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21/05/2010

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 17.05.2010

Uwe Justus wanders rapt through the labyrinthine "Crime and Punishment" exhibition in the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, and suddenly finds himself in front of  a number of decapitated heads, victims of the mechanical levelling blade. "In the century of burgeoning scientific positivism, the heads of those separated from their bodies by the guillotine were used not only to make casts or moulages, but also to paint from. No sooner had the age of Enlightenment discovered the human being in the martyred criminal, than the century of new, empirical knowledge set to work identifying the – borncriminal in human beings. To this end they compiled a representive assortment of criminal types."


Frankfurter Rundschau 18.05.2010

The South African theatre directors Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom (more) and Brett Bailey (more) talk in an interview about the state of the theatre in South Africa and the after effects of apartheid. When asked whether whites also go to his performances, Grootboom replies: "We only have mixed race audiences at the premieres. Normally audiences are divided according to the skin colour of the director. I don't like it but it's a fact. It's a problem that people never discuss. And if you address the problem publicly, you will soon be accused of racism."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 18.05.2010

Marta Kijowska sees signs that Polish-Jewish relations are relaxing. "Younger Poles have no experience of living with Jews, but in the twenty years since 1989 and the end of censorship and travel restrictions, they have learned a lot. And as a result, they are increasingly lamenting the absence of the Jews. The most spectacular example of this is a recent project by the artist Rafal Betlejewski. Since the end of January he has been writing the provocative words: "I long for you, Jew" on walls and building facades throughout Poland.


Die Tageszeitung 19.05.2010

Swetlana Gannuschkina, one of the co-founders of the Russian Memorial foundation, paints a grim picture of Russia's human rights record under President Medvedev. In spite of the official announcements to the contrary, the situation in Chechnya has not improved. "Why are there only dead insurgents and never any prisoners taken after special operations? When the leaders need corpses, they get them. What this means is that they continue to arrest peaceful citizens. Their corpses, which often bear traces of torture, are then put into uniforms and passed off as insurgents."


Frankfurter Rundschau
20.05.2010

In an interview with Christian Thomas, Avi Primor, the former Israeli ambassador to Germany, talks about the Call For Reason initiative which he launched with a number of European intellectuals, about European forces on the Westbank, and anti-Semitism, which he says is not growing per se, but is growing more complicated. "As I see it, anti-Semitism is not only not increasing, it is actually subsiding. On the one hand, there is a high level of sensitivity to such developments. On the other, there is much criticism of Israel and it is here, I believe, now that anti-Semitism is no longer socially unacceptable, that anti-Semites hide behind supposedly objective arguments. A third aspect is the anti-Semitism among members of the Muslim community in Europe, less so in Germany than in Belgium and France."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 20.05.2010

Despite the overwhelming sense of disappointment in the German feuilletons about this year's Cannes festival, there have been isolated bursts of enthusiasm. Verena Lueken, for example, was much impressed by Andrej Ujica's unusual assemblage of found footage: "'Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceaucescu' is neither a documentary, nor a traditional feature involving actors, except, that is, the dictator himself. After an hour and a half, you just want to shoot him and put an end to the endless applause and cheering of the various peoples before him; the ovations of the Romanians, who seem to have come out in their entirety to hear his speeches; the Chinese, who dance and sing and clap and scream, and the North Koreans, some with blossoms in their hands, others with umbrellas, all of them making an endless racket."


Die Zeit 20.05.2010

Jürgen Habermas gives Germany's "flabby political elites" a sharp dressing-down, for the way they move from one rescue packet to the next with such alarming indifference to the state of the European landscape. "The solipsistic and ethically apathetic mentality of a self-preoccupied Colossus at the centre of Europe is not sufficient even to ensure that the European Union maintains its unstable status quo." Far and wide, Habermas sighs, no one seems to recognise that we have come to the end of an era. "This is not about about 'Greek cheating' or Spanish 'delusions of affluence' any more, it's about creating an economic-political alignment of development levels within a monetary zone of heterogeneous national economies."


From the blogs 21.05.2010

(via bibliologs) Why is it always Google that gets the bad rap, asks Max Winde in his Blog 343max in reference to the debate about Google Street View: "All of this technology is already in use by other companies. Back in the 1990s, companies were photographing the whole of Germany and then selling on their photo collections. For years now, companies (like the German Frauenhofer Institute and Skyhook more here) have been scanning Wi Fi networks and using the ensuing information to improve and speed up the positioning of mobile phones and other gadgets. And for years, no one was even remotely interested in these activities."

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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