19/07/2005

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.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 19.07.2005

Ludwig Amman presents various books on the situation of Muslim women. One that doesn't impress him at all is Somali-Dutch author Ayaan Hirsi Ali's polemic "I Accuse": "The right-wing liberal member of parliament has adopted the most confrontational strategy possible. It certainly makes for inspirational art when Hirsi Ali counters male sanctioning of cruelty against women with verses from the Koran. But it becomes a concerted lie when she makes 'Islam itself' responsible for the failure of integration, and even for evils like female circumcision, in her polemics – why not the lack of education?" By contrast, Amman recommends "Choke on your Lies", which documents the suffering of the Turkish-German woman Inci Y, as necessary reading.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 19.07.2005


Egyptian writer Nawal el-Saadawi explains to Sonja Zekri why she is no longer campaigning for the office of president: the elections are not fair. And she describes how fierce the reactions to her candidacy in the fall were: "I was the first, so everyone pounced on me: the Muslim brothers, the Copts, the right-wing capitalists. They wrote that I was crazy, that I had been bought by the communists as well as by America, that I was pro-Israel but also for Islamic terror. It was grotesque. A Mufti said that women cannot be presidents because they menstruate. I could have assuaged him: I'm 74."

In the year marking the 200th anniversary of the death of German poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller (more here), Christopher Schmidt has travelled throughout Germany viewing productions of Schiller's plays. Many stage directors have problems with the "jaundiced pathos in the little yellow editions put out by Reclam publishers", he comments. "The historical optimist Schiller is in a way the old 68er among German classical writers. And for that reason, productions of his plays today reflect the same debunking process seen in the settling of accounts with the revolutionary 68er generation. One representative of this generation, current foreign minister Joschka Fischer (who went from police-bashing student radical to Green party politician to Germany's top diplomat), once said he lost his idealism, but not his ideals, on the Long March through the institutions. Robert Musil by contrast wrote that ideals are dead idealism, 'rotten residue'. This sentiment is reflected in the embarrassment today's directors feel when they hear the name Schiller. And it can be traced back to their reaction to 68er politics, which spends its time shifting its own rot."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 19.07.2005

Patrick Bahners probes the moral depths of the decision that German President Köhler is faced with, namely whether to allow the motion of non-confidence instigated by Chancellor Schröder to hold fresh federal elections in the fall. Bahners considers the current predicament trickier than the same one faced by President Karl Carstens in 1983, following a parliamentary vote of non-confidence in Chancellor Kohl. "In 1983, Carstens could plausibly argue that the dwindling of credibility that followed the constructive vote of non-confidence could be arrested by elections. But in 2005, the confidence question in parliament accelerated the people's loss of confidence. Can the parliament - which is using the most piteous of word games to rescind responsibility for upholding or overthrowing the chancellor - complain when a populist calls it a talking shop?"


Die Tageszeitung, 19.07.2005


Dirk Baecker identifies the cardinal error of the current red-green, or SPD-Green Party coalition government: "The Social Democrats and the Greens wanted to show this country that policy can come from the middle of society. They wanted to disprove the old notion that politics is a business unto itself; and to contrast this with a new program which reflected the self-understanding of a modern civil society. As though one could take the Greeks literally and conduct politics as the self-determination of the citizens and not as the control mechanism of a slave society; they set out to eliminate the gap between politics and society, and to turn society into politics."


Der Tagesspiegel, 19.07.2005

The production of Kodachrome 40, better known as Super 8 film, is being discontinued. In a moving obituary, Bodo Mrozek looks back on the revolution sparked by Super 8: "For the first time, people could watch the silver screen in their own homes – and see themselves. The investigative documentary film, the realism of the 70s and 'everyone TV' à la Big Brother would hardly be thinkable without the pioneers of the Super-8 camera. And it wasn't just holiday memories that were filmed on Kodachrome. The single image technique allowed trick films in which things could appear and disappear as if by magic. And audiences were always thrilled to see junior's first dive into the pool played backwards."

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