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19/06/2006

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 19 June, 2006

Der Standard, 19.06.2006

Iraq is not a second Vietnam, and al-Zarkawi was not Ho Chi Minh, writes French philosopher Andre Glucksmann. Like in other parts of the world, what he calls a "Somaliasation of the world" is taking place there: "Everywhere in the world breeding grounds are springing up for young and not so young fighters, who - whether half-naked or in uniform - are all equally ambitious to acquire standing, women and riches at all costs. Even if it takes car bombs and suicide attacks to acquire control over the rural areas and slums... The challenge put to us by the independent fighters, who are slaves of their own arbitrary will, leaves little time for illusions. Either we accept a general Somaliasation and take refuge in an illusionary European-Asian fortress, or we revive a democratic, military and critical European-Atlantic alliance."


Die Welt, 19.06.2006


In his comic book "Dschinn Dschinn," comic-strip artist Ralf König has got his anger at the Muhammad cartoon dispute off his chest. Originally the work had been intended to draw on the "1001 Nights." Now it tells the story of a mufti who falls in love with a homosexual seducer. He talks about his experience in an interview with Wieland Freund: "I've been drawing comics for 25 years, and I've always drawn exactly want I wanted to. I couldn't have cared less if someone got upset because I'd drawn a dink, or told a joke about the Holy Virgin Mary. But with this book I had a pair of scissors in my head. I had inhibitions about using words like Allah or Sharia, and in the end I was forced to admit I'd squirmed around the issue altogether – the word Islam doesn't come up once. That really bothered me - that in the middle of Europe, in the middle of Cologne where I live, as a comic-strip artist you start being so careful about a religion that's not even ours."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 19.06.2006


Even writer Thomas Brussig admits to having painted the German colours on his face. "The old patriotism is dead, finally. But without any patriotism at all, something is missing. And now it's there, occupying the void. At first it'll last just a few weeks. It's a new patriotism. New patriotism means: not the old one. Another one. We're still trying. The old patriotism lived in a Germany that doesn't exist any more. This new patriotism is going to be as different from the old one as Germany today is from what it used to be."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 19.06.2006


The recent revelation that American and German secret services were aware of Adolf Eichmann's whereabouts as early as 1958 but failed to pass the information on to Israeli authorities (more here) has shed new light on the Adenauer administration's determination to prevent uncomfortable facts about its own members from coming to light. Now, Liane Dirks writes that in Poland, two journalists that were researching Eichmann at the time were also silenced. Thomas Harlan and Krystina Zywulska had been publishing excerpts from Eichmann's diaries in the newspaper Politya and working on an Eichmann biography. Both projects were brought to an abrupt halt. "The recordings of Eichmann, of which five copies had been made, disappeared. The safe of the Polish lawyer was broken into, the editor of the book was fired, the editor in chief of the publishing house went soon after, then the publisher was removed. After a long odyssey and attempts by Feltrinelli (the foreign publisher – ed) to support Harlan, he was forced to leave Poland on June 25, 1963. Krystyna Zywulska fell into such disrepute that her book on Auschwitz was removed from the memorial sites. A few months later, the editor that had been working on the book killed himself. At the same time, the first German-Polish trade treaties were being negotiated. Are we supposed to believe that this was just about Adenauer's State Secretary Mr. Globke, who was so desperately in need of protection?"


Saturday 17 June, 2006

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 17.06.2006

Peter Handke talks with Martin Meyer and Andreas Breitenstein about his unchanging attitude to Serbia, the Yugoslavia of the partisans, Srebrenica and Milosevic: "Where is there any order from Milosevic? How can you bring him together with Srebrenica? I don't know. And on top of that Milosevic was no dictator. He was an autocrat who exercised a semi-authoritarian regime. The press was free, but the television was state-controlled. I don't have any opinion about Milosevic. None. I can't find him either good or bad. I don't want to compare him with Ceausescu or Saddam Hussein, for me that's wrong. Setting Milosevic up as the major evil of the Balkan Wars is a simplification."


Berliner Zeitung, 17.06.2006

Berlin-based Hungarian author Laszlo Darvasi reflects on the Brazilians' love for the irrational element in football and the correlation with writing. "If there's one difference between literature and football, it's that with football, it's clear who's won, and how. Sometimes, it's true, we don't fully understand how the victory came about, but there's always the scoreboard there for orientation. Sometimes in literature you go on playing long after the game's over, and you don't even notice that the grandstands are as empty as a huge forlorn heart. You go on playing even though you've lost ages ago. Or won. In Germany, the novelist Sandor Marai is a player like that. A character of Salman Rushdie's once commented that the most important events of our lives always take place in our absence. Try imagining that in football."


Die Welt, 17.06.2006

The New York Times calls it "The Olympic Games of Art", Die Welt sees the greatly expanded 37th Art Basel as a "spaceship". Gerhard Charles Rump identifies a few trends in all the hype. "There are ever more text pictures, artists are taking up the theme of the hunt again, they're making paravents and, following the huge colour pictures of the Becher students ('Struffsky' - a compilation of the German star photographers Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff and Andreas Gursky - ed), there are now more and more large formats in black and white (like from Alberto Garcia Alix at Aizpuru in Madrid). The motive of man and animal is coming up everywhere: women with dogs (for example Lucian Freud's 'David and Eli' from 2004 at Acquavella in New York), women with fish and so on."

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Author Doron Rabinovici protests against the concessions of moderate Austrian politicians to the FPÖ: recently in Vienna, children were sent back to Kosovo at gunpoint. Ian McEwan wonders why major German novelists didn't mention the Wall. The NZZ looks through the Priz Goncourt shortlist and finds plenty of writers with more bite than Houellebecq. The FAZ outs two of Germany's leading journalists who fiercely guarded the German Foreign Ministry's Nazi past. Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt analyse the symptoms of culturalism, left and right. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht demonstratively yawns at German debate.
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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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Herta Müller's response to the news that poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant was one of overwhelming grief: "When he returned home from the gulag he was everybody's game." Theatre director Luk Perceval talks about the veiled depression in his theatre. Cartoonist Molly Norris has disappeared after receiving death threats for her "Everybody Draw Mohammed" campaign. The Berliner Zeitung approves of the mellowing in Pierre Boulez' music. And Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, allowed to leave China for the first time, explains why schnapps is his most important writing tool.
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