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Nikolaos Mavridis - Hobbies

The wider area of my research

I am fortunate enough to be working in a wide, expanding, exciting and fulfilling area, which provides interesting viewpoints not only towards taming but also towards understanding nature, human behaviours, and structures in general. What started out as my primary hobby, is now the subject of my studies and my profession. There's so much interesting stuff out there in maths, philosophy, psychology, AI and linguistics... I just wish we could extend the day to more than 24 hours :-)

Music

It's probably the most abstract of the arts by definition; music bears little superficial resemblance to naturally occurring sounds, except probably bird song and a number of other exceptions. However, temporal or spatial rhythm, and most importantly the concept harmony, are manifested almost everywhere.

I enjoy an eclectic selection from a wide variety of genres; and throughout the years my favourites evolved. Western art music and mainstream jazz are probably central, but I also like rock as well as Greek composers such as Theodorakis and Hadjidakis, and folk music - Greek, Balkan, Middle Eastern, Indian. During my late teensand early twenties, I've played bass in a couple of blues and jazz bands. Both the highly complex and organized structure of a Bach fugue as well as a childish and sentimental spontaneous group improvisation in jazz can resonate well with my brain cells!

Poetry

The history of the early origins and transformations of the meanings of words can be very intriguing. "Logos" is definetely a word whose origins are worth tracing; but also "poeisis". "Poeisis" is literally the act of creation in ancient Greece (in a rough first approximation); and this cognate is hidden behind the english term "poetry". However, it is my conviction that there is much to be gained, if the aesthetic and metaphysical qualities accompanying the "poetry" of words would extend to any act of creation, such as those that we narrowly view as "technological" or "organisational". Instead of listing all of the artists whose words have acted as vital drops of freshness on my ever-thirsty soul, from Homer to Omar Khayyam and beyond, I will just quote some parts from the nobel lecture of Elytis:

"It is not enough to put our dreams into verse. It is too little. It is not enough to politicize our speech. It is too much. The material world is really only an accumulation of materials. It is for us to show ourselves to be good or bad architects, to build Paradise or Hell. This is what poetry never ceases affirming to us - and particularly in these d├╝rftiger times - just this: that in spite of everything our destiny lies in our hands.

I have often tried to speak of solar metaphysics. I will not try today to analyse how art is implicated in such a conception. I will keep to one single and simple fact: our language, like a magic instrument, has - as a reality or a symbol - intimate relations with the Sun. And that Sun does not only inspire a certain attitude of life, and hence the primeval sense to the poem. It penetrates the composition, the structure, and - to use a current terminology - the nucleus from which is composed the cell we call the poem....

...But then is it not true that the poem, thus surrounded by elements that gravitate around it, is transformed into a little Sun? This perfect correspondence, which I thus find obtained with the intended contents, is, I believe, the poet's most lofty ideal.

To hold the Sun in one's hands without being burned, to transmit it like a torch to those following, is a painful act but, I believe, a blessed one. We have need of it. One day the dogmas that hold men in chains will be dissolved before a consciousness so inundated with light that it will be one with the Sun, and it will arrive on those ideal shores of human dignity and liberty."

History and Philosophy of Science and Math

Keeping a sense of continuity and purpose in our explorations, and having a wider overview of our collective struggle towards understanding and taming nature, can provide lessons for the future, inspiration, and silent companionship. From the Egyptians and Babylonians, to the people that spoke the ancient version of my language, as well as numerous Chinese, Indian, Muslim and many other scientists and philosophers, all the way through the Renaissance and towards modern times, countless stories remain to be heard.

Travelling

Wish I had more time! (well, that's my persistent wish...) I've traveled quite a lot around Greece and Europe, and visited a handful of places in North America too. Japan and the near/middle east were among my favorites, and I've experienced moments of immense beauties in gardens, Shinto temples, and Mosques. I've only been to Tunisia in Africa, and I haven't stepped foot on South America yet. I'm definitely planning to, and hope to be able to stay to places for a while in order to get a real feeling of people, cultures and most importantly, the way the past is reflected in the present and future.

Student organisations

In the past years, I have been involved with a number of student organisations around MIT, which were centered in everything from philosophy to connecting academia with industry and more. However, I have devoted most of time in being an executive committee member of the MIT Hellenic Students Association, where I have been the prime organiser behind numerous large-scale concerts, as well as poetry nights, lectures etc. You can find more on my activities at the MIT HSA here.