That was then

“What matters is what people took away with them in their hearts, and that is something we will not know until much later,» Dimitris Papaioannou, grand master of last summer’s Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, told Kathimerini last year. He swept us away back then, and then he deserted us. Those ceremonies offered us a chance to just ignore or even blatantly deny reality. It was a mixture of euphoria, defiance and confusion. Papaioannou’s team was unique in that it separated itself from the politicians’ self-congratulatory mood. «We are not significant; our assignment is,» they said. The rest of us found ourselves faced with a mammoth task. First, we had to decide what to do with the things we took away in our hearts. We were all enchanted, but soon distanced ourselves from something that had no effect on our daily lives. Luckily, only a few months later, Greece triumphed in the Eurovision song contest. We were all «number one» once again. And tonight we’ll celebrate the Games’ one-year anniversary in similar style. Then came the government’s commercial with all its slogans about «success» and «vindication.» Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia said: «The government stepped up its efforts and succeeded in completing the Olympic venues in time. We succeeded in projecting Greece’s image to the world. We vindicated the trust shown by the majority of Greeks.» And on she went about post-Olympic use and venue maintenance. So all we’re left with is the grumbling of the skeptics – those who complain about the costly obligations and abandonment. Those who refuse to believe all is so wonderful; who see the cultural slide from Papaioannou to Paparizou; and who see this loss of orientation with fear, not just bias.