From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Frankfurter Rundschau 04.10.2008

Elke Buhr visited the huge Joseph Beuys retrospective in the Hamburger Bahnhof which is one of the ten shows dedicated to the "Cult of the Artist" due to swamp Berlin this autumn. But for all veneration of the great man, she couldn't help pouring a little water in the wine. "In the art magazine Monopol, art historian Beat Wyss recently tried to scratch away at the Beuys myth and described the artist as an "eternal Hitler youth" with his anthropologically-fired social fantasies which combined Volkish ideas of the thirties with the revolutionary rhetoric of the 68ers. This would imply that Beuys the shaman never managed to shake himself free of the very things he seemed bent on exorcising. And even if the Berlin exhibition does everything to dip Beuys in the gold and honey of unquestionable humanism and utopianism, it cannot conceal bits evidence that endorse Wyss's theory: No one who wants to do away with the principle of political representation can be a good democrat in the conventional sense."

Die Welt 06.10.2008

An anonymous banker tells the paper that one reason for the credit crisis is the twisted morality of bank employees – they have responsibility but they don't bear it. "The temptation is always the same for us bankers in this game: If I win, I get rich quick, if I lose, it will cost me my job, at worst. Then I can always do something else. Toss the coin. Heads: the cash flows in. Tails: My losses are limited. The attraction of winning is far higher than the potential losses involved, by a long way. This leaves little room for moral considerations."

Frankfurter Rundschau 06.10.2008

Necla Kelek vehemently disagrees with Seyla Benhabib's article last Friday, in which the political scientist, who teaches at Yale, described the headscarf debate in Turkey as the first steps towards pluralisation in society. The opposite is true, Kelek protests, there are no signs of democratic progress in Turkey: "If you look closely, you see that under the AKP, the Islamic way of life is increasingly taking control of daily life in Turkey. We are not talking about whether a girl can go to university wearing a headscarf, but whether she can walk down the streets in the country or in the city without covering her head, and not have to face harassment or abuse. ... There is no such thing as freedom from religion or positive religious freedom in Turkey – except for Sunni Muslims. There is discrimination against Alevis, Christians, Arameans and Jews. It is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous for them to practise their rites."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 07.10.2008

Thomas Meyer spent a fascinating evening in Zurich's central station at the performance of La Traviata, which was broadcast live on Swiss TV and the German-French station Arte (still available online). It was directed by Adrian Marthaler. "The people follow the action like a swarm. From the orchestra podium over to the cafe, where Parisian society gathers for a party, then over to Platform 9 where the lovers part and Alfredo vanishes in the trail, while Violetta rides a little baggage car over to another cafe. There the performance takes on a ghostly aspect, because the orchestra is barely audible." The audience "turns into a flock of extras, an active, ever-present mass, sometimes looking away, chatting, moving on, smiling and yet somehow always concentrated on what is going on and enjoying every moment of it."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 09.10.2008

Franz Haas delves into the can of worms which Spike Lee opened with his film "The Miracle at St. Anna." The film honours black American soldiers fighting in WWII, but Lee also c- arelessly - made a traitor of one of the Italian partisans and blamed him for the SS massacre of 560 civilians. Now partisan associations in Italy are up in arms, angrily denying that such a thing happened. "In actual fact a debate about this has been simmering away in Italy for years now and only a few weeks ago, some punch-packing remarks by right-wing politicians turned it up to boiling point. One month ago the post-fascist Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa explained that it was important to uphold the honour of the 'patriots', the 'good lads' of the Repubblica di Salo', Mussolini's last squad of fanatics in the fight against the 'allied invaders and the red partisans'."

Die Zeit 09.10.2008

Writer Doron Rabinovici explains why in Austria, this "refuge of counter-reformation", protest always comes in racist cladding. "Racism has a long tradition in Austria, but it seldom turns violent. There are no such things as national liberated zones. In the polling booth, rebellion happens when no one else is looking, and this rebellion stands for radical opposition – as long as whatever is being protested against seems secure."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 10.10.2008

Peter Urban-Halle has no real quibbles about Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio winning the Nobel Prize for literature. He appreciates the novelist's "elegantly sophisticated style", "his colourful description, his musical undertones." But he has a few reservations: "In his early novels there is an overwhelming sense of misanthropic reality and disgust at life. His second book "The Flood" encapsulated the experience of catastrophe. With "Shark" in 1971 he changed tack and headed for non-European cultures and their holistic view of the world and things in general. In his seemingly simplistic, discreet way, Le Clezio is attacking the divide between man and matter. You could almost describe the result as reactionary, a refusal of intelligence and sophistication."

Die Presse 10.10.2008

Norbert Mayer could not be more contemptuous about Le Clezio's nomination. "The Academy can be relied upon to be narrow-minded. True to form, Engdahl and the other Swedish jury members awarded the Nobel Prize to a well-travelled Frenchman, a diligent scribe who is remarkable for being completely unremarkable outside Paris, despite having spent the last 35 years writing nice, conscientious literature which practises tough criticism of the capitalist west, while presenting exotic civilisations as naive and happy. A model Swede."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10.10.2008

Patrick Bahners and Alexander Cammann interview Ralf Dahrendorf about the finance crisis, but he refuses to join in the chorus of complaint about the usual suspects. "The only ones who can deal with the crisis are the Americans. They are far more radical than the Europeans. Europeans love to talk – especially about systems. We must change the entire system, they pipe up immediately. And then start proclaiming the end of capitalism or the social economy. But in America they actually try to solve the problem. And they will be far more radical that all the Europeans. Just like Roosevelt's 'New Deal' answer to the Great Depression in the thirties was far more radical than all the ideas of the European socialists put together." - let's talk european