From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 06.09.2008

As Ukraine officially commemorates the forced famine that claimed between three and ten million lives under Stalin, Ukrainian author Oksana Zabuzhko remembers the mass grave in the forest of Bykivnya on the outskirts of Kiev, where the bodies of 130,000 victims of the Soviet secret service have now been uncovered. "Many of the skulls have three to six bullet holes in the back of them, (was this some sort of shooting competition?), the breastbones were broken by square bayonets (a coup de grace or was this carried out on living objects?) and the people were slung into pits without being robbed first (were they in a hurry because the Germans were coming?). They are still in their clothes and shoes, they have gold teeth in their mouths, watches on their wrists – and square pieces of paper that were stuffed hurriedly into their pockets which carry the declaration of their sentence and the stamp and signature of the "executor". Until 1991, the area was closed off and a sign hanging above a gate at the entrance declared that here lay "the victims of the German-Fascist conquerors." Read more articles by Oksana Zabuzhko here and here

Die Tageszeitung 06.09.2008

Peter Glaser, a novelist and Ingeborg Bachmann Prize laureate with intimate knowledge of the technological world, writes a long essay to congratulate Google on its 10th birthday. He describes not only the virtual but the very real power of this "everything-now-machine": "On 16 November 2003 Google changed the way its search results were sorted, with drastic results. Huge numbers of websites which had previously ranked in the top 100 were downgraded, some even disappeared completely. Visitor numbers ran dry on many of these sites, taking turnover with them. The very existence of countless smaller and larger businesses today hangs from the silk thread of their ranking in a Google answer."

Die Tageszeitung 08.09.2008

In her resumee of the Venice Film Festival,Christina Nord is split down the middle. While she was annoyed by the provincialism of a number of Italian films and film importers, she was deeply impressed by festival's continued commitment to aesthetic impurity: "Like everywhere where non-hierarchical variety replaces the avant-garde concept, you can mourn the loss on the one hand, but you can also welcome the realm of possibilities that arise. In Venice this means that alongside 'The Wrestler', a black comedy like 'Burn After Reading' by Joel and Ethan Coen or Kathryn Bigelow's war drama 'The Hurt Locker', more space is allotted to the less accommodating films than would be at any other festival. The Out of competition section, for example, included Abbas Kiarostami's conceptual film which watches 115 actresses as they watch the film version of a Persian epic poem from the 12th century."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 08.09.2008

With an on eye America's worst foreign policy interventions, Marcia Pally warns against pinning too many hopes on a Democratic president. "Looking back over the Cold War, Republican presidents like Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Regan waged proxy wars and secret military operations in Indochina, South Korea, El Salvador, as well as against Salvador Allende in Chile and against the Sandinists in Nicaragua. But the Democratic presidents, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson, did the same thing, whether in Indochina or South Korea, against Patrice Lumumba in Congo, Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic, Victor Paz in Bolivia or against Jao Groulet in Brazil. The Democrats have Vietnam and Suharto's bloodbath to answer for; the Republicans have Chile."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 10.09.2008

Russian author Arkady Babchenko worked as the military correspondent for the Russian daily Novaya Gazeta during the Russian invasion of South Ossetia. In an interview with Jörg Plath he talks about his experiences and Moscow's ambitions: "If Medvedev wants Russian to be a superpower that stretches from the Fiji Islands to Gibraltar, then he should take his kalashnikov and conquer the world himself! But he shouldn't sit in his warm office and send 18-year-old Russian boys to do his dirty work! When Yeltsin wanted to be president of a superpower and attacked Chechnya, little Babchenko was sent to do the job. Now Medvedev wants to be the president of a superpower and is fighting in South Ossetia - and Babchenko is sent off again to photograph burning soldiers. I've had it up to here! Russia is like Germany in the thirties. It is fantasising about world domination and rolling up its sleeves."

Der Tagesspiegel 11.09.2008

There's a good chance, writes Bas Kast, that the particle accelerator in Cern will uncover no usable results whatsoever. But it will still be 6 billion euros well spent. "Yes, Cern dodges direct usability, yes, it couldn't care less about the McKinseyisation of our society, and this is the key to its importance. The physicist Victor Weisskopf once described the particle accelerator as the 'Gothic cathedral of the 20th century' and he hit the nail on the head. Just like in the great churches of the Middle Ages, generations of people are working on something that is far greater than themselves, far greater than the individual. Only that now we are not celebrating God but Nature. Cern is about man, about us: where we come from, what we are, the origin of everything. The only risk is that we will not find our ultimate origins. What is this gamble worth to us? What are dreams worth?"

Süddeutsche Zeitung 11.09.2008

Martina Knoben was bowled over by Matteo Garrone's Camorra film "Gomorrha" which has just opened on German screens. It is based on the book by Roberto Saviano who also had a hand in the script. The result is Mafia film that is absolutely unique "because it presents the dirty war of the Camorra for what it is – concentrating on the footsoldiers and victims. (...) There's no 'Godfather' in sight who can outshine the murder with his sinister charisma. And there are no people fighting to stop the killing for us to sweat with. The only time glamour lays itself over the proceedings, the shine is as fake as the sun in a solarium, which is where the opening bloodbath takes place. Here the killing is routine and professional, with Italo-pop blaring in the background."

Der Freitag 12.09.2008

Georgian writer Dato Barbakadze calls for Russia to put its imperialist complex aside and open itself to modern culture: "Russia communicates with the world in a language that is not only outdated but extinct. Compared with other dead languages which will never lose their cultural-historical and philological import, the Russian politico-cultural language lost its meaning long ago. It is not only unusable and incomprehensible, it is also dangerous for the world of culture, because it not based not on the philosophy of partnership with other countries. And where are the voices of Russian intellectuals protesting against the excessive reactions of their government? Only when Russian writers, artists, philosophers and scientists succeed in separating themselves from this tradition of chauvinism, will the rest of the world listen to what they have to say." - let's talk european