Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The Colossus of Maroussi
Through the past fifty years I have read and re-read Henry Miller’s, ‘The Colossus of Maroussi’ many times. It is the best travelogue I have ever read about Greece; the experience of Greece. Although inevitably dated - Miller wrote it after a visit to Greece in 1939 - no other writer has come near to interpreting to me anything of the perception I have, feel, of Greece’s unique, impalpable yet tantalizingly almost tangible, atmosphere. Presently re-reading the book for the nth time I came upon the following passage which is not only illustrative of Miller’s descriptive genius but also of the forces that drew me to Greece, and continue to hold me here.
“I had entered a new realm as a free man - everything had conjoined to make the experience unique and fructifying. Christ, I was happy with the full consciousness of being happy. It’s good to be just plain happy; but to understand that you are happy and to know why and how, in what way, because of what concatenation of events or circumstances, and still be happy, be happy in the being and knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss, and if you have any sense you ought to kill yourself on the spot and be done with it. And that’s how I was - except that I didn’t have the power or the courage to kill myself then and there. It was good, too, that I didn’t do myself in because there were even greater moments to come, something beyond bliss even, something which if anyone had tried to describe to me I would probably not have believed. I did not know then that I would one day stand at Mycenae, or at Phaestos or that I would wake up one morning and looking through a port hole see with my own eyes the place I had written about in a book but which I never knew existed nor that it bore the same name as the one I had given it in my imagination.
Marvelous things happen to one in Greece - marvelous good things which can happen to one nowhere else on earth. Somehow, almost as if He were nodding, Greece still remains under the protection of the Creator. Men may go about their puny, ineffectual bedevilment, even in Greece, but God’s magic is still at work and, no matter what the race of man may do or try to do, Greece is still a sacred precinct - and my belief is it will remain so until the end of time.”