From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Die Tageszeitung 23.08.2008

Robert Misik turns his thoughts to Susan Sontag, whose last essays have now been collected and published by Hanser Verlag, and to our time in general: "The generation of the young Sontag was the last to be imbued with an implicit commitment to its time. This is a issue of absolute relevance, at least as far as cultural modernity is concerned: How do we see our time? It is possible to be modern without resorting to pathos-filled notions of the future? What prospect is there for the index of time, if illusions are all used up and only middle management believes in 'progress', which is only globalisation, job market deregulation and computerisation by another name?" Misik's conclusion: "We must be modern again."

Die Welt

Sonja Margolina recently visited a now-wealthy friend of hers who lives in the Rublyovka, the Beverley Hills of Moscow. On the way from the airport, she gets a lasting impression of life in Russia's emerging civil society. "A Jaguar with tinted windows squeezes in on our Ford from the right. Georgi, Marianna's husband, is determined not to let it overtake. So, with a hair's breadth between the cars and adrenalin levels rising, this power struggle rages for kilometres on end. This unpleasant game is known in Moscow as a "penis match". The most powerful, whose cars have sirens, can overtake the queue by driving into the oncoming traffic, which does nothing to lower the general road rage."

Der Tagesspiegel 24.08.2008

Gregor Dotzauer reviews Günter Grass's latest book "The Box", a collection of autobiographical stories in which his eight children talk about "Vatti": "'The Box' celebrates orgies of vagueness and manages even to outfog the smoke-grenade prose of 'Peeling the Onion'. Grass now seems to have made an entire poetological project from what, in the first volume of his autobiography, was construed merely as weaknesses of memory and morals. The key paradox of 'Onion' was that with his explicit claim to having the last word in biographical questions, Grass cultivated doubt about the facts. The key paradox of 'The Box' is that it installs an omniscient narrator who doesn't actually want to know anything about himself."

Der Tagesspiegel 27.08.2008

In the Tagesspiegel "Wagnerian greats" bid farewell to Wolfgang Wagner, who is retiring after half a century as head of the Bayreuth Festival. Director Christoph Schlingensief remembers the "graveyard of artworks" in his "Parsifal" production: "The key work here was the first Readymade, Duchamp's urinal, to which my own work is greatly indebted. This urinal soon became a bone of contention during rehearsal, without ever being so much as mentioned. During the day we would rehearse in the graveyard of artworks , at night, when everyone was asleep, Wolfgang would sneak onto the stage and personally remove the offending object, which he believed had nothing to do with Wagner or 'Parzifal'. This would happen on a nightly basis and after every dress rehearsal. And Wolfgang won in the end through sheer doggedness, and so the graveyard was spared Duchamp's urinal. And everyone was happy. But the concept of the Readymade can never be removed from the opera."

Die Zeit 28.08.2008

What has happened to criticism and protest asks Jens Jessen. Fear of the future has gutted our youth. "Schools and business accuse today's young people of many things: poor education, no discipline, lack of staying power, but never: insubordination. And why would they? Interns and young professionals accept, to the point of facelessness, every condition, every well-rehearsed idiocy, every ethically questionable practice. They peer out from their doe-eyes, which only every now and glaze over in melancholy, onto the raw world of business and politics, and they seem to have taken an oath to turn into sharks as quickly as possible, so that they might survive in a territory teeming with enemies. They are convinced that the world is evil, the professional world at least, after all, that's what's been drummed into them. Society's mantra about globalisation and sharpened competition, location and competitive edge has penetrated deep into their psyches. One might say, it has impacted them like a meteor and left a crater empty of all lightness and hope, all imagination and protest."

Die Welt 28.08.2008

The Venice Film Festival has opened. An elated Peter Zander reports from the premiere of the new Cohen brothers' CIA comedy. "Burn After Reading" stars George Clooney who, much to everyone's relief, graced the festival with his presence most generously. "Burn After Reading" is not only the ideal way to open a festival, having enough glamour and intelligence to to generate interest in the next ten days. A successful festival these days, it seems, must have at least one Clooney, and it won't be long before it will be exclusively measured in Clooneys."

Die Tageszeitung 29.08.2008

This year's contemporary dance festival in Berlin, "Tanz im August" has discovered folk dancing. Katrin Bettina Müller approves: "I have run to this festival for the last twenty years but I have never heard such a catchy definition of dance: 'Dancing is like rolling dumplings' says a corpulent farmer's wife and rolls the air between her hands, 'You just keep going round and round and round'. Then she pulls her husband onto the stage, and against the backdrop of the Tirolean Alps, goes round and round and round."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 29.08.2008

What's the point of the Limbach Commission when German museums refuse to work together on restitution matters, asks Stefan Koldehoff: "Which is why it is high time the Limbach Commission was reformed thoroughly or dissolved entirely, because it was built on false premises. It was a mistake to assume that museums would volunteer to cooperate on clearing matters concerning Nazi- looted art. Ten years after the Washington Conference, this is an area where Germany lies way behind countless other countries, who did not loot but were looted themselves. This means that German museums are still profiting from the Nazis who helped themselves to Jewish collections."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In Venice, Michal Althen was bowled over by Abbas Kiarostami's film "Shirin", which shows only the faces of 300 women watching a fairytale film in the cinema, and Christian Petzold's "Jericho", which opened the competition. "Christian Petzold's film 'Jericho' must have looked pretty Russian to the uninitiated: sinewy taciturn men staring silently at one another, brief outbursts of violence, and a windy landscape that only compounds the wordlessness. You need a certain amount of time to shed this sense of aliention and feel at home in your own country. But then Prignitz [part of Brandenburg] is such a godforsaken part of the world - in Petzold's film it's all lonely houses, fast-food stands, cash-and-carry stores, and long motorways journeys in between, where the dreams of the three central characters are swallowed up by the open skies - that it seems pretty alien anyway." Petzold, Althen continues has succeeded in "creating a fascinating development to his filmography. He has an inimitable eye for landscape, where lives and working days are drawn in brief strokes. if later generations want to know what it was like in this country, what people did and how they felt, then they only need to watch this film." - let's talk european