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GoetheInstitute

01/06/2005

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, 01.06.2005

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy has it out with the French naysayers. First he lists the beneficiaries of the "non" to the European constitution, counting Putin and Islamists among them. Then he comments on the strange victorious alliance of the Left with the extreme Right Front National: "Even if you don't know anything about the history of France, and even if you don't believe in the unconscious element in language and its dark ways, you can still see that something is very amiss if after a political earthquake you watch TV and see that you are not only geographically but also semantically very close to extreme right leaders who the night before you'd been calling fascists, and against whom you now – that was the second event of the evening – have nothing more to say."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 01.06.2005

"My problems with the term 'Europe' are similar to St. Augustine's with 'time' – if nobody asks me to explain it, I know what it is. If somebody wants to delve deeper, I have no answer", writes Warsaw journalist Maria Graczyk. "First I heard wonderful mythological words like democracy, freedom, fatherland. Soon more contemporary expressions entered my ears: net receivers, net payers, low-wage countries. In the same way, the magnificent 'fraternité', 'solidarité', 'égalité' of old have been substituted by 'acquis communautaire', 'negotiations' and 'delocalisation'". Graczyk then describes a dispute between French Member of the European Parliament Jean-Louis Bourlanges and Polish opposition leader Jan Rokita: "Bourlanges says: 'It seems to me you've been knocking at our door for years, and when we let you in, you whine that the food is bad, the walls are peeling, and where's the picture of Our Lady? Why didn't you notice this before?' To which Rokita replies: 'We're not guests in the flat – you're mistaken there. You didn't invite your acquaintances from the provinces to stay for a while. We've moved in for good! You've taken a wife who wants tear down some walls because she has every right to do so'."


Die Tageszeitung, 01.06.2005

Siemens will be overjoyed at the French "non" to the European constitution, SPD politician and member of the EU constitutional convention Peter Glotz tells the tageszeitung. The result is unpleasant for the population of Europe because now there will be no common social policies for member states. "The fact that the EU expanded without being reinforced beforehand was a catastrophic mistake. It must be considered whether key states of the EU such as France can recast their votes. This happened in Ireland. States which reject the constitution should get out of the EU and remain in a European economic market. This is a decision that heads of state will have to take at some stage."


Die Welt, 01.06.2005

"First of all it should be said that the French have lost their marbles" states Ekkehard Fuhr. But he seems to find the other Europeans a little on the neurotic side as well. "Europe can be so gloriously self-pitying. Artists and intellectuals who pride themselves on their resistance to pathos and their caustic critical powers suddenly get all schmaltzy when talk turns to Europe. Suddenly what is missing is a 'soul' or a 'belief' or a 'vision' or simply a clear 'image'. In the wake of the French no this lament is everywhere."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 01.06.2005

Ina Hartwig portrays the "new heroes of young Polish writers" and concludes: "As varied as the literary qualities might be on an individual level, one thing is clear: politically tinged realism has come to Polish literature. You couldn't really say returned, at least that's what Beata Stasinska, programme director of the well-known publishing house W.A.B, says. Because in Polish history, the period of freedom between the two World Wars was too brief for an individualism worth the name to develop. And there has never been a realistic narrative tradition in Poland, the land of the poets, until now. 'We have to look in the mirror now', admits the highly committed publisher whose company emerged from the Solidarnocz movement. She too is 'permanently on the lookout for new voices in Polish literature' (one of the foreign writers signed to W.A.B. is nobel prize winner Elfriede Jelinek). Only the new anti-capitalism of the younger generation makes Beata Stasinska slightly sceptical."


Der Tagesspiegel, 01.06.2005


Germany's most renowned old-guard theatre director Peter Zadek's staging of August Strindberg's "Dance of Death" premieres tonight at the Vienna Festwochen festival of theatre and music. Zadek (79) tells in an interview why he finds German theatre today so boring. "It's almost impossible to provoke people in the theatre these days. I recently saw Elfriede Jelinek's play 'Babel'. It was supposed to be hugely provoking, but in fact it went over like an operetta, everyone found it wonderful. If you'd done that thirty years ago, ten minutes into the performance everyone would have stormed out and headed straight for the police. I don't have a clue where or how you can provoke audiences today – except maybe with calm and intelligence, by telling stories in an old-fashioned way. That would make people angry because they think that being trendy means being up-to-date and realistic. Which is also what most young directors – and not only they – believe, because that's just what the critics think too. This makes everything so facile."


Berliner Zeitung, 01.06.2005

Harald Peters talks with Liu Sola, one of the most prominent figures in China's musical scene, who is on the organising committee of this year's In Transit festival of dance, theatre and music in Berlin. Before leaving China in the mid 80s, Liu taught classical music, wrote a novel that brought her celebrity across China, and composed a rock opera heavily inspired by Pink Floyd. Back in her homeland since 2002 after a world career as pop, folk and jazz musician and reggae singer, Liu now composes works solely for traditional Chinese instruments. "I grew up with Chinese music. If I were to combine that with conventional jazz and rock instruments – which I used to do – it would seem false, like an imitation. And Chinese instruments have a similar energy to amplified ones. Take the pipa, the Chinese lute, for example. You can make deadly noises with this thing." About her own music Liu says: "I'm trying to recover lost energy. For thousands of years the energy was continually sapped from Chinese music. From the old dynasties to Mao, music was always there to stabilise the system. It was assumed that loud and dissonant music would unnecessarily excite the masses, so little by little it was simplified."

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