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08/09/2005

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 Zeit, 08.09.2005

In an engaging interview with Elisabeth Niejahr and Jörg Lau, CDU chancellor candidate Angela Merkel's shadow finance minister Paul Kirchhof discusses his conservatism, the role of women in society, the role of God in the constitution and the big questions of freedom and equality. "Where do we draw the line between freedom on the one hand and equal status for all people on the other? When it comes down to it, I decide for freedom. One person works day and night and gets rich in terms of money, another philosophies day and night and becomes rich in thought. And that's the way things should be. Anyone who doesn't like it, doesn't like freedom."


Die Welt, 08.09.2005


Vladimir Putin, who arrives in Germany today, is like the double-headed Russian eagle, whose two heads stare westward and eastward simultaneously, explains the Russian writer Victor Yerofeyev in a delightful article. Putin embodies the deep ambivalence of the Russian soul. "The Western head believes you can improve the population with tenderness, riches and railways. For it, we are just one step away from entering the family of European peoples. The other head beleives that genes are stronger than ethics, and that the Russian people bear the burden of so much inherited vice that you can only get by in this country with the use of the carrot and the stick. Conservative parties in Russia have never believed in the people, and always seen them as slaves. But at the same time they have always had faith in the power of fear. And in fact: it was fear that drove Yuri Gagarin, the world's first cosmonaut, up into space."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 08.09.2005


Sonja Margolina considers the May 31 judgement of the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky to be a symptom of an old problem Russia has with its upper class. "The hatred of the cultural type embodied by Khodorkovsky, which sometimes escalates into an lust to annihilate, has deep roots in Russia. Sociologists refer to the periodical abortion of the elites as one of the greatest obstacles to modernisation, which is chronically failing." The treatment of Khodorkovsky is for Margolina a sign that Russia has not yet achieved indispensable cultural change. "Not only people's lives are being destroyed; a unique social potential is as well."

With delightful seriousness, Markus Jakob takes up the question of why the Spanish are active late into the night. "One theory is that the Spanish use of time has its origins in the Madrid bureaucracy. The bureaucrats, having to fear for their jobs with each change of government, developed the habit of doing overtime. In the particularly centralised years of the Franco dictatorship, the entire country got hooked on Madrid seat glue." This custom perseveres; the specially founded "National commission for the rationalisation of the Spanish day allocation and its adaptation to that of other European counties" has, thus far, been without success.


Der Tagesspiegel, 08.09.2005


CDU cultural politician Norbert Lammert, who is being talked about as Minister of State for Culture and the Media if Angela Merkel and the CDU win the upcoming federal elections on September 18, talks to journalists in the company of Matthias Lilienthal, head of the Berlin theatre complex Hebbel am Ufer. Lammert provokes discussion by hinting at an end to preferential financial treatment for the Berlin city-state. "Not everyone thinks it's a workable arrangement that half of the available federal funds for art and culture go to Berlin, while the remaining 15 states split the rest." Lilienthal, referred to by one interviewer as a "left-leaning cultural manager", is careful not to exclude the possibility of cooperating with Lammert: "In Berlin the financial constraints are so predominant that questions of political affiliation tend to fade into the background. The important thing is that people get along together on a personal level."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 08.09.2005


Four years after 9/11, Adrain Kreye observes that the terrorist attack has entered the art realm. He cites a series of films and cultural events that are based less on reactions to the event and more on reflections about them. "But since last week, the shadow of New Orleans has been cast over all these attempts to overcome 9/11. In the last few days, one of the last shrines of mourning in Union Square that was being used by police and subway personnel to commemorate the colleagues they lost has been smeared over with magic marker grafitti. 'Bush knew in advance' it says, and 'Bush smokes up'."


Die Tageszeitung, 08.09.2005

The taz features several articles on Jim Jarmusch, whose "Broken Flowers" hits the screens in Germany today. In an interview with Stefan Grissmann, Jarmusch tells why he never went to Hollywood. "All the artists that have inspired me stayed away from the mainstream for their whole lives. To put it another way: I like Paul Valery more than Victor Hugo. That's why I prefer to stay in my niche, on the margins. What does the industry have to offer me? Money? That's not my religion. I have enough to live on. What else? Fame? Power? In Hollywood? Not exactly my thing. And I'm not interested in making a major film for someone else. Not that I'm against it, I just couldn't do it."

Reviewing "Broken Flowers", Dietmar Kammerer comments: "An historical accident – or a well-concealed masterminding by the festival directors at Cannes – has it that this year both Jim Jarmusch and Wim Wenders not only presented their newest films on the Croisette, but that both movies also have practically the same plot: single men, beyond their peak, find out they probably have a grown-up child, and go on a long journey through the USA in search of answers."

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