13/03/2007

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, 13.03.2007

Gerhard Matzig is raging against the initiative to prevent David Chipperfield's entry hall from being built on Berlin's Museum Island on the basis that this would be in violation of the local architectural heritage (more). "This doesn't, however, prevent the rescue team from decrying Chipperfield's planned restoration of the New Museum, which was almost completely destroyed in the war. The plan, which conforms to historical protection policy, is for a restoration of the original plus a modest extension. Crude imitations should be avoided. Precisely that bothers the citizen's initiative, which has now collected 20,000 votes and is preparing a petition for a referendum. The initiators would like a Museum Island Disneyland – to maintain a paradox: something old which is pretty and new. Traces of the war and layers of history are not desirable. The initiators don't want authentic buildings, but rather 'antique stained' urban furniture which would be perfect at any mall."

As part of the paper's series on megacities (more in the series here, here and here), writer Ivan Vladislavic portrays Johannesburg, where survival means protecting yourself. "Johannesburg was always a border town, a hard-fought piece of land. Territory has to be secured and defended, otherwise it's lost. Today the fighting goes on everywhere in the city, and the lines of defense are spreading rapidly. Walls replace fences, high walls replace low ones and the highest are equipped with barbs and electric wire. In the affluent suburbs, people flatten everything and build up again from scratch. Here the walls rise with every increase in salary. Stone walls give way to prefab walls, these cede the way for steel palisades, and these are topped with a crown of barbed wire."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 13.03.2007

After "The Magic Flute," the Opernhaus in Zurich now presents Sven-Eric Bechtolf's production of "The Marriage of Figaro," which premiered on Sunday. Too much Mozart? Not for Marianne Zelger-Vogt: "On the contrary, this long and amusing evening just whets your appetite for more. Because everything that happens on stage is done with appetite, and the characters who live together in Count Almaviva's palace are full of relish, one and all. Sex is behind everything they do, and that goes for the women just as much as for the men. Susanna doesn't coy around when she makes clear to her Figaro what the count wants of her. She takes hold of the wooden dowel on their future marriage bed and it all becomes perfectly clear.... Everything here is a game, played out with ravishing brilliance. Bechtolf, himself an actor and an actor's director, demands and receives total committment from his players. Every moment is filled - sometimes overfilled - with action. 'La folle journee' is the title of Beaumarchais' comedy, and it's taken to the letter - almost excessively so."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
, 13.03.2007

Following the public debate in Germany about the amnesty of two former RAF terrorists (more), Jürg Altwegg reports that France is now hosting a similar discussion. Jean-Marc Rouillan, founder of "Action Directe" is now fighting for his release. "There is no trace of regret. The terrorist considers the fact that this should be a pre-condition of his release the 'revenge of the system.' His life in jail has not brought him to the point that he believes 'that civilian democracy is the best of all societal forms, not even the least terrible of them.'"


Die Tageszeitung
, 13.03.2007

Nils Werber predicts it's going to get more and more difficult to distinguish between war and peace in the future. His comments on the war against terror rest on the theoretical underpinning of Carl Schmitt. "The consequences are epochal, because the transition to conducting war breaks down a whole set of fundamental distinctions which have thus far defined the parameters of our society; the difference between war and the repression of revolts, between police and army, between domestic and foreign policy, between enemy and criminal, between normality and state of emergency, indeed the difference between war and peace is disappearing."


Die Welt 13.03.2007

From cigarettes to eating habits, from alcohol to downtown parking: sociologist Wolfgang Sofsky is sick and tired of bans: "Once the state has fully conquered society, you might as well forget civic freedoms. Society is no longer sure of its power, and is forcing itself to watch over itself. It's just as incapable of mildness or indulgence as it is of self-regulation in cases of conflict. And the proscriptions are now so much a matter of course for the submissive subjects that they no longer even notice how their freedoms are being curtailed."

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