The Two Greeks

If you ever wanted to understand a Greek, de Bernières does a bit of a better job than My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Do you think that you’re going to get a nice amenable girl and that every path will be strewn with petals? Don’t you remember asking me why it is that Greeks smile when they are angry? Well, let me tell you something, young man. Every Greek, man, woman, and child, has two Greeks inside. We even have technical terms for them. They are a part of us, as inevitable as the fact that we all write poetry and the fact that every one of us thinks that he knows everything that there is to know. We are all hospitable to strangers, we are all nostalgic for something, our mothers all treat their grown sons like babies, our sons all treat their mothers as sacred and beat their wives, we all hate solitude, we all try to find out from a stranger whether or not we are related, we all use every long word that we know as often as we possibly can, we all go out for a walk in the evening so that we can look over each other’s’ fences, we all think that we are equal to the best. Do you understand?

The captain was perplexed, “you didn’t tell me about the two Greeks inside every Greek.”

I’ll tell you about the Hellene first. The Hellene has a quality that we call the “sophrosune”. This Greek avoids excess; he seeks harmony, and cultivates a sense of proportion. He believes in reason, he is the spiritual heir of Plato and Pythagoras. These Greeks are suspicious of their own natural impulsiveness and love change for the sake of change, and they assert discipline over themselves in order to avoid spontaneously going out of control. They love education for its own sake, do not take power and money into consideration when assessing someone’s worth, scrupulously obey the law, suspect that Athens is the only important place in the world, detest dishonourable compromise, and consider themselves to be quintessentially European. This is from the blood of our ancient ancestors that still flows in us.

But side by side with the Hellene, we have to live with the Romoi. The Romoi are improvisers, they seek power and money, and they aren’t rational because they act on intuition and instinct, so that they make a mess of everything. They don’t pay taxes and only obey the law when there is no alternative, they look on education as a way of getting ahead, will always compromise an ideal for self-interest, and they like getting drunk, and dancing, and singing, and breaking bottles over each other’s heads. And they have a viciousness and brutality that I can only convey to you by saying that it compares very unfavourably to your actions in Ethiopia.

Romoi and Hellene alike will both gladly die for Greece, but the Hellene will fight wisely and humanely, and the Romoi will use every subterfuge and barbarity, and happily throw away the lives of their own men, rather like your Mussolini. In fact, they calculate their glory by number that were sent to their death, and a bloodless victory a disappointment.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin: Louis de Bernières (1994)

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rainbow high!

I’ve decided to clarify something that many of my friends have heard me mention, and probably not explain very well. This is the concept of being Rainbow High. And no, this isn’t a blog about taking a different drug for every colour of the rainbow.

This was a concept coined by Eva Peron, the female love of my life. Eva Peron was one of the most influential women of the 20th century (second to Margaret Thatcher), and in a quick blurb, she essentially revolutionized social welfare in Argentina, rare in a South American country even today. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eva_Per%C3%B3n :D

For many reasons, Eva had a troubled childhood. Throughout most of her short life, she often took drastic measures to correct injustices in her life and was famously known for the eradication of any and all “external” negative aspects – I say external because internally, personally, and in private, Eva was vicious, ruthless, and unmerciful, unless you were a member of the lower class, her beloved descamisados.

Eva named this devotion to perfection the principle of Rainbow High. Rainbow High is in essence a complex theory, but it can be essentially broken up into two parts: 1) self perfection and 2) whereas one cannot perfect oneself, the utter and complete annihilation of the competition.

1) Self Perfection: This is essentially comprised of…

  • removing of flaws in ones personality. This may sound difficult, but it can be done by completely shutting out behaviour associated with that personality flaw, and then the trait slowly diminishes.
  • removing  of flaws in ones outward appearance. This is easy; buying new clothes, new hairstyles, skin care, teeth, basically any part of your exterior that is not perfect must be improved upon until it is perfect.
  • removing of negative qualities in personal affairs. This includes being…um, “talented”, in bed, being charismatic, having good interpersonal skills, and the like.
2) Denying the Competition:
  • This is the second part of the phase that can occur at any time, and then long after perfection has been attained. This principle is dependent on the fact that you know there are sometimes other people who can preform better than you, and therefore, while you perfect yourself based on this new standard, you do whatever you can to discredit the other person, so that by comparison you appear much more attractive anyway.
  • This has effect then, of requiring great interpersonal powers and the ability to be convincing enough to remove the threat that another, potentially more perfect person can bring.
These are essentially the principles of Rainbow High. Hopefully this clears some of the confusion up, and I would like to leave you with a clip from the 1996 film, Evita, where Madonna plays the role of Eva Peron and demonstrates this principle perfectly.