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Behind the Covers, Byzantium, Дискусии (Topics for Discussion), Новини (Announcements), Interviews

Revealing the Voices behind the Cover: Panagiotis Agapitos

Revealing the Voices behind the Cover: Panagiotis Agapitos

Date: 22 October 2017

Location: Teatr Korez, Katowice, Poland

DM: Let’s start with your grand project of writing a history of Byzantine literature. Could you, first, tell us briefly what the project is about and then, could you reflect on your strategies of pursuing it? I am referring to your idea of publishing a number of preliminary studies as articles first, testing the field, collecting feedback, and publishing a monograph-length or a multivolume study at a later stage. I don’t know what form you are planning the history to assume eventually but I always thought that your strategy was very interesting; especially, the fact that you uploaded a couple of open letters discussing it on your personal Academia.edu page.

PA: Yes. Well, the idea of writing a history of Byzantine literature goes back seventeen years ago when Paolo Odorico and I… no, more than seventeen years! It was in 1998 actually, we were sitting together and we were expressing our discontent at what we have in terms of histories of Byzantine literature or not even histories, basic overviews, this kind of thing, and that was because at that point it was just the volume of Kazhdan, the first volume, that had appeared and we felt it could have been a grand project but somehow we were not really satisfied with the result. Obviously, partly because Kazhdan never really had the supervision of it. And so, Paolo threw the idea of us organizing a symposium on this matter and to actually initiate a cooperation between the École des Hautes Études en Science Sociales in Paris and the University of Cyprus. So, we went through the motion of signing a formal contract between the two institutions and getting the financial support of the Leventis Foundation that was very important for us.

DM: I actually didn’t know this part!

PA: Yeah, and the support of the French Ministry of the Exterior through the Ambassador of France in Nicosia. As a result, we organized the first symposium on Towards a New History of Byzantine Literature in 2000, where we invited different people from different areas to just throw in ideas and talk. And it was a wonderful symposium, we had a great time! And then Paolo, who always has these great ideas, he thought: why don’t we publish it and why don’t I start a new series in Paris at the École and so, the first volume of the Dossiers byzantins appeared in 2002. Naturally, the things that were said then, and you know, it was Margaret Mullett and Paul Magdalino, and a number of people, and, you know, out of the general context, it was just people saying and expressing what they felt, their needs, what should be in such a history and so on. But that was the first kind of attempt for this and then we continued with another three symposia on exploring matters of Byzantine literature. Then we stopped because Paolo had other interests, I had other things to do and so, it was actually in 2009 when I stayed at Stanford as a visiting professor that I decided that it was the time now to draft a plan with the structure and the contents of the history that I wanted to write. And it was for me quite surprising that I completely failed. I started drafting a plan and when I looked at the plan—it reached up to about the seventh century—I was completely dissatisfied with the product because the product reflected all the stereotypes that I had learned over the years in my field. So, I was putting hagiography together, or historiography together, something was going very wrong there!

DM: If you assigned me the task to produce such a plan now, this would be what I would do as well.

PA: Exactly! And that is so because that’s what we’ve learned. So, I thought: no, this cannot function that way. I have to start rethinking about it. So, I stopped the drafting and I started reading articles on Late Antiquity. Why has Late Antiquity been so successful and why have Byzantinists retreated from Late Antiquity? It is there that I began to see a different way of approaching this issue and so, when, through her great kindness and generosity, Margaret Mullett invited me to come to Dumbarton Oaks as a visiting scholar and I finally arrived there in 2012, I had decided that I wanted to write a little book that represented the methodology of a new history of Byzantine literature. And that was my second failure. I failed in that as well because I again realized to my surprise that we have not studied the lives and the works of all those Byzantinists who actually had formed the study of Byzantine literature. So, I did not know why I was doing things the way I did, and I could not explain them in a psychoanalytical manner in order to step out of it and see things in a different kind of way. And that’s when I decided to start writing the research papers. So, I allowed myself to prepare individual papers, to be as broad, as deep as I wanted without having publishers running after me because the book would be unreadable for a broader public. And it proved a good idea. And when I discovered Academia.edu I decided that it was a perfect place to upload the articles and also write these little open letters in order to address a broader community and possibly get reactions, which I did. And it’s quite interesting because the reactions distinctly fell into two groups and that for me was very intriguing. It was the younger scholars, who were much younger than me, who were all absolutely enthusiastic and encouraging and throwing ideas and, you know, like “I like this, but maybe take this” and “I will follow you” and “it is very interesting” and “we definitely needed to go ahead and do it”, and scholars that were older than me and who reacted negatively: “it is not the time yet”, “you are going to write something subjective”, “your choice of authors and works will be subjective and therefore, it will not be a real history, it will not be a real handbook, so why would you do such a thing?”. And I was very surprised. And I realized that it was a generational thing. And I thought, oh my God, you know, I somehow stand in the middle of these generations and I am moving towards the old generation but I feel with the young generation, and that was very interesting for me. And so, the result of this is that I have put an immense effort in all of these papers now; they will be altogether 13 pieces.

DM: How many have you done so far?

PA: Ten, I think. And they have helped me immensely because I now have a much clearer picture of what I want to do and the kind of revision that I want to make. But my basic strategy in approaching this new history of Byzantine literature is connected to my very initial interest and my great personal passion when it comes to literature, and that is narrative.

Even as a boy I always liked to tell stories. My mother and my father enjoyed that, their friends enjoyed it, they put me into the mode of telling them stories. I would always make up stories from school; they were all fake, I mean, I made them up and told them to my parents and they had great fun. For me this was a very important way of expressing things – through narrative. And it’s not a coincidence that my dissertation was on narrative structure in the romances. In fact, I decided that I would put into practice for the history of Byzantine literature my experience from writing my crime fiction. So, I decided to do something that now I begin to get a sense of and that is to treat the texts that I will include not as texts but as living beings, as personalities that all function within time and space, so that they become active entities of a narrative and thus, take them away from the categorizations of genre or author and so on, and put them into the happening of the socio-cultural, political and financial context of their time. Therefore, what I envision is a book that will tell a story, that it will be nice to read. In order to do so it will have no footnotes.

DM: Alright! You have to explain this part further!

PA: It will have no footnotes in the traditional sense, that is, that you will not have notes 1,2, 3, 5, 350 underneath the text, at the bottom of the page, but the only references will be to the Byzantine texts inside the main text. And that will be one big unit of approximately 1200 pages. It might be in two volumes, but it will be a big narrative unit and this will be accompanied with the documentation volume. The documentation volume will follow the narrative structure of the book so that it will present the bibliography of each subsection of the book as the narrative develops. So that the readers will be also able to follow the structure of the main volume, and the documentation will be also narrative, so that my voice will accompany the bibliography. It will not be a catalogue and it will not be alphabetically organized but according to the structure of the narrative and the pages of the main volume. So that you will be able to either read the one or the other volume separately or have them on the table and read them side by side, but not the one interfering with the other. And of course, indices at the end, so another 400 pages for the documentation volume. That is the basic form of the whole thing. I hope that I will be able to do it.

DM: You already started answering several other questions I had in mind and now I would like to try to disentangle them. So, one thing that you mentioned, and I think that it is quite important, concerned the different reactions of the two different generations, the younger and the older, and your love of narrative. On the one hand, as you said, the older generation voiced the concern that the history you are going to write will be subjective and that is supposed to be a new history, but at the same time, you also spoke about your love of telling stories. And this is something we discuss in the context of Byzantium: what does historia mean exactly and where should we draw the boundary between history and a story and the relation to ‘the real’ and to ‘the fact’. So, I want us to continue by discussing the issue of subjectivity. What do you have to say about this tension which I think a lot of academics must feel, and especially historians, Byzantinists included, namely between one’s own creativity that has to come into play (speaking about the older generation of Byzantinists who started the whole thing – who you are, what you love, what happens to you, what your circumstances are, all of this very much informs one’s approach in some cases), so there is, on the one hand, the personal story of the scholar that must influence their views and their own creativity and inventiveness when they are writing and after all, we are all offering an interpretation no matter what when we speak about the past …

PA: Certainly, certainly!

DM: … so, even if we try to do otherwise, it is impossible to avoid it, but then, there is the other side that says that, well, at the same time we should be as faithful as possible to the material and render it as accurately as possible to our own audience to create a ‘real’ or ‘truthful’ or the most authentic picture of Byzantium that there is. So, what do you think about this tension and how do you solve it personally?

PA: Well, this tension, of course, is inherent in our education because we learn that scientific research and scientific discourse has to do with discovering the truth. And this, of course, in the case of the humanities is an importation from the natural sciences in the nineteenth century in order to give validity to a supposedly very subjective field like literary studies. This is a total construct, in my opinion, of the natural sciences because the scientists believe that, on account of the fact that they study nature in many different forms, their results are absolutely objective because they appear in experiments as verifiable. This is not true for the very simple reason that science would have finished its job centuries ago. And the reason is that it’s always the scientists who develop the methods and the questions to address the material in nature that they have to study. As a result, the material continuously changes because they change. And this gives them also a very strong subjective background. In my opinion, subjectivity is the greatest strength of scholarship because without a subjective approach you do not reach what I would call the inner temperature of the creative act. The creative act is the moment when intuitively you recognize an empathy between you and your object of research and this empathy leads you into getting some understanding of its place. It’s not the total, it is not even the true understanding, but it is some form of understanding. If you come to express this understanding in a cogent, coherent and honest way, you have made a major contribution to knowledge. So, I don’t have a single moment of hesitation in producing something that is subjective. But it is not impressionist – we must not misunderstand subjective with impressionist. This is very often what literary critics or theatre and music critics do when they write – it’s their impression of a show that they present, their momentary impression of a concert to which they go, of a book that they read, of a poetry collection, a work of art, an exhibition. This is not what I mean with subjective. Subjective means that you use the methods of research but the combination of the methods and the way in which you put them into action is your subjective creative act and that’s why, in my opinion, the greatest works in scholarship, and not only, I mean in the sciences, are always those that have this contemplative moment of the creative act in them. The relativity theory of Einstein – it is a very subjective, extremely philosophical moment in natural sciences, in physics, unconceived before but also inconceivable afterwards. In my opinion, this is what Krumbacher did: he expressed it in his own time, in a particular kind of way, but it was a fully creative act, extremely subjective. That is what we need. I am not interested in the five hundred and fiftieth repetition of the same safe material. And that’s why I am saying that I am seeing my project as being close to my experience with novel writing because I want to sense, and I do sense, the danger that is inherent in this kind of writing that involves your soul and your mind. It is not, you know, a nice, safe way of writing with a lot of data, which you can interrupt and then go home, and watch your football game, drink your beer and go out with your friends and do something and be completely separate from your intellectual life. In other words, I believe very strongly in an inherently artistic approach to scholarship.

DM: Why do you think very few academics share this belief? Is it a question of confidence?

PA: To a certain extent. It’s confidence, it is one’s personal character – you cannot put them all into one box. It also has to do with finding a job, being in a social context that requires such an attitude where you have to show that you have done your research and you know all your footnotes correctly. I have gone through that, I’ve studied in Germany, you know, I mean, I’ve gone through this thing. And so, when I tell you that the book will have no footnotes, it is a very conscious act of separating the appearance of scholarship from its manifestation. The manifestation is in the narrative, the rest is accompanying material. And, people, yes, they are uncomfortable because this is not what they’ve learned. And that’s why it would be important to get people more into expressing their feelings and the way in which and why they like what they do. Because if they discover that they don’t like what they do, where do they end up? They end up producing things where you can see what they are made of – it is a labor without love. And of this we have hundreds of examples, don’t we?

DM: Because you spoke about seeing the texts as living beings which, I think, connects to the idea of love and loving the texts we produce, in a way you anticipated another one of my questions. If texts are living beings, then as all beings that live, they shall also die, shan’t they? In other words, I want to pose here the question of the relevance of Byzantine literature and medieval literature in general. Do you think Byzantine literary works are relevant for the modern reader, especially when read in a translation into a modern language (admittedly, translations make Byzantine literature accessible to most readers)? What kind of Byzantium do you think we see if we only access it through translation?

PA: Yes. Well, of course, this is a very big question. It is a very crucial question. I will answer by using first a counterexample. In previous times, in the nineteenth century and certainly up to the middle of the twentieth, so after the Second World War, opera was performed in various countries, of course, but within a very clearly defined national discourse. This meant that in Germany, for example, Italian operas were sung in German translation; in Italy, German operas were sung in Italian translation; in Greece accordingly; and that’s the way it went. I discovered that because when I was in high school doing my little operatic singing and I got all these very nice German scores, the scores also had the German translation – and it was first under the notes of the singer – and underneath it, the original language, Italian if you had an Italian Mozart opera. There were some extremely gifted and intelligent singers who, immediately after the Second World War, tried to show that it is not difficult for singers, who anyway have a good ear, to learn how to pronounce and speak some of these languages, which, maybe except for Russian, in case you wanted to stage, of course, Boris Godunov, were manageable. Because what were they: German, French, Italian – that was basically it. And these singers, young singers but extremely gifted and intelligent, some in Germany, some in England, some in Italy, decided that they would ask from their opera houses to have the operas staged in the original. And because of the importance of singing, the opera houses decided to do so. So, the Munich Opera staged for the first time in 1953 Mozart’s Don Giovanni in Italian. These young singers –Maria Callas was one of them in Italy– who sang in Italian, German, French and English, they changed the whole operatic business and opened up a window to an audience that began to listen to other languages and appreciate the particular relation between a specific language and music composition.

We have to accept that in our world, if we have, and we do have, a loss of the knowledge of the ancient languages, we must counter fight it, we must fight against that. The way to fight is a) to produce translations that are the result of a labor of love so that a certain temperature of oneself is imbued into the text. Even if the translation does not reflect the Byzantine context because it is in modern English, modern German, Bulgarian, whatever it might be, it will give a temperature to the reader. And b) to try to make Medieval Greek an attractive subject. And the best way is what we were talking today at lunch – to produce a Byzantine Greek teaching manual. And to sit down and develop such matters that would give to students a much better connection to the modernity, or I would even say, the postmodernity of medieval literature. Because if you look at what is written today, what is produced in art – video art, performance, the text as an image, isn’t that all what the Byzantines also did?

DM: It’s simply that no one knows about it!!

PA: Exactly! But if you put it into the fore, so instead of looking at the Byzantine material as a textual museum, you make it into a performative center of the arts, you give it a completely modern perspective, you put young people into the mode of thinking from their postmodern world, their fragmented peculiar world, about a different type of fragmented or disorganized chaotic medieval world, and they will recognize themselves there, I think. But you need to step out of the typical university curricula to do that. And for me the solution is only one. It is, of course, a utopian dream: it is to find the money to establish an academy of Byzantine art and literature where people would study in this kind of way, parallel to their university studies. Set in a totally crazy place, a mountain in Switzerland, somewhere, I don’t know. But not in a nationally defined place, you know, not Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, something like that, not Germany. That’s why I said Switzerland, you know, next to a lake, you know in Lausanne, next to the lake. And put people into this art and literature kind of academy, including visual and literary artists and let them create, make Byzantium a platform of creativity. That would be quite fantastic.

DM: Here, I want to draw naturally or less so the connection to a different project you are involved in: can we speak about Interfaces, which is a journal of medieval European literatures and you serve on its editorial board? Interfaces has a very specific mission and it is rather unique in its editorial approach as it reads medieval literature globally, so to speak. Could you say something about the story behind Interfaces and about your personal involvement in this project and about your motivation?

PA: The journal is to a substantial extent the result of the cooperation of a number of people primarily under or with the organizational and strategic vision of our friend Lars Boje Mortensen who was professor of medieval Latin in the University of Bergen and then from Bergen moved to where he is now at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense and who created together with his very close friend Elizabeth Tyler the Centre for Medieval Literature in Odense and York. Before the creation of the Centre for Medieval Literature, there was a loose group of friends, primarily Western medievalists but both latinists and vernacularists that got together to talk about what are we doing as medievalists in this world and they called themselves Interfaces. And when the Centre was finally established in 2012, Lars with whom I had cooperated a lot, asked me if I would like to be a member of the advisory board and I accepted because I thought that was a wonderful thing to do, not only because there was also another Byzantinist in Odense that would be part of the project, Christian Høgel, but also the opportunity to put in a more creative way Byzantium into the medieval world. So, Lars had this idea, he had organised a symposium sometime ago at a fascinating foundation and he decided that it would be a great idea if we get together some of the people of Interfaces to meet each other again at this foundation and have a one-week workshop on all the medieval European literatures and each one would talk about the profile of his or her own literature and the philology behind it and the problems in the national discourses of the various countries. So, in April of 2014, we met at the Les Treilles Foundation in the Provence. It was the scholar’s dream because we were being pampered for one whole week; each one had their own little house within the pine trees of this astonishing place.

So, we sat there for a whole week producing this stuff and talking about Mediterranean literature, the various philologies and that’s when Lars and I came up with the idea of making a journal and our friend Paolo Borsa in Milan said “hey, we should do it, of course, open access”, and so on.

DM: That’s one of the greatest things about it!

PA: That’s how it started and, in fact, the first volume which is about histories of medieval European literatures came to a substantial extent out of the discussions that were made at the Les Treilles symposium. So, it is taking its course and I think it will develop into an extremely fine journal.

It has two strategies. The one is that some of the volumes are thematic volumes to which people are invited but they go through peer review, for example, the second volume on the phenomenology of love. Or they are symposia with subjects that interest the editorial board and they accept them wholesale like the fifth volume which will be on animals in Jewish, Arabic and medieval culture and Biblical commentary exegesis, seen as a literary socio-cultural phenomenon. I think it will be superb. But also, it has completely open volumes where people can freely submit contributions, papers, as long as they follow the two basic criteria: the first is a comparative perspective; the second – theoretically informed articles. “Comparative perspective” does not mean necessarily between two or three different literatures. It can also mean inside a single literature, let’s say old French, if the comparison has to do with bringing out broader themes within the texts. For example, my younger colleague Andria Andreou and I will publish together a paper where we are comparing two texts that would not be usually compared, namely a political essay of Theodore Laskaris and the love romance of Livistros and Rodamne, both texts written around the middle of the thirteenth century. The one is learned, the other vernacular, they are never put together because they are considered in terms of the history of Byzantine literature as belonging to distinct boxes. We are looking at how royal power is represented in these two texts, and we use the concept of hybrid power, based on Homi Bhabha’s postcolonial theory, but with a number of our own thoughts, in order to present this peculiar phenomenon of the power of a ruler and the relation of the ruler to the governed as a hybrid structure that by default fails if it does not transmute itself into a plurality of discourses. So, it is an intra-Byzantine comparison but theoretically informed.

Interfaces is a very open journal, very transparent, and yes, that’s it. So, we try, the editorial board, to encourage colleagues to submit papers, but we ourselves do not do evaluations. We always ask from external readers to do so, because we don’t want to superimpose our own very personal tastes on the material. I find it a fascinating thing and what I particularly like (which is something that Lars and I had developed already in this volume we produced on Medieval Narratives Between History and Fiction in 2012) is that Interfaces would not have a medievalist profile aesthetically, but the covers will be only art of the 20th and 21st century in order to emphasize the modernity of the Middle Ages. We are very happy with the result because you look at the volumes and you say “oh, wow, what is this, it’s not medieval”. You can connect to it without saying “oh yes, but this is Irish medieval and I am a Bulgarian scholar and I would like to have seen something Bulgarian there.” You don’t have this reaction, because you have the contemporary work of art which is global; it goes beyond, and that’s an essential statement.

DM: In the second part of this interview, I would like to direct our conversation towards your personal story as a Byzantinist and a literary scholar. How did you come to be that? You spoke about being in love with narrative already as a child and how it informed your practices as a reader, scholar and author of literature. If you could say a bit more about your “origin story”, as it were, and then reflect on what kept you going throughout the years. Why did you keep studying Byzantium and literature and you didn’t quit or change fields? And finally, precisely because you have been working in the field of Byzantine Studies for a while, what do you think is happening right now in our field, where do you think we are going to and where do you think we should be going?

PA: Let me start by telling you a few words about how I got into Byzantine Studies. Both my father and my mother were great fans of history, they liked history a lot and they liked to read historical novels. So, we had in the house a broad variety of historical novels. My mother who was a trained singer and ballerina and had a very nice voice, she always liked to read to me when I was going to bed. And it was something that I liked her to do and I always listened to her. She would pick up things to read, you know, like a children’s version of the Odyssey, or The Three Musketeers. She even went and found, and I don’t even have that book anymore, some kind of a children’s versions of Babylonian and Assyrian mythology, you know, ending with the Epic of Gilgamesh and she would read to me this stuff at the age of nine-ten-eleven and so, I really got a knack in reading historical fiction. And, I was totally enthusiastic with Byzantine stuff: wow, fantastic! Great! Then, when I went to school, into the gymnasium in Greece, we had at that time a full year in the second gymnasium grade and in the fifth gymnasium grade, a full year of Byzantine history as part of our ideological national education structure that Greek kids had to learn ancient, medieval, modern Greek history, so Byzantium was the medieval part of this trilogy. And the books were devastatingly boring, they were simply horrifying. Not one of my schoolmates, including myself, had even the slightest pleasure or interest into going through these damn boring books of Byzantine history. At the fifth gymnasium grade I stood up one day and I said “Finito! I am refusing this thing!” I went to my father and my mother and I told them: “Look, I am going to study Byzantine studies, I’m going to become a Byzantinist and I have a purpose in my life – I will write a new school book of Byzantine history, this is what I am going to do.” And my father and my mother, I must admit, after getting over this little shock, said: “Well, you know, if he likes it and takes it seriously, it’s fine.” And because I was in the German school of Athens and I was having the German Abitur, I could go to Germany and study Byzantine studies, rather than remain in Greece and go to the Greek university system that separates history from literature, where you would have to become either a historian or a philologist. And so, I went there and after the first semester I realized that I had made the greatest mistake of my life because, of course, what was being taught there had no relationship whatsoever to what I had, in my teenage mind, about writing the history book. Thankfully, I was also involved in musicology. So, in fact, I left Byzantine Studies and shifted to musicology. I gave tremendous energy to that and concentrated on Renaissance and Baroque music, so from the fifteenth to the early eighteenth century. I started learning the harpsichord, I was singing and was completely involved in all of this. At some point, the musicology professor told me “you are very talented, you should do it seriously. You can become a proper musicologist.” So, I went to my parents and said: “I am going to change.” And my mother told me “listen, we have to ask the army.” Because I had received an official permit to postpone my army military service in order to do Byzantine studies. So, my mother went to the army and the officers told her “well, we do understand the boy, but it is not allowed. Either he will continue and get his degree in Byzantine studies, or he will have to interrupt, come, do his two-year military service and then, he can study anything he wants.” So, I thought about it and I said “no, I will not go to the army at the age of 22.” So, I decided that I had to find a way back to Byzantine studies. And the way back was to start from my experience in musicology which was looking at manuscripts and studying manuscripts and playing renaissance and baroque music from the manuscripts, to look at Byzantine manuscripts and see what happens there. And because I was interested in history, I decided to work on the ninth century and social history and to look at the manuscripts of the historians, you know, the continuation of Theophanes and the Chronicle of the Logothete. By sheer coincidence the Bavarian State Library in Munich had two of the very important manuscripts of these texts so I got the permission to actually study the manuscripts, and out of that move I found something that was creative in Byzantine studies. Parallel to that and hidden from the army, I also finished my musicological studies.

And at that point, Ihor Ševčenko, who was Professor of Byzantine Literature at Harvard, was in desperate need of finding a graduate student because he was such a difficult personality that he was chasing all his students away. You know, one of them wanted to commit suicide, the other one burned his dissertation once he got the PhD… yeah, Michael Featherstone burned his dissertation in front of a building in the Harvard yard and was arrested by the police. So, my German professor told Ševčenko “well, there is guy who is a pain in the neck and he is Greek, so he might come to you because my Bavarian students won’t move from Bavaria.” And that’s how I went to the States. And it is actually at Harvard, in this completely different environment, that I found my way in Byzantine Studies, because I was at the Department of Classics. I had the opportunity to see the classical philologists, to learn a lot about their methods and they left me in peace to do what I wanted. And so, that’s where I decided that in order to understand history, I had to understand the texts. So, I moved into literature and philology and that’s how I became a philologist. So, to a certain extent, I feel, although this, of course, is a completely metadiscursive interpretation of an autobiographical character, I feel that the Big Book, the History of Byzantine Literature, is, in fact, the book that I as a teenager wanted to write. Only it is something else and it’s something that is me because that book then was not really me, it was just a teenage phantasy. That’s how it is. And it is because I had taken this major decision to leave Athens and the stability, not only of my house, my home, but the fact that I left my father’s law firm instead of inheriting it, this is the thing that kept me through Byzantine Studies. And my decision to get involved with Byzantium and leave the security of what my Athenian background offered me, has kept me through all of these years, because in getting back to Byzantium after these initial phases, I realize that that was absolutely the right thing, but I only could do it with my newly gained completely different consciousness which as a teenager I did not have. And that is why I say that artistic creativity is so important. As a teenager, there was something in me that I could not explain. Now, I can explain what it is and this has actually kept me through the years and through quite a number of personal and professional difficulties.

DM: That was a fantastic conversation, Panagiotis, thank you!

PA: I thank you!

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