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GoetheInstitute

20/05/2005

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.

Frankfurter Rundschau, 20.05.2005

Martina Meister is scandalised by an article written in the French paper Libération by philosopher Jean Baudrillard. In it, Baudrillard describes the French referendum on the European constitution as a farce, and as state terrorism. After a "No", he says, the French will just be forced to have another referendum. "According to Baudrillard, the 'No' stands for more than just the rejection of a liberal, anti-social Europe. And it stands for more than just fears of losing national sovereignty. The strong 'No' stands for the 'liquidation of all true representation'. For, so he cynically says, Europe will be pushed through no matter what the outcome of the referendum in France."

Sociologist Peter Fuchs finds that the theory of elegant impoverishment propagated by Alexander von Schönburg in his recent bestseller "Die Kunst des stilvollen Verarmens - Wie man ohne Geld reich wird" (the art of becoming impoverished elegantly – how to get rich without money), displays poor taste in view of Germany's rampant poverty. "The fuss over the capitalism debate initiated by SPD chairman Franz Müntefering (which has been conducted thus far without any reference to modern social theory) is reflected in the impertinent suggestion that you can differentiate between banal and elegant poverty. I admit, I was unable to read all that without becoming extremely embarrassed. Recently the author appeared on a German talkshow and was not embarrassed at all. We unanimously agreed to change the channel after the first words, which practically never happens."


Die Welt, 20.05.2005

In Leipzig there have been protests against the demolition of the Wilhelminian district of Funkenberg. Dankwart Guratzsch writes in a commentary on shrinking cities that increasingly, beautiful buildings in city centres are being torn down while concrete slab apartment buildings that nobody wants are being preserved. "What is happening here can have far-reaching effects. It marks the beginning of a fundamental re-building process. The tearing down of old buildings that give the city its character acts as adrenaline for the rage of the people - as was demonstrated before the revolution of '89 in the East and in the 'building wars' of '68 in the West. And this rage is extensive, because the property structures and economic resources, the entire technical middle class as well as company owners are affected."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 20.05.2005

This year's Frankfurt Book Fair, which will take place from October 19 - 23, will have a thematic focus on Korea. But Günter Peperkorn, one of the few German editors of Korean authors, does not believe that the focus will awaken a sustained interest in Korean literature, reports Ludger Lütkehaus. He quotes Peperkorn: "'A lot of book stores will decorate their windows with works by Korean authors, certainly many more books will be ordered than usual – and at the end of October a large number of them will be returned.' But Günter Butkus of Pendragon publishing house, who has brought out a 30-volume edition of modern Korean authors, is more optimistic. Lütkenhaus writes: "With numerous public events in the last seven years including the book fairs in Leipzig and Frankfurt as well as LitCologne in Cologne, Butkus is upbeat. It has been shown that there are German readers for Korean authors. But he also is aware of the difficulties, and above all the basic assymetry: 'Korea is a country of avid readers, with a large and well-functioning book market' in which German literature receives considerable attention. 'Unfortunately the reverse is not the case.'"

The Berlin-based "Islamic Newspaper" makes a "ambivalent impression" on Herbert Seifert. While "aggressively" promoting integration, it also tends towards "a mixture of theology, conspiracy theory and political-economic Utopia. It recently printed the tract 'Al-Zilal – the Earthquake' which presents an interpretation of the catastrophe from an Islamic perspective. Considering the tsunami in retrospect, a 'Sheik Dr. Abdalqadir As Sufi' rants that the 'levelling-out of the earth was a not only a sign of the manifestation of divine justice'. He also derides the 'orgy of humanistic "sympathy"' in the West, and his tirade turns into a charge against international finance markets and decadent tourism."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 20.05.2005

Petra Steinberger is very impressed by the large exhibition of Israeli art "The new Hebrews" in Berlin's Martin Gropius Bau museum, which the state of Israel has endowed with treasures such as part of the Temple Scroll from the Qumran caves on the Dead Sea, Theodor Herzl's diary and the hand-written draft for the Basel manifesto of the first Zionist congress. See our feature article "The new Hebrews" for a fuller picture.


Don't Come Knocking...


Cristina Nord, writing in the taz, was not overly impressed by Wim Wenders' new film "Don't Come Knocking", based on a screenplay by Sam Shepherd, who also plays the lead role. Nord writes: "It is certainly charming how Franz Lustig's camera treats the sweeping American West and the neon lights of the cities – how it transforms the concrete location of a casino into a colourful delirium of light and colour, for example, or evokes the raw attractiveness of a decayed mining city in Montana. But given the choice between a subtle and an obvious solution, Wenders tends to opt for the latter."

Tobias Kniebe writes in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, "No question, everything looks great: from Shepherd's tanned face to the camera's wistful Edward Hopper tableaux. But this was definitely not the "best Wenders in years", as was announced: "...the laconic resolution of Wenders and Shephard has been lost in the last twenty years."

Verena Lueken of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung found the film "incredibly relaxed". As in Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers", the film is about a man who learns that he has a (now grown-up) son. Lueken describes "a scene in which everything stands still, which will dig its claws into viewers' memories for a long time. When his father (Howard) surfaces at a point in his life when he has no use for him, Earl (played by Gabriel Mann) throws all his furniture out the window onto the street. Howard, not knowing what he should do, sits on a couch in the middle of this lonely street that leads nowhere. The camera circles around him several times, the light changes as the day progresses, Howard lies down, pulls his hat over his face and sleeps, while the camera continues to circle. It is a grotesque, strange image of deep abandonment, and one of the strongest to be seen in Cannes so far." Lueken also has high praise for two German films running out of competition: "Schläfer" by Benjamin Heisenberg and "Falscher Bekenner" by Christoph Hochhäusler.

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