From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Die Tageszeitung 17.07.2010

Jenni Zylka was suitably amused by the second LP "My Horse Likes You" from the much lauded band Bonaparte and its 31-year-old Swiss frontman Tobias Jundt. "To get a first taste of Bonaparte you should watch the video clip of Tobias Jundt playing the album's title song, unplugged, surrounded by piles of manure on a hay wagon, accompanied only by a record player which is pushing out rasping electro beats. This beat sounds just as dirty on the album, farting, not even properly regular. Add to this the driest possible B-52 rhythm guitars and you have one reason why 'My Horse Likes You' has been able to distance itself so favourably from the competition in the direction of punk. The delightfully fickle musician-ego of the band leader and self-appointed 'Emperor' screams through every tone. 'Song writing is not a group activity as far as I'm concerned,' says Jundt."

Die Welt 20.07.2010

The city of Weimar is seeking to twin itself with the Iranian city of Shiraz, the home town of Goethe's idol the Sufi poet Hafiz - on the condition that the Iranian side recognises the Holocaust. The Iranian delegation has since been to Weimar but refused outright to visit Buchenwald. Weimar, however, is reluctant to sever ties with its new friends, as Matthias Küntzel reports. "At the beginning of the week Fritz von Klinggräff, the Weimar press officer, confirmed the change of course. They had abandoned the bit about Buchenwald being an essential component of the friendship from the outset, in favour of the metaphor of 'the long road'. What was needed was an extended period of travelling in one another's company in order to 'see, as in an intellectual exchange, how compatibility can be created'." (In other words: one lot is saying there was a Holocaust, the other lot says there was no Holocaust and the truth lies somewhere in between!)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The grand dame of German feminism Alice Schwarzer (website) takes a stand in favour of the banning the burqa, niqab and chador. And, she says, the Left is on the wrong track when it comes to Islam. "The remarkable thing is that all across Europe the Left has relinquished the battle against Islamisation to the conservatives or rather the Right, which is of course abusing it, to various degrees, for populist ends. And the Left? It is relativising with false tolerance not only hard won Western values such as rule of law and equal rights, it is also ignoring the legitimate fears of the population."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 20.07.2010

If we are losing our powers of concentration the internet is not necessarily to blame, argues Alex Rühle. "Most of it is down to the usual attrition of the employee soul in the accelerated 21st century. ... Fewer and fewer people still dare to activate their so-called out-of-office assistant to signalise the end of their working day. The regulated work day, the five day week and its structured private downtime has now become as cosily anachronistic as Helmut Kohl's woolly cardy which has been laid to rest in the House of German History".

Der Tagesspiegel 21.07.2010

In his speech (here in shortened form) held on the 20 July in the Bendler Block in Berlin the historian Fritz Stern described the German resistance as apolitical individuals, not democrats, but people who at the end of the day heeded their consciences. They were not alone in this: "I believe that right across Europe the resistance was united by these things. There were people in Europe who risked their lives under the most brutal conditions in a tribute to decency, justice and human dignity, and who dreamed of a sane and peaceful Europe. Would it not be possible to honour these shared values by erecting a European memorial," which, Stern says, would include "the freedom fighters of Eastern Europe who came later."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 21.07.2010

Kai Strittmatter reports back from a stimulating evening at the theatre festival in Athens, where the German group Rimini Protokoll (more here) staged their "Prometheus in Athens". One hundred Athenians (99 of whom were non-actors) were asked to pick one of the protagonists from Aeschylus' 'Prometheus Bound' as a role model. "Almost none of them identified with Kratos, the god of power, until an 11-year old boy jumped onto the stage: 'I like power!' Prometheus, who moulded man out of clay, gave him fire and rebelled against Zeus, was the most popular choice. 'Because he shows patience and determination,' one 38-year old job seeker piped up."

From the blogs

In Telepolis Peter Mühlbauer reports on the extortionate sums of money that it costs to access scanned archive material in the public domain, if not Google but German publishers have anything to do with it. De Gruyter and Springer Verlag, for instance, are charging 27,390 Euro to access the Vossische Zeitung from 1934. Or you can buy an annual subscription for 5,390 Euro. This wouldn't wash everywhere in the world, Mühlbauer explains: "In Brazil it is about to become illegal to block literature in the public domain using DRM. The government there has drafted a new copyright bill whose clause 107 prohibits the blocking of access to works in the public domain. In the case of content that is still protected by copyright, charges can be brought to bear against any party which impedes or blocks lawful use."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 23.07.2010

The world premiere of Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Auschwitz opera "The Passenger" has finally taken place at the Bregenz festival in Austria four decades after it was written. Eleonore Büning asks: "Can the hell of Auschwitz be transformed, beautified and reduced by art to fit into an evening at the opera, with arias, solos, contemplative ensembles ang freedom choirs?" She replies with a resounding yes: "'The Passenger' may not be the first Auschwitz opera but it is a masterpiece. Why did it take so long for people to notice?" - let's talk european