Features » Magazine Roundup


Magazine Roundup

Die Weltwoche | The New York Review of Books | The New Yorker | Der Spiegel | The New York Times | The Economist | Nepszabadsag | | Asharq al-Awsat | Magyar Hirlap | Figyelö | Gazeta Wyborcza

Die Weltwoche 19.07.2007 (Switzerland)

With a certain resignation to God's will, Eugen Sorg observes religion's return to Europe. "The Pope is enjoying audiences of an unprecedented scale. The grave of his Polish predecessor and miracle sites such as Lourdes are being visited by record numbers, the budget of the Holy Seat is enjoying unprecedented profits, the church collection income has doubled... Maybe postmodern Europe will go down in history as a brief, unique moment of free-spiritedness and frivolous godlessness. In part for demographic reasons: religious milieus generate children, while rich, agnostic societies such as Europe's tend to gentrify. And in part because skepticism and irony, the instruments of dissection preferred by intellectuals, don't warm most people's hearts. Just as little as the theory of the big bang or the discovery of protein molecules, which don't satisfy the need for meaning or provide a sense of collective identity or assuage our fear of death."

The New York Review of Books 16.08.2007 (USA)

Timothy Garton Ash has many good things to say about Günter Grass' "Peeling the Onion," but he can't leave out the affair of Grass' SS membership. He gives Grass a "half point" for his criticism of the FAZ but only half because Grass fails to meet his own moral standards in his silence on certain biographical details. Garton Ash concludes: "And time will pardon Günter Grass. For the German language lives through him, as it does, in different ways, through Christa Wolf, and through the poet he befriended in Paris while he was writing 'The Tin Drum,' Paul Celan. His staunchest defenders claim that his standing as a political and moral authority is also unaffected. That seems to me implausible, to put it mildly; but not all his activism is equally affected. Probably his most distinctive political contribution has been to German–Polish reconciliation." (see more on the Grass controversy here)

The New Yorker 30.07.2007 (USA)

David Remnick offers a portrait of the former Knesset president and director of the Jewish Agency Avraham Burg, who has created quite a stir with his more recent book "Defeating Hitler" and an interview he gave to Haaretz. Remnick quotes extensively from Burg in his explanation for the end of Zionism. "The Israeli reality is not exciting. People aren't willing to admit it, but Israel has reached the wall. Ask your friends if they are certain their children will live here. How many will say yes? At most fifty per cent. In other words, the Israeli elite has already parted with this place. And without an elite there is no nation."

Der Spiegel 23.07.2007 (Germany)

In an epic interview that is partly online, Alexander Solzhenitsyn speaks about the laborious working through of the Soviet past, his rejection of parties (inspired by Trotsky) and the "irresponsible" reformers Gorbachev and Yeltsin. And he explains why he has no problem with KGB man Vladimir Putin's receiving of the Russian prize of the state. "Putin took over a country that had been fully plundered and thrown completely off balance, with a discouraged and poverty-stricken population. He set out to do what was possible – and what was possible was a slow, step by step reconstruction. These efforts were not noticed or honoured right away. Can you think of one example from history, when an attempt to reconstitute strong state leadership was received well by the outside world."

The New York Times 22.07.2007 (USA)

Bernhard-Henri Levy admits that Nicolas Sarkozy is doing much right, including the recent American publication of his private-professional confessions, titled "Testimony". And yet, he could never have voted for Sarkozy – due to his pragmatic, almost cynical relationship to the past (Vichy, Algeria, 68). "Men usually have a memory. It can be complex, contradictory, paradoxical, confused. But it is their own. It has a great deal to do with the basis of who they are and the identities they choose for themselves. Sarkozy is an identity pirate, a mercenary of others' memories. He claims all memories, meaning that in the end he just might not have any. He is our first president without a memory. He is the first of our presidents willing to listen to all ideas, because for him they are literally indistinguishable. If there is a man in France today who embodies (or claims to embody) the famous end of all ideologies, which I cannot quite bring myself to believe in, it is indeed Mr Sarkozy, the sixth president of the Fifth Republic."

The Economist 20.07.2007 (UK)

This is how Berlin looks through the eyes of the Economist. "Selling Berlin as a world city is hard. It has lots of renovated museums, theatres and clubs, plus 400 contemporary-art galleries. Artists, filmmakers and some politicians have revived its big-city feel. But whereas London and Paris boast plenty of rich people, Berlin does not. One in two live on a pension or unemployment benefit; even those with jobs earn an average of only 32,600 euros a year. Well-heeled Germans pay the odd visit, but prefer to live in more opulent places like Munich or Hamburg. Berlin is also saddled with 61 billion euros of debt."

Nepszabadsag 20.07.2007 (Hungary)

With a series of referenda, the conservative right opposition party Fidesz wants to reverse government reforms, bring down the government and turn parliamentary into direct democracy. Come spring at the latest, the electorate should vote on the government's savings package. "Wanting to know the population's opinion is, in principal, a noble democratic idea but the practical details aren't exactly impressive," writes Eszter Babarczy. "The cases that the referenda will put to question – hidden premises, conclusions that weren't anticipated, silenced consequences squeezed into one sentence, double claims – are easy to cast doubt on by those who think analytically. The problem with the referenda is not that the populace can decide directly but rather that they can have the wool pulled over their eyes more than once." 18.07.2007 (USA)

Kevin Kelly, one of the heralds of the "third culture" explains the term that he coined: "technium" (more on Kelly's homepage). He understands it as all the converging and networked technological and scientific revolutions, particularly in genetics and the natural sciences, which could have frightening consequences and must be controlled. "I tend to think of the technium like a child of humanity. Our job will be to train the technium, to imbue it with certain principles because, at a certain level and at a certain age, it will basically become much more autonomous than it is now. It will leave us like a teenager who goes on to live alone: although he or she will continue to interact with us and will always be part of us, we have to let it go."

Asharq al-Awsat 18.07.2007 (Saudi Arabia / UK)

The magazine dedicates a long article to a new trend among Lebanese women singers. Increasingly their video clips show them beside dark-skinned children. This comes as something of a surprise in view of the widespread discrimination against black people in many Arab countries: "Black minorities have been living in Arab societies for centuries, yet with few exceptions they never appear in our media. Does this portend a sudden Arab awakening regarding their rights? Or is it simply a blind emulation of Western - or more precisely, American - fashion. In the US, black people have a high media presence, and often ever have the roles of stars." Although failing to provide an answer, the article does say that should black adults follow black children in finding a place in Arab media, "it would be one clear benefit of Western satellite TV and globalisation."

Magyar Hirlap (Hungary), 17.07.2007

Western Europeans don't understand the Kaczynski brothers' anger at Europe because they don't know Polish history, writes historian Miklos Kun. "All the world knows is that the Nazis unleashed a bloodbath in Poland during World War II. Less well-known is that the the Soviet secret service butchers murdered several thousand Polish officers and civilians in the Katyn massacre. Similarly, relatively few Westerners are aware of how the Soviet Union basely betrayed the Warsaw Uprising. Recent publications estimate that almost 1,5 million Polish citizens were deported to Soviet death camps, prisons or labour camps between 1939 and 1945.... Can you simply delete the past? Can you expect the conservative government in Poland just to look on as Poland gradually loses its status of mid-sized European power and the accompanying the feeling of security? Are the daily anti-Polish attacks on the part of Moscow driven by a feeling of guilt or of vengeance?"

Figyelö 19.07.2007 (Hungary)

In May of this year, a young woman was raped by policemen in Budapest. In June, the investigative journalist Iren Karman was brutally beaten. Last year the student Hedvig Malina was beaten up in Slovakia for telephoning in Hungarian on the street. In all three cases, the newspapers and other media were quick to report that the women staged the attacks themselves to make the headlines. Hajnalka Cseke asked several media specialists what they thought: "In the opinion of media researcher Peter Szolt, the press ignore their own ethical principles - the protection of victims and the innocent - when they publicly expose unmask the victims, although this evil can hardly be redressed in retrospect. The press declares a verdict without having the necessary information. And in so doing it compromises its own reputation... Control of the press is particularly desirable in cases where the police themselves are being investigated. This is because it is to be feared that they do not lead investigations against themselves in an objective way, says sociologist Zoltan Fleck. Several victims of such attacks have stated that the investigators themselves attempted to hush up the case, to save the honour of their colleagues."

Gazeta Wyborcza 23.07.2007 (Poland)

After taking the Palme d'Or at Cannes, Christian Mungiu's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" has now been shown to Polish audiences at the "Era New Horizons" festival in Wroclaw. The director talks with Pawel T. Felis about why as opposed to in Poland, so many films are being made about the recent past in today's Romania: "These aren't historical films. They're the very personal tales of the directors. All between 30 and 40, the young Romanian filmmakers don't scour books or newspapers for their stories - they tell what they've experienced themselves. We're at a time when people want to settle scores with the past - above all with the private past. I didn't shoot this film five or ten years ago, and I'm not planning to shoot another one like it." - let's talk european