My Personal Interests
I consider myself a true citizen of the world. As such, I have a host of personal interests and engaged in a number of activities that quench my intellectual and spiritual health. Inquisitive by nature and explorative by trait I can't help but striving for intellectual and creative pluralism. I have a particular interest in global, regional and local history and philosophy, poetry, and the creative arts. I am also a musician and like to create and produce my own music on my home studio. In the past, I authored poetry in Greek as well.
History and Philosophy
I have a particular interest in history and philosophy. Part of the reasons for this is my Greek background and my inquisitive nature for learning.
My historical interests include the study of the history and evolution of civilizations. I find that looking at the historical aspects of our civilization's evolution allows me to better understand human and social behavior and actions. Our contemporary social behavior and our modes of action are not created in a vacuum. They are complex constructs of our sociocultural and historical-political background. Some of our social dispositions, attitudes and beliefs are influenced by our understanding of our historical evolution, and the roles and positions of our civilizations and societies in this planet. I make a point and a task to study the history of every place I live and visit in anyway I can.
Similarly, my philosophical interests include the study of philosophy of science (more in this topic can be found on my science subpage), and the philosophy of the mind. Many of our philosophical quests emanate from our needs to understand the world around us beyond the simplicity of our sensory experiences and stimuli. We strive to find patterns and reasons deeply rooted in our minds and thoughts. Although philosophy does not confine itself to the study of mind, the whole mind-body problem and the interaction between our cognitive and sensory processes is a subject of an ongoing philosophical dialogue and debate.
Literature and Poetry
Books I recently read
Oliver Pötzsch (2013). The Ludwig Conspiracy. Mariner Books, pp. 435. More Info
John Grisham (2020). Camino Winds. Doubleday, pp.304. More Info
John Grisham (2017). Camino Island. Doubleday, pp.290. More Info
Deborah Feldman (2012). Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots. Simon Schuster, pp. 272. More Info
Stephen Kinzer (2003). All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. John Wiley & Sons, pp. 272. More Info.
David Brewer (2003). The Greek War of Independence: The struggle for freedom from Ottoman oppression. The Overlook Press, pp. 376. More Info.
Donald R. Morris (1998). The Washing of the Spears: A History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation Under Shaka and Its Fall in the Zulu War of 1879. Da Capo Press, pp.655. More Info.
Francis Fukuyama (2011). The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY, pp. 585. More Info
Zimbardo, P. G., and Boyd, J. (2008). The Time Paradox : The New Psychology of Time. Sydney: Rider, pp. viii, 354 p. This book makes a very compelling point on the influence of time in our lives and our trajectories in life.
My favorite poems
Ithaca (C. Cavafy, 1911) - Original: Ιθάκη
This poem is particularly appealing to me, as my personal life journey has been carved on the steps of Odysseus, another citizen of the world that lived few thousand years ago. The poem has acquired a special meaning, especially in Cavafy's deeply symbolic and spiritual approach to poetry. For me, and certainly for a lot of the readers of Cavafy's poetry, Ithaca is not simply a destination in space and time. It is the profound collapse of space and time into it's bare essence: our everlasting spiritual journey to this life, to this world. Ithaca is the lost key that opens two worlds; the one of our sensory and cognitive interactive experiences with the external world and realities that surround us, and yet at the same time, the internal spiritual and esoteric journey to find ourselves, to seek redemption, to extract the essence and meaning of our lives.
Cavafis is contrasting the ephemeral and fatalistic elements of our lives (the fact that there always going to be things that we pass by in our lives, harbors we can visit, experiences we can explore) with their deeper, inner semiotic significance (the same elements, yet serving a more profound and spiritual role, that of guiding elements of our journey in life). Ithaca makes the point that we ought to seek the time-invariance, the everlasting values on everything we do or feel in our lives, so that when we will come to the point to look back at our life's path, we won't simply see a collection of experiences or emotional state, but the pure, spiritual essence of the journey itself.
I love the original, Greek opening of the poem (the first three verses) that goes like this:
Here's the full text of Ithaca (translated from the original Greek text of 1911):
The ballad of the water of the sea (Federico Garcia Lorca, 1919) - Original: La balada del aqua del mar
For me, Lorca's poetry beyond being extremely appealing to my deeply rooted Mediterranean emotional state of mind, it also stirs up beautiful and exciting memories of the ocean. My relation with the ocean is and always have been deeply poetic and erotic by nature (part of it is my Greek and Mediterranean temperament). Since I was a child, every time I faced the vastness of the ocean, its color and extremely characteristic smell, I have been fascinated. This intriguing emotional, spiritual and everlasting relationship with the ocean is rooted and embedded in my inner self, is part of who I am and how I perceive myself. In addition, for me the ocean is not the great divider, but exactly the opposite: the divine connector, bringing together any part of the world with any other. When I was a teenager, I used to sit in the water front, staring at the ocean, and try to imagine all these exotic lands that were somewhere in the other side of the blue horizon of the sea. I knew that between where I was and where these distant lands were, there was nothing but an ocean connecting them. Today, I often do the same, being thousand of miles away from where I grew up. I always know when i am standing in front of the ocean that somewhere back there, beyond the horizon there is my familiar places of my childhood, the history of my ancestors and a part of my heart left behind.
I believed for years that everyone could feel this emotional and spiritual connection with the ocean. It is natural for me to detect the ocean before I even see it. It is the smell and the breeze that gives it apart and initiate the emergence of all these beautiful feelings. Yet, I discovered that this is not the case with people that have not grew up near an ocean. My wife always found difficult to understand my attitudes toward the ocean and the emotional state associated with the ocean. It took me years to convey to people close to me my true spiritual and mental connection with the sea.
Lorca's poem is an ode to the ocean. An extremely affectionate and lyrical painting of the sea. It has something profoundly Mediterranean and extremely familiar in it. And it spreads that bitter tastefulness of the ocean as both a cathartic medium for engulfing our existence, but also as the nemesis we will always try but we will never manage to avoid in our lives. Lastly, I also find something strangely sweet and smooth on the Spanish pronunciation of the poem.
The English translation of the poem (from Google Books - The Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca):
The original text in Spanish:
See a YouTube version of the poem with music performed by collaboration by Onar (a greek modern group) and Madredeus (a Portugese traditional folk group - performance by the singer Teresa Salgueiro). The video clip is bilingual. The first half is the Greek version of Lorca's poem (Onar) whilst the second half the Spanish version of the Lorca's poem (Madredeus).