|Her Excellency Ambassador Chryssoula Aliferi, Mr. Christos Marantos, Ms Elena Papanikolaou-Logiadi, Mag. Martin Haidinger|
By Heinz Gstrein
Among the world-wide events to this "Year Kazantzakis", in which his death on 26. October has its 60th. Anniversary, deserves the Vienna Symposium from 16th to 19th. of the month special appreciation. In Vienna had the writer, journalist, politician, musicians, poet and thinker Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957), a fire spirit of 20th. Century, designed already in 1922 his philosophical major work "Askitiki", 1956 he was awarded at the Danube the "International Peace Prize".
2014 the „First Viennese Reading Theater" presented the German-Language-Premiere of "Christophorus Columbus": a wrongly almost forgotten dramatic work of the greek author in the translation from the Salzburg Philhellen Johann Beck-Mannagetta. And now Kzantzakis was honored by initiative of Mr Christos Marantos, Greek pianist and music teacher in Vienna. He secured the support of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Embassy of the Hellenic Republic and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Austria together with the Athenian "Kazantzakis Publications", the "International Friendship Society Nikos Kazantzakis" and the museum dedicated to him in the Cretan Myrtia in Iraklio to work out the lasting significanc of this the champion of esprit and word with a literary-musico-philosophical Kazantzakis-Week. The rd velevet-elegance of the "Metro Cinema Culture house" in the Johannesgasse with its flair of the Viennese „fine de siècle“ provided a magnificent setting.
Ambassadrice Chryssoula Aliferi and Christos Marantos became the souls of this endeavour. On the opening evening she expressed visibly moved their pleasure that now a Kazantzakis, who fulfilled the modern European philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche or Henri Bergson with Greek spirit, is here not only appreciated as a popular author of "Alexis Zorbas" and a kind of „syrtaki-promotor“. Niki Stavrou from Athens, who today is managing the heritage of Kazantzakis, which was entrusted by himself personally to her father Patroklos as literary tustee and publisher certain father Patroklos, could discern in her lecture, "a pleasing Kazantzakis Renaissance" in the German language area. This also encourages to go on with new translations. Metropolitan Arsenios Kardamakis of Austria, hinself a son of Crete, devoted the lecture "Theology in the work of Nikos Kazantzakis" his role as a "God fighter and God-seeker".
A discussion moderated by Professor Hubert Christian Ehalt from the Austrian Academy of Sciences under the motto of the kazantzakis credo "I hope nothing, I fear nothing, I am free!", was joined also by the Viennese Ordinaria for Modern Greek Literature, Maria A. Stassinoupoulou and the prominent art-philosopher Elisabeth of Samsonow (Academy of Fine Arts). Prof. Stassinopoulou emphasized the importance of this event in a time when not only in Austria the classical educational ideal of high esteem for the the ancient Greek language and culture, but also the interest in modern Greek literature is evaporating. Kazantzakis constitues the only positive exception.- The Opening Night closed with the film 'Zorba the Greek' by Michalis Cacoyannis, the next day "The Last Temptation" was shown.
This second day was dedicated to the the pioneering, but with his provocative, often contradictory approaches not easily accessible philosopher Kazantzakis. His image of God knows no well-ordered creation story, but a wild up fight of the materia to its spiritualisation in an unquenchable desire for God. At this musical-literary evening "Kazantzakis project" the superb recitator speaker Martin Haidinger succeeded to crack the tough nuts of Kazantzakis’ aphorisms and to make them generally understandable at the same time. Christos Marantos demonstrated with virtuosity on the piano with the directly to Kazantzakis related compositions of Herbert Lauermann and the "Mandinadha for Piano" by Giorgos Koumetakis (Premiere), how refreshing can become interpreted the words of a poet-philosopher musically. It was obviously a Richard Strauss with "Also sprach Zarathustra" who stood godparent fort his attempt. A successful counterpoint brought Elena Papanikolaou-Logiadi thanks to voice, gestures and temperament with her performance of the Kapetan Michalis-Songs with the music of Manos Hadzidakis. She was awarded with stormy, lasting applause.
But the clear focus of this Viennese Kazantzakis-remembrance remained the philosophy of religion of his "Askitiki" (subtitle: "Salvatores Dei - savior of God"), with an evolutionist-teleological view of men and nature instead of the Aristotelic-scholastic world image of God only as the "first" mover. Kazantzakis stands at the beginning of the complete "Process theology" of our post-modern times.
Deep insights into these enlightened thoughts offered on the last evening lecture Professor Basil J. Groen with his guest lecture "Nikos Kazantzakis, his asketik and the Greek Passion". The strongest impression in the audience aroused the Dutchman Groen, who has stduer also at Thessaloniki University, with the with the quotation: "'Sing in the deep silence upright, fearless, pain suffering and ease, inexorably from summit to summit ascending and knowing that the height has no end, this magical, proud summoning while you hang over the abyss".
The cinematogtraphic crowning of the evening was the projection of „Akrovatis pano apo to Chaos (Acrobat over the chaos)“, screend in Greece at the 50th. Anniversary of the death of Kazantzakis in Greece by Lefteris Haronitis.
The closing ceremony on 19th. October at the Greek Embassy was therefore adorned by happy, satisfied faces of the organisers and high praises of reconigtion from all sides: This Vienna-Commemorative-Week contributed decisivly to the immortality of Nikos Kazantzakis!