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21/04/2005

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 21.04.2005

Medieval historian Michael Borgolte wonders whether Joseph Ratzinger's choice of name is based not on Benedict XV, but on Benedict XII, pontiff from 1334 to 1342, who as Bishop Jacques Fournier, interrogated Cathar heretics in the Pyrenees without torturing them (but later burning them at the stake): "His questions are documented in numerous volumes, and they allow a glimpse of how sensitive he was in locating the faith of the errant, and how uncompromisingly he enforced orthodox doctrine. When he moved to a neighbouring bishopric in 1326, the influence of Catharism had been broken. Shortly thereafter, Fournier became cardinal and theological counsellor to his predecessor as Pope, who – like Benedict XVI's predecessor – bore the name John."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 21.04.2005

"Of course, the decision to elect Ratzinger as Pope is a radical one," writes Gustav Seibt. "He does not have the reputation of a man of compromise, he is not a popular figure. Erudition and an intellectual air are intimidating qualities, not only for many believers. Add to that Ratzinger's not incidental physiognomy. His drawling, high voice gives the impression of irony, even when he is in fact being friendly. That is not insignificant: coldness, brilliance and irony were always some of the most severe accusations levelled at certain popes by enemies of the Church. They are un-Jesus-like characteristics, expressing a combination of intellectual superiority and earthly power, which seems downright unchristian for many." Seibt finds the combination thrilling. "His fine smile hides that balance of submission and authority which constitutes the essence of Catholicism."


die tageszeitung, 21.04.2005

"We used to be World Champions, now we are Pope (as yesterday's Bild Zeitung frontpage headline proclaimed -ed.). It is 482 years ago since the last German Pope and it will probably be that long before Germany wins the World Championship again," quips writer Georg M. Oswald, as the Germans morph from football to Pope fans. "Striking numbers of older people who were questioned by TV journalists on the choice of Pope, expressed regret that Ratzinger was 'so conservative', citing the usual objections: contraception, pregnancy advice, celibacy. Younger people however seem to be captivated by the fact that the although Pope represents attitudes that stem from past centuries, it is precisely this sort of anti-enlightenment unwordliness that offers the intimidated Westerner something to hold on to. Seen this way, we might not be Pope quite yet, but we are well on the way."


Christina Nord went to the film festival Visions du reel in the Swiss city of Nyon, and reviews Thai video artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul's first full-length feature film, "Mysterious Object at Noon", completed in 2000. Weerasethakul spent three years travelling throughout Thailand, working with city dwellers and villagers on the black and white film. Each person he works with must develop a basic story in their own way. The result "looks at the narrators as they tell – or develop – their story. The central elements are the teacher Dogfahr, her disabled student and a mysterious ball. At a key moment the ball changes into a young boy or, depending on the narrator, an alien. A tiger appears too, a tiger-witch and a puzzling red skin condition, which produces unpleasant results." But the more narrators take up the story and develop it in their way, "the more the film meanders".


Die Zeit, 21.04.2005

"The new World Championship football stadium in Munich is a terrific work of art and a plea for better football" sings Hanno Rauterberg. Designed by architects Herzog und de Meuron, the building is already being called the "giant rubber dingy" or the "giant tire" but Rauterberg thinks this is unfair. "When the sun shines, the inflated cushions and the deep notches between them become a racing game of shimmering light, with reflexes and strange transparencies that seem to make the shell arch and fold itself in ever new variations, threatening to dissolve. It seems alive, it moves and all at once it is more than a pure, beautiful form: it resounds in metaphors. As if all its surging and glistening was a call, a plea for a football full of elegance and powerful, hovering lightness ... The architecture seems to promise that despite all the marketing and media hype, football retains something mysterious, something as artistic and sparkling as the building itself." (Here more images)

The newspaper ordered: "1 critique of capitalism, maximum 10,000 characters, including spaces." Austrian author Robert Menasse duly hammered out the critique, "to be delivered by 5 pm the day after tomorrow", putting it in the mouth of a Greek beggar woman named Cassandra encountered while on vacation: "Misery and destruction begin unassumingly the moment people truly grasp how the logic of the system and the market bends to our needs. I see how this comes to pass. Unassuming misery becomes seeming misery, then real misery with murderous consequences. War. To put it bluntly: modernisation. To put it in human terms: death."

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