25/01/2008

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung 25.01.2008

We no longer understand anything about violence today, Jan Philipp Reemtsma explains in a page-long article. This is particularly true of "autotelic" violence which has a goal but no purpose: "Yes, the deployment of the two atom bombs was terrible, perhaps impossible to justify on moral grounds, but it was a measure taken in wartime, perhaps even an appalling technical experiment – and this not necessarily wrong. But it is not the whole truth. The only way to fully understand this is to take very seriously indeed the uncannily high spirits of Truman and his War Minister Stimson, their delight at being people with such potential for destruction at their disposal." Reemtsma goes on to expound his theory on violence as a means of communication, and will no doubt do so again in his series of talks at Hamburg's Institute for Social Research.


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 25.01.2008

After a police raid uncovered a right-wing extremist death list featuring the names of Orhan Pamuk and other undesirable persons, Günther Seufert raises some questions about Turkey's identity. "Is Turkey the Court of Cassation which only two days ago ruled that every Turk who feels his honour wounded can sue the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk for damages? Or is Turkey the Ministry of Culture which announced yesterday that it wanted to open its programme as guest country at this year's Book Fair in Frankfurt with Orhan Pamuk? And do former generals who are supposedly responsible for political killings and encouraging young people to execute traitors, stand for the nation, or the Istanbul public prosecutor who is heading the operation against them?"


Süddeutsche Zeitung 24.01.2008

Sonja Zehkri pays a visit to Cairo's Academy of Fine Arts where life painting is forbidden and the curriculum ends with Impressionism. "This is not all about religion. The classes are over-filled. The classes cover painting, sculpture, portraits in oil and no end of still lifes, as if the appreciation of a bitten-into apple were the peak of artistic expression. Initiative-taking is frowned upon. 'Once we were told to bring in a light-coloured canvas,' Lena explains. "Everyone came with white canvasses, but mine was pale yellow. The teacher snapped: Do you always have to be different?' She has since taken a more pragmatic approach. She paints whatever the teacher wants to see at university by day and saves aesthetic experiments for when she goes home. At the age of 15, she was the first female artist to show in the state youth salon. 'If I ever want to do life painting, I will show them abroad first, and in Egypt later.'"


Süddeutsche Zeitung 23.01.2008

Johannes Wilms introduces the novel by Algerian writer Boualem Sansal, "Le Village d'Allemand ou le journal des freres Schiller," in which two brothers who live in the Parisian banlieues find out that their father, a hero of the Algerian Liberation Movement FLN, was a former SS officer. Basnal launches a pretty thorough attack on Algerian taboos and draws links between Islamism and Nazism. Wilms quotes from one of the book's protagonists: "When I see what the Islamists are doing here (in France) and elsewhere, I say to myself, that one day, when they are in power, they will outdo even the Nazis." Back to Wilms: "This suspicion has been voiced many a time, but it has never substantiated so convincingly. Added to this, it comes from an author who, every day of his life, lives in a reality in which the boundary between humane, civilised normality and the nightmare of pathological unreality has been destroyed." Here an interview with Boualem Sansal from last week's Nouvel Observateur.


Frankfurter Rundschau 22.01.2008

In a speech given at the chateau Celle-Saint-Cloud outside Paris, sociologist Ulrich Beck argued that climate change can only be met by squaring the circle, namely in a national state form of globalised politics. "Climate risks strengthen states and civil movements because they create new legitimation potential and new space for action. On the other hand, they weaken globalised capital because investment decisions result in climate risks, they destabilise markets and they can waken the sleeping giant, the consumer. This presents the neo-liberals with a new alternative, whether on the national or international stage: to link civil society with the state, creating a cosmopolitan form of statehood."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
22.01.2008

There are men in Croatia who know so much that they are untouchable, even if they are suspected war criminals. The writer Slavenka Drakulic tells the story of Branimir Glavas (more here) who forced his victims to drink battery acid and since entering politics in 1991, has escaped prosecution. "In the last parliamentary elections, he ran as candidate for the party he himself founded in 2006, the Croatian Democratic Congress of Slavonia and Baranja (HDSSB), and as such, was voted into parliament on May 6th. And Glavas was confident of back-up. A few days before parliament met for the first time the new and old Prime Minister of Croatia, Ivo Sanader, announced that Glavas would be let out of prison to participate in the work of the new parliament."


Die Tageszeitung 22.01.2008

Mürvet Öztürk, chair of Germany's Association of Alevi women, responds in an interview to yesterday's article by Necla Kelek (see below) demanding the Alevis should address their own problems of consanguine and child marriage, instead of protesting against an epidode of the "Tatort" television series in which an Alevi father abuses his daughter. "One could get the impression that sexual abuse were rife in the entire Alevi community. It is the task of our association to focus on such cases where they exist and to help those effected where they are unable to defend themselves on their own. But why is it that the first thing people do is start making ethnic judgements and generalisations? Discussion in Germany suffers from a basic lack of objectivity and differentiation."


Die Tageszeitung
21.01.2008

Necla Kelek writes that the Alevi's protests at the "Tatort" series (see above) are misplaced: "During my research last autumn in areas in South-East Anatolia inhabited mainly by Alevi Kurds and Turks, women's organisations reported that all women felt the 'pressure to marry,' and that child marriage and consanguine marriage were still practised in the villages. They also said that sexual abuse was a daily occurrence and that almost half of all girls get married between the ages of 12 and 16. And the number of suicide cases among young women is distressingly high. The indignation at the 'Tatort' episode felt by the enlightened and secular Alevis living in Germany should also be directed at the abuse of women and girls in their own religious community."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 21.01.2008

Flemish author Saskia de Coster has a rather unconventional suggestion for bringing peace to Belgium. "If the Flemish were to treat Wallonia as a colony like the Belgian Congo, things would finally work perfectly: "What must Flanders do for the harmony of the state? It must sidestep, and unflinchingly develop and exploit Wallonia! … We simply haven't done a good enough job showing our Walloons to the world. But that will change. Soon, when you Germans come visit our beautiful country, you'll be able to take adventurous safaris into the depths of Wallonia, not just a footbath in the greasy North Sea. You'll see how the Walloons dirty their tracksuits as they toil in the mines and factories under the watchful eyes of their Flemish overseers."


Berliner Zeitung 19.01.2008

German film archives have astonishingly large gaps right up into the 1970s, complains Rainter Rother, director of the Berlin Film Museum, in an interview with Ralf Schenk. "For example, the archives of silent films and films produced during the Weimar Republic are in shockingly poor shape. Only fifteen percent of the silent movies made in Germany still exist. And of 700 films made in 1913, only 60 exist today! Binding regulations on film storage were introduced and enforced in general under dictatorships. The Nazis, for example, founded the Reichs Film Archive in 1935, and introduced a sort of compulsory declaration on films produced. Similarly, copies not only of Defa productions, but of all films distributed in the GDR had to be submitted to the state film archive. In East Germany, film conservation policy was considerably better than in the Federal Republic."


Juvenile deliquency


A flurry of excitement was aroused recently by a video (here) in which Jens Jessen, head of the Feuilleton section of Die Zeit weekly newspaper, comments on another video (here) showing a brutal attack on a 77 year old man by young immigrant assailants in the Munich subway. In his video, Jessen suggests that Germany's problem lies less in juvenile delinquency than in small-minded intolerance to immigrant populations. Jessen was roundly attacked by Frank Schirrmacher, co-publisher and head of the Feuilleton section at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (here) and has received masses of mails voicing protest and hatred. In an unprecedented act of solidarity, the Bild Zeitung tabloid newspaper reprinted excerpts of Schirrmacher's attack (here). See Perlentaucher's "Link des Tages" for a full list of links to German sources.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 23.01.2008

Christian Geyer says there should be a press code just for readers! He is appalled at the user commentaries to Jessen's commentary, and demands tight control of public expression. "The rabble of Internet users are burying free speech with their sleazy behaviour, and should themselves be barred from discussion."


from the blogs 23.01.2008

In his blog Indiskretion Ehrensache Thomas Klüwer expresses his doubts about the "waves of mud" which Christian Geyer in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung saw breaking over Jens Jessen in the Internet. Typing in the search tearms "jessen + die zeit" at Technorati on 21.01.08 at 2.43 pm brought 41 results. Not too many. And the number is less, much less if you read the results. Then you see that it is just five blogs that are discussing the subject and five who are venting their spleen. Two of these are quoting outright from a blog called Politically Incorrect, which itself is one of the five. Only someone who drowns when washing their hands would call this a wave."


Die Tageszeitung
19.01.2008

Dirk Knipphals gives a biting commentary on the affair: "Lately all of Germany has been debating the relationship between quality journalism and the blogosphere. The current case speaks strongly for the artificiality of any such separation. After all, even in the quality feuilletons there is an attempt to orchestrate a level of excitement akin to that of the hate mails. Frank Schirrmacher's efforts, which see thinking never as reflection and always as a sort of staged act (saving society, sanctifying Tom Cruise, proclaiming a state of emergency – or such things) all go in this direction. This kind of journalism is closely allied to the hate mail phenomenon."

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