Europe in 2013
The neighbours and a dog as ghost rider
in Marsaxlokk - Malta
Poems of following poets were read
Merlie M. Alunan
The poetry evening was held in Marsaxlokk - South Port of Malta on 17.5.2013.
Mount of entrance to Valletta
Valletta in Malta shall be ECoC in 2018. Their logo is 'imagine 18'. The entire city is a world heritage site. A great fortification besides the great harbour attests to this. There is the famous cathedral in which lie buried the knights. But memories of those times stirr hardly those emotions of romantic knighthood although tourist shops do sell all kinds of knights in armour. Rather huge cruise ships dock for a while to let 2000 or more tourists at a time flock to see this and other cultural heritages. It is said Malta's economy is made up to 30% by tourism. This city polis has its attraction but also disadvantage. Merely around 7000 live in Valetta, the rest outside and spread throughout the island but during the working week they come into Valletta for work since there is the administration of the government and the cultural life. It will be interesting to see what V.18 shall make out of the opportunity to be ECoC in 2018.
View of entrance to the Great Harbour of Valletta
2018 - besides Valletta there shall be as well one Dutch city. Right now Eindhoven, Maastricht und Leeuwarden are seeking the title. A jury comprised of six Dutch and seven European experts shall decide come September 2013.
It will be soon the turn of Greece to select one city for 2021. Discussions have already started as to which cities might be candidates. Pireaeus might be a candidate city, so also Irakion in Crete.
See interview with
Towards a European Union of the Citizens
Michael D. Higgins gave as President of Ireland a speech during the Irish EU Presidency in the European Parliament. He addressed the elected politician to be in contact with the electorate. Also he wishes a European debate not confined by economic parameters alone. Rather it should be recalled European culture is a much wider space than the economy.
Democracy, Solidarity and the European Crisis
Lecture delivered by Professor Jürgen Habermas on 26 April 2013 in Leuven
Jürgen Habermas gave likewise an important lecture about Europe as well in April at the University of Leuven. Sub-divided into three parts, most interesting for him was the third one since an expression of what philosophers can do best, namely a conceptual analysis. In this case Habermas analysed the concept of 'solidarity'.
Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth
Kids' Guernica has matured into Guernica Youth. This means as well clarification has to be sought as to what Kids' Guernica by itself has succumbed to. The new international committee was merely selected by members of the old international committee and therefore lacks any moral legiitimacy. That means a potential loss as to what a world wide movement could contribute towards peace.
Memorial exhibition in Nagasaki, August 2012
Culture and EU Foreign Policy – Germany's foreign policy of reconciliation after 1945 to the present
There are some crucial lessons to be learned from experiences made by member states, in particular Germany. It is something Lily Garnder Feldman calls in her book about "Germany's Foreign Policy of Reconciliation", the 'institutionalization of friendship'. Whereby NGOs can have an impact upon foreign policy by seeking redemption and reconciliation, and thus ensure that dialogue with the others instead of a continuity of all kinds of wars prevails, there is a need for political courage at all levels to take things forward and in a good direction.
As Iman Nouri from Lebanon would put it, we risk otherwise to live in a 'schizophrenia of peace' with loud music discos on one side of the street while on the other bombs go off. Critical is what the DAVID project examines, namely which projects contribute towards a social literacy in order to face 'invisible violence'.
Graffiti and the silence of poets
Street sign leading to park - off Likavitos stairs
When the poets are silent, then the graffiti screams off the walls! That can be one way of putting the situation in Athens when perceived through a street art which includes not merely graffiti but also a tagging of walls. Yet the poet Yiorgos Chouliaras does not to agree. This has prompted a discussion about 'Graffiti and the silence of poets' together with George Fragopoulos. The latter has written about the Graffiti scene in Athens and how a poem 'The refuge' by Yiorgos Chouliaras has found its way into one of these graffiti. Indeed, it can link to a subconscious solidarity with Greece being displayed of all places in Zurich where a friend spotted a graffiti with the heading "money creates loneliness - solidarity with Spain and Greece."
Children playing in the main square of Valletta with water fountain (18.5.2013)
T h o u g h t
What would be noticed if only this one word was written on an otherwise empty page in a huge book: 'thought'? It could be on display in the main square of Valletta, directly in front of the old Parliament building. Of course, other associations can begin to filter in once a process called V.18 - imagine 18 has started. This was the case when Valletta held its conference 'small city/big dreams' to mark the transition from candidate city to be officially recognized as being the European Capital of Culture in 2018. During the opening panel discussion on Thursday, May 16, 2013, Carlo Ratti, expert on computer simulation, described how they installed a water sculpture with sensors so that certain water effects could be created e.g. entering a space screened off by water streaming down as if walls. Later on he showed how children played with the water - very much like the ones in real space when crossing the main square on a hot Saturday and seeing children trying to outwit the stream of water coming vertically out of the ground. Here the world, there the real world and both raise the question of ethics but what will become the world of real experience if everything is monitored, controlled and emphasized by computer simulations and programmes set to guide the traffic flow? After all, what is this hunger for more smart cities as if human intelligence and human contact does not count? And if the term 'real world' is even more elusive, than the term 'real time' used already in world controlled and organized by intelligent systems wishing to exclude the human factor, then it can become a difficult task to evaluate European Capitals of Culture.
Charles Johnston in New Zealand tests the outcomes with such a term as 'psychic income', that is a term which seems to be applied when wishing to research the legacy of a city once that one special year is over. But to call that a magical year, that would require something special like listening once poetry being read in a cave on Gozo and never to forget that moment. There are such decisive encounters in life that mark something unique in the history of that person.
Rightly so Valletta has become officially European Capital of Culture on 17th of May 2013. The bid made to fulfil the criteria as stipulated by the European Commission and its jury is impressive. It is well written and thought through. There is at display a very good aesthetical quality as well. Always care was taken not to promise too much and thus it has become a standard phrase to heed the need for a management of expectations. But as of this date of 17.5.2013, it is asked to imagine what it shall be like when Valletta will be European Capital of Culture in 2018. To relate to this imagative process, then not to capture the imagination like a butterfly with a net or by putting a bug in a glass, but rather to start with by having such a huge book addressing an invisible audience. And since virtual reality dominates nowadays everywhere, the pages would be transformed by letting images flow over them like water while underneath the surface of the sea the fishes swimming along could be seen. Yet in light of acqua sports becoming ever more popular in all kinds of tourist destinations in order to attract new clients, extra care has to be taken if Valletta is to reconnect people to maritime traditions and a sustainable development of land and sea that the programme does not fall into into this tourist trap. For a European Capital of Culture city should not be reduced to being a mere object of a marketing or branding strategies, even if according to some experts this would guarantee the success. Thus on that very evening, it could be noticed that the t h o u g h t still remained standing there, where it was imagined to see an open page of a huge book in midst of the square now deserted since all had gone home. And here the uniqueness of Valletta is revealed: active and noisy during the day, there reigns silence as many live outside this cultural heritage city and its impressive fortification looking down at the great harbour.
Europe is in a crisis and more so due to growing discrepancies between member states doing apparently well while others are drained in what should have been an empowerment of the people to shape their lives. Conseaquently temperaments can flare up when goals are not achieved while others attain resources, i.e. wealth by not fair, but rather unfair means. For instance, as if football scandals (match fixing) were not enough, Europe seems to enter a difficult dispute with Germany which seems now more than ever engulfed with chasing 'Steuersünder' - tax sinners - than with what is the outcome of the austerity policy being reinforced by a strictly monetary approach to the crisis. This means banks are favoured over people having jobs. Yet no one seems to be sure what options prevail for voters when going to the upcoming elections held in Germany this September. Certainly a similar notion can be applied when it is usually said only Americans can vote for their President but the impact will be on the whole world. Similar, but at another scale, it will matter to the rest of Europe on how Germans shall vote this time. There is this upsurge of an Alternative Party (to mock the alternatives once advocated by the Greens when they started their political process by entering Parliament - the Bundestag - for the first time), but also the wish of many not to have those back in power who they hold responsible for neglecting the question of social justice. A key problem seems to be a lack of solidarity between those who have jobs and those not unemployed, but also not fully integrated into the system as they are employed but under highly precarious conditions i.e. they can be fired at any given notice. This demand for more flexibility has transformed the labour market and eroded whatever Rights trade unions and labour movements of the past had achieved after many kinds of struggles.
Frankly speaking, a lot of wind is being created right in the press and in some leading journals as to who can criticize the austerity policy of the EU member states in unison with the European Commission. Those who are in favour of a return to the pro-growth policy like Krugmann in the Herald Tribune can point out shortcomings of the existing policy situation but a convincing alternative has not been discussed. That would be only possible if there would be a return to zero tolerance for unemployment as it used to be the case, and this was translated into a value premise for economic policy.
Europe is not only in a crisis due to having the highest unemployment ever recorded in its brief history, namely 12.1% (Greece and Spain at the top of the list with around 26% and even more so with a youth unemployment rate above 50% driving many into moving abroad, and ironcially many to Germany), but because the voices of those who advocate as in the UK an exit from Europe are growing louder by the day. Simple solutions are offered by saying it is much easier to devaluate than to save money in order to diminish the state deficit. At least, Alecos Alavanos with his Plan B new party thinks this is the right solution and therefore joins those who think in national terms, and not in what Habermas would say it takes to take a step forward towards world governance. The latter is based on the fact that member states must give up a lot of their sovereignties while there has to be assured citizen participation even within the larger or indeed global context is ensured. Still, the policy options shaped by various political forces seem to be stuck in this either muddle through or else in seizing upon single issues to exploit a situation having gone out of control i.e. rational forms of governance based on a transparent process of decision making. To the latter contribute all those enormous institutions like the OECD which is geared to monitor national governments and not provide the basis for an economic reform at world level. That would require quite another kind of thinking as demanded by Michael D. Higgins when he made his speech in front of the European Parliament in April 2013. He appealed to the elected representatives not to lose touch with the citizens.
There are by now too many living at the margin, and therefore Michael D. Higgins is right when saying the famous report 'In from the margin' is still relevant today. That means culture is also relegated again to the margin and only what brings value to the economy is seized upon as a golden opportunity. Hence the promotion of Cultural and Creative Industries continues as if creativity can be planned and made into a seeming object of policy even though little thought has been given as to what are truly outstanding investments in culture over a longer period of time. Here again Eric Antonis in Antwerp can say a few things about how to conceive a forward looking strategy for development of cultural resources which a city needs if ready to call upon them whenever needed.
With everyone looking back over their shoulders to see who is coming behind them, it leaves more than the majority speechless. Many are fenced in not by walls but by streets which have divided not only landscapes but entire city quarters. It used to be the case of American cities with the rich leaving the centre on driveways in whose shadows the slums developed in no man's places. West Side Story showed the space where in the shadow of the pillars supporting the overhead driveways fights would take place. Today these fights are invisible. It is mainly a fight against oceanic like noise of constant cars passing by or more so motorcycles, trucks, and all kinds of other vehicles as if no one has in mind to put the entire system if not into question, then at least into doubt. Instead they doubt themselves and then people doubt if anything will ever change for the better?
Thus many are inclined to drown themselves in a pool of pessimism while artists advocate an immersion in noise to find again a meaningful sound. It leaves one wondering what Europe can do to turn around this tendency to sacrifice everything for the sake of a gloomy picture?
India The criticism of Nationalism by Tagore – a review of Tagore's thoughts on an important issue especially these days when the European crisis strokes once again the xenophobic and extreme Nationalist forces.
The doctor and poet Dileep Jhaveri adds to this his own Interpretation of Nationalism
while Rati Saxena believes the role of women in India has to change.
European Structural Fund - Studies on Funding of Culture - Cultural policy of Local and Regional Authorities
The research studies on how culture is funded through the Structural Fund (2007-2013), includes the study about Greece by Hatto Fischer. They are available online on DG EAC’s website:
European Capitals of Culture While Malta has decided already Valetta to be the ECoC for 2018, Holland needs still to select from the three alternatives - Eindhoven, Maastricht and Leeuwarden - left on the short list who is going to be the ECoC in 2018.
Aarhus - received the title ECoC for 2017 over Sonderborg
Legacy of Berlin (West) 1988
Bruge, a decade later – the legacy of 2002
Poiein kai Prattein
Publication of the catalogue "Imperishable Water", 2012 with Haroula Hadjinicilou, Anna Arvanitaki, Hatto Fischer (ed.), Athens ISBN 978-618-80160-0-2
Hatto Fischer: The poem 'Destiny still flows' by Katerina Anghelaki Rooke - this concerns a discussion of the poem which inspired the action on Rhodes last year
Publication of "Nation and Identity" by Kreisau-Initiative, with introduction by Hatto Fischer is crucial for answering the question whether or not Patriotism is an alternative to Nationalism. Youth met first in Kreisau, Poland and were inspired by this example set by the Kreisau Circle which went into resistance against Hitler on the basis of a non discriminatory approach for the day after Hitler fell.
Article by Anna Arvanitaki and Haroula Hadjinicolaou, "Action on Rhodes" in Journal "Nissides" (small islands). Rhodos, Vol. 9, 2012
Najet Adouani: The Arabic world viewed from her magic carpet
Gabriel Rosenstock: Haiku and his thoughts about 'poetry and language' and another articles about 'poetry and social relevance' while covering his inputs through a literary diary to document what issues touches this man every day and throughout his life while taking trips to Japan and India.
Kritya Festival organized by Rati Saxena
Gabriel Rosenstock: Travel to India – exerpt from his travelogue
Dileep Jhaveri – poems and interviews as well a philosophical follow up
Rati Saxena: Talking roofs - collection of poems translated from Hindi into English
The poetess Merlie M. Alunan in the Philippine
Start of discussion with Yiorgos Chouliaras and George Fragopoulos about 'graffiti and the silence of poets'
Germain Droogenbroodt - living in Ithaca, Spain
The Arts beyond Images
Jad Salman: "The beasts are hungry" - Exhibition at Weekend Gallery, Berlin, 7. - 29.Sept. 2012
Reflections of his works exhibited at Weekend Gallery by Hatto Fischer
Paris exhibition 'Anaerobie' in LaPlace, Nov. 2012
Mariusz Lukasik - Warszawa
Memorial exhibition in Nagasaki, August 2012
Christa Kleinbub: Action at Helene Lange school in Mannheim, Germany The school supported likewise a Kids' Guernica action in Togo, Africa
April 4 - 7 there took place a conference about literature and translation in Valletta, Malta, Organized by the NGO Literature across Frontiers, it brought together many voices from Cairo, Beirut, Tripoli. The key idea was to link up with Valletta 2018 in a joint effort to create a lit-hub in Valletta as part of the V.18 legacy already in the making.
2 Feb. 2 February each year is World Wetlands Day. It marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general, and the Ramsar Convention in particular.
3 Feb. reading by poet Yiorgos Chouliaras with actress Eudokia Statiri at Hytirio art cafe (in Gazi, Athens) on Sunday at 12.30
5 March Lecture by Iris Kaliampetsos on “Returning Lost Marbles: Antiquities Restitution and the Law” at Athens Centre, Pangrati
7-10 March The Association of European Cities and Regions for Culture -Les Rencontres- is holding its next meeting La Rencontre de Fingal/Dublin at the invitation of Fingal County Council in Dublin, Ireland. The meeting will take place in liaison with the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
4 - 7 April Hatto Fischer attending for Poiein kai Prattein the LAF Euro-Med Literary Exchange Strategy Workshop in Malta - organized by Literature Across Borders
17 April Birthday of poet Brendan Kennelly - book launch by Sandrine Brisset
14 - 16 May Meeting of the Mentoring Society on Malta: DAVID project - which projects contribute to social literacy. Discussed shall be the Kids' Guernica project.
16 - 18 May Conference and official opening of Valletta's Imagine 18 programme for 2018
13 - 15 June in Budapest Annual conference of Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena about Catastrophe and Utopia: Central and Eastern European Intellectual Horizons 1933 to 1958
16 June Europa Nostra’s 50thanniversary Congress in Athens
12 - 13 July Reunion at London School of Economics
17 - 18 October Meeting of the University Network of European Capitals of Culture in Marseilles on the topic "Cultural encounters: The Mosaic of Urban Identities"
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