When I first set foot on the landscape of Greece, something became more apparent to me than anything I had experienced prior to that time, that something was a profound inner awareness of myself in relation to time, in relation to the past, in particular, that ancient, elusive past of our ancestors. I felt this connection to a spirit of the past, in such a way that was akin to an out of body experience, but instead of being out of my body, in a metaphysical sense, I felt that I had entered my body for the first time. It is difficult to describe, except to say that my sense of awareness became lucid and more keen than I had ever experienced before.I was immediately whisked away to an ethereal world beyond the capaciousness of my mind’s view. I could not have anticipated this level of awareness, which was exceptionally expansive and all-encompassing to me. I had travelled for twenty hours across the world, lost in another realm of consciousness, more commonly known as jet-lag, when I arrived at the home of my Greek friend, immediately she embraced me, and I felt a warmth and loving magnitude, which flowed into me as a limitless stream of love and inspiration. She closed the bedroom door, to leave me in solitude, and I drifted off to sleep, then hours later, as night was descending on the city of Athens, she woke me and invited me to take a walk in the neighborhood of Galatsi. It was nearing the end of April, the air was fresh with the vigour and vitality of spring and a cool breeze blew over us as we walked down the narrow, cobble-stone sidewalk. The scent of jasmine flowers, whose petals open to the vibrations of the moon, and permeate the air with an ambience of melliferous and soft beauty, lay among our path. The lights of the city could be seen below us, a long, steep stretch of wonder, lit up the mountain side, and people were everywhere, promenading on the streets. “Everything here is covered by an imaginary aura, it has its own temperature, it lives in an endless dream, it is flooded by an imperceptible music…”I felt a sudden sense of infatuation, my pupils dilated, the pace of my heart quickened, all of my senses were deeply attuned to my surroundings. There were marble structures and a rustic, earthiness seemed to be etched into the landscape, covering everything with a dark veil of romanticism, but at certain points as the moon shone over us, the veil was lifted, and I saw the world in a way that was mystical, as though an arcane whisper from the past echoed through my soul.
“..so it is the Country of the moon; I mean, lit by a dead sun.”wrote Virginia Woolf of Greece.
The Greeks haunted Woolf. Her essay “On Not Knowing Greek” stresses both their aloofness and unfamiliarity and our ignorance of how their minds worked, of how and why their literature was written: as a woman, she found them more primitive, puzzling, and alluring than their legitimate male heirs in Cambridge and Bloomsbury could imagine. Woolf’s essay also conveys a profound sense of intimacy and recognition. Greek worked its way into her imagination, elusive but persistent: “how Greek sticks, darts, eels in & out!” A solid “grounding” gave way to shifting and unbidden moments of insight: “A strange thing-when you come to think of it-this love of Greek, flourishing in such obscurity, distorted, discouraged, yet leaping out, all of a sudden.”
“Times change, years pass
the river of the world clouds over
but I go out on the balcony of a dream..”
The Greek concept of time and space is unique.
material value is not afforded to time as much as it is here, it has it’s own essence.
“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.”
This statement by Virginia, on how our minds perceive time, how we process time, space, thought and emotion, is such an accurate depiction. I believe it is particularly true of those who have been through trauma; there is a contrast between one’s experience and one’s interpretation of the experience, a way in which our memory processes the information we receive from our environment and from the events which leap out before us. Take for example, a play; consider the varying aspects from which those involved in the play, conceive it. The director, the actors and the audience are each bound to have similar yet varying concepts of it. The director takes the plot and interprets her own understanding of it, which she conveys to the actors, imprinting her ideas on them. The actors then fit into the roles and embody the characters, while appealing to the audience’s own inference and reaction. There are multiple methods of portrayal and a skilled director knows how to draw on this, with the use of space, time, metaphor, props, stage design, etc. The director and the actors aspire to perfect their technique and talent, in order to capture and convey the pathos of the play in such a way that it becomes a catharsis, this varies depending on the style of direction. The playwright Sarah Kane once wrote that she was attracted to the stage because “theatre has no memory, which makes it the most existential of the arts…I keep coming back in the hope that someone in a darkened room somewhere will show me an image that burns itself into my mind.” The style likened to Kane was known as “in-yer-face” theatre, a method of shocking the audience into reacting, a way of “invading one’s personal space,” thereby delivering a visceral kick to the stomach. Victims of trauma and those with depression experience a numbing of emotions. They become disassociated and desensitized, and it is not unusual for them to seek what can be deemed as “peak” experiences in order to confirm their existence, because in essence life is about feeling and when one ceases feeling, it is as though a terrible shadow covers everything, a fragmented consciousness, a sort of “perpetual equinox,” where time stands still, days, weeks, months, even seasons, no longer retain their significance. Life becomes a series of flashes, a seeking after something which will “burn into our minds,” “theatre has no memory,” and this is a reprieve to one seeking an escape from their memories. When we view life with the sense that all is fleeting and ephemeral, and that our feelings are frozen in time, “the environing subsoil of our embodiment, the bedrock of our being-in-the-world,” gives way to a feeling of displacement (…)