On the Death of Siegfried Lenz ? ?You have to justify your life?

Siegfried Lenz, one of the great writers of German post-war literature is dead. He died on 7 October 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 88 years old.... more more

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Magazine Roundup

Tuesday 27 February, 2007

Seymour Hersh explains in The New Yorker why the USA bolsters extremist Sunni groups in the Middle East that are sympathetic to Al Qaeda. In Outlook India, writer Nayantara Sahgal defends the Indian diaspora. The Nation asks why workers have disappeared from American films. In NRC Handelsblad, sociologist Paul Jungbluth criticises the feminisation of schools. The Gazeta Wyborcza expresses thanks for Volker Schlöndorff's film "Strike".
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In praise of dissidence

Monday 26 February, 2007

In the positions they take on the ongoing multiculturalism debate, Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash are reminicent of those well-meaning Western intellectuals who were willing to criticise Stalinism but not communism. They dream of "change through rapprochement" but they lose their bearings somewhere along the "third way." By Ulrike Ackermann
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You photograph what you love

Thursday 22 February, 2007

With an exhibition opening in Hanover, photographer Wolfgang Tillmans talks to Dirk Peitz about the digital revolution, the futile search for absolute truth and his private newspaper archive.
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"As if" eroticism

Thursday 22 February, 2007

Boy group Tokio Hotel's second album "Zimmer 483" comes out tomorrow. Teen idols in Germany, France and beyond, the band has provoked heated controversy among fans and foes over singer Bill Kaulitz' androgynous eroticism. By Elke Buhr
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Don't blame the postmodernists

Wednesday 21 February, 2007

It's dogmatism that's the real problem. At base, relativism is calling into question the notion of there being an absolute truth - precisely what all those of a fundamentalist disposition claim there is. Even worse, fundamentalists refuse to acknowledge that other views have any validity at all. You can't debate with them - about multiculturalism or anything else. By Stuart Sim
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Magazine Roundup

Tuesday 20 February, 2007

De Groene Amsterdammer considers whether sex for Islamicists might not work wonders in combating the jihad. In The Spectator, John Gray bids farewell to the national aspiration to unite Brits of all colours. Asharq al-Awsat describes the religiously-motivated student unrest in Beirut. Alberto Fuguet travels into the digital night for Revista de Libros. In the Nouvel Obs, Bernard-Henri Levy lists three rules for the political engagement of intellectuals in elections.
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Giving mediocrity a chance

Monday 19 February, 2007

In its sixth year under Dieter Kosslick, the Berlinale has flung itself into the breach for boredom, lack of inspiration and conventionality. There were a handful of creditable, daring, self-assured films. Only these will be mentioned here. By Ekkehard Knörer. All the bears at a glance here.
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The logic of tolerance

Saturday 17 February, 2007

The demands of all "cultures" are not compatible. Of course monotheists, atheists and polytheists should be able to live peacefully side by side, but Sharia law and western democracy are incompatible. There is no way to talk away this incompatibility by vague reference to multiculturalism. By Lars Gustafsson
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Breathless 8: a Berlinale diary

Friday 16 February, 2007

In Jacques Rivette's Competition film "Don't Touch the Axe", Jeanne Balibar and Guillaume Depardieu besiege themselves in an exquisitely wrought and rapier sharp love battle. And in the claustrophobic "Brand Upon the Brain", Guy Maddin serves up a huge portion of brain nectar.
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Breathless 7: a Berlinale diary

Thursday 15 Feburary, 2007

Zhang Lu's "Desert Dream" follows life in a yurt in the wide, empty expanses of the Mongolian steppes, punctuated only by North Korean folk songs. In "Celebration" Olivier Meyrou visits the spectral fashion house of Yves Saint Laurent. And Jack Snyder's "300", the film of Frank Miller's comic, is not the world's worst film, but it's damn close.
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Auschwitz, our home

Thursday 15 February, 2007

Tadeusz Borowski survived Auschwitz, became a Communist, and committed suicide in 1951. A new edition of his stories was published in German this year: morally questionable, but a milestone in Holocaust literature nonetheless. Even Dante's "Inferno" pales by comparison. By Arno Lustiger
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Paris pop paradise

Wednesday 14 February, 2007

Paris is the anti-Berlin. While the world's writers and artists are flocking to the ugly German capital, personalities like Sofia Coppola and Jarvis Cocker are drawn to Paris to pursue their work in freedom and impeccable style in front of perfect facades. By Eckhart Nickel
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Breathless 6: a Berlinale diary

Wednesday 14 February, 2007

Christian Petzold's ghostly "Yella" is marked by ruptures, and corner-of-the-mouth minimalism. "The Lark House" by the Taviani brothers shows the Turkish genocide of the Armenians with some beatifully composed torture scenes. Frederick Wiseman's "State Legislature" documents the nuts and bolts of American politics. And Hal Hartley's "Fay Grim" has a plot driven to the height of absurdity.
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Breathless 5: a Berlinale diary

Tuesday 13 February, 2007

With "The Witnesses," Andre Techine consolidates his reputation as a master of mitigation. In conservative Clint's "Letter's from Iwo Jima", there is much militarily senseless, politically objectionable, but highly heroic dying for the fatherland. And Angela Schanelec's "Afternoon" shows the unbearable weight of being.
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Magazine Roundup

Tuesday 12 February, 2007

The Economist finds Ayaan Hirsi Ali's autobiography charming but a tad problematic. Tygodnik Powszechny comments on the race of conservative Poland to vilify Adam Michnik. Nepszabadsag no longer wants to look the indifferent Western Europeans in the eye. And in Nouvel Obs, Tariq Ali has abandoned all hope of Iraqi independence.
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Give the Peace Prize to Politkovskaya

Tuesday 13 February, 2007

Granting the 2007 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade to Anna Politkovskaya would not be a gesture of criticism directed at Russia as a whole, but a sign of hopeful expectations for the country, its people and its culture. By Gerd Koenen and Norbert Schreiber
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Dostoevsky's dowager

Monday 12 February, 2007

TeaserPicSvetlana Geier's magnificent translation of Dostoevsky's "The Adolescent" brings to an end her monumental project of translating all five of the author's "elephants", or major novels, into German. Although many disparage the book as muddled, in her eyes it is Dostoevsky at his most modern. Martin Ebel has paid a visit to the Grande Dame of Russian-German translation. (Image © Niklaus Stauss)
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Breathless 4: a Berlinale diary

Monday 12 February, 2007

In Stefan Ruzowitzky's "The Counterfeiters", concentration camp victims are set to work making fake money for the Nazis. Robert de Niro's "The Good Shepherd" shows a block of ice created by the Cold War. Park Chan-wook's "I'm a Cyborg, but that's OK" inquires with refreshing naivity into the meaning of life. And Rudolphe Marconi shows Karl Largerfeld and his laissez-faire attitude towards status, privilege and luck.
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Breathless 3: a Berlinale diary

Saturday 10 February, 2007

Pascal Ferran's "Lady Chatterley" has kept cheap thrills and overbearing symbolism at an arm's length. It is self-assured, unpretentious and observant. "This Filthy World" by Jeff Garlin reveals filmmaker John Waters as an exquisitely funny stand-up comedian. And in Hong Sangsoo's "Woman on the Beach," true faces emerge from behind the booze.
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Breathless: a Berlinale diary

Thursday 8 February, 2007

The Berlinale opens tonight with Olivier Dahan's film "La vie en rose". The programme is the usual hotchpotch we have come to expect from director Dieter Kosslick. Ekkehard Knörer guides us through the rather populist selection of the Competition and the overwhelming variety that awaits film fans in the Panorama and Forum sections.
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Breathless 2: a Berlinale diary

Friday 9 February, 2007

The Berlinale opened with Olivier Dahan's film "La vie en Rose", a confrontational Piaf portrait replete with smeared make-up, champagne and morphine, flunkies and fans, misery and deity. Altogether much more exciting than the "The Good German" by Steven Soderbergh which fell flat on its faux forties face.
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Mahler and me

Wednesday 7 February, 2007

Jörg Königsdorf interviews composer and conductor Pierre Boulez on his selective affinities for the works of Gustav Mahler. From April 2 to 12, Boulez will conduct Mahler's 9 symphonies at Berlin's Philharmonie, alternating with Daniel Barenboim. (Photo © Betty Freeman)
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The dogmatism of Enlightenment

Wednesday 7 February, 2007

I admire the achievements of the Enlightenment as much as Professor Cliteur appears to do, but I also believe that one of its greatest achievements is the rejection of dogmatism, of any kind. By Ian Buruma.
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Falling prey to relativism

Tuesday 6 February, 2007

Ian Buruma's "Murder in Amsterdam" is written from a postmodern mindset which puts radical Enlightenment on a par with radical Islamism. But this approach will do nothing to pacify the most radical elements - as the mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, knows only too well. By Paul Cliteur
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Magazine Roundup

Tuesday 6 February, 2007

NRC Handelsblad has read the Christian school version of the Dutch dictionary and calls for a "Halal" version as well. Al Ahram accuses a UN report on the Arab World of feminist propaganda. Ian Buruma explains Tariq Ramadan's media-friendly brand of Islamic socialism in The New York Times, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells The Observer who Ramadan really is. In Folio, Tehran artist Jinoos Taghizadeh extols the virtues of Iranian private space. HVG describes how Romanian newspapers make money by not publishing articles. And DU travels to sin city Asakusa.
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Mr Buruma's stereotypes

Monday 5 January, 2007

Islam is not as diverse as Ian Buruma maintains in his answer to Pascal Bruckner. On the contrary, it is an oppressive social reality, codified in the "Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam." Signed by 45 Muslim countries, this upholds the Sharia as the basis of the Islamic identity. By Necla Kelek
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Contriva and the Prussian soul

Friday 2 February, 2007

Singer Masha Qrella and her band Contriva invoke the lost cultural landscape of northeastern Berlin. Their music is rough, sketchy and irresistible. By Michael Pilz
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Better Pascal than Pascal Bruckner

Thursday 1 February, 2007

Neither live-and-let-die separatist multiculturalism nor the secularist republican monoculturalism preached by Bruckner work. Policies of integration cannot be based on the assumption that millions of Muslims will drop their faith when they come to Europe. Timothy Garton Ash responds to Pascal Bruckner.
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