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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04/07/2006

Magazine Roundup

Magazine Roundup, which appears every Tuesday at 12 p.m., is originally published by Perlentaucher.

L'Espresso | Outlook India | Folio | Magyar Lettre International | The New Yorker | Il Foglio | Merkur | La Rivista dei Libri | The Spectator | Wired | Liberation | Polityka | DU | Al Ahram Weekly | The Nation


L'Espresso, 06.07.2006 (Italy)

The anachronistic behaviour of the Polish government has its origins in Pater Tadeusz Rydzyk's Catholic radio station Radio Marjia, writes Andrzej Stasiuk in an acerbic settling of accounts with Roman Giertych, Andrzej Lepper and the Kaczynski brothers. "Rydzyk is a product of communism. Because it was communism that froze Polish reality for decades. When the ice melted, the light shone in on the morgue of Polish pre-war ideology. Rydzyk appeared, a zombie, a mixture of primitive ultra-nationalism from the war and a tribal parody of Catholicism. And Roman Giertych with his All-Polish Youth emerged, a Frankenstein, assembled from bits of rotten bodies from the fascist action commandos of the pre-war days. Each is as hair-raising as the next from a moral point of view, each having survived thanks to the conservative powers of communism. Each looking expectantly towards post-Soviet Russia, in the hope of finding allies for the fight against the liberal West."


Outlook India, 10.07.2006 (India)

Jews in Mumbai? They exist. Payal Kapadia reports on a different kind of diaspora, the 5,000 or so Indian Jews predominantly resident in Mumbai – the Bene-Israelis and the so-called Bagdad Jews, who came from Iraq in the 18th century. "Bene-Israelis were so divorced from mainstream Judaism, they were spared from experiencing—or even comprehending entirely—the single shared experience that binds Jews worldwide: the Holocaust. Does that make them less Jewish? Far from it. Instead, it turns on its head the notion of Jews as a homogeneous, and persecuted, lot."

Pramila N. Phatarphekar leads us through the newly opened kitchen museum in the presidential palace in New Delhi, where silverware and picnic baskets from the English occupying forces are on display. And Mahmood Farooqui reviews two books, "The Black Hole: Money, Myth and Empire" by Jan Dalley and Nick Robbins' "The Corporation that Changed the World" about the East India Company. "Two books by British journalists-cum-writers which are really about Britain, where India is a peripheral player."


Folio, 03.07.2006 (Switzerland)

Mikael Krogerus paints a vivid portrait of the European murder and knifing capital, Glasgow. "The boys stare at me. We are 20 metres apart, I start getting nervous. Should I turn round? Run away? My steps get gradually slower, theirs faster. I stand still. The one in the middle shouts out a greeting of some sort. 'Haaaw, you, giiies fägg!' I can't make out a word through his Glasgow accent. The two others giggle and exchange looks, their faces look strangely old. The one in the middle takes a step towards me, I take one back. All three start talking at the same time, fear pounds in my head: I could give them my wallet. Or I could defend myself. I'm a head taller than the one in the middle... Out of the corner of my eye I see a man. He looks over at us momentarily then walks on. In a loud voice I say: 'I'm a journalist', it sounds feeble. It's my first evening in Glasgow. And I'm scared of eleven-year-olds." (Perhaps the lads just wanted a cigarette?)

Columnist and biophysicist Luca Turin mourns the good old days before the existence of things like tolerance testing. But then a colleague of his told him about "a new musk scent called Musk KS from Grau Aromatics in Germany. I ordered a sample and was amazed: powerful, earthy, beyond compare. Then I noticed the chemical structure. The molecule contained two bromine atoms and a group of nitrites – all substances guaranteed to bring any bureaucrat out in a sweat. But Grau has produced it, tested it and is now preparing to launch it onto the market. God bless them".


Magyar Lettre International, 03.07.2006 (Hungary)

The magazine has printed an excerpt from an autobiographical essay "Exercises in Exile" by dramatic theorist and essayist Dragan Klaic, who tells the story of his Jewish family's multiple exile. "My mother's native language was Serbo-Croatian, which she spoke in the Sarajevan dialect. This idiom is officially known today as 'the Bosnian language'. Her parents also spoke German, Polish and Yiddish at home.... With this multilingualism at home I breathed in the logic of relocation, mobility. Linguistic imperfection never seemed negative to me, but normal. Still today, in our home in Amsterdam, we converse in Serbo-Croatian, Hungarian, English or Dutch."


The New Yorker, 10.07.2006 (USA)

The indefatigable Seymour M. Hersh explains the reservations of the US military reagarding presidential policy on Iran. "'A crucial issue in the military's dissent, the officers said, is the fact that American and European intelligence agencies have not found specific evidence of clandestine activities or hidden facilities; the war planners are not sure what to hit. 'The target array in Iran is huge, but it's amorphous,' a high-ranking general told me. 'The question we face is, when does innocent infrastructure evolve into something nefarious?' The high-ranking general added that the military's experience in Iraq, where intelligence on weapons of mass destruction was deeply flawed, has affected its approach to Iran. 'We built this big monster with Iraq, and there was nothing there. This is son of Iraq,' he said."

Il Foglio, 01.07.2006 (Italy)

Ugo Bertone introduces the Indian Giovanni Agnelli, who, sixty years after the Fiat Topolino, has ordered the development of a people's car costing 2,000 euros. "Ratan Tata, 68 years old, an elegant and highly-respected gentleman, who together with the steel king Lakhsmi Mittal is vying for the title of the living embodiment of the 'Indian model.' A tycoon who spearheads the Tata group, a vast corporation which, with its 91 firms, employs 220,000 people and wields quite some power: steel, chemicals, telecommunications, bio-medical equipment etc."

In Paris Marin Valensise meets the professor for ethics and bio-technology Gregory Katz Benichou and almost melts in her shoes. "Imagine a European Gregory Peck minus the brashness." The talk however revolves around sober topics like the soon-affordable DNA pre-selection for embryos. "Suddenly he interrupts what he is saying, raises his eyes and admits with a smile that is finally defeated by shyness: 'Had they carried out these genetic tests on the embryo that was me 36 years ago, I would not be sitting here today talking to you... They would have not allowed me to be born because I have terrible chromosomes, a disastrous genetic inheritance.'"


Merkur, 01.07.2006 (Germany)

Philosopher Volker Gerhardt has no time for the new terror-induced religiousness. Even if he doesn't want to deny altogether that religion can have a certain "anti-totalitarian erosive force", he nevertheless sees true happiness in secularisation, and in politics based firmly on the rights of the individual. "The European churches have not been spared from secularisation, and no one can prevent it from touching other religious communities. The fact that this is happening worldwide is not due to the missionary zeal of Europeans or Americans. That would start a war! But it is true that around the world, people have decided to take part in global processes. That's why they must take the path of secular sobriety, and engage in politics according to rules that have developed over several thousand years, in which instutions have gained an autonomous constitution."


La Rivista dei Libri, 01.07.2006 (Italy)

Neurologist Giacomo Rizzolatti not only discovered the mirror neuron, he has also written a fantastic book about it, writes Luciano Mecacci, who explains the task of this special cell in an everyday example: "I eat lunch with a bowl of spaghetti in front of me. I have a spoon and a fork, and I choose the fork. I know how to use it, how to move it to eat spaghetti. If I want some parmesan, I take the spoon and scatter it over the pasta. I recognise the objects thanks to my visual system (of course I could also distinguish between them blind), but the act of recognition is not enough. In the moment when I recognise fork and spoon, I also know what they can be used for, how to use them to attain what I want. The neurons of the visual system (the rear part of the cerebral cortex) are specialised in distinguishing between forms, but to associate an object with a given use, you need other classes of neurons." (In the more versatile Germany, even knives are recognised as possible utensils for eating spaghetti.)


The Spectator, 01.07.2006 (UK)

For Michael Gove, the year after the London attacks was wasted needlessly. Instead of talking endlessly about how to protect the country, people should have been discussing what is driving the attackers, he writes, because Islamism is not a religious movement: "It is a specifically political movement which sees the answer to every social, cultural and moral problem in the implementation of a political programme derived from strict Islamic principles and imposed at the point of a sword. Islamism is not a campaign to restore piety through teaching, preaching and encouragement to private devotion. It is a revolutionary attempt to remake society, by argument certainly, but also inevitably by force, in order to secure total submission to a uniquely austere and militaristic divinity."


Wired, 01.07.2006 (USA)

July's cover of this magazine for Internet visionaries features Rupert Murdoch, who has not only given landmark speeches about the future of the media (here and here), but has also bought the site myspace.com, which has over a billion hits per day. Spencer Reiss visits Murdoch in his New York office, and his article starts like this: "Perched on the edge of a bright white power sofa on the supernaturally quiet eighth floor of the News Corporation’s global headquarters, the last thing Rupert Murdoch looks like is a fire-eyed revolutionary. Starched cuffs. Courtly manner. A month past his 75th birthday. But then he starts talking. 'To find something comparable, you have to go back 500 years to the printing press, the birth of mass media – which, incidentally, is what really destroyed the old world of kings and aristocracies. Technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, the media elite. Now it's the people who are taking control.' And he’s smiling."

In the same edition, Chris Anderson, theorist of the "long-tail economy" writes on the power of "consumer generated media" – and his vocabulary sounds surprisingly familiar: "The means of production are being democratised."


Liberation, 30.06.2006 (France)

After 33 years, the charismatic publisher Serge July is leaving Liberation, the newspaper he co-founded. In his final article for the newspaper he gives as his reason the conflict with Edouard de Rothschild, who now owns a large part of the paper's holding company. July also reflects on the Internet revolution, worrying about the state of French newspapers: "For years now, the national newspapers have been the most fragile of all media. Not a single quality paper is now making a profit. And yet this medium is indispensable for democratic life, often it is the source that feeds all other media, a workshop for reflection and national debate. But in its present form it is no longer viable economically: it must receive financial support from external profit-making activities."


Polityka, 01.07.2006 (Poland)

The next Nobel Prize in Literature? It's clear: Haruki Murakami! Not just because he won the Kafka Prize this year – like Elfriede Jelinek in 2004 and Harold Pinter in 2005, writes Aleksander Kaczorowski, but also, and above all, "because he doesn't correspond at all to the Japanese tradition. His heroes are not fanatic workaholics, they are individualists who want as little contact as possible with the worlds of business, politics and advertising." His books describe what's happened in the country after the "Japanese 9/11": the major earthquake in Kobe in 1995 and the attack in the Tokyo subway. "The Japanese had to face the fact that technological progress and prosperity cannot protect you from catastrophes. Since then, Japan has been another country."

"Today anyone can be a Spielberg. It costs one thousand dollars," writes media expert Edwin Bendyk. Thanks to Internet forums, blogs and pages like youtube.com ("Broadcast yourself"), anyone can shoot their own film and publish it on the Net. As usual, the world of politics only reacts very slowly to such phenomena which make institutions like Germany's Fernsehrat (German site), or television council, obsolete. "For the non-initiated, the Internet seems like a big waste basket, with nothing valuable in it. But users know that this world has its own order that results through non-stop communication. Bad films don't have a chance because no one recommends them." Bendyk (who himself has a blog) sums up: this doesn't yet mean the end of traditional media, for example television. But now TV is just one media among many that are being utilised in the Internet."


DU, 01.07.2006 (Switzerland)

This edition turns its gaze to the eternal St. Moritz. Writer Thomas Hettche retreats to neighbouring Sils, to mull over what holds the prototypical holiday resort together. "The jet set is written into this region because speed is the natural measure of an empty landscape. And with it, death. It seems to me that since the second half of the 19th century, life at St. Moritz has been determined by the phantasm of the English sportsman. And he is also the revenant who livens it up. When the first Anglo-Saxon tourists invented winter sports in the Alps out of sheer boredom, they created an entirely new figure in Europe's natural landscape. Unlike the mountain guide, the poacher or the hunter, the sportsman, who mounts his sled in search of speed, is not sacrificing himself for others, but for himself alone. All he's after, and all that will remain of him, is the record. For all his aristocratic bearing, he remains a democrat. Or an autist, if you prefer."

Margrit Sprecher visits the alluringly decadent Gourmet Festival at Badrutt's Palace Hotel. "Star chefs prefer to cook with caviar, goose liver and truffles, which can become monotonous after a week. That's why the organisers started strictly rationing these costly ingredients. But they hadn't reckoned with the chefs' inventiveness. The Ticino chef Martin Dalsass, for example, grates a truffle over his hors d'oeuvre which, he claims, is fundamentally different from those of his competitors. It tastes more like a porcino mushroom, he explains, and unlike normal truffles it only grows above 3,000 feet. Other chefs disguised the caviar and lobster behind harmless rustic names. Local chef Roland Jöhri, for instance, smuggled the caviar into his Maluns, a Swiss speciality in which potatoes are mashed in a pan. And he pepped up his Capuns – in which spätzle is wrapped in Swiss chard – with lobster."


Al Ahram Weekly, 29.06.2006 (Egypt)

Football rules. Galal Nassar raises the unfortunate gesture by the president of Egypt's best-known football club Zamalek during the Egypt Cup Finals (he threatened officials from the other team with his shoe) to the level of an affair of state. "The demise of law and order has taken various shapes. People no longer respect the decisions of their own parties and institutions. The public finds no reason to trust in the outcome of elections. The regime sees no reason to respect the will of the voters... The government keeps the public firmly beneath the heel of its heavy boots, sending in troops to the streets to quash peaceful protests. Then it tries to engage everyone in an endless dialogue about reform that never materialises... When people are making their points with shoes it is a sign that something must be done."


The Nation, 17.07.2006 (USA)

Jennifer Nix tells how you can launch a liberal bestseller in three months in the USA. You just have to read the blogs attentively and snatch up writing talents! Like constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald, who runs the blog "Unclaimed Territory." "On February 15, I asked Greenwald if he'd like to do a book. Working Assets stepped up to fund the project and launch Working Assets Publishing. By March 1, we had a contract and Greenwald sat down to write. There was a printer to find, a distributor to lure, an editorial team to assemble, and all of it managed by a quickly-formed publishing division at the San Francisco headquarters of Working Assets. After some very long days, we delivered the book to the printer on April 24. The day before, I sent digital manuscripts to seven bloggers I'd been working with and asked them to post about the book, if they found it worthy. Within days 'How Would a Patriot Act?' rose from obscurity to number one on Amazon largely because those initial blogs ignited a wildfire of mentions and purchase links throughout the blogosphere. The book stayed there for nearly four days. This sent a shock wave through progressive publishing circles and got stores around the country interested in making Patriot buys. The book's publication date was May 15 and since then has hit the Washington Post and New York Times bestseller list."

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