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25/07/2005

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 25.07.2005

Eleonore Büning, Regina Mönch and Heinrich Wefing had a long discussion with chancellor candidate and opera enthusiast Angela Merkel, who is off to the Wagner festival in Bayreuth. The opening performance tonight is the premiere of Sir Christopher Marthaler's staging of "Tristan and Isolde" – Merkel's favourite opera. "What always worries me about Wagner is that the bitter end is hinted at from the start, from the first note on. So that I feel a deep sorrow when I think of the third act of Tristan. And already by the second, when you think you might be able to forget it - Heiner Müller staged it so beautifully and 'terribly', that you can't forget it. It was the best second 'Tristan' act I have ever seen or heard."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 25.07.2005

Wolfgang Schrieber spoke with Anna Viebrock, stage designer and right-hand woman to director Christoph Marthaler, whose "Tristan and Isolde" opens the Bayreuth Festival this year. About their collaboration, Viebrock says, "It's typical of our work that we don't theorise too much. We go at it simply, quite intuitively... Christoph doesn't like reading much, but then you notice that he has read a lot. For me 'Tristan' is a kind of obsession. I'm particularly interested in what happens between man and woman, between men and women. The whole thing is about injuries and wounds, it's an extremely sad story." Asked whether she thinks they will continue working on Wagner, Viebrock is doubtful. "Christoph always says, 'Tristan' is the only Wagner work for him. The other works, with all those gods - that's not his style. Another source of inspiration for us was Bunuel's 'L'age D'Or' - there's a lot of 'Tristan' in that, and it's also an amour fou. In all these things, it's the romantic that's at play, but also irony - in contrast to everything else Wagner did."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 25.07.2005


Dutch-Moroccan author Abdelkader Benali asks whether he couldn't have seen the dichotomy faced by young Muslims between integration and radicalisation through the facade of everyday life any sooner. Benali draws connections between the murder of Theo van Gogh and the London bombings and arrives at the following conclusion: "Ultimately, open western society stands and falls on the fact that it provides immigrants with an instruction book that, when it comes to the crunch, it's not going to enforce at any price. This gives the immigrant the freedom to merge into the dominant society on the one hand but also the opportunity to distance himself from his surroundings. Depending on the individual situation, the leeway in this model can be expanded or restricted. This is the only way an open society can remain different from other societies."


Die Tageszeitung, 25.07.2005


Rudolf Walther complains about the simplification and vilification in the debate we have been following over Wolfgang Kraushaar's book on the failed attempt to bomb the Jewish Community Centre in Berlin in 1969. "Kraushaar doesn't prettify anything or condone anybody; he prompts the Left to engage in some self-reflection. At the end of the sixties people genuinely believed that by differentiating between legitimate anti-Zionism/anti-Imperialism and untenable anti-Semitism, they had found a feasible and valid political position. But actual circumstances didn't conform to this abstract formula. The would-be clarity of the differentiation was misleading. Because by incorporating anti-Zionism into the general concept of anti-Imperialism, the historic dimension to which Israel owes its origins and its unconditional right to exist, went under."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 25.07.2005


Harry Nutt offers a little commentary on the increased presence of foxes in Berlin, which are no longer to be seen only at night or in Berlin's wooded suburbs, but are slinking by the full light of day through the city as though it belonged to them. Nutt attributes this in part to the absence of the former East German functionaries, for whom hunting was a favourite pastime. "Today, animal life in east Germany is increasing at the same rate that people are moving away from unemployment and the continuous disappearance of industry." Furthermore, Nutt suspects the foxes might have something to do with the upcoming federal elections: "Maybe the increasing wilderness in the city is a metaphor for what will be going on in the coming weeks in political Berlin. Foxes in Berlin: they don't want to play, but they don't bite either."


Saturday, 23 July, 2005

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 23.07.2005

Why the terrorists in London behaved the way they did has left Andreas Breitenstein perplexed. He is not convinced by the explanations of certain members of the Left – the London mayor Ken Livingstone or Scottish writer A.L.Kennedy, for example. While Livingston blames Israel's policy towards Palestine and Kennedy the British involvement in Iraq, Breitenstein speculates: "Instead of improving the world, the Left (and European Left at least) has subscribed to a form of cultural relativism that excuses the 'other' from moral judgement and leads towards an isolationist defence of its own 'bourgeois comfort' (Michael Ignatieff) in Western capitals. In a reversal of the sequence of events, the Iraq war is represented as a cause rather than a result of the global campaign against Al Qaida terror and this is justified as counter-defence in an asymmetric war. Certainly it's a paradox to want to achieve peace through war, but dialectics used to be a strength of the the Left."


Die Tageszeitung, 23.07.2005

Political and cultural commentator Ian Buruma explains in an interview why the integration of immigrants functions better in the USA than in Europe. "America goes out of its way to give the people equal rights as state citizens. Another factor is the less developed the social system in the USA. Each individual is forced to participate in economic life. If you don't, it's the end of you. In Europe it's possible to rely on the welfare state without ever settling into the economic system."

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