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18/04/2007

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.

Berliner Zeitung 18.04.2007

For Christian Esch, democracy in Russia is like the "Truman Show." Everything that constitutes a democracy seems to be present - but the appearances are merely a facade: "A form of government has evolved out of the ruins of the Soviet system that looks like democracy, with a parliament, contending parties and elections. Yet in fact expressions of popular will and the organisation of interest groups are merely simulated. Parties emerge and vanish in the post-Soviet era as 'projects' with defined objectives, but without programmes or regional bases. They are conceptualised by prominent 'polit-technologists', a job title that encompasses a far greater, and more cynical, spectrum than Western election strategists and spin-doctors. And these people are both supported and hampered by what post-Soviet newspeak terms 'adminresurs': 'administrative resources,' the means of state power."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 18.04.2007

It's been a while since Till Briegleb has seen anything as bad as Johann Kresnik's staging of Kafka's unfinished novel "Amerika - the Man who Disappeared" at the Bremer Theater. After many years of choreographing political dance-theatre, Kresnik has now staged a load of prejudiced America-baiting, Briegleb writes. "Believe it or not, there isn't a single reflected sentence in the play, not a single character that isn't stripped right down to its most primitive features - even if it's enormous breasts. There is not a single human or clever moment. With its unsparing inanity, the play is rather alone in today's theatrical landscape, and urgently suggests that Kresnik should stop working in the theatre before his artistic downfall has him staging musicals for Europe's radical Islamists."

Wolfgang Schreiber, by contrast, is delighted with the production of Wagner's "The Valkyrie," which premiered on Sunday at the Nationaltheater Weimar under director Michael Schulz and conductor Carl St. Clair: "Historically, the two pillars of any production of Wagner's 'Ring of the Nibelung' are first the mythological-symbolical element, and second a contemporary, realistic interpretation. Like many versions today, the Weimar production attempts a sort of synthesis. On the one hand we have an open, lithe staging unburdened with modern references. On the other hand we have an exact, highly emotionalised character portrayal rich in psychological observation. Stage designer Dirk Becker cleverly came up with an almost minimalistic empty stage featuring two long platforms. Here the contrast between the Gods and the humans in cool street clothes (Renée Listerdal) is all the more striking. This is a family saga and political thriller rolled into one."


Die Tageszeitung 18.04.2007

Hilal Sezgin demands that Muslim women be included in the "Coordination Council of Muslims" – on condition that they are believers. "Of course, some of these Muslim women or 'Islam critics' as this new occupation is being called, are over-proportionally represented in the German media. We're talking about women with Muslim family backgrounds. But Islam is a community of believers, not of family members. If we're talking about the voice of German Muslims, it's wrong that an explicitly non-believing Necla Kelek (more) should speak for me without having being elected by me. Someone who no longer believes is welcome to speak about Muslims or for Ex-Muslims - but not for Muslims, just like an atheist who was christened as a baby does not speak for Christianity."

In an interesting interview, evolutionary biologist Josef Reichholf explains some of the theses in his book "Eine kurze Naturgeschichte des letzten Jahrtausends", (a short natural history of the last millennium) in which the history of Central Europe is told in connection with the climatic conditions. Here we learn that in 800 it was warmer than it is now and there were vineyards in Bavaria. Reichholf confirms: "Today's climatic models are based on these low levels. If you were to take the averages from the last thousand years, then we're not even in the upper half. And it's absolutely wrong, although it is often claimed, that it has never been as warm as it is today. That's absurd: 120,000 years ago there were hippos in the Rhine and the Thames."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 18.04.2007

For the series "The future of yesterday," Georg Klein takes another look at Friedrich Dürrenmatt's futuristic story "Der Winterkrieg in Tibet," (Winter War in Tibet) which tells of a Cyborg in a post-nuclear world. His right hand, writes Dürrenmatt, is "a multi-sided instrumentarium: forceps, hammer, screwdriver, scissors, stylus etc – all of steel." Klein analyses: "With this little description, it's indirect and yet clear that deep in the Tibetan crag of the future, old Switzerland comes into play. The right arm of this hulk, displaced from all its origins and roots, is distinctively similar to a Swiss army knife which was a globally recognised symbol of the Alpine repubic prior to the atomic disaster." (2 short stories by Georg Klein here)

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