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GoetheInstitute

05/09/2005

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 5 September, 2005

Die Welt, 05.09.2005


Despite the charges being brought against writer Orhan Pamuk, the crime fiction writer and lawyer Esmahan Aykol, who lives in Berlin, is not overly negative about the situation in Turkey. Above all, the anti-intellectual mood that had mobs marauding into the nineties is over now, Aykol believes. "Today the Turkish premier invites intellectuals who once had to fight their cases in court to debate the Kurdish question with him. The situation of Orhan Pamuk in 2005 is incomparable with that of Aziz Nesin and Yasar Kemal in the nineties. Pamuk's defence of the Kurdish and the Armenian question has been widely reported in the Turkish media. As a result, innumerable political taboos have been publicly broken. The recent charges brought against Pamuk are the work of forces keen to reverse the democractic process. But their once totalitarian power has receded. They are in the defensive."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 05.09.2005


"This was one of the least natural natural catastrophes in the history of America", says urban theorist Mike Davis in an interview on the flooding of New Orleans. The late reaction of the relief workers was no coincidence. "It is like a Russian doll. In the first place stands the neglect of the states by the federal government. Bush was voted in by the suburbs and edge cities; the big cities have become a taboo in US politics. No money has been invested in their social and physical infrastructure for a generation. Secondly, New Orleans has the highest percentage black population of all major American cities – and it's one of the poorest. Thirdly, the Bush administration is refusing to pay for desperately needed public facilities while spending billions on so-called homeland protection."


Der Tagesspiegel, 05.09.2005


Director Michael Thalheimer has been a rising star on the German theatre scene since his directing debut in 1997. His first production at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, one of Germany's leading theatres, was in 2001. This season he has joined the theatre's team of artistic directors. He talks with Peter Laudenbach und Rüdiger Schaper about his staging of Goethe's "Faust", and the Berlin theatre landscape: "What I don't like is the aggressiveness in the city, and the testiness between theatres. For me that's provincial. I don't get any better by badmouthing other people. I wish Armin Petras all the success in the world when he takes over the Maxim Gorki Theater in a year's time. I think a successful Gorki Theatre will also bring more people to the Deutches Theater, the Berliner Ensemble, the Volksbühne and the Schaubühne. I don't like these little games where people put themselves up on a pedestal and think: 'I'll show them all'." See our feature "Fighting in the sandbox" for more on theatre in Berlin.


Frankfurter Rundschau, 05.09.2005

Silke Hohmann watched Friday's premiere of the Pet Shop Boys' live soundtrack to Sergej Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" in Frankfurt's Alte Oper. The pop duo has stylised the film about the 1905 unrest in St. Petersburg into a "romantic revolution", writes Hohmann. "The Battleship Potemkin aims its guns on the opera house of Odessa and Neil Tennant sings 'Heaven is possible, after all.' It's one of the most artistically interesting decisions of the Pet Shop Boys' new soundtrack, accompanied by the Dresden Symphony Orchestra. After all, it's a scene full of drama and dynamism, pressure and counter-pressure, death and blackout ... Here of all places, not to have hectic music, or dramatic drum roll but utopian ballad is one of the really good moments of the soundtrack."


Saturday 3 September, 2005

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 03.09.2005

Bora Cosic, one of Serbia's foremost contemporary authors, reports on his first visit to his homeland since emigrating to Germany in 1992: "As I travel through the beautiful but troubled Bosnia, I wonder what could have provoked the people who burned and levelled this country. What egged them on to make a wasteland of the place that inspired the paintings of Jovan Bijelic, and to tread it into the dust? In the brain of every evildoer, in the conscience of every monster ready to burn and destroy, there is always an impulse, a negative provocation, pushing them to do all these horrible things. Generally what does it is a twinkling flash of beauty or harmony that they absolutely have to ruin and raze to the ground."


Die Welt, 03.09.2005

In the wake of Michel Houellebecq's most recent novel "The Possibility of an Island", which came out last week to much hullabaloo in France and Germany, Matthias Horx asks where cloning gets its horrifying reputation: "In nature, clones are all over the place, and yet the universe doesn't fall apart (I know single-egg twins who play with their cloned existence in a refined way). Yet the clone also has something laughable about it. As renowned evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr once said, 'If a generation of cloned Einsteins were created, things would only end in chaos'. 100 Hitlers wouldn't have meant Nazi domination of the world, but a planetary farce. So what are we so afraid of?"

Hannes Stein recommends French philosopher Andre Glucksmann's book "Le discours de la haine", (the discourse of hatred) which has just appeared in a German translation: "Perhaps this is his most important book since "La force du vertige" (the force of vertigo). In any case it's the angriest. The leading representative of the "nouveau-philosophes' – the French leftist radicals who read Solzhenitsyn then said goodbye to totalitarian utopias – is saying something very simple: Hate exists. And the attempt to explain it away (for example by rationalising it, explaining it as a perhaps exaggerated but in the end justified reaction to a slight, and playing it down) come up against the blunt truth: hate exists."

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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