From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons


Die Tageszeitung 05.10.2007

Klaus-Helge Donath learns from Russian satirist Viktor Shenderovich what stability under Vladimir Putin means. "Stability comes in many forms. A tree is stable. It lives, bits of it die off, others grow in their place. This is stability through change. But our stability, however, is the stability of a morgue, where the dead always lie in the same place with a yellow label tied to their toes. Nothing happens, everything is lifeless. But everyone knows where the yellow labels are stored and where the corpses belong. Stability in Russian means politics is non-existent and the atmosphere of a freezer prevails."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 05.10.2007

Even the intellectuals in France succumbed to the charms of beefy men during the Rugby World Cup writes Christian Kortmann. Sebastien Chabal, known as "the anaesthetist" for his vicious tackles, is the focus of particular attention. "Raw violence and unbridled manliness are suddenly being seen as a recipe for success. Away with neuroses and humour, forget Freud and Woody Allen! Philosopher Catherine Kintzler goes weak at the knees at the thought of this muscle-clad fight for survival. In an interview with French national player Christophe Dominici in Philosophie magazine, she explains her 'philosophy of contact,' calling the tight pink-coloured tricots a second skin, praising the collective team spirit and comparing rugby matches with the opera."

Frankfurter Rundschau

Christian Thomas writes an obituary to the architect Oswald Mathias Ungers who died on September 30. A man, Thomas says, whose career was marked by an insistence on the affinity between architecture and art and a vast desire for knowledge. "His library, the product of five decades of collecting, had a legendary reputation. In this 'Kubus Haus', which he built in 1989 to house his treasures, he brought together the reference works of the western art of building and architectural theory, in a memory storage room of the most exacting proportions. Accessible via a patio and peristyle, the master builder erected a room calculated for rarities and first editions ... from which to launch his plea for autonomy."

Die Welt

Wulf Schönbohm, former director of the Turkish office of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, argues strongly for Turkish EU membership and has harsh words for German conservative politicians: "It's becoming increasingly difficult for CDU and CSU politicians to make a plausible case for keeping Turkey out of the EU. Yet they are sticking to their guns because this is one of the last seemingly conservative posts, and because they're afraid of their voters. Instead of trying to erode prejudices prejudices, they prefer to develop them. This is not conservative, it's reactionary. Unfortunately they fail to see that EU membership of a reformed Turkey would put the West and Islam on a new footing, and provide the Islamic World with a progressive, future-oriented perspective, even offering a positive role model."


Frankfurter Rundschau

In a very long interview, Nobel Prize laureate Günter Grass speaks with Martin Scholz about his upcoming eightieth birthday, the SPD, 1968, his SS avowal (more here) and reactions to his autobiography "Peeling the Onion." Needless to say, the German feuilletons don't come away unscathed: "In American and English literary criticism, people aren't above telling the reader what happens in a book. By contrast, I often get the impression that the German feuilletons write entirely for themselves. The authors are out to impress their colleagues or focus on their own expectations of an author. If these are fulfilled, so much the better. But if not, the reaction is correspondingly vitriolic. Things are quite different in the Anglo-Saxon world. There critics start at author's intentions and assess the degree to which these have been realised." And his own mistakes? "I will never have anything to do with the FAZ again, that's for sure."

Der Tagesspiegel 04.10.2007

Marcus Rothe has spoken with Jia Zhangke, the director of "Still Life." Winner of this year's Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, the film came out in Germany this week. Jia criticises not only Chinese society, but also his fellow filmmaker Zhang Yimou ("Hero"): "Our society is sick. It wants to build up its future by erasing the past. By contrast, my characters show how things are forgotten. With them, we experience what a painful process thus is…. I think every film – regardless of which genre it belongs to – should be bound up with today's reality. Kung-Fu, horror and other commercial films can all say something about the time we live in. Zhang Yimou's move towards purely commercial entertainment films may be understandable because our film industry still has feet of clay. But it's a great shame that his works make no attempt whatsoever to reflect society today, and that he's changed his political convictions so radically." (Here Christina Tilman's review of "Still Life.")


Süddeutsche Zeitung

Last Sunday, NDR television station broadcast a documentary which provided new evidence about the involvement of the Quandt family, owners of BMW, in National Socialism. Günther Quandt used slave labourers in his battery factory in Hanover, as Karl-Heinz Büschemann reports. "It is beyond doubt that towards the end of the World War II, the AFA factory grounds were systematically transformed into an outpost of Neuengamme concentration camp. Prisoners were forced to do extremely hazardous work under the eyes of the SS guards. Many died. In an internal memo, Günther Quandt allowed for a 'fluctuation' in his factory, indicating that he clearly factored the deaths of many concentration camp workers into his calculations. Concentration camp prisoners were also used in the Berlin AFA plant…. Today, the Quandts are one of Germany's wealthiest families."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In the FAZ on Sunday, Nils Minkmar talked to Indian author Amitav Ghosh whose book "The Glass Palace" takes place in Burma. He had the following to say about the current turmoil in the country: "The fact that it was the monks who lead the protests is a cause for the highest hopes. We know of course that plenty of foreign money is flowing into the Burmese opposition, but I would have been concerned if one of these groups had lead the protests with western financial backing. But the important thing, the unique thing about these protests in that they come were initiated by sole institution which can lay claim to real legitimation and authenticity in Burma today, and that is the Buddhist monasteries."


Die Welt 29.09.2007

Matthias Heine was at the Berliner Ensemble for the premiere of Robert Wilson's "Dreigroschenoper" (Threepenny Opera) and is bubbling with enthusiasm, particularly about Angela Winkler. "Her Pirate Jenny leaves the usual rancid romanticism of the Zille whore, which is always associated with this role, light years behind. Red-haired, tousled, her face whiter than white, she looks like a character from a Japanese horror manga, and she whimpers the 'Solomon' song like a crazed angel copulating with a singing saw (not sure about the technical details of this), coaxing out of it the highest notes of inhuman lust. This queen of derangement has long since left the eighth circle of madness behind her." - let's talk european