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21/11/2008

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 15.11.2008

Sociologist Wolfgang Sofsky meditates on greed which, he maintains, contrary to popular opinion does not rule the world. If anything, it's parsimony. "Although most preachers of the regulated 'common good' steer clear these days of the crude, mostly anti-Semitic image of gold-grabbing spindly fingers and eyes glinting hungrily at the prospect of money, the overwhelming majority of people think of capitalism as a system of greed. In fact its motor is not personal lucre but fear of economic death, and the compulsion to accumulate capital. Its historical rise was abetted not so much by greed than by tightfistedness. Profits were invested back into the business, costs and wages pinched. Luxury was regarded with suspicion by the pious citizen and the solid businessman would never dream of touching his capital or interest. Compound interest was the limit."


Berliner Zeitung 15.11.2008

Dirk Pilz left Berlin's Gorki Theater weak kneed and deeply moved, after watching a compact version of Christoph Schlingensief's "Church of fear before the fear in me": "As things stand" it is called, and it deals with Schlingensief, his cancer and his fear. This evening could not have been anything other than an interim report. The way things stand has changed and the outlook is pretty shit,' he says, fighting back the tears. 'On my gravestone I want the words: Auf Widersehen! I can't think of a better threat.'"


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 17.11.2008

Peter Hagmann talks to the legendary pianist and teacher, Peter Feuchtwanger, whose students include Martha Argerich and Shura Cherkassky: "I can say that I have seldom met anyone who uses their body properly. One of the few exceptions was – Clara Haskil. She was completely bent over with sclerosis, more or less disabled. But the way she used her arms and hands, her fingers, it all confirmed my own findings. The drooping wrists, the fingers steering everything, the absolute lightness, musically too, that was my ideal. When she was in London, she came to practise with me. That's when it hit me: that's how you play the piano. The inner calm, no preparation in advance. Starting just with the breath, preparing mentally but never physically."

Christoph Egger visited the Molodist film festival in Kiev which was not particularly successful, but it did screen some very disquieting documentary films from the 1930s. For example the portrait series "Doli – Destinies", in which eye witnesses tell of their terrible experiences. "An old woman tells the the story of a young mother who saw her neighbours cooking bits of a small child in the frying pan and subsequently founds items of clothing belonging to the missing girl in their garden. Or the story of a woman who, together with her two daughters, killed her husband and ate him. She was later devoured by her daughters, and finally one sibling ate the other and promptly died."


Die Welt
17.11.2008

Die Welt features an essay, originally published in the Russian paper Vedemosti, by the former Yukos boss, Mikhail Khordokovsky, who is currently imprisoned in Siberia. He discusses the global leftwards shift which, with the onset of the finance crisis, is replacing the era of Thatcherism. Among other things he predicts a return to values such as solidarity and calls for a new form of international cooperation. "The regulating systems have to be brought into line with the demands of the global system and their key subjects into equilibrium. The national governments will be obliged to coordinate their movements much more closely, essentially laying the foundations for a 'global economic government'."


Frankfurter Rundschau
18.11.2008

The poet Olga Martynova writes about Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and Varlam Shalamov and recounts a memorable decision that Georgi Vladimov had to make as editor of the periodical Novyi Mir. He could only publish one text about the Gulag, and had to decide between Solzhenitsyn's "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" or Shalamov's "Tales from Kolyma": "'You see' Tvardovski admitted, 'Shalamov might be the better writer. But' – and here the hidden mechanisms started to kick in - 'Solzhenitsyn's novel can be published in one go. Even if the censors tear it to bits, it will at least remain whole as a work. But with Shalamov's short stories, the censors would simply remove the best ones and the rest would perish.' And so it was ultimately down to censorship that Alexander Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel prize, went into exile, and taught mankind, and the Russian people in particular, 'not to live a lie'. While Shalamov, who was not allowed to publish a single paragraph in Russia during his lifetime, died bitter, sick and lonely in 1982." Read our feature by Olga Martynova: "The source we drink from".


Berliner Zeitung 18.11.2008

Ignored by the world's media, Ukrainians are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the "Holodomor", the famine caused by Stalin's collectivisation programme which left millions of Ukrainians dead. Dimitri Medvedev did not attend the ceremony, because he refuses to recognise the term 'genocide'. He might be right here, according to Christian Esch, but that's is not the point: "Why, if Kiev should hold its tongue, it is all right for the Kremlin to bandy about the word 'genocide'? Medvedev was extremely quick to describe the actions of the Georgians in South Ossetia as genocide... And as late as September, Medvedev referred to the so-called genocide before representatives in the Duma - a month after the Russian public prosecutor's office had starkly reduced the body count. Medvedev's demand for careful use of words applies to everyone but himself."


Die Tageszeitung 20.11.2008

The paper reports on a copyright dispute being fought in Germany's highest court by the electronic pioneers Kraftwerk, who were suing German rap producer Moses Pelham for sampling two bars of their music for a rhythm track. Tobias Rapp comments on the cultural issue underlying the case, asking who the artistic influence of a band belongs to – the band itself or the person who is influenced? "Without wanting to deny Kraftwerk the rights to their music – the irony of this court case is that the band would not be here today if their music had not spent the last 25 years floating through the legal grey areas and turning the old into new."

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Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

A clutch of German newspapers launch an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks. Vera Lengsfeld remembers GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs and how he met death in his cell. All the papers were bowled over Xavier Beauvois' film "Of Gods and Men." The FR enjoys a joke but not a picnic at a staging of Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" in Berlin. Gustav Seibt provides a lurid description of Napoleonic soap in the SZ. German-Turkish Dogan Akhanli author explains what it feels like to be Josef K.
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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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