The Bank of the Future

It would be wrong to expect George Papandreou, a mediocre orator, to deliver an inspiring and moving address to the people. After all, how can you possibly put into words your own personal inconsistency and that of your party in a speech to the nation? How can you justify the dangerous, and not simply annoying, passivity with which you acknowledge that the country that you are leading has lost a chunk of its sovereignty, that it is under outside supervision? And how can you – a champion of consultation even on minor issues – claim that giving up part of national sovereignty does not first require a referendum or some other form of accountability so as to give voice to this «great people» who six months ago picked you as leader on the basis of completely different expectations? So we are left with the beautiful image of Kastelorizo, the blue waters and the little boats, and the stereotypes. C.P. Cavafy is always available and always defenseless. Luckily, Papandreou did not pick words from Cavafy’s lesser-known poem «The Bank of the Future.» Because that would hurl us into sadness and depression: «This difficult life of mine that I make secure/ In your bank of the future/ I will take very little money/ I doubt if it has much capital/ I’ve begun to fear that in the first crisis/ Its payments might suddenly stop.» What Bank of the Future and what Greece? So we’re left with the overused Ithaca story and the assurance that we «know the path and we have mapped out the seas» so «the new Odyssey» will have a happy ending. Papandreou was clever enough to skip the part about the Laestrygonians, the Cyclops and angry Poseidon who «you will not meet if you do not carry them in your soul.» For what could he possibly have to say? Some of those Cyclops and Laestrygonians, we already carry on our shoulders since they occupy leadership posts? Neither in our mythology nor in our history could angry Poseidon save you from the storm that he himself caused.

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