15/04/2005

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, 15.04.2005

Florian Coulmas, professor of Japanese language and culture at Duisburg University, comments on Japan's relations with China and Korea in the wake of the recent anti-Japanese demonstrations in the two countries. One serious bone of contention is the playing down of Japanese atrocities in the country's school history books. The problem is not the specificity of a Japanese "culture of shame" as described for example by Ian Buruma (see In Today's Feuilletons from 13 April), but an instrumentalisation of history within Japan. "Thanks to the role played by the Japanese state, critics in Korea and China can simply ignore the domestic discussion in Japan. That the overwhelming majority of history teachers are endeavouring to provide Japanese schoolchildren with a realistic picture of their history in the first half the 20th century; that the right-leaning schoolbooks are used in one percent of Japanese schools at most; that many Japanese intellectuals want to have a candid and factual exchange with their Korean and Chinese colleagues; all of this is ignored by the Chinese and Korean media. And the Japanese state just makes things worse. If they would allocate the authorisation of school texts to an independent commission of historians, the problem would be solved."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 15.04.2005

Boris Schumatzky comments on attempts to restrict artistic freedom in Russia. Now, after two years of hearings, Yury Samodurov, curator of the "Beware – Religion!" show, and his colleagues at the Sakharov Museum in Moscow have been declared guilty of inciting religious hatred, and given moderate fines. Orthodox demonstrators had used the same argument when they stormed the exhibition and destroyed several exhibits. "The church leadership has seldom shown solidarity with radical fundamentalists in its own ranks. But it also hesitates to condemn anti-Semitic statements and militant actions. So the growing social influence of the church is also slowly making anti-Semitism respectable." Click here for Jens Mühling's article "This is not art, it's pathology!" on curtailments of artistic freedom in Russia.


die tageszeitung, 15.04.2005

Berlin's famous techno club Tresor is opening its doors for the last time this weekend. Detlef Kuhlbrodt mourns the passing of the "still very agile dinosaur of the Berlin techno scene" and has a hundred stories to tell about its 14-year history. Tresor, which means 'strong room' was the concrete vault in the basement of the former Jewish Wertheim department store on the Leipziger Straße, near Potsdamer Platz. The Jewish Wertheim family was forced to relinquish the company under the Nazis, and the building stayed empty until the club opened in 1991. "In no other place in Berlin could one experience the early 90s so intensely and directly," Kuhlbrodt writes. "Detroit Techno and Chicago House formed the soundtrack to the German Unification. So many of the great DJs played Tresor: Jeff Mills, Blake Baxter, Juan Atkins, Christian Vogel, Tanith, Motte too, and Christian Vogel and Joey Beltram, who is playing tonight in the Dussman book shop on Friedrich Straße before he goes to bid farewell to Tresor." British filmmaker Michael Andrawis has made a documentary tracing the development of the club since 1991. "You have to look at it all in a larger context, he says. Think of Stockhausen too." Andrawis' film "Tresor Berlin: the vault & the electronic frontier" will be shown as part of the "AchtungBerlin!" – film festival on Sunday in the Hackesche Höfe Film Theatre in Berlin.

The opinion page features an interview with Lord Richard Layard, founding director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, who has researched happiness in industrial society. The most astounding finding was that happiness is a measurable phenomenom. "The feeling of wellbeing corresponds with activities in the brain's left frontal lobe. Negative feelings, on the other hand, produce increased activity in the right frontal lobe. We were able to see that these measurements tally with what people themselves say about their wellbeing." Richard Layard's book "Happiness: Lessons from a new science" was published in Britain at the beginning of March.


Der Tagesspiegel, 15. 04.2005

German actor Heinz Bennent is giving a solo performance based on two Chekhov plays at Berlin's Renaissance Theatre. In an interview with Christina Tilmann, he explains his working methods: "I do the same in film as in theatre. I hate it when you have to play to the camera. When I worked with Ingmar Berman (in 'The Serpent's Egg', 1977) he said to me: If I catch you trying to position yourself favourably for the camera one more time, I'll call the whole thing off. For you the camera doesn't exist.' The ideal director knows it's about people, not the camera."
Heinz Bennent is the father of David Bennent, who played Oskar Matzerath in Volker Schlöndorff's film "The Tin Drum", based on the novel by Günter Grass.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 15.04.2005

Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, has declared he wants to establish a European MIT. Junior researchers Rafael Mickiewicz and Michael Köris explain why they have doubts about the project's feasibility, and why they conduct their research at MIT, although as Polish and German natives they would rather live in Europe. "We do research in biology and materials science at the real MIT, in Boston, which has one thousand professors, ten thousand staff, 59 Nobel Prize winners, a yearly budget of 1.8 billion euros and a woman president, neurobiologist Susan Hockfield. When you walk around the campus you see construction sites everywhere. The new buildings for the McGovern-Institute for Brain Research and the Picower Center for Learning and Memory are just about the open in the north-east. The place never ceases to amaze."

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