10/11/2006

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 10.11.2006

In an essay on the "two bodies" of Saddam Hussein, Isolde Charim argues against the hanging sentence. "But now the sentence 'hung by the neck until dead' has brought Saddam back into the limelight, and with him the problem: how to be rid of him? His natural body can be disposed of easily, but what about the remains of his sublime body, his leadership aura? An execution seems the worst conceivable means. The noose cannot touch the sublime body. But it's in this irredeemable remains that the problem lies. It has a terrible echo in this land of fanatic suicidal believers. They carry out a ghastly continuation of the sublime body in what you could call a 'negative embodiment.' A host of living dead try to transform their bodies into the sublime body - in the moment when they blow themselves up. In a strange reversal, their tattered bodes 'embody' the fiction of an ideal society - by destroying the real community."


Die Tageszeitung
10.11.2006

Markus Wolf, former head of the GDR foreign intelligence division, has died. "Later I discovered I couldn't hate all of them, I felt the same as the singer/songwriter Wolf Biermann in this respect, but I could despise them. It was easy to despise Walter Ulbricht and Erich Mielke, but with the fatherly Wilhelm Pieck and the broken Otto Grotewohl it wasn't so easy after a while. How should I feel about Markus Wolf?" asks civil-rights activist Wolfgang Templin, who in 1988 was imprisoned for "treasonous spying activities" and deported to West Germany. "The western secret services certainly have plenty to answer for and the later collegial fraternising of their members with Markus Wolf always made me feel sick. Yet there are important differences. The East German General Reconnaissance Administration (HVA) was at never a 'normal' espionage agency. Aside from the murder and terror commandos, the countless abductions and other crimes that the HVA was involved in, its main mission was to prepare the 'Operation area' Bundesrepublik for an agressive takeover."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
10.11.2006

"Who puts out the magazine with the highest circulation in the world, at 22 million copies? The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The association publishes its 80 to 140 page AARP - The Magazine on a bimonthly basis. The publication is one of 400 such titles for seniors – the fastest growing population group in industrial countries," report Reto Eugster and Manfred Weise. Of course Switzerland also has a number of magazine for its silver citizens. Most of them, however, "try not to hurt anyone... One looks in vain for critical subjects like 'discrimination against the elderly', 'why female presenters over 50 are disappearing from the tube' and 'seniors in developing countries'." Yet the older generation are "media consumers par excellence. Of all demographics, they are the ones who not only watch the most television and listen to the most radio, they are also the group best reached by the newspapers."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
10.11.2006

Fritz Göttler reports on a retrospective of Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin which is currently running in Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Munich, Basel and Zürich. "For years Guy Maddin has been an esoteric insider tip, but now his films seem to be finding a larger audience.... The idea behind one of his latest masterpieces would certainly have appealed to Luis Bunuel, who Maddin much admires. "The Saddest Music in the World", which will even be showing in German cinemas as of December, features a woman with two artificial glass legs full of sparkling beer. Isabella Rossellini plays Lady Helen Port-Huntley, the brewery queen from Winnipeg. Lady Helen lost her legs in a horrible accident, and now one of her admirers has given her the replacements... She invites the world to a huge melancholy competition in this Canadian backwater. All nations are there to sing the most woeful song, Spaniards and Africans, Scotsmen and Americans, and of course Canadians – who complicate things with catastrophically mixed-up love and family relations."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10.11.2006

Hans-Joachim Müller talks to the artist Gustav Metzger (more here and here), born 1926, whose work has only recently been celebrated in major exhibitions. In 1956 he penned his manifesto for "Autodestructive Art" declaring that art "should contain an element that within no more than twenty years automatically leads to its destruction." For the Documenta 1972 he planned to siphon the exhaust from four cars into a plastic cube – a project which curator Harald Szeeman decided was too dangerous. This is how Meztger describes the work: "The plastic cube would have needed holes drilled into it at regular intervals which would have made the air extremely toxic and one would have been able to watch what happened inside and outside of the cube. The redirection of the exhaust might have caused the cars to break down. And if they didn't, they would have had to be blown up at the end of the show."

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Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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