Eurodämmerung

In the Bavarian State Opera's recent production of Richard Wagner's apocalyptic Götterdämmerung, the doomed characters held onto a rocking horse in the form of a large golden euro symbol. Revealingly, the most charismatic singer on stage was not from Europe.

MUNICH – To understand the euro crisis, you obviously need to know about economics. But you also need to know about the deep cultural orientations of European societies.

With the summer holiday season in full swing, it is instructive to look at Europe’s leisure activities. When Europeans play and relax, they produce a counterpart of their financial and economic struggles. It is not just a question of what they do. How they do it – and, above all, who does it – helps to reveal the deep nature of Europe’s difficulties.

In June, the Euro 2012 football (soccer) championship readily lent itself as an analogy to the turmoil surrounding Europe’s single currency. Defeated teams were described as having “left the Euro.” Greeks were proud that their country survived the elimination round to reach the quarterfinals.

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