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GoetheInstitute

22/02/2006

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 Welt, 22.02.2006

Robert Baer, the former CIA agent who wrote the book on which Stephen Gaghan's thriller "Syriana" starring George Clooney is based, describes in an interview his day-to-day life in Beirut in 1983. "We operated out of various agents' apartments throughout the city. I slept almost every night in a different 'safe house'. Every apartment was fully equipped with washing machines, dryers, weapons, communication. The next morning I took care of what needed to be done: wrote reports, did the washing... We were constantly conducting acts of sabotage on weapons or communications systems. We were pouring rigged weapons onto the market in the hopes that they would be bought by the enemy. A trick as old as war itself. Do you remember the corpse with the false war plans the British floated off a beach near Lisbon in World War II so that the Germans would find the documents?"


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22.02.2006

Oskar Roehler's film "The Elementary Particles", based on Michel Houellebecq's book of the same name, hits the screens in Germany tomorrow. Verena Lueken sighs: "If there were at least something scandalous about it! But Roehler tells the story with such overattentive fussiness that the hour and three quarters stretch into a small, life-obliterating eternity." What is left: "Male sexuality is a major drama that leaves no recourse but insanity. Perhaps you have to be a man to get the full measure of this tragedy."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 22.02.2006


In a series on developments in the German film industry, the photographer Jim Rakete demands more "risky material" for German films. "German film has dared to take one tiny step off the asphalt, it's showing the courage to tackle reality. Does it love its characters enough to give them power or even poetry? Not yet. We're still sitting in a very solid cinema of explanation, in which everything is told, everything should be real to the last German detail. German films suffer from the fact that police cars here look like toys, wealth doesn't look very rich and poverty doesn't show itself in public."

In an article entitled "Desperately Seeking an Elite", Jeanne Rubner comments on plans for a European super-university which José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, will present in Brussels today. "Europe needs more symbols if it wants to be serious about the competition. One European institution is even the envy of the United States: CERN. Europeans have successfully grouped their top-researchers at the particle physics laboratory on Lake Geneva. But it took gumption to decide in favour of one location, and that kind of gumption is now lacking. The fear of being passed over caused the German federal states to water down the competition for a first-class university, and Europe now looks as if it will suffer a similar fate. Barroso has already opted for the middle path between top-down and bottom-up solutions, and decided in favour of the the wishy-washy German compromise. The European Institute of Technology will not be a separate university, but a network of existing institutes."


Die Tageszeitung, 22.02.2006


Ulf Erdmann Ziegler is disappointed by the major Martin Kippenberger exhibition in the London Tate Modern. Pieces have been shrunk to "London proportions" and the English translations are cause for amusement. "Oh well, there's our London Kippy. The berserk as idol, the buffoon as foreigner, the appropriator as classic. The catalogue of solid articles, one by Kippenberger's sister, describes him as a child, student, teacher, performer of himself, producer. Thus the image of the German as an expressive puzzle is confirmed. When the exhibition carries on to Düsseldorf, the puzzle will be less, the language problem will be solved and the disappointment even greater, because that's not the whole Kippy, not even the half. It's an academic exercise on an anti-academic work. The next step: to evaluate his art."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 22.02.2006

Andrea Köhler has read "American Vertigo", Bernard-Henri Levy's book documenting his travels through North America in Tocqueville's footsteps, calling it insignificant to exasperating. "The stations on his way – Mount Rushmore, Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, Graceland, New Orleans, Highway Nr. 1 – are no different than what you'd find in Geo Magazine. Levy's analyses seldom rise above the self-evident. Yes, everything is big in America, the fast food and the diet industry, the mega-churches and mammoth malls (those 'temples of consumerism'), the greed and the godliness, the naive patriotism and the limitless pragmatism that leaves any form of ideology in ruins. That's what they're like, the Americans. BHL is French. The more limited the insights, the more pompous the style."

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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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