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GoetheInstitute

23/12/2005

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, 23.12.2005

In an interview with Jan Feddersen, Jan Philipp Reemtsma, head of the Hamburg Institute for Social Research and himself held for over a month by kidnappers in 1996 (see his book "In the Cellar"), reflects on the proposals by American intellectuals like Michael Ignatieff and Alan Dershowitz to legalise torture in extreme cases. For Reemtsma, this would be a fatal mistake. "It would mean drafting a law and debating the various torture methods in parliament. And in the end there would have to be a public discussion on which methods are appropriate. Can you use sleep deprival? Can you break people's bones? Can you use electric shocks? Can you stub cigarettes out on people? What in fact can you do, and what not? Think about what this would mean... relinquishing the progress we pride our civilisation on. It would mean barbarising the public sphere."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 23.12.2005

Paul Jandl looks back over the "Gedankenjahr" (a pun on commemoration and thinking) 2005, in which Austria has celebrated the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 50th anniversary of its State Treaty and the 10th anniversary of European membership. "The official 'Gedankenjahr' has redressed very little conceptual fuzziness in Austria's perception of itself. In the general rejoicing over its own historical achievements, minimal credit was given to the vital role of the allies in the liberation of Austria. And the question about victims of the Nazi era, which stretches far beyond 1945, remained largely untouched."


Berliner Zeitung, 23.12.2005

Jens Balzer fills us in on the new trends in rock music awaiting us in 2006. There's no two ways about it: "The next big thing on German pop stages comes from Japan and is called visual kei (more here and here). It's a sort of vamped up hard rock with an unusual amount of changes in rhythm and harmony and – and this is the main thing – obvious quotation of contemporary Japanese manga and older Western glam rock. One of the remarkable things about visual kei is that it is sung by men dressed as women, whereas the audiences are mostly made up of women dressed as men dressed as women."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 23.12.2005

The FAZ tells a story from China "the likes of which Kleist or Kafka might have thought up," writes Mark Siemons. Only it's true. It is the story of a madman who beat another man to death and then when locked up in a cage, turned out to be a gambling oracle. The legal profession is now protesting about the cage bit. Siemons puts the whole thing in a broader context: "China is currently carrying out numerous experiments into increasing the room to manoeuvre for local authorities at a village and community level, without having first established any financial or legal framework. The story is not over yet. And it's clear that it doesn't involve only manageable elements."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 23.12.2005

We are still caught up in the thinking of the Enlightenment. This is unfortunate, writes system theorist Peter Fuchs, because it is irremediably simple, and tends toward fundamentalism becuase it is "mono-contextual". Social reality however is "poly-contextual". That means "that the observations which are possible in our society can no longer be offset against one another. They can no longer be situated in any form of hierarchy. Rather, they form a heterarchy which cannot be represented figuratively, and which at best can be interpreted in quasi-physical analogies as 'observational entanglements' that cannot be traced back to an author, or even a 'puissance invisible', an invisible power." How fortunate that we have been graced with the concepts of system theory to understand all this!

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