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22/03/2005

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 22.03.2005

In an interview with Werner Bloch, Syrian poet Adonis explains that democracy is not possible under Islam. The poet eulogises Lebanon, with its eighteen religious groups, as a "model for the Arab world". "Lebanon is pluralistic without pluralism and democratic without democracy. But it is democratic because all the different groups have to live with each other. This stimulates the culture." Moreover, Lebanon proves "that even in a religious state it is possible to establish secular values, and form a citizens' society. This is what makes it a ray of hope in the Arab world: because it avoids religious and political totalitarianism."

Robin Detje was overwhelmed by Dimiter Gotscheff's production of "Ivanov" at the Berlin Volksbühne. "Beauty has burst out in this churlish, ingenious, fractious theatre. No one could have foreseen it. As the beginning of Gotscheff's production of Chekhov's wonderful drama 'Ivanov', it remains undetected. The stage is bare and empty, it looks like a typical display of Volksbühne churlishness, ingeniousness and fractiousness. But then someone turns on the smoke machine. From this point on, the fog undulates and billows to and fro across the stage, a protagonist in white unveiling the characters, then wrapping them in protective arms when all they want is to disappear from the stage after their distraught performances. First it seems to suffocate everything, then it dances skywards up the stage tower. It plays constantly with the light – sometimes with the golden evening light, then with the heavenly rays which reach down to touch it from above."


Die Welt, 22.03.2005


Matthias Kamann interviews German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk on his recent book "Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals" (Inside the Internal Space of World Capital: For a Philosophical Theory of Globalization). "In opposition to current interpretations, my theory describes globalisation as an unprecedented phenomenon of exclusion. The prosperous world tends to create a rather hermetic internal space, without regard for regional or national homogeneity. I call this the 'internal space of world capital'. The younger nations in particular have long been only partially included in this space. In India a zone of affluence with over 200 million people swims on a huge ocean of old agrarian misery. In China the capitalist reform of communism includes over 400 million people, while 800 to 900 million dwell in rural hopelessness. It is tragic how the Chinese government attempts to bridge the gap between the two Chinas. China's irascible reaction to the Taiwan question results from their externalising the problem of interior division. They assert unity because it can be only had in imagination."


Die Tageszeitung, 22.03.2005

Arno Widmann contributes to the series entitled "investigations for specifying feelings about insurgency", on current attitudes toward the 68 student movement in Germany. Much of the debate as it has unfolded until now has concentrated on the role of student leader Rudi Dutschke, and his attitudes toward the use of violence as a means for social change (see In Today's Feuilletons Tuesday March 8 and Tuesday March 1). Widmann states that in fact there is no debate at all, but simply "defensive positioning on the part of people who prefer not to be confronted with their old views." The repercussions of the movement are clear for Widmann: "Rudi Dutschke and the student movement did not liberalise Germany. Instead, they delayed the liberalisation process. They were not agents of progress. Well into the 70s they tried to see the world through glasses that were produced in the 20s. It took years for them to notice they were laboriously analysing the scratches in their glasses, and not the world beyond. To understand Rudi Dutschke and his era, you have to recognise the longing and despair with which so many look back at the time."


Berliner Zeitung, 22.03.2005

Anke Westphal interviews Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, who was in the German capital on the weekend to pick up the Kunstpreis Berlin 2005 award:

What are you working on now?
A.K. "Two weeks ago I finished the screenplay for a new film. I start shooting in May. It's part of a trilogy, to which 'The Man Without a Past' also belongs."
You like working with the same actors. Will Kati Outinen be in the new film?
A.K. "No. She's not in it. All the actors are new."
How awful! Why on earth?
A.K. "Because the characters in this film are much younger than my regular actors."
What is your new film about?
A.K. "Loneliness. The film takes place in Helsinki. It's about a guy who everyone kicks in the ass, but he hangs in there. Someone like Chaplin's Tramp. But the others get the better of him in the end. Maybe!"
Don't you at least allow him small moments of happiness? Like your other heroes, who often liven in miserable circumstances?
A.K. "I always try to kill them. Sometimes it works, but not always. My wife doesn't want me to kill them. And she has the money. Sometimes I like the main characters so much that I simply can't kill them – even though that would correspond far better to the logic of the story. But I just can't."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22.03 2005


Stefanie Schramm visits the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz to sample the culinary delights of theoretical physicist Thomas Vilgis in the laboratory kitchen. "His area of research is the theory of soft matter, polymers, emulsions, dispersions, gels, polyelectrolytes. But as Vilgis says: 'Everything that we eat is soft matter'." Schramm explains, "Molecular gastronomy has a history dating back to the gourmet pope Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, who wrote his food bible 'La Physiologie du Gout' of 1826 with the advice of chemist Jacques Thenard. It opens with the aphorism: 'The discovery of a new dish contributes more to the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a new star'." Back at the stove, Vilgis prepares a main course of tuna fish with caramelised peppers browned in the frying pan with the help of the "Maillard reaction" and dressed in an olive oil and orange juice emulsion. Dessert is banana coffee mousse shock frozen with gel and liquid nitrogen. In recent years top chefs in Britain, France and Italy have written gastro-molecular bestsellers, and 2004 saw the discipline's first professorship in Copenhagen. In Germany though, says Vilgis, "most chefs remain sceptical. They probably feel it's too risky."

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