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18/07/2008

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 Welt 12.07.2008

In the literature section of Die Welt, writer Andre Brink gives the reasons as to why he is staying loyal to his homeland South Africa. "What does it mean to be here, to have been here? One thing is certain: it means that I share with others, be they black, white or brown, this patch of earth, where my mother and father, my grandparents, and their forefathers lie buried. It means that in nearly four hundred years of life on this continent we have been assimilated, and in return we have assimilated these centuries with our blood and mortal remains, through the alternations between drought and flooding, famines and plentifulness, the inhuman barbarities, murders and pillaging and then laughter, love, mercy and generosity. All that comes at a price, and we have paid it, sometimes hesitantly or even begrudgingly, often readily and willingly. We've been here, nowhere else, and we want to be here."

The Spanish poet Marcos Ana spent 23 years in prison in Franco's Spain. He explains in an interview with Ute Müller, how poetry became his key to survival and where his first poem came about. "It was in a prison cell where I had to stand the whole day. My fellow inmates pushed poems by Pablo Neruda, Rafael Alberti or Antonio Machado under the door. They were trying to give me the strength to persevere and steel my resolve. With my first poem, I felt like a drowning man who throws a message into the sea of hope. Hidden in a tube of toothpaste, it found its way to the outside. My first collection was printed in Mexico with the title: 'Poems out of Prison. Marcos Ana'. The imgae on the cover was Picasso's dove."


Frankfurter Rundschau 12.07.2008

For the launch of her new book "Lost Words", the Turkish author Oya Baydar talks to Harry Nutt and explains that current conflicts in Turkey have a long history: "A new bourgeoisie ultimately emerged from a military and bureaucratic elite, and oriented itself to the West by means of secularism. They never developed a real democratic awareness. They see themselves as the rulers of Turkish society. Over the last 30 to 35 years opposition has emerged in the form of a new economically successful bourgeoisie and middle-class from Anatolia which is represented by Tayyip Erdogan's AKP. A kind of culture clash has arisen, in which Islamic conservative Anatolian capital has lined up against the traditional state power. This constellation is not as new as one could think. The conservative masses behind the AKP were always there, it's just they were never noticed before."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 12.07.2008

Historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler has, decades later, completed the last volume of his social history of Germany. To mark the occasion, Johan Schloemann and Jens Bisky travelled to Bielefeld to engage the historian in a lenghty conversation. Wehler explains why, contrary to his original plan to stop at 1949, he has continued the book up to the present: "One reason was that I found our friend the historian Heinrich-August Winkler's take on the 'long road to the West' was too like Treitschke in the way that he simply sees that 'it's been accomplished' - but Germany had always been part of the West. Winkler was often in the Kanzleramt where the mood was that the red-green coalition was the final step in the completion of the Federal Republic. I just found this inacceptable. For me, the historical process continues, even after everything has been positively constructed. And also because questions of social inequality interest me, I wanted to register that the same processes were occurring as in Thatcher's England and Reagan's America."


Die Welt 14.07.2008

Sociologist Gerhard Schulze presents a remarkable essay in defence of pensioner Bettina S., whose suicide the subject of heated debate. He argues very pragmatically about the fears that lie in store for anybody going into a nursing home, and specifically the fear of a shared room: "Every prison inmate lives with more human dignity, because they are allowed to reside alone in their cells and make themselves at home. In the nursing home, however, there is the threat of the complete loss of the private sphere. Residents are penned up with complete strangers whose presence they now have to endure day in, day out. That alone, regardless of other factors, is reason enough to reject life in a home."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 14.07.2008

Regina Mönch has little understanding for the protests of Turkish officials against the German law which stipulates that Turkish women who get married in Germany should possess a basic command of German: "The only truth in the rhetoric noise about this so-called anti-Turkish law, is that other nationalities hardly have any problems with linguistic proficiency. But a questionable protective association of politicians from the Left and the Greens has built up around the Turkish community, and it is determined to see the indirect invitation to take more seriously a bride's right to education in her homeland, as a violation of human rights. But all that is being defended here are the special rights of Turkish men to a traditional way of life, in which education has a marginal role, but power a major one."


Die Welt
16.07.2008

Ulrich Baron reads a book, which until recently had only been published in French, by historian Tidiane N'Diaye about the slave trade in the 13th century and concludes: "The continuation of the slave trade, whose repercussions can still be felt in the Darfur conflict, has left the Muslim world at a disadvantage to the West. There was no French Revolution here, no Industrial Revolution either; only a continuation of feudal, autocratic and despotic systems, for whom human rights were of as little concern as the potential for a free market."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 16.07.2008

Uzbek human rights activist Mutabar Tadjibaeva has been released from Tashkent Women's Prison on grounds of ill health (she was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year), reports Galima Bukharbaeva. "The detention centre is hell, a mechanism that destroys body and soul second for second. Tadjibaeva, who was seen as an 'enemy of the people' was dealt a double portion of beatings and humiliations by the prison guards. She was not allowed visits from her family or parcels. But it was her health that suffered most. Tadjibaeva spent 112 days in prison, 95 of them during the winter, wearing nothing but a thin shirt in a dark, damp concrete hole. 'We are waiting for the cold to kill you,' her tormentors taunted in reply to her request for warmer clothing. Later the guards put a rope in her cell. 'You might get tired of life and hang yourself,' they whispered through the locked door."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
16.07.2008

Algerian author Boualem Sansal explains why, in spite of all the disappointment about Nicolas Sarkozy, he holds out hope for the French president's ambitious plans for the Mediterranean Union: "I am thinking selfishly about the southern countries: Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya with their dreadful dictatorships. The democratic powers within them are too weak to effect a democratic shift or to create a counterbalance to Islamism. We need impetus from outside. And where else should it come from?"


Frankfurter Rundschau 17.07.2008

Romanian-German writer Herta Müller writes an open letter to the head of the Romanian Cultural Institute, Horia Patapievici, protesting about his invitation to two former Securitate members to participate in the Berlin Summer Academy. "The ICR will do irreparable damage to its reputation by presenting itself in Berlin with these people, and German participants will be used to boost the image of informers. How will ICR employees introduce the Romanian participants to the other Summer Academy guests: Andrei Corbea-Hoisie – professor and long-time Securitate agent, and Sorin Antohi – who for years was a guest lecturer at European universities with his fake PhD and his fictitious publications and who had been an informer since the age of 19? And what will they tell the German press? Or more to the point: what won't they tell them?"


Der Tagesspiegel 17.07.2008

Writer Richard Wagner is similarly critical about the invitation of the two former Securitate members and writes: At the Summer Academy the talk will be of "cultural exchange, of the influences, and not least the research methods. As if nothing had happened. Or at least as if it was irrelevant. But it is not irrelevant, either Germany or Romania. No sooner have people started to confront the past than they fall back into collective amnesia. But if removing camouflage is nothing but an obligatory exercise with no consequences, then people like Antohi and Corbea-Hoisie have it good. But without binding values, democracy is worthless."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
17.07.2008

Literary academic
Peter Demetz went on holiday to Sosua in the Dominican Republic – and remembers when the place was a refuge for Jewish exiles in the 1930s: "I could have handed in my application for the Dominican entry visa seventy years ago, and if I had been able to convince my mother to join me, she would not have died in an attic in Theresienstadt. But she didn't want an adventure. I, on the other hand didn't find farm life and raising animals adventurous enough and so I spend my holidays in Sosua's new settler museum, and was not in the least surprised to see a car, with number plates from the small Bavarian town of Füssen, parked outside the little synagogue. What do these new tourists or the new German business people, who moved here ten years ago, know about the Jewish settlers who founded this place? Really I shouldn't be writing about Sosua at all, because I came here far too late, but better too late than not at all. There is much to learn here."


Die Welt 18.07.2008

Thomas Lindemann introduces the Berlin company Native Instruments, which replaces real instruments with software, giving small bands access to big sounds and internet hits without needing a studio: "It all started with a Hammond organ. The legendary instrument, which rose to fame thanks to jazzers like Jimmy Smith, is every keyboard player's dream-with-a-hitch. A Hammond B3 with its rotating Leslie speaker weighs in at about 200 kilogrammes. When Native Instruments brought out the sound as programme in 1999, the schlepping was finally over."

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