From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Der Tagesspiegel 07.02.2009

On the 20th anniversary of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, Perlentaucher editor Thierry Chervel writes about the effects Islamism has had on on the West and on the Left: "In confronting Islamism, the Left has abandoned all its principles. It once stood for cutting ties to convention and tradition, but with Islam the Left reinstated them all in the name of multiculturalism. It is proud of having fought for women's rights but in Islam it tolerates headscarves, arranged marriages and wife-beating. Where it stood for equal rights it is now is calling for the right to difference – and with it, different rights. Where it proclaimed freedom of expression it now emits embarrassed coughs when Islam enters the room. It once supported gay rights but now won't so much as mention the taboo in Islam. The West's much needed process of self-relativisation at the end of colonial era, which was spurred on by postmodern and structuralist ideas, lead to cultural relativism and a loss of criteria."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 07.02.2009

"The toad made a wrong call," Monika Maron concludes angrily after reading Günter Grass's 1990 diary "On the road from Germany to Germany" : "I'm not saying that to err is shameful. So you might say that Grass's diary testifies to the fears of a man who had learned from history, and who saw Germany's state unity as a disaster waiting to happen and which luckily for him and the rest of us, never did. For Günter Grass, though, this is proof of his prophetic powers or more modestly perhaps, his political vision or quite simply that he was right, yet again. But in actual fact, he is doing precisely what he accusing others of doing: he is colonising, if only mentally. He decides whose opinions are allowed, he knows what's right for those gullible, backwards, Deutsch-Mark crazy East Germans, what they should want and idiotically don't want, and he steps up to intercede in their best interests, as if they were too stupid to articulate them themselves."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10.02.2009

Michael Althen, like most of his fellow critics at the Berlinale, was deeply impressed by the German Competition entry, "Alle anderen" (Everyone Else) by Maren Ade. The film is about a young couple holidaying in Sardinia and "the way things go in love, the ups and downs, the back and forth, the longing and doubting, the successes and missed opportunities. It used to be only the French who dared to do nothing else for the duration of a film, love being a world in itself. But now it seems the Germans are able to talk about relationships without everyone hanging their heads. Of course pain is a factor, and Maren Ade's film does not shy away from the bits where it hurts. But the film lives on the desire to watch the game of love."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Axel Timo Purr casts an eye on literary scene in Malawi and explains why book production has virtually ground to a halt: "After the current government sold its forestry concessions and wood processing licences to a furniture company more that ten years ago, the country's paper mills stopped turning. Paper has to be imported from South Africa at great expense and since then publishers have limited themselves to printing school books which have comparatively high editions. There is only a budget for literary works in exceptional cases."

Die Welt 12.02.2009

Israeli historian and journalist Tom Segev expresses his shock at the election success of right-wing populist Avigdor Lieberman. "For years we flattered ourselves that as Jews, we were immune to racist sentiments. For years we even wanted to believe that the ongoing oppression of the Palestinians in the West Bank would not encroach on our own democratic system. We told ourselves proudly that we did not hate; it was the enemy that hated us. Now hate has become legitimate for us, too."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

From an interview with theatre director and Berlinale jury member, Christoph Schlingensief, we can infer that he has been less than inspired by the films in this year's Competition. "Here of course we see plenty of nice little films which are strong on causal connectivity. But my friend the actor Alfred Edel taught me to look at things I had just written and to ask "Is that causal or acausal? If it's acausal, it's good!' This is something which future Biennale selection committees should perhaps take into consideration."

Frankfurter Rundschau 13.02.2009

Tom Mustroph reports from Italy that Silvio Berlusconi plans to cut telephone surveillance dramatically, but no one is celebrating. "To independent observers of the justice system this amendment looks like an attempt to make it easier for the more corrupt members of the administrative upper class to continue their criminal activities. Many of the scandals which have rocked Italy in the past two decades would never have surfaced under the new proposed conditions. The fraud at the dairy and food giant Parmalat would never have been uncovered, Giulio Andreotti's mafia cronyism would have remained a rumour, and even the football match fixing would never have come out." - let's talk european