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15/12/2006

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Süddeutsche Zeitung 15.12.2006

Social disorientation, a high level of xenophobia, and a general fear of slipping down the social ladder: in his long-term study "Deutsche Zustände" (The state of Germany) sociologist Wilhelm Heitmeyer paints things relatively black, writes Toralf Staud in a summary of this year's results. "The five volumes of 'Deutsche Zustände' describe a sort of fever curve: xenophobia, for example, rose continuously from 2002 to 2005, then sank again in 2006. Since 2004, the study has given separate treatment to the rejection of Muslims. This year too the tendency is on the rise. Today just under half of those questioned (down from almost two thirds) say Islam has 'created an admirable culture.' Otherwise, straightforward xenophobia decreases as the level of education rises. Islamophobia, however, does not." Heitmeyer's own summary appeared yesterday in Die Zeit.

Evelyn Vogel is thrilled with "Angkor - Göttliche Erbe Kambodschas" (Angkor – Cambodia's divine heritage). The largest German exhibition of objects from the Cambodian temple Angkor Wat opened yesterday in Bonn's Kunst- und Austellungshalle. "Three sculptures stand out in this collection of pre-Ankor and Ankor sculptures. First there's the monumental bronze of a Vishnu reclining on the world-snake from the 11th century. For centuries it lay shattered and submerged in water. But the god's finely carved features still exude goodness and sublimity. The four-armed Lokeshvara (ca. 1200) is called the 'living incarnation of the tree of paradise' in an inscription. Almost two metres high - the largest sculpture in the exhibit – it is an unparalleled example of the spirit of Lokeshvara-worship at the time of Jayavarman VII. And the bust of Jayavarman VII from the end of the 12th century shows perfectly how king and divinity came together in a single entity. The builder of neighbouring Angkor Thom and the ruler who made Buddhism the state religion, he was the mightiest of the Angkor kings, and expressed his power with these buildings."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 15.12.2006

Asian cities took last place in a Reader's Digest courtesy test of the 35 world metropolises. That can only be because Asians have a different understanding of politeness than Europeans, writes Hoo Nam Seelmann. He explains what he means with an example of Korean politeness. "The word we use for 'I' depends on the personal constellation, as there are many terms for it, just as there are many words for 'you'. In Korean there is no neutral form of address like 'Mr' or 'Mrs', so you have to find a suitable form depending on the person in each case. A question like 'have you eaten?' can sound very different depending if you're talking to an elderly person, someone your age or someone younger than yourself. In Western languages, this finely tuned linguistic politeness only exists to a very limited extent."

Urs Schoettli reports on the latest round in the fight between Chinese journalists and the censor. Despite all repressions, much progress has been made, says Schoettli, who finds himself reminded more often of the USA than the USSR in China. "A draft bill mandating a fine for media that report on catastrophes and accidents without the authorisation of the authorities was cause for protest recently. The same fine would apply to incorrect reporting. Officially, this draft legislation, which has to be passed by the national people's congress, is being heralded as a step in the direction of responsible journalism," but of course it's no more than a muzzle permit, Schoettli writes. "Instructive about the new draft legislation is that it is being openly discussed in the Chinese media and that the voices that spoke out against it, warning that it would prevent independent reporting, were allowed to be heard."

Basel-based architect Hans Zwimpfer's patenting of his "Pile up" building concept has created a storm of protest in the world of architecture. Traditionally, patents in the industry cover new materials or construction processes, whereas Zwimpfer's EU patent, which also applies in Switzerland, protects an immaterial concept. "There is a general consensus among architects that architecture is based on research and development processes made public and that every new building is somehow related to those that came before. As he writes in the architecture journal 'tec 21,' Markus Gasser, professor of urban studies in Zürich and Darmstadt, sees the patenting of an architectural concept with all its variations as presumptuous and an infringement on the work of others. There is also a concern in architectural circles that the patenting of necessary developments could seriously restrict or stifle architecture, and that an increase in patents would impede free competition. Hans Zwimpfer on the other hand sees in the patent a chance for architects to think in economic terms and to market their ideas successfully."


Die Tageszeitung 15.12.2006

Looking at the history of HipHop, Uh-Young Kim reflects on how political music can really be. "Hiphop didn't begin as a scream from the ghetto against social injustice, as its Eurocentric, patronising receptors would have us believe. Tired of the blood loss from gang culture, kids turned away from collective fighting in the early 70s. They wanted to party and look cool.... But the ideas circulating in society promised more drama and thus at the end of the 80s, 'black nationalists' found their ambassador in Public Enemy. Even though the group was thought of as the epitome of political rap, its strength was not in making politics but rather music and selling albums. Chuck D and his costumed troupe were not the Black Panthers, more the 'Black Panthers of Rap' – not a movement but an event in the pop world. Their popularity grew out of a clever concept rooted in their rebel image."

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Saturday 6 - Friday 12 November, 2010

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