From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 17.05.2010

Uwe Justus wanders rapt through the labyrinthine "Crime and Punishment" exhibition in the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, and suddenly finds himself in front of  a number of decapitated heads, victims of the mechanical levelling blade. "In the century of burgeoning scientific positivism, the heads of those separated from their bodies by the guillotine were used not only to make casts or moulages, but also to paint from. No sooner had the age of Enlightenment discovered the human being in the martyred criminal, than the century of new, empirical knowledge set to work identifying the – borncriminal in human beings. To this end they compiled a representive assortment of criminal types."

Frankfurter Rundschau 18.05.2010

The South African theatre directors Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom (more) and Brett Bailey (more) talk in an interview about the state of the theatre in South Africa and the after effects of apartheid. When asked whether whites also go to his performances, Grootboom replies: "We only have mixed race audiences at the premieres. Normally audiences are divided according to the skin colour of the director. I don't like it but it's a fact. It's a problem that people never discuss. And if you address the problem publicly, you will soon be accused of racism."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 18.05.2010

Marta Kijowska sees signs that Polish-Jewish relations are relaxing. "Younger Poles have no experience of living with Jews, but in the twenty years since 1989 and the end of censorship and travel restrictions, they have learned a lot. And as a result, they are increasingly lamenting the absence of the Jews. The most spectacular example of this is a recent project by the artist Rafal Betlejewski. Since the end of January he has been writing the provocative words: "I long for you, Jew" on walls and building facades throughout Poland.

Die Tageszeitung 19.05.2010

Swetlana Gannuschkina, one of the co-founders of the Russian Memorial foundation, paints a grim picture of Russia's human rights record under President Medvedev. In spite of the official announcements to the contrary, the situation in Chechnya has not improved. "Why are there only dead insurgents and never any prisoners taken after special operations? When the leaders need corpses, they get them. What this means is that they continue to arrest peaceful citizens. Their corpses, which often bear traces of torture, are then put into uniforms and passed off as insurgents."

Frankfurter Rundschau

In an interview with Christian Thomas, Avi Primor, the former Israeli ambassador to Germany, talks about the Call For Reason initiative which he launched with a number of European intellectuals, about European forces on the Westbank, and anti-Semitism, which he says is not growing per se, but is growing more complicated. "As I see it, anti-Semitism is not only not increasing, it is actually subsiding. On the one hand, there is a high level of sensitivity to such developments. On the other, there is much criticism of Israel and it is here, I believe, now that anti-Semitism is no longer socially unacceptable, that anti-Semites hide behind supposedly objective arguments. A third aspect is the anti-Semitism among members of the Muslim community in Europe, less so in Germany than in Belgium and France."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 20.05.2010

Despite the overwhelming sense of disappointment in the German feuilletons about this year's Cannes festival, there have been isolated bursts of enthusiasm. Verena Lueken, for example, was much impressed by Andrej Ujica's unusual assemblage of found footage: "'Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceaucescu' is neither a documentary, nor a traditional feature involving actors, except, that is, the dictator himself. After an hour and a half, you just want to shoot him and put an end to the endless applause and cheering of the various peoples before him; the ovations of the Romanians, who seem to have come out in their entirety to hear his speeches; the Chinese, who dance and sing and clap and scream, and the North Koreans, some with blossoms in their hands, others with umbrellas, all of them making an endless racket."

Die Zeit 20.05.2010

Jürgen Habermas gives Germany's "flabby political elites" a sharp dressing-down, for the way they move from one rescue packet to the next with such alarming indifference to the state of the European landscape. "The solipsistic and ethically apathetic mentality of a self-preoccupied Colossus at the centre of Europe is not sufficient even to ensure that the European Union maintains its unstable status quo." Far and wide, Habermas sighs, no one seems to recognise that we have come to the end of an era. "This is not about about 'Greek cheating' or Spanish 'delusions of affluence' any more, it's about creating an economic-political alignment of development levels within a monetary zone of heterogeneous national economies."

From the blogs 21.05.2010

(via bibliologs) Why is it always Google that gets the bad rap, asks Max Winde in his Blog 343max in reference to the debate about Google Street View: "All of this technology is already in use by other companies. Back in the 1990s, companies were photographing the whole of Germany and then selling on their photo collections. For years now, companies (like the German Frauenhofer Institute and Skyhook more here) have been scanning Wi Fi networks and using the ensuing information to improve and speed up the positioning of mobile phones and other gadgets. And for years, no one was even remotely interested in these activities." - let's talk european