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GoetheInstitute

22/03/2007

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.

Die Zeit 22.03.2007

There were days when Europe was regarded by intellectuals as an existential necessity, the writer Navid Kermani sighs. But now? "If you're looking for a defender of the European idea among Germany's intellectuals, er, Habermas springs to mind, ... and Habermas ... and Habermas. The Germans themselves have grown so used to the idea of themselves as Europeans that they no longer notice it. The longer (Western) Europe lives in peace, the more one forgets how successful the project of unity actually is. What was once ground-breaking now has all the mystique of Sunday chitchat or, worse, do-gooder yak. But let's face it, agricultural subsidies are not sexy. Is it not wonderful, though, that a continent that brought forth Auschwitz is now bickering over agricultural subsidies? More of that please. Beat your swords into agricultural subsidies in the Balkans too, and in Eastern Europe, and in the Middle East. Please, fight over agricultural subsidies and throw money at translators."

From April 1 - 12, Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez will conduct all of Gustav Mahler's symphonies in Berlin's Philharmonie. In lengthy article on his relationship to Mahler, Barenboim uses the 9th symphonies of Mahler and Anton Bruckner to explain why certain conductors prefer one composer over the other. "Bruckner's symphony starts in nothingness, and develops in a very slow, sustained way to the grand, imposing perfection of the first theme. This is like a musical equivalent of the philosophical emphasis on becoming over being. With Mahler, on the other hand, small units of meaning are isolated right at the beginning, giving the impression that there was something else beforehand, a self-contained whole that now only exists in fragments, vestiges of a grandeur that no longer exists in its entirety."

In an interview with Hanno Rauterberg, British architect David Chipperfield defends his concept for a new entrance building to the city's Museum Island against critics who are petitioning to stop the project (more here). The protest is nonsense, says Chipperfield, because no one can know what they're petitioning against: "No even I know at the moment what the building is going to look like. We're still working on the design, and it'll only be finished in a few months. I'm telling you, these people are protesting against a figment of their imagination.... When it's done, people are going to like it, and no one is going to criticise it, I'll promise you that. Or if anyone then the Gesellschaft Historisches Berlin (society for a historical Berlin), but they criticise everything."


Frankfurter Rundschau 22.03.2007

"Intellectually, Europe is still a long way off being as united as it was before the First World War," writes Arno Widmann on the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. In those days, there was such a thing as a European public sphere. Newspapers published articles in German, French and English. Even the local libraries of German residential towns had subscriptions and readers for at least the most important English and French papers. Our newspaper kiosks today, with the execption of a few major cities, are provincial by comparison. But then we have the Internet today. You only have to go to onlinenewspapers.com, to have almost instant access to 39 Iranian papers, magazines, agencies, TV channels as well as to the two dailies in Andorra: Diari d'Andorra and Bondia. And if you can't read Farsi it's your problem. As far an exchange of ideas is concerned, a mobility of thought, Europe was superseded long ago."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 22.03.2007

Christian Geyer comments on a recent court ruling in Frankfurt in which the (female) judge refused to recognise wife-beating as grounds for immediate divorce arguing that it was normal in "Moroccan cultural circles" (news story in German): "This case raises questions larger than itself, and touches on issues relevant to the entire debate on integration. Is it not much more pressing for religion to reconcile itself with the liberal-secular legal perspective than vice versa? Theological criteria are still accorded an autonomy in the integration debate which there is good reason to question, for theological reasons as well."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
22.03.2007

Marc Zitzmann has a bone to pick with the utilitarian understanding of art demonstrated by the French Cultural Minister, Donnedieu de Vabres. "His intentions (one wants to assume) are sincere in his use of works of art as instruments to achieve particular objectives. The 'Louvre Lens' project pitched art as the antidote to the corrosiveness of deindustrialisation. The vast biennial, 'La Force de l'art' was used to promote French artists. The 'Louvre-Atlanta' helped familiarise the staff of the Parisian art temple with the savoir-faire of their American colleagues in PR matters."

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