28/04/2005

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.

Die Zeit, 28.04.2005

Hanno Rauterbeg and Claus Spahn review plans by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron for a gigantic concert house in Hamburg, which involve transforming a disused cocoa warehouse at a cost of 196 million euros. "The plans include a public square 37 meters high, from which even the Alster river will be visible. Above that will be a luxury hotel, luxury apartments, and two concert venues: a philharmonic hall seating 2,200 people, and a chamber music hall for 600. The entrepreneurial tradition represented by the warehouse will provide the foundations for the building and house a parking lot. On top, however, culture will reign. An unusual, symbolic reversal of the usual run of things. As if an allegory for all of Hamburg, the building will make the repellent aspect of the storehouse more welcoming and its stoicism more relaxed, replacing strict rationality with artistic boldness."

Die Zeit reprints a speech given by George Steiner, professor of comparative literature at Oxford, at the opening of an exhibition on Friedrich Schiller's life and work. 2005 has been dubbed "Schiller Year" in Germany, marking the 200th anniversary of the poet's death. The exhibition, "Götterpläne & Mäusegeschäfte. Schiller 1759–1805", will run until October 9. Evoking the fervent enthusiasm for Schiller both in the Nazi era (where Schiller was seen as standard-bearer of National Socialism) and in communist East Germany (Engels called Schiller's "Cabal and Love" Germany's first political drama), Steiner comments on the poet's relevance today: "Homer and Virgil shine through Schiller's effusive language, as does Luther's translation of the psalms. But the real problem is that today we live in a radical anti-rhetorical climate. We find Schiller's ornamented language suspicious. We believe Georg Büchner's stuttering Woyzeck, and the short, naked sentences of Kafka and Beckett. Or those who recommend we should be silent, like Wittgenstein. In my view there are only two ways to keep Schiller's emphatic rhetoric alive. In contrast to Goethe, Schiller wrote for the ear. Often his meaning is hidden in the rhythm of the words. Schiller's works must be read aloud, in the manner of the rhapsodists of ancient Greece. And afterwards, you have to learn them by heart." (Here something to try)


Die Welt, 28.04.2005


A French no to the EU Constitution would "primarily be a no to President Jacques Chirac", writes social historian Hans-Peter Schwarz. The French are dissatisfied with the "government's negative economic performance" and its attempt to force Turkey into the EU "with a crowbar". Schwarz adds: "Many French fear for their own identity, and accuse the president of neo-Gaullistic megalomania in his desire to establish a 'European puissance' with France in the driving seat. In line with Chirac's dreams, once Turkey has entered, the EU could get big wheels turning in the Middle East on a par with America, against which - as he recently put it - 'the more human and better organised' France and Europe had to defend itself. But it is the French voters that are defending themselves."


Die Tageszeitung, 28.04.2005


Is the European Constitution "the key to furthering social policies in France and Europe as a whole", as Martin Schulz, socialist party leader in the EU parliament, maintains? The French voters are not convinced, writes Daniela Weingärtner. "In the minds of the French, the economic recession, the cheap competition from the East, the relocation of production locations there, and the Turkey debate have consolidated into a singe hate word: Constitution. The question so long and lovingly posed by European philosophers of all nationalities of whether expansion and consolidation stimulate or exclude, has long been decided by European citizens. It's not good to change too much too quickly, they say, and are setting to work on prescribing the Union a pause for thought."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28.04.2005

Recently, the memorials to the victims of National Socialism in Berlin have been criticised for providing a sometimes sloppy, partial picture of the past they are supposed to clarify. Several well respected historians have called for the memorials, chiefly the Topography of Terror, the German Resistance Memorial and the House of the Wannsee Conference, to be united under a single director. Now a new "draft paper" has assured the autonomy of the memorials. The federal body Stiftung Dokumentation der NS-Verbrechen (foundation for the documentation of NS crimes), does not see fit to impose any changes on the memorials. Criticism by historians Götz Aly (here) and Ulrich Herbert (here), documenting the academic dilettantism of the establishments, was ignored. Jens Bisky is appalled at the paper. For him it combines "East-German style self-satisfaction with a passion for insignificant detail." By alluding to their "civil engagement", the memorials have been able to prevent any future examination of their work. "Today 'civil' means receiving money from the state to have impunity from criticism and evaluation. It's a matter of having friends on the right side. The West Berlin culture of incest has won a small victory."
Click here for an essay in English on the state of the NS memorials by Götz Aly.


Frankfurter Rundschau, 28.04.2005

"Marx is in the air" declares Christian Schlüter. The FR has dedicated its culture pages to the topic today. We give two stories:

Russian writer Anatoly Korolyov describes the "kitschification of the Stalin era", currently taking place particularly in Russian films: "From the past only the sirloin – the Stalin era – is being digested artistically. Lenin is hardly being touched, and Kruschev and Breshnev are being ignored completely. This is because the defining style of the Soviet epoch was moulded under Stalin, the style of the all-embracing people's happiness and the permanent exhibition of party achievements. People became exhibits of the epoch, living arguments against the Western way of life, trophies of the communist party - and now they are trophies of the current government which dreams of a return at least to the supposedly glorious elements of this past. The contemporary viewer is being shown that the epoch of mass terror made people happy. And the high audience ratings show that many Russians welcome these fairytale messages, just as they love game shows and everything else as long as it doesn't show Russian reality in 2005."

Marx's "Das Kapital" has just been translated into Mongolian. It was a tough task, explain Dondog Batjargal und Helmut Höge. "Here are some examples: the Mongolian word for beer is 'shar airag' which means something like yellow or fermented mare milk; helicopter is 'nisdeg tereg' in Mongolian – flying car; the original word for farmer, which stems from the arrival of the Chinese in the Middle Ages, was the ironic 'Gazar saagch' or earth-milkers, now replaced by 'tariachin', a compound of 'tariaO' meaning cereal and 'chin' meaning maker; exploitation is 'Möljlög' which means something like bone-gnawing; wages or pay translates as 'ajliin höls' – the sweat of labour; the Mongolian word for economy, 'Ediin zasag', literally means thing-power; taxes or 'tatvar' come from the verb 'tatah' – which means to cover or to span - testing strength in a tug-of-war is called 'ols tatah' for example." (Read "Das Kapital" here in English and here in German.)

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles.
signandsight.com - let's talk european.

 
More articles

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

A clutch of German newspapers launch an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks. Vera Lengsfeld remembers GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs and how he met death in his cell. All the papers were bowled over Xavier Beauvois' film "Of Gods and Men." The FR enjoys a joke but not a picnic at a staging of Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" in Berlin. Gustav Seibt provides a lurid description of Napoleonic soap in the SZ. German-Turkish Dogan Akhanli author explains what it feels like to be Josef K.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 December

Colombian writer Hector Abad defends Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa against European Latin-America romantics. Wikileaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg criticises the new publication policy of his former employer. The Sprengel Museum has put on a show of child nudes by die Brücke artists. The SZ takes a walk through the Internet woods with FAZ prophet of doom Frank Schirrmacher. The FAZ is troubled by Christian Thielemann's unstable tempo in the Beethoven cycle. And the FR meets China Free Press publisher, Bao Pu.
read more

From the feuilletons

Saturday 27 November - Friday 3 December

Danish author Frederik Stjernfelt explains how the Left got its culturist ideas. Slavenka Draculic writes about censoring Angelina Jolie who wanted to make a film in Bosnia. Daniel Cohn-Bendit talks   about his friendship, falling out and reconciliation with Jean-Luc Godard. Wikileaks has caused an embarrassed silence in the Arab world, where not even al-Jazeera reported on the what the sheiks really think. Alan Posener calls for the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden to be shut down.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

The theatre event of the week came in a twin pack: Roland Schimmelpfennig's new play, a post-colonial "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opened at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and the Thalia in Hamburg. The anarchist pamphlet "The Coming Insurrection" has at last been translated into German and has ignited the revolutionary sympathies of at least two leading German broadsheets, the FAZ and the SZ. But the taz, Germany's left-wing daily, says the pamphlet is strongly right-wing. What's left and right anyway? came the reply.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more