28/04/2006

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28.04.2006

"Political Islam is totalitarian, aggressive, it wants to subdue others, and is utterly convinced of its own superiority and that it is destined to rule. It is intolerant, full of bad blood and has only a tenuous grip on a number of aspects of reality. But it has two very particular hallmarks: it sanctifies its principles, feelings and aims by rooting them in Allah, as befits slavish and literally unthinking devotion; and its death cult, which is paired with open demonstrations of archaic bloodthirstiness", writes US historian Daniel Goldhagen in a fiery article in the SZ magazine. "Political Islam is now absolutely on the offensive. It is advancing towards the three most important political arenas: the streets, the corridors of powers and the war front."


Die Welt, 28.04.2006


Tomorrow the city of Höxter will award the poet, songwriter, essayist and former GDR dissident Wolf Biermann the Corveyer Hoffmann-von-Fallersleben insignia. Die Welt prints his speech of thanks in which, above all, he remembers what his communist father had to endure in Hamburg because he refused to play along with the Nazis. "From the perspective of my life, Hoffmann von Fallersleben's most famous song (the German national anthem) cannot mean anything good, anything pleasant. Which is why I cannot join Heinrich Heine (in his poem "Die Lorelei" -ed) in saying 'I do not what it could mean'. No, on this issue I know only too well why it makes me so sad to listen to this song with Joseph Haydn's subtle and incredibly beautiful melody. I only have to listen to the naked, noble Emperor Quartet, and I feel like puking and cursing and weeping. Because it makes me think of my grandparents, John and Louise Biermann, of my uncles, of my aunt Rosi Biermann and her son Peter, of other cousins male and female. All of them, without exception, were carted off in November 1941 from the Moorweide (district in Hamburg -ed), at the Dammtor station near the River Alster and deported to the Jewish ghetto in Minsk where, in the woods outside the city, soldiers shot them into a hole in the ground." (See our feature by Wolf Biermann)


Dimiter Gotscheff's stage adaptation of the seventies film "Blow-out" at the Berlin Volksbühne theatre.


"Visionary deep-freeze totalitarianism" is the label Petra Kohse of the Franfurter Rundschau hangs on Gotscheff's stage production "Das große Fressen" as it is called in German, which premiered on Wednesday. Back in the seventies Marco Ferreri's film would have been deeply shocking, but why pursue consumerist critique today? "At the end of the working society and in the days of metrosexuality and private pensions, you're happy if you have a job at all, sleep alone and can buy your organic produce at Plus. Superfluity is still around, but let's say it's less in the top location of Bataillesque fantasy and the gourmet binge, and more of a down-town affair of mass-production, trash and simulation. Excess and sophistication no longer mean anything. It would be more subversive to pay them homage." In Gotscheff's play, Kohse continues, there was plenty of "guzzling and death" but not from guzzling. "Alright, there are a number of binge scenes at the end, with custard pudding and eggs, but there's no exquisite gluttony, just permanent and querulous chewing on cucumbers, baguettes and broilers on skewers."

Reinhard Wengierek of Die Welt was utterly bored by all the "force-feeding, farting, fucking and finishing with life" So he used to opportunity to opted to say a few things about the state of the Volksbühne. "It's getting ever-more uncomfortable in this country, with an army of millions of social welfare receivers battling it out for a bit of happiness, while staring hopelessly at the implosion of the social market economy. But in the well-situated and well-heeled theatre at Rosa Luxembourg platz, highly trained and highly paid actors gorge themselves on cheaply nihilistic and pretentious waffle. And yet this Volksbühne has the nerve to parade about as an explosive contemporary cultural institute ... There are no decent plays on its stages, no burning topics, no haunting conflicts. Just blablabla."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,
28.04.2006


Yesterday, the Chinese Confucius Institute, opened in Berlin for the first time. Heinrich Wefing looks at the way European cultural institutions such as the Goethe Institute, the British Council and the Institut Francais are attempting to respond to the shifts in the global situation. "Of course cultural workers are far too distinguished to talk about global competition. But this is exactly what it's about: influence, presence, intellectual spheres of interest. The regions where interests are concentrated in this intellectual long-distance duel are easily identified: China, primarily, South East Asia and the Arab-Islamic world. It is impossible to ignore this change of perspective, this re-focussing in the strategies of European cultural mediation. No one is keen to call it by its name, but "the Islamic issue" the ghost of a clash of cultures, is also forcing agents of cultural exchange to find answers."




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