From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Der Tagesspiegel 25.04.2009

The American writer Jonathan Franzen explains in an interview what he likes about the German language and what books he is currently reading. He was particularly impressed by Günter Grass's autobiography "Peeling the Onion" which, he says, "was treated most unfairly in Germany". It is precisely Grass's obfuscation that he finds "lovable, honest and brave. We are just not able to cope with such lack of clarity. In 'The Discomfort Zone' I went in the opposite direction and tried to pin down every fact. But this is not how memory works. I like the ambivalent atmosphere: was that dreamed or was it real?"

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 25.04.2009

The Paris-based Turkish author Nedim Gürsel, who has been indicted for "blasphemy" by a Turkish court, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Erdogan, which the NZZ has printed: "The thing .... that shocks me most is the report by the Office for Religious Matters (Diyanet), which accuses me of blasphemy. These authorities answer to you and they are not qualified to judge a work of literature. I therefore implore you to take into consideration the fact that I have written a novel and not a theological textbook."

From the blogs 27.04.2009

In Carta, Robin Meyer-Lucht lays out ten theses on the copyright debate. Thesis number 2: "The Internet has created the infrastructure for the new knowledge economy, which the classical elite in this country wants nothing to do with. Instead of developing a new order, they are insisting on their classical business models. Their demands concerning copyright are essentially an attempt to harness the law to transfer the old order onto a new medium. Due to the new technology and the new competition, this enterprise is doomed to fail."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 28.04.2009

Markus Bauer looks at anti-Roma sentiment in Eastern Europe, and in particular in Hungary where the situation is critical: "The ombudsman for minority rights, Ernö Kallai, is talking about a 'cold war'. The already struggling government wants to speed up a new law against incitement of racial hatred, which the opposition is only grudgingly backing. Hungarians cling over zealously to their beloved freedom of speech and the simplistic anti-Roma discourse has spread like wildfire. The once liberal newspaper Magyar Hirlap has transformed into a far-right pamphlet under the new ownership, a home to columnists who write things like: "They (the Roma) are not human beings, they are animals.'"

Frankfurter Rundschau

In an interview with Esther Schapira, cabaret artist Johnny Klinke recalls his time sweating away on the production line at Opel in the 70s. "When Opel disappears – no matter what you think about their cars – I think it will hit Rüsselheim like a social atom bomb.... I remember the 70s as a wonderful and lively time. We were undercover at Opel, learning lessons for life. I would not have missed the experience for anything, it probably saved me from teacher training college. When you are spot-welding for eight hours at a stretch at 40 degrees, a Turk to your right, to your left an Italian, a Greek, you really learn somehthing languages. You also learn how to defend yourself. It was straight after school where I'd learned Latin, Greek, Hebrew. A few weeks later I was on the assembly line."

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Alex Rühle introduces the French group "Les Untergunther" which secretly repairs broken objects of cultural value – for example the clock of the Pantheon in Paris, as its members later informed the administrative director Bernard Jeannot. "To help Bernard Jeannot out of his state of shock, the group of young people offered to take the custodian of the building on a tour and show him their handiwork. The already rather discombobulated director then had to watch as the four visitors used skeleton keys to open a series of doors and march matter-of-factly through labyrinthine passages, which he hadn't known existed." Read more about this and other escapades in Lazar Kunstmann's "highly entertaining" book, "La Culture en clandestin - L'UX" (Editions Hazan).

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

The newspaper printed a translation of Pakistani author Muhammed Hanif's important article from the Washington Post about how his country is caving to the Taliban. Read the original here.

From the blogs 30.04.2009

The Iranian philosopher Abdolkarim Soroush has written a new blog update, this time on the role that religion played for the Persian poet Rumi (1207-1273, here some of his poems in English). "The main point as far as Rumi was concerned - and he expressed it in numerous ways - was that this world is the world of forms. Not just the material world, but also the world of our concepts, cognition and perception is the world of forms, whereas God is formless. And our world of forms originates from that formlessness."

Frankfurter Rundschau 30.04.2009

Daniel Kothenschulte sums up the GoEast film festival in Wiesbaden, where he watched a number of new films from the thriving world of Romanian cinema. He explains their dramatic principle thus: "In the first half, the filmmakers fill the screen with such detailed and vivid life situations that it doesn't even occur to anyone to ask where it's all heading. Then, when the film is well underway, they let the cat out of the bag and present the moral conflicts, which they follow with hilarious thoroughness."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 30.04.2009

Samuel Herzog was obviously impressed by the Thyssen-Bornemisza exhibition: "The Kaleidoscopic Eye" in Tokyo's Mori Art Museum. But he couldn't stomach the lofty tones evoking the healing power of art. "No sooner is the world looking a little green about the gills than art feels itself called upon – like some supreme nurse, ready to dispense health advice round the clock, the dream and nightmare of every hypochondriac. Does art suffer from helper syndrome? When the planet is healthy, it flits about like some desperate Samurai who has lost his lord and thus his very grounds for existence."

Nota Bene

On February 27th 2008, the German Constitutional Court controversially outlawed all secret online police searches of personal computers as a violation of the constitution, thereby creating a new Basic Law protecting the confidentiality and integrity of information technology systems. They have now seen fit to translate the law into English and post it online. - let's talk european