21/07/2005

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.

Die Zeit, 21.07.2005

Julia Gerlach introduces the new cool face of Islam. "The movement is based on earlier generations of Islamists and calls itself Sahwa, or awakening. (...) But instead of a headquarters and a manifesto it has a satellite TV channel, Iqraa TV, and a website." The stars of this "pop-Islam" are Egyptian presenter Amr Khaled, chat show hostess Abir Sabri with her exorbitantly bouffant headscarf and schmaltz crooner Sami Yusuf ("Allahu Allahu Allahu"). "Sami Yusuf, the son of Azerbaijani parents, grew up Britain and studied classical music at the Royal Academy. His father, himself a composer and poet introduced him to oriental music. 'I discovered my religion when I was 17. I have done a lot of reading and found excellent teachers, thank God', he explains. 'Then I made the decision to serve Islam with my music.' His new song 'My Mother' is about his love for his mother: 'Blessed is your smile, which gives wings to my soul, my beloved!" Mohammed Hamdan, the 30-year-old deputy director of Iqraa who runs the studio in Cairo says, "The 11th of September was a catastrophe. But you could says this crime had its good side: people have started to be interested in Islam."

Christian Schüle looks at the success of the New Leipzig School of artists (more here) and comes to the conclusion that the "spiritless" paintings of Christoph Ruckhäberle, Johannes Tiepelmann and Matthias Weischer give today's art lovers exactly what they deserve: "It can't be denied that the paintings present no intellectual threat whatsoever, or that they are solidly but not outstandingly crafted. Without any doubt, Wolfgang Mattheuer's works are finer and Bernhard Heisig's are wilder (Mattheuer and Heisig, both in their 80s, belong to the "old" Leipzig school). There's no doubt, the young painters lack both the radical boldness of youth and the anger of their critics. Their paintings have no hidden sides to them, no allegorical finesse. In their large majority they are mellow, serene, even their density of detail is easily digested... The success of Ruckhäberle or Tiepelmann can be explained by diagnosing society's present state of fatigue." See our feature article on Bernhard Heisig here.


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 21.07.2005

The residents of Bilgoraj are fighting over Isaac Bashevis Singer, reports Martin Sander. Singer, who went on to win the Nobel Prize for literature, spent his youth in this small Polish town and emigrated to the USA in 1935. The mayor has suggested that a street be named after the town's great author. "'We cannot commemorate a writer of pornography', cried Marian Jagusiewicz up in arms. He is the chairman of the local citizens' committee and for months has acted as spokesman for the Anti Singer Coalition of conservatives, nationalists and Catholics. They want to name the street after Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. "Together with the Polish Family League and the All Polish Youth, the committee has been distributing leaflets which draw attention to the perversions and obscenities of Singer's books, but also the political dangers in the new Europe. 'We have nothing against normal, peace-loving Jews, but we should be aware of the dangers and injustice which arise from the power-hungry Jews and anti-Polish circles in the European Union'." Of course, as a coalition member emphasises, "we are not anti-Semitic."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 21.07.2005

Renowned German intellectual Hans Magnus Enzensberger compares Bagdad in 2005 with Potsdam in 1945, and concludes that the Americans have seen better victories in the past: "Apparently no one put serious thought into what should happen in Iraq once the ruling regime was toppled. The biggest and most expensive intelligence apparatus in history, which certainly has more than a thousand times the budget of its predecessor at its disposal, doesn't have a clue about the mentalities or the internal dynamic of Iraqi society. The pertinent expertise, insofar as it was available at all in the United States, was systematically ignored by the government."

Niklas Maak is tickled by the installation of Californian artist Paul McCarthy in Munich's Haus der Kunst. "When the building was opened in 1937, people were shocked by the the sheer size of it. As a result there have been successive attempts to soften its martial impact, and signs have been hung up to explain the building's problematic background – but these were never more than a guilty conscience screwed piteously to the wall. Now for the first time, in the hands of Paul McCarthy, the overinflated pomp of the building has finally been deflated. Now Paul Ludwig Troost's prodigious architecture has been transformed into a giant geranium tub, from the roof of the National Socialist building hang monstrous swollen rubber flower heads."


die tageszeitung, 21.07.2005

German paleo-conservative Alexander Gauland (more here) explains why conservatism in Germany is not liberal: "It may be that in an over-indebted country the methods of Lord Keynes promise little success. But until now the medicine of encouraging private savings and lowered costs, and making people responsible for their own future provisions has only unsettled consumers and voters. It is true that continental European conservatism, which includes German conservatism, is not a civic-liberal, but rather an aristocratic-statist movement. Germany was not built by unknown, land-hungry settlers pushing their way across the land. It was the French kings and their Habsburg and Prussian cousins who rebuilt it after the desolation of the religious wars."

This year at the opera festival in the small Bavarian village of Oberammergau "King David", with Bible texts put to music, has its premiere on Friday. But above all the village is celebrated because every ten years the Passion of Christ is played out there. The last performance was in 2000, and tickets for the next will go on sale in 2008. Sabine Leucht has had a look around the village, most of whose population takes part in the performances. "For example in 2000, Oberammergau looked like Woodstock in an Upper Bavarian setting: beards and tresses abound, and long-haired children play in the streets (albeit with gameboys and an Alpine panorama). The entire village is in a state of emergency, but one with tradition! When the call goes out to the populace on Ash Wednesday the year before the performance that from now on they should avoid the hairdresser, it concerns around 2,000 people who will play out the story of the life and death of Christ. That's almost half of the inhabitants of Oberammergau, from babies to the elderly."

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