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31/03/2005

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.

Die Zeit, 31.03.2005

Erwin Koch interviews painter Jörg Immendorff in a very impressionistic fashion, jumping from the artist's boyhood and later life to his art work (studies with Joseph Beuys at the State Art Academy in Dusseldorf, international renown in the 70s and 80s) and the story of his falling ill with Lou Gehrig's Disease. "It's not as if I spend every day thinking about death. It's more something liberating, I mean / somehow I'm / I think / also privileged, because I'm so close to death, I have to deal with it. There are dumb deaths, where you think, what the hell's that supposed to mean? / But / yeah / I'm still too much here, and the more I say yes to this here, the more the hereafter makes sense... I don't know / but I think, the more intensively you live / when one day is intensive it leads to something else, I mean, why do I have that photo of Beuys hanging over my door? Or Mao? Certainly not as a religious activity, but / because they remind me of things that keep on occupying me / and make me what I am, but also charge them up too, Beuys and Mao."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 31.03.2005

With reference to a debate that has been brewing in France in the last few days, Marc Zitzmann asks "Can whites be the victims of racist attacks? Is it allowed (or appropriate) to even ask the question?" Following a couple of violent student demonstrations in Parisian suburbs, a group of French intellectuals, politicians and journalists - among them philosopher Andre Finkielkraut - drafted a text warning of "Ratonnades anti-Blancs" (White Bashing). The text met with heated opposition (more here). Surveying the French media coverage of the debate, Zitzmann concludes that the attackers' "motivations were certainly complex, and the evidence suggests that racism was at least one of them. What is interesting is that it appears that here a long-silenced problem is coming to light. The ombudsman of Le Monde wrote, 'Even in this paper, we admit that it is kind of taboo to talk of certain things. We want under no circumstances to be playing into the hands of the Front National. So with the best of intentions, we have been silencing what we in fact should have been describing in detail and analysing differently from the politically correct sociologists." Zitzmann concludes: "A nuanced media coverage should not turn away from 'disturbing realities' to quote the Ombudsman. To the contrary. And one such reality is the problem that is manifesting itself in several Parisian suburbs: racism against 'French' – whites."

In an interview with Uwe Stolzmann, Spanish author Jorge Semprun talks about memories of the Spanish Civil War and his book "Twenty Years and a Day". "Today we can afford the luxury of a truthful and exhaustive memory. We can remember the victims of the Franco regime, without, let's say, breeding chaos in society. The literature is being published, there is an open debate – and whole villages are now demanding that the mass graves finally be opened, to identify the victims of the repression. Democracy could only be reestablished thanks to the general amnesty and amnesia. Now we have to overcome the weaknesses of our memories."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 31.03.2005

Switzerland is to become the first country in the German-speaking world to abolish price binding in book sales. Jürg Altwegg reports that the publishing industry had reacted in disgust to the decision of the Swiss Competition Commission. "The fixed store prices are not calculated according to the normal conversion rates between euros and francs, and the Swiss are not entirely mistaken in thinking that they pay more for books from Germany than Germans." The decision will be contested, but Altwegg does not expect the resistance to have much impact.


Frankfurter Rundschau, 31.03.2005

Thomas Winkler reflects on the blessed times of the 1980s in West Berlin, which are being reflected everywhere in current cultural projects and art journals. "It's the 80s, and West-Berlin is an island where you can live off federal student grants. It's an island of the blessed, who had forgotten what it was like to be happy out of sheer demonstrative bad humour. The people were not beautiful, neither was the fashion, to say nothing of the music." Click here for further reminiscences in German by Alexander Hacke from the band Einstürzenden Neubauten.

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