Saturday, November 30, 2013

Zorba Was Wrong

I just watched a Netflix movie: Zorba the Greek.

Because it is set in Crete and I recently returned from Crete, I rented it even though I’d seen it before. I remember thinking it was great. This attractive older Greek, irrepressible, connects with this attractive younger Englishman, repressed. And the Englishman learns to dance.

So. When I first saw the film, I too was repressed. It was a good object lesson.

However, when I watched it again, I noticed something important. The character played by Anthony Quinn uses women. When his companion dies, he rescues the woman’s parrot but does not honor her memory. And when the character played by Alan Bates connects with a woman, she dies (killed by crazed villagers).

What was Nikos Kazantzakis thinking?

In Crete, I visited the plane tree in Krasi. This magnificent tree is probably 5,000 years old. Kazantzakis is supposed to have written Zorba the Greek sitting under its ancient branches.

But I don’t get it. Crete is the very ground of the feminine. Thousands and thousands of years of honoring the nurturing, creative forces of Earth and all that emanates from Earth. An entire culture that perceived the life force as feminine and good.

Today, even though they are absorbed like the rest of us into patriarchy, the people of Crete are warm and generous to each other and to strangers. They are not stupid and cruel as depicted in the film.

And yet, here, in this land of the feminine, Kazantzakis wrote a story of two men teaching each other how to be in this world …. without any regard for women. The women are used then die without being honored

And, I’m sorry. That’s wrong. The dance is for all of us.

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