Features » Magazine Roundup


Magazine Roundup

Letras Libres  12.02.2012 (Spain/Mexico)

The writer Javier Sicilia, who has been standing up to the Mexican drug mafia with incredible bravery for some time (more here) engages in an enthralling argument with the journalist and Letras Libras publisher Enrique Krause about Krauze's new book "Redeemers" and the meaning of new libertarian movements such as Indignados or Occupy: "I see their message as anarchic-utopian", Krauze says."And that's undoubtedly a very good thing. But in political life anarchy is impossible." ("We have not earned it", as Borges once said). Anarchy is about morals. I prefer a soft version of anarchy, and that is liberalism. This is an attitude primarily: the willingness to argue instead of forcing things upon others; to prove and to justify instead of shouting loudest. Essentially liberalism is not the will to power, but the desire to know. It does not believe in belief, but in objective truth. Which is why the natural basis of liberalism is not love, which as Sicilia himself says, 'cannot be governed' – but tolerance, which for its part consists in radical respect for humankind, for the humanity of others and for whatever it is each person is and thinks."

Elet es Irodalom  10.02.2012 (Hungary)

Modern cities not only redesign themselves, but also their image. Budapest, unlike the other cities in the region, like Prague and Warsaw, has changed only minimally. The city has not branded itself and the government does not have the wherewithal to construct a contemporary image. The architect and urbanist Balint Kadar, sees Berlin as a good example for the future development of Budapest and remains optimistic about change, as he tells Tibor Berczes: "Berlin might be bigger than Budapest but as regards its standards and problems it has much in common with our city. Berlin is a city that is heavily in debt and which dared to take a big step and failed. Then it started taking smaller steps instead, which was the right decision. Since Berlin has had a limited budget it has become so much more innovative and people-friendly. Anyone who wants low prices and creative surroundings is moving to Berlin these days. In my opinion Budapest should consciously adopt this strategy and then when Berlin gets too expensive, people will automatically start moving to Budapest. Berlin might be more open to foreigners now but this tradition also existed in Budapest once upon a time and it can be revived."

Le Monde  09.02.2012 (France)

The only way to really understand Hungary, literary Nobel laureate Imre Kertesz says in an interview about the political situation in his country, is summed up in a quip by Marcel Duchamp: "There is no solution because there is no problem". Viktor Orban has bewitched the people like the pied piper of Hamlyn. "What I ask myself is why has Hungary has always disappointed? When revolution was shaking the rest of Europe, it supported Maria-Theresia! Since the 16th century the country belonged first to the Ottoman, then the Habsburg and finally the Soviet bloc. Each time it tried to play its own game within the bloc which had absorbed it. The strategy seemingly served us well. But only seemingly." Kertesz ends on a scathing note: "I am no historian, but Hungary has never had democracy - not in the sense of a political system but as an organic process that mobilises society as a whole. In Hungary's case this development was impeded by the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. And we have never caught up. From a historical perspective it makes practically no sense to expect democracy in this country."

L'Espresso  06.02.2012 (Italy)

No matter what you think about Mayan prophecy, the world is constantly coming to an end, writes Umberto Eco. In Italy at least, where everything is being constantly upended, and has been for thousands of years. "The fact that things are already so topsy-turvy certainly speaks for the end of the world. Just think that the rich once lived in the luxury palaces in the centre of Rome and the poor on the barren outskirts; today the houses near the Colosseum are falling to bits, with hanging toilets on their outer walls, and they are given away for next to nothing to people who don't care about them. The corrupt politicians on the other hand are moving into the [former immigrant quarter] Quarticciolo, just imagine! Back in the day the poor travelled with the train and only the rich could afford to fly. Now flights no longer cost anything and trains are getting more luxurious all the time, with bars that are only accessible to first class travellers. Once upon a time the rich went to Riccione or in the worst case Rimini to soak their bones in the Mediterranean. Now the top politicians all go to the Maldives and Rimini is full of Russian upstarts who have only just escaped oppression themselves. Where will it all end?"

Magyar Narancs  07.02.2012 (Hungary)

The former dramatist and avowed anti-Semite Istvan Csurka who rose to fame after the fall of communism as a far-right politician, and was recently made director of the new Nationalist Uj Szinhaz theatre in Budapest, died at the beginning of February. The liberal weekly Magyar Narancs remembers a writer who helped to firmly establish racism in Hungary's political landscape. "It is Istvan Csurka's fault that Nazism was reintroduced and gained official status again. Thanks to him Nazism was publicly reinstalled, thanks to him it could mobilise the masses, thanks to him it became electable again. It is because of Csurka that in the 21st century the far-right Jobbik party is a solid, medium-sized power in the Hungarian parliament. The party itself has at most taken care of its Facebook page. And this legitimate anti-Semitism or Nazism has poisoned and divided the country – possibly for ever."

Polityka  10.02.2012 (Poland)

A key to Wislawa Szymborska's poetry and philosophy can be found in her 1996 Nobel prize speech, even if she only referred indirectly to herself, according to Justyna Sobolewska (here in German) in her obituary of the Polish poet: "Like when she observes that 'poets today are mostly skeptical or distrustful even – and perhaps primarily – when it comes to themselves. They admit only reluctantly to being poets in public – as if they were somehow embarrassed about it.' And she stresses that 'inspiration' is not only the province of poets and artists but of people who set out to constantly question things and feed their brains with new challenges. People, in other words, whose curiosity never cools. Scarcely is one job over than 'a swarm of new questions forms. Inspiration, whatever that might be, stems from a constant I don't know'."

Stories from the Anglophone press:

In Vanity Fair S.L.Price explains why Barry Levinson's 1982 film "Diner" was more influential than "Bladerunner", "Sex, Lies and Video Tapes", "Raging Bull" and "Blue Velvet". In the Guardian, sociologist Richard Sennett evokes Montaigne to talk about new forms of co-operation. The TLS is completely absorbed by Wes Williams' book on the meaning of monsters. Commentary remembers Christopher Hitchens as Richard Drefuss' Justin Bieber. - let's talk european