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21/12/2007

From the Feuilletons

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 Tageszeitung 21.12.2007

A study carried out by the German Ministry of the Interior showed that 40 percent of Muslims living in Germany have a 'fundamentally oriented' attitude to Islam. In other words they consider Islam more important than other religions or they believe armed struggle will take them to paradise. The Islam scientist Michael Kiefer had the following to say about the results of the study: "The statements of the school pupils questioned are indeed cause for concern. They revealed that a quarter of young Muslims feel extremely distanced from democracy. And their anti-Semitic prejudices are far more pronounced than in a comparison group of non-Muslims."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 21.12.2007

On the media page, "ber" reports on an Iranian TV series about the Holocaust. It tells the story of an Iranian student in 1940s Paris who, out of love for a young Jewish girl, saves the lives of her family and other Jews. "It seems Tehran wanted this series to make it very clear that it accepts that the Holocaust took place. So is everything a big misunderstanding? No, says journalist Mohammed Kazemi. Many Iranians would never question the Holocaust. But they are convinced that the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis in order to found a "homestead for Jews' in Palestine. Jews who opposed this exodus were, many Iranians choose to believe, murdered by the Zionists, Kazemi says. This opinion is also aired several episodes into 'Zero Degree Turn' as the series is called.


nachtkritik 20.12.2007

Thomas Langhoff
has staged Schiller's "Wallenstein" at the Burgtheater in Vienna, where he's cut the play down to just four hours. Unfortunately that meant "getting rid of Schiller's ingenious concentric circles of drama," Peter Schneeberger sighs: "Langhoff will have nothing to do with Schiller's tableau-like depiction of a soldier's camp. His two dramaturges, Wolfgang Wiens and Ursula Voss, have consistently slashed all the verse that doesn't serve the plot. The red pen has seen off the philosophical reflections on freedom, loyalty, solitude and strength of the will, as well as all sorts of atmospheric details. Langhoff wants to tell the two-hundred-year-old drama in the form of gripping political theatre. And he's right: 'Wallenstein' is a dark chamber piece on power."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 20.12.2007

Russian writer Viktor Erofeyev sees bigoted Russian Orthodoxy on the rise in the current moral crisis in his country, predicting that when in doubt, the state, which has ceaselessly accrued power under Putin, will simply make use of the Church's influence. "The state's power is wavering, but at least Putin has not yet come out in favour of introducing the fundamentals of Orthodox faith in the schools. The time for an Orthodox theocracy has not yet come, nevertheless the Church is keen to cast the state power in a monarchic light, even though it is well aware that it was anything but independent during Czarist times and that the Patriarchy was done away with under the Czars. The alliance between church and state will not be easy, yet it's clear who will emerge as the winner. The state has the necessary clout to put the brakes on the Church if it gains too much influence."


Spiegel Online 20.12.2007

Unlike Time magzine which selected Vladimir Putin as "Person of the Year 2007," Sonja Margolina disagrees that he has stabilized conditions in Russia: "The mantra about Russian stability chanted in unison by western governments is deceptive. In the eight years of his undisputed power, Putin has weakened or obliterated all state institutions. In the name of supposed stability he has allowed his secret service to destroy the Yukos oil conglomerate and to snatch up other valuable assets, mostly in the energy sector."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 19.12.2007

Katharina Narbutovic gives a striking image of Belarus: "Belarus today is wandering around in search of itself, yet it always comes too late. It's like a creature from a painting by de Chirico, with a helmet on its head that obstructs its view. In the words of author, photographer and conceptual artist Artur Klinau, a central figure in Belarus' independent art scene, the country is 'neither part of one system nor another. It doesn't belong to the EU, nor does it belong to Russia. It is foreign, and condemned to solitude because it's ignored by all sides. It searches and searches for its defining features, but these remain a mystery. Belarus suffers from a sort of lunacy in loneliness.' For Klina the image of the man with the helmet is the embodiment of his country in its 13th year under President Lukashenko."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 19.12.2007

Of course the paper could have printed an article about pop music's new stars. But these stars are women, so they have to be asked what's female about their music. However Antye Greye, Susanne Brokesch, Susie Reinhard, Aki Takase and Michaela Melian don't have much time for this sort of question. Lydia Daher from Augsburg tells it like it is: "My music doesn't have any defining sexual characteristics. At least I don't think it does. I have to admit, I've never looked. That would be indiscreet. Just like the question about what makes my music female. Is that important? Or rather: is that the question at all?"


Frankfurter Rundschau
19.12.2007

Der Spiegel has announced that as of spring 2008 it will provide free online access to its archive of articles that have appeared in the magazine since 1947, and also feature Wikipedia entries as open source information. Christian Schlüter comments: "The natural enemy of – well-fortified- democracy is mass democracy. And 'good journalism' seems to particularly endangered. People fear a Babylonian cacophony, a labyrinth of meanings and points of view, chaos, entropy... It is mostly the representatives of the analogue paper-bound print media who bellyache about the loss of more or less established hierarchies and they will certainly have their own interests at heart. Yet the much more interesting question is, whether there are good reasons for fearing digital competition in terms of content."


Other websites 19.12.2007

The website of Swedish TV channel Axess features a video and text document of the discussion which took place in London between Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Timothy Garton-Ash. Both also refer to the Bruckner-Buruma debate at signandsight.com and Perlentaucher. TGA also solemnly if somewhat ironically addresses the term "enlightenment fundamentalism" which had applied to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. "I want to start with doing something unusual which is to revise something one wrote previously. As some of you will know from the debates and the public prints I am a book reviewer in the New York Review of Books described Ayaan as an enlightenment fundamentalist. Some wise friends told me, warned me at the time that this was bound to be misunderstood. This was they said a great mistake. How right they were, because as some of you will know a great discussion has unfolded, particularly in Germany, from which one might have gathered that I had authored a three volume tome called something like the 'Aufklärungs fundementalismus…' and I want to say here quite clearly that it did not occur to me that anyone would be so idiotic as to imagine that one was construing any symmetry between Islamic fundamentalists and enlightenment fundamentalists.


From the blogs 18.12.2007

Don Alphonso comments on the announcement that Spiegel Online and Bertelsmann Media want to launch an Internet portal and use Wikipedia content. "I think Wikipedia's great achievement is to give the authors the feeling that they can join together to do something for one another. And it is precisely this feeling that these German companies want to tear apart. In my opinion Bertelsmann and Spiegel are not the slightest bit interested in functioning social systems, and the same goes for Google. If Wikipedia doesn't want to end up the loser between full-scale exploitation on the one hand and financial temptations on the other, they should consider making fundamental changes to their licensing system."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 18.12.2007

Two months ago writer Maxim Biller's novel "Esra" was banned after his former girlfriend won the court case against the novel for violation of personality rights. Yesterday, Joachim Güntner reports, a court in Leipzig decided in favour of artistic freedom. The case concerned the autobiography "Ein ganz gewöhnliches Leben" (a very normal life) by the art teacher Lisl Urban, whose ex-lover and SS officer Erich S. had accused her of creating a false impression in her book by suggesting that he genuinely loved her. The district court of Leipzig ruled that this did not amount to defamatory representation."


Die Tageszeitung 17.12.2007

Tilman Baumgärtel, author of a book about Philippine cinema (here as a download), expresses the wish that South East Asia's dynamic cinema will finally be shown at home. "Sometimes it's easer to see these films at festivals abroad than in the countries where they were produced. John Torres' 'Todo Todo Teros' (2006) won several international film prizes, but was only shown a few times in the Philippines. He always carries a few DVDs of his films with him in his backpack, handing them out to acquaintances or anyone else who shows an interest. From time to time Torres and Lav Diaz even toy with the idea of giving their films to DVD pirates. Their business flourishes throughout South East Asia, and they have an extraordinarily efficient sales network."


Frankfurter Rundschau 17.12.2007

Udo Kittelmann, former director of Frankfurt's Museum für Moderne Kunst, will take over as director of the Alte and Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Elke Buhr praises Kittelmann's work in Frankfurt and speculates on his future in Berlin: "Mies van der Rohe's Neue Nationalgalerie is a somewhat run-down structure, that's true. Nevertheless it has absolute cult status in art circles. Here, as in Frankfurt, the collection focuses largely on 20th century works. In his programming Kittelmann has consistently opted for quality over blockbuster. We shall see how he comes to terms with the influential Friends of the National Gallery association, which ever since the MoMA in Berlin exhibition has liked nothing better than to be overrun by hordes of visitors."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
15.12.2007

Sociologist Necla Kelek expands on the differences of opinion held by Muslims and secularists on concepts such as "freedom" and "respect" and arrives at the following conclusion: "I do not believe that as a way of seeing the world and a system of values, Islam can be integrated into European societies, and therefore it should not be recognised as a body of public law. This is not a question of good will. It simply lacks the structural and theological preconditions and its representatives, to quote Habermas, lack "a legitimation rooted in conviction." Islam itself cannot be integrated, but the individual Muslim can, as a citizen of the state. He can retain his beliefs and identity in our society because the European tolerance of the Enlightenment sees adherents of all religions as equal."


Frankfurter Rundschau 15.12.2007

Peter Michalzik is delighted with Media Markt's new advertising campaign, in which comedian Olli Dittrich gives a very convincing social portrait of seven German types: "'I'm not an idiot' (the company's marketing slogan), they all think, but at the same time they're all utterly impossible. Dittrich's good-natured misanthropy reaches top form in this German panorama. In it, he reverses the mechanism behind the horror genre: every horror has something loveable about it. In addition, Dittrich's portrait gallery thrives on a hugely important – if not entirely new – insight: If you really want to understand Germany, go to the nearest electronic goods outlet. Anyone not convinced that this is where the Germans' uniqueness is best revealed, should go down to Saturn or Conrad and have a look at the male customers." (Here the adverts online).

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