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GoetheInstitute

23/05/2005

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.

Monday 23 May, 2005

Der Spiegel, 23.05.2005


On Sunday, the Social Democratic Party lost the local elections in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia after 39 years of uninterrupted rule. Sunday night, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced he would hold federal elections this September, although they were scheduled only for fall 2006. The election campaign in Germany has started as of today. Writer and lawyer Juli Zeh was unaware of this when she wrote an essay criticising the "critique of capitalism", initiated by SPD chairman Franz Müntefering, with which the SPD fought the NRW campaign. Yet she also makes clear what is at stake in the upcoming elections. "Do we long for a small, secure world, or will we continue striving to extend the frontiers that provide equal chances (and so also equal risk) as far as possible – even beyond national borders? And would we be ready to sacrifice certain material things in the name of one of our older or newer ideals? How do we want to be? Strong, beautiful and successful, or noble, helpful and good?"


Die Welt, 23.05.2005

Faruk Sen, director of the Essen Institute for Turkish Studies, explains why scepticism is growing in Turkey over EU accession: Exceptional regulations and protectionary clauses in areas like freedom of movement, structural and agrarian policy, the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus and the discussion over acknowledging the massacre of Armenians in 1915 as a genocide – taken together, all this has had the result that today only 60 percent of Turks approve entry into the EU, as against 80 percent last year. "Surveys show a swing in popular opinion toward nationalist positions. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had an acceptance rate of 18 percent at the end of April. And that was without any special friction points that could have sparked such a trend. In addition, self-confidence is growing in Turkey in view of its economic performance. Per capita income in Turkey grew to a record 4,172 dollars in 2004. The country has an economic growth rate of 9.9, and is second only to China in terms of GNP growth, and all that without becoming part of the EU – at least that's how the EU opponents like to see things."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 23.05.2005

Dieter Thomä pays homage to philosopher Paul Ricoeur, who died in Paris three days ago at 92. "More than any other major 20th century philosopher, Ricoeur was always curious about new ideas and positions other than his own.... Many will remember with pleasure the shine that lit up his eyes when conversation got rolling."


Cannes ends

The feuilleton film critics were unanimously pleased that the Golden Palm at Cannes went to Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Alexandra Stäheli writes in the Neue Zürcher Zeiting: "The way 'The Child' unfolds the psychology of a figure on the margins of society – a character hovering between the sharpest realism and blithe artifice – is gripping and unnerving to the very end."

In the Tageszeitung, Cristina Nord enthuses: "The Dardennes brothers know how to show social misery and human failure in the cinema. And they never moralise when they do it. The less they want to prove, the more the result digs deep. Their characters never slow down, they're always on the move. The camera is riveted on them, showing backs, heads and necks in never-ending flight. The rooms – a hideout on a river, a highway, garages on the outskirts of a city, run-down subsidized housing – are precisely contoured, showing a milieu without pointing any fingers." Here a list of prizewinners.


Saturday 21 May, 2005

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 21.05.2005

The new building of the Berlin Academy of Arts has opened on Pariser Platz, the central square just behind the Brandenburg Gate. All of the feuilletons report on the new building designed by Stuttgart architects Behnisch & Partner, which will house the reunited academies from East and West Berlin. Heinrich Wefing is thrilled. "A sensation. Nothing less, nothing more. A liberating, exhilarating location." Just one problem: Wefing is uncertain whether the "sleepy" academy is worthy of its new home. "If the academy wants to live up to its new surroundings, it has to be at least as brimful with ideas, as astonishing, as gruff and as stimulating as the architecture that lodges it. So far it's anything but that."


Der Tagesspiegel, 21.05.2005

Plays dealing with losers, the wretched, the unemployed and the socially down and out are front runners on German stages. Peter Laudenbach sees a paradox at work. "For example among audiences of Lars Noréns' 'Personenkreis 3.1', a classic of the homeless genre, at the Schaubühne theatre in Berlin. People who avoid beggars on the subway then pay twenty euros or more to see actors giving virtuoso performances of street junkies.... In times when the middle class is increasingly nervous about looming social decline, and when perspectives are uncertain even for the more well off, there is a certain ambivalence when you see that others are doing considerably worse than you. The audiences' pity is subtly mixed with a clear marking of lines. Social exclusion, both in and out of the theatre, stabilise the crumbling self-confidence of the middle class audiences. 'Social pornography' is director Christoph Schlingensief's word for such games of distinction. That an upstanding director like Thomas Ostermeier also does not manage to avoid these mechanisms does not speak against the theatre. It merely perpetuates the one-sided interaction beteen the middle classes and the excluded."


Die Welt, 21.05.2005

Hannes Stein introduces us to the secret universe of the liberal friends of America. Although they do not dare show themselves in public, they are all the more active on the Internet. For example, the websites "Achse des Guten" (axis of good), "Davids Medienkritik" (david's media critique) or "No Blood for Sauerkraut". Yet Stein regrets: "The liberal friends of America have not yet managed to carve out a firm place for themselves. There is no common cause that could bundle the energies of all the subversive webloggers on the Internet. So there's nothing in Germany like the Anglo-Saxon "Coalition for Darfur" – a website that diligently collects all the reports on the genocide in Sudan in their entirety, and documents all the subterfuges on the part of the government. German sites must stop pussyfooting around."

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