From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Die Welt 24.10.2009

Author Daniel Goldhagen discusses his new book "Worse than War" with Hannes Stein, and points to one factor that all genocides have in common: "the perpetrators laugh, they ridicule their victims". He then explains what singles out the Holocaust from other genocides: "This was the first time that a state and the people supporting it wanted to kill every man, every woman and every child that belonged to the victim group, and not just at home, but throughout the world. This was the only time that an international genocidal coalition formed: it was not just one nation or one people that was pursuing this goal; other states joined in – of their own volition."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 24.10.2009

The writer Lukas Bärfuss talks politics and art before the conversation turns to a series of talks that he initiated in Zurich. "The inspiration for the event was Niklas Wirth, who will be my first guest. He's one of the key figures in 20th century computer science. He recently published an article in your venerable newspaper. Its central thesis was that computer scientists no longer understand their computers. The machines have become too complicated. They are getting easier and easier at the user end but more and more confusing behind the scenes. It's a law of physics – and with every new development, the gap widens. My two-year old daughter can already use an i-phone, and a modern aeroplane practically flies and lands itself. But the system in the background is so complex that even the experts don't completely understand it. Technology is creating new new blank spots."

Frankfurter Rundschau 24.10.2009

Ingo Metzmacher, the outgoing head conductor of the German Symphony Orchestra, shares his concerns with Jürgen Otten about developments in the world of classical music. "I am not afraid to say that music's message should be taken seriously. And I will defend that message because it has more essence that it is given credit for. We are seeing a great hollowing out: a hollowing out of content and of meaning in terms of the message of music. In the concert business there is mounting pressure for the music to glitter, to be clean and perfect and played with virtuosity, when it should really be about protecting the meaningfulness of music. But this is a dying concern."

Frankfurter Rundschau

"Man came from Africa, and quite possibly the constitution, too," Arno Widman speculates, in his introduction to the Charter of Mande, (more here) which King Soundjata Keita gave to the Empire of Mali at the beginning of the 13th century, and which has recently added to the Unesco list of cultural treasures. "It was, in any case, a constitution which stated that prisoners of war should not be enslaved. A comparison with the English Magna Carta of 1215 clearly shows that the authors of the Charter of Mande had thought much more deeply and radically about what constitutes human freedom."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Franz Haas reports on the latest blast of toxic air in Berlusconi's desertified Italy: the media campaign against Corrado Augias, a popular journalist for the government-critical Repubblica newspaper, who is being accused by Berlusconi's Il Giornale of having being a Czech spy in the 1960s, and the writer Claudio Magris, whose acceptance speech for this year's Peace Prize of the German Book Trade was deeply critical of Italian politics. The two men have been branded "culturame", a word, Haas says, that smacks of fascism. The situation seems to be coming to a head. "There is an alarming increase in the numbers of amateurish terrorist actions and non-stop call to arms on the Internet. The "Kill Berlusconi" proposal on Facebook won 14,0000 friends and fans in just a few hours. Things are being stirred up by the opposition and Berlusconi followers alike, most effectively, of course, by those with a say in the media and those who are unplagued by scruples."

Frankfurter Rundschau

Natalie Soondrum accompanied the dissident Dai Quing on a tour of the 100 or so figures, currently on exhibition in Frankfurt's Schirn Kunsthalle, that make up "The Rent Collection Courtyard", and she learned a lesson that she was keen to pass on. "The representative of the Shirn explains that the idea was to look at the 'The Rent Collection Courtyard" in artistic terms. Not as a sculpture from the Cultural Revolution, but as the first independent sculpture in the history of Chinese art. 'The only thing I can say in reply is that China thought it was worth five million euros to send its greatest lie to Frankfurt.' All her friends, China's intelligentsia, were completely shocked that the sculpture could be exhibited so uncritically in Germany, that 'a lie could be elevated to art.'"

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 30.10.2009

The writer Victor Erofeyev explains why capitalism never really took hold in Russia. And why, therefore, the country failed to act appropriately when the financial crisis hit. He points an accusatory finger at the Russian intelligentsia which, he says, has done nothing to help the situation: "Let's return to the Russian intelligentsia. It keeps an aloof neutrality between socialism and capitalism, but no one is interested in what it has to say any more. It is confused and at sea and has lost sight of its historical role. In fact, the onset of the crisis plunged Russia's entire educated classes – the aforementioned intelligentsia, the middle class, students, and some of the Russian business class – into a crisis of faith." - let's talk european