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11/11/2005

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.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 11.11.2005

"Is the free flow of information on the Internet in danger? Are authoritarian states gaining more influence on the Internet?", asks Rainer Stadler before the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) kicks off next week in Tunis. Stadler sums up what's at stake: "Some commentators fear the worst, that the freedom of speech may be gagged. These worries are prompted by current attempts to reform the administration of the world wide web. At present the Internet is being managed by Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a private US firm. And Icann is supervised by the US Department of Commerce. That means that the USA can make unilateral decisions about the Internet that have repercussions around the globe. Such a situation must seem strange to people outside the US. That's why attempts are being made to give major Internet players outside the USA more decision-making clout. The UN summit in Tunis will be addressing this question."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 11.11.2005

What remains of the Ukrainians' hopes a year after the Orange Revolution? Poet Tymofiy Havryliv provides two lists. In the left-hand column, the negative points, in the right the positive ones. The list on the left is longer. "Nonetheless, if you ask me if I'm disappointed, I'll say no, despite the most recent corruption scandals. The right-hand column shows promise: freedom of the media, at least from interference by the state apparatus; the re-privatisation of steel giant Kryvorizhstal (more here), the green light for investors and the widespread hope that the 'take the biggest slice of the pie' mentality is on its way out. And clear priorities have been set in foreign policy: membership in the EU and NATO. Wasn't it Joseph Roth who wrote: 'No, Europe does not stop here'? But the most important entry on the right-hand side is the feeling that things are possible now, the feeling of coming of age."

Elke Buhr has visited an exhibition of works by painter Eberhard Havekost at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. "It's the first big solo exhibition of Havekost's work in a museum, the results of a career that has taken off in the last few years. Havekost, who studied in Dresden, belongs to the group of painters attracting major international interest under the label (East) German painters. The coolness of his slick portraits and his cold landscapes are admirable, as is what might casually be referred to as the 'Eastiness' of his subjects: one might be a little horrified by the pale children in fitted kitchens or the rear view of a camouflage jacket taken from the trendy repertory of the suburban white trash - but at the same time, one is comforted by the distance that Havekost's painting creates from its subjects."


Die Welt, 11.11.2005

On the occasion of Chinese President Ju Hintao's visit to Berlin (news item here), the feuilletons are full of China. German sociologist Wolf Lepenies offers a portrait of Chinese sociologist Wang Hui, who says that the space for critique in China has become so large that it's no longer necessary to becomes a dissident: "Wang Hui would like not to be considered part of China's 'new left'. But it's his 'leftist critique' of the conditions in China that hits the mark. Where the Chinese state wants to hold on to its power, it's an uncompromising Leviathan. Where it should be a provider, it plays the slacker and refers to the powers of the markets which supposedly can no longer be steered by the state.... The extensive 'privatisation' of the Chinese economy is not the result of liberal, but rather authoritarian policies. As a provocation, Wang Hui turns the idea of socialism against the politics of a communist party that has lost its social conscience." (article by Wang Hui here, his book "China's New Order" here)


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 11.11.2005


Going against her usual strategy of "always being on the cutting edge and always working with the hottest producers", Madonna's newest album "Confessions on a Dancefloor", is produced by Stuart Price in the old style tradition: "Sure, it's a bit too sugary-sweet, too controlled, too pink, too spandex, too porn-hairstyle," writes Tobias Kniebe (who admits his "romantic awakening" coincided with Madonna's rise to fame). But he doesn't find the album Madonna's worst effort to date: "If such brilliant, convincing and audacious music is once more possible, music that zeroes in on the most powerful and most basic dance-floor instincts, I fail to see why I should listen to the despondent nit-picking of dissatisfied critics."

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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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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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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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