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22/08/2008

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.

Berliner Zeitung 16.08.2008

Diedrich Diederichsen casts his mind back to 1982 when he met a 24-year-old waitress in New York who, for all her New Wave crow's nest hairdo and extreme coolness, occasionally deigned to speak to the customers: "As she did to me when I pushed my miserable dollar over to her for my barely- affordable drink. 'I'll tell you how it works in here. You have to give me a tip. And that means double what you pay, or more. Then you only have to pay for every third drink, and we're both happy.' I though this was a very decent suggestion, it showed understanding for my provincial idiocy (and poverty) and of course she stood to gain by training this guest. Because he went back every night. The waitress was Madonna."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
16.08.2008

Chinese author Jiang Rong talks in an interview about his novel, "Wolf Totem", which has sold over 2.5 million copies in China, and about the Chinese fear of freedom which he explains as a symptom of the country's agricultural culture: "People never need to leave their village. Everyone owns a bit of land. Perspectives are very limited. When I lived in the steppes, I often wondered why so few people could dominate a country the size of China. So I started to research the differences between Mongolian and Han culture. Then I expanded on my theories in my novel. Chinese culture is basically a slave culture, a sheep-like culture, a pet culture. The underlying problem of Confucian culture is unconditional obedience. Opposition is a foreign concept in China. This character makes striving for freedom and democracy very difficult."


Die Welt 18.08.2008

Director Volker Schlöndorff has just published his memoirs. In conversation with Peter Zander, he also voices self-criticism with respect to New German Cinema. "It is always good to start off by proclaiming Daddy's cinema dead. But having done that, we should have called a ceasefire immediately, like the Nouvelle Vague did in France. New German Cinema's real mistake was to try to do everything single-handedly, from own kitchens, so to speak. I don't mean the fact that these were auteur filmmakers, or that they were telling their own stories, no. What we lacked was the reality principle of experienced producers, people who were strictly focussed on the financial side of things, but who also provided security."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 18.08.2008

Michel Houellebecq presented his directorial debut in Locarno with the film of his novel "The Possibility of an Island". In the interview he gave Barbara Gärtner, he didn't give away much, but he did explain why the film has no explicit sex: "If you show sex, you always have a problem with the men. Male genitals are just not pretty. I have made an erotic film before, which only showed women having sex. But it would be boring to only show women in a longer film. You can't film sex; at most you can write about it."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
18.08.2008

Oliver Jungen was at the music and pop culture festival in Cologne, "c/o pop", and arrived at the following conclusion. "The industry has changed, quite fundamentally. At last people have woken up to the reality of the situation and this has engendered pragmatism rather than resignation. The internet can only generate limited money. Most importantly, the lifeblood of music industry has run dry: copyright no longer plays a real role... And people also now see that Web 3.0 is not the solution. What we need is a return to aura and that means abandoning technical distance. The concert is the new cash cow."


Die Welt 21.08.2008

In an interview with Kai Luehrs-Kaiser, the organist and Dieterich Buxtehude specialist, Ton Koopman, casts aspersions on Bach's son, Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach: "I believe that Carl Philipp Emanuel embezzled the missing end of the 'Art of Fugue' in order to feed the Bach myth. I am convinced that the 'Art of Fugue' was completed. After all Bach only had to work on the notation. Later he began composing the High Mass. I know music experts who - even if they'd never admit it - are secretly scouring the archives to find the end of the 'Art of Fugue'. And they will find it eventually!"


Georgia

Die Welt 16.08.2008

The young Georgian writer Nino Haratichvili defends himself, in conversation with Jenni Roth, against the accusation that Georgians are racist. "Until the nineties, there were never any problems, which is why this accusation is absurd. And the Russians spent the last 15 years handing out Russian passports in Abkhazia and Ossetia, so that they can now turn round and say that they are protecting their citizens. That's not fair."


Die Tageszeitung 16.08.2008

Ossetian literature academic, Shanna Chochiyeva, who teaches in Moscow, has harsh words for the politics of Georgian President Saakashvili: "How could we have known that the Georgians would suddenly take leave of their senses like this? Although the signs had been around for some time. For example, Saakashvili uses former dictator Sviad Gamsachurdia's book, titled "Georgia's Spiritual Mission", as a teaching aid for the seminars he gives to his crazy chauvinists. This contains sentences such as: "There will come a time when the whole world speaks the Georgian language." And in meetings Saakashvili ensures his followers that Georgia will save European civilisation. As far as I see it, these people are Nazis."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 16.08.2008

Ukrainian writer Yuri Andrukhovych declares his solidarity for Georgia and is concerned for the future: "'Freedom' plays an immense role in Georgian culture, whereas the key Russian concept is 'superpower'." And the West's illusions that Russia will henceforth act as a peacekeeper, are not something Eastern Europe has ever believed. "Since 1991, there has been a growing fear that Russia will 'rise again' sometime. I suspect that we are now experiencing the first acute phase of this 'rising'." Read more articles by Yuri Andrukhovych here


Die Tageszeitung 21.08.2008

Czech playwright Pavel Kohout talks in an interview about the parallels and differences between the Caucasus conflict and the Russian invasion of Prague in 1968. "The Czechs and Slovaks never shot anyone, they also had no territorial disputes and they had never sent a tank into anywhere. The only thing which connects the invasion of Georgia with that of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was that both involved a Russian attack. This is the nature of Russian politics... What the Russians need is something like a French Revolution. Which ultimately brought democracy. If you look at the Russian Revolution and Russian history, it is clear that we have to give them time, but we should not let them out of our sight."

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Colombian writer Hector Abad defends Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa against European Latin-America romantics. Wikileaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg criticises the new publication policy of his former employer. The Sprengel Museum has put on a show of child nudes by die Brücke artists. The SZ takes a walk through the Internet woods with FAZ prophet of doom Frank Schirrmacher. The FAZ is troubled by Christian Thielemann's unstable tempo in the Beethoven cycle. And the FR meets China Free Press publisher, Bao Pu.
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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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