I remembered asking him in Paris to tell me something about Greece and suddenly, as we were coming into the port of Patras, I understood everything he had been trying to tell me that night and I felt bad that he was not alongside me to share my enjoyment. I remembered how he had said with quiet, steady conviction, after describing the country for me as best he could—”Miller, you will like Greece, I am sure of it.”
“The English in Greece—a sorry lot, by the way—seem to have a poor opinion of the Greek character. The English are torpid, unimaginative, lacking in resiliency. They seem to think that the Greeks should be eternally grateful to them because they have a powerful fleet. The Englishman in Greece is a farce and an eye-sore: he isn’t worth the dirt between a poor Greek’s toes.
It was then that I made the discovery that his talk created reverberations, that the echo took a long time to reach ones ears. I began to compare it with French talk in which I had been enveloped for so long. The latter seemed more like the play of light on an alabaster vase, something reflective, nimble, dancing, liquid, evanescent, whereas the other, the Katsimbalistic language, was opaque, cloudy, pregnant with resonances which could only be understood long afterwards when the reverberations announced the collision with thoughts, people, objects located in distant parts of the earth. The Frenchman puts walls about his talk, as he does about his garden: he puts limits about everything in order to feel at home. At bottom he lacks confidence in his fellow man; he is skeptical because he doesn’t believe in the innate goodness of human beings. He has become a realist because it is safe and practical. The Greek, on the other hand, is an adventurer: he is reckless and adaptable, he makes friends easily. The walls which you see in Greece, when they are not of Turkish or Venetian origin, go back to the Cyclopean age. Of my own experience I would say that there is no more direct, approachable, easy man to deal with than the Greek.