From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Frankfurter Rundschau 29.05.2010

Julia Kosbach visits an exhibition of North Korean art in Vienna and feasts her eyes on the propaganda images, which she compares with Western advertising. "But it is extremely hard to stop oneself staring in  wide-eyed awe at the depicted scenes with their glorification aesthetics: is there no end to the joy, the striving, the abundance of food, the caring and providing? All thanks of course to one father and son combo. All those hours, days and weeks of his valuable dictator time that Kim Il Sung devoted to simple but spotless huts, enthusiastic conversations with farmers holding plump and fluffy chickens in their arms, tousling children's heads, enjoying picnics in the park and much emotional hand holding with land workers and soldiers!"

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Mona Sarkis undermines the hope entertained by many a political activist that Facebook might be the new "public sphere for freedom of speech" in the Arab world. Because, she says, the tentacles of the state police have extended into cyberspace. She cites the example of Esraa Abdel Fattah Ahmed Rashid who called a strike on Facebook against Mubarak's privatisation campaign. "When a mass protest ensued, Rashid was imprisoned. On her release 17 days later, she burst into tears before the cameras and admitted that she would never have called a strike had she thought it would end in prison. One of her fellow picketers Maher was tortured by the police for twelve hours to get the password to the Facebook page. On his blog, the renowned activist Wael Abbas published a picture of the man's back covered in welts. Abbas, like many others, was furious about Rashid's emotional outpouring. 'She made us look ridiculous in the eyes of the regime. Many of us, plenty of them women, have been imprisoned, but they neither whine about it, nor do they apologise."

Die Zeit 02.06.2010

"Normal people do not compose – or they compose like Carl Czerny or Murzio Clementi," the composer Heinz Holliger explains, in a conversation about Robert Schumann, life's tribulations and madness. "I am a doctor's son, so maybe I see things a little differently. For me, being different is part of life. I do not look for a person's illnesses. I look for the person who has no limits to their imagination, who is not afraid to cross over, whether it be into the world of madness or death, for these are intertwined. People like this have finer antennae than the others."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02.06.2010

In a brief but poignant article, Israeli writer David Grossman outlines (in English here at the Guardian) his feelings of mourning and embitterment after the attack on the flotilla in Gaza: "No explanation can justify or whitewash the crime that was committed, and no excuse can explain away the stupid actions of the government and the army. Israel did not send its soldiers to kill civilians in cold blood; this is the last thing it wanted. Yet, a small Turkish organisation, fanatical in its religious views and radically hostile to Israel, recruited to its cause several hundred seekers of peace and justice, and managed to lure Israel into a trap, because it knew how Israel would react, knew how Israel is destined and compelled, like a puppet on a string, to react the way it did."

Der Tagesspiegel

Malte Lehming comments on the German media's uniform display of moral indignation which led to German president Horst Köhler resigning on Monday (more here and here). "On the day after the president's resignation, the taz ran the headline 'More could go', together with a photograph of Guido Westerwelle, Angela Merkel and Horst Köhler. The message is clear. Köhle was the first and weakest gnu on the plains. And more gnus should follow him. The Köhler affair has only whetted the appetite of the blood hounds. Another journalist in that paper barked: 'What a cry baby!' And the Süddeutsche Zeitung was no less brutal. It called Köhler "a puffed up punk: a couldn't-give-a-damn-Horst". It was the German media version of hooligan love: give him a good kicking and if he asks why, kick him again for asking such a stupid question."

Der Tagesspiegel 03.06.2010

Jan Schulz-Ojala interviewed the Iranian director Jafar Panahi ("Offside") for the German-French tv channel arte, following his release from prison. He retells Panahi's account of being pulled in for interrogation about about a film which he was supposedly making in his cell. "The grounds for interrogation was a conversation between Panahi and a fellow prisoner in which he talked about being 'proud' of the five films he had made and about the 'film of my life' whose script he was working on in prison. The conversation was recorded and interpreted by the prison guards as evidence that Panahi had smuggled a camera into his cell. 'All the searches, all the pressure was nothing more that the fruit of their fantasy, their fear of cinema,' Panahi says in the interview. 'Just thinking or dreaming about a film constitutes a crime here.'"

Die Tageszeitung 04.06.2010

Tim-Caspar Boehme introduces the British musician and scientist Steve Goodman, whose recent book "Sonic Warfare" looks at the political dimensions of sound in clubs and war, and centres round the question of when a sound becomes "unsound". "Goodman's best example for the instrumentalisation of sound is the 'mosquito', an unspectacular-looking box which can be attached in front of shops or in shopping malls and which emits frequencies of 20 kHz. These sounds cannot be heard by adults but they are deeply unpleasant for teenagers and it prevents them from undesirable loitering."

Berliner Zeitung 04.06.2010

Swedish author Henning Mankell was onboard one of the ships in the Gaza flotilla which Israeli commandos attacked early Monday. Marina Doering heard him talk about the event at a book launch in Berlin. "'The price was high' Mankell said. 'But we wanted to draw attention to the blockade and we succeeded." - let's talk european