December 7, 2022

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“Let’s put it aside so that young people can compose their own poem”

By Nikos Kormolis

In her latest novel, Beautiful Letters (published by Kastaniotis), she hears from a quiet, “invisible” and thoughtful fire engineer, Michalis Tsiolis, as well as his middle-class surroundings. From the beginning of the seventies to almost our era, his mental transformations, as well as the social transformations taking place in the country, have been dissected. Those that appeared in our conversation with the author.

How do we find Ioana Carstiani today, shortly after the release of Beautiful Letters?
There is nothing hidden anymore. My latest book shows which people I appreciate and I have decided to dedicate myself to them. As a rule, they are the people who do not catch your eye at first. I have been fortunate to be taken seriously, to speak to me – sometimes with words, sometimes with eyes, sometimes with some gestures. In this chapter the goods are feelings. I trust them more than the humble, not the eminent. The feeling is the inexhaustible geography of the planet, a walk in the interior landscape. I believe that life has many crossroads for all of us: roads, paths, dead end roads, hills high to panting, slopes to slide into mud. It also has a gorge that you can walk regularly or barefoot because life has given you a shoe in your hand. I often feel bad for being a coward, I go as far as I can, and intend to always stay close to human adventure.

You recently said, “After years you want to stop writing, it’s even harder to stop.” What motivates you to dig?
This need ends with the last breath of man. It can cause fatigue, because lying is bad, and ripening is sedimentation, according to experience. It usually counts how many times you’ve stepped, and how many times it let you down. But writing is a way of life. In the early years when I picked up paper and pencil, I felt writing was a lifesaver. Now it can be torture. Because you have greater demands on yourself, which you also find self-satisfied and secretive. I do not regularly interfere with public discourse. So if I don’t make a statement about the auctions, will readers conclude that I agree with the money?

Memory, she says, claims legitimacy, that is, all or nothing. Are these intangible characters lowercase?
Fine print is the opposite of things. Those who rank second, behind the glamor of public life. Memory in the book is expressed in paradoxical terms, because we all do not perceive it in the same way and sometimes it does not suit us. The absolute retrieval of the past is elusive. We grew up changing experiences and there is one crucial thing: we are aware of subsequent developments. For example, the students of the Polytechnic were familiar with the coup of Pinochet. From dictatorships they knew Franco in Spain who was in power for 40 years and Salazar in Portugal who lasted 42 years. They believed that the Greek dictatorship would also last for a long time. And so the student movement for fun did not start. It’s not fair to bury things that are not yet time to retire. History is valid as long as it inspires. It’s great to love friends, family, relationships, etc. But it is a spontaneous emotion, renunciation of all selfish love ideas.

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You have said that you are still a leftist because as a human being you have loved all that is worth.
I think yes. I did not decorate ideas left to stay. I believe her with her struggles and with her fatal mistakes. I don’t do it lightly, especially when neoliberalism shows its hateful face. Immigrants are the most infernal on earth today. You cannot turn a blind eye to the displaced. I think many times how markets sold TVs and cell phones even in the poorest communities. In countries that were plundered to live better in the West. You know, I don’t consciously start a book. There is a central idea, just as Tsioulis entered my heart. A quiet man I loved because he deserved it. There are things I have written in recent years. Such as hatred of the Golden Dawn or the so-called humanitarian war for the break-up of Yugoslavia. This comes into the novel, as much as it is, because it is not an overtly political book, but rather a touch of the inner self. With the angry also there were those who knew those who had gathered in the squares with the prospectors for gold. But there was the Polytechnic generation, people consistent in the fight against racism and fascism. Facts worth living are now well printed.

In the book she wrote the following: “His mind went backwards and bumped into the junta. When you dig rotten straw, you find worms … “. What is hidden here?
Things should be clear. Looking back, many said that the occupation of the Polytechnic halted the path towards liberation. Can they really trust the stratocrats, both, who each waged war in the Polytechnic and then staged a coup d’état in Cyprus leading to the conquest? The Polytechnic was not an armed confrontation in the mountains. The military council sent snipers and tanks against defenseless people. Declare war a disgrace to the armed forces and this story. For many, this is an old, forgotten pain. But inside me they withdrew. I would like to stress here that we have no right to overshadow future generations, because they have to face great problems for which they are not responsible. Young people’s living space is getting smaller and smaller. Let them make up their own poem with their insincere looks. So let’s move aside, there’s no need to lock them up in our own stalemate.

How do you turn your petty hero into a basic?
Its construction is responsible, something that goes back a long time. What novel should you do without a deep and painstaking look at people’s relationships? No longing and fixation on the human folds in the adventure? When I start writing, I enter a place and leave somewhere. I do not decide in advance, so as not to enter the ideological section of literature. What I care about is spontaneity. I might bang my head against the wall – that’s what literature needs. At first you have a lot of things on paper – brainstorming, drawing characters etc., and they all need to be tested. To be torn, to capsize, otherwise it is meaningless. For example, here I knew the ending. I wanted her to be modest, calm and not eccentric. I avoid the comforts of my heroes, preferring to recycle them if that’s the case. In art there are many turtles. You write about something that happened a long time ago and you wrap it up with “hype”. Which suppresses the meaning of memory. I thought about this back when we were shooting Little England. It had to be a huge battle over the image, so as not to fall into the trap of “vanity” that I mentioned. Fortunately, Pantelis (ss Voulgaris) and excellent collaborators had the same opinion, so we avoided the risk.

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For you, what is the political in literature? Are you writing a political novel?
We used to say that everything in art is politics. For me it is neither my desire nor my ability. I would say I feel my inner self. I am on the path of psychology, the field of guilt, where the depths are sculpted. I focus my attention on finding paths. The last word does not exist. Neither in art nor in life. Every three or so new things that pop up lead us to a different view of things, until the next tsunami. The lives of each of us are marked by small letters that characterize our innermost being. The novel simultaneously deals with many lives, and has a greater contrast in time, a struggle. You know artists become volunteers and trackers in the trenches. Many times unintentionally. In other words, the story has been deteriorating for them since they entered this adventure. Thus, there is a chance for them to cross red lines.

Part of modern history passes through the pages of the novel, at least from the beginning of the seventies to the present day. What has changed since then?
Listen, I’m not in a position to teach. As you know, the Greek people were disadvantaged compared to others. Along the way, he was introduced, thanked and escaped the gracious patronage of Banks, who at one point sent the bill. Everything was not free. Of course there have to be basic material goods, people have to live better, and you can’t advertise poverty as a solution. Postcolonialism has accomplished so much, let’s not get totally crazy. However, more is needed, the code of values. Don’t just end up with material goods, because at some point you will fall short.

With blind violence all around us, is this law of values ​​lost?
I no longer fall from the clouds. I feel the lack of the poem that the protagonist says in the book. What motivates you to not only be for your party and desire the world. In recent years there have been frequent denials. Youth prospects are canceled immediately. It seems that there is no hope for a better future. In our time, there is a premium to failure rather than expectation. Warmth is missing. On the other hand, reliance on computers reduces individual judgment.

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Can we extract material from our losses?
Relationships don’t end with death either. Human existence is not a forgotten past. Our friends, parents, and relationships live within us. They come and come back again. As you know, in life you can not afford much. But you leave some things aside. Serious people keep coming and finding you. Be thankful, I think. I think we have to elevate humanity if we want to achieve anything.

“I don’t want my language to be weird”

Who is the hero Michalis Tsiolis? Who is trying to dress up the small and medium reality? But even she can’t stand it.
He is a firefighting aircraft engineer. He is trying to fall somewhere. He says at one point to his parents “I loved the fans”, not so little because that pushes him to embrace other things. Michaelis honored me by sitting next to him and listening to him carefully. Talk to me about the importance of memory. He’s a guy I finally trust, precisely because he doesn’t want to steal the spotlight with fireworks. His gentle style opens doors to wander into other worlds. Many times I turn to the people in the background. In the end, all policies, mindsets, and opinions are borne out in the tape of everyday life.

What is the texture of the language of the novel?
There are times when I feel trapped. I delete things because I don’t want my language to be cranky. I want it to wake me up In other words, there should be a pleasant reading because I demand the same thing as the reader. Let the tongue say to me: “Listen to me, I have more to tell you.” Otherwise, he pays me because he exposes me. Other times I feel outdated in terms of meaning and writing. I think what I’m saying seems outdated especially for young people. I work a lot on language. In the intense orality of my books, I take it for granted that there are so-called blessed errors. They are like small jewels that indicate the breadth of the language and its willingness to embrace every age. I respect what survived. For example the dynamic elements of speech or slang that remain. This obsession with rejecting anything to do with the lump has led to nothing. Language is the legend of Ariadne that will get us out of the labyrinth.