A new ideological blueprint for the future of Greece
How we can create futures worth dreaming of
I have spent the past few years living in Arcadia, in the South of Greece. This, in many ways allowed me to reconnect with my roots. As a Greek with a complex relationship to my homeland, I had been waiting my whole life to live in a place like this.
Arcadia is in most parts a gem of unspoiled wilderness, where small villages have sprouted between the blue seas, the lush mountain trails and endless olive fields. It’s easy to understand why Arcadia became a mythological symbol of utopian dreams. So many of our myths began here, in those beautiful valleys that seem to be whispering stories in our ears.
It has been a spellbinding place from which to contemplate the unfolding future of the world, and to participate in how we create that of this specific beautiful piece of our planet. As a designer and adventitious futurist, this place has become my safe haven from which to research the future. Through AEGIS, our non-profit organization based here, we have been exploring the ways in which the future of Greece unfolds, and how this region specifically evolves. Spending the days trying to understand and test new technologies, exploring the lands and reading about its history, arts, strategies and ideologies all the while being physically submerged in the reality of this peaceful paradise and its communities was a treasured adventure. As much as Arcadia is a symbol of life in harmony with nature, for me it has been a place where one can find balance between this rich living Earth we inhabit and the speeding technological evolution of our world. Here it seems that we could truly put technology and novel ideologies at the service of nature, and beyond that at the service of history and our communities, perhaps even to bring forth a future worth dreaming of.
However, as the pace of technological implementation and strategic governance is accelerating in Greece since the beginning of the pandemic, over time we have come to realize that this harmonious potential that currently exists is at extremely high risk of being compromised in the upcoming years. The reason for that is the fact that the speed of cultural, humanitarian, social and environmental evolution is not accelerating in the same way as technological and corporate powers are. Companies, technologies, funds and politics move, but culture and people’s perception of possibility is not following suit. We are right now at an extremely high risk of moving (or being moved) extremely fast in directions that will not serve us well for long. Right now we really risk messing up the future of our lands and peoples in an unprecedented way… and this perspective is terrifying. It’s important to prevent that from happening. It’s important to find ways for culture and humanitarian action to accelerate.
Hellenofuturism | Mï X AI
Greece’s cultural gap
I would argue that the Hellenic culture is, invisibly, one of the most international and insiduously appropriated cultures. And here is why I think that.
Greeks might disagree on many things, but most people living in Greece do agree on the fact that it is a place that feels like unfulfilled potential. In Greece very often life is extremely frustrating because of the country’s rigidity and, up until recently, quite reactionary short-sighteted vision of the future. For women and marginalized groups, it is also a place where nationalist patriarchal nepotism dominates the way we navigate life.
And while there is always an ecosystem of reasons why things are the way they are, I would like to focus on one that I think is particularly overlooked and centrally important, like an epicenter from which so many other problems emanate.
One of the biggest silent wounds in the Greek legacy is its stolen potential for historic expression during the Roman and later Ottoman occupation, as well as more recently through the burdens of world wars and economic crises through which Greece has had to take its first steps into the modern world. This lost potential has never been properly healed or forgotten.
With the colossal place that the Greek legacy occupies in our world’s societies, ranging from its influence on etymology, narratives, sciences all the way to arts and politics, most people around the world do not realize that Greece, as a country is barely two hundred years old. Before that, it was a land that saw centuries worth of destruction, cultural erasure and enslavement of its peoples.
When the Ottoman empire conquered Hellenic lands, Greeks fleeing the violence and occupation from the fourteenth century onwards have shifted forever the course of European history. The exodus of the Greeks to Italy and France pushed forward the rise of the Renaissance, as well as that of naturalism and French humanism… Greek mythology, Greek design, Greek philosophy, Greek metaphysics and their relation to nature became mainstream sources of influence that were widely readapted through the work and gaze of Western European thought-leaders. Greek culture continued to be perceived as a pinnacle of intellectual legacy all the way to the Enlightenment. It is important to understand when the Greek culture became an international legacy, because it coincides with a time during which the Greeks had no homeland they could occupy freely, and no way to structure, control or protect their legacy abroad. The reality of this fact has never been properly addressed. Yet the Greek legacy still influences the modern world today, especially the Global North, arguably more than any other ancient cultural legacy.
A lot can be argued about whether Westernized intellectual elitism is a good thing to still focus on nowadays, but that is an argument for another day. And the fact remains that the legacy of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment has tremendously enriched and culturally developed the countries that hosted these movements.
Greek refugees were an undeniable influence of this historic shift in global culture, yet so little of this legacy has ever come back to benefit Greece and its peoples. The philhellenic movement might have helped liberate Greece from occupation in many ways, but in the end it mostly helped solidify the idea that the Greek culture matters primarily due to its appreciation and appropriation by other cultures.
From the Renaissance until this day, the continuous appropriation and re-adaptation of the Greek culture through the lens of globalizing mainstream culture systematically erases and westernizes the Hellenic roots of this legacy. This overlooked fact needs to become a conversation, because the truth is that this culture, the Greek culture stemming all the way from ancient times, is technically – through infrastructure, media productions and aesthetic markers – much more accessible and visible abroad than it is in Greece. Greece has faced, and still faces, enormous economic and structural obstacles that keep the country from thriving on cultural fronts. And this is so important to remember. Greece and the Greek people face tremendous cultural obstacles halting greatly the ways in which the country evolves, innovates and pushes forward its creative legacy into the future.
Nowadays, as a land, Greece is a place filled with apathy, inherited from generations having to live with the consequences and burdens of centuries of oppression and the global cultural appropriation that followed it. Everywhere we go, we feel it and we know it.
This wasted potential lives in the collective unconscious of the Greek people around the world, who are holding on to ancient history, mythology and archeology as the primary way of preserving the Hellenic identity through time, instead of even trying to patch together the fragmented legacy that is the state of modern Greek culture.
In parallel, we should also look critically at our representation and connection to our world’s leading powers. The Greek civilization did become a trope of the European elite between the Renaissance and the age of Enlightenment, and now it does serve as a symbolic trope to the world. Throughout history, our civilization’s art, temples and legacies in all forms were sold and plundered, shipped to foreign metropolitan museums en masse to become trophies and tokens of intellectual history. And so much of the rest was destroyed by the occupying forces attempting to erase the Greek culture forever.
When we open any general world history book, it often seems like Greek history just belongs to the world. And until this day, the most driven people of Greece seek the validations and approval of Western Europe or the United States to support their legitimacy in life, rather than contributing to the future development of their own homeland. Considering Greece’s economic situation and lower wage standards, it is completely understandable, yet what a shame it is to see how slow things are to change in Greece for this exact reason.
Greek culture has been appropriated around the world to the point where there is little commonly noticed division between the Global North’s inherited historic legacy and the Greek history. Yet against all odds, the Greeks are still here, and they are entitled to claim the respect, credit and rights to their own history and culture.
It is truly time for Greece to find its legitimate place both in Europe, in the world and in history, paving a renewed sense of identity that can make Greece feel culturally strong enough to be its primary driving force in the ever evolving future history of our world. Additionally, we need to explore as well all the ways in which Greece can find its place as an international culture, since it is so deeply entangled already with the rest of our world. We must find a way to keep evolving without disappearing or perpetuating oppression (historically, as both oppressed and oppressors), in this beautiful, entangled and chaotic world we all inhabit and share.
This is a complex and delicate task, that can be more easily answered by visions rather than tools. This is why we want to introduce to the world the concept of Hellenofuturism. As a movement, Hellenofuturism is an attempt for this much needed cultural rebirth.
What follows are the first notes leading towards an ever evolving future-focused manifesto.
“Greek culture has been appropriated around the world to the point where there is little commonly noticed division between the Global North’s inherited historic legacy and the Greek history. Yet against all odds, the Greeks are still here, and they are entitled to claim the respect, credit and rights to their own history. “
Hellenofuturism is a futures philosophy and a science-fiction / fantasy aesthetic that explores the unfolding vision for the future of the Greek legacy. Hellenofuturism places itself at the intersection between historic heritage, cultural expression, sciences, arts and technology.
At the heart of hellenofuturism is a belief in the return to the wonder of storytelling as an expression of our society’s evolving values and collective dreams. And to make sure we finally understand our communities fully, we are interested in revisiting the stories and symbols we perpetuate from perspectives that might have been silenced or ignored in the past, in order to finally paint a full and rich vision that includes everyone and opresses no one, throughout the mythologies past and future.
Beyond that, we hold dear the legacy of polymathic exploration, aesthete contemplation, creative experimentation, community-driven support and democratic collaboration. Just like our ancestors, we are in every way inspired by the world around us, the beauty of nature and the power of creation. This is the lens through which we guide the future.
Hellenofuturism | Mï X AI
Our mission is to carve out an aspirational and awe-inspiring vision for the future of the Greek legacy. We want to help people dream, create, experiment and collaborate.
Because we believe in a beautiful future and we want to help it unfold.
We do this through creation. We create ways in which we can collectively project ourselves into future fantasies and plan from there. We also curate and nurture the circles of creators, thinkers, activists and makers that are allowing hellenofuturism to rise in healthy and beautiful directions.
“We envision Greece as a cradle for a creative awakening, using the beauty of our lands and the artistry of our peoples to shape a dreamy reality that allows us to believe that the best is yet to come.”
The future is a spectrum of possibilities. We envision a future in which new mythologies unfold, evolving through stories, old and new, inspiring the rise of new environments, admirable characters and unifying communities able to bring a sense of meaning to a cultural rebirth of Hellenic values, rooted in the spiritual communion between nature, our world, our past and our future. We envision Greece as a cradle for a creative awakening, using the beauty of our lands and the artistry of our peoples to shape a dreamy reality that allows us to believe that the best is yet to come. Making peace with the past. Embracing our complexe and multiculturally driven history. Merging the cutting-edge of technology with the limitless creativity of our minds and stories.
Imagine how beautiful the future could be if we nurtured all that is kind and spellbinding, building it in a way that allows us all to heal, unite, create and thrive…
AND SO IT BEGINS…
In order to structure and further amplify the hellenofuturist movement, we are preparing to launch the Hellenofuturist Foundation, through which we will do our best to empower and bring into the spotlight those who are nurturing the cultural rebirth of the Hellenic legacy, both in Greece and around the world.
Over the course of the years to come, we will expand upon this concept and lay out not only how to support it but how to help us navigate the Greek symbolism and identity towards the future.
For all those around the world, from all countries and backgrounds, who are to this day inspired by the legacy that Greek history has left in the world and actively express it through their work, we want to encourage you to develop more ties with our countries and its people, so that your appreciation and talent can reverberate back and serve the source that inspired it.
This can be achieved by bringing more art, exhibits, concerts, and cultural productions of all kinds to (or in collaboration with) Greece and Cyprus, as well as by nurturing collaborations and networks with the people of Greece and Cyprus.
Let’s create amazing realities together.
by Mia Sea
Founder @ AEGIS