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The Renovated Kazantzakis Museum or Odyssey of Spirit

06 July 2010 / 13:07:31  GRReporter
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Maybe Kazantzakis himself never dreamed that his novel “God’s Pauper” - romanized biography of Saint Francis Asizki - one day will be published by the Franciscan monastery in Lithuania after another of his novels – “The Last Temptation” was included in the list of banned books from the Vatican. The list of banned books from the Vatican was made in 1559 and it was repealed only in 1966. Apparently Kazantzakis has won an appeal before the divine court after entering in the list with “The Last Temptation”. Then he addressed the Catholic censors with the words of Tertullian - one of the early Christian Fathers of the Latin Church: “Before your court, Lord, I am appealing.” (Ad tuum, Domine, tribunal apello.) “You made a curse and I extend a wish - let your conscience be as clear as mine.” Even he is not anathematized as the myth says, the Greek Orthodox Church refused Christian burial to Kazantzakis and only one turbulent Cretan priest named Michalis agreed to lead a funeral service for the remains in Heraklion.
In his works “Odyssey”, “Zorbas”, “Christ Recrucified”, “The Last Temptation” the writer examines a fundamental problem of our time: how does one cope with the failure and feelings of doom, how to live your life “as if it is immortal in a modern Darwin world, how to give a eternal sense of a life that is devoid of any real eternal dimension.” At first glance, the spiritual mentors of Kazantzakis seem controversial and colorful conglomerate. How is it possible to jump from Christ to Buddha, from Buddha to Zorbas and then to Lenin? Kazantzakis believed in the constant volatility of life and agreed that the most important is the movement, that everything is imbued with it. Principally, he identified with Heraclitus and his maxim “twice in the same river you can not come”, ie everything flows, and everything changes. Penetrating the mind of Kazantzakis leads to understanding that the contradiction is only on the superficial level. His justified philosophy lies under this apparent antinomiya. Kazantzakis is convinced that the West is in decline after the horrors of the World War. Then Lenin, who made a revolution, overwhelming the old and possessed of ideals laid the foundations of something new became his hero. Later he changed his mind. Daryl Middleton of the Texas Christian University, who examined the “Religion in Kazantzakis”, believes that since the time of his “Asketika” this controversial thinker was a pioneer of the so-called “process theology”, according to which  since everything is evolving and changes, then God  undergoes changes too. Some Protestant theologians actually support this thesis. Kazantzakis is one of the first to say something similar about Christ: that he was born as an earthly man and it was difficult for him to realize that there is a mission and he should be crucified in its name. This understanding naturally assumes that as part of the world its creator God is influenced by the events occurring in life. “If you want to understand me,” says the writer himself, “read my “Asketika.” It is not philosophical, but religious work, a handbook on spiritual exercises.
It is difficult to predict if a writer will continue to be read in future as the interest even to literary works and authors of compelling features is determined by the changing needs of each era. So far much of the pleasure that Kazantzakis offers to the European public is linked to his “exotic”. He looks so non-European and simultaneously considers issues dealing with the concerns of postwar Europe. In the USA, where they have not known the horror and devastation of the World War II just like the Europeans, the perception is different. The famous American Hellenist, Professor of Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College Peter Bean assess the actuality of his work today as follows: “The heroes of Kazantzakis continue to teach us many lessons: Zorbas about the futility of war and nationalism, Jesus in “The Last Temptation” about how the spiritual life and all other things are subject to development, the “Odyssey” about the likelihood of transition from the aesthetic to the moral life, “Asketika” for the need of silence to reign from time to time that will burst like a bomb and blows up all the immediately preceding it meaningless profoundness.”

Tags: Nikos KazandzakisMuseumCreteLiterature
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