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GoetheInstitute

27/04/2007

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.

Der Tagesspiegel 27.04.2007

The Iraqi writer Abbas Khider who lives in Munich points out in an interesting article that Iraqi society has been bound up in the process of militarisation for decades. "The daily violence in Iraq, which we have seen on our TV sets since 2003, has not come out of the blue. It's part of a long process which began with the Iran-Iraq war. In 1980 the Iraqi government decided that the war should not only be fought on the front, but also in schools and on the streets. The militarisation of life was the leading principle of the Baath party and its leader. So over the course of the years, violence has secured a hold in the consciousness of Iraqi society – and in its subconscious. All Iraqis had to learn how to use a gun. Alongside the regular army, the government founded a 'children's army', a 'youth army' and a 'people's army'.... During this and all subsequent wars in Iraqi, Baath was the ruling ideology. There were public executions, deportations of Shiites as 'an impure Iraqi race' and imprisonment of political opponents. The country knew almost only one colour: khaki, the colour of the military."


Die Welt
27.04.2007

Hendrik Werner warns against relegating cultural memory to digital hardware. Its life expectancy is extremely limited, not only in comparison to Sumerian stone tablets. Systems must be reconverted to new versions roughly every three years. The paradox is that "although books have been declared the disposable victims of mass scanning practices, paper libraries will one day have to back up the databases of their digital successors. This irony of data transmission will be painfully felt by Google, the Californian champion of the digitalisation offensive. Because if, in a fit of futuristic overconfidence, all archives irreversibly dispose of their conventional holdings - as some of Googles partner libraries in the USA are planning to do - at one point or another they'll have no reliable backup, that the porous cultural cultural memory simply happens to need."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 27.04.2007

In the cold storage facility of a brewery in Berlin's Neukölln district, Peter Stein - one of Germany's most influential stage directors - is currently rehearsing Friedrich Schiller's complete "Wallenstein" (text here) trilogy. Stein has made a name for himself for his respect for playwrights's intentions and his faithfulness to the works he stages. Gustav Seibt predicts critics will like the production less than "modern" audiences, who are now unimpressed by the arbitrary whims of directors: "Stein's directing style involves the solution of ever new tasks arising from the work itself, and assumes the actors will be using their heads as well. Whether text is correctly intoned is here a technical question, a problem of historical reflection. Schiller's often-ridiculed antithesis - 'The deed I had to do / As I'd thought it through' - is in fact a help to actors and a support for audiences. Making this antithesis accessible to an audience without over-stretching it is just one of the many tasks at hand. If the actors don't speak well, Stein threatens them with innovative, whimsical stagings, saying: 'I'll have you declaim your monologue while masturbating in a bathtub'."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 27.04.2007

Dominik Landwehr reports from a symposium on the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia in Basel. One participant is the Hamburg historian Maren Lorenz, whose aim is to "excoriate" the Internet encyclopedia, "even if she herself admits to being fascinated by it. For her Wikipedia can't be quoted, because a web page can change from one mouse click to the next. Her major criticism: the encyclopaedia has no consistent quality criteria. And there are quantitative reasons why standards cannot be maintained, with over 500 new entries per day in the German edition. After several attempts at writing her own entries, the historian finally threw in the towel. 'When it comes to differences of opinion, also known as edit-wars, the one with the most stamina inevitably wins out.' From a historian's viewpoint, she goes on, the site is dominated by a very traditional, male view of history, which puts political and military processes firmly in the forefront."


Frankfurter Rundschau 27.04.2007

To the frustration of Arno Widman, in its programme "Das Opfer und der Terrorist" (the victim and the terrorist), the German TV channel ARD managed to botch the meeting between Michel Buback (son of attorney general Siegfried Buback who was killed by the Roter Armee Faktion in 1977) and Peter-Jürgen Boock (the former RAF terrorist who has recently started talking). He agrees with Michael Buback that fact finding is more important than remorse. "There are commentators who see in Buback's attempt to find out which person was responsible for shooting his father, a despicable 'individualisation of German terrorism'. According to this line of argumentation precise knowledge about the circumstances of the crime and the question of who pulled the trigger is secondary. It is enough to assume accompliceship. This is the legal position. It is and has been controversial from the start. The corresponding paragraphs that were drawn up or reinforced in the 70s openly dealt with absolving the law from the duty of establishing which individual did what. This succeeded to a frightening extent. It had been the intention of the RAF to erase individual personality from group members and have them dissolve into the tightly run organisation. And the constitutional state responded by deliberately not insisting on its fundamental principles, in other words the responsibility of the individual, and instead treated the RAF as befitted the intention of its leaders: as a unit."

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