08/12/2007

From the Feuilletons

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.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 07.12.2007

The European media is dominated by national perspectives, writes Heribert Seifert. The only exceptions are international financial papers – and a few Internet magazines. "Signandsight.com, eurozine.com, but also cafebabel.com and eurotopics.net provide platforms where one can inform oneself quickly and reliably about the central political and cultural issues being discussed in the various European countries. Some of sites are multilingual, some use English as a lingua franca, but all these online magazines give voice to the many countries of Europe and broker exchange. One example was signandsight.com's transnational discussion about the risks and opportunities of the multicultural society, which began online before being taken up by the print media in a number of countries."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 07.12.2007

Now that Bösendorfer has been bought by Yamaha, pianist Andras Schiff makes the case for diversity in piano building in a conversation with Wolfgang Schreiber. "I played Schubert-like sonatas on the Bösendorfer and more angular ones on the Steinway. You could also use the analogy of the German language. The sound of the Steinway is like Hochdeutsch, and the Bösendorfer is like the Viennese dialect. Nestroy is of course better in Viennese but Goethe's 'Faust' should not necessarily be recited in Prater Deutsch. The important thing is that the Bösendorfer remains in use – unfortunately 99 percent of pianists today play the Steinway. This is a form of globalisation."


Die Welt 06.12.2007

Even the classical CD is on its way out, Kai Luehrs-Kaiser reports. For example the new recording of Mahler's Ninth with the Berlin Philharmoniker under Simon Rattle was available to download on iTunes months before it came out on CD. But it's mostly archive material that is being recycled. "Of the 2,400 CD programmes that Deutsche Grammophon is making availably online, a quarter of them, in other words around 600 products, are long out of print. This just goes to show that downloading classical music is less about the distribution of the new than the archiving and conservation of the old. The CD is dying or resigning. The Internet is taking on the task of mechanically memorising our cultural heritage."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 06.12.2007

Jean-Michel Berg is keeping a close eye on the conversion of CO2 emissions into moral currency, and with it a reassessment of human life. "Areas of life such as lifestyle and mobility have become critical. And now that men are apparently more environmentally unfriendly than women, even genetic dispositions are being thrown into question. And it is not only God that one has to answer to when filing for a divorce, but also the climate, because married households are more eco-friendly than single ones. Basically then it is not damaging, correctable behaviour that is to blame for CO2 emissions, but human behaviour in general. It is our culture, which began with making fire. Even human digestion creates greenhouse gases; it is the basis of our metabolism. To put it bluntly, running is more damaging than walking, sitting is better than standing, or in the words of the playwright Tankred Dorst: "Wer lebt, stört" (if you're alive, you're a disturbance).


Die Tageszeitung 06.12.2007

In conversation with Cigdem Akyol, lawyer Seyran Ates has harsh words for Germany's integration policy to date, which she says has led to the creation of parallel societies. And do-gooder multiculturalism gets the full brunt of her wrath. "The multiculti lot have demanded that minorities be protected like endangered species. This irresponsible multi-culti perfect world propaganda is also a form of racism. Because these people don't want my people, who come from Turkey, to really settle in here. They don't feel comfortable as Germans themselves and therefore don't want foreigners to integrate here either."


Frankfurter Rundschau 05.12.2007

Urban planning is the fine art of steering non-simultaneous processes, writes architect and urban planner Robert Kaltenbrunner. It is a way of "cultivating time". "There is no denying that the rhythm of a busy city is determined by asynchrony. Nothing functions according to a central time regime. Seasons and opening hours cannot play a role if we are to cater for the spontaneous, the unplanned and the unexpected. And the very basis of the lively city is the hope that not everything will run according to plan. The real urban city thrives on the ever-present expectation that everything that exists could also exist differently."


Der Tagesspiegel 05.12.2007

Jens Mühling comments on the British controversy surrounding Martin Amis, who is being labelled a racist for his outspoken condemnation of the failure of the Muslim population to denounce suicide bombings. "One could dismiss this as a very British row over 'Britcons' which is the new term for literary neoconservatives' such as Amis, Salman Rushdie or Ian McEwan who make no bones about their aversion to Islamism. But the controversy stretches far beyond the UK to an issue that is increasingly dividing western intellectuals. How you stand on Islamism? Amis in England, Christopher Hitchens in America, Andre Glucksmann in France and in Germany Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Ralph Giordano. The new phalanx is disparate but growing. (All links to the Amis debate can be found at the Guardian website).


Die Tageszeitung 04.12.2007

Stalin biographer Simon Sebag Montefiore talks with Stefan Reinecke and Christian Semler about the attitude which allows British historians to write such readable books. "So much has already been written about Stalin the theoretician, I'd have had little to add. I did very detailed and extensive studies of the sources before writing 'Young Stalin.' But I didn't want the book to be read only by specialists. Pretty much anyone can write an erudite but boring book. What I say is vulgar, and I'm not ashamed to say it."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 04.12.2007

"Machete literature" – which aims to cut a followable path through the jungle of the art business – has itself grown so fast that Holger Liebs feels called upon to present an overview. What he sees is a world askew. "Those who write and publish books on art today believe contemporary art no longer needs to be defended. So they situate themselves on the side of the public – and see themselves forced to correct and set limits upon art, with the aim of isolating and regulating it. But art is long past having limits forced on it. Nowadays artists are active on a plethora of cultural fronts, they work as sculptors and installation artists, they found rock bands and stage performances – and all that is exactly what so riles those who would set limits on them."


Der Tagesspiegel 04.12.2007

In an interview with Annett Müller, Romanian film director Cristian Mungiu talks about the success of his film "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" and the film world in Romania, a country with only 35 cinemas. "Before 1989 people went to the cinema because there were no other possibilities for entertainment. The state television channel broadcasted a two-hour propaganda programme every day, and why would anyone want to watch that? Nowadays, for the price of a cinema ticket you can watch any number of channels with cable TV. Since the fall of communism we have had an onslaught of entertainment, and the more options there are, the smaller the audiences at cinemas. So the cinemas fell into decay and the audiences failed to turn up - as did the profits the producers had expected to make. And let's not forget it's the politicians who started this whole ball rolling, because the cinemas are the last public spaces in the inner cities that have still not been sold off. Soon the real estate sharks will move in and gut them. They'll then renovate them into profitable office buildings instead of keeping them alive as cinemas – because of course that option is far less profitable."


Die Welt 03.12.2007

Hanns-Georg Rodek found the European Film Awards ceremonies a rather sorry spectacle. The films that won prizes were certainly worthy, but no one came to Berlin to pick up the prizes, Rodek complains. "Helen Mirren's 'Queen' won best actress – but the film queen only condescended to send a few words on video. The Euroimages prize went to producer Margaret Menegoz – who was absent for reasons of illness. 'Perfume' won best camera – but there was no sign of the man behind it, Frank Griebe. Jean-Luc Godard, in turn, was honoured for his life's work – and sent a poem by Eduard Mörike instead: 'Let, O world, O let me be! / Lure me not with loving shows, / Leave this heart alone to see / Its enjoyment, and its woes!'"


Berliner Zeitung 01.12.2007

Only recently Berlin's opera houses were ordered to cut costs by 16.8 million euros by 2009 and now, all of a sudden, they are being rained on by an extra 20 million. This money will not be distributed equally among them, however. Half of it will go – at the behest of the federal government – to the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. Stefan Rosinski, head of the Opernstiftung, the foundation set up to manage the operas, expresses his disapproval in an interview: "I'm simply bewildered by the federal government's interfering with the cultural sovereignty of the state of Berlin. Chancellor Merkel's gesture of cultural imperialism put an end to the idea of federalism. The government, moreover, cannot demonstrate that the Staatsoper is in need of an additional 10 million euros. Who are the experts that have authorised this? Our foundation was created to oversee questions of funding, but now that it exists, the government will have nothing to do with it."


Der Tagesspiegel 01.12.2007

At the Bambi showbiz awards in Dusseldorf, Frank Schirrmacher, co-publisher and head of the feuilleton section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, heaped praises on Tom Cruise as he presented him with his prize for his role as Claus von Stauffenberg. To the chronic embarrassment of Jan Schulz-Ojala: "Right from the start of his speech, Schirrmacher stressed the word 'HE' for Tom Cruise as if he were talking about God himself. Even the prosaic problem of whether Cruise should put managing director, chairman or even president on his visiting card after taking over United Artists, Schirrmacher solved in almost hallowed terms: 'No title could be as grand as his name.' The magnanimous 'decision' of the star, in turn, to 'lend his face' to Claus von Stauffenberg must have been taken with relief by Stauffenberg up in Elysium: after all, it's just a loan."

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