Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Costa Navarino

The Homeric country around Pylos on the west coast of the Peloponnese is exceptionally beautiful. Olive grove and wilderness clothed, this land, known to Odysseus and Good King Nestor, slopes gently to the fine beaches of the island-dotted Ionian sea; from time immemorial it has been home to countless species of animal and plant with which, for millennia, man(kind) has largely peacefully co-existed. What better place in the world then could there have been to construct two international standard, eighteen-hole golf courses with their attendant hotels and services? The courses, I am told by folk who claim to know about these things and are able to afford such fripperies, are 'world class'. Attendant huge hotels are in a class of luxury that affords to provide each ground floor apartment with its own private swimming pool while but a short stroll from these man-made concrete monoliths are the soft sandy beaches of an empyrean, almost unbelievably pellucid sea.
I am not a killjoy nor I am I at all envious of material wealth; I have little need of it. A part of my mission is to try to sow the seeds of the idea of there being wealth beyond material wealth, wealth R.L.Stevenson described as that you can take with you in the event of being shipwrecked. It is not the developers of schemes like Costa Navarino with whom I have a problem, my difficulties are of understanding the lust of the markets that drive them.
The courses are less than a one hour drive from my home so I can not avoid seeing the irreversible effect they have already had on the area. Miles of coast fronting pristine empty beaches that has been open for all have become prime development land; charming easy going bars and tavernas are having international/Italian style makeovers, their proud albeit indolent local staff replaced by more deferential, servile immigrants. Fishermen are turning away from the useful lives of their ancestors to become sea chauffeurs to folk who crave constant entertainment. The champions of these schemes tell me that they are manifestations of progress and that they are 'good for the economy'. I can not argue against the obvious signs of material change but I am also witnessing hugely expensive spiritual and emotional consequences, where are the means to measure these? Time will be the ultimate arbiter but I shall be surprised if what I am witnessing today is not replacing the secure, debt-free, interdependent lives that for centuries generations of folk have enjoyed hereabouts with the insecure, deeply indebted, selfish existences of folk in more 'advanced' countries.
I am aware that Greece has a serious debt problem. Greek villages, those at least untainted by mass-tourism, are still largely self-sufficient but the writing is writ large on the wall.
For more information about the catastrophe visit: www.costanavarino.com/


Andrew Scott said...

"I shall be surprised if what I am witnessing today is not replacing the secure, debt-free, interdependent lives that for centuries generations of folk have enjoyed hereabouts with the insecure, deeply indebted, selfish existences of folk in more 'advanced' countries."

Well I am most heartily with you on all that (even though I love my golf). It should be perfectly possible to create a golf course for anyone locally who wants to enjoy it without damaging the environment significantly; and the concept of creating a playground for the wealthy (or even not so wealthy) to fly into by plane then fly out of again after a week or two is certainly something to be challenged. The trouble is people are more easily seduced by transient pleasure rather than by the lasting pleasures of minimalist simplicity. I fear they will have to be forced to give up their unsustainable "pleasures" by economic collapse, rather than most of them doing it volutarily. (I only play golf at home, by the way, haven't seen the inside of a plane for many years)

John Foster said...

Yes, Andrew, to most of that but I believe that recognition of the illusion of material satisfaction comes from within a soul and can be informed, not by criticism or by sermonizing, but only by example; joy, I believe, begets joy as misery begets misery.

Andrew Scott said...

Ah... now you use another word I don't understand. Soul, to be added to the previously used God. I don't know what these words mean. I think they have been invented to paper over huge gaps in our understanding.

John Foster said...

The value of pedants is that they keep us on out toes. I regret that I chose a rather ambiguous word, even the Concise OED lists more than half a dozen meanings for 'soul'. Meaning 5b in my edition, "A person...." is what I had hoped to convey. I regret too that I seem to have inadvertently touched your God nerve again. Perhaps I can help you to address your apparent deiphobia. God is very simple; despite continual 'breakthroughs' adding to our illumination of the meaning of life and the universe and beyond, in terms of what is to be known, we know practically nothing. So here is this thing that, because we can see, hear, feel, taste and experience emotion, we all know must exist but which language can not explain so we call it God. I agree that it is not a very good word because it has become bound up with religion, a form of control so, hitherto, dei gratia, when I need to refer to the power without I shall deign to use instead Cowper-Powys' frequently employed synonym; 'First Cause'. I hope this has been helpful to you.

Andrew Scott said...

"...which language can not explain so we call it God"

Oh, I can live with that, but it sure as heck isn't the definition used by most people who bang on about God.

Could we perhaps meet half-way and call it "Mystery"?

I do agree, we know practically nothing, even though we can increasingly do a lot (much of it misguided).

Andrew Scott said...

Oh and a pedant would probably point out that you probably meant "our toes" not "out toes", but of course I would not be so picky.

John Foster said...

Yes, Andrew, a pedant would not be able to resist pointing out a spelling error even when the context makes meaning perfectly clear but thank you anyway. As for the First Cause there is a huge distance between "banging on" and having a private personal faith in there being something of a benign controlling force behind all of this. Perhaps the problem lies with folk who are able to perceive their First Cause only in anthropomorphic terms rather than than as an abstract reality. Before you rush to don your mortarboard, I know that abstract reality is an oxymoron but how else would you describe, for instance, a magnetic field or the indisputable truths of elementary geometry? Ah, yes, sacred geometry; now there is an interesting little minefield for you to tiptoe through!

Andrew Scott said...

Claudia is right. You don't know me well enough yet. I don't tiptoe through minefields. I march into them like an idiot.

Oh, and when I said "Claudia is right" I was referring to that one little point she made elsewhere about you not knowing me very well yet, rather than implying that she was "right", full stop (even though I did use a fullstop, heck!).

Claudia said...

Interesting conversation. Sorry for butting in. Being originally French speaking, I had to reread the text a couple of times. And the Spirit of the First Cause is always ready to help me when I meet ambiguity. Now that the word "God" has been eliminated, (but, thank Him, not His benign nature), I wonder how you will explain the glorious Bach music. Or do you simply reject it because of its religious connotation?

BTW, Andrew, I will carry the words "Claudia is right." as a badge of honour, although you refuse the soul I have so generously granted you. Hope the First Cause will not agree with you, and change His mind about your human nature. Cheers