Be free: Kazanzakis

A few nights ago I woke up about 3 AM (it happens often). I woke up with the thought that I must search for the exact words of Nikos Kazanzakis’s epitaph… I’ve search the Internet and I found out more than I looked for…

This has nothing or not much to do with painting but it has a lot to do with myself, as an artist, as a person. I’ve always liked enormously Zorba the Greek, the film and (to re-read!) the book of Kazanzakis, one of the greatest writer not only of modern Greece but of the whole universal literature. A great writer, a writer whom almost got the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. (One vote difference! Albert Camus, whom did get the prize declared that Kazanzakis deserved it 100 times more than himself!)

A greek from Crete island, a man who traveled the world, a man who wanted engraved on his grave the following epitaph (by the way, the greek-Ortodox popes of Crete forbid his body to be buried in a regular cemetery! He is lying somewhere outside the “sacred” grounds, just like those who committed suicide, the antiChrists and the murderers…They say he was an heretic and such… I love him for that, too…) :

“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I’m free.”

(One day, if everything goes well, I will bring a flower to his outlawed grave. I have one more place to visit, in my dreams first, then, who knows? in reality. Just like the Toledo of Greco. Just like the Toscane of Leonardo. Or Portugal… Or Vence, in the south of France, the place of Matisse and Dallaire and Chagall…)


He is also the man who wrote in one of his last book, “Report to Greco” (another great Cretan! And a painter!):

I thank God that this refreshing childhood vision still lives inside me in all its fullness of color and sound. This is what keeps my mind untouched by wastage, keeps it from withering and running dry. It is the sacred drop of immortal water which prevents me from dying. When I wish to speak of the sea, woman, or God in my writing, I gaze down in my breast and listen carefully to what the child within me says. He dictates to me; and if it sometimes happens that I come close to these great forces of the sea, woman, and God, approach them by means of words and depict them, I owe it to the child who still lives within me. I become a child again to enable myself to view the world always for the first time, with virgin eyes. “

I found in his words great inspiration. I wanted to share this with my known and unknown friends. They can also, maybe, find his ideas and words inspiring. As for me, personally, I’ve adapted his epitaph and wrote in big words on a paper, pinned down before my bed. Every morning I woke up to these words:

“Hope nothing. Fear nothing. Be free.”


6 responses to “Be free: Kazanzakis

  1. I remember reading “Last Temptation of Christ” many years ago by Kazanzakis and being impressed by the courage to tell this story this way. He clearly was a man of great power and passion.

    I can see why you are drawn to his words at the end – almost zen-like in it’s simple strength.

  2. I cannot put it better than you, bob. That,s exactly two of the reasons (there are others, too; maybe my sympathy for Greeks, being myself – at least in what concerns my “civil” name Iordache/Iordakis – a bit Greek…) Scorsese movie is not bad at all, also… But I just start to discover Kazanzakis…and I tell you I am sincerely tempted to learn modern and ancient Greek… so much of our philosophy is “greek” at origin… Epictet, and especially Epicur (the real deal, not the “hedonist” we usually think he was…)

  3. Mihail Medrea

    Dane, n-am sa uit niciodata cum radea Zorba, alias Anthony Quinn. Si cum dansau Zorba si scriitorul (interpretat de Alan Bates) pe plaja…

    “Zorba the Greek” ramane un film de referintza al tineretzelor noastre;

  4. Mihail Medrea

    recunosc, n-am fi recunoscut Sacadatele daca nu aparea in titlul acestei picturi “grele’, incarcata “mineral” (si nu din pricina compozitiei culorilor) de nostalgie.

    Cioran avea obsesia numita “Coasta Boacii”; nu stiu cum se numeste acest coltz din Sacadate, insa l-ai pictat senzational !!

  5. Culmea, “Mihail” (tocmai citesc din nou – uneori pentru 1 a oare! unele din cartile lui Istrati, in franceza “originala”; si una se cheama Mikhail!)am cumparat DVD cu zorba the Greek si am vrut sa ma uit la film dar nu-l mai gasesc!

    Mi-e dor sa-l revad, desi injunghierea vaduvei a fost, ca si moartea atroce a Bubulinei, greu de suportat… Ca si tine, e un film de suflet care nu se poate uita. Unul din cele pe care le-as lua cu mine pe o insula pustie…

  6. Ma bucur ca-ti place pictura. Si mie imi spune ceva, desi practic e Oltul uneva intre sacadate si A vrig, intr-o seara. Ar putea sa fie si Gangele, la o adica… Am facut cadou tabloul asta colectionarei mele, cea care a garantat pentru mine ca sa pot lua masina cea noua… E una din picturile 2008 reusite.

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