To prevent the world going to ashes | Konstantinos Mandilaras

What follows is not an objective critique of a young man’s effort to identify and correct the world’s problems, correctly attributed to the present inequalities and their fierce preservation by the elites; it is also not an easy post to write given my former and present connections to the author who worked for his Ph.D. thesis under my supervision (2008-2011) and is now a close friend. But let’s see what comes out.

Kostas published his first book. “When was the last time, a question took you more than one month to formulate, at least three months to research and over half a year to answer?” he asks before we begin.

Turn months into years and years into centuries, then you learn something about your mentor’s “mindset”.

More seriously. With attention spans dropping to “physiologically possible” minima (a point touched upon by the author) and a general educational level that reveals horrible failures of our schools and universities (whether planned in order to subjugate or the result of institutional commodification): is the author requesting a moment’s attention?

“How the heck, spanking a bojog (wicked monkey from Indonesia), eating something sweet (pudding) on a trampoline (used for exercise and fun), could end up turning our world in ashes?”

The question reveals the author’s helpful explanation of the book’s main title. I would have advised against a title that does not make immediate sense. But Kostas asked even more from his potential readership: within the title he makes reference to three well known figures from the UK, USA and Russia, namely Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Can you spot these modern politicians and representatives of the political elite in the title?

“After a moment of hesitation, he decides to take the simplest action anyone could, talk openly and out loud to the core of chaos.”

“He” is Cornelius, the book’s main protagonist, a normal fellow who describes his day-to-day life, until the plot begins… I admire Kostas for moving ahead exposing his views over the state of affairs of the world we live in. This is of course no trivial task. The naïvity of anyone who received most of his information while living in London, a certain Greekness of character and expression (natural) and the spirit of being critical about the constant brainwashing storm we live in have produced an original position (although some might call it an amalgam of various points of view pulled together). Through the book’s plot, this position is presented in detail to the “rulers of countries that have the strongest economies, capitalists… and land sharks…” who “gather once a year to discuss in person, how things are going on with their affairs”. The biggest part of the book is devoted to the protagonist Cornelius lecturing the ruling class and its political personnelle. How would the non-political reader respond to that lecture? This is a question I cannot answer, but one that I would be curious to find out.

I am used to hear that “preaching” is not a good way to communicate ideas. This is probably the hardest bit to admit in public, Kostas, that you really obliged those guys (through force!) to listen carefully; but will your readers freely follow you all the way along? I was a devoted reader and I did not regret hearing you out. There is so much to discuss (perhaps in good company and ideally with the tastefulness of your hospitality). Here, I only drop a note of caution for your future writings. Last year I read “Extraño Refugio” by Luis Marquez Campos, a novel with one of the most captivating beginnings that kept me truly hooked until – somewhere after the middle of the book – the main character who has discovered an indigenous culture carefully hidden within a mountainous region in Mexico, suddenly starts his effort to convert the locals to Christianity. Don’t get me wrong, the point is about “preaching” as much as the content of the preacher is of course a factor on its own.

Having said the hard part, let me assure you, Kostas, that I laughed my heart out in the early stages of your own book (τι κάνει ο άνθρωπος για να μη γαμήσει! – untranslatable), the humour worked out well once and once again (Irma was asking “what’s wrong with you?” as she would observe those happy moments). Given that you have not yet learned about organized forms of political action, it may perhaps be natural that you result to a superhero to fix the world (caution: is that not an influence of the Holywood you criticize?). What my brain has not stopped thinking is about your hero’s ability to travel at almost (sic) the speed of light while being able in parallel to smell, observe and hear what is going on from all the places he gets through. I am wondering about the speed of movement with respect to the ability of the moving particle(s) to interact with their surroundings – a classic in physics, perhaps.

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