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06/12/2011

Magazine Roundup

MicroMega 01.12.2011 (Italy)

Largely ignored by the German press, a 'Ndrangheta trial came to a close on November 19 in Milan with over one hundred convictions - an epochal trail, enthuses Roberto Saviano, author of "Gomorrha". For the first time, the Mafia structures of northern Italy led to convictions. The decision "showed once and for all that mafia organisations are also largely at the helm in northern Italian business. In the South they apply more violent means to get the business they want. They see the Mezzogiorno as a territory utterly at their disposal. The North, by contrast, is a place of polite silences, lucrative businesses, an absence of anti-mafia culture within institutions, and a robust Omerta respected on all sides. A perfect place." In the same issue Paolo Flores d'Arcais and Marco Travaglio discuss euthanasia. And Giona A. Nazzarohas written an obituary of the great documentary filmmaker Vittorio De Seta. See here his six-minute film "Articolo 23" on the new inhabitants of an abandoned village in southern Italy - a small lesson in globalization:




Volltext 05.12.2011 (Austria)

Bernhard Fetz, Director of the Austrian Literary Archives, takes up the cudgels for Hermann Broch, the most underestimated author of Austrian modern literature: "In what Thomas Bernhard deemed his best book, the 'Esch' section of his 'The Sleepwalkers' series, the bookkeeper Esch despairs that in the world accounts do not tally as neatly as they do in the ledgers. The author, who was forced into exile by the Nazis, also failed to keep his books neatly. Much of his work remains fragmentary, and his literary production, which included one of the most daring literary experiments in the history of modern literature, the novel 'The Death of Virgil' was also accompanied by increasing doubts. But this is precisely what makes this author so fascinating."


Elet es Irodalom 02.12.2011 (Hungary)

Sociologist Maria Vasarhelyi views the Orban government's attack on the cultural heritage of the country as "Talibanisation". But the Left and the Liberals are not free of guilt either, she opines. "For the past century they have allowed themselves to be shut out of the nation and the fatherland. Whether out of mental inertia, cowardice, or a sense of guilt of indefinite origin, they accept with bowed heads that they are being denied their Hungarian identity, their bond with the nation and the fatherland. This hate-filled politics of division led the country into the most horrible tragedies of the 20th century, and is holding together Orban's right-wing supporters today."


Magyar Narancs 24.11.2011 (Hungary)

A good two weeks ago the Hungarian government made the surprising announcement that it would engage in new negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. Too late to prevent being degraded by the rating company Moody's. Since the financial crisis of 2008, Hungary had depended on credits from the IMF (and the EU), until after being voted in as head of the government Viktor Orban accused the IMF of asserting "foreign rule" over Hungary and terminated all contact with the organisation. However, the old leftist philosopher Miklos Tamas Gaspar cannot relish in Orban's defeat: "Regardless of whether the system of Viktor Orban, which operates against the people, is brought down by a ... vote or a protest on the street, this must happen through a free act by the Hungarian population. Now and then solidarity from other countries is quite nice, but this kind of influence on our institutions is not desired."


Telerama 06.12.2011 (France)

After a long wait, la Decouerte is finally publishing the complete works of Frantz Fanon in a single volume. Like Guevara, Fanon is an icon of anti-colonialism and died fifty years ago from leukemia at the young age of 36. Juliette Cerf emphatically recommends a rereading of Fanon, less for his most famous work "The Wretched of the Earth" than for first book "Black skin, white masks". "Shortly before his death Fanon ceased to fear the gaze of the white settler: 'His gaze no longer convulses me, paralyses me.' Precisely the perspective of 'the fundamental experience of the black person' is at the core of 'Black skin, white masks', a breathtaking work published in 1952 and an 'essay towards understanding the relationship between black and white', which is also a philsophical statement and clinical study. Just like the anti-Semite makes the Jew Jewish (Sartre), so too does the black exist only in the eye of the whtie: 'I am a black but naturally I don't know it, because it is what I am.'"


Salon.eu.sk 01.12.2011 (Slovakia)

Why is there an underlying sense of dissatisfaction spreading throughout Russia, when the election results are so clear, jeers author Victor Erofeyev: "The great Russian writer Nikolai Gogol once noted in a private letter that his unwritten works were his 'heavenly visitors'. That is, they already existed in heaven and just had to descend to earth, safely landing in the author's mind. That's basically what I have to say about the Duma elections due on 4 December, as well as the presidential election in March. The good news is that their results have already been written in Kremlin heaven and all state politics has to do is bring them down to earth safely without any scandals and misunderstandings."


Reactions in the German press to the death of Christa Wolf 02.12.2011

Die Tageszeitung marks the passing of the former East German author Christa Wolf by describing her as a "cultural monument". Various voices recall the earnest humoir of her speech of 4 November 1989 on Alexanderplatz and describe her importance in the West during the 1980s: "Christa was cool. She was avant-garde, also in the West. The misused female body is the truly and singularly enthralling element of her work." Die Welt remembers the highpoint of her fame in the 1980s and the bitter debate about the later disclosure of her essentially insignificant role as the informer "Margarete". And Tagesspiegel states: "She was always only interested in understanding the mistake as a path. Skepticism was for her the best means of combating the self-assurance of all ideological thought, which is why she never gave up hope that a right life must be possible in the midst of a wrong one, because over the long term many rights must be able to correct widespread wrongs."


Here her televised appeal to the East German people in the fall of 1989:




From the Anglophone Press

In Salon.com Will Doig debunks the myth of the "cyclist-as-gentrifier" and David Cronenberg talks about his working methods and film "A dangerous mind". Also, in an interview Al Aswany says that he is less concerned about the election victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt than about the Salafists, who are supported by Saudi money.

In the Guardian, Shaun Tan, a renowned Australian children's book author and illustrator, talks about his work and his fans' tattoos. Also, Kathryn Hughes describes how British publishers are standing up to the eBook, and Nicholas Wroe reports on the Bejing Music Festival and its emphasis on Mahler.

In The New York Review of Books, Yasmine El Rashidis blog entry describes the horror experienced by Egyptian revolutionaries at the election results: the majority vote having gone to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. Freeman Dyson presents Daniel Kahnemann's new book "Thinking, Fast and Slow", which explains why we cling to our cognitive illusions.

In response to Evgeny Morosov's much discussed, gloating polemic against Jeff Jarvis' most recent book "Public Parts", the Columbia Journalism Review provides Dean Starkman's better-founded refutation of Jarvis, Clay Shirky and other internet enthusiasts who like to proclaim the end of journalism. Starkman argues for a "neo-institutional" approach: "My model would take lessons from The Guardian/News Corp. case and would be institution-centred, network-powered. In that case, traditional investigative reporting broke the story, while social media propelled it to the stratosphere." Whereas Clay Shirk counters in his blog: "The old landscape had institutions and so will the new one, but this doesn't imply continuity. We still have companies called Western Union and ATT, but as the communications landscape changed, they have become almost unrecognizably different from their former selves. Likewise, as the presses fall silent over the next ten years, even papers that survive will see their internal organization and their place in the ecosystem altered beyond our ability to predict."

Wired features the iPad competitor Kindle-Fire in an interview with aspiring techy star, Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos, and Shahan Mufti sheds light on how Art.sys is finally bringing the digital revolution to the global art market. Also, Benjamin Wallace sketches the rise and fall of the e-currency Bitcoin, and Mike Kessler profiles the IT-wonderboy Christopher Soghoian (website), who has made it his job to find holes in the internet security of telecommunications companies.
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