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GoetheInstitute

19/06/2007

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.

Die Zeit 19.06.2007

The new death threats against Salman Rushdie continue to be ignored in the feuilletons. In his Zeit blog, Jörg Lau quotes the Pakistani Minister of Religion who wishes a bomb in Rushdie's throat should the British government not apologise for the Sir title recently bestowed on him, and statements made by the Muslim Council of Britain – and comments: "It's about time that either Britain or the European Union officially said something about these unbelievable events... Islamic organisations in Europe – some of which, such as the MCB, the government has stupidly engages in dialogue with - are preaching hatred in one voice with Iran and Pakistan against a European intellectual. If we allow that, we make ourselves the laughing stock of the world."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
19.06.2007

Navid Kermani (homepage) reports that the conservative opposition figure Ayatollah Boroujerdi has been put on trial in Iran. Now they're talking about capital punishment. "With a beard that extends far up his face, Boroujerdi looks exactly like what the West expects from a Hate Preacher or a terrorist, also in his tone, his fury. He's not an eloquent intellectual like the philosopher Abdolkarim Soroush, no well-dressed moderator like the former president Mohammad Khatami. The face of Islam that he embodies is no cleaner than that of the opponents that want to kill him. Boroujerdi is the Islam nextdoor, conservative in social questions, almost reactionary, patriarchal, but also secular and decidedly non-violent. He's still around, after almost 30 years of re-training in the country's theological university." Here a video on a failed attempt to arrest Boroujerdi.


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
19.06.2007

Islamic scholar Stefan Rosiny looks at the sources of the conflict between Hamas and Fatah. The USA and Europe, who the Hamas government is boycotting, are not innocent, he writes. "In both political and military terms, Fatah is taking part in the boycott of the Hamas government – the shared government that was founded with the Mecca treaty of February 2007 has done little to change that. The security forces manned with Fatah followers have refused to comply with the government and thus have become a non-state militia. In the last weeks, it was revealed that the USA and Israel have been financing the restructuring of Mahmoud Abbas' presidential guard into an elite troop and supplying them with weapons. It's possible that Hamas decided for that reason to attack now, and to disempower Fatah in the Gaza strip to forestall its decommissioning with a militarily reinforced Fatah."

Samuel Herzog has been to "sculpture projects Muenster 07," the major sculpture exhibition taking place every ten years in the city of Münster, and comments: "As opposed to at documenta 12 exhibition or the Venice Biennale where there's nothing to laugh about at all, the tour along the Aa River in Münster is at times downright funny." The exhibition also provides an answer to those who say art in public places risks becoming mere decoration. "Precisely for that reason, art often flees into invisibility, reducing itself to ephemeral gestures or concocting concepts to interact with residents. But this type of attempt to bestow art with relevance often leads to downright unappetising artworks. Despite the differences in quality of the individual works, the exhibition in Münster clearly shows it's possible even today to show art in public spaces - and to enrich both in the process."


Die Welt 19.06.2007

In recent Polish elections, followers of the Kaczynski twins attacked liberal Polish politician Donald Tusk the candidate of the Civic Platform, whose Kashubian grandfather was forced to serve in the Wehrmacht. Gerhard Gnauck reports that now a book ("Dziadek w Wehrmachcie") by journalist Barbara Szczepula divulges that the same was true of tens of thousands of Poles: "When people started looking at the Wehrmacht archives in the heat of the election campaign, some Poles were in favour and others were horrified. This book is the result. In some cases it's the grandfathers themselves who do the talking, in others it's their descendants. Almost no one from the older generation dared to give their full name. 'Before the war we were beaten because we were Poles,' Tusk's mother says, 'and today they beat us because we're German.' Or seem German, one must add."


Frankfurter Rundschau 19.06.2007

In an essay written for the magazine Sprache im technischen Zeitalter, the writer Wojciech Kuczok settles some scores with the "Fourth Republic" of the Kaczynski twins in Poland. Even humour has been effected by the "sickness", he writes. "In a totalitarian state, jokes are whispered in an act of the highest confidentiality, you could even say entrusted to one another in an gesture of devotion and confidence. In today's Poland under the Kaczynski twins, by contrast, jokes are told in brash, if somewhat muted, voices. The lack of humour and the surfeit of a poorly-understood sense of honour result in a patriotic horror: gradually people are interpreting even honest smiles as cynical grins."

Rudolf Maria Bergmann visited two exhibitions (here and here) on artists who lived and worked during the Thirty Years' War: sculptor Georg Petel, known well into the 18th century as the "German Michelangelo", and painter Christopher Paudiß, who died in 1666 aged just 36. Bergmann writes of Paudiß' work: "All the paintings are bleak and murky, swept clean of the courtly bricabrac that takes up so much space in the works of his contemporaries. What remains are sparsely furnished rooms, shoddy chambers and a few vague accessories. Even his wonderful still lifes make do with just a few everyday objects. How little does one need to lead a life of dignity? The crowd of baroque figures is replaced by a few earnest peasants. But there is no trace of the jovial pastoral excitement of the Dutch painters. These lonely, deformed figures have been spit out by war and fight to survive, with themselves and their appetites. Here there is no trace of the yearning for ideals and for the eternal that characterises Grimmelshausen's figures."

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