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GoetheInstitute

14/07/2005

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.

Die Zeit, 14.07.2005

Essayist and sinologist Ian Buruma explains in an interview with Thomas Assheuer why the terrorist attacks on London should not be interpreted as revenge for the war in Iraq, but as Islamic fundamentalists' hatred of the West. "The overwhelming power the USA has today is extremely aggravating for these people, particularly the young people in the Middle East. I see it like this: the relative backwardness of many Arab countries with their authoritarian regimes causes enormous dissatisfaction. Modern communication systems provide people with a drastic awareness of their situation which means they feel their backwardness more keenly than before. Add to this their emigration experiences in Western countries. As soon as these experiences become amalgamated with the problems the Muslim migrants left behind them in their homeland, it provokes an incendiary situation, possibly even a revolutionary movement. Religious fundamentalism wants to return to old beliefs and revolutionary Occidentalism develops destructive fantasies."

Benedikt Erenz is enthralled with an exhibition at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz on the history of the newspaper, which traces printed news right back to its first historical reference 400 years ago: "This is a petition by Strasbourg news dealer Johann Carolus to the municipal council, requesting protection against unfair competition for his most recent enterprise. Previously he had distributed hand-written news, but in the last twelve weeks he had turned to printing it. The letter is from October 1605, and is the very first mention of a newspaper as we now know it: black print on white paper. All the same, the Gutenberg printing press had been around for a century and a half. Unfortunately, the first copies have yet to be uncovered. But aside from Carolus' valuable letter, visitors can see the oldest existing copy of a newspaper. It is four years younger, and also comes from Johann Carolus' news enterprise." The exhibition also features the first press to print on paper produced from wood pulp, the 1848/9 writings by Louise Otto arguing for a women's press, and the dpa ticker from East Germany on November 9, 1989, announcing the Berlin Wall had fallen.


Die Welt, 14.07.2005

In an interview with Ekkehard Fuhr, sociologist Ulrich Beck explains why full employment is an illusion, how the labour market is becoming "Brasilianised", and why we should read Franz Kafka to understand how this is happening: "There is a considerable overlap between the theoretical idea of the 'second modernity' and what Kafka attempts to express in 'The Metamorphosis'. What is happening is a metamorphosis, and not a crisis. So there is no going back to how things were before. The theory of the second modernity holds that the radical implementation of the principles of modernity – autonomy of the individual, the market, scientific rationality, etc. – pulls the carpet out from under the modern institutions – above all the national state. As in 'The Metamorphosis', something happens to us that we don't want, and that we don't want to accept or understand. An ever larger discrepancy is emerging between our situation and our concepts of reality and normality. Kafka describes this with incredible precision. His works belong to the classics of sociology."


Berliner Zeitung, 14.07.2005

A major show of photographs by Diane Arbus has opened in Essen, the first since the MoMA show in 1972, a year after Arbus committed suicide. At that time, Susan Sontag famously criticised Arbus' works as voyeuristic in "On Photography". Malte Conradi has visited the Essen show, which will travel on to London and Barcelona in the fall, and sees a more diversified, less voyeuristic side to Arbus' works: "The show attests to Arbus' ability to discover not only 'the familiar in the strange' as the catalogue says, but also the strange in the familiar. Alongside her 'Freaks', the classics of modern photography such as the 'Young Man in Curlers' or the 'Jewish Giant at Home with his Parents in the Bronx', the exhibition also features many less spectacular pictures. In them Arbus presents not the outsiders of society, but so to speak its average personnel. And it is the seemingly day-to-day aspect that appears bizarre and unreal in these photos."
The exhibition "Diane Arbus – Revelations" can be seen in the Neue Galerie, Museum Folkwang in Essen, until September 18.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 14.07.2005

American performance artist Laurie Anderson spent two years as "Artist-in-Residence" at NASA. Werner Bloch asked her how she found it. "NASA is obsessed with equations. They love to saying that 90 percent of the universe is unknown. But I ask myself: why 90 percent and not 99.9 percent? How can you speculate about something you know nothing about in percentages? And then there's the bizarre male terminology. The scientists say that the universe contains active and passive particles. They call the active ones 'machos' and the passive ones 'wimps'. What kind of categories are these guys thinking in?"


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14.07.2005

Niklas Maak saw in the Goya exhibition in Berlin "a unique spectrum of horror visions and hopes". Goya's oeuvre was "marked by an ambivalence towards revolution, a mixture of hope for emancipation and fear of the horrors born of anarchy", Maak explains. "Only a decade after his arrival, Goya had risen to become the most successful court painter and portraitist of his time. This may seem surprising from today's perspective because Goya idealised nothing: if you had a potato nose he painted you a potato nose. The dignitaries in his portraits stand there looking strangely awkward. Whereas the figures in Velasquez portraits know precisely how to present themselves, Carlos IV's family in Goya's famous painting stands about in a confused group, looking disoriented in all directions as if a guillotine-happy mob from the neighbouring country might already be lurking nearby."

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