From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 23.05.2008

Joachim Güntner looks down his nose at the "theoretical naivety of the new German feminism" as propagated by Jana Hensel, Elisabeth Raether and Charlotte Roche and casts an envious, momentarily unreconstructed eye "at his fellow men in Eastern Europe: You need to be Polish, Bulgarian or Ukrainian. This is of course is a passing mood, and a strong sense of duty will see it off soon enough. But it cannot suppress the conditions which rule the streets in Breslau, Sofia or Lwow, where men just let themselves go without the women minding in the least. Unfussily dressed, the men fall apart at the sides of elegant, fine-limbed women. When I asked one such woman how she could be together with this bloated specimen of a man – she laughed and said, men should be "stately". Stately? You mean meatballs? I was tempted to retort. But the answer came to me on its own: better to be a contented meatball than a miserable sausage."

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Lothar Müller takes up the very postmodern article published the London Review of Books in which English professor Kevin Kopelson admits to a making a career of plagiarism (see our Magazine Roundup). "Kopelson implies a gap between the liability of plagiarism in legal terms and its tolerance in literary theory. His apology for plagiarism says: I plagiarise the texts of those colleagues with whom I identify. I identify with them to such an extent that I talk with their voices. Beneath its mask of Rousseau, his article is a moody play with taboo: nearly all his colleagues whom he claims to have exploited come from his close circle of friends, which quote each other the whole time anyway. This is the circle of 'queer studies' friends, whose texts are laced with references to their own (male or female) homosexuality."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 22.05.2008

Bahman Nirumand comments on the unsurprisingly controversial thesis of Iranian philosopher, Abdolkarim Soroush, that not God but Mohammed is the author of the Koran. "What Soroush is suggesting is that the entire Islamic law, the Sharia, from the discrimination of women to methods of punishment, needs to be reassessed and brought into line with the modern world. To historicise the revelation and desecrate the Koran in this way would be to dispose with the greatest hurdle which blocks the way to reform in Islam, without touching the core of the spiritual-metaphysical substance of the belief. Yet Soroush is right when he says that while his views are shared by a few reformers, Sunnis among them, they would run up against staunch resistance from the powerful conservatives, particularly the ruling Shiite Islamists in Iran. 'Their power is based on a conservative exegesis of Islam. Which is why they fear losing everything in discussions such as the one about the role of the Prophet.'"

Der Freitag

Literary and feuilletonist attempts to lend meaning to the Amstetten case leave Thomas Wörtche cold: "'They are neither about Amstetten nor Josef Fritzl, let alone the victims of the whole repellent affair. They represent little more than the self-referencing loops and systems which regard themselves as cultural theory. They can be as cynical, bizarre, unwittingly funny or easily parodied as they like, but all they do is transport the shudders and thrills of fear, the lurid tabloid sensationalism of the crime into the living rooms of the chattering classes – nicely formulated into zeitgeist discourse of course – but always within a context where one feels at home and entre nous: in other words that of Elfriede Jelinek." (More here.)

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The cultural event of the week was the new production of Hans Werner Henze's opera "Die Bassariden" in Munich's Nationaltheater. Reinhard J. Brembeck was delighted: "'The Bassarids' was the name which librettists W.H Auden and Chester Kallman gave their version of Euripides' 'Bacchae', which was sung here in a slightly crude German translation. The title is a play on the fox costumes (bassars) which were apparently worn by early worshippers of Dionysus, and which are honoured in Munich in an ironic interlude. But mainly the title gives a central role to the choir which is on stage most of the time. Andres Maspero exacts from his grey-dressed team of singers, and particularly from the women who are often down to their white underwear, the maximum in varied expression. From full force to the finest piano culture, homophony, division into blocks of sound, dissolution in polyphonous ramifications – it all works enticingly in dark flexible sound. As in a battle he constructs formations from which individuals break free, only to re-find themselves in new corridors, new groups. These are the unruly soldiers of Dionysian lust and indulgence which consistently sing out against Pentheus, the apostle of reason."

Die Welt 21.05.2008

In Hamburg a German-Afghan stabbed his sister to death because her life was "too Western". Eva Eusterhus talks to women's rights activist Serap Cileli, who has harsh words for German civil society. "The Germans are cowards. They find it hard to draw the line and stand for their own identity. This is almost certainly linked with the history of suffering in this country which once stood behind a fascist dictator. But those days are over. The Germans have to be more courageous. They cannot make the mistake of being tolerant of anyone who is an enemy of freedom."

Die Zeit 21.05.2008

Katja Nicodemus was bowled over in Cannes by the "proximity of garish glamour and an almost theologically-charged understanding of cinema." :"On the red carpet 'Desperate Housewives' star Eva Longoria, who was representing nothing but herself and a cosmetic sponsor, was causing a stampede of photographers, while in the cinemas next door, the sky over Beirut was burning and the southern Italian Camorra was shooting two youths in the head. 'Waltz with Bashir' and 'Gomorra' the competition films from Israel and Italy show that Cannes is still a refuge for every small group of directorial novices who are searching for the most radical cinematic form for their stories."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In Italy neofascist historical revisionism is marching ahead. It is not Dirk Schümer's intent to tell a one-sided story but he gives some frightening examples. "The 'Alleanza nazionale' mayor of Trieste refused to take part in the Liberation Day celebrations, prefering instead to honour the victims of Tito's occupation of the city. In the same city the black shirts took off to the House of the Slovenian Minority and verbally abused the people there as non-European communists. In Mantua, descendants of a fascist ethnic cleanser attempted to establish a prize in his honour - in a grammar school named after a Jewish Shoah victim. And there are countless other minor taboo-breaking incidents, from Roman salutes and Duce worship in the football stadium to singing the 'Giovinezza' at official events."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 19.05.2008

Columbian journalist Hector Abad Faciolince describes what it's like to be Columbian in the globalised world – not so good, but you can make other people happy. "So many Columbians apply for US visas that simply processing all these applications has become a lucrative business which actually pays for a large chunk of the running costs of the US embassy in Bogota. Every day they deal with 1,500 people who have booked an appointment and paid a fee (which is not refundable) of 156 dollars. This means that Columbian citizens hand over 234,000 US dollars a day, 4.5 million dollars a month, or 50 million a year, just to get an appointment which will allow them to apply for a visa (which doesn't mean to say they will get one). A further boon to the business is that most appointments are given and paid for months, sometimes up to a year in advance."

Frankfurter Rundschau 19.05.2008

The best love film in Cannes this year came from Woody Allen, writes a contented Daniel Kothenschulte. "Not content with 'Jules et Jim' it had to be a menage a quatre. But the best love scene has only three elements: Scarlett, Penelope and a dark room. Everything in this film is predictable, but what's wrong with that? It has the predictability of a Christmas when Santa has read the whole wish list for once." And apparently German director Andreas Dresen's love film "Wolke Neun" (cloud nine) was very well received.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 17.05.2008

Hungarian essayist Laszlo F. Földenyi sends a mood piece from New York. "Things that bothered me at home of course grabbed my attention here. The concierges in the apartment blocks observed me with the grim expression of a hellhound, and yet opened the doors with the most courteous smiles. The waiter in a fast-food restaurant couldn't get rid of me fast enough and yet he patiently explained everything and even made some inexplicable joke. I turned my head back and forth and didn't know which the true face was, which one I should believe. I often felt dizzy." - let's talk european