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GoetheInstitute

02/04/2007

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.

Monday 2 April, 2007

Süddeutsche Zeitung
02.04.2007

Gustav Seibt is drunk with joy over an exhibition in Weimar on the birth hours of the German classic. "Duke Carl August, who at 18 was already in the government, entered into a bourgeois-courtly marriage with his new artist friends – primarily the best seller author Goethe – without any formal fussiness. At the home of his mother, the young duchess Anna Amalia, one sat by candlelight at a round table on tippy stools. What distinguished Weimar's magic moments at the end of the 18th century from comparable highpoints in cultural history – Athens in fifth century BC, Rome under Augustus, Florence in the Quattrocento, Rome in the High Renaissance, in the court of Louis XIV – seems to have been the invaluable attribute of intimacy."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 02.04.2007

In an interview with Beat Stauffer, the Tunisian intellectual Abdelwahab Meddeb comments on European multiculturalism: "It seems to me that we have to be careful with multiculturalism. Of course, it's very important that we in Europe take a serious look at other cultures and their values. But multiculturalism is no 'auberge espagnole,' no place where you can leave everyone to do and be what he or she wants. Basic values cannot be allowed to disappear. We have to look closely at what things mean. The veil is a symbol. What does this symbol mean? If this symbol contradicts my own values, why should I accept it?" (here an interview with Abdelwahab Meddeb on "Islam's heritage of violence")

German-Romanian writer Richard Wagner defends his Romanian compatriot Vintila Horia, who, like Emil Cioran and Mircea Eliade, was sympathetic to fascism and after the war made unpalatable to Western audiences by newspapers like L'Humanité on the basis of material furnished by the Romanian secret police. "Certainly, in the 30s Horia published articles like 'The fascist miracle,' and he should be held to account for that. But what do his inventive historical novels from the 60s, which have protagonists like Ovid, Boethius and Plato and deal with the theme of exile as a form of existence, have to do with that? It's like ignoring 'Being and Time' because Heidegger had Nazi sympathies for a short time, or refusing to print Celine's 'Journey to the End of the Night' because of his 'Bagatelles pour un massacre' and his role in the Vichy government."


Der Standard 02.04.2007

Reflecting on the confessions by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed that were extracted with the use of torture, philosopher Slavoj Zizek warns of an acceptance of torture in both discourse and praxis: "Are we aware of what lies at the end of the tunnel we've opened through the normalisation of torture? An important detail in Mohammed's confession gives us a clue. It's been reported that the questioners were subjected to 'waterboarding,' and could stand it on average no more than 15 seconds, after which they were ready to admit to anything and everything. Nevertheless, Mohammed did not gain so much as their reluctant admiration when he withstood the procedure for two and a half minutes."


Saturday 30 March, 2007

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 31.03.2007

There's still one year left to go until the 100th anniversary of Herbert von Karajan's birthday. Music critic Eleonore Büning jumps the gun and expresses hope that not just the myth, but also the musical talent of the long-time conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker will be remembered. The hagiographers are bad enough, she writes. "But then there are also the 'critics' who see themselves as progressive, and repeat Theodor Adorno's dictum of 'the genius of the economic miracle,' accusing Karajan of a limited repertoire, an entertainment-oriented musical aesthetic, a perfectionism born from his belief in progress, technical coldness and an unscrupulous misuse of power that only increased the more powerful Karajan became. However even the most stalwart Karajan-hater will admit straight off that he was an outstanding orchestral educator, an able bandmaster and, yes, an extraordinary musical talent. But criticism of his cultural and political role prejudices people's power of musical judgement."


Die Welt 31.03.2007

Writer
Thomas Brussig became famous with his novel "Helden wie wir" (heroes like us), whose protagonist worked as an informer for the East German secret police. Now Brussig has been informing readers of Berlin's boulevard paper BZ about the city's red light district. He talks with Elmar Krekeler about what he discovered there. "My wife needed some persuading. In the end we reached the compromise: I can go, but I can't go all the way.... In fact I had no idea what I was getting into. That's where I really learned the meaning of temptation. I don't have any problem fasting for weeks and then watching people eat. But in my investigations I got into situations where I just about had a fit. I had to keep thinking of Odysseus having himself tied to the mast. What you commonly think of as temptation is a rabbit's fart compared to what I went through."


Die Tageszeitung 31.03.2007

Christian Semler has taken a look at the exhibition "Dictatorship and Everyday life in the DDR" in the German Historical Museum and is not entirely satisfied. "The exhibition misses the opportunity to show – with particular examples – how, despite political powerlessness, the regime's subjects had a relatively strong standing, for example through the demand for labour. Or how they could, with a bit of imagination, subvert, if not directly oppose, state power. The category of 'Eigen-sinn' (self-will) which has been applied to East German citizens by researchers of everyday life in the GDR and by historian Martin Sabrow in his essay in the catalogue is nowhere to be found in the exhibition itself."

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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

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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

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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

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