From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 11.01.2008

African specialist Axel Timo Purr describes how Kenyan writers react to the country's violent conflicts. Author David G. Maillu, for example, suggests a new form of government based on age and gender. "Maillu proposes a tri-cameral parliament, composed of a chamber for men, one for women and another for youths. This structure is reflected right down to the village level. Votes take place only within each group. The president is elected by men and women, while the youths – 18-25 year olds – choose the prime minister."

Frankfurter Rundschau 10.01.2008

"The history of the bourgeoisie really does amuse me," admits Claude Chabrol in discussion with Daniel Kothenschulte. However he fails to understand why that's still the only thing people ask him about. "In fact, only half my films deal with the bourgeoisie. I think it's because these are the most successful. Add to that that society changed so much in the 90s after the fall of the Berlin Wall that there are no classes anymore. There is only one central class, the bourgeoisie, which everyone wants to be part of. But this one class has several layers. You could get the impression that a kind of Big Brother is watching everything, and transforming us into jumping jacks. Since there's only one class, money is the only social ladder."

Die Zeit 10.01.2008

Carmen Eller writes that the Sakharov Center in Moscow is threatened with closure. Its funding has dried up, since today's Russia has little need for a critical look at the Communist past: "The dissident Andrei Sakharov, who helped to develop the first hydrogen bombs but who also fought for disarmament and human rights, has no place in the new Russia. Museum director Yuri Samodurov has tried in vain to find new sources of funding. No company has offered its help, not a single businessman has shown interest. 'It's so difficult because we're a political museum,' says the 56-year-old Samodurov. A banner on the building's facade serves as a mute protest to the violence in Chechnya. The words 'The war is over. What now?' are written in black letters on white cloth. 'People who help finance our museum must fear unpleasant repercussions,' Samodurov says. Former patrons included Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is now imprisoned in Siberia." Here the urgent call for donations.

Süddeutsche Zeitung 10.01.2008

Alex Rühle reports on the work of forensic linguist Sabine Schall, who investigates threat letters, blackmail letters and messages claiming responsibility for criminal acts at the Federal Criminal Police Office. "As far as brutality is concerned, at least in the first letter many extortionists try to hit a courteous note. Perhaps out of a bad conscience, perhaps to signal that they're at eye level with the authorities and the people they're blackmailing, they tend use a business letters format ('Re: Extortion'), including  address field, correct salutation, proper layout and even the annotation 'Attached: 1 packet of poison'."

Die Tageszeitung 09.01.2008

On the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Simone de Beauvoir, literary scholar Barbara Vinken rereads her book 'The Second Sex': "De Beauvoir remains a great analyst of passion, often read against the grain of her own philosophy. And she was an incorruptible observer of women, of the fears that a woman's success makes her less feminine while a man's success only confirms his masculinity; of the hypocrisies resulting when women are held to a marriage, and the often childish attempts at compensation and legitimisation that result from it; of the inner conflict between career and femininity."

Frankfurter Rundschau 08.01.2008

"David has lost the first round against Goliath," writes Florian Brückner wistfully on the start of Wikia Search. And that's only in part because the search engine was brought onto the market before all its functions were activated. "Jimmy Wales, founder of the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, had announced that Wikia Search would challenge the primacy of Google, whose US market share has been increasing for years and is now at around 65 percent. And if Google isn't growing in Germany, it's only because with an estimated market share of around 90 percent, it's simply no longer possible, as web specialist Dirk Lewandowsky has pointed out."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08.01.2008

Dirk Schümer throws light on the connection between rubbish and the Camorra in Naples: "Clan heads make billions on the unregulated waste disposal in the city. Italian newspapers quote them as saying: 'For us, rubbish is pure gold.' This is how it works: instead of setting up a cheap and environmentally sound waste disposal system, society hands its refuse over to the criminals at high cost. These don't have to worry about laws or requirements, simply dumping everything for free in the countryside. In this way the Camorra has already ruined innumerable lakes, valleys and wildlife sanctuaries in Southern Italy, earning clean cash with dirt in the process."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 07.01.2008

The Korean city of Jeonju played host in November to the first Asia-African literature festival, reports Fakhri Saleh, cultural editor of the Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustur. "The participants underscored the need for 'direct cooperation between Asian and African writers, without Western mediation or intervention.' This call to examine one's own literature independently of Western values and ideals was the result of intense – and not always amicable – discussions about Asian and African identities, the relationship to the West, the history of imperialism and the possibilities of 'Rising above Eurocentrism,' as the festival's motto has it."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07.01.2008

Wolfgang Schneider portrays the Romanian author Mircea Cartarescu, the first part of whose trilogy "Orbitor" has just come out in German under the title "Die Wissenden" (the knowing – see our review "Bucharest in a trance"). "When writing, Cartarescu himself is sometimes surprised at how the factual descriptions with which many chapters begin regularly tip over into the surreal. Yet ultimately, as he says, reality is only a special case of the unreal. One section of the novel describes 'hurricane-like nightmares.' Don't the monsters and demons which spring from his head sometimes frighten him? For example when people become lost like a 'procession of mites' amid fantastic, titanic architectures? Cartarescu admits that such nightmares were often only too real for him. In his early twenties he was so perturbed by them that he sought medical help. The electroencephalography revealed an epileptic focus. Although it had never resulted in an actual fit, it had caused these appallingly strange dreams."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 05.01.2008

Serbian author Bora Cosic recalls how Kosovo Albanians were always treated as somehow less worthy than other Yugoslavians - even under Tito they were subjected to a sort of Bolshevik terror. "Now the end of the history of these poor people is looming on the horizon, people who have subsisted on grapes and sardines in their cellars and who make a great effort today to live off their land, according to their own preference and with the right to independence, handling their own freedom with care. These industrious, proud and tough people have already made it clear how hard it is to deal with freedom. And so far they have managed to disappoint many of those who sympathize with them: Why do they have to burn down their neighbours' houses of worship? It's another reason why it's so hard for me to convince my fellow Serbians to leave the Kosovo Albanians in peace and let them deal with their own fate for once and for all." - let's talk european