22/08/2006

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.

Die Welt, 22.08.2006

"Shame" is no decent explanation for Günter Grass' late avowal, writes Wolfgang Sofsky. "Overcome by shame, the man proclaimed vociferously that he had learnt his lessons from history. He shows the opposite of that which he purports to show. He does not bow his head, but raises it self-assuredly, full of a need to share his feelings. What was clamouring to get out of this author was not shame at having kept quiet but renewed evidence of his claim to moral high-ground. The author was fishing for praise for having confessed. Faced with this level of historical folly and shamelessness, the critic can only hide his head and request that nothing more be said about the matter."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 22.08.2006

Grey areas notwithstanding: Günter Grass' SS confession in his newly published autobiography is nothing less than a "stroke of genius in terms of the politics of remembrance," writes a nonplussed Ina Hartwig. "Imagine someone like Martin Walser (who in his 1998 acceptance speech for the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade called for an end to the instrumentalisation of Auschwitz and consequently came into conflict with Ignatz Bubis, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, on the question of German guilt - ed.) with his pompous 'feel for history' presenting us with such an unpleasant autobiographical detail, dished up with author's margin notes in red and onion tears! Walser, who jealously guards his personal memories and experiences because he feels they are threatened by a national culture of remembrance he denounces as kitsch. 'The moral cudgel of Auschwitz' (Walser's expression) is not something that could ever issue from Grass' lips. The way Grass – who comes from the Left – occupies precisely those themes that are traditional conservative territory – amounts in psychological terms to nothing less than genius. With Grass on board, it is comfortable to travel through the former Reich territories, West and East Prussia re-emerge from the fog of the Cold War, reflections about expulsion can take place under his watchful eye and it's even acceptable for the Germans to be victims too."


Die Welt, 22.08.2006


Nader Mashayekhi, the chief conductor of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, talks with Olaf Neumann about the complications of performing music in Iran. "The strict guardians of public morals are always around, and never tire of telling you that women should not sing. So if you want to perform Mahler's 'Song of the Earth,' you have to consider replacing the mezzo soprano with a baritone. On the other hand it is possible to perform Beethoven's 9th Symphony, although it contains some very long female solos. As long as several of them are sung simultaneously it's alright. It's quite complex, and a lot depends on when you do it, how you do it and who you do it with."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 22.08.2006

Israeli author Yitzhak Laor criticises his country's army as well as the traditional peace movement that endorses it, and describes the conflict in Lebanon as an exercise for a war against Iran: "The Israeli army has no enemies of its own size. It deploys F16 fighter jets against Palestinian huts. It waits for the 'real war' to finally arrive, but in the meantime it doesn't stop to think for a second. It needs a bigger budget, so it has to keep the Either – Or spirit alive. Because, as the saying goes, 'if we don't win this battle now, we won't have a chance.' The army also needs the peace movement, which typically defends it with the sentence: 'Normally we're for peace, but the way things stand now, we must support this particular war.'"

Arnd Wesemann reports from the 18th edition of the Berlin dance festival Tanz im August, which started on Thursday: "There's nothing inhibited about the beginning of North Carolinan Ann Liv Young's piece 'Solo'. Two girls and a boy discover dance in a children's room decorated with pink curtains, toys and musical instruments. The girls screech into a microphone like giddy cheerleaders. They hug their teddy bears and blow up balloons. By the third song they're already stark naked and doing pure table dance between their parents' stuffy armchairs – as wilfully obscene as the Living Theatre was in 68, and as raucously violent as Janis Joplin – and they're smearing themselves with syrup the way Yves Klein or Carolee Schneeman once did for their body paintings."

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