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Published: October 16th 2014
Last night Deke and I went to the restaurant, “Nautilus” in Mykonos Town. The food was excellent, but the most interesting part was meeting the proprietor, Vasyli. Our cab driver told us on the way over that if we could find a happier man than Vasyli, we needed to call him. Vasyli greeted us warmly and with enthusiasm. He has quite long, flowing hair and appears to be in his early thirties. Many people who came to Nautilus hugged and kissed him. I know that I embarrassed Deke, but I just had to ask, “Vasyli, why are you so happy?” He said that he loves his job, and loves people. Deke stated that he was very lucky, and that people would be jealous if they knew how happy he was. The concept of jealousy seemed foreign to Vasyli. Vasyli said that he loved his job so much, he would do it for free. I wish I were more like Vasyli, but it’s hard to be jealous of him because he is so kind. Deke and I knew that we were in the presence of a special man. At the end of our meal, Vasyli brought out some matika, an alcohol made
from the sap of a tree, which is supposed to have helpful digestive properties. Vasyli drank with us and proposed a toast. Deke and Vasyli could drink the matika as shots, but I had to sip it. The matika was on the house. We walked through Mykonos Town, which was still alive with clubs and shopping despite it being so late in the season. Deke was glad that I wasn’t in a shopping mood, but he was sweet and bought me another shawl to replace the one I lost on Delos.
In stark contrast to Vasyli, but no less liked by me, is a man I nicknamed “O Kierios Philosophos,” Mr. Philosopher. He works at the Myconian Ambassador Hotel and Deke and I see him mostly in the morning. He has a very serious face, and does not smile very often. He freely admits that he doesn’t smile very often, and that he has a lot on his mind. There is something about him, which seems superior to the rest of us; it seems that he is thinking deeper thoughts than anyone else, and when he is serving people, it seems a contradiction. It is more like someone should
be serving him. I don’t mind that he doesn’t smile much, and I like that there is someone thinking more grave and lofty thoughts than I when I am breakfasting. I hardly ever feel this way in the United States. The only person in the United States who makes me feel this way is Candace, who works at the Oasis Café in Salt Lake City. Most of the time, I somehow believe that I am thinking loftier and more serious thoughts than others; Deke doesn’t always agree, and thinks that some my thoughts are more muddled and confused than others’ and there is a good chance that he is right. The Philosopher looks like a sentinel when he stands and looks out over the pool area, and though he is soft-spoken, I wouldn’t want to cross him because of the very serious look on his face. I will miss him when we leave Mykonos tomorrow.
I walked down to Platis Yialos Beach today; Deke didn’t want to go because the lounge chairs are so close together and because he likes private beaches better. The Myconian Ambassador Hotel provides a beach voucher for us in front of Notos Restaurant. Here
on Mykonos, one normally has to reserve a beach spot. Deke is right; the lounge chairs are very close together by American standards, but I found it to be a relaxing atmosphere. I heard at least three languages being spoken at the beach. A handsome man, whose name I did not catch, is an employee of Notos and tends to the guests’ needs for food, drinks, and towels. This handsome gentlemen (Deke, you had better be attentive) took the time to answer some questions I had regarding Greek culture. I asked him why Greek songs sound so sad, and why there was a vein of melancholy running through so many Greeks I have known. The Notos employee said that Greek culture is full of nostalgia—a looking back with longing to past loves and past beautiful moments which are no more. He further stated that the Greeks had been slaves to the Turks, and that remains in Greek consciousness. He went on further to explain that though he was laughing a lot with his friend the day before, he felt nostalgia and sadness over what was being discussed. I asked him if he thought the strong, Greek philosophical precedent had a
melancholic effect on the culture, and he thought that it did. He also stated that the current Greek economic crisis was affecting the mood in Athens strongly, and that the unrest is more palpable there. He stated that it is difficult to explain to someone who is not Greek.
In an earlier blog, I remember discussing Aristotle’s proposal that too much pleasure is bad for an individual. When I was reading in Ethics
today, I came across the following: “The mean state shall be called Easy-pleasantry; the excess Buffoonery, and the man a Buffoon; the man deficient herein a Clown, and his state Clownishness.” It looks like Aristotle doesn’t condemn pleasure wholly—just the excess of pleasure. He encourages the “mean” or “middle” way. I think that Deke and I are doing a pretty good job not living in a “Clownish” state though our pleasures are currently many.
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