the “cultural coercion” which every Greek person has to deal with since childhood, having to pretend that they are conforming to and espousing Greek Social Traditions even though they know perfectly well that these have become “irrelevant” in our modern Era!!! As a consequence, the young Greek peoples of today, whether male or female, are forced “on a permanent basis” and “unethically”, to pressure themselves to just accept “passively” these “inconsequential” traditional societal formalities, disfiguring their human personalities, “existentially”, “emotionally” and “mentally”!!! Let us all be proud of ourselves as “free thinking” and “modern” citizens of the 21st century!!!
Petros has worked as a “professional cameraman” for some years, as well as being a “talented amateur photographer” displaying his “photographic quality creations” on two different internet sites. From what I have gathered personally, being his friend and teacher for many years, I truly believe that Petros is a “real professional”, an “authentic artist” and an “outstanding colleague” who cares about everyone, not someone who “sells his skin” at the expense of others!!! For the last 15 years that I have known him and “loved” him as a student and as a friend, he has remained “steadfast” and “clean” in an artistic professional environment which is socially “very corrupt” and “very superficial”, since to a large degree it is controlled and regulated by “unprofessional managers” and “unprofessional producers” as well as by “mediocre artistic directors”!!! Their main goal in life is to personally “maximize” their own income at the financial expense of the “ordinary” but “talented” workers who are fully responsible, creatively and technically, for the “end product” , whether this represents a cinematographic project or some television advertisement!!!
I first met Petros when he was 22 years old, and I was introduced to him by my “former friend”, my “former student” and my “former dentist” who I first got to know when we were both swimming everyday at a “public swimming pool” of our local community. Both of us were regular swimmers at this particular local swimming pool for some years. Christos( not his real name) had been a very good friend for more than 15 years and my student in English for “a whole year” because his “domineering” Greek wife could not accept or endure the “perfect communication” which existed between us, as well as the “human empathy” we felt for each other!!! A very typical “destructive” everyday Greek human jealousy, exactly like what we encounter in Ancient Greek Tragedies!!! Christos was my personal dentist for more than 10 years, and he truly was a “very competent” and “meticulous” doctor!!!
Christos is in his fifties, married, with two teenage daughters. He is a “successful” and a “well esteemed” dentist because his work as a doctor is based on “detail” and “perfection”!!! Christos represents the “human link” with Petros, because he was his dentist as well as the dentist of his mother, with whom Christos has a very friendly and intimate relationship, almost a family relationship!!!!
Christos, my “former” friend, my “former” student and my “former” dentist introduced me to Petros so as to help him with his English, knowing full well my long experience in teaching this language, but especially the constructive and harmonious relations I have had with young people, particularly with young people with learning disabilities. It is now almost 3 years since I have “excluded” Christos as my friend and as my dentist, because I came to finally realize that the most “critical” and “sacred” existential factor in his life is simply “money” and the “material possessions” which he could easily acquire with this money. This is exactly the “existential mania” of most Greek Peoples(since time immemorial) of whatever age or sex, of whatever educational background and of whatever economic status!!! This of course is another “socio-cultural component” which contributed so that Greek Society never adopted Western Enlightenment, simply because traditionally, their “everyday social priorities” always focused upon their “exclusive personal interest” and not upon the “collective interest” of the whole of society, meaning their own Greek Society!!!
Christos, on a “permanent” and “constant” basis, puts all those “gold coins” he collects from his work as a dentist, above his own family, above his friends and customers, even above himself!!! He could attend to half of the clients he now has(he works on Saturdays and Sundays) and he and his family could live “like princes” for the rest of their lives!!! And when I emphasize the real fact that Christos values “money” and “property” more than his own person and his own family, this conclusion I base on my “personal judgment” and my “personal observation” having known Christos intimately for such a long time, which clearly confirm to me that this particular person is slowly “falling apart”, physically, psychologically and mentally!!! Christos invested everything on an “iconic” yet for him an “attractive” and “dynamic” social image of himself, which has “very little to do” with his own “natural” inner balances and emotional needs!!!!
In the end, meaning 3 years ago, Christos “my friend” and “my dentist”, started to “play it hard” and “super eminent” with me(sign of the times), projecting himself to me as my “philanthropist doctor savior”, even though during the last few years, I have paid him thousands of euros for his work on my teeth, without receiving any “officially approved money receipts”. This “unethical professional scheme” by Christos which most Greek doctors “naturally” assign to, is a “simple way” not to pay state taxes on one’s “real income”!!!!
It was destiny that the next dentist I went to, who was woman dentist and had her medical practice in the same region as Christos because it is close to my residence, revealed to me that with Christos they had gone to school together and that they were university mates in the School of Dentistry at the University of Athens!!!!
Both of these dentists are “perfectionists” in their work but also “somewhat expensive”!!! My present woman dentist expressed to me that she “greatly values” the quality of the dental work by Christos, but at the same time, she informed me that Christos was charging me more than the usual , because the price I was paying him included the state tax even though I was not receiving any “official money receipts” confirming this!!!
Christos, my “former friend”, my “former student” and my “former dentist” was the real incentive in writing a small text(March 2014) in my site, analyzing the significance of the “Hippocratic Oath” in relation to the medical standards and practices of the majority of Greek Doctors, both men and women, at the present time!!! I categorized them as “crooked scientists”!!!!!
As we have already mentioned, I first got to know Petros when he was 22 years old, and he was introduced to me by my “former” friend, my “former” student and my “former” dentist Christos in order to start English lessons with him. More particularly, Petros wanted to get the First Certificate in English of the British Council. Here we have to emphasize the fact that Petros suffers from “dyslexia” as some of my former male students but very few of my former female students!!!
When Petros was 16, he had tried to pass those English examinations which would have given him the First Certificate in English; these examinations are both written and oral examinations. As someone who is “dyslectic”, he was able to procure a “written expert analysis” from a doctor, allowing him “all the time” he needed for his written exams and a “flexible time procedure” for his oral exams. Petros was unsuccessful then, and he did not receive his First Certificate in English. After 6 years, Petros, demonstrating a lot of courage and drive, decided to go once more through “a long term process” of English lessons so that he would be ready to undergo the same English examinations for the First Certificate in English; a vital sign of his “strong personality”!!!
We started from the beginning, meaning the basics in English Grammar, as well as going over many exams from past years. These standard exams evaluate one’s knowledge of the written word(compositions), of an advanced English vocabulary, of the basics in English grammar and of one’s fluency in the spoken English language; by describing images and pictures, by answering questions using one’s own judgment as well as answering queries related to you personally. After 3 years, Petros passed his exams for the First Certificate in English with an ‘A’. Throughout all that time spent for our English lessons, Petros demonstrated that he was an astute, hard working and a serious student!!! He wanted to learn the English language well and he “trusted me” as a teacher!!!
When Petros received his First Certificate in English at the age of 25, he decided that he wanted to learn the English language at a greater depth, yet he wasn’t very much interested in trying for the next certificate in English of the British Council(Intermediate English Certificate). The choice he personally made is indicative of the character of a young person with a “mature” and “creative” mentality who is not very involved with the “iconic” and “superficial” criteria and demands of his own Greek Society, but with the “real substance” of Knowledge for the sake of Knowledge!!! Because I personally abide with this philosophy concerning the societal role of knowledge in all its dimensions, we “both” decided to continue our lessons in English, starting with text books of a more advanced English grammar, but at the same time, we would begin reading classical works of world literature, whether these works had been written in the English language or had been translated in the English language. These books or literary texts we would read together, we would discuss them together in English, and Petros would write brief essays in English on some of their critical themes, which I would then correct.
We read together English literary works composed by authors such as Charles Dickens, Jack London, Henry Miller, Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Khalil Gibran, as well as literary creations translated into English such as works by Nietze, Ibsen and Dostoyevsky, including the ancient manuscripts of the Aramaic Epic of Gilgamesh and the verses of the Indian King Ashoka!!!
Petros personifying a “well balanced” and “cosmopolitan” personal attitude towards “general knowledge” and not “career knowledge”, asked me to supplement our English lessons with French lessons. That is exactly what we did!!! Petros began French lessons when he was 26 years old, and we finalized our “academic cooperation” when he was 29 years old, but not our relationship of “deep friendship”!!!!
Right now, I shall briefly describe aspects concerning the personality and the character of Petros, always in relation to the social attributes of his own Greek generation, who today resides in Greece’s geopolitical territory!!! I will focus on some of the personality traits which differentiate him from his own Greek generation and some which he assigns to even though he personally may not want to admit it “consciously” or “subconsciously”!!! In my personal judgment concerning the personality and character of Petros I may not be very correct, but there is also the possibility that Ι could be correct!!!
First, I would like to emphasize the fact that Petros as an individual gives more value to his own “progressive development”(dialectic thinking) than to his own “economic survival” or his own “social status”!!!! Second, he respects his own “human integrity” and his own “human uniqueness” but as an equal, as a contending and sensitive social human being(empathy), ignoring the “everyday virtual societal criteria” of constant competitiveness, self-centeredness and self affirmation!!! Similarly, Petros personifies a “universal spirit” which contributes the means and the inspiration to adapt within his own personality and his own existential evolution, social and philosophical values that originate from other civilizations and other epochs!!! Criteria of social values and of social behavior which have greatly influenced his “everyday social actions” and his “everyday social relationships”!!!!
Concerning now aspects of his own personality which conform to his own Greek generation is his “propensity” not be as “severe” and as “dialectic” as he ought to be within the context of everyday social circumstances , which touch upon traditional social norms and social institutions, like “family” interrelationships which obstruct a creative “self-realization” and his own “freedom of expression” in all of its human forms!!! This personal propensity or weakness, undermines his human capacities to function “effectively” and “naturally” as a thinking, erotic and innovative human being. A creative human being whose life goals should be “absolute human mobility” and “universal human development”, as well as the negation of that which we all know to be “superficial” and “unbalanced” but nevertheless “well set up” by a “socially corrupt” and “socially alienated” Greek Social Establishment!!! A Greek Social Establishment whose goal or strategy is to perpetuate a societal reality where all people are fearful and insecure, are passive and socially immoral, and not free thinking or free acting individuals, especially in their everyday erotic esthetics and their everyday erotic personal moments!!!!
A brief sketch by Petros on my package of cigars.
In our description of the sketch by Petros, we will move from left to right, which has a certain time sequence; the focal time point being our private lessons!!!
On the far left of the design, we observe a mesh of geometrical patterns which define a well organized fortification which is not only defensive(everyday social defenses) but also offensive, since the angles which protrude outwardly resemble the long sharp spears used by the Macedonian Phalanx!!!
Moving on, we notice a circular maze in motion, which starts from the epicenter and reaching an exit point where there is a small spaceship which directs the progressive path. This circular maze is like the labyrinth of life which is nevertheless surmountable by modern technical means, symbolized by the small spaceship drawn by Petros or by an iPod used by Petros in his everyday existence!!!
Next, we perceive a “circus arena” which represents the “everyday virtual social reality” which Petros is personally experiencing as a protagonist or a central player , “all alone”, without any external support!!!!
In this particular drawing, we observe the ascent of Petros towards the “Universal” which has been initiated by a “dialectic thought process” and by “human wisdom” acquired when we were “reading together” and we were “discussing together” important literary works. At the same time, he had upgraded his “self-confidence” functioning “creatively” and “effectively” with his English lessons.
At a certain moment, Petros could not endure or cope with this ascent towards “the Universal” and “the Universe” because it was threatening his everyday social defenses since it left him completely exposed in relation to “his own being” and “his own social identity”!!! Petros felt uneasy ,seeing himself as a “small part of the Human Collective”, and not as “the epicenter of the Universe” as he had been taught by his social environment and by Greek Political Culture(individualism)!!!!
The next reactions by Petros with this newly acquired knowledge about “universal truths” and his “real human identity” were a “sudden retreat” from the “Universals of Life” because he sensed and believed that he could not handle the “social” and “ideological” instability which this personal evolution could inflict on the everyday moments of his life!!! As a consequence, his choices and his initiatives at different points reflect a “suspension” and a “distancing” from the path towards “the Universal”, again and again, but finally, we notice that after a lot of “personal meditation” and “personal thinking”, moving towards the left, Petros decides to approach this “progressive human path”!!!
After all the personal experiences and processes concerning Knowledge, self-knowledge and practical know-how, the personal social and existential defenses as drawn by Petros on the far right corner of his sketch, had become more subdued and smooth with respect to his External World!!!!
That which dominates Human Society is not the International Masonic Lodges but the Collective Subconscious. (July 2014)