On the Death of Siegfried Lenz ? ?You have to justify your life?

Siegfried Lenz, one of the great writers of German post-war literature is dead. He died on 7 October 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 88 years old.... more more

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08/08/2005

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 8 August, 2005

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 08.08.2005


Joachim Güntner takes a Swiss, distanced look at the German "eternal Left" that is now reaping unexpected successes with the "Linkspartei" spearheaded by former SPD politician Oskar Lafontaine and Gregor Gysi, a major figure in the PDS, the successor to the East German communist party. "Their view that you only have to fleece high earners to finance the social state has something very mummie-like about it (...). But the scorn of the established parties comes across as arrogant. Left-populism confronts it by asking: what should we make of a situation where (as last week) the media report that German unemployment has risen once again, there are fewer apprenticeship positions than last year, and at the same time German stocks are at an all-time high?"

Florian Coulmas, professor of Japanese language and culture at Duisburg University, sees racism as a prime motivation in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and doubts the bomb could just as well have been dropped in Germany if the war had continued. "This argument fails to take account of the fact that during the entire war, the Japanese were portrayed as subhuman vermin in the American media. It ignores that President Truman was an avowed racist ('I think one man is as good as another as long as he's honest and decent and not a nigger or a chinaman'). And it ignores that the Americans fought the Japanese with an army that was separated along racial lines, and that the discrimination in America created such a strong pro-Japanese movement among black soldiers that the military command lost its faith in the black troops."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 08.08.2005

Daniel Batzetzko visited the exhibition of the Luxembourg architect and city planner Rob Krier in the German Architecture Museum. "Krier, a central protagonist of the postmodern, realised his most famous buildings in Berlin during the Internationale Bauaustellung (IBA) in 1984. The block buildings in the Rauchstrasse, on which Hans Hollein and Aldo Rossi worked under his directorship, still seem like a manifesto for the aestheticism of architecture and urban development, even 20 years later. The group of residential villas that are delimited by a curving gate construction, express the original demands of the postmodern, of setting art above the seemingly bare rationalism of the modern. And unlike the many buildings from those years that forced art and architecture into partnership with exaggerated ironic playfulness, Krier remained absolutely serious in his principles."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 08.08.2005

Mario Vargas-Llosa writes a portrait of Alejandro, who, like himself, came from Lima and lives today as a penniless culture vulture in Paris, reading books in bookstores and using his Peruvian press pass to get the best seats at theatre premieres. Vargas-Llosa calls Alejandro probably the "last Francophile aesthete" in this world, and recommends that the French state pay him a life-long pension because "nobody has been so vigorous and active in defending the myth that Paris is the capital of universal culture, the beacon of the spirit, the modern Parthenon of ideas and the arts. He did it his entire life without expecting any compensation and without costing French taxpayers a cent. Out of pure love of eternal France, of France's thinkers, poets, writers and artists. And he has to do this, because at the moment it looks like there aren't many more people that share his position..."


Die Tageszeitung, 08.08.2005


Gretchen Dutschke
, wife of the 1968 student activist Rudi Dutschke, explains that his embracing of violence can be read as a historically justified reaction to the power of the state. "When it looked like the rulers would react to the student demonstrators with violence and were ready to kill in order to hinder change, the protesters saw parallels to the time of the Nazis and Hitler's seizure of power. Under these circumstances, it seemed sensible to think about forming illegal conspiracy groups which would be ready to do what the conspirators of 1944 did not succeed in doing – namely, to end a tyrannical regime. Yes, even those aristocrats who tried to kill Hitler were - according to today's accepted definition – terrorists. The Baader-Meinhof group saw itself in this tradition." Unlike Baader Meinhof, however, Dutschke believes her husband recognised the error of his ways relatively quickly.


Der Tagesspiegel, 08.08.2005

Martin Kusej, head of the drama department of the Salzburg Festival, chose the motto "We the Barbarians" for this year's festival. Interviewing him, Peter von Becker finds that somewhat irritating in view of the festival's "highbrow, high-culture air". Kusej answers: "Why shouldn't a festival come to terms with that? After all, we're dealing with art here. And artists don't talk about the day-to-day world, they talk about their own abysses. In the last weeks when I saw all the images on television of the bomb attacks, I suddenly thought of Bunuel's film 'The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie', which he made 40 years ago. It's an alleged comedy where every now and then a garbage can explodes incidentally. Bunuel was certainly not trying to be some kind of a clairvoyant. But he did tell of something that has always, and will always affect us: the insecurity of everyday life, an unfathomable, incomprehensible threat. What he's caught up with is the brittleness of our civilisation."


Saturday 6 August, 2005


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 06.08.2005

On the occasion of the Lucerne Festival, the paper has included a special section on classical music. Economist John Kmetz explains why high culture has only ever thrived in monetary mulch. "Not everyone would like to see German renaissance culture reduced to pure hard cash. But to be honest: without money, the superb Munich choir books of Hans Mielich would never have existed. Without money, such highly regarded foreigners such as Heinrich Isaac and Orlando di Lasso would have presumably never set foot in Germany, Without money (and the possibility of being able to make more), printers such as Petreius, Gardoano and Peturcci would probably have never printed a piece of music. In fact, without money, capitalism, trade and banks, music would presumably not have existed – in courts, churches, universities, dance halls, private homes and banquette halls."


Die Welt, 06.08.2005

The literature section celebrates the 50th anniversary of the death of Thomas Mann. Wolf Lepenies praises the writer's courage in challenging accepted beliefs, for example in his "German Address" of 1930. "The policies of the Nazis, who were pushing for power, he described as 'politics in the grotesque style with salvation-army attractions, mass fits, showground-stall bell-ringing, hallelujah, and dervish-like repetition of monotonous slogans till everyone is foaming at the mouth'. And he did not hesitate to denounce the complicity of a large part of the German elite in the rise of the Nazis: 'This is a certain ideology, a Nordic creed, a Germanistic romanticism, from philological, academic, professorial spheres. It addresses the Germany of 1930 in a highflown wishy-washy jargon full of mystical good feeling, with hyphenated prefixes like race- and folk-, national- and heroic-.'"

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