09/05/2008

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 08.05.2008

Burkhard Müller read Elfriede Jelinek's text about Amstetten on her homepage and concludes: "The Amstetten case must have seemed not only possible to her from the first moment on, but utterly inevitable."

The text is titled "Im Verlassenen" (a complex invented word which combines the idea of abandoned-ness and in a dungeon) and is not intended to be quoted. "All texts here are protected by copyright and should not be reproduced or quoted in any form without permission", it says on her homepage. But we were particularly interested in the passage about the architecture of the dungeon in Amstetten: "The performance by this grandfather-god-the-father who has constructed an idyll which he has artlessly built in the form of a female body, with its many niches and passages, where you can't look in at everything from everywhere, it is not art to use something as the female body, even if you don't have one, there are blow-up sex dolls, hollowed out apples, animals etc., but it is an art to build spaces as a woman might, and decorate them with pretty patterns, a temple, only built for the lust of the father." Here Jelinek's text in full.


Die Welt
08.05.2008

The arguments used by our dear Olympic officials to dismiss any boycotting and criticism of the host nations never change, as Uwe Schmitt discovered at an exhibition on the "Nazi Olympics" of 1936 in the Washington Holocaust Museum. The head of the Olympic committee, Avery Brundage, said at the time that the games "belonged to the athletes, not the politicians" (even though the Nazis had banned Jewish athletes from their team). Everything went to plan: "The New York Times declared at the end of the games in 1936 that the Germans had become more human again and had returned to the fold of the nations. Then in June 1939, after the attack on the Czechs and after 'Reichskristallnacht' the Winter Games were given to Garmisch-Partenkirchen."


Die Welt 07.05.2008

Rainer Haubrich watched Christoph Schaub and Michael Schindhelm's film "Bird's Nest" which follows Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron through the building of China's Olympic stadium. "You hear the admiration in the voice of Jaques Herzog for the consistency with which the Chinese regime pushes through projects of this scale. A democracy like Switzerland can also be quite crippling for architectural projects, he says, 'in this respect there are certainly advantages to a country like China'."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 06.05.2008

Roman Bucheli spent a stimulating weekend at the 30th Solothurn literature festival. One of the highlights – alongside readings by Adolf Muschg and Tim Krohn – was the performance by Marius Daniel Popescu: "... spellbound (or perhaps a little bewildered, even dumbfounded) one listened in on the wild singing of Marius Daniel Popescu, a writer who left Romania for Lausanne in 1989 where he has worked as a bus driver ever since, in the knowledge that the magic of the writing would evaporate if you had to read it yourself, without hearing the rustling of Transylvanian forests in the author's rasping voice. He was recently awarded the Robert Walser prize for his debut novel 'La symphonie du loup' which, as he said, he sadly had to bring to a close, not after 900 pages, but half way through. His prose, which he delivers in a full shamanic trance, deals with nothing and everything, it tells of life and nonsense, bears literary witness to the Romanian dictatorship and transforms biography into literature. 'La poesie est partout' he says and dreams, not like Flaubert of a novel about nothing, but of a book that never ends."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
06.05.2008

The writer Slavenka Drakulic explains why she cannot stand the word "Balkanisation", because it only serves European denial. "As if Europe was a terrain that had been spared the devil's touch.... As if European nation states or revolutions had not been born out of blood. As if Auschwitz never happened."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 03.05.2008

The entire first page of the feuilleton is dedicated to Rem Koolhaas' China Central Television tower in Bejing. Is this one of the "buildings of evil"? For Gerhard Matzig this is a question for the future to answer: "No other building poses so prominently they question, which only the future can answer, as to whether architecture can contribute to the opening of a society. The tower which has been built for Chinese state TV, a medium which is like no other is designed to exercise power: the power of television images. The thoughts and feelings of one sixth of the human race are programmed and administered here. Whether the skulls of innocent monks are smashed in Tibet, or aggressive acts of sabotage by dangerous separatists are successfully thwarted, the truth is the truth of television which can broadcast journalism or propaganda."

In an interview the project manager Ole Scheeren, defends the decision to accept the contract: "On one hand there is the task of representing the government's own programme. But at the same time processes of implicit democratisation are taking place. China has a vast number of ethnic groups: they have to be accounted for in the 250 channels. There are also hundreds of other stations. This means competition."


From the blogs 03.05.2008

In a legal blog, copyright expert Thomas Hoeren vented his anger over the open letter by the German music industry calling for internet access to be blocked to illegal music downloaders. In an interview with jetzt.de he explains his thinking. "The music industry ihas made a name for itself by using so-called buy-out contracts to remove all rights from the artists and transfer them to themselves. Which is why the music industry, under the pretences of defending the artists, has only its own interests at heart. This is what a colleague of mine – the former head of the Max Planck Institute – called the shift of copyrights to economic rights."


Der Tagesspiegel 03.05.2008

Michael Busse describes how Karl Schulze, the head of the Berlin piano manufacturers Bechstein, put things to right in a factory in China: Schulze brought two bottles of champagne with him and handed them to Mister Louo, the head of the company and Mister Rool, the managing director. But that was the end of polite exchanges. Mr. Louo and Mr.Rool then showed Schulze around the production halls. Schulze strode ahead and suddenly caught sight of a worker who was cutting up tiny bits of plastic. Plastic! In mechanics!"

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles.
signandsight.com - let's talk european.

 
More articles

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

A clutch of German newspapers launch an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks. Vera Lengsfeld remembers GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs and how he met death in his cell. All the papers were bowled over Xavier Beauvois' film "Of Gods and Men." The FR enjoys a joke but not a picnic at a staging of Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" in Berlin. Gustav Seibt provides a lurid description of Napoleonic soap in the SZ. German-Turkish Dogan Akhanli author explains what it feels like to be Josef K.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 December

Colombian writer Hector Abad defends Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa against European Latin-America romantics. Wikileaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg criticises the new publication policy of his former employer. The Sprengel Museum has put on a show of child nudes by die Brücke artists. The SZ takes a walk through the Internet woods with FAZ prophet of doom Frank Schirrmacher. The FAZ is troubled by Christian Thielemann's unstable tempo in the Beethoven cycle. And the FR meets China Free Press publisher, Bao Pu.
read more

From the feuilletons

Saturday 27 November - Friday 3 December

Danish author Frederik Stjernfelt explains how the Left got its culturist ideas. Slavenka Draculic writes about censoring Angelina Jolie who wanted to make a film in Bosnia. Daniel Cohn-Bendit talks   about his friendship, falling out and reconciliation with Jean-Luc Godard. Wikileaks has caused an embarrassed silence in the Arab world, where not even al-Jazeera reported on the what the sheiks really think. Alan Posener calls for the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden to be shut down.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

The theatre event of the week came in a twin pack: Roland Schimmelpfennig's new play, a post-colonial "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opened at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and the Thalia in Hamburg. The anarchist pamphlet "The Coming Insurrection" has at last been translated into German and has ignited the revolutionary sympathies of at least two leading German broadsheets, the FAZ and the SZ. But the taz, Germany's left-wing daily, says the pamphlet is strongly right-wing. What's left and right anyway? came the reply.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 13 - Friday 19 November, 2010

Dieter Schlesak levels grave accusations against his former friend and colleague, Oskar Pastior, who spied on him for the Securitate. Banat-Swabian author and vice chairman of the Oskar Pastior Foundation, Ernest Wichner, turns on Schlesak for spreading malicious rumours. Die Zeit portrays the Berlin rapper Harris, and the moment he knew he was German. Dutch author Cees Nooteboom meditates on the near lust for physical torture in the paintings of Francisco de Zurburan. An exhibition in Mannheim displays the dream house photography of Julius Schulman.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 6 - Friday 12 November, 2010

The NZZ asks why banks invest in art. The FAZ gawps at the unnatural stack of stomach muscles in Michelangelo's drawings. The taz witnesses a giant step for the "Yugo palaver". Bernard-Henri Levy describes Sakineh Ashtiani's impending execution as a test for Iran and the west. Journalist Michael Anti talks about the healthy relationship between the net and the Chinese media. Literary academic Helmut Lethen describes how Ernst Jünger stripped the worker of all organic substances.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 30 October - Friday 5 November, 2010

Now that German TV has just beatified Pope Pius XII, Rolf Hochmuth tells die Welt where he got the idea for his play "The Deputy". The FR celebrates Elfriede Jelinek's "brilliantly malicious" farce about the collapse of the Cologne City Archive. "Carlos" director Olivier Assayas makes it clear that the revolutionary subject is a figment of the imagination. The SZ returns from the Shanghai Expo with a cloying after-taste of sweet 'n' sour. And historian Wang Hui tells the NZZ that China's intellectuals have plenty of freedom to pose critical questions.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 23 - Friday 29 October, 2010

Author Doron Rabinovici protests against the concessions of moderate Austrian politicians to the FPÖ: recently in Vienna, children were sent back to Kosovo at gunpoint. Ian McEwan wonders why major German novelists didn't mention the Wall. The NZZ looks through the Priz Goncourt shortlist and finds plenty of writers with more bite than Houellebecq. The FAZ outs two of Germany's leading journalists who fiercely guarded the German Foreign Ministry's Nazi past. Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt analyse the symptoms of culturalism, left and right. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht demonstratively yawns at German debate.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 16 - Friday 22 October, 2010

A new book chronicles the revolt of revolting "third persons" at Suhrkamp publishers in the wild days of 1968. Necla Kelek is appalled by the speech of the very Christian Christian Wulff, the German president, in Turkey. The taz met a new faction of hardcore Palestinians who are fighting for separate sex hairdressing in Gaza. Sinologist Andreas Schlieker reports on the new Chinese willingness to restructure the heart. And the Cologne band Erdmöbel celebrate the famous halo around the frying pan.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 9 - Friday 15 October, 2010

The FR laps up the muscular male bodies and bellies at the Michelangelo exhibition in the Viennese Albertina. The same paper is outraged by the cowardice of the Berlin exhibition "Hitler and the Germans". Mario Vargas-Llosa remembers a bad line from Sweden. Theologist Friedrich Wilhelm Graf makes it very clear that Western values are not Judaeo-Christian values. The Achse des Guten is annoyed by the attempts of the mainstream media to dismiss Mario Vargas-Llosa. The NZZ celebrates the tireless self-demolition of Polish writer and satirist Slawomir Mrozek.
read more

From the feuilletons

Saturday 2 - Friday 8 October, 2010

Nigerian writer Niyi Osundare explains why his country has become uninhabitable. German Book Prize winner Melinda Nadj Abonji says Switzerland only pretends to be liberal. German author Monika Maron is not sure that Islam really does belong to Germany. Russian writer Oleg Yuriev explains the disastrous effects of postmodernism on the Petersburg Hermitage. Argentinian author Martin Caparros describes how the Kirchners have co-opted the country's revolutionary history. And publisher Damian Tabarovsky explains why 2001 was such an explosively creative year for Argentina.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 25 September - Friday 1 October

Three East German theatre directors talk about the trauma of reunification. In the FAZ, Thilo Sarrazin denies accusations that his book propagates eugenics: "I am interested in the interplay of nature and nurture." Polemics are being drowned out by blaring lullabies, author Thea Dorn despairs. Author Iris Radisch is dismayed by the state of the German novel - too much idle chatter, not enough literary clout. Der Spiegel posts its interview with the German WikiLeaks spokesman, Daniel Schmitt. And Vaclav Havel's appeal to award the Nobel prize to Liu Xiabobo has the Chinese authorities pulling out their hair.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 18 - Friday 24 September, 2010

Herta Müller's response to the news that poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant was one of overwhelming grief: "When he returned home from the gulag he was everybody's game." Theatre director Luk Perceval talks about the veiled depression in his theatre. Cartoonist Molly Norris has disappeared after receiving death threats for her "Everybody Draw Mohammed" campaign. The Berliner Zeitung approves of the mellowing in Pierre Boulez' music. And Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, allowed to leave China for the first time, explains why schnapps is his most important writing tool.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 10 - Friday 17 September, 2010

The poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant, the historian Stefan Sienerth has discovered. Biologist Veronika Lipphardt dismisses Thilo Sarrazin's incendiary intelligence theories as a load of codswallop. A number of prominent Muslim intellectuals in Germany have written an open letter to President Christian Wulff, calling for him to "make a stand for a democratic culture based on mutual respect." And a Shell study has revealed that Germany's youth aspire to be just like their parents.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 September, 2010

Thilo Sarrazin has buckled under the stress of the past two weeks and resigned from the board of the Central Bank. His book, "Germany is abolishing itself", however, continues to keep Germany locked in a debate about education and immigration and intelligence. Also this week, Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has been awarded the M100 prize for defending freedom of opinion. Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech at the award ceremony: "The secret of freedom is courage". The FAZ interviewed Westergaard, who expressed his disappointment that the only people who had shown him no support were those of his own class.
read more