Box 2. The Iliad, here and now : Here is presented the association we made cith a contemporary situation, particularly the one at work nowadays in this part of the world between Greece and Turkey, in this problematic Europe that the Iliad can also let us re interrogate. What is the game played? Who plays it and how an other game can be restarted inside the set ground? Question of Achille, question of a certain kind of player…
As for Odyssey Complex, it is not a matter of reactualizing, once more, this epic narrative but just of reading it from a total settling down in our contemporary situation: the actual milieu of european artists that are rereading, today, the narrative of a war taking place in between 2 countries which, at that period, are just like 2 points of a same archipelago: Greece and Turkey. If we would have started this project a year ago, the dialogue with an actual context of these 2 places would probably have been totally different but today it is taken in the rising of a common movement that is crossing Greece and Turkey under a modality of same and differences. In both places we are attending the declaration of a “people”, a people which is of course not the same here and there but who is animated by a common exigence: to stop accepting the game played, without itself, by the ones who had the chance to learn the rules of capitalism and to redistribute the cards and the position of the players. This can appear as a totally new situation that would have nothing to see with the mode of politics at work in ancient Greece since it is precisely a characteristic of this radical new governmentality as Michel Foucault calls neoliberalism. But rereading the Iliad and the way with which the “ones who have the power” are able to play with the life of thousands of citizens for reasons that stay unknown by the majority even if it follows (as one follows the rules of a religion not by rationality but by faith) the common points become numerous. Different readings are then possible:
a) The game in the Troya Golf club: representation of the political masters of the game. From the Iliad till nowaday.
The main characters who are playing with words, with movement (gestures), with construction of appearance and representation (and who are now our 3 golf players)…can appear as a metaphor of the new masters of the world who are playing with countries and citizens as if they were pawns on chessboard, or -to keep the golf picture- as if they were nothing more than this ground of grass on which the players walk with indifference, only animated by their own game, without even realizing how much it costs to have such a grass in terms of human energy, water wasted…its not that they don’t know, its just that they don’t care: the important is the game. Keep on playing, even if this will not led anywhere, what is important is to not appear weaker in regard to the other player one is confronting now.
This is what happens in Iliad (BOX 1): where we realise more and more that what is important is not to solve the situation, is not to finish the war but to find a reason for always starting it again and to have the chance, thus, to confront with your peers. Achille and Hector, Menelas and Paris…the question is not only to kill the other one, but is to construct the best image of your victory. And this is why there is no fight without the “saying” of it. We are never only in the action, but always in its verbal accompaniment, that gives to it more importance…
This “triviality” of the war is visible since there is never a clear reason given as a political evidence (that could have been, at that time, “we greek, have to fight agains Trojans because they want to steal our land” or something like this). Of course one can see the rapt of Helene as a metaphor of such a theft: “the Trojans are stealing our women”, that is to say that “they are touching to our way to inhabit and make grow our land”. But, this is not the reason why the war starts again here. The thing that makes everything start again is just this: a dream.”. We should keep in mind that, at the beginning of the Iliad, what leads Agamemnon to start again the war with Troya (and go out of this kind of passive war that is now installed since 9 years) is a dream sent to him by Zeus who wants to give satisfaction to Thetis, the mother of Achille who asked Zeus to help her revenging her son, betrayed by Agamemnon. Her idea is to make Agamemnon believe that he may win the Trojans and, at the same time, help the Trojans for having advantage in the struggle. Like this, the acheans will be in difficulty and they will feel the need of the great warrior who is Achille, forcing Agamemnon to present his apologizes to him and give him back the woman that he took from him at the beginning of the poem (and which gives birth to the anger of Achille).
If we look at how politics is done today and how this or that puissance decides to sacrifice a people or a land (which is now what is happening with greek people sacrificed by the Troika under the pretext of the “solving of the dept” and the health of Europe, or with the Gezi park sacrificed by the capitalistic mind of Erdohan who wants to replace it by a building, under the pretext of the standing of the country ) we can do the same remark since the way in which both situations are treated stand more on a certain representation, a certain manner to present what is good or what is bad, a certain “stage design” proposed by the masters of politic, than on a valuable (politically as well as theoretically) argument. In regard to the politics of Erdohan: he started long time ago destroying land, demolishing houses (the Gegecundu) in order to replace them by shopping mall, touristic attraction…during a long time, people were not saying anything since Erdohan had this argument: this is for “our country”, what was working even better since he was playing, at the same time, on the field of religious people, giving them assurance that he is the one who “knows” what is the country of Turkey since he gave back one of its fundamental good: the islam (which has been suppressed in the years of republic). During quite a time then, (before gezi Park), people were just following without questioning the argument, without asking: is it really for “OUR” country? What gives us this or that mall or what we loose in terms of traditional inhabitation in regard to this commercial point not at all made for “US”? Nobody asked, the master continues giving them illusion by this “sleeping pill” of religion that he was acting for us.
On another hand, in regard to the supposed “debt” and the situation of european crisis, very few people today puts in doubt its regime of existence and the treatments that are presented to be the only one able to to solve the problem. We accept totally this evidence: there is a debt to cure and only some people, professionals of economy, knows how to treat it and how to let start again the financial systems so we have to follow them. But if we ask: do we need to solve the debt in order to keep this financial markets as the basis of our economy? Or, is the solving of the debt the unique solution to ameliorate the situation. Who will benefit of such a solving if this is already done in favor of some and in the disfavor of others? Don’t we have to open the possibility of a new game coming where cards are re-played since the beginning and without this idea that there is always a debt, an original debt, to be solved? More than following such a scheme and its repartition of good and bad, don’t we have to look to an other modality of organizing reality? (One group is today working in that sense: les économistes attérés.
This is a bit the strategy of Achille who decides not to follow the rules nor to completely go out of the system, but to open a new field of observation of facts that will reveal, at the end, that it is not animated only by a desire to see his debt solved: to see Agamemnon giving him back Briseis. When this happens, of course it changes something because Achille enters now in the battle, but it doesn’t change his sorrow that is now linked to the death of his friend Patrocle but that we can see as a metaphor of an eternal sorrow in front of this tendency of human being to kill each other for…nothing. Or for this eternal debt one has towards the other, always repeated in history, each time under a new form (the debt of Paris for Menelas, because of Helène; the dept of Agamemnon for Achille, the debt of France for its colonies at the moment of decolonisation, the debt of Europe of america after world war, of Turkey for armenians people…always one). The sadness of Achille can be seen as the exhibition of its lucidity in front of the human being and its need to fight permanently which is maybe a game for some, but which is also what provokes the death of many people…
At any time, the situation seems to be repeated: or this is for “fake argument” that they have conflict (the probe is given by the reconciliation of Achille and Agamemnon which doesn’t really bring something but has anyway provoked the death of hundred of Acheans, lost without their chief, and particularly of Patrocle) or this is just because of a “dream”, an illusion that will be raised to the level of reality: its sure, we have to fight, we have to follow the political decider because they are supposed to be our “representative”: the ones who know how to act for the good of the demos and of the country. And, there is really interesting to see how, nowaday, in a time supposed to be the one of the death of god, there is a strong alliance done, in order to guide the people, between capitalism and religion. Or in the turkish manner with clear reference to islam, or in european manner with a certain use of the “belief” of people on this new god which is: money….
– b) The other part of the picture, the alternative game open on the Troya golf club
But, in this encounter between Iliad and a contemporary context, it is also possible to see, particularly in the character and the behavior of Achilles, a metaphor of an other figure of the contemporary politics: the resistant. Indeed, Achille is the one who decides not to “fight against”, under the clear system of opposition of bloc against bloc (that he knows already manipulated) but to just step out of the game, to not follow the said rules and the system of relation it involves. He just “stands”, he will not use the words of the war because this words are already infiltrated by the ideology of the powerful ones. Thus, he just presents a monolithic body that imposes to the political stage he is involved in, a point of internal problematization, a point of resistance not out but ON the common ground. On the golf ground, he would be the one who is always at the border, the one who doesn’t follow the order of the path between the different holes, the one who, more than he tries to put the ball in the hole, would maybe look into the hole and call the eventual god who may be inside (since everything seemed to be moved under the power of this hole, as if it had the power of a god….). And, here, Achille can appear very close to the kind of resistant that we see now, particularly in greece and Athens, of political singularity who just demonstrates their refusal of following the game set without them by staying out of the usual words and employing an other language: the one of body exhibited instead of rhetoric game. We can particularly think here of the bodies which occupied Syntagma square during months in Athens, or to this “standing man” who stayed on his feet during 8 hours in Taksim square (cf MATERIAL)
What is interesting for us, is that each of this 3 character on stage can become the metaphor of this or that figures since we want to work on moment of inversion: a scene is set where you think you understood what it is all about: the game of the men with power, but suddenly a body can stand and impulse an other movement that makes the all meaning of the scene turns upside down.
c) Other vision, thematics we crossed in our travel in Turkey and Greece:
The garbage everywhere, the new form of weapons: gaz and water, the commerce made on memories cf Troya site, the documentary about Pinguins shown on turkish TV instead of the recording of demonstrations…
gabage hill in turkey
cnn versus istanbul tv
– the politicians in sport: http://www.golfdigest.com/magazine/2011-06/photos-politics-and-golf#slide=1
sarkozy and tennis: