11/08/2005

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.

Die Zeit, 11.08.2005

She slept through "Tannhäuser" but was wide awake for "Parsifal": rock icon Patti Smith was wowed by provocative director Christoph Schlingensief's staging at the Richard Wagner opera festival in Bayreuth. She was especially thrilled by the controversial huge floppy-eared dead rabbit in the first act. "Schlingensief's guileless fool doesn't know which animal to kill. The swan is replaced by a simple, symbolic childhood image. People laughed at this dead rabbit, but for me it opened a whole new perspective. American kids discover Wagner through the death of Bugs Bunny. In his legendary 1957 cartoon 'What's Opera, Doc?' Chuck Jones has Elmer Fudd kill our beloved rabbit. Throughout the film Elmer sings 'Kiww the Wabbit' to the Ride of the Valkyries. At the end he carries the dead Bugs up to Valhalla." The newspaper features photos and – online only – an interview. Smith was in Rome when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope, and comments: "I like him – a lot even. He seemed more relaxed than before. He's changing. His whole life he sat in studies and libraries, and read and taught, and now he feels the people's love. You can see it."

Pop theorist Diedrich Diederichsen is utterly revolted by the documentary about the porn classic "Deep Throat". "The film focuses on parallels with today's cultural struggles: Isn't it all the same today? Christian bigots want to destroy our porn! Although the film doesn't cover up the Mafia involvement or that Linda Lovelace was beaten by her husband into performing, the porn in 'Inside Deep Throat' is portrayed as a product of the freedom and success of the political sixties and the Left. As if the wonderful world of porn had lost its innocence, as if the contemporary porn industry were but a later aberrance. The blindly liberal American anti-rules/pro-freedom argument, anti-state/pro-deregulation - and in this film pro-porn/anti-politics - has never questioned whose freedom, whose rules and whose politics are actually at stake. In the name of this liberalism 'Inside Deep Throat' squeezes out a tear for the comical seedy world with its crazy men and wild women who swear that having sperm rubbed in your face is good for the skin."


Die Tageszeitung, 11.08.2005

Historian (more) Gabriel Kolko looks at the Second World War and its consequences for China. "People are generally not revolutionaries by nature. Lenin's power was a product of the First World War. The Second wiped out the middle classes in China and real income had dropped by as much as 90 percent by 1943. Catastrophic inflation drove many people to the Communists. The people were not Marxist-Leninists but they wanted China to be great again, they were nationalists. In Vietnam the Communists led the storm on the rice stores. The mobilisation in China and Vietnam was based on national identity, the Communists there were highly nationalistic. China's Communist Party grew from 40,000 members in 1937 to 4.5 million in 1949. The Communists in China were the leading power against foreign intervention, in that case the Japanese. The Kuomintang on the other hand were utterly corrupt. The Communists stood for a China that was productive and nationalist. This nationalism is still the core of Communist rule in China. If there were elections today, the Communists would certainly win because they have made China powerful again."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 11.08.2005

The best film so far at the Locarno Film Festival, writes Heike Kuhn, is a German-Belgian-French co-production, "Fratricide" by young Turkish filmmaker Yilmaz Arslan, who has lived in Germany since 1975. The film which "is as uncompromising as Fassbinder" shows nationalist feuding between Turks and Kurds in Germany. "The hope for a multi-cultural flirt with world peace and integration dies a thousand deaths in 'Fratricide'. Mehmet stabs the Turk with the pit bull because he threatened Azad. The wound provokes the dog and it turns to attack its owner. The audience will never live to forget the image of the dog ripping the bowels from his body. The violence eats the violent but it also swallows down the innocent, hair and all, and spits the remains into the gutter. 'Fratricide' is a furious and tragic settling of accounts with the German dream. Up-rooted and frustrated, the exiled resort to their worst traditions, vendetta and fratricidal war."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 11.08.2005

Thomas Burkhalter heard great music in Istanbul, but is sceptical of the hype about the music scene in the Beyoglu district: "For example the groups Orient Expressions and Mercan Dede work with drawn out melodies, Turkish string instruments, ney flutes, darabukas and jar drums, but also with an Australian didgeridoos and Spanish guitars. They use elements from Turkish folk music, brass fanfares from South East Europe and Indian Bhangra. In this way an imaginary Turkish music comes into being, heralding visions of a better world: a stress-free, enjoyable World Music produced at an international level for culture-loving audiences, most of whom are upper middle class Turks or Europeans. These sounds have a lot in common with the visions of Istanbul's city planners and tourism managers. But they have less to do with the realities of the city." See our feature "Rocking Istanbul" for more on music in the Turkish metropolis.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 11.08.2005

Matthias Aumüller is up in arms about the new Russian edition of the works of philosopher and literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin. The editors claim Bakhtin's authorship of works published by under the name of Pavel Medvedev and Valentin Voloshinov. The two members of the Bakhtin Circle were victims of Stalin's purges in the 1930s. "This is scandalous because the argument for Bakhtin's authorship has not been proved, and just as much can be said for the opposite thesis, namely that Medvedev and Voloshinov were co-authors of Bakhtin's 'Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics', published in 1929. Almost everything Bakhtin wrote before or afterwards was either unfinished or never published at all."

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles.
signandsight.com - let's talk european.

 
More articles

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more