Tuesday, June 14, 2016

"Zorba the Greek" by Nikos Kazantzakis

Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

goodreads rating: 4.1
my verdict: really good

This is a famous novel, but I was not lured to read this until someone mentioned that Meursault (from L'Etranger by Albert Camus) and Zorba belong to the same kind of human being. For example, Meursault carries on his life as usual the day when his mother died. He knows that people expect certain behaviors on certain occasions, but he does not wish to live up to their expectations. He would rather live up to his own desire. Zorba, in this context, looks very similar. For example, even though his boss ranks very high on his life's agenda, Zorba decides to spend all the trusted fund to Lola, to follow his own desire. The two personae are quite different from the perspective of social status, Zorba and Meursault, but they both behaves as they like. They do not give a damn what others might think of them. And we know this attitude is extremely difficult.

Zorba the Greek consistently kept me thinking about Narziss und Goldmund by Hermann Hesse. (And of course Siddhartha by the same author.) Simply put, Narziss versus Goldmund equals the boss versus Zorba. Two sets of personae, they both seek truth, but in different ways. Narziss focuses on mind activities for the purpose, while Goldmund decides to seek it in the world (in der welt). The boss, like Narziss, has been following books and buddhism to reach the truth. Then he meets Zorba, who seems to have found the truth already, by living in the world.

Therefore, strangely enough but also in a very unavoidable fashion, Meursault also meets Narziss and Goldmund, along with Zorba. What is L'Etanger? Perhaps the most famous existentialist novel. Martin Heidegger's dasein is also in-der-welt-sein. In other words, being cannot be but being there (dasein), and it is also being in the world (in-der-welt-sein). Zorba knew it, and Goldmund came to know it. And, Meursault was also living it.

I am not sure if Zorba is right. (Right and wrong is a very childish idea, but I cannot find a better term here.) But I know that I cannot choose to live like Zorba. All my life when I was in the university, truth was the biggest theme in my life, and I still think I want it. Is Zorba the answer? I know there are people who behave like Zorba, and I know I am not one of them. Should I aspire to be like them? Or should I yet stay on the road of mind like Narziss did? I still want to learn, and books are the easiest tool, at least for now.

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