Thursday, May 10, 2018


I don’t know about you, but I am incensed but not unduly astonished at the poor reception afforded by Europeans to Greece’s worthy contribution to the Eurovision song contest.
In the song “Όνειρο μου,” (My dream), the anglic Yianna Terzi ostensibly articulates a melancholy tone poem that, just like the current Greek government, broadcasts a profound message to the effect that she will not change, she will not adapt, she will not adulterate even one note of her song in order to pander to the questionable and of considerably less pedigree than our own, aesthetic preferences and preconceptions of the Europeans. Her song, a typical Greek ballad, is a sad, lonely one.
Just like modern Greece, it is composed of a few variations that repeat themselves ad nauseum, contributing to that bitter-sweet sense of ennui that so encapsulates the modern Greek condition. Just like modern Greece, these variations drag on and on, leading nowhere. What the noble and possessed of incredible poise Yianna Terzi has remarkably done, is to convincingly interpret a song that personifies contemporary crisis-ridden Greece, and to compel the rest of the Europeans, finally to come face to face with her, a musical J’ accuse, if there ever was one.
The Europeans of course have turned that vision away, voting Greece out of the competition, for in the crass Babylon of Eurovision, true images are heresy and must be covered up. That they have done so, is derisory for encoded within Terzi’s ostensible J’accuse and staunch assertion of the Greek identity within the cacophonous melting pot of Europe united, is in fact, a deep and heart-felt profession of love, loyalty and devotion, to Europe, its leaders and of course, its bankers.
Thus, while in the first stanza, Terzi attributes European disdain at modern Greeks to a misunderstanding, that does not deserve condemnation. Our supposed inability to conform to European norms or indeed the regulations of the troika can be justified. What is required here is a deep connection, an opportunity for the West to penetrate our inner most sanctum, deeply and thoroughly, in order to allow a satisfied Greece to whole-heatedly embrace the dream that is Europe. Terzi thus implores: “If you plumb my depths/ you will awaken my dream./ And if you see my heart/ I will embrace you.”
Articulation and words are important because though Greece means well, it is obvious the bankers are not getting the message. They think Greece is defying them, or is being deliberately recalcitrant, not realising that this is solely due to Prime Minister Tsipras’ novel but brave command of the English language. Terzi’s second stanza, bravely and boldly, addresses the bankers and seeks clarification: “Who do you want me to say it?” What she/Greece wants to tell Europe and the bankers is that domestic reference aside and adopting Elena Paparizou’s sure-fire proven method for Eurovision success, “that I would die for you.” As if to drive this powerful message home, she rephrases: “I would give you my life,” going on to enunciate a profession of faith, in which there can be no reality without the totality of Europe and its financiers, and accordingly no recourse against it: “Beginning and End, you are Everything.”
Obviously, as heartfelt these professions of utter subjection are, Terzi feels that they are nowhere near enough to mitigate the righteous anger of the bankers. For this reason, she feels that the time has come to discard the mouthing of platitudes and address the root cause of the bankers’ wrath. This is, in her opinion, the constant threats by the Greek government to “rip up” the Greek Memorandum of Understanding and its supplements, struck between it and its creditors, or expressions of defiance as to its provisions. Consequently, Terzi is quick to reassure the bankers that the memoranda will be adhered to, to the letter, no matter the cost: “As much as I am in pain/ I would never erase you from my charter.” Again, everything is just a misunderstanding. The bankers’ ire seems to be intense and they must be receiving her affirmations of obedience with scepticism, for at this juncture, Terzi feels that she needs to underwrite her performance of the Memorandum with the only security she/Greece has left to her disposal, her life: “I would give you my life.” This reflects her legal understanding of the Memorandum as the sole repository of any agreement between the parties, as she reaffirms: “Beginning and End, you are Everything.”
It is only at the end of this dolorous dirge to Greece’s divested dignity, that Terzi offers us insight as to the reasons for such abject submission and she offers these by way of justification: “Because you want to change me/ and wash away my blue.” The stanza is laden with ambiguity. Are we lamenting the demographic and social changes affecting Greece over the past decade, or are we applauding Europe’s presiding over these? Given that blue is the colour of Greece, is Terzi protesting against a perceived de-Hellenisation of Greece, lamenting the loss of its sovereignty, therefore placing her prior expressions of devotion in the context of a Stalinist purge victim professing love for the Party prior to being sent to the Gulag? Or is blue, in fact, the blues, with Terzi variously offering gratitude to the bankers for stamping on a derivative and clichéd emerging blues culture in Athens, or by means of a financial lobotomy, thanking them for curing her of depression?
The last verse in the stanza, offers a clue: “If you speak to my mountains/ my loneliness will hear you.” Here Terzi again is offering collateral. The mountains are prefaced by a proprietorial “my.” The mountains of Greece, unlike everything else, are still owned by Greece, and therefore, Terzi points out, they too can be mortgaged. Moreover, as they are unoccupied, their erstwhile inhabitants having had to migrate to seek a sane and better life elsewhere in the wake of the Greek Crisis, vacant possession can immediately be provided.
This profound and thought-provoking aside however, is lost towards the end of the song, which consists of Terzi repeating that she would give her live for the bankers and again mouthing the mantra that they are all. The song is bone-crushingly heavy. It places itself firmly under the jackboot of European financial benevolence and yet by its end fails to resolve itself. Furthermore, no one likes a victim whining, especially its bully, and predators are known to treat ‘sure things’ with contempt, instead becoming aroused by the pursuit of more lively and possibly inflammatory prey. It is unfortunate but unsurprisingly therefore, that after being granted the statutory one audience, Terzi and Greece, are relegated to the outer darkness. Obviously submission has come too late.
Enter the infernal Entela Fureraj, also known as Eleni Foureira, representing Cyprus in Eurovision with her explosive song “Fuego.” Rather than sook in an obscure language no other European can understand, the elusive Entela, who can slip as seamlessly between cultures, identities and languages as she can slip into impossibly tight-fitting garb, therein to mimic Beyonce and Shakira respectively, energetically and orgiastically gyrates and bounces on stage as she conveys a simple message for the bankers in English, even as her posterior leaves them breathless: “‘Cause I’m way up and I ain’t comin’ down/
Keep taking me higher. /’Cause I’m burning up and I ain’t coolin’ down/ Yeah I got the the fire.” In other words, Cyprus is on the way up because it acknowledges that it can only do so in partnership with the bankers, who are the real ones who are taking her higher. Most importantly, Eleni/ Cyprus is possessed of commercially viable quantities of combustibles. Literally, she has the “fire,” and the possession of this resource, makes Cyprus and Eleni, a greatly to be preferred economic resource.
Unlike Terzi’s the funereal Greek lament, Eleni’s defiance of the bankers is nuanced and sophisticated. It too however has a message encoded within it. At the same time that she is placating the bankers by attributing to them, everything that she needs: “I was looking for some high-high-highs, yeah ‘Til I got a dose of you,” Eleni goes on to evoke a bizarre image: “You got me pelican fly-fly-flyin.'” Bizarre that is, until one realises that traditionally, the pelican was believed to pierce its own breast with its beak and feed its young of its blood. As such, the pelican became a symbol of Christ sacrificing himself for mankind and need one be reminded who it was that threw the money-lenders of the Temple in the first place?
“Cause I’m… Fuego Fuego Ah yeah ah yeah ah yeah, yeah ah yeah ah yeah Fuego,” warns Eleni. Fire also destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. In the books of Hosea and Nahum, God’s anger burns and pours out like fire. In Isaiah, the ability for God to eliminate sin and purify his people, is expressed as fire, and in Thessalonians and the Revelation, God’s future and final judgment is often depicted as fire as well. The decoded message is now clear: A conflagration of Biblical proportions awaits any European or banker who purports to mess with Eleni and Cyprus. Eurovision you have been warned: You play with fire at your peril.
First published in NKEE on Thursday 10 May 2018