They?re Still Painting, and More: The Leipzig Art Scene

First a success, then a bubble: the hype surrounding the ?New Leipzig School? put the city on the map of the art world, but also blinkered its vision.... more more

GoetheInstitute

16/10/2007

Magazine Roundup

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

Nepszabadsag | ResetDoc | The Guardian | Elet es Irodalom | The New Yorker | Il Foglio | Die Weltwoche | Tygodnik Powszechny | The Spectator | Gazeta Wyborcza | The Economist | Le Nouvel Observateur | Magyar Narancs | L'Espresso | The New Statesman | Al Ahram Weekly | Salon.com


Nepszabadsag 13.10.2007 (Hungary)

The rapid development of the new media has also had a dramatic impact on the ability of national states to control it. While this situation is perceived by many in the West as the promise of a sharpened democratic consciousness, Hungary seems to be lagging behind, writes media scientist Peter György: "The new alternative media seems to be of no interest to social, legal or economic opinion makers. The sole difference between online and traditional journalism in my country is the flood of obscene words and – within the blogosphere – resentment, bad blood, envy and unchecked ignorance. And yet new media is nothing less than the first step towards the annexation of contemporary culture which can help us win back the sort of autonomous cultural spaces where we can express radical criticism."


ResetDoc
12.10.2007 (Italy)

Punch-packing debates on relations with Muslims are also dividing Italy. Plans to construct mosques in Bologna and Genua have sparked heavy controversy. The mayors of these cities are dragging their heels and Bologna is even considering holding a referendum. Sociologist Stefano Allievi is convinced this is a fatal mistake: "It is unacceptable that a presumed majority votes on whether a minority should be able freely to exercise its rights." And Australian political scientist Pamela Ryan also explains why a referendum here could be problematic. "Judgements are made spontaneously without background information and understanding of the matter. This is why in this area in particular, judgements are determined by stereotypes and fears." She points to the "deliberative polling" method used by the Ida Institute (Issues deliberation Australia) where she works, which proves that entirely different judgements can be reached when those questioned are properly informed about the subject at hand.

Mario Sciajola, a leading representative of the Italian Muslim community, has enormous sympathy for people's reservations. As regards the mega mosque which is planned for Bologna he says: "It strikes me as legitimate that the consent of local people should be sought – either through a referendum or at least through a detailed poll." But Sciajola is alarmed by the alliance which the radical left is seeking with anti-American and anti-Western Islamists.


The Guardian 13.10.2007 (UK)

The film version of Monica Ali's novel "Brick Lane" which is out this week has provoked heated controversy in the area of London's East End where the story about Bangladeshi immigrants takes place. Or at least this how the media is portraying it, Ali notes bitterly. "As seems to be the way with these things, press coverage began (in this newspaper) with the reporting of the views of a couple of self-appointed 'community leaders'. I love it when a journalist does this. I think of him stumbling around Tower Hamlets, waving a notebook and echoing the old colonial cry from down the ages: take me to your leader." For Ali this is symptomatic of a new "economy of ourtrage". The essence of this new economy is emotion. If the feelings run (or are seen to run) high and deep enough, a good price will be fetched. If the best we can say is how we feel about something, we turn from reason to a type of emotivism in which the frameworks for moral and political judgments collapse. It is a post-Enlightenment phenomenon that has an invidious effect not only at this relatively local level, but also on the world stage."


Elet es Irodalom 12.10.2007 (HUngary)

Talks between Russia and Germany about stolen art treasures have taken place at the highest level, at least since reunification. Yet aside from statements of intent and requests, nothing concrete has happened – individual restitutions are the exception to the rule. Germany is critical of the unwillingness on the part of Russians to comply with the restitution demands, Anna Dunai writes. "The term 'dead end' often crops up when the subject of stolen art treasures is raised in Germany among journalists and experts. By this they mean the stalled German-Russian talks. Russia's behaviour is not openly, but officially at least, regarded as non-compliant with legal norms. But Germany's own practice is scrutinised less strictly. And unless the art stolen is from former Jewish owners, it could hardly be described as anything but half-hearted."


The New Yorker
22.10.2007 (USA)

Under the title "The Well Tempered Web" Alex Ross writes about why despite having run the pop CD into the ground, the Web has done wonders for its classical counterpart. He introduces some of the best blogs and musician homepages for classical music and then, of course, iTunes. "When Apple started its iTunes music store, in 2003, it featured on its front page performers such as Esa-Pekka Salonen and Anna Netrebko; sales of classical fare jumped significantly as a result. Similar upticks were noted at Amazon and the all-classical site ArkivMusic. The anonymity of Internet browsing has made classical music more accessible to non-fanatics; first-time listeners can read reviews, compare audio samples, and decide on, for example, a Beethoven recording by Wilhelm Furtwängler, all without risking the humiliation of mispronouncing the conductor's name under the sour gaze of a record clerk." Ross' top recommendations include the website of the Arnold Schönberg Centre in Vienna, the "Think Denk" blog by pianist Jeremy Denk and Keeping Score, a website of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra where individual pieces of music such as Beetohoven's "Eroica" are explained. Ross himself also has a blog.


Il Foglio
15.10.2007 (Italy)

In his book "Memoria e fedelta" Leone Piccioni exposes the secrets of the Italian post-war literature business. Gabriella Mecucci quotes some of the highlights. "Italy's most brilliant Italian writer at the time, Carlo Emilio Gadda, was a rather extravagant and naive character which made him the butt of charming jokes that he often failed to understand. An ardent monarchist, he got all up in arms in the early seventies on hearing that Princess Titti di Savoia was seeing Maurizio Avena, 'a poor but beautiful' man, big on brawn, low on brain. Goffredo Parise and Leone Piccioni, the editor-in-chief of Rai and the son of a leading Christian Democrat, were not going to miss an opportunity like this. The next day Parise met Gadda for dinner where, as expected, he started getting in a state about Princess Titti. How could a Savoy get involved with Marizio Avena? Parise played the attentive listener and, after offering the bottle of mineral water, commented: 'They say he's got such a fat one.' The same thing happened the next evening only the guest was Piccione. The same moaning from the master about Titti and the same offering of the bottle. 'They say his is so fat.' Gadda was beside himself. He turned puce and exclaimed in a desperate voice: 'So it is true!'"


Die Weltwoche
11.10.2007 (Switzerland)

In an interview with Michael Miersch, agricultural scientist and Nobel Prize laureate Norman Borlaug talks about the unsolved problem of hunger in the world, necessary agricultural reforms and gene technology. "Mother Nature is a geneticist. She just needed thousands of years or more to perform the crossings. There is nothing unnatural about moving genes about between various biological units within taxonomic groups. After a decade of commercial use of genetically altered plants there is no proven damage caused by this technology. That is an incredible security record, particularly for new technology. Just imagine if there had been no accidents in the first ten years of flying. The problem is that the rich and spoilt of this world want a no-risk society. But there's no such thing as no-risk in the biological world. We should stop being so over-anxious."

All the fuss over Britney Spears is a "sick spectacle" writes Beatrice Schlag, particularly the malice directed at the fallen idol. "Why do people so love laying into a woman who is so obviously at her wit's end? Britney Spears was pushed into a career by an ambitious mother while other kids were enjoying their childhood. Not even 26 years old, she is now lunging before the eyes of the world from one catastrophe to the next, in both her private and professional life. What reason is that to attack her?"


Tygodnik Powszechny
14.10.2007 (Poland)

Dariusz Nowacki very much enjoyed "Bieguni", the new book by popular Polish author Olga Tokarczuk. After a short lull, he writes, Tokarczuk is back in top form with this collection of shorter and longer stories on the theme of travel. "In a certain way the book is intolerable, because it's such a totality. To be able to comment on all the generalities, definitions, ideas and discourses entered into, you'd need to write a book as thick as this one, 500 pages. Well, there you go, it wasn't written by just anybody. Chapeau!"


The Spectator
13.10.2007 (UK)

Aidan Hartley and his film crew were the first to visit one of the secret "black jails" in Beijing. Petitioners who come to the capital from across the country hoping to air their grievances are locked up here, considered "troublemakers" by the authorities. Hartley gives a chilling account of his research: "Suddenly a dozen snarling guards in jumpsuits surrounded us. I tried reasoning with them. 'Be polite,' I said — to no avail. They shoved us away from the jail gates. Black Shirt tried to rip the camera out of my cameraman Andrew's hands. In the tussle, the guards smashed it. Outside, we jumped into the taxi that had driven us to the jail — amazingly it was still waiting for us — and tried to drive off. Black Shirt ordered the entrance gates to be slammed shut, blocking our way. We were dragged out across the tarmac. In the melee I said to Andrew, 'Quick, give me the tape.' He removed it from the camera and I stuck it in my sock while Andrew put another blank roll into his dead machine." Hartley's footage will be broadcast on October 19 at 7:30 pm on Channel 4.


Gazeta Wyborcza 13.10.2007 (Poland)

"I've got no problems with unbridled capitalism," admits film director Andrzej Jakimowski, who has made a name for himself with his subtle films about Polish post-communist society. His most recent work, "Sztuczki" (Tricks), won prizes in Venice and Gdynia. "Paradoxically, the independence I attain on the capitalist market protects me. I make intentionally subtle films, and I believe that they have large potential audiences. You just have to be intent on finding them. In film you have to expect the unexpected."


The Economist 12.10.2007 (UK)

The American left is getting organised - with the help of the Internet. The magazine reviews the book "The Argument," in which New York Times reporter Matt Bai investigates grassroots organisations like MoveOn.org. "Mr Bai has stumbled on how the Internet has transformed grassroots politics. It has allowed new groups of angry people—the most reliable footsoldiers of any political campaign—to find and talk to each other. The religious right has always been able to rally its troops through church pulpits and mailing lists. Now the anti-Bush left is doing something similar online. And most of the 'netroots' (Internet grassroots activists) are not, as you might imagine, tech-savvy 20-somethings. They tend to be like Chuck: middle-aged suburbanites alienated from their neighbours. 'If college kids wanted to commiserate with someone over the fear and misery of life under Bush, all they had to do was walk across the hall,' notes Mr Bai. 'For affluent boomers, there was MoveOn.'"


Le Nouvel Observateur 11.10.2007 (France)

Two years after the riots in the Paris suburbs, sociologist Robert Castel reflects on the unrest. Nothing has changed for the better in the city's outskirts, he writes. The major problem faced by the youth is one of "recognition": "For the most part, these young people are of foreign origin and yet they all have French citizenship. But what they don't have is a naturalisation with any kind of street value. They don't entirely live outside society (because the suburbs aren't ghettos), but at the same time they're not entirely inside it either, because they don't have any recognised place in society. They live in an internal exile. As a result their relationship to the so-called values of French society is entirely negative, because of Republican promises that haven't been upheld. Their situation is paradoxical: they're citizens, they live on French soil and yet they're victims of discrimination that disqualifies them."


Magyar Narancs 11.10.2007 (Hungary)

This August, young essayist Matyas Dunajcsik wrote an article on Hungarian literature and the Internet, claiming that "the literary scene in Hungary is going through a major transformation. The blogosphere is giving a voice to a part of society hitherto belittled or even ebtirely ignored by the protagonists of contemporary literature." The young author Richard Fekete welcomes Dunajcsik's comments, which sparked a major debate in the country: "It's striking how a majority of the literary magazines close themselves off to the Internet. I don't mean their own websites, but forums where readers could give editors their immediate reactions. I mean it's hardly imaginable that someone would put out a magazine just for the fun of it. Of course, the Internet also hides uncomfortable surprises. The anonymity and the clashes that happen there could sully the magazines' idyllic, self-centred image."


L'Espresso 12.10.2007 (Italy)

After crossing swords with Alan Greenspan on Democracy Now!, journalist Naomi Klein now examines Greenspan's autobiography, concluding: "Perhaps the real objective of all the literature dealing with the 'trickle down theory' is to imply that entrepreneurs have global, altruistic goals, while they themselves are making sure they profit from even the tiniest advantages. So it's not an economic philosophy, but a sophisticated, retroactive logic. What Greenspan teaches us is that the 'trickle down theory' is not really an ideology. It's more reminiscent of a friend we call up after making a shameful amount of money so he can say: 'Don't feel guilty, you deserved it.'"


The New Statesman 12.10.2007 (UK)

Roger Boyes, Germany correspondent for The Times, situates himself firmly on the side of the Polish Kaczynski brothers, whose politics he finds somewhat abrasive, but nevertheless basically sound. And with a growth rate of 7.5 percent, the country's economy is also headed in the right direction, he writes: "The result is an expanding middle class that will resist tub-thumping populism but may welcome a watered-down version of Kaczynski conservatism. There is agreement across much of the social spectrum - from the grumpy pensioner I met on a Warsaw park bench to the architecture student in a Krakow pub - that Poland has to fight harder for her place in the global order. German policy in eastern Europe has always been based on sucking the smaller neighbours in Mitteleuropa into economic dependency, in the hope of winning political support for German goals. Poland is too big, too confident to play skivvy to German presumption. It is German Ostpolitik that has to be rethought, rather than Polish Westpolitik; enlargement has changed the terms of neighbourliness."


Al Ahram Weekly
11.10.2007 (Egypt)

Omayma Abdel-Latif and Amany Abulfadl address the Western idea that women are disadvantaged, even oppressed, in the Arab World and the Islamist movements. Abdel-Latif writes on Islamist women: "Many make their own choices regarding what model of politics and society they favour as activists. They don't perceive themselves to be lagging behind Western women because the yardstick with which they measure their progress and achievements is different. 'We don't have the eternal complex of having to be equal with men,' said Um Mahdi, head of the women's branch of Hayeet Daam Al-Muqawama, the Organisation for Supporting the Resistance, the financial arm of Hizbullah. 'We seek justice not equality,' she added. A similar view is often voiced by women activists in the Muslim Brotherhood. There is emphasis on 'the complementarity of roles' between the sexes." In another article, Amany Abulfadl contradicts critical assessments voiced in a report on female emancipation in the Arab World put out by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, one of whose authors is Ms Abdel-Latif.


Salon.com 11.10.2007 (USA)

Ten of the most powerful women in Hollywood - among them directors Kimberley Pierce ("Boys Don't Cry"), Nora Ephron ("Sleepless in Seattle") and Patty Jenkins ("Monster"), producer Lynda Obst ("Contact") and Universal Studios honcho Laura Ziskin - sit down at a table and talk about the opportunities they've had, their triumphs and defeats in a heavily male-dominated business. Scriptwriter Margaret Nagle ("Warm Springs") puts her finger on gender asymmetry with an anecdote: "I'll never forget, I was working with this producer, and his kid would have an ear infection and he'd leave the meeting, and everybody would go, 'Oh, God, he's so great.' And I went, 'If I took that call and left this meeting because my kid had an ear infection, I'd be fucking vilified.' It would be over. There would be a call to my agent. I remember just thinking, 'You're probably going to see your mistress. You're not going to the kid with the ear infection.'"

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