12/09/2006

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, 12.09.2006

Hanns-Georg Rodeck has seen the film version of Patrick Süskind's "Perfume", which comes out in Germany this week. He smells a good deal more of producer Bernd Eichinger than director Tom Tykwer in the production, and comments that the film is not helped by an odour-free screen. "Tykwer's approach is visual. His cameraman Frank Griebe sets lead actor Ben Whishaw's nose into perpetual motion. It snuffles, quivers and stretches, the eyes are squeezed shut above it, the nose hairs tremble in close-ups, and at one point the camera even rushes right up his nostrils (where it finds the film credits). Tom Tykwer uses all cinematic means known to man to depict the smelling experience, from close-ups to slow motion shots, not omitting his typical high-speed travelling shots. In this way the eye is drawn toward the smell, although as a rule smells generally come to us. Perhaps the contrary nature of this movement is the subliminal reason why the solution fails to satisfy."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 12.09.2006

Andreas Kilb praises Berlin's current International Literature Festival despite its weaknesses: "Six years after its establishment, the Literature Festival still has no programmatic objective, no formula that would make it eligible for funding. It has its special themes (this year it's francophone literature of Africa and the Caribbean), but it has no fixed categories or hierarchies. For critics who want to sort literature not just according to genres but also according to sales figures... this confusion represents a considerable drawback, but in reality it's a blessing.... Between two obligatory engagements you might find yourself listening to a reading by the wonderful Pico Iyer telling stories about encounters at airports, about jetlag and departure lounges, about the strange English spoken by Indians, or a burning house in California. Iyer, born in England to Indian parents, now lives in Japan and America, and his prose is as colourful as his life – a pastiche of places, pictures and perspectives.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12.09.2006

Karl-Markus Gauß was intrigued by Martin Pollack's "Sarmatische Landschaften" (Sarmatian Landscapes), an anthology of essays from Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland and Germany: the mythic country of "freedom loving horsemen" between the Black and Baltic Seas, between the Don and the Vistula. "The Polish-Lithuanian nobleman's republic, which formed a multi-national state from 1569 to 1795, in which many languages were spoken and which promoted a form of religious tolerance otherwise unknown in Europe, deemed itself a legacy of Sarmatia. Being neither east not west, but rather the true, unrecognised middle between despotic Russia and the nationally organising West, this 'Sarmartian' self-consciousness had, at the beginning, nothing tragic about it. To the contrary, being turned against the East meant nothing more to the Sarmatians than democracy, while opposing the West meant national diversity. The enlightenment turned the Sarmatian myth into something dark: for them, Sarmatia began where reason and civil principles had not yet reached."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 12.09.2006

Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Wiener Philharmoniker's performance of the last three Mozart symphonies at the Lucerne Festival has left a lasting impression on Peter Hagmann. "The slow introduction of the E flat major symphony K. 543 already awakens the ears. The adagio of this movement corresponds not to four quarter notes but two half notes – Harnoncourt is unwilling to compromise here. In comparison, the allegro that follows is very moderate because the pulse remains constant, although now set in 3/4 time. The andante con moto of the second movement is also fresher than usual, because Harnoncourt is thinking in the two quarter notes that Mozart conceived, and not the four eighth notes that have become customary."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 12.09.2006


Christian Geyer comments on the Pope's appearance in his native Bavaria. The "wise light" and "world-embracing popstar" is being granted free access to the time slots "on the state broadcasters normally reserved for prince's weddings and other glamourous events." He's achieved that with a "literary device.... What can be criticised in the church in Germany, he no longer criticises in his own name. Thus when Benedict XVI feels like assigning blame, he leaves his own I aside and introduces an authoritarian I: the voice of the Africans and Asians. With their voices, the Pope leaves all niceties cunningly aside to declare Germany a missionary country."


Die Welt, 12.09.2006


As further-reaching anti-terror laws are being discussed in Germany, Ralf Dahrendorf advises their supporters to remain moderate. "For the first thing, we have to be sure that the decisive anti-terror laws are only provisional. All rules of this kind should be regularly reviewed by parliament. Secondly, those in power should try to reduce the worries of the general public, rather than exploit them. The 'terrorists' against whom we are waging 'war' cannot win because their dark vision will never be granted broad legitimacy."


Berliner Zeitung, 12.09.2006

Author Peter Glaser (bio in German) congratulates Hamburg's Chaos Computer Club of hackers on its 25th birthday. It is this Club that we have to thank for the maxim "All information must be free" and the knowledge that the new NASA and ESA computers are just as easy to hack into as the old BTX system. "Karl Kraus wrote, 'There is only one way to save ourselves from machines. That is to use them.' The longer we deal with technology, the more we discover what it can't do. And from the defective, weak world of computers, the CCC communicates to man the non-machine a buoyant feeling of sovereignty."

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Saturday 30 October - Friday 5 November, 2010

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Saturday 23 - Friday 29 October, 2010

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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Saturday 16 - Friday 22 October, 2010

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Saturday 9 - Friday 15 October, 2010

The FR laps up the muscular male bodies and bellies at the Michelangelo exhibition in the Viennese Albertina. The same paper is outraged by the cowardice of the Berlin exhibition "Hitler and the Germans". Mario Vargas-Llosa remembers a bad line from Sweden. Theologist Friedrich Wilhelm Graf makes it very clear that Western values are not Judaeo-Christian values. The Achse des Guten is annoyed by the attempts of the mainstream media to dismiss Mario Vargas-Llosa. The NZZ celebrates the tireless self-demolition of Polish writer and satirist Slawomir Mrozek.
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Saturday 2 - Friday 8 October, 2010

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Saturday 25 September - Friday 1 October

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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Saturday 18 - Friday 24 September, 2010

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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Saturday 10 - Friday 17 September, 2010

The poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant, the historian Stefan Sienerth has discovered. Biologist Veronika Lipphardt dismisses Thilo Sarrazin's incendiary intelligence theories as a load of codswallop. A number of prominent Muslim intellectuals in Germany have written an open letter to President Christian Wulff, calling for him to "make a stand for a democratic culture based on mutual respect." And a Shell study has revealed that Germany's youth aspire to be just like their parents.
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