From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Berliner Zeitung 27.06.2009

In good Austrian literary tradition, author Josef Winkler used his opening speech at the Festival of German-Language Literature in Klagenfurt, to criticise the city for not having a public library and to blame the death of a young boy two years ago, on the city's construction and traffic policy. Karsten Krampitz picked up on this story and reports: "People who were at the scene of the accident are now stepping forward to explain that the nine-year-old Lorenz Woschitz was crossing the road on a red light at a pedestrian crossing, and had almost reached the other side, when some adults called out to reprimand him. The boy did as he was told and turned round, and that was when tragedy struck." (A cautionary tale that deserves to be inscribed into the tarmac at every German pedestrian crossing to ward off the over-zealous watchmen of the red light -ed.)

Die Welt 27.06.2009

The writer Georg Klein takes an alchemical approach to the Michael Jackson phenomenon, in which, he says, "physical presence and media propulsion" entered a new alliance. "Even as a child Michael Jackson was a performer, one who was forced mercilessly into the spotlight on countless tours. Night after night he was sent out to use his stage presence and talent to seduce a more or less welcoming collection of concert goers into the sphere where an audience's fascination fuses with the artist's love of performing, to form an intoxicating substance. Charisma is a synthetic gas which makes the person who inhales it forget that he is participating in its synthesis. In the early film footage that show Michael as a member of the Jackson Five, you see the mercurial substance lighting up the eyes of the young Jacko. The lad can hear how well he's singing, and at the same times he senses with every bone in his body, the burgeoning enthusiasm of his audience."

Berliner Zeitung 30.06.2009

Ingeborg Ruthe visits the Hungarian city of Pecs, European cultural capital 2010 alongside Istanbul and Essen, which now has to contend with a right-wing government and crisis conditions: "The multicultural city of 160,000 inhabitants and its surrounding region has a wealth of culture to offer and a defiant goal of attracting one million guests next year. Even if at present, it has no more than 6,000 hotel beds and a restrictive budget, which means the 17 beautiful but rather moth-eaten classical museums will not be treated to more than cosmetic renovation."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Lilo Weber grieves for the choreographer Pina Bausch (68) who died suddenly on June 30 just 5 days after being diagnosed with cancer. "She was less interested in how people move, than what moved them – the choreographer's much-quoted credo ran through her entire oeuvre. Her first pieces "Iphigenia in Tauris" (1974) or her 1975 version of 'The Rites of Spring' (excerpt on youTube) were still indebted to modern dance. But soon the members of the Tanztheater Wuppertal started talking on stage, singing, warbling, even screaming. Into a dance world that had waved goodbye to narrative and in which expressive emotions were considered anti-modern, Pina Bausch reintroduced storytelling and emotional explosions."

Die Tageszeitung 01.07.2009

The paper prints excepts from diary of the Iranian blogger "anonyma": "Sunday 28 June, just after midnight, I wake from a nightmare. I've just heard that a crowd of people has gathered in front of Evin prison, to try to find out what has happened to their friends and loved ones. They have obviously set up camp in front of the prison. I will go there in the morning myself to find out more. A friend told me they are taking prisoners to Karaj, where thousands of demonstrators are already behind bars. He said they are putting them in cells with brutal criminals to make their stay a horror trip."

Frankfurter Rundschau

The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is leaping in protest against the censorship and spy software which Chinese censors want installed on every computer in the country, as Bernhard Bartsch reports. "Ai's naked jump is a double insult to the censors. On the one hand Ai is cocking a snoot at the failings of the 'green damn's automated porn-detectors. Bloggers have showed that plenty of naked images manage to slip through, but pictures of swimmers and Garfield comics get sifted out. On the other hand the soft toy which Ai is using as a fig leaf is an icon of Chinese blogger resistance. It is a fictitious creature named 'Cao Ni Ma', which literally means 'grass-sludge-horse' but phonetically sounds like an unpleasant swearword meaning 'screw your mother'." More photos on Ai Weiswei's blog. And here are two photos from a competition launched by Ai Weiwei showing Chinese people giving their country the bird.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Susan Vahabzadeh listens raptly as John Malkovich tells her why he decided to play the serial killer Jack Unterweger in "The Infernal Comedy" at the Viennese Ronacher theatre. "What attracted him, when five days filming in LA would obviously have generated a lot more cash? The music, the bizarre story of the murderer-cum-writer who was given a second chance by Austrian intellectuals (Elfriede Jelinek included) in the 80s – only to return the favour by strangling a series of prostitutes. 'I saw him on TV,' John Malkovich says shaking his head, 'and I could tell that Unterweger was obviously lying, although I didn't understand a word of the language he was speaking. It intrigued me, that people were taken in by him."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

In a fictitious dialogue Serbian-Canadian author David Albahari explains why Serbian writers don't have it easier than their, say, Canadian counterparts, just because Serbia is riddled with problems: "No matter what Serbian writers do, they will not be able to avoid stepping on toes. If their books appear in Latin script, they are betraying Serbian tradition; if they are printed in Cyrillic, they will have pro-EU faction breathing down their necks. If they write about Serbian issues, they will be branded nationalists; if they don't they will be accused of pandering to the enemies of Serbian orthodoxy. If they use the language of Northern Serbia they will be attacked for neglecting the dialect of the South.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 03.07.2009

Iraqi author Najem Wali has written a book about Israel, "Journey into the Heart of the Enemy" (due to be published in English by MacAdam/Cage), in which he allows himself to sympathise with the country. Now he is being accused of naivete by the Israeli Left, Arabs and Germans alike. But he is determined to remind the world, and also the Israelis, of the ideals which they have realised, at least in part. "All of a sudden they remember the shattered visions on which the founders of the Jewish state wanted to build a multi-ethnic democratic state – a state which respects human rights and which protects the non-Jewish minorities living there. Over the course of 60 years of confrontation, conflict and war, this image has paled beyond recognition, suppressed by the later militarisation of Israeli society." See our feature by Najem Wali about his book. - let's talk european