“In 1968, Antonis Samarakis was about to give a lecture at the French Institute. A deep and tough junta, we concentrated on filling the amphitheater with the feeling that we were to be given the opportunity to communicate and consider this to be an act of resistance. The author came into the room, sat down at the table opposite us and remained silent. He remained silent for a long time. Silence fell in the room; no sound, only breathing.
The silence continued, but no one felt embarrassed or in need of breaking it, not even by coughing.
After a long time Antonis Samarakis asked a question: ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ And again the audience fell into a prolonged silence. For the second time he asked in the same tone: ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ and again silence. He repeated it a third time. After the third time of silence he gave the answer: ‘No one is afraid of Virginia Wolf.’ Then the audience burst into applause with relief and understanding. Like a thousand slogans that were not heard.”
This is how the painter and director Kyriakos Katzourakis began his speech (as my memory recalls) during the presentation of a book of exceptional timeliness and importance entitled “Psychotherapy and Politics Associates” (Korontzis editions), a collection of articles edited by the psychiatrist Katia Charalabaki.
Another opportunity would be to present this book to “Kommon”. For the moment, let us focus on the initial pursuit, which is the result of the description by Kyriakos Katzourakis of the above episode. This is obviously the value of meaning.
You need to make some deductions to get into the spirit. It is impossible to approach the importance and sound of silence easily, living in a time of noise, as we do.
Nevertheless, we are talking about an era of compulsory silence, where nods, small gestures, and most often absolute silence, replaced words and especially long narratives. Then the lyrics, the songs, the small art forms, took on great proportions and dissemination, not because they tired of the great narrative (as they do now), but because there was a desire to exhaust the depth.
So, just as Antonis Samarakis was silent, the middle voices speak in a low tone but with high volume, and while the sound wasn’t coming out, one by one the co-workers had been tuned into eloquent communication, and they had all been involved in a game that transcended their senses. This is a way to get to the point.
I was in need of this narrative two or three Sundays ago, when I was writing here about the unrelenting noise caused by social media and the social life of our own people, leading the situation on our own side, to optimism.
However, I was not tempted to come back through Katzourakis and the psychotherapists, as the whole subject is illuminated by many other angles and allows us to go deeper.
Additionally, I also couldn’t stand the temptation of the imagination, which made me think of a similar scene today. Let’s suppose, he says, that one night Samarakis reappears (with a miracle that brings him back to life!) and attempts to play the same game with his audience. He goes up, sits down and is silent. Silence cannot last for a minute. The pressure is great. The bodies do not stand still, but instead start to shake and spin. One looks at his neighbor to understand what is going on and who he is, he does not know him, he does not feel him, they do not have a common memory and if they do, they do not know it because they do not have a common sense of the present.
So the awkward little voices start to break the silence, but because the audience will be made up mainly of left-wingers, the imagination is imagined and they will soon ask for the reason to speak, one after another, each representing a group, organization, movement or view. They have conquered the truth and they must spread it, silence is a lost time that must be quickly covered.
And while they are talking, silence, gestures, and intelligence have escaped from the room and thus the invited Samarakis rises silently, picks up his coat and leaves.
No one realized his departure; they didn’t need to.