From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 21.11.2009

This summer, for the first time, two freighters navigated the Northern Sea Route, unaccompanied by ice-breakers. The Danish writer Jens Christian Gröndahl reflects on what this means for Scandinavians: "The arduous summer journey of the two freighters is almost like a deflowering of the impassibility of the North, and it leaves Scandinavians with the estranged and homeless sensation that suddenly the earth has turned out to be round after all."

Die Welt 24.11.2009

Johnny Erling reports from the Chinese art market, where art works from the Mao era are selling like hot cakes, with collectors falling over themselves to get into auction houses: "They have an astonishing answer as to why they are so interested in painting and agitprop from a time in which there was no artistic freedom and in which, during the Anti-Rightist Movement, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, millions were persecuted or lost their lives: 'Red art and its revolutionary idealism is a closed area of collection that will not expand.' And, they say, is guaranteed to increase in value: 'For the leading painters from that time, there is only one price trend: upwards.'"

Frankfurter Rundschau

Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich writes with exhilaration about the production of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's operetta "The Dead City" in Frankfurt (listen here). Korngold, who has suddenly been welcomed into high culture after being written off as a film composer, penned the score in 1920 at the age of 23. "The interesting, if sometimes rather cliche-laden subject matter (based on the novel "Bruges-la-Morte" by Georges Rodenbach) gains a morbid piquancy through the Bruges metaphor. In the music, you can literally taste and smell the putrefaction, the emptiness in the houses and back streets that are inhabited only by ghosts and rats, and the mould that is devouring the city. Korngold's music, which is characterised by unparalleled craftsmanship, conveys this perfectly: ostentatiousness and its rotting, the sunny and the shadowy past, the disillusionment in the oversaturated rush of sound."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 25.11.2009

From Geneva, Jürg Altwegg reports on the French cabinet as a constant source of romantic and political suprises, and which bears all the hallmarks of Sarkozy's policy of "opening": "Sarkozy has been rubbing shoulders with culture, the enemy, both privately and politically. His marriage to Carla Bruni brought left-wing intellectuals and artists into his circle of friends. With the appointment of Frederic Mitterand, his sophisticated games with boundaries and taboos gained a sexual dimension. The cabinet stands absolutely united behind the homosexual minister, who has outlined his relations with call boys in prose. In this hour of truth, the government has closed ranks with the cultural elite."

Der Tagesspiegel

"Something is rotten in the state of theatre!" cries Rüdiger Schaper, outlining his misgivings about recent productions in Berlin. "Business is running smoothly – and running on empty. In the current climate, it might be dangerous to lay into art and artists; in Wuppertal and Oberhausen, the theatres are fighting for their lives. But the deadly boredom in paradise is impossible to bear or ignore. It's as if our best theatres had unplugged themselves from reality. They are in danger of losing their narrative powers. Their own crisis manifests itself in the failure to deal with the bigger crisis."

Die Zeit

In a year when advertising revenues dropped by 20 percent, Anita Blasberg and Götz Hamann have compiled a dossier on the remains of the newspaper. Their story begins in Anklam, where, in a recent session, the city council decided to fire the mayor over alleged corruption, and the only reporter in the room was from the Nordkurier. In the communal hall, the head of the far-right NPD piped up: 'I expect a thorough investigation, ladies and gentlemen!' His young, tattooed colleague sitting next to him, nodded. The NPD is as strong as the SPD here. The strongest faction, however, is a party of local businessmen, the mayor's party. This is 17389 Anklam, on the outermost reaches of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. On the edge of democracy. The Nordkurier, of the Neubrandenburger Kurier publishing group, is the last independent local newspaper in the area. The competition, the Ostseezeitung, shut down four years ago because it was too expensive for its publishers. Only the Anklamer Bote is going from strength to strength. And this, in turn, has spawned a number of spin-offs, such as the Greifwalder Bote, the Bote for Usedom and the Stralsunder Bote. Like the Anklamer Bote, all of these are free papers from an initiative with close ties to the NPD."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 26.11.2009

A year after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the writer Kiran Nagakar is sick to the teeth of incompetent and corrupt authorities. "A full-scale 'gang war' is being waged in the Mumbai police force. Loyalties do not stretch to troops, but stop at individual warring officers from the same caste and community (...) When will the Indians stop tolerating the endless chicanery, manipulation and subterfuge scandals of their politicians. When was the last time that a statesman, chief of police or high-ranking official notorious for their involvement with corruption, was brought to account?"

Süddeutsche Zeitung 27.11.2009

Johannes Kuhn interviews the psychologist Peter Kruse about the idea, expounded by Frank Schirrmacher, the publisher of the Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung, in his latest book "Payback" - that the Internet is destroying our brains. Schirrmacher was recently interviewed at Edge as one of the 'big thinkers' on the subject. "On almost every page of 'Payback' you feel the author's discomfort at the prospect of real or feared loss of control: Herr Schirrmacher clearly represents the idea that it is up to the individual to subordinate, dominate or at least prevail over the world – all a question of good management." - let's talk european