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GoetheInstitute

20/06/2005

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.

Monday June 20, 2005

Der Tagesspiegel, 20.06.2005

Katajun Amipur explains why the youth in Iran put less stock on radical reformers than on the pragmatic Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, who served as president of the Islamic Republic from 1989 – 1997. From him young voters at least hope for an economic upswing and the retention of their modest liberties. Rafsanjani came first in the preliminary round on Friday, and will go into a run-off this coming Friday with Tehran's right-wing Mayor Mahmood Ahmadinejad. "There is no such mood of change as we saw in the election eight years ago (when Mohammad Khatami was elected president). Because the experience of recent years showed the youth that participating in the election brought them no influence at all in politics, not to mention setting the Islamic Republic on a reform course. Most of them think: we've voted for the reformers four times in the last eight years. But reform from within isn't possible, because there's nothing to be done against the bulwark of conservatives. That's why so many of them escape. Either inwardly, into the private sphere where they throw wild parties and take all kinds of drugs, or they flee the country. For years the citizens of the Islamic Republic have voted with their feet. Each year 200,000 people leave Iran, and more would go if they could – mostly well-educated young people. The brain drain does no end of harm."


Neue Zürchner Zeitung, 20.06.2005

Hoo Nam Seelmann takes a glance at the literature scene of South Korea, the official guest country at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair in October. "'Land of Morning Calm' is what Koreans call their country, although in the last century it has been anything but peaceful. The violent invasion of the West was followed by Japan's colonisation, the division of the country, the Korean War and the military dictatorship. This is why the poet Ko Un terms Korean literature the 'Literature of Wounds'. The rupture which is now visible everywhere between the generations of writers follows a dividing line drawn out by how directly the writers experienced these historical events. The luminaries of Korean literature today experienced the 'wounds' first-hand. And the colonisation, the division and the war became the literary subjects of an entire generation of writers. Then came the struggle for democracy. Many politically involved writers were imprisoned during the military dictatorship or forced into exile."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 20.06.2005

Theater in Germany is wrong to seek intimacy, writes Peter Michalzik. He finds it more interesting to search out the unknown and the strange, such as he found on his expedition to the Stuttgart Theater der Welt (world theatre festival). There he saw the piece "Paradise", put on by the MAU group of dancers and singers from the Pacific Islands. "It's been a long time since people have occupied a stage like that - it's their bodies that make up the space. A dusty figure covered in white powder slaps and claps in a crescendo like a full-bodied 'Schuhplattler' Bavarian folk dance. It's a climax of activity, yet it impresses less for its technical brilliance than for the easy power that flows through the dancer's body. His illuminated, slowly moving back looks at times like a plucked bird, at times like a mask – the sheer energy becomes tangible, visible."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 20.06.2005

The wealth of the foundation behind Bern's Zentrum Paul Klee (which has an excellent website) is matched only by that of the Picasso Museum in Paris, writes Gottfried Knapp in an article celebrating the undulating architecture of the building designed by Renzo Piano and the inaugural exhibition which starts today. In the central "hill" 160 paintings are housed in amazingly "luxurious conditions". "In this cooly modest devotional room you can erase from memory all other presentations of Klee's works in other museums. Bern sets new standards – not just for the presence of the paintings in the graduated width and height of the exhibition space, but primarily for the dense succession of existentially first-class objects from all Klee's creative and crisis periods."


Saturday June 18, 2005

Frankfurter Rundschau, 18.06.2005

A wind of change is blowing through Germany, where the ruling SPD/Green government looks set to be ousted by the conservative CDU/CSU in September. This leads the FR to ask author Thomas Hettche: "Are you conservative?" He admits that giving a straight "no" to the question would cause him stomach pains. But he is critical of what he sees as a new conservatism and chastises his colleagues: "The products of this intellectual movement – for example the type of literary snapshots by Uwe Tellkamp (author of 'Der Eisvogel', more here) – are utterly incapable of expressing what is really happening. That's all conservative tinsel. But the fundamental extent of the change that's taking place is shown by the fact that the crucial question can, and even must be asked again: "What is your view on religion?"


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 18.06.2005

Chemist Carl Djerassi, inventor of the Pill, delivers a cutting reply to Peter Liese's fears that therapeutic cloning will lead to baby cloning. Downright dishonourable is "Liese's conclusion that 'it is impossible to clone human embryos without female egg cells.' This is obvious. But it is also impossible without semen cells. Should masturbation be punishable as a form of killing 'potential' babies? ... As no woman is capable of producing an embryo on her own, only egg cells, Liese's conclusion that women will automatically be exploited as egg producers is at best a form of phallocentric moralising."

Only an announcement but interesting nonetheless. Apparently Gregor Schneider's artwork that was banned by the authorities in Venice (more here) "does not injure the religious feeling of Muslims. 'It is not forbidden to represent the Kaaba. There are endless images of it', the Chairman of the Central Committee of Muslims in Germany, Nadeem Elyas, told the German news agency dpa. The artist's portrayal was planned with 'honour and dignity'. There are no grounds for concern."

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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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