On the Death of Siegfried Lenz ? ?You have to justify your life?

Siegfried Lenz, one of the great writers of German post-war literature is dead. He died on 7 October 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 88 years old.... more more

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31/07/2007

Magazine Roundup

Magazine Roundup, which appears every Tuesday at 12 p.m., is originally published by Perlentaucher.

The New Yorker | London Review of Books | Prospect | The Nation | Tygodnik Powszechny | Nepszabadsag | Elet es Irodalom | Gazeta Wyborcza | Die Weltwoche | DU | Le Nouvel Observateur | New York Times

The New Yorker 06.08.2007 (USA)

Paul Goldberger asks how editorial offices will look in the 21st century, and puts his nose into these spaces in Renzo Piano's New York Times building and Bloomberg's central office. " If the Times newsroom is an unadventurous space hidden within an architecturally important building, Bloomberg is the opposite: a dazzling work environment tucked inside a refined but conventional skyscraper, designed by Cesar Pelli. Bloomberg, working with Studios Architecture and the design firm Pentagram, has produced a workspace that could not have existed ten years ago. No one, not even the chairman and the chief executive, has a private office. Instead, some four thousand employees sit in uniform rows at identical, white-topped desks bearing custom-built Bloomberg flat-panel computer terminals. Although the desk of the C.E.O., Lex Fenwick, is larger and is set slightly apart - 'I am not wholly pure,' he told me - he sits just a few feet from the young employees who handle customer inquiries and complaints."

London Review of Books 02.08.2007 (UK)

James Meek reviews a book by journalist Jeremy Scahill about the right-leaning mercenary army "Blackwater", founded in 1998 by the mega-rich Erik Prince, who thought the American military was for wimps. "The founder and owner of Blackwater, Erik Prince, the 38-year-old heir to a fortune made by his father (a Michigan entrepreneur who invented the illuminated car sun visor), is not, legally, a villain. It doesn't make him a villain that he is a privately educated, avowedly devout Roman Catholic, a former member of US Navy special forces and the father of six children. It doesn't make him a villain that he has declared: 'Our corporate goal is to do for the national security apparatus what FedEx did to the postal service.' It doesn't make him a villain that he is part of the right-wing Republican DeVos-Prince dynasty of Michigan, which has bankrolled radical Christian evangelical movements that campaign against homosexuality, abortion and stem-cell research."


Prospect 01.08.2007 (UK)

The cover story deals with the demise of the CD and the concomitant rise of the live concert. "It is difficult to prove that the rising popularity and price of live music has been directly affected by the superfluity and cheapness of the recorded stuff. But it seems more than a coincidence that just as fans are spending less on the tunes they listen to at home, they will pay unprecedented sums to hear them in concert. Ticket prices, especially for A-list artists, have soared."

The Nation 13.08.2007 (USA)

The newspaper industry must be in a sorry state, writes Eric Alterman, if people are now pinning their hopes on Rupert Murdoch. The sale of Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal, to Murdoch, does not bode well, in his view. "The editors of The New Republic argue that the Murdoch takeover of Dow Jones comes at a 'pivotal moment for liberals - a time to dial back their relentless hostility to newspapers and start crusading for them.' It's a lot to ask of liberals to 'crusade' on behalf of an enterprise whose editorial pages routinely call them cowards, traitors and criminals. Liberals would like nothing better than to take up the cause of the media's crucial role in rooting out corruption and speaking truth to power. To do so, however, we need media that take those responsibilities seriously."


Tygodnik Powszechny 30.07.2007 (Poland)

One of the most international locations in Warsaw, if not in all Europe, is in danger of disappearing. The "Jarmark Europa," a vast, sprawling bazaar inside the Tenth Anniversary Stadium, is to be converted into a stadium for the European soccer championships in 2012. "For three more months, music from around the world will be played here and cricket on the field. Yes, cricket! The game made its way here from the British Empire via India and has become the unofficial business card of the traders: an intercultural sport, a show for all the emotions and contradictions," writes Weronika Milczewska. "The Jarmark stands for the birth of Poland as a country of immigrants."


Nepszabadsag 30.07.2007 (Hungary)

Philosopher Gaspar M. Tamas writes that neo-liberal transformation policies have destroyed the economies of Eastern and Central Europe and turned the region into a playingfield for West European companies. "Eastern European economies have been eviscerated, agriculture and large industry destroyed. Competition takes the form of a race to see which country can lure the most multinationals, the big land-owners of our time, with the lowest tax rates, the cheapest loans, the lowest wages and the longest working hours. The entire region is defenseless against liberalization and deregulation in the face of the better-financed competitors in the West. Now we're looking at a rubble heap: enclaves defined by long-term unemployment and utter desperation have formed in society." Instead of protesting, people are responding with a "pathological escape reaction," says Tamas. They are ruining their health, refusing to have children, taking out huge loans, working illegally or emigrating.


Elet es Irodalom 27.07.2007 (Hungary)

Writer Gabor Schein claims that Eastern and Central Europe are in a post-colonial condition. With the exception of a few brief periods, Hungary was a colony or half-colony between 1541 and 1989. And just as the former colonies of the Third World were disappointed by independence, the post '89 hopes in Eastern Europe "that the countries would be governed with sovereignty, that their economies would grow quickly, that their culture would blossom again and that they would be less financially vulnerable" are not being satisfied. "The result has been a nostalgic desire for the colonial regime and the charismatic leaders of the transitional period, uncertainty and impatience, dissatisfaction with bureaucracy, the military and the press and above all, the realization that the world is a lot more complex than it was conceived in the very simple formula of colonial times."


Gazeta Wyborcza 28.07.2007 (Poland)

The time of the "czars of politics" is over. With Angela Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown, "thoroughly unpretentious politicians are ruling Europe today," writes a delighted political scientist, Pawel Swieboda. "These are incomplete politicians, people who want to be just like us. They are upstanding, and lack a weakness for pomp and buddy-buddying... They do post-ideological, consensual politics. For them, parties are like businesses that must convince through quality, and states are ruled in the centre, without abrupt shifts either to the left or to the right." For all their pragmatism, however, it is true that "Merkel, Brown and Sarkozy have a mission. Like Moses, they want to lead their societies to the promised land of the new global order, in which both welfare and security are to be had. And like Moses, they may not live to see the day. But they want to save Europe and the world."

A Bruce Lee memorial has gone up in Mostar, the Serbian town of Zitiste wants to answer with a Rocky memorial, and a Samantha Fox memorial is planned in Cacak. Writer Dubravka Ugresic contribution to the European debate about memorials is a proposal. She suggests building monuments to the unknown Polish plumber in numerous European cities. "The Polish plumber was the first victim of the European unification and expansion. Because everyone talks about him with fear and hatred, he should now stand on a pedestal."


Die Weltwoche 26.07.2007 (Switzerland)

In an extensive interview with Peer Teuwsen, writer Walter Kempowski, now gravely ill, looks back on his life, war and prison, and of course on his archive of diaries, his collection of people (more here). "I can't imagine anything at all when people say three or four million people were gassed. But when I hear how an SS man tormented poor Pastor Schneider, things that have long been forgotten but which were nonetheless committed to paper – I can imagine the incredible cruelty. Alone the thought of eradicating an entire people, the madness. And meanwhile I was sitting in a living room playing with little cars." Kempowski also laments that in Germany he can't be both "conservative and liberal": "You can't even express your opinion in today's Germany. Just try it! One step to the side and you're done for. Any kind of cheeful chatter is forbidden. Even to you, Mr Teuwsen, I have to watch what I say. It's pathetic. Are things that bad in Switzerland?"


DU 01.08.2007 (Switzerland)

This edition is dedicated to the Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland's major film event. One of three texts put online is written by Jörg Kalt, a long-time DU columnist and filmmaker ("Crash Test Dummies") who committed suicide on July 1: "Festivals are vital - as film directors whose films are ill-attended in the cinemas are only too aware. Festival audiences are mostly easy with their criticism, relatively low-maintenance and, thankfully, often drunk. Strictly speaking, the bigger the festival, the more advantageous it is for a film. Foreign deals are struck, you meet like-minded souls, talk about Wong Kar-Wai or Wim Wenders and spend the whole day sitting in the cinema. Which is, to put it bluntly and strictly between ourselves, incredibly boring."


Le Nouvel Observateur 26.07.2007 (France)

The magazine is running a summer series in which intellectuals of all stripes describe themselves and their work. American anthropologist Marshall Sahlins discusses his work with Claude Levi-Staruss, Polynesian cultures and what we can learn from Thucydides: "In replacing Herodotos' myth with logos, Thucydides usurped the title 'father of history' and became the darling of the pragmatists of international relations and other Western adepts of Realpolitik. His prestige will probably remain intact among the theorists of rationality and personal interest, even if the war in Iraq is without doubt the most irrational stupidity since the Athenians invaded Sicily. But the most illuminating parallel to Iraq is offered by the anarchic civil war which destroyed ancient Corfu. The Spartans and Athenians became involved in the domestic conflict between local oligarchs and the demos for control of the city. We see the same thing both in ancient Corfu and Iraq. When state institutions have lost their legitimacy and violence has become the means favoured by all sides, the sacred values of justice, morals and religion are bathed in blood and reduced to nothing."


The New York Times 29.07.2007 (USA)

Robin Marantz went to meet Mertz, a young sociable robot, at the Humanoid Robotics Group of MIT. "It had camera sensors behind its eyes, which were programmed to detect faces; when it found mine, the robot was supposed to gaze at me directly to initiate a kind of conversation. But Mertz was on the fritz that day, and one of its designers, a dark-haired young woman named Lijin Aryananda, was trying to figure out what was wrong with it. Mertz was getting fidgety, Aryananda was getting frustrated and I was starting to feel as if I were peeking behind the curtain of the Wizard of Oz. Mertz consists of a metal head on a flexible neck. It has a childish computer-generated voice and expressive brows above its Ping-Pong-ball eyes — features designed to make a human feel kindly toward the robot and enjoy talking to it. But when something is off in the computer code, Mertz starts to babble like Chatty Cathy on speed."

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