26/02/2010

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 20.02.2010

On March 2 the Federal Constitutional Court is to make its decision on data retention. In the first part of a new series about the algorithms which determine our lives, Frank Rieger of Chaos Computer Club, gives a fascinating insight into the surveillance possibilities that arise from the analysis of so-called "call data records" or CDRs. He describes as a huge "spider web" the algorithmic structure which emerges from the analysis of phone conversations, emails etc. The observation of a single person is illuminating, but it is only in the next step that things get interesting: "The next step is expansion. This involves pulling the last six months worth of CDRs from all the people we are in contact with, or a least those who seem interesting in the initial evaluation phase. Generally the expansion takes place on several levels: who our friends are talking to, who our friend's friends are talking to and their friends in turn: it all flows into a massive spider web. The mass of data multiplies exponentially and with it the depth of the information that can be won from it."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
20.02.2010

Johannes Boie visits the Swiss village of Cham, where the death knoll of the entertainment industry is being sounded. Cham is home to a company called Rapidshare, whose powerful servers are working, among other things, to facilitate illegal downloading.  "No one knows how much of the data on Rapidshare's severs is being abused for illegal downloads. Not even Rapidshare's fifty-strong workforce knows. For one thing, the amount of data is too large to control. And secondly, the service provider operates in a grey area somewhere between copyright, media law and data protection. Perhaps even Rapidshare is not allowed to look at the data which private individuals are packing onto its servers  - there is still no conclusive court decision to provide any clarity on the matter."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 22.02.2010

At least the Berlinale had a "plausible" winner, writes Michael Althen, referring to Semih Kaplanoglu's film "Bal" or "Honey" that won the Golden Bear. But he was deeply disappointed by the lack of ambition shown by festival director Dieter Kosslick in his selection for the Competition, making any comparison with Cannes or Venice a joke: "This was obvious from the outset where interesting names were conspicuous by their absence. And all hopes for surprises to come were soon dashed. It turned out to be worse than the worst fears. Not because the films were so bad, but because, with very few exceptions, they were all so average, filming their subjects with all the earnest worthiness that we have come to expect from the Berlinale under Kosslick."


Die Welt 22.02.2010

Hanns-Georg Rodek is in complete agreement with "Honey" getting the Bear. "To say that it makes you forget the passing of time is meant as a compliment for most films. But there is also a different sort of film - and Kaplanoglu is one of its main representatives - in which you are meant to notice the passing of time."


Die Tageszeitung 24.02.2010

Theater director Frank Castorf explains in an interview what he finds so fascinating about the poet Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, whose "Soldiers" he is currently staging at Berlin's Volksbühne theatre: "He is not interested in marketing his outsider status. He is not Kurt Cobain or Rimbaud, someone who knows he can boost his mystique by running off to Africa as an arms dealer. Lenz wants to be part of things, he wants to belong and to be loved, he wants to help and break through to societal consensus, but he just can't. His outsiderness is not calculated."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 24.02.2010

Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania are still not recognised as part of the West in their own right, regrets Polish commentator Adam Krzeminski.  "Yet lots of East Central Europeans - the Romanian Carmen Francesca Banciu is a recent example - complain about the 'curse'  of being Romanian, Polish, Latvian or Slovak. Others, like the Pole Andrzej Stasiuk content themselves with truculent self-stylisation: you want to see us as vodka-swilling barbarians? Here you go! After all we're only interested in your money. And you and your museums and your manners can go to hell, even if we've already broken down the defence walls of your cities. We feel more at home in Dobruja than in the Cote d'Azur any day!"

Samuel Herzog is not impressed by the Swinger club that the Swiss artist Christoph Büchel has created in the Wiener Secession: "If Büchel's 'Element6' achieves anything at all, then it is to highlight the conventionality of the art lover who, giddy with his own tolerance but without having to expose himself in anyway (because somehow it's all in the name of art), can get his kicks from something he would otherwise only come into contact with by showing a great deal more courage."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 25.02.2010

Philipp Theisohn, author of the study "Plagiarism: An unoriginal literary history" condemns the critics for their avoidance of the word plagiarism in the case surrounding Helene Hegemann's "Axolotl Roadkill" out of a misguided fear of being seen as anti-literary in some way. "The word turns art into law, work, money. Basically it reminds the literary business of its business side, which is somehow part of it all, but which nobody actually wants to see in the writing itself. Anyone who talks about plagiarism makes art profane."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
26.02.2010

Alexander Hosch profiles the German architect Ole Scheeren, whose CCTV tower in Bejing has finally catapulted him out of Rem Kohlhaas's shadow. Mentally he has already put the West far behind him. "He is seeing the actor Maggie Cheung, which is why everyone in the People's Republic knows his name. He has become a West-Easterner. He says 'the West' rather than 'we'. Without openness, he says, there can be no understanding of freedom in a larger order. 'The West does not have this openness. It only demands it.' The chaos at the micro level, he says, also gives the Chinese people freedom. As long as they don't touch the larger scheme of things."

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Saturday 13 - Friday 19 November, 2010

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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

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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

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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

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