From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Die Welt 15.11.2008

Sociologist Wolfgang Sofsky meditates on greed which, he maintains, contrary to popular opinion does not rule the world. If anything, it's parsimony. "Although most preachers of the regulated 'common good' steer clear these days of the crude, mostly anti-Semitic image of gold-grabbing spindly fingers and eyes glinting hungrily at the prospect of money, the overwhelming majority of people think of capitalism as a system of greed. In fact its motor is not personal lucre but fear of economic death, and the compulsion to accumulate capital. Its historical rise was abetted not so much by greed than by tightfistedness. Profits were invested back into the business, costs and wages pinched. Luxury was regarded with suspicion by the pious citizen and the solid businessman would never dream of touching his capital or interest. Compound interest was the limit."

Berliner Zeitung 15.11.2008

Dirk Pilz left Berlin's Gorki Theater weak kneed and deeply moved, after watching a compact version of Christoph Schlingensief's "Church of fear before the fear in me": "As things stand" it is called, and it deals with Schlingensief, his cancer and his fear. This evening could not have been anything other than an interim report. The way things stand has changed and the outlook is pretty shit,' he says, fighting back the tears. 'On my gravestone I want the words: Auf Widersehen! I can't think of a better threat.'"

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 17.11.2008

Peter Hagmann talks to the legendary pianist and teacher, Peter Feuchtwanger, whose students include Martha Argerich and Shura Cherkassky: "I can say that I have seldom met anyone who uses their body properly. One of the few exceptions was – Clara Haskil. She was completely bent over with sclerosis, more or less disabled. But the way she used her arms and hands, her fingers, it all confirmed my own findings. The drooping wrists, the fingers steering everything, the absolute lightness, musically too, that was my ideal. When she was in London, she came to practise with me. That's when it hit me: that's how you play the piano. The inner calm, no preparation in advance. Starting just with the breath, preparing mentally but never physically."

Christoph Egger visited the Molodist film festival in Kiev which was not particularly successful, but it did screen some very disquieting documentary films from the 1930s. For example the portrait series "Doli – Destinies", in which eye witnesses tell of their terrible experiences. "An old woman tells the the story of a young mother who saw her neighbours cooking bits of a small child in the frying pan and subsequently founds items of clothing belonging to the missing girl in their garden. Or the story of a woman who, together with her two daughters, killed her husband and ate him. She was later devoured by her daughters, and finally one sibling ate the other and promptly died."

Die Welt

Die Welt features an essay, originally published in the Russian paper Vedemosti, by the former Yukos boss, Mikhail Khordokovsky, who is currently imprisoned in Siberia. He discusses the global leftwards shift which, with the onset of the finance crisis, is replacing the era of Thatcherism. Among other things he predicts a return to values such as solidarity and calls for a new form of international cooperation. "The regulating systems have to be brought into line with the demands of the global system and their key subjects into equilibrium. The national governments will be obliged to coordinate their movements much more closely, essentially laying the foundations for a 'global economic government'."

Frankfurter Rundschau

The poet Olga Martynova writes about Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and Varlam Shalamov and recounts a memorable decision that Georgi Vladimov had to make as editor of the periodical Novyi Mir. He could only publish one text about the Gulag, and had to decide between Solzhenitsyn's "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" or Shalamov's "Tales from Kolyma": "'You see' Tvardovski admitted, 'Shalamov might be the better writer. But' – and here the hidden mechanisms started to kick in - 'Solzhenitsyn's novel can be published in one go. Even if the censors tear it to bits, it will at least remain whole as a work. But with Shalamov's short stories, the censors would simply remove the best ones and the rest would perish.' And so it was ultimately down to censorship that Alexander Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel prize, went into exile, and taught mankind, and the Russian people in particular, 'not to live a lie'. While Shalamov, who was not allowed to publish a single paragraph in Russia during his lifetime, died bitter, sick and lonely in 1982." Read our feature by Olga Martynova: "The source we drink from".

Berliner Zeitung 18.11.2008

Ignored by the world's media, Ukrainians are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the "Holodomor", the famine caused by Stalin's collectivisation programme which left millions of Ukrainians dead. Dimitri Medvedev did not attend the ceremony, because he refuses to recognise the term 'genocide'. He might be right here, according to Christian Esch, but that's is not the point: "Why, if Kiev should hold its tongue, it is all right for the Kremlin to bandy about the word 'genocide'? Medvedev was extremely quick to describe the actions of the Georgians in South Ossetia as genocide... And as late as September, Medvedev referred to the so-called genocide before representatives in the Duma - a month after the Russian public prosecutor's office had starkly reduced the body count. Medvedev's demand for careful use of words applies to everyone but himself."

Die Tageszeitung 20.11.2008

The paper reports on a copyright dispute being fought in Germany's highest court by the electronic pioneers Kraftwerk, who were suing German rap producer Moses Pelham for sampling two bars of their music for a rhythm track. Tobias Rapp comments on the cultural issue underlying the case, asking who the artistic influence of a band belongs to – the band itself or the person who is influenced? "Without wanting to deny Kraftwerk the rights to their music – the irony of this court case is that the band would not be here today if their music had not spent the last 25 years floating through the legal grey areas and turning the old into new." - let's talk european