Last Friday I gave a lecture at the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in Barcelona titled “The Mediterranean Art: An Expression of the Mediterranean Spirit”, attended by over 40 staff from some 20 countries and international organizations. Some of my colleagues asked me to post the final message from the lecture, so here it is:
“In our sea, everything changes direction with the passage of time: migration routes, flow of knowledge, political models, cults, tastes…maybe even the currents of the Mediterranean. Our reality is as liquid as our sea.
You must have heard of the Butterfly Effect: that the flapping of the wings of a butterfly at one part of the planet can provoke a hurricane at some other part, because everything is somehow related and interdependent. If you believe that this concept is modern, then think again: migrations from Anatolia yielded a civilization in Crete (the Minoan Civilization), while a runaway Phoenician Queen (Dido) laid the foundation of an empire in Tunisia (Carthage) that vied for the control of the Mediterranean. Turn your eyes to the Iberian Art of Spain and you’ll see it is nothing but a fusion of Phoenician and Greek arts, inasmuch as Phoenician art, in turn, was a fusion of Assyrian and Egyptian arts. Temples of the Egyptian Goddess, Isis, still stand in France, Italy, Germany and elsewhere in Europe, while some of the Roman Empire’s most magnificent monuments can be admired in Libya, Syria and Lebanon. Where does the West end and the East begin? What is the meaning of North and South?
To put it shortly, I will share a quote by Alexander the Great, even though most probably it was his master’s, Aristotle: ‘On the conduct of each depends the fate of all.’
More than any other time, and away from delivering any discourse, this quote should guide our moral compass towards a revised geography. A moral geography if you may; one that would break away with clichéd and imagined communities, one that would transcend cultural Darwinism, one that would not be washed away by the waves of our great sea.”