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GoetheInstitute

06/08/2007

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 6 August, 2007

Die Welt 06.08.2007

Stefan Wirner of Jungle World asks why German politicians speak up about the execution of Saddam Hussein, but not when two journalists are condemned to death and 16 people - apparently all homosexuals - are executed in Iran. "Why is there so little criticism here of the Iranian regime and its cruel methods? It can't just be because so many politicians are on holiday. The left party 'Die Linke,' for example, has found the time to comment on everything under the sun: the debate over raising unemployment benefits, or a judgement about the planned Bombodrom bombing range on the Kyritze Heath. But condemned journalists and executed homosexuals? Not a peep! The non-parliamentary Left has also remained silent. For years now, leftist activists have waged a campaign against the threatened execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the black journalist condemned to death for the murder of a policeman. But Iran? Icy silence. Why does everyone get up in arms every time a death sentence is carried out in the USA, and no one care when people are executed in Iran?"


Die Tageszeitung
06.08.2007

While the Eichmann trial was under way, record numbers of "Stalag" genre pocket books were selling in kiosks throughout Israel. Tal Sterngast watched Ari Libsker's documentary "Stalags – Holocaust and Pornography in Israel" which exposes the creators for first time. "An allied soldier, mostly an American pilot is taken prisoner and held in a German POW camp ruled by sadistic SS women. The prisoners are humiliated, sexually abused and raped. Yet the the story has a happy end. The soldier manages to escape and goes on to exploit and punish the women in return. The covers take their cue from American pulp fiction. The authors were all Israelis writing under American pseudonyms like Mike Baden, Archie Berman or Mike Longshot who were also the heroes of the stories. The majority of them, as the film discovers, had direct or indirect connections to the Holocaust."


Saturday 4 August, 2007

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 06.08.2007

The paper prints excerpts of the speech given by Hungarian composer György Kurtag on receiving the "Ordre pour le merite" in Berlin. Kurtag used the occasion to remember his life-long friendship with composer György Ligeti. Even today, he says, "I'd like to tell him what I've finally discovered in his works after decades. Perhaps there are correlations that only I've discovered. So many things I'd like to ask. Sometimes his later works give answers, but other times it seems hopeless, because he's not here to explain them." Kurtag recalls the world premiere of Ligeti's 1962 "Poeme symphonique" for 100 metronomes: "It was a scandal. The title, which harks back to the heyday of Romanticism, together with the mechanically oscillating metronomes was like a provocation, an attempt to 'epater le bourgeois.' But later concerts showed the sheer poetry of the piece over and above its daring novelty. At first the metronomes, all set at different speeds and started at the same time, first build an impermeable mesh of sound. But then the structure becomes increasingly clear as the quickest machines run to a halt. The beats of the two slowest, the two 'soloists' remaining at the end, are like a moving, lyrical farewell."


Frankfurter Rundschau 04.08.2007

The critically ill author Walter Kempowski looks back on his life in an interview, casting an ill light on the German literature business: "I was poisoned. For ten years, at the height of my career, I didn't receive a single literary prize. That's impossible, unthinkable. What kind of people give out the awards? Mr Grass, for example, gets a whole apartment at the Goethe Institute so he doesn't have to spend a penny." About Grass, Kempowski comments: "I simply couldn't stand him, because of his attitude to politics. Keeping his SS membership secret (more here) and alleging the contrary, that's quite a number. As far as that goes I agree with Rolf Hochhuth, who just said: 'Disgusting'."


Die Welt
04.08.2007

Manuel Brug declares Christoph Schlingensief's "Parsifal", which has just been shown for the fourth and last time, to be an undiscovered gem at the Bayreuth festival. "It doesn't bear thinking about what would have happened if this now exemplary production had been shown as a guest performance at the documenta or at the Venice Biennale, instead of, to the virtual exclusion of the public, to an arch-conservative Wagnerian audience which had won these unpopular tickets in a raffle. This performance should have been filmed and screened again or at least shown live in cinemas from Berlin and Paris to New York, giving people who really wanted to see it the opportunity to do so. Yet in Bayreuth, no one seems to have noticed how this act of subversion known as 'Harsifal' due to the dominant and universal fertility symbol of a rotting hare which appears at the end (hasen is the German word for hare -ed.) has changed the world of Bayreuth for ever."


Berliner Zeitung 04.08.2007

Marin Majica introduces Karl Hans Janke, who was committed to a psychiatric institution in the GDR for "crazed invention," and whose drawings of constructions of space ships and engines are now on show in three exhibitions (here, here and here). "In 1950, Janke was sent to Schloss Hubertusburg. There he spent 38 years of his life, twice removed, in a closed off country in a closed off world at the edge of a remote village. There he invented ideas and inventions which he was convinced would save mankind's energy problems. And a stock of other problems at the same time. 'Non-radioactive engine! No petrol! No diesel! No rocket fuel!' Karl Hans Janke wrote on his 'German space-flight engine.' 'For peaceful uses only, please,' he wrote next to a spaceship. Technically these things do not work experts say. It is an artistic Utopia in the spirit of energy politics."

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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.
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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.
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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

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.
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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

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.
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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

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.
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