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GoetheInstitute

04/04/2005

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.

It was a weekend of mourning. The papers are full of obituaries: for the Pope, poet Thomas Kling and popular actor Harald Juhnke.

Monday 4 April, 2005


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 04.04.2005

Polish journalist Adam Krzeminski points to the prolonged importance of Johannes Paul II for the Church and for polish society as a whole. "Karol Wojtyla has left Poland a vast legacy, but this is undermined by certain fundamental contradictions in the Polish reality. For years a radical struggle for orientation has been smouldering in the Church, and even the Pope's authority could barely contain it. Whereas cosmopolitan Cracow Catholics behind the venerable weekly newspaper Tygodnik Powszechny, to which the young Karol Wojtyla also contributed, lost influence after criticism from the Pope ten years ago, the xenophobic nationalist-leaning Radio Maryja has become the organ of anti-European groups in Poland. Polish intellectuals and politicians could always turn to their Petrus every now and then for chastisement or legitimisation – in the form of a papal handshake or public embrace. Now they are on their own."

Generally renowned for his enthusiasm of all things youthful, German pop writer Joachim Lottmann is disgusted by the Echo awards for German music, not just because they represent the "taste despots of the forever yesterday". In Lottmann's opinion, no one is interested in the Pope. "They all think the Pope was ridiculous, not worth a mention. Because he represents what they detest most: opinion, an intellectual standpoint, a resistance to total consumerism. This just means he is 'old' in their minds. When in fact he is the young one and they, biting hungrily into their salmon croissants, are much older than the Pope."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 04.04.2005

The 22-year-old Polish writer Dorota Maslowska writes loftily and contritely on the death of the Pope: "The emptiness of pop culture is utterly defenceless against this death. It is unprepared for this sort of reality. The weaknesses and death of the Pope are an aesthetic shock for a world in which the media has reduced the body to its packaging, the packaging of the human product, which needs to be young, dynamic, suntanned and healthy to attract buyers. What a contrast Johannes Paul II represented – bent, smitten with infirmity and yet always wide awake."

Poet Harald Hartung (more here) writes on the death of Thomas Kling, one of Germany's most renowned poets, who passed away on Friday at 47: "For the poet Gottfried Benn (1886-1956), the modern poem was black letters on a white background. Giving readings was seen as an embarrassment, and generations of German poets were proud to fumble around in sullen cantankerousness. Kling had nothing but contempt for that. His debut book of verse 'erprobung herzstärkender mittel' (trying medicine for strengthening the heart – 1986) showed that poetry can be prised from the destruction of words and the abolition of orthography. For him, such techniques were 'geschmacksverstärker' (flavour enhancers – 1989) – and 'brennstab' (fuel rods – 1991). Kling wanted to melt down language habits and perceptions of reality." Hear and read Thomas Kling's poetry on Lyrikline.


Berliner Zeitung, 04.04.2005

Peter Uehling heard an "awe-inspiring" performance of Mahler's sixth symphony in Berlin. Simon Rattle conducted the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic, which played together on Saturday for the first time. For Uehling, it was as if they had played together many times. "Rattle was able to conduct the colossal orchestra, with almost 90 strings, at times very freely. Nevertheless a certain lack of precision, unavoidable for such a massive group of musicians, could be heard in the form of softened accents. Yet ominously, the performance had none of the typical 'Vienna' sound. All orchestras threatened by mergers are keen to point out how unique their sound is, how impossible it is to merge them with other orchestras. And the press supports them to the best of their ability. Then two really one-of-a-kind orchestras come together, and show how easily such a merger can function: one swallows, the other is swallowed."


Saturday 2 April, 2005

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 02.04.2005


Despite a number of initiatives with appealing names such as "Project 211" or "Project 985" the Chinese leadership is failing to prevent the brain drain of students to the West, reports Zhou Derong. "The most important reason for this is of course politics, which have played a decisive role in two of the three blood-lettings in the past three decades. When China opened its gates in 1978, many left the country for good, after the horrific experiences during the Cultural Revolution. Eleven years later, it was the suppression of the student protests. The bulk of Chinese students which Peking had sent to the West remained there. The third blood-letting came with globalisation, in the form of the multinationals. It was only then that alarm bells started going off in Peking, which due to events in 1989 had a very poor relationship with its students abroad."

On the media page, Nina Rehfeld reports on online strategies of American newspapers. Ever more institutes believe in payable contents. Online advertising is one of the fastest growing revenue sources, but at the same time it cannibalises the income from print advertising. And yet experts are convinced that the future of newspapers lies in the Internet. Rehfeld quotes Bob Cauthorn, head of online services at the San Francisco Chronicle. "'No newspaper in the USA has an Internet consciousness', says Cauthorn. 'And do you know why not? Because until now no newspaper was smart enough to make an online expert the publisher.'"


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 02.04.2005


Harald Juhnke, Germany's most famous drunk and one of its more famous type actors, died on Friday. The SZ dedicates two columns to him today, calling him the very "opposite of an anonymous alcoholic." Willi Winkler writes an obituary, presenting Juhnke as a man full of contradictions, who fell prey to addiction and was a continual butt of media jokes: "So there was a fine interplay: papers wrote about the man who stumbled, got back on his feet and started drinking again, and the artist saw that people were taking notice of him, and went on playing the fool. For Juhnke, the sensations he provoked with his scandals were a sort of applause, and so he obediently kept them up – until the very end in the home for patients with alcoholic dementia." In the second article, Christine Dössel casts Juhnke in a better light, highlighting his achievements as film and theatre actor.

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