image The Evros Delta image Forest of gold

A place, a thousand rocks

On the installation of colossal wind parks under preparation.

Text – photographs
Stratis Vogiatzis

The installation of wind parks will take place in an area which, according to the construction company, is considered to be of low natural and cultural value. The company believes that the mountains on which these industrial wind turbines will be installed are undeserving and unworthy. They don’t know that this alpine, remote and rough landscape is exactly what makes the fine uniqueness of this place. An introvert place with a sharp and succinct spirit stands secluded, enclosing persistence and duty in its insides, patiently exhaling its difficult and harsh truth. What for some may be nothing but scattered stones, to others is the very character of this place, the piece connected to their memories and dreams, the place of myth, the only sacred parameter widening our spirit which impregnates our sensibility while steadying our identity.

This landscape is the direct reference to the gradations of our soul, a guide and a reminder which defines the clumsy steps of disorientated people. It formulates a fluid, misguided conscience; it is the steady foundation of all the irregular streams that color our lives. But mostly, it is the passage from our subjective and limited reality to its timeless and liberating hug, the immersion in its unplundered existence and the repatriation into reality through the awakening by a revelatory experience. The ridges and the distant mountains assign meaning to our inner landscape, are the existing landscape which defines the inner dimension of us and fuels dream. It represents man’s deep need to bow the head before them. Pessoa said “I love the non-existing landscapes and the wide areas of the uplands where I will never stand on”.

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    One must walk this place before ignoring it… this place, carved like a sculpture which carries the patience and the resignation of the Creator, insists you surrender to it. Its way is sharp, extremely intense and tied with the vibrations of the tireless toil and calls you to participate. Descending these rocks, you feel the need to narrate their stoic story… but you must stand still, like a pilgrim before the greatness of this mountain, naked in its wilderness, to see the stones thrust in its chest and to feel the heavy commitment of continuity, the birth by the internal fermentation with time. How struck can our civilization be, when passerby, hasty people carelessly belittle a place they don’t know and, with the pretext for profit, they are ready to devastate it, to pour concrete and iron and turn it into an industrial area? To accept the downgrading of a place which has grafted the nuances of our soul means to accept the downgrading of human life value and dignity.
    These sterile lands seem hostile, inhospitable for most people… if people cannot reach them, they don’t recognize their value. Not a trace of love can nestle in the foothills of these distant mountains. The mountains of Aipos are unknown and hostile to people of Chios who have not walked on them or sheltered in their silence. They have not stared at the rocks that thrust like tombstones in the side of the mountain, the tired rocks it encloses in its soul, its proud echo, the sides sculpted as if cyclopean sculptors had carved the mountain’s body for centuries to give form to the stones and soul to matter. People lack the experience of a place of oblivion, where breaths become sharper and dreams reach out to be caught on the mountain peaks, where man forgets his sorrows and surrenders to the call of the mountain. But most of all, people haven’t felt the silence of this land, a timeless, electric silence, like a narration of the encumbrance of this place which fills the tedious mind of western man with its pure cry in tune with the inner cry of a pilgrim, of a man who agonizes rather to feel than to speak.

    Man doesn’t admire places like Aipos or Amani mountains. He fails to surrender to their silence; he finds it hard to fit into their landscape and to stay still in their embrace, stagnated into their silence, away from thoughts and emotions. He is afraid to love such places because there are agonizing to him. Aipos Mountain, through centuries of strenuous carving on its body, demands from the traveller to surrender to its agonizing secret, to sink into himself, to commit to an experience of initiation to a suspended, raw existential reality. The mountain’s pure energy, like an enlightened man’s pure energy, can overwhelm and bring people into harmony with their unspoken fears, to lead them to life’s glittering light with eyes wide open, to make them find the wholeness inside them. Man is afraid of entering this innermost piece of his existence, unable to yield to the mountain’s wisdom, because that would require an awakening, a contact with his deep inner needs, a movement forward, towards freedom. Man loves to be enslaved, so he prefers to belittle the mountains, to limit them, to desecrate them…

    Western man lost his sense of humility for the sake of the Mephistophelian promise of individual fulfillment and is estranged from nature for the sake of his materialistic aims. But he is also estranged from his symbolic beacons, from the unconscious maps which used to define his inextricable route. This place reflects its earthly emblematic dimension, whilst, through its connection to our memories and dreams, transfiguring its shape into a mental representation. The mountain peaks symbolize our vital need for freedom. The remote landscape is our submersion to our own, unknown inner landscape. The rocks, sculpted by time, are the desperate agony of the human being to reach transcendence.

    These scattered rocks are irrigated by man’s struggle to tame this mountain, to measure himself against it, in order to earn the right to live there, to turn matter into spirit and create a civilization. Back then, this confrontation meant yielding to the eternal laws of nature and adjusting to the primordial rhythms. Man would carve rocks to build houses or for the needs of his animals, he would use stone as a tool and cultivate his land, he would build fortresses on the ridge to protect his land, he would build alleys, blaze trails, make stone tanks to collect water. Mountain and man were once one and the same. Mortal man would fight fiercely upon those sleepless giants for survival, he would try to tame the rocks to build a home, to turn himself into stone and stone into life, to prove his worth to the mountain, to prove that he didn’t quail, he didn’t back out, so that the mountain would allow him to dig the rocks and plant his seed.

    “The higher your obligation, the tougher your mission, the higher your strength”, Kazantzakis used to say… Man’s confrontation with the mountain, his struggle to surpass his mortality and to give shape and soul to stone, has impregnated our collective soul, has created the courage and strength which helps us get back on our feet and fight when we are on the ground, defeated. The “tormented landscape” of Aipos, as Nikos Choulis calls it, is a shelter to boisterous souls, to lively people who suffer and love, who don’t settle, who suffocate in overcrowded places and need the ridge to breathe. A shelter for the desperate free people to softly sing their lumpish song, for the fiery believers with no other place left to say their prayer. When people dream, they look up. People know that, even if they suffer, they can always escape towards the mountain peak.

    This place is us, us. Every place we travel to is a place inside us, every landscape that surrounds us with its aura, that carves inside us its invisible lines, is the inner place of memory. Aipos’ landscape carries the persistence of eternity with it and the timelessness of spirit. Our inner landscape does not exist without the nuances of our memories and inept dreams. If our inner space is the water surface, then this place is the concentric circles formed by external vibrations. This place is the reflection of our inner landscape, and with the magic, the dreams and the stories of its advocates, it smoothens its surface, it sculpts its mountains.

    “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed”, Mahatma Gandhi said. I feel that, by altering the essence of this place, we transgress an inner unknown truth of ours. By allowing them to pour concrete over those magnificent mountains, we concrete over the openings of our soul which help us dream. No place belongs to us, like no human being does. The chief of the Sioux Indian tribe said to the president of the US: “How can you buy or sell the sky – the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. Yet we do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water. How can you buy them from us? We will decide in our time. Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing, and every humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people.” Thus, the mountains of Aipos and Amani are sacred to us and we are ready to wear war paint in order to defend them.