Friday, April 1, 2011

Pearls in the Making!

It was Frederico Fellini, the noted Italian film director, who said that “all art is autobiography.” In that vein, Fellini also said that “the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography!”

Although the ancient Greeks liked to suppose that pearls were the tears of the gods, the crude reality is much different. In fact, a pearl is a natural gem created by a living organism. Under the right circumstances, when a foreign object is introduced into a mussel or oyster, the creature coats the irritation with a substance called nacre, the very same material with which it builds its shell. Layers of nacre are required to make a shiny pearl.

If that be the case, then by metaphorical parallel, Albanians in Athens, “foreign irritants” lodged within the life of Greece, are, at least potentially, pearls in the making! I can’t help but notice that pearls are made out of the irritating conflict between that which does not belong and the “belonging environment“ of living organisms.

Note also that it is the very substance with which the oyster or mussel protects itself that pearls are made. Thus, Greek resistance to Albanians’ presence is the “stuff” from which the Albanian gem is being created.

Today, most pearls are cultured; that is to say, they are actually created in artificial settings, since natural oyster beds have been largely removed, due to overfishing. It remains true, however, that the most valuable of pearls are those found in natural settings, created in the “real world.”

Today, in the hardscrabble reality of Athens, Greece, I am going looking for my Albanian friends - pearls in the making!

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