Thursday, July 18, 2024 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883 – 1957)

Greek novelist, poet, playwright and philosopher.
Nikos Kazantzakis
All hopes and despairs vanish in the voracious, funneling whirlwind of God. God laughs, wails, kills, sets us on fire, and then leaves us in the middle of the way, charred embers.
And I rejoice to feel between my temples, in the flicker of an eyelid, the beginning and the end of the world.
I condense into a lightning moment the seeding, sprouting, blossoming, fructifying, and the disappearance of every tree, animal, man, star, and god.
All Earth is a seed planted in the coils of my mind. Whatever struggles for numberless years to unfold and fructify in the dark womb of matter bursts in my head like a small and silent lightning flash.
Ah! let us gaze intently on this lightning flash, let us hold it for a moment, let us arrange it into human speech.
Let us transfix this momentary eternity which encloses everything, past and future, but without losing in the immobility of language any of its gigantic erotic whirling.
Kazantzakis quotes
The moment is ripe: leave the heart and the mind behind you, go forward, take the third step.
Free yourself from the simple complacency of the mind that thinks to put all things in order and hopes to subdue phenomena. Free yourself from the terror of the heart that seeks and hopes to find the essence of things.
Conquer the last, the greatest temptation of all: Hope. This is the third duty.
The bodies breathe, feed, store up strength, and then in an erotic moment are shattered, are spent and drained utterly, that they may bequeath their spirit to their sons. What spirit? The drive upward!

Kazantzakis Nikos quotes
Every word is an Ark of the Covenant around which we dance and shudder, divining God to be its dreadful inhabitant.
You shall never be able to establish in words that you live in ecstasy. But struggle unceasingly to establish it in words. Battle with myths, with comparisons, with allegories, with rare and common words, with exclamations and rhymes, to embody it in flesh, to transfix it!
God, the Great Ecstatic, works in the same way. He speaks and struggles to speak in every way He can, with seas and with fires, with colors, with wings, with horns, with claws, with constellations and butterflies, that he may establish His ecstasy.
Like every other living thing, I also am in the center of the Cosmic whirlpool.
Kazantzakis Nikos
We must understand well that we do not proceed from a unity of God to the same unity of God again. We do not proceed from one chaos to another chaos, neither from one light to another light, nor from one darkness to another darkness. What would be the value of our life then? What would be the value of all life?
But we set out from an almighty chaos, from a thick abyss of light and darkness tangled. And we struggle plants, animals, men, ideas in this momentary passage of individual life, to put in order the Chaos within us, to cleanse the abyss, to work upon as much darkness as we can within our bodies and to transmute it into light.
Nikos Kazantzakis quotes
Blessed are those eyes that have seen more water than any man!
Blessed be that haughty mind that aimed at the greatest hope!
May you be blessed who row the current your life long
and now with dry unfreshened lips descend to Hades
to find the hidden deathless springs and slake your thirst!
My son, it's death who keeps and pours the deathless waters.
Nikos Kazantzakis
I am not the light, I am the night; but a flame stabs through my entrails and consumes me. I am the night devoured by light.
Kazantzakis Nikos quotes
The worm stood straight on God's blood-splattered threshold then
and beat his drum, beat it again, and raised his throat:
'You've matched all well on earth, wine, women, bread, and song,
but why, you Murderer, must you slay our children? Why?'
God foamed with rage and raised his sword to pierce that throat,
but his old copper sword, my lads, stuck at the bone.
Then from his belt the worm drew his black-hilted sword,
rushed up and slew that old decrepit god in heaven!
And now, my gallant lads I don't know when or how
that worm's god-slaying sword has fallen into my hands;
I swear that from its topmost iron tip the blood still drips!
Every village has its simpleton, and if one does not exist they invent one to pass the time.
Kazantzakis Nikos
Only now, as we feel the onslaught behind us, do we begin dimly to apprehend why the animals fought, begot, and died; and behind them the plants; and behind these the huge reserve of inorganic forces.
We are moved by pity, gratitude, and esteem for our old comrades-in-arms. They toiled, loved, and died to open a road for our coming.
We also toil with the same delight, agony, and exaltation for the sake of Someone Else who with every courageous deed of ours proceeds one step farther.
All our struggle once more will have a purpose much greater than we, wherein our toils, our miseries, and our crimes will have become useful and holy.
Nikos Kazantzakis
Within profound Silence, erect, fearless, in pain and in play, ascending ceaselessly from peak to peak, knowing that the height has no ending, sing this proud and magical incantation as you hang over the Abyss:

Nikos Kazantzakis quotes
Gather together in your heart all terrors, recompose all details. Salvation is a circle; close it!
Nikos Kazantzakis
The wife of my God is matter; they wrestle with each other, they laugh and weep, they cry out in the nuptial bed of flesh.
They spawn and are dismembered. They fill sea, land, and air with species of plants, animals, men, and spirits. This primordial pair embraces, is dismembered, and multiplies in every living creature.
All the concentrated agony of the Universe bursts out in every living thing. God is imperiled in the sweet ecstasy and bitterness of flesh.
But he shakes himself free, he leaps out of brains and loins, then clings to new brains and new loins until the struggle for liberation again breaks out from the beginning.
Kazantzakis quotes
"Do not die that we may not die," the dead cry out within you. "We had no time to enjoy the women we desired; be in time, sleep with them! We had no time to turn our thoughts into deeds; turn them into deeds! We had no time to grasp and to crystallize the face of our hope; make it firm!" ...
But you must choose with care whom to hurl down again into the chasms of your blood, and whom you shall permit to mount once more into the light and the earth.
Kazantzakis Nikos
"Tomorrow, go forth and stand before the Lord. A great and strong wind will blow over you and rend the mountains and break in pieces the rocks, but the Lord will not be in the wind. And after the wind and earthquake, but the Lord will not be in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord will not be in the fire. And after the fire a gentle, cooling breeze. That is where the Lord will be."
This is how the spirit comes. After the gale, the earthquake, and fire: a gentle, cooling breeze. This is how it will come in our own day as well. We are passing through the period of earthquake, the fire is approaching, and eventually (when? after how many generations?) the gentle, cool breeze will blow.
Kazantzakis Nikos quotes
Beauty is merciless. You do not look at it, it looks at you and does not forgive.
Nikos Kazantzakis
My God and I are horsemen galloping in the burning sun or under drizzling rain. Pale, starving, but unsubdued, we ride and converse.
"Leader!" I cry. He turns his face toward me, and I shudder to confront his anguish.
Our love for each other is rough and ready, we sit at the same table, we drink the same wine in this low tavern of life.
Nikos Kazantzakis quotes
The major and almost only theme of all my work is the struggle of man with "God": the unyielding, inextinguishable struggle of the naked worm called "man" against the terrifying power and darkness of the forces within him and around him.
Nikos Kazantzakis
I hold the brimming wineglass and relive the toils of my grandfathers and great-grandfathers. The sweat of my labor runs down like a fountain from my tall, intoxicated brow.
I am a sack filled with meat and bones, blood, sweat, and tears, desires and visions.
Kazantzakis Nikos
Three kinds of souls, three prayers:
1) I am a bow in your hands, Lord. Draw me, lest I rot.
2) Do not overdraw me, Lord. I shall break.
3) Overdraw me, Lord, and who cares if I break.

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