From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 14.12.2007

Dirk Schümer prophesies the end of the state of Belgium. "The Flemish elites, and from the business world in particular, are no longer prepared to tolerate the Walloons and put up with the cultural arrogance of the francophones. There may only be a minority of less than twenty percent of Belgians which wants an immediate separation, but in the mid-term a division seems unavoidable, once the last financial umbilical cords are cut."

Die Tageszeitung 13.12.2007

Reiner Wandler portrays Boualem Sansal, 57, the last great Algerian writer not to have been driven into exile by religious extremists: "His literary critique of society knows no taboos. In his own words, Sansal deals harshly with 'police dictatorship, bureaucracy and sanctimonious bigots.' Because 'opposition doesn't just mean opposing the regime, but also opposing the laws, the Prophet and even Allah. Opposition is opposition to everything.'"

Frankfurter Rundschau

Peter Michalzik sees distinctly anti-social traits among Germany's rich: "Probably the biggest fear of many rich people today is that they live in a parallel world cut off from the rest of society. But equally probable is exactly what has been the reality for so long now. The new rich have no function in society. They are caught up with themselves, even when they're being charitable. For us it sometimes seems curious and sometimes inhuman that rich people spend so much time worrying that more people profit from our social system than pay into it. But things look different up there: they're not worried for reasons of miserliness, but out of concern for society as a whole. Because they find it disturbing that our society is losing its ability to reform its social system. They too are convinced that they just want what's best for everyone."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 12.12.2007

Thomas Urban examines why Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk's suggestion of creating a "World War II Museum" in Gdansk also raises uncomfortable questions for Poland: "On the one hand, it had deeply outraged Paris and London that just a few months before the outbreak of the war, Poland had joined with the Germans in breaking up Czechoslovakia. On the other hand, both Paris and London called on the Polish leadership to make concessions on the status of Gdansk. More than 95 percent of the city's population were Germans. The overwhelming majority of them considered the separation from the German Reich after the First World War a blatant injustice, and were thus also extremely opposed to the Polish protectorate there. The Polish leadership, by contrast, was convinced that a military conflict with the Germans could be easily won."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Contributing to the recent discussion (see below) on the quality of opinions expressed on the Internet, Jürgen Kaube argues that bloggers' criticism of the media can only be taken seriously if they "abandon the role as part of the public, and switch to the other side. The Internet fantasy of a society of amateurs raises the question of what these people live from. A public forum without standards may have expressive value, but not informational value."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 11.12.2007

Marta Kijowska observes a quiet revolution among women and homosexual writers in Poland: "Just as most female writers keep their distance from the women's movement, gay authors have taken little action to promote the cause of their 'sisters'. However they don't really have to: with their books and the public admission of their homosexuality they contribute more to the movement than anyone else. And this contribution is bitterly needed. The intolerance towards anything different fanned by the defeated Kaczynski government was repeatedly criticised, but in the case of homosexuals it fell on fertile ground. Only recently, 84 percent of respondents in a survey said they couldn't imagine a gay politician at the helm of the Polish state."

Frankfurter Rundschau

The figure of Faust is currently being portrayed on the German stage as a sort of "washed-up entrepreneur," writes Dirk Pilz with an eye to several productions. "Perhaps that's also one reason for the permanent presence of 'Faust' on theatre programmes, especially in Eastern Germany. The character is maddeningly redefined in two ways, becoming on the one hand our contemporary, and on the other a settler from actually-existing non-socialism who arrives in the hard, performance-oriented reality of the capitalist fight for survival. It is striking that almost every major East-German stage either is currently staging a production of 'Faust', or will premiere one in this season."

Die Welt 10.12.2007

Wolf Lepenies comments on the swan song to French culture that was published in the European edition of Time magazine, calling it a document of a long-standing mutual envy. "The French like the Americans are profoundly convinced of the importance of putting their own civilisation on the world map. Cultural envy between the Americans and the French runs so deep because they are competitors in the export of civilisation."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 10.12.2007

Following the death of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Reinhard J. Brembeck observed a telling silence in composer circles. "Now as before the classical music scene is having difficulties with this consistently nonconformist maverick, who increasingly turned his back on what he considered a disgusting and irrelevant music market – while musicians of other backgrounds have no problem with Stockhausen. Precisely because his works never bothered about audience tastes and tradition, but chose to investigate and survey with shameless curiosity the latest and often electronically generated soundscapes."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10.12.2007

In the politics section, the new Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk talks, among other things, about why he was never particularly fond of Günter Grass' books but has a passion for a particular German filmmaker. "Grass wears me out, that's all. But this is down to the style and form of his prose. But if you ask what aspect of German culture has really left its mark on me, then it has to be Werner Herzog. I watched his films in my twenties with youthful ardour. In my opinon one of the best films in the history of film is Herzog's 'The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.'"

From the blogs 10.12.2007

For Klaus Jarchow of Medienlese the article (see below) by SZ online editor Bernd Graff against the unauthorised activities of Web 2.0 is a transparent attempt to hold on to the established media's privileged guarding position which is rapidly slipping out of its hands. "When, for example, he rails against 'prosumers', by which he means people who have recently started to create their own news as well as consume it, he is using a term which perfectly describes the traditional 'mediators', or media people like Graff himelf. After all it doesn't take a genius to see that dpa-recycling (dpa being the German equivalent of Reuters) has long been the primary skill of the newspaper editor. And Graff's article is packed with 'prosumer' quotes and references."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 08.12.2007

In an article titled "Web 0.0", Bernd Graff vents his spleen about the Internet. Or more precisely, about the "idiotae" who presume to express their opinions without the authorisation of the quality press, and are critical to boot. "They launch into quickie debates, shouting about as if they owned the place and the kicking and screaming doesn't stop. They are only too happy to knock others but they come up with little themselves. These net panellists are the death of discourse, driven by indignation. Did I say indignation? Well make that sabotage, conspiracy, malice, denunciation, slander, sneering, derision. Yes indeed, we must view the powers of the free opinion market as extremely destructive."

Die Tageszeitung 08.12.2007

On the opinion page, the controversial Islam preacher Tariq Ramadam (website) reassures his interlocutor Robert Misik "Problems you say? Yes. But let's not overemphasise them, let's not Islamicise social problems. This only creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. And let us not dramatise these problems. Things are moving in a positive direction. Within two generations the Muslim communities have changed unbelievably. The women are working, they are taking responsibility in the communities, they are committed to more freedom and liberality, they are living the lives that they see fit." - let's talk european