07/09/2005

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.

die tageszeitung, 07.09.2005

The taz shines today with a piece by the incomparable Austrian author Marlene Streeruwitz on the goings on at the Salzburg Festival of opera, theatre, music and dance. "The festivals are a court for the powers that be to make contacts. And they always were. That's how it should be. Perhaps that's where the idea that Heinrich von Pierer could become part of CDU chancellor candidate Angela Merkel's team saw the light. Between the fish course and the sorbet after the premiere of "La Traviata". And that the Austrian chancellor could help out the conservative CDU/CSU in the upcoming German elections. Such an event provides a backdrop agaist which everything can be worked out in detail, where you can talk more freely. Everyone's feeling all soft and moved by the noble story of a noble prostitute, they can sit back and be lulled by the voice of a beautiful, scandal-shrouded Russian soprano singing the prostitute. Meanwhile outside, in the brothels of Salzburg and its surroundings, the prostitution continues. And the myth of the noble prostitute becomes all the more beautiful."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 07.09.2005


The American poet Charles Simic is livid about what's going on in New Orleans and the solidarity that is lacking in the USA: "When American journalists only emphasise that we are all parts of the nation, regardless of what class and race we happen to belong to, it's yet another nice fable intended to comfort us. Even the wide wave of pity for the victims of the flood will silt up sooner or later. I already fear that their faces will be disappearing from the daily news. No country likes to be reminded of its darker side and we are no exception. Plus, there are going to be further catastrophes, further hurricanes and other distractions for the audience. When there are no pictures – this we now know – stupor and a horrible ignorance prevail, and with them, the pretty lies that embellish the daily news, rendering those who have been punished by fate invisible."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 07.09.2005

Today the Egyptians will vote for their new president. The writer and television producer  Ahmed Alaidy describes the atmosphere in the cafe where he hangs out. "Most are convinced that the elections are completely meaningless, because the outcome is already clear. Someone says: 'God rules the skies and Mubarak the earth.' Another: 'And America rules in between.' We've never experienced a president other than our beloved Mubarak, and we might never get to know another. As the saying goes - he who has fallen once into the sewer can never smell again."

In an interview, Holger Liebs manages to incense photographer Wolfgang Tillmans by finding a snapshot aesthetic in his latest volume "Truth Study Center". Tillmans retorts that not just anybody can shoot such pictures through scratched plane windows. "In the plane, I have to sit on the non-sunny side. I have to darken the area from where I am photographing, otherwise there will be a reflection on the glass. Then I use a very wide aperture with no depth of field so that the window is not in focus. I must not sit where I'll be taking pictures into the jet stream, otherwise I get heat striae. When checking in, I name the precise seat number: third row from the back, seat A, for example."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 07.09.2005

Reiner Klingholz, Director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, is pleading loudly for a population census. "If you're interested in the quantity of pot chrysanthemums that have been planted by German decorative plant producers, or in the number of geese, ducks and turkeys in agricultural enterprises – no problem.... But if you want to know where in the republic, which migrants live, what their rate of illness is, the situation of daycare for 3-year-olds in the various municipalities or how many people remain childless, you have to look for a long time and are likely to find little." Klingholz, himself an opponent of the census in the 1980s, refers to the USA and the Netherlands, where such data are collected and made available to everyone.


Frankfurter Rundschau, 07.09.2005

"400 million euros over a period of three years, financed by Brussels and the countries of the EU. That would be a good start." Jean-Noël Jeanneney, president of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, explains to Martina Meister why the project of a virtual European library should be carried out, and why he does not want to use Google Print to search for French authors. "In all probability, the first ten books listed will be in English. If you enter Victor Hugo, you don't get 'L'Homme qui rit', but 'The Man who Laughs', which is not very funny even for someone who's interested in translations. I'm not demanding a monopoly for our perspective, I just want to save it from going under entirely."


Berliner Zeitung, 07.09.2005

Wolfgang Fuhrmann talks in an interview with composer Isabel Mundry, whose opera "Ein Atemzug – die Odyssee" (a gasp of breath - the Odyssey) has its world premiere in Berlin's Deutsche Oper tonight. Asked how she can call Odysseus' 20-year adventure "a gasp of breath", Mundry answers: "My way of looking at the story is: where does the experience of otherness, which is such a fundamental theme in the Odyssey, begin? You can't say it starts somewhere over the horizon, or 100 kilometres away. The work sounds the depths between geographical space and the space that always seems foreign. The experience of foreignness, or otherness, happens in the most confined places, for instance in Penelope's house. The relativity of spatial perception, the perception of transitions between the foreign and the familiar: that's what I wanted to express in connection with the most intimate extension imaginable, our own breath. A breath goes from inside to outside, it goes out into space and so it can constitute the beginnings of an odyssey. It was only a long time after I came up with the name of the piece that I realised even your own breath can become foreign to you when everything becomes silent and you suddenly hear it."

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