In memory of MikisTheodorakis
Katerina Theodoraki, Child Psychiatrist – family therapist
I was fortunate to be part of a group that met Mikis in person in his house in the shadow of the Acropolis (the location of the house is literally such that the Parthenon seems to be inside it). The meeting was so important to me that I found myself in a dilemma: What should I first look at and observe? The things that Mikis said that reflected his visions and his huge expectations for Greece, or the Parthenon that literally invaded the space and was overwhelmingly transfixing? I felt like being simultaneously both in the present and the past. And I thought: Is it possible for someone who enjoys this view every day to think of something small?
I got to know his thought through his writing and his lectures.
He was, first of all, a living example of mental resilience. He had come close to death so many times, and yet the way he narrated them, it seemed like these extreme experiences not only did not get him down, but instead, seemed to make him more stubborn and bring him even closer to loving life. What was it that saved him every time? Music? His visions? His faith in human powers? His love for Greece? It was as if he suddenly performed a magic trick and transformed the negative near death experience into a source of life, a source of inspiration a motive to “just a little more… so we can rise a little higher!”. This incredible skill is the ultimate form of positive reframing!
Mikis was an example of a complete man, in the ancient Greek sense of the phrase. He lived, thought, and acted in harmony with his visions and his beliefs. He was betrayed, he was let down numerous times by friends and collaborators, but nothing made him lose his momentum or his fighting spirit. He was guided by his own legend, his own history, which he served, his connection to the 2500-year-old Greek history, and his thinking that inspired him and gave him strength. In his own words: “Myth is Reason and at the same time Transcending Reason. In other words a feature of Greek spirit that ancient Greeks personified by simultaneously and equally worshiping Apollo and Dionysus in the Oracle of Delphi”. Apollo and Dionysus (reason and transcending reason) cooperated harmoniously in Mikis’ life. When the occasion did not offer a solution based on reason, he would resort to a Dionysian solution and vice versa. Listening to him you got the impression that he always selected the third solution in dilemmas, as though for him there were no impasses.
In his music, but in his political thinking also he was deeply dialectical. He would always point out that “thesis” without “antithesis” leads to disintegration.
Through his music, he willcome up- like a teenager - with his theory about Universal Harmony, always in tune with the Pythagoreans. He will go on to say that: “this illusion, that I am discovering a new world that is entirely mine, has multiplied inside me any creative forces I may possess and has led me to the certainty that I communicate with an archetypal of harmony and music that surrounds us without us knowing”. This innovation connected him to the “Harmony of the Universe” and answered the question he had from his adolescent years of “who am I, where do I come from, and where am I going?”.
He considered ancient Greek civilisation as an amalgamation of Greece and the East (Apollo and Dionysus as Dionysus is returning from the East) and that “the balance between the two leads to the ultimate harmony that we find in the accomplishments of Greek thinking and art from tragedy to sculpture and architecture. These works reflect the Law of Universal Harmony and the coexistence of Harmony and Chaos as a primary antithesis”. He refers here to the legend of the Theban Cycle, as “an endless alternation between harmony and chaos, from Jocasta and Oedipus to Antigone”. These antitheses constantly create new syntheses and so on and so forth, without beginning or end.
The word harmony means “link” (from the Greek word armos”) and “agreement” as a result of the equilibrium between opposing forces (in Greek mythology Harmony was the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite). Mikis, inspired by Heraclitus, will claim that the best harmony not only springs from opposites, but is also defined by them.
Mikis composed music, composed visions, composed eras, composed ideas, he was simultaneously both contemporary and intertemporary, a true classic.
May we always be inspired by him!
Ελληνικότητα και Διανόηση Μίκης Θεοδωράκης, Γιώργος Κοντογιώργης, Ιανός 2007.
Συμπαντική Αρμονία, Μουσική και Επιστήμη, Επιστημονική επιμέλεια Γιάννης Κουγιουμουτζάκης, Πανεπιστημιακές Εκδόσεις Κρήτης 2007.