Wednesday, July 11, 2007

From the Mouth of Zorba

I've finished reading Zorba the Greek. While I was frustrated a bit at the lack of plot-driven storyline, I loved reading the snapshots of life and the bouncy creativity that burst from the language on each page. Zorba is an extreme character, and when dealing with extremeties you deal with flaws. However, he is a joy to read, and to be appreciated this book must be read with Zorba-like eyes—which are fresh and blooming. When he steps outside his front door one morning and casts his 65 year old gaze upon the landscape before him he calls to his friend, “What is that? That miracle over there, boss, that moving blue, what do they call it? Sea? Sea? And what’s that wearing a flowered green apron? Earth? Who was the artist who did it? It’s the first time I’ve seen that, boss, I swear!” Joyous prose. This may be the first time I’ve read a book with a relatively lackluster ending that hasn’t cast a ruining shadow over the rest.

In his own words here a few lessons from Zorba 101:

A Lesson on Relationships: “A real woman—now listen to this and I hope it helps you—gets more out of the pleasure she gives than the pleasure she takes from a man.”

A Lesson on Performance: “It’s all because of doing things by halves, saying things by halves, being good by halves, that the world is in the mess it’s in today. Do things properly by God! One good knock for each nail and you’ll win through! God hates a half-devil ten times more than an archdevil!”

A Lesson on Politics: “So long as there are countries, man will stay like an animal, a ferocious animal.”

A Lesson on Masculinity: “I’m not ashamed to cry, if it’s in front of men. Between men there is some unity, isn’t there? It’s no disgrace. But in front of women a man always has to prove that he’s courageous. Because if we started crying our eyes out, too, what’d happen to these poor creatures? It would be the end!”

A Lesson on Not Writing: “I haven’t the time to write. Sometimes it’s war, sometimes women, sometimes wine, sometimes the santuri: where would I find time to drive a miserable pen? That’s how the business falls into the hands of the pen-pushers! All those who actually live the mysteries of life haven’t the time to write, an all those who have the time don’t live them!”

A Lesson on Seeing God: “God changes his appearance every second. Blessed is the man who can recognize him in all his disguises. At one moment he is a glass of fresh water, the next your son bouncing on your knees or an enchanting woman, or perhaps merely a morning walk.”

A Lesson on Becoming as a Child: “When I was a kid and my grandma told me tales, I didn’t believe a word of them. And yet I trembled with emotion, I laughed and I cried, just as if I did believe them. When I grew a beard on my chin, I just dropped them, and I even used to laugh at them; but now, in my old age—I suppose I’m getting soft, eh, boss?—in a kind of way I believe in them again…Man’s a mystery!”

A Lesson on Nourishing and Strengthening Your Body: “Tell me what you do with what you eat and I will tell you who you are!”

A Lesson on Playing Your Musical Instrument: “Come over here you fiend. What the hell are you doing hanging on the wall without saying a word? Let’s hear you sing!”

A Lesson on Humanity: “Men, animals trees, stars, they are all hieroglyphics; woe to anyone who begins to decipher them and guess what they mean…When you see them, you do not understand them. You think they are really men, animals trees, stars. It is only years later, too late, that you understand.”


Nick said...

This is why I purposefully posted my Zorba review before looking at yours.

Mine pales in comparison!

Les said...

Nice try on the modesty ploy.