From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Frankfurter Rundschau 04.01.2008

Arno Widmann did not spend this New Year's Eve ironing at home, he went instead to the Frankfurt Oper to see the sensational Julia Fischer: "Before the break in the New Year's concert, she played one of the most glittering highlights in the violin repertoire, Camille Saint-Saen's 3rd violin concert, opus 61 from 1880. And after the break she sat down at the piano to play a perhaps yet more difficult piano concert in A minor, opus 16 by Edvard Grieg from 1868. I cannot promise but it is highly unlikely that something like this has ever existed before. But one thing is certain, no-one who has ever played both instruments in a concert, can ever have done so as freely, as confidently, as surely,as inspiringly as Julia Fischer. Otherwise we would have heard about it."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Barbara Frischmuth
has written a number of novels that deal with the Alevites, who are now back in the German public eye following their protests against an episode of the TV detective series "Tatort." Regarding the situation of the religious community in Turkey Frischmuth has the following to say: "On the one hand Turkish intellectuals in particular are showing a growing interest in Alevite culture. Because the religious model is non-western but it has proved far more compatible with modern life than Sunnism. Many Turks are suddenly discovering their Alevite roots. And on the other hand there are continual conflicts with orthodox Muslims. The Alevites have been very disappointed in Turkey. They were promised recognition as a religious community. But this has yet to happen."

Die Welt 03.01.2008

Zafer Senocak believes Islamism can only be checked through continued negotiations on Turkey's admission to the EU: "Can Muslim civilisation regenerate and become an integral part of western civilization, rather than an adversary? Muslims who would like to see Turkey incorporated into Europe say yes. Not everything they do but some of it – in culture and politics – is moving in this direction and confirming their ambition. Given these circumstances, the West, and Europe in particular, should take a closer look and pose critical questions."

Die Zeit

Baroque princes often simply hacked century-old figures from Gothic church walls, and had frescoes plastered over with stucco. Today these churches are being restored to their "original state." But historian Philipp Blom is unimpressed with what he calls a fetishism for the antique. "Ours is a culture of eternal youth, of constant innovations that disappear into oblivion before they can mature. And between the random noise of trends and the mummification of the ancient, a sphere has emerged which abides neither transience nor any other form of decline. Just a hundred years ago people saw it as normal to put their own mark on their heritage. For us, however, that would a sort of desecration. But in this way our culture too becomes necrophiliac. In a world where you can't take a step without treading on a curator's toes, the best thing is to stay put."

Die Tageszeitung

Colonialism is to blame for the unhappy marriage of Islam and democracy, writes Malaysian sociologist Norani Othman. But things don't have to be that way, she believes. When the Muslim countries "attained independence, many wanted to reintroduce practises they regarded as culturally authentic. You have to see this in context, because Islam is not alone here. Take a look at the rise of the BJP and Hindu fundamentalism in India – it's exactly the same. (…) As a result of the historic rupture caused by colonialism, the erroneous belief has spread among Muslims that laicism was imported from the West, and that we can counter it with a glorious Islamic state. This is a fiction we must deconstruct."

Die Tageszeitung 02.01.2008

A partial ban on smoking in restaurants and bars went into effect at midnight on January 1st in eight of the 16 German states. Media theorist Friedrich Kittler tells Detlef Kuhlbrodt how he was recently at a birthday party where smokers were relegated to the far end of a chilly corridor. "And then one incensed woman – from the upper crust of Hamburg society – couldn't hold back any longer, asserting: 'I want to smoke, but not at minus 3 degrees somewhere at the end of a hallway. I want to sit, I want a glass of wine, I want to smoke my cigarette in peace, and I want to be warm. I want to smoke and die with decency.' With these words she convinced our hostess that we should be allowed to smoke after ten o'clock."

Berliner Zeitung

Sabine Vogel portrays Peter Gente, co-founder of the legendary theory publishers Merve Verlag, who has now handed over to his successor Tom Lamberty. For Gente, making books was always a passion, never a business: "That's why every Merve title holds a promise, and is both enigmatic and beautiful. The Light of Wars, The Desert Script, The Art of Trade, The Transparency of Evil, Post-Heroic Management, The Agony of the Real, Cool Killer, The Rebellion of Signs. These titles have taken wings, they've fled the academic 'network of systems' and spread over 'Mille Plateaux' ('A Thousand Plateaus' – a work by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari). These titles have become poetic phrases, whose elegance can easily veil the fact that one may not have fully understood them. People who like to dazzle or bluff are drawn to them like moths to the light. If there were such a thing as a footnote ranking, Merve books would be best-sellers, says Gente ironically."

Die Welt 31.12.2007

"Terror arises in the heart of Islam," writes Zafer Senocak in the wake of Benazir Bhutto's murder. But the West also doesn't come away unscathed: "The free world looks on as if paralysed. Many malicious words have been spoken in Europe about American policy in Iraq. Europeans are unbeaten when it comes to criticism, yet they themselves lack ideas or political concepts. European policy on Muslim terror amounts to dismantling any and every effective course of action. Some people want to negotiate with Hamas or with the Taliban. Nuclear reactors to Gaddafi, and the red carpet to the Saudi king. After all, petrodollars are at stake. The West hardly even notices how it is bringing about its own disintegration."

Die Tageszeitung 31.12.2007

Gabriele Goettle describes the discrimination against Gypsies that has gone on for centuries in Europe. Following the killing of a Italian woman in Rome by a Roma, the situation is particularly virulent. "In the wake of the murder authorities and politicians have given free reign to their resentments. It is truly astounding how quickly all forms of political correctness are dropped and labelled as empty talk. Now people are talking openly and it is the start of a pogrom mood against Gypsies of any description, whether they are Italian citizens or Eastern European. In an extraordinary parliamentary session, the cabinet in Rome passed an immediately effective law allowing the unproblematic expulsion not only of criminal EU citizens but also of EU citizens who have been labelled a 'danger to public security' by the authorities. Irrespective of whether they have done anything wrong."

Frankfurter Rundschau 31.12.2007

The Israeli writer Aharon Appelfeld talks to Nicole Henneberg about his father's love of Berlin, contemporary Israel as ghetto and the duties of a writer there. "I do not believe there are many writers among us who have a utopia. There were many anarchists and communists in my family who had a utopia and we know what came of them. I do not believe in utopian writers, and certainly not in political writing. The writer's only moral is a good sentence, a precise observation."

Der Tagesspiegel

Artist Anselm Kiefer has been asked to hang a painting in the Louvre. Not that this makes him happy, as we learn in an interview with Sigrid von Fischern. "Love gives no meaning. It gives satisfaction but no meaning. We do not know where we come from, why we are here. Our ancestry, as the Israelites see it, goes back to Abraham. But no one knows what the point of it all is. Our universe is a completely irrational thing. Christianity and Marxism came along to make sense of the world. But it doesn't make sense." - let's talk european