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30/04/2010

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 26.04.2010

Richard Kämmerlings was deeply impressed by "Bourgeois With Guitar", a new album by the musician and writer Kristof Schreuf, who cuts up the melodies and lyrics of pop music classics and reconstructs them. Not in an aggressive or ironic manner, but with tender sincerity. "'Bourgeois With Guitar' is like a best-of rock history in which nothing is immediately recognisable, but in which any one song might contain as many as three or four old tunes which celebrate been hidden and resurrected at the same time. Schreuf transforms these melodies for millions into a medley of myths, and in the radical subjectivity of their adaptation, their exhausted auras regain a sheen."


Die Tageszeitung 27.04.2010

Lower Saxony's newly appointed Minister for Social Affairs, Aygül Özkan suffered her first defeat when her fellow Christian Democrats shouted down her suggestion to ban not only headscarves, but also crucifixes in classrooms. Daniel Bax encourages her to keep up the good work. "Aygül Özkan's passing remark has kicked off a long-overdue debate about state neutrality in religious matters - and she has proved that she has courage enough to risk unpopularity. We should also salute Christian Wulff's courageous decision to appoint this Muslim woman into his cabinet."


From the blogs 27.04.2010

Episode 200 and 201 of South Park continue to be censored and, in Germany at least, cannot be viewed on the Internet. The media are pretending not to notice - and most papers are not daring to show Mohammed in the bear suit, despite the fact that in episode 201, it turns out to contain Santa Claus rather than the Prophet. In his blog, Jörg Lau comments: "The whole thing is starting to feel contemptible. Neither a single Muslim of substance, nor a public figure, nor a government of a single Islamic nation, nor a spokesman of a Muslim organisation has issued a single complaint about these episodes. It's our problem. It is the preventative cowardliness of the western media which has turned a handful of crazy 'Revolution Muslims' into an Islamic threat to the freedom of expression."


Die Welt 27.04.2010

In Russia over a hundred prominent figures have signed a petition against the "film industry association" and are calling for the formation of a new union, report Anastassia Boutsko and Hanns-Georg Rodek. The petition is chiefly aimed at Nikita Michalkov, a film director and close acquaintance of Vladimir Putin, who has presided over the association since 1998 and has recently being carrying out a full-scale cleansing operation to secure his position. "We do not like the autocratic vertical power structures of our professional association. We do not like the totalitarian style of rule. We do not like the manic search for the 'inner enemy' and the way that those who do not play along are simply thrown out. We believe that the atmosphere in our union, which is now being ruled by a single 'influential man', is also contributing to the spread of non-constitutional, anti-democratic and amoral tendencies in Russian society as a whole," the petition says. In spite of this, the film festival in Cannes has invited Michalkov to show his new film "Burnt by the Sun 2" in this year's competition.


Süddeutsche Zeitung 27.04.2010

At the Munich Music Biennial, Helmut Mauro was particularly impressed by a project of composer Tato Tabora, who is working together with Yanomami Indians from the Amazonas. Tabora is less interested in shamanic singing than questions such as: "How animals communicate in the rain forests and why human beings do not need to yell at each other to be heard above the all the noise. Strangely, Taborda says, the human frequency range is otherwise unoccupied in the rain forest. So no one needs to shout at all. And this was one of the first things that struck Tabora. No one shouts here, except children playing ball, people do not call out to one another, people do not even have names, except for characteristic nicknames which people rarely say out loud."


Die Tageszeitung
28.04.2010

Klaus-Helge Donath has been emailing with Vladimir Putin's public enemy number one: Mikhail Khordokovsky, who refuses to abandon hope. "Medvedev is trying to reform the system. Putin, too, seems to have recognised the need for reform. But in front of every reform stands one of the most difficult of tasks of all: personal interests have to be silenced."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 28.04.2010

Niklas Maak is not sure whether the Icelandic start artist Olafur Eliasson has become too much of a mega-artist. But he does understand the appeal of his work, which are on show in a large-scale exhibition in his chosen hometown of Berlin for the first time: "His art is all about shock and awe, overwhelming the audience, levering them out of the usual way they approach things in public space to see what happens next. He creates an artificial nature that, like a reversible figure, creates a perfect illusion at one moment, and at the next, (unlike James Turrell's spatial illusions) reveals how it is constructed. He has a propensity for monumentalisation. But there is something in Eliasson's work for everyman, even every child."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 30.04.2010

Although Hungary, which has just taken a dramatic swing to the right, is still firmly anchored in the European Union, East Europe expert Richard Swartz does see the potential for dangerous developments: "Orban's victory seems to signal a return to an un-worked though past in Hungary. The political spectrum is now entirely dominated by the right, with an even more extreme right at its side. Yet this new extreme right is different from earlier extremist groups: it is no longer in the hands of bizarre poets, obscure fanatic and old fogies. Jobbik has a small well-educated elite of students, intellectuals who are at home in the modern world. This type of enemy is much harder to control than its predecessors."

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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 December

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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From the feuilletons

Saturday 27 November - Friday 3 December

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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