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28/05/2010

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.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 22.05.2010

Fifty years after its first publication, Laszlo F. Földenyi rereads Elias Canetti's book "Crowds and Power". Canetti's central question is most unpopular these days, Földenyi comments. "What is man? This was the same question that so fired Montaigne and Hobbes, Luis de Vives and Pico della Mirandola, Thomas Browne, Robert Burton, John Donne and many more besides. What they all have in common is that they are all unfashionable today, like the question itself. Not entirely, of course. Because Canetti also had contemporaries who shared his interests, even if they were lone wanderers like himself. Czeslaw Milosz, Borges, Bela Hamvas and Kolakowski, Maria Zambrano, Nicolas Gomez Davila. For all their differences, these writers were all pursuing the same question and none of them was prepared to adapt their their free thinking to fit the academic disciplinary grid."

Joachim Gauk
, the former commissioner of the Stasi archives, talks in a long interview about the differences between East and West German mentalities, about freedom and resistance. He talks from experience gained first-hand as a Lutherian pastor in a pre-fab East German housing estate in Rostock-Evershagen, who then went on to become a resistance leader. "People can do more than they believe. You gain power by distancing yourself from the system. It gives you the feeling of being somebody, if you stay true to your values. You might not get very far in society, but you will be your own person and other people will recognise that you "have something". And they will thank you for this because they also dream about being someone. Young people in particular (...) believe in alternatives, in 'living in the truth' as Vaclav Havel put it. One of the accepted dictates in Western political-philosophical discourse says "there is no right life in the wrong life". But Adorno was mistaken when he wrote this."


Jungle World
22.05.2010

The paper prints an excerpt from Thomas Maul's forthcoming book, "Sex, Djihad und Despotie" (sex, jihad and despotism), which looks at violence against women in Islam. Heavy abuse is haram, or strictly forbidden. "A woman with visible signs of abuse compromises the reputation of her husband, because she is proof of his lack of control over her. This also includes beatings which endanger a woman's ability to be penetrated and bear children, or threaten the intactness of the hymen, the living nerve of the biological system of the Umma. Muslim husbands can learn more about emotionally-controlled beatings from the al-Jazeera preacher and chairman of the International Union of Islam Scholars, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in his book "The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam" which enjoys huge popularity in Koran schools, and which calls for measured use of violence. In the case of extreme disobedience, the man should beat his wife 'lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive areas'".


Die Welt
22.05.2010

Literary criticism has lost all its teeth, the writer Sibylle Lewitscharoff complains, and it seems oddly reluctant to differentiate between works of great literary importance and those that are 'meaningless, moody, insipid, stale, self-indulgent and transparent": "A friendly face disarms a killer. In the literary business, this means that even the most deadly critical instinct is imperceptibly inhibited, prevented from offloading the full barrage of anger and disappointment about a book, if it has encountered the person who wrote it on one or more occasions. Matters are only made worse by the fact that feeble, lifeless books are often written by very nice people. This is a hindrance."


Der Tagesspiegel
27.05.2010

Andres Veiel, the filmmaker behind the documentary Black Box BRD, is making his first feature – about the RAF. Kerstin Decker met him on the set. "It started with a book, Gerd Koenen's brilliant in-depth study 'Vesper, Ensslin, Baader. Urszenen des deutschen Terrorismus' (primal scenes of German terrorism). A journey into the 'still murky fermentation of psyche and intellect'. Read it! an editor friend of Veiel's told him. No thanks! came the reply. And then his fears came true. Suddenly he needed new book shelves, and there was no space to move in his flat for all the photos on the floor. And he felt compelled to conduct endless interviews." Read our feature by Gerd Koenen on the correspondence between Ensslin and Vesper: "The element of madness".


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
27.05.2010

Hoo Nam Seelmann describes the South Korean approach to financial crisis management which has proved surprisingly successful: In times of emergency, the people feel called upon to demonstrate solidarity and "thoughtful devotion". Instead of shouting out the names of those responsible or protesting against stringency measures, the people launched a gold-collection programme. Koreans queued up to donate their wedding rings and personal items of jewellery to help the state pay off its debts. All number of employees and workers offered to take pay cuts and work longer hours. In schools, pupils donated uniforms to children whose parents had lost their jobs."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
27.05.2010

Javier Caceres describes as a catastrophe, the way Spain is tying the hands of its most famous judge Baltasar Garzon: "The country, that not exclusively perhaps but largely due to Garzon, has made an essential contribution to the development of global justice, to the extent of becoming its driving force, with its relentless pursuit of despots and their henchmen, is now putting this very same Garzon, the first judge to attempt to bring accountability to the hundreds of thousands of gruesome deeds committed in the Franco era, in the dock."


Die Tageszeitung
28.05.2010

Sven Hansen calculates the "true price" of the Ipad, which went on sale in Germany today. The gadget is produced by Foxconn in a Chinese warehouse where working conditions have driven ten members of the workforce to commit suicide this year alone. Foxconn subsequently introduced a number of anti-suicide precautions but when these failed to "prevent another 30 deaths, the electronics giant then forced employees to sign a contract which the Guangzhou Southern Metropoils Daily printed: 'I promise never to cause grievous bodily harm to myself or others'. The contract also contains a clause which grants their bosses full authority to commit them to a psychiatric clinic "for the protection of themselves or others, should they find themselves in an 'abnormal mental or physical condition.'"

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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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