25-27 May 2012 | Birkbeck College, London

Poetry & Revolution

Cries, crises. Greek Passions

We live in a period of generalised crisology. The word “crisis/krisis” tends to be one of the most used words today, by a great variety of people, institutions and social groups. The Greek word “krisis” has two meanings: the first one is related to the absence of functionality and to the disruption introduced to normality (the illness is the best metaphor). The second refers to the capacity of an intelligent diagnosis of the sociocultural conditions and of imaginative decision making corresponding to the above conditions. It is clear from today’s use of the term crisis that the second meaning is absent. This deficit, this loss of meaning is due to well known mechanism of borrowing words from the ancient Greek language and culture and transforming them to terms/notions/concepts. This transport, this translation permits the passage from the multiple meanings of words to the strict and unique meaning of the terms. What is lost in richness and variety of sense, it is gained in precision and demarcation of sense. However, Krisis in ancient Greek presupposes both the “cracks” of the normal flow of
things and the capacity of human beings to overpass them by using judgement and clever decisions that follow it. The dominant discourses use the first meaning of krisis and they ignore the second. This paradox creates an atmosphere of despair and a feeling of hopeless confrontation with the impossible.

The Greek crisis in a poetical and cultural perspective could be considered as an opportunity to acclaim the return of the second meaning and as point of departure for the elaboration of imaginative and innovative actions concerning the global tensions and conflicts.

Poetry as condensed politics, could contribute by indicating the possible ways to stimulate the imagination, to elaborate schemes of thinking and analysis, to grasp the potential of the moments and situation, and (eternal illusion) to propose another perception of the reality. In this spirit, Greek crisis and the international crisis both they need a poetical krisis (mainly of the second meaning) to find wise and robust ways to face the multiple challenges concerning the present and the future of our planet.

Listen to the lecture.

Demosthenes Agrafiotis

Poetry & Revolution International Conference at the CPRC, Birkbeck College / Friday 25 May 2012 – Sunday 27 May 2012

The past conference schedules, abstracts & bios (pdf)