From the Feuilletons


From the feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 27.11.2010

Gerhard Gnauck explains why the Nazis so feared Chopin: "In 1940 the German authorities issued their "cultural political guidelines" which imposed tight restrictions on musical life in occupied Poland. 'Primitive entertainment' was permitted, also erotic music, but nothing with any elements of 'artistic experimentation'. Polish 'marches, folk songs and classical works' were verboten. And the 'spirit of Polishness' was to be kept out of every occasion (...) Among themselves – and illegally of course – the Poles most loved to play the 'Revolutionary Etude' and the Polonaise in A flat. 'The most interesting thing was that you could still buy works by our greatest poets in book shops but it was illegal to play Chopin,' explains the pianist Jan Ekier and quotes Robert Schumann's famous saying that Chopin's music was a 'canon buried under flowers'." Swjatoslaw Richter ably demonstrates:

Die Welt 29.11.2010

After it was discovered that a high-ranking employee at the Hannah-Ahrendt Institute for totalitarianism research in Dresden had been a Stasi informant, Alan Posener lists a number of other blunders from the within the Institute and calls for its closure. He even calls into question the concept of totalitarianism itself: "The trouble with the concept of totalitarianism is that it does away with the responsibility of the conservative elites. They were the ones who handed over power to Hitler, and supported what at first was a weak and anything but 'totalitarian' dictatorship. This is precisely why the institute attracted historians who wanted to 'historicise' the Holocaust and relativise German guilt in the interests of a new cultural patriotism."

Die Welt 02.12.2010

Thomas Schmid, who shares Posener's poor view of the Hannah Ahrendt Institute, disagrees with him over the concept of totalitarianism, calling to mind the Berlin Congress for Cultural Freedom in June 1950. "It was run by intellectuals who were persecuted under the Nazis but who were not prepared to follow the siren calls of the communists which were promising a perfect world free from class-related antagonism, when what they had actually established or were establishing was another violent system. These intellectuals had no other choice but to talk about National Socialism without keeping quiet about communism. This anti-totalitarian anti-communism belongs to the best traditions of the West, it is liberal and anti-authoritarian, and there is no reason to abandon it."

Berliner Zeitung

Birgit Walter sums up the spending cuts in the various German federal states and communities: "Of course it is an outrageous cultural achievement that every seventh opera house in the world is in Germany. According to die Zeit we have 84 of 560. As long as they are full and people love them, the nation is willing to fork out subsides of as much 100 Euro per opera ticket. But if the theatres are half or even a third empty and the respective cities are on the brink of collapse, it should be permissible to ask questions about cutting cultural budgets."

Die Tageszeitung 30.11.2010

Obviously hoping to score some points by showing up the USA again, the Arab papers made a big-splash announcement about the Wikilieaks cables. But since their release, writes Karim El-Gawhary, things have been eerily quiet, and not a word has been said about the statements by Arab potentates. Not even on al-Jazeera: "This gives a particular piquancy to the words of the Saudi ambassador in Washington who quoted King Abdullah as saying: 'Cut off the head of the Iranian snake.' Or when the Egyptian president Husni Mubarak calls the Iranians 'big fat liars' and describes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a man who is 'incapable of rational thought', and who 'is always causing trouble'. Or when the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, suggests to the USA that they 'send in ground forces if air strikes are not enough to take out Iranian nuclear targets. The diplomatic cables paint a picture of Arab leaders who are too cowardly to speak their minds in public and who want the US to do their dirty work."

Jungle World

One of the sources for left-wing culturalism, in the case of the Green party for example, is ethnology and anthropology, according to Danish author Frederik Stjernfelt, whom Ivo Bozic interviews about his book on culturalism (excerpts in German at perlentaucher: "Many of the discussions that are taking place now were more or less anticipated in 1949 when the association of US anthropologists protested against the United Nations draft Declaration of Human Rights, on the grounds that individual universalism violates cultural rights. Since that time culturalism and human rights have been competing with one another in the UN and in international politics."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Censorship is the only word for it writes Slavenka Drakulic on the move by Bosnia's cultural minister to stop Angelina Jolie making a film about a rape victim who falls in love with her tormentor. No one has even read the script yet. "There is no doubt that the rape of Bosnian women is an extremely controversial issue. But this does not mean that it  should be-off bounds for cultural interpretation.[...] Would it not be more prudent to deal with the real problems and frustrations of women who have actually been raped in Bosnia [an estimated 20 – 50,000 of them in total] instead of creating new problems. Their suffering – through no fault of their own – from marginalisation and rejection within their own communities, is much worse than anything that could result from a love story from a Hollywood star who wants to make a directorial debut."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Green Euro MP
Daniel Cohn-Bendit writes a long, meandering text on Jean-Luc Godard's 80th birthday, which touches on their shared but very different backgrounds as revolutionaries, on Godard's "Antisemitism" and their fallout after Cohn-Bendit praised "Breathless" too loudly. Towards the end Cohn-Bendit describes the visit he paid to Godard earlier in the year. "I think he was determined to make his peace with me. I got the impression that there is something precarious about his relationship with the outside world. With me, I believe, Godard felt something he rarely encounters, meeting on equal terms. We are not in competition, we are working on different planets. He finds that relaxing, and interesting... At the end I asked him: 'Don't you want to make another film?' He answered: 'Yes, yes, I do. And I want to make it with these.' He pulled out two gadgets from of his pockets. The first was a ball point pen. He held it up and said: 'Look, this is what spies have today, it has a camera on one end.' The second was an alarm clock. It also had a built-in camera." - let's talk european