OPINION

He grasped the thread tightly

«Angelos, is that your first read in the morning?» Kathimerini and Le Monde were spread on the large table of the Politis journal office in Plaka; more newspapers were stacked on one side. «Yes, indeed. So I can see how they think…» It was a great intellectual’s short lesson on political thinking to a naive brat taking his first steps. I was fortunate enough to receive many more such brief lessons from Angelos Elefantis – who departed this world yesterday – namely how to analyze, how to fight, how to develop a sense of history, how to speak in public. These were brief lessons, suggestions rather than lectures, on summer afternoons at the Tsaros taverna: on Karagiozis, the klephts, the resistance, the anthropology of Andre Leroi-Gouran, on great thinkers and works. Elefantis was a Homeric man, all-embracing and solid. Like the klephts in the mountains of Roumeli, his beloved homeland, he had the same unquenchable thirst for freedom, for overcoming – a romantic hero, a nomad. At the same time, he was a man of enlightenment and reason, well read, an aristocrat of the intellect. Above all, he was unyielding, unsubdued, direct, an ascetic. He was sometimes harsh, but mostly toward himself. The Politis journal educated one or two generations of the post-1974 period. He set up a workshop and, like a craftsman of the Middle Ages, transmitted knowledge and art. The impact went beyond the Left, beyond established dogmas and convictions. No other publication in the post-1974 years did a better job in serving the exchange of ideas and intellectual debate. Elefantis, a man of the old times but also a modern man, was always looking for meaning and the thread connecting old and new. I know not what he took along with him back to Karpenisi. But I know he firmly held on to the thread before passing it on.