From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 13.09.2008

German theatre's dreams have run dry, Dirk Pilz concludes in an essay. The new post 9/11 obfuscation, has broken the once Utopia-reinforced necks of Germany's playwrights and "contemporary theatre now proclaims radical historical pessimism on a grand scale. The past is evidence for the sheer impossibility of a consistent position on historical and current events. After 9/11 and the west's reactions to it, obfuscation seems to have become a mantra that is chanted almost unquestioningly on German stages. There is no longer any chance or desire to pinpoint which side of the fence the perpetrators and criminals are sitting, because of the impossibility of drawing an unequivocal line from the tangle of causes and motives. This assumption not only smothers the possibility of a utopia, but also the responsible subject and the very concept of responsibility itself: No one is guilty, everybody is both victim and perpetrator. Under these circumstances the theatres is reduced to producing ornate transcriptions of a contradictory reality. Whose alleged immutability is subsequently cemented."

Frankfurter Rundschau

Mely Kiyak finds the frenzied enthusiasm for Barack Obama deeply hypocritical in a country where he wouldn't stand a chance of becoming Bundeskanzler. "If participation means that immigrants should be politically integrated, then this country should be ashamed of the state of its political hierarchies. Because politicians of Turkish origin are making a huge effort and are spending a considerable part of their energy in fighting their way up electoral lists within their own parties. Not even half a percent of German-Turks have their own mandate. And with citizenship conditions growing more difficult by the year, they have to hear that they must speak primarily to German voters. Has anyone ever heard of a Turkish mayor? Why don't we have a single minister-president with an immigration background. Why not in federal states like North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Würtemberg or Bavaria which have the largest immigrant populations?"

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Polish author Andrzej Stasiuk spent his summer holidays in a Russian backwater where, at a safe distance he also passed by the prison camp where Mikhail Khordorkovsky is interned. "The area is ideal as a place of banishment, of isolation, of forgetting. The town came to an end as if cut by a knife. Not only a man but also a dog would be at a loss to find a hiding place in almost a hundred kilometres. Nothing grows there except grass. The steppe is nakedness. The wanderer has only his shadow for company. The only place to hide is under the earth. I think about an escapee tunnelling for months, years, even decades only to realise at the end that he would need at least an eternity to free himself. Here the very idea of escape is pointless, and the unlimited space becomes a prison."

Süddeutsche Zeitung

In the "Tropics" exhibition in Berlin's Martin Gropius Bau, writes Kia Vahland, the Humboldt Forum as ethnographic collection casts its shadow before. It provides an ideal opportunity to examine the problems thrown up by exhibitions of this kind: "The objects in the non-European collections do not attest to an 'equality of the cultures' ... but in many cases are the product of violation: The masks, costumes, fantastical creatures which, in tropical societies transport the powers of nature and the ancestors, are reduced to their reified state, subjugated into cult objects and converted into market value. This however is not measured according to the original meaning of a work, but according to the difficulty of its capture, its degree of rarity."

Die Welt 17.09.2008

In an interview with Uwe Wittstock, author and entrepreneur Ernst-Wilhelm Händler explains why he sees the current finance crisis not as a failure of capitalism, but of the state: "In 2002, the Bush administration launched an initiative to encourage Americans to buy real estate. This was meant to reflate the market. To put it harshly, you might say that after the internet-bubble burst on the stock exchange, they went right ahead to create the next bubble in the property business. Which is bursting now. If the state hadn't intervened, the economic system would not be in crisis now."

Die Zeit 18.09.2008

Bernd Eichinger's "Baader Meinhof Complex" hits German screens next week. Die Zeit sent Gerhart Baum, the then minister of the interior, to watch the film – but he left the cinema having "learnt nothing new" about German terrorism. And this was not his only objection: "I would like to have seen some focus on how the constitutional state faltered in the grip of fear and emergency. Because this is the issue at stake today, and it all started during the RAF era: Our basic rights are being damaged in the fight against terror – then as now. Unfortunately we are not living in the paradisical conditions of a constitutional state as Martina Gedeck, the actress playing Meinhof told der Spiegel." (And as the entire population of Germany will know if they have looked in their letter boxes recently and opened the grey envelopes containing their new central identification numbers which will continue to be valid 20 years after their death.)

Süddeutsche Zeitung 19.09.2008

Reinhard J. Brembeck writes an obituary to the man who put the fun back into New Music. Maurizio Kagel was an avant-garde composer who fled the Peron regime in his native Argentina and emigrated to Germany in 1957. "Kagel took every acoustic readymade that came his way and turned it into a dance school for blocked ears. No musical trash was too unseemly for his sonorific world machines which were tinkered together with a far greater intricacy than their garishly grubby surfaces would have you believe." - let's talk european