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GoetheInstitute

05/04/2005

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 Rundschau, 05.04.2005

"This is pop music, everybody" cries Elke Buhr after listening to the new CD from German band Wir sind Helden. But she is unable to take quite so seriously the anti-consumerist stance of the band and in particular the singer Judith Holofernes. Following their first hit 'Guten Tag, Guten Tag, ich will mein Leben zurück' (Good day, Good day, I want my life back) speech bubbles kept popping out of her mouth with 'anti-consumerism' written in them. She was against H&M T-shirts made by children in Bangladesh, and for self-determination in the music industry shark pool, she was against casted bands and for organic vegetables. And all this as a representative of post-feminist girliness, with a love of the good things in life and in pop. Why not? If you have an opinion then you should be able to express it. But one assumes that she and the other band members must have watched themselves doing this. And what they saw was most probably cartoonish. If there is something the band really have in common with their generation, then it is the pleasure of feeling like you're in a comic strip. They have that certain distance to themselves and to the roles they play. And they have an appreciation for the comic aspect that results when you force such a little I into the obligatory poses demanded of stars in the sixth decade since the emergence of rock."

The exhibition project Populism, set to take place in four European cities – starting on May 10 in the Frankfurter Kunstverein – addresses the concept in aesthetic, intellectual and political terms. Today Niels Werber opens a series of essays accompanying the exhibition, defining populism as a "way of mediating questions that have been decided in advance." He writes: "Populism conveys already answered questions to an audience in such a way that the audience believes it arrived at the decisions itself, or wanted to. The decisions have already been made in elite circles - the Hartz reform of the labour market, the pay freeze at VW, the closing of Karstadt department store outlets and German army bases - the masses need only be informed. The act of conveying information is in this context always an act of control. (...) Populism in no way falls back upon and represents an accepted opinion, knowing it can be assured of public consent. Rather, things happen the other way round. An idea, an opinion, a stance is inseminated among the masses in such a way that they assume it was theirs from the start."


Der Tagesspiegel, 05.04.2005

Media and literary scholar Jochen Hörisch draws attention to the fact that the papal combination of media modernity and conservative values is nothing new. Hörisch draws an interesting analogy to Ronald Reagan and Ayatollah Chomeini. "Intensely strongheaded concepts that are demonstratively entrenched in tradition are an ideological call to arms, with missionary pretensions. No mission without emission. No power without media. All three powers lay claim to global validity: The Church is not called Catholic for nothing, in other words all-embracing; Chomeini reactivated in Islam the idea of the proselytising Umma, and conservative US foreign policy since Regan has focussed on conquering the kingdom of evil and spreading American values around the globe. Since the Vatican lacks the military powers of the other two, it has perfected the idea of media power."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 05.04.2005

Jörg Häntzschel visits the new concert hall in Porto designed by Rem Koolhaas, describing it as an "architecture of disquietude". He writes: "One of the disquieting things is Koolhaas' bare brickwork architecture. The bar seems to be made from the remains of shuttering timber nailed together, and the bronze-clad lift reeks of bare metal. The world is out of joint, so why bother plastering? Koolhaas asks. The concept of architectural pampering is completely foreign to him."

To Europeans, the positions taken by Pope John-Paul II may sometimes appear conservative, even bizarre. But his real public has long been located elsewhere in the world, writes American religious historian Philip Jenkins. "In the papal vision, Nigeria and the Philippines were important in a way the Netherlands, or even Germany, haven't done for decades. The United States were still important because of the Latinos and Asians who live there, but not because of the vocal white Americans." Hence the exorbitant addiction to the cult of Maria. "To put it bluntly, if these devotional trends bring serene West Europeans to the border of schism, there is simply nothing to be done."


Die Tageszeitung, 05.04.2005


The taz continues its series on the current relationship of the 68ers to their past, focussing in particular on the question of student leader Rudi Dutschke's attitude to violence as a means of social change. Today Attac activist Christoph Bautz writes on the significance of Dutschke's approach today. Above all, he says, the basic conditions have changed considerably. "What was innovative then has now become the norm in social movements. (...) But Dutschke's libertarian leanings have become alien to movements espousing a regulative and redistributive social state in times of neo-liberal attacks on social security and taxation. Whereas in 1968, focus was on the state's exaggerated and misguided taxation capabilities, these are likely to crumble in times of global competition among business locations. Globalisation provides the threatening backdrop against which social security and redistribution are eaten away. The outcome is the dissolution of the glue that holds societies together."


Die Welt, 05.04.2005

Herbert von Karajan
took over the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra 50 years ago. Today, a good 15 years after his death, practically nothing is left of his reign. Kai Lührs-Kaiser remembers: "The musicians themselves are helping to dismantle Karajan's legacy. Since Claudio Abbado took over, efforts have been made to aerate the orchestra's sound, to strip down the militant over-abundance of strings, and to make a radical break from the melodious public baths aesthetic. The Karajan exorcism was directed at the squeaky clean show effects, the duplication of the brasses, and the closed, 'standing-together' ranks of sound. That was all a relict from the times of the Cold War, and had to go."

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