From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Süddeutsche Zeitung 20.09.2008

In his series of interviews of people "At Work" Axel Rühle visited Ulrich Blumenbach. The translator has been working for several years on "Infinite Jest" the thousand-page mammoth by US author David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide last week. The German version, incidentally, will be 600 pages longer. Rühle reports: "He remembers vividly how flattened and euphoric he felt after his first reading of 'Infinite Jest'. Euphoric at the thought of translating this great book, flattened at the prospect of the incredible density of the vocabulary, of the countless wild meandering distributaries and worlds which Wallace drew upon for his book's incredibly obscure vocabulary. When Blumenbach signed with publisher Kiepenheuer in 2003, he still thought he would have the job done in four years and would be able to attend to other authors on the side. 'I was completely naive'. Within no time at all Wallace consumed his energy.'"

nachtkritik 22.09.2008

With his "The church of fear before the alien in me" Christoph Schlingensief has opened "a new dimension of authenticity on the stage". The director who has been treated for lung cancer now "addresses his own death", writes Dorothea Marcus. "But it is primarily an exorcism and a religious mass. We are the ones who make the bidding prayers for Schlingensief as he offers himself up to us in sacrifice. Then he tightens the screw even further, and turns the evening into his own funeral, his legacy, his resurrection. And in so doing, even the brutally personal tale of sickness of the 'future deceased' is turned into one of those bewilderingly complex and dialectic double somersaults that he loves to pull off. Because in the search for God, there's no way Schlingensief can pass art or himself."

Die Welt 23.09.2008

The film "Baader-Meinhof Komplex", which opened in German cinemas last week, claimed it was going to "destroy the RAF myth". Oh really? In conversation with Hanns-Georg Rodek, the film's director Uli Edel and the actor playing Andreas Baader, Moritz Bleibtreu, managed unwittingly to deliver plenty of evidence to the contrary. Bleibtreu recalls how during the preparation for the filming the two of them listened to a number of audio recordings of Baader's statements in court: "Baader spoke, and he spoke quite slowly, with a slight lisp, and most of what he said was drivel. You could literally watch all number of illusions sliding off our faces. Then I turned to Uli and said: 'Do you really want me to play it like that?!' Edel: 'Of course not! We're not making a comedy!' Bleibtreu: 'It would have been unintentionally funny. As an actor you don't have to produce an exact copy of reality.'"

Süddeutsche Zeitung 23.09.2008

Reinhard J. Brembeck is tickled pink by the last concert of Berlin's musicfest at Tempelhof airport. Among other pieces the Berlin Philharmoniker participated under Simon Rattle in playing Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Groups for Three Orchestras". Rattle, Brembeck writes, "wanted the piece to be pleasant on the palate, full of playful French accents, somewhat tart in the pizzicato passages and percussion salvos, with a menacing hint of calamity in the brass movements. Perhaps that is why he chose Michael Boder and his former assistant Daniel Harding as co-conductors. The two are all-rounders, not at all dedicated modernists. Slightly pastelled in this way, Stockhousen's work creates a formidably imaginative musical panorama, like flying over a mountain landscape in a helicopter. Pizzicati from the right, violin melodies from the left, in the centre the percussion instruments. Doggedly refusing to be programme music, the piece moves in stringent, absolute sound gestures, demanding of hearers that they should interpret and evaluate it for themselves."

Der Tagesspiegel 24.09.2008

Flies have been painted in some spotless Berlin urinals so as to give the men a better target, writes Bulgarian author Georgi Gospodinov in surprise. Gospodinov quickly lists the differences with toilets in the Balkans: "First of all, there's going to be more than one fly. Secondly, they're going to be alive. And thirdly, they don't just sit in one spot. At this point however I will interrupt my story, because sensitive readers would not be able to stomach it, women would feel left out and the analogies would metamorphose into allegories. It's simply not possible to tell a story any more without hurting someone's feelings."

Frankfurter Rundschau 25.09.2008

Uwe Tellkamp's thousand page novel "Der Turm. Geschichte aus einem versunkenen Land" (The tower. Tales from a lost land) has hit reviewers like a bombshell. Tellkamp, himself born in Dresden, describes a small elite of doctors, litterati, musicians and directors of state enterprises who lived a sealed-off, cramped but comfortable existence in an old neighbourhood high above Dresden in 1982, seven years before the break-up of the GDR. Anyone who was there will not fail to recognise others, Sabine Franke writes. But Tellkamp's novel "is not about uncovering facts, but about making history experiencable and plausible through literature. Tellkamp looks at history and myth from both inside and out, at a time when history itself is becoming a mythologized. This is a book for insiders, for those who remember, who were there themselves. But at the same time it is a book for posterity and parallel worlds, for those who come after and for whom this moment in history can only be contemplated from the outside. Tellkamp has enriched German literature with a wealth of experience, free of bitterness and resentment. This was a story well worth telling, not least because otherwise it may well once more have slipped by unnoticed."

Die Tageszeitung 26.09.2008

Brigitte Werneburg has been to the retrospective of works by star artist Takashi Murakami in Frankfurt's Museum für Moderne Kunst. "The highpoint of the show is a temporary Louis Vuitton shop set up inside the museum," she writes before exploding altogether: "The force currently holding fashion and art together is the intensified encroachment of corporate culture, marketing and PR in both. In fact the economic rationale of marketing is summed up in the attempt to give a radical new twist to a dictum of Andy Warhol's: now art and fashion can only exist as brand-name products. The extension of the battle zone leads to a re-feudalisation of the contemporary aesthetic, and to a renewal of authoritarian structures. No sooner have we escaped the dictates of haute couture than we are menaced by the dictates of the coolest labels. Now being provincial does not mean knowing nothing about fashion, but not knowing the hip bands. No sooner do we think we have escaped the dictates of the avant-garde, than contemporary art needles away at us. In place of the well-known religious wars over artistic styles and movements we are now subjected to lavish publicity wars." And ultimately, Werneberg writes, all we are left with is conformity. - let's talk european