[1964] Zorba The Greek

Greek culture is historic and anthemic. Rooted in ancient and documented philosophies of civilized structure, Greek history tells interconnected stories of tragedy and progress, almost in an endless loop, that, if played out infinitely might stretch or shrink, but would ultimately end in chaos redux. Greek history, or dramatic Greek history, whichever an audience chooses to read, is ingrained as different from fundamentally similar cultures (city-states: think Italy or Korea, or even the United States before the ratification of the Constitution). But the fact about the human experience does not change with geography or within time’s endless bounds: humans are on a trajectory that is more prone to disorder and entropy than to ordered civilization. The beast of man is prone to self-destruction, through waves of doubt, existential crises, casus pacem or belli, and brief moments of nothingness. These things are pessimistic and true, to an extent. The best among the species have a keen eye to grab the vacuum between the schism of darkness and that of the belief that good exists without cause or reason. Zorba, the fictional Greek, was one of these men.

In the fifty or so years since Anthony Quinn danced on the graves of the Gods as Zorba, a hapless – but happy – man, the concept of whimsy has almost totally defined Greece as a bearer of cultural fruit. His lasting image as a human reflects, almost prophetically, the state of the Greek State: lovable and helpless, but loyal to a fault. It is important here to make the distinction between Greece and Grecian people. The whole, propped up by historical specters, will survive because the history is sewn into the global fabric for history and culture and without nation-state (younger than the US) as a form of object-permanence, the culture would disseminate and would slowly, and literally, Balkanize. The Greek people, however, remain in solidarity despite economic fulcra that drive wedges through the larger social fabric that determines a man’s worth should be determined by his stature and his things. Zorba profoundly rejects this notion and Zorba The Greek tells the story of the common truth: that in between want and need lies can.  Continue reading