13/03/2006

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.

Monday 13 March, 2006

Slobodan Milosevic has died in prison

Kosovar author Beqe Cufaj writes on the death of Slobodan Milosevic (who according to the latest reports died of a heart attack) in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "His end was foreseeable. Milosevic killed himself. Not with poison, as the autopsy will probably show, but with the knowledge that he would never leave his cell alive. He had to capitulate, and once more he knew when it was time – just like in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. This was the only way he could fob his life off as a victory. What did he manage to salvage this time, what was the last thing he had left? The satisfaction of the criminal who escapes his verdict."

"His sudden death made him impossible to convict and it is hard to curb your rage, when you think about Milosevic's cynicism and the mockery he made of people and facts", writes Serbian author Bora Cosic in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. "There is no question that Slobodan Milosevic initiated the crimes of Vukovar, Zvornik, and Srebrenica which of course were committed by his deputies, professional executioners and murderers. But he carried out similar atrocities with his own hands in Belgrade's Ucicka Street where he lived. Looking back on it, he was like madman who smashes the china in his own house, tears up the books and family photos and then pours petrol over everything and sets it all on fire. It's no wonder that the people who live there feel like lunatics and sometimes behave like lunatics too."
See our feature "Journey to the Alaska of my past" by Bora Cosic.

For Swedish author Richard Swartz writing in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the symbiotic relationship between Milosevic and his wife is a Balkan speciality. "The Serbian couple Slobodan Milosevic and Mira Markovic are just like Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu in Rumania, Enver and Nexhmije Hoxha in Albania, and Todor Zhivkov and his daughter Ludmilla in Bulgaria. We see a man in power but the woman in the background is the one really holding the reigns. Blood ties are more important that other loyalties, and this goes for people and ideas alike. This deep-rooted power partnership bears all the hallmarks of mild insanity, nepotism, all kinds of bizarre and fantastical projects, astrology, occultism and when necessary, a fanaticism that is not afraid to use force."


Die Welt, 13.03.2006

Stefan Grund has seen Michael Thalheimer's staging of "Rose Bernd" by dramatist Gerhart Hauptmann at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, which premiered on Saturday, and emerged thoroughly purged of all faith in humanism. "When Gerhard Hauptmann wrote 'Rose Bernd' a century ago it had five acts, each of which was 30 minutes long. Now it has just two what can only be described as 45-minute sex acts culminating in dramatic climaxes. "Rose Bernd" has fallen into the hands of Michael Thalheimer, the Quentin Tarantino of the German stage. ... In this powerful performance (on a plain wooden, salami-shaped floor slightly tilted towards the audience with a single 4-by-4 stake stuck into it), everything and everyone is violent. Even the Silesian dialect gets one in the face."


Saturday 11 March, 2006


Der Standard, 11.03.2006


The paper prints the second part of philosopher Jürgen Habermas' speech on receiving the Bruno Kreisky Prize for furthering human rights. After attributing the intellectual with an "avant-garde sense for the relevant" in part one (more here), he now shows what that means with his own reflections on the future of Europe. The philosopher calls on Europeans "to pull up their socks and carry out a reform which would give Europeans an effective decision-making apparatus, their own foreign minister, a directly-elected president and an independent financial basis. These demands could form the basis of a referendum held concurrently with the next European parliamentary elections. The draft would be considered passed if it received the 'double majority' of votes of the states and the electorate. At the same time, the referendum would only bind the member states in which a majority had voted in favour. Europe would then move away from the convoy model where the tempo is set by the slowest member."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 11.03.2006

Philosopher Slavoj Zizek throws himself into the fray over the relatively few Oscars awarded to "Brokeback Mountain" (list of winners here). This has nothing to do with resistance to gay cowboys, he writes. "While 'Brokeback Mountain' at best gives viewers a kind of narcissistic satisfaction by presenting us with past problems that have long been resolved, letting them re-win battles that have long been won, 'L.A. Crash' is the really challenging film. If 'Brokeback Mountain' had won the Oscar for best picture, it would have amounted to a flight from today's reality. Escapism in Hollywood? Unthinkable! In fact, the best film won."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 11.03.2006

Big business is recruiting artists to feed off their credibility, writes Niklas Maak, who sees this as a new form of courtly art. But as in Vanessa Beecroft's work for Louis Vuitton, (photos), art's critical stance gets left by the wayside. "You can imagine how horrified people would have been if the in-house window dressers of the manufacturer, which rose to prominence making suitcases for colonial travel, had decided to line its shelves with dark-skinned models for the launch of its new shop. It's only because this is the work of an artist famous for reflecting the voyeurism, worship and exploitation of the female body inherent in the system that Vuitton is interested. Louis Vuitton is essentially dressing up in art's aura of 'criticality'." But, Maak asks: "Where is the critical reflection here? Could it be that critique disappears at the moment when it becomes an ornament of the fashion system it is referencing?"

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