From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Other newspapers 19.07.2008

Ariane Mnouchkine has filmed three YouTube videos with her theatre group and some Chinese dissidents to call for a boycott of the Olympic Games. The least she expects from President Sarkozy is that he boycotts the opening ceremony, she says in an interview with Liberation: "It was intellectually dishonest of Sarkozy to justify himself by saying that we cannot boycott 1.2 billion Chinese. It's not about opposing a people, but opposing its leaders."

You can see the other two videos here and here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung 20.07.2008

With the Bayreuth festival opening today, July 25, Eleonore Büning asks why are there so few decent Wagner singers left? Because "singers are hired the according to typecasts," answers one of the top Wagner singers, mezzo-soprano Waltraud Meier, "but above all on the basis of how low-maintenance they are. In addition, there are all the 'Quereinsteiger' in the ranks of the stage directors. (Quereinsteiger are people who make a lateral career change.) That would be the equivalent of letting me perform an operation to remove somebody's appendix – I have no idea how that works, but as a 'Quereinsteiger' I'd get to have a go anyway. That's how we get a situation where there are two stories being simultaneously told on stage which have a life of their own instead of running parallel. So I'm stood there asking myself whether I should be identifying with what I'm singing or with what I'm supposed to be doing. That is schizophrenic. (...) I remember a performance of Parsifal in Munich where I ran backstage screaming after the second act and we looked at each other and asked: What are we actually doing here? What is happening between us? I'm saying one thing, but doing another. You can only survive that by putting up a fight. So I go back on-stage and I do as I think it should be done. The younger colleagues don't dare, they just automatically perform as they are told. And so we have a singer crisis on our hands."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 22.07.2008

Bernadette Conrad goes to Zagreb to meet Croatian writer Zoran Feric, who writes with much "borderline unbearable" humour and explains his affinity for the the drastic: "Actually, there are lots of things which are which have a different emotional charge for me than for others. Funerals for example are pleasant social events, I find. Everything becomes altered the closer you get to it. For me, this is exactly the business of literature: to smash the accepted images."

Die Tageszeitung 22.07.2008

Iranian film score composer and pianist Peyman Yazdanian talks in an interview about musical life in his country, musical taste of Iranians and the difficulties of finding good musicians since the revolution: "As an Iranian composer, it is not a good idea to write elaborate brass movements. With violins it is a little better. But now as then, we cannot record a string orchestra in one go, but have to use certain editing tricks. Put simplistically, we use the talented musicians as the core part of the sound and then add others in as their shadow to provide depth."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 23.07.2008

Jürgen Ritte concedes that debate surrounding the literary qualities of Ernst Jünger is one of the most persistent Franco-German misunderstandings. He is, however, in favour of the recent inclusion of Jünger's 'War Diaries' in the Bibliotheque de la Pleiade: "They contain thoughts which symptomatically and representatively assimilated and sublimated a powerful and fatal era. Such undertakings, regardless of literary worth, help us more than fantasy versions like those of Jonathan Littell."

Die Tageszeitung 24.07.2008

Semiran Kaya was at the trial of Hrant Dink's murderers in Istanbul and has bad news: "After one officer confirmed that the murder plans were known well in advance, and subsequently hushed up, two military officers who were accused of the cover-up, replied that they were acting on information concerning the name 'Krant' not 'Hrant', and since their research had uncovered no one with this name, there was no one who could have been protected. (...) Such was the tone throughout the trial. Dressed in suits, the closely guarded main defendants were behaving like they owned the place. They didn't miss a single opportunity to be offensive, posing with the Hitler salute and even shouting down the defence counsel with 'You idiot!' They threaten the prosecution in case it is tempted to ask 'the wrong questions' and they have threatened one witness with a throat-slitting gesture."

Frankfurter Rundschau 25.07.2008

In reply to a critical open letter by Herta Müller (more here), the head of the Romanian Cultural Institute, Horia Roman Patapievici, who issued an invitation to two former Securitate informants whom he personally considers to be a "plague", writes: "As a representative of the Romanian Cultural Institute, however, I am duty bound to comply with the principle which forbids me to utilise state institutions to push through my personal convictions."

Barack Obama in Berlin

Yesterday Barack Obama spoke in Berlin to eager crowds packing the streets in front of the angel-topped Victory Column. Writing for der Spiegel Gerhard Spörl is still utterly intoxicated by the experience. "Anyone who saw him make the short way from the Victory Column in Berlin to the podium saw a man with the serious gait of a basketball player, a man who seemed young, decisive and focused. For those who witnessed his appearance in Berlin, it is hard to imagine that John McCain has any chance. McCain is 25 years his senior, a man who because of the torture he endured in Vietnam is in constant pain - unable to comb his hair or lift his arm in celebration. Europe is witnessing the 44th president of the United States during this trip. Anyone who listens to him realizes that he is not only ambitious but is also out to lay claims." To being a "world president", for example.(Watch Obama's speech here)

The satire magazine Titanic was on the case on the night before the great event: "The story so far: This evening at 9.55 pm Senator Barack Obama landed with Senator Obama's plane in Berlin, to meet with Obama's counterpart, Merkel, at 11. Then Chancellor Merkel heartily shook Obama's hand. Shortly after 12.20, Obama took his first break to readjust Obama's tie with his very own hands, eat a quick Obama-snack (fishfingers) and to freshen up Obama. By now Obama is heading for the toilet on Obama's feet. New events are happening by the second. Stay tuned!"

For the Frankfürter Allgemeine Zeitung, Marcus Jauer reports on the meeting between Obama and the Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier: "15:11 and the second photo opportunity with Steinmeier lasted just fifteen seconds. 'Did he say anything?' one photographer asks. When there was no reply, he asked: 'Did he breathe?'"

The arrest of Radovan Karadzic

The other top story in the feuilletons was the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, the war criminal and former president of the Srpska Republic. Why did it take so long to arrest him? Modern mass murderers, writes Gustav Seibt in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, obviously find it easy to stay in hiding: "The most important thing for an identity change is a structured daily routine: regular mealtimes, rising punctually in the morning, travelling with the bus or train to work and back home again, putting your feet up for a few hours and then getting an early night. A daily routine settles the new existence, confidence is a question of practice."

"The perpetrators are charged but the consequences of their crimes remain," writes Bosnian author Dzevad Karahasan in the Tagesspiegel, and criticises the West for backing the continued existence of Bosnia-Herzogovina's constituent Republic of Srpska. Karadzic is no more than a spectre today: "Mass murder, mass rape, mass expulsion have taken place in his name. But he was a small light which was lit by others. Milosevic and a handful of generals have been charged but the countless bureaucrats behind the scenes, the war profiteers and the rabble-rousing ideologues live their lives with impunity. They still have their jobs in the state administrations, the universities and academies and the media of the former Yugoslavia."

Kosovar Albanian writer Beqe Cufaj is concerned about what former-Yugoslavs and Europeans will do with Karadzic, now they've got him. He wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "The criminals want to say to us: We didn't fall out of the sky. We were your representatives. We are normal people, just like you. It's just coincidence that we put ourselves into certain difficult situations and had to make decisions which then turned out to be wrong and, yes, terrible... It is up to us to reject this sort of talk. Evil deeds corrupt their doers, and they spawn more evil deeds time and time again. We all have to question our own responsibility. But this will not diminish the guilt of the perpetrators. They are not our scapegoats." - let's talk european