Kostas Georgoussopoulos – "Ta Nea" newspaper, 14 August 2004
A Worthy Endeavour
…Ideological and moral objections one may have regarding the debasement and commercialisation of the Olympics aside, when the Games return to their historic birthplace, we have a duty to remind the entire world of the logical, ethical, political and aesthetic thought that bore them.
The decision to entrust this great educational, historical and aesthetic sentiment to a contemporary Greek amateur of genius was inspired. I use the word "amateur" here in its original, ancient sense: just like Makriyannis, Theofilos, Tsitsanis, Koon, the craftsmen of Pyrsoyanni, and the mantinada bards of Karpathos before him, Dimitris Papaioannou is, literally speaking, an untrained autodidact. He combines good taste with humbleness, and his reflections on life are devoid of inanity.
And last night, this ingenious renaissance artist proved himself a poet and a mystic.
He grasped the overarching spirit of uninterrupted Greek history, honouring the deeply-rooted structure of Greek thought...
In three-quarters of an hour, Papaioannou managed to narrate the bold endeavour that was the Greek discovery of the world through the use of recognisable symbols and ideas, and values made tangible...
Last night, before an international audience, Papaioannou solved the riddles of the Sphinx, the Sibyl and Gorgias with the simplicity of a sigh, and with the divine naïveté of a folk fable: humankind, these small beings, so great...*
…I will limit myself to expressing my gratitude, and the great honour I feel to be a compatriot of this artist, who announced to all the world that Greece not only was. Greece is.
*A play on a line from the poem The Axion Esti by Odysseus Elytis.
Kostas Georgoussopoulos is a theatre critic, translator of theatrical texts, poet, essayist, and professor emeritus of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Nikos G. Xydakis – "I Kathimerini" newspaper, 22 August 2004
An Image of Ourselves We Liked
We glimpsed an image of ourselves in the lucid watery mirror of the athletics stadium, and we liked what we saw. There was no sourness, no whining, no fault-finding. Just smiles and optimism. The reflection was aware of its inconsistencies; it brought them within itself, where they stirred in its viscera, but they could not hold it back. The road ahead was calling. An image of middle Greece, pure and sensual, was reflected out there. We liked what we saw...
...I remember the first flutterings in my stomach, the instantaneous lump in my throat as the lights, the people, the video projections and the music revealed something of who we are – or, at least, of who I think we are. And once this wave of emotion had ebbed, I thought things over more calmly and looked behind the aesthetic shell to feel the symbolic charge of the ceremony. They had dared to make something partial seem universal, but not indeterminate; the personal was shown to be communal, fragility was made a virtue, transformation became faith. They dared to show what is, and at once we felt that it related to us, it represented us...
...We discuss the ceremony precisely because its symbolic charge was discharged into a land thirsting for self-recognition. And because this primal symbolism, which was sucked in so greedily by the parched local earth, innately and supplely managed to electrify others too. Europeans, Africans and Asians recognised the universal tessera set into the mosaic, elements that have been so intensely mythologised, saw them in the transition from myth to the word and from the local to the global, in the eternal return and the mysteries of humankind, and all this without the burden of superficial humanism. It was these elements that were recognised by the classically educated Italian Eugenio Scalfari, which made him remember with emotion the dialogues between Socrates and Alcibiades he had read as a youth. That is really something...
...Water and light encircle me. I end with the words of Jean Grenier: “Torrents of light and joy flooded in from all around, forming little pools and finally falling to find rest in an endless ocean… At that very moment, on all the coasts of the Mediterranean, on the heights of Palermo and Ravello, of Ragusa and Amalfi, of Algeria and Alexandria, of Patras and Istanbul, of İzmir and Barcelona, thousands of people stood just like me: holding their breath and murmuring, 'Yes.'”