My earliest memory? That was when I was on the black marble in Athens—the cool black marble. Of course, I was always fascinated by the red filaments in the oven and I would reach out to touch them—even though my mother said not to; and one day I grasped the red filaments in my hand, so hot they were more black than red—and then my hand was swaddled in bandages. It has been a recurrent story. From cool black marble, I went to the wooden floors in Macedonia—and read Tintin in Tibet and looked out at the mountains and thought those were the Himalayas and the wooden floors were those at a monastery or Sherpa station; and I was taken to Marathon, photographed there on a rock, but I do not remember.
I returned to Athens many years later, drank an iced coffee across the street from the flat with cold black marble floors and the red-black filaments. The old Greeks—in shipping, very Greek—were still there; they who said to me, “Here is the little professor”; and, many decades later, I had come back to give a paper at a conference—so you see what people see; and in my pocket I held my little glass eye, my evil eye, but it had split in two so that I had glued it back together—if that made it less magical, I cannot tell you.
The night before I walked the streets with a blonde from Latvia, beneath the Acropolis through dappled orange lights—hot like the pariah dogs. At her hotel, a little hotel, the corridor was so narrow that the receptionist could see when I walked in with her—only one in the room, you know; no place to hide, even if pressed to the walls. “I just want to look at the view.” “όχι.” Ah, a room with a Latvian view—I mean, a view over the Acropolis; my view is strictly academic, professorial even.