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08/02/2008

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.

Die Tageszeitung 08.02.2008

Green pornos
are minute-long short films made for mobile phones about animals having sex. And they can be quite hardcore as director Isabella Rosselini explains in an interview. "Things often get pretty brutal. Think of the female praying mantis who munches on the head of the male while mating. His nervous system is so designed that he can continue copulating without it. The female chews on the head of the male but the sex continues. We do this too in 'Green Porno'. (The series of short is premiering in the Forum section of the this year's Berlinale film festival)


Die Tageszeitung
07.02.2008

"There is a enormous asymmetry in the perception of the other," writes Polish publicist Adam Krzeminski about German-Polish relations. "Unlike the French, the Americans or the Russians, we Polish barely exist in the minds of the Germans. This is not just about Polish victims. I call this ignorance of the Polish aspect of German history. Whereas age old animosity between the German and the French is well-known and dealt with, Poland is still the 'unknown' neighbour."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 07.02.2008

"What does it take to turn a decent human being in into a monster? Furious indignation, systematic manipulation, the hope of reward or the feeling of invincibility?" asks writer Meja Mwangi shaken by the turn of events in Kenya, a once stable country. "Could the violence have been avoided? For three years now it has been customary for aggressive party leaders to threaten their opponents with chaos and conflagration, for sections of the population to be threatened and victimised for having different political views; for people to threaten their fellow citizens with expulsion and plundering if they do not vote for the 'right' party. It is documented that politicians have recommended entire tribal groups to make themselves 'as flat as empty envelopes' if they want to avoid being rolled over by a wave of rape, arson and murder."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 06.02.2008

Franz Haas reports on campaign by left-wing and Arab splinter groups to boycott the Book Fair in Turin, where Israel is this year's the guest country. "The initiative has the backing of Tariq Ramadan, the ever-present and controversial Islamic preacher who, in an interview with the news agency Adn-Kronos, trickled his rhetoric vitriol into the debate. The Turin newspaper La Stampa ran a front page story on 'Ramadan's Fatwa' against Israel and the book fair. The Italian media and left-wing parties have overwhelmingly sided with common sense and rejected the boycott, but the seeds of discord have been sown and the fair's organisers are concerned about the consequences.

Here some relevant links: An Italian blog which quotes from the interview with Ramadan. On his own website Tariq Ramadan responds to his critics accusing them of quoting him false and tendentiously. "To refuse to 'commemorate' Israel and its repressive policies has nothing to do with anti-Semitism or with denial of freedom of speech." Ramadan responds to a blog commentary by Pierre Assouline on the website of Le Monde. Unlike Ramadan, Tahar Ben Jelloun has spoken out against the boycott.


Frankfurter Rundschau
06.02.2008

Peter Michalzik introduces the "theatre's most successful artistic director this decade": Ulrich Khuon of Hamburg's Thalia Theater. "He speaks about social conditions which are getting more extreme, he thinks about Robert Altman's film 'Gosford Park' where neo-feudal conditions are already in eveidence. You see it stewing away in him. 'I can,' he says 'be more radical than it might seem at the moment. ... I am always interested in aesthetic radical positions, but I am also interested in making sure they are communicated. We have to endure each other,' he says, meaning the theatre and the audience. And yet Khuon sees himself as an outsider. 'I never identified myself with any group. I am even the odd one out in the theatre – I have always felt this way. I am not an artist. I am vain too, but I have no desire for stylisation.'"


From the blogs
05.02.2008

Romanian-German writer Richard Wagner welcomes the election results in Serbia as a victory for the axis of good, but is critical of the EU's indulgent policy on Kosovo. "It might seem, in the parliaments of EU member state parliaments and on the ground in Kosovo, as if minority rights were being defended, but the Albanians have in fact taken control the country long ago and despite all assurances to the contrary, have chased away or ghettoised all the other ethic groups. But they have had less success with organising waste removal and providing electricity. Why is the principal demand of the Kosovo Albanians independence and not electricity?"


From the blogs
04.02.2008

In an article titled "Microhoo- Microwho?" Thomas Knüwer comments in his blog Indiskretion Ehrensache on Microsoft's hostile takeover bid for Yahoo. "It reminds me of the fatal deal between AOL and Time Warner. The 'industrial logic' (a vile buzzword) propounded at the time sounded alluring enough: billions of savings in costs. But the result was one of the most lurid disasters in the history of modern economics. Because here were two companies trying to become one, but they were utterly incompatible."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 02.02.2008

"We are children of the Occident," stresses ancient historian Christian Meier in a critique of Raoul Schrott's thesis (developed while translating the Iliad) that Homer stemmed from Cilicia and an virtually unbroken Oriental tradition. "The remarkable thing about the Greeks was that contrary to everything they they encountered in the Orient, they shaped their culture not around thoughts of dominion, whether monarchy or starkly disciplined aristocracy, but around freedom or for freedom's sake. What this means and what the consequences are (to this day) is not easy to grasp: no regime worth mentioning, no securing this regime through powerful priesthoods. No formation of hierarchies."

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