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16/08/2005

Magazine Roundup

Outlook India | Reason | 2000 | The Guardian | Le Monde diplomatique | Nepszabadsag | Al Ahram Weekly | Die Weltwoche | Le Nouvel Observateur | The Spectator | The New York Times


Outlook India, 22.08.2005 (India)

Almost 60 years after the Partition of India, the magazine grits its teeth and devotes an entire edition to this subject alone and demands a new writing of history. "In the great Amar Chitra Katha of the national imagination," writes Sunil Khilnani, professor of political science at the Johns Hopkins University. "Partition is an archetypal tale of tragic heroes and scheming villains, men who make sacrifices and others who betray." But Partition, says Khilnani was a complex political event. Religion was dealt with only on the margins. Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims - "each of these were internally divided and differentiated; and much of the violence that made Partition was not so much directly caused by these entities, but was a necessary means to define and bring them into existence - needed in order to freeze these identities hard."

A view from abroad. Christopher Hitchens recapitulates on the interweaving of his biography and India's recent history only to add a word of warning. "To get over their fixation on the British was for some Indians the work of a generation. To wean itself from the addiction to 'socialist planning' a la Russia took India itself almost as long. To replace this with an attachment to Hindu and ancestral pride - as Sir Vidia Naipaul sometimes seems to recommend - would be to miss the point of the historical and geographical crux that India now commands."

S. Anand talked to Arundhati Roy about India and state of the world and even managed to tease out of her a sceptical remark about her own role as an icon of global anti-capitalism. "Sometimes NGOs wreck real political resistance more effectively than outright repression does. And yes, it could be argued that I’m yet another commodity on the shelves of the Empire’s supermarket, along with Chinese cabbages and freeze-dried prawns. Buy Roy, get two human rights free!"


Reason, 15.08.2005 (USA)

In an interview with Shikha Dalmia the writer Salman Rushdie talks a bit about his new collection of essays "Step Across This Line" and a lot about not being able to separate Islam and terrorism with a clear conscience. "It reminds me a little bit of what Western socialists used to say during the worst excesses of the Soviet Union. They would say that that's not really socialism. There is a real socialism that is about liberty, social justice, and so on, but that tyrannical regime over there which was actually existing socialism is not really Marxism. The problem was that that's what there was. When that fell, in a way that whole intellectual construct of socialism fell with it. It became very difficult to ignore all these people coming out of the Soviet Union who detested the term socialism, because to them it meant tyranny. I think there is beginning to be that kind of disconnect in the discourse about Islam. There is an actually existing Islam which is not at all likeable."


2000, 15.08.2005 (Hungary)

The Hungarian writer Laszlo Krasznahorkai tells in conversation how a visit to China changed his life. "I saw the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven and the barbers on the streets and all of these things were part of a functioning ancient Empire – TODAY. The sense of TODAY changed suddenly and fundamentally. Then I travelled home and I was very happy. I stopped everything I was doing, I did nothing else, nothing at all, I didn't talk about it or write about it. I believe I was happy for the first time in my life. I was asked what I am doing. I said, nothing. Why should I? I'm happy. But it didn't last for long because I started looking at my Hungarian world. I drove to Tatabanya to the annual miner's ball. If I were able to bend my experience in China, to rescue, import, apply and transport it – in sum, if the world were truly one – then I would have been able to see the pissed drunk dancers as mythic figures. But that's not what they were. The knowledge that somewhere out there, an antique world exists, does not extend to include this, it doesn't change our reality. The world is ticking, alas, to different tempi."


The Guardian, 13.08.2005 (UK)

Since the Renaissance of English literature from India in the 1990s, British literary agents have been pouring through the country looking for the next Arundhati Roy, a new Salman Rushdie or V.S. Naipaul. William Dalrymple reports that so far, they haven't found much. Not surprising. "As far as writing in English is concerned, not one of the Indian literary A-list actually lives in India, except Roy, and she seems to have given up writing fiction. It is not just that the diaspora tail is wagging the Indian dog. As far as the A-list is concerned, the diaspora tail is the dog."

On another front, Nicholas Lezard calls Theodor W. Adorno's "In Search of Wagner" ("Versuch über Wagner") criticism of the highest order.


Le Monde diplomatique, 12.08.2005 (France / Germany)

In an abbreviated version of a speech he gave, Jan Philipp Reemtsma sketches the fragile relationship between religion and secular society. "For a religious person, a secular society is a society of errors. The clergy of Teheran shares this view with the orthodox clergy of Jerusalem and that of Rome. Combating his secular society is a clear goal of Islamic groups all over the world, combating it in Israel is an objective of a part of the political spectrum and combating it the world over is the explicit goal of the former Pope Johannes Paul II." Secular thinking, on the other hand, should not concern itself with religious symbols such as the veil, says Reemtsma.


Nepszabadsag, 12.08.2005 (Hungary)

The journalist Judith N. Kosa expresses her surprise at the success of the new website of the Education Ministry and the National Archive. With the "Family tree. Memory", anyone can place certificates, letters and other documents online at no cost, can organise the data with family tree software and can discover points of connection with other families. Shortly after its launch, roughly 10.000 people had placed their family trees online, had gotten to know each other in Chatrooms or had written family novel blogs. "The director of the national archive, Lajos Gecsenyi, said that the social upheavals of the last fifty years had resulted in a loosening-up of human relationships. Any knowledge that on has of his or her forefathers is often merely coincidental. This amounts to an enormous burden for society." According to the author, the website, working on the grassroots principle, will become an important instrument for the writing of Hungarian history.


Al Ahram Weekly, 11.08.2005 (Egypt)

Ezzat Ibrahim tries to make sense of Janus-faced political scientist Francis Fukuyama's thinking. A year and a half ago, Fukuyama proclaimed the end of history and the final triumph of western liberalism. Fukuyama advises the Bush administration, but carefully calls the Iraq war a mistake; he is one of the most respected neo-conservative political commentators, but in the last election he voted for John Kerry. "On one thing Fukuyama is clear. 'First,' he says, 'America has never created democracy abroad. People who live in a society that want it have created democracy. The US can't simply decide it wants to democratise this part of the world, it has to build on internal discourse that is pushing in that direction. That was my basic objection to the whole concept of Iraq, that there was a theoretical possibility that everything would fall into place in Iraq and it would develop like Eastern Europe did after the fall of communism.'"

The London-based Iraqi writer Haifaa Zangana claims that not Islam, but the American occupation of Iraq is destroying the rights of women there. And Youssef Rakha reports on the 41st International Festival of Carthage in Tunis.


Die Weltwoche, 11.08.2005 (Switzerland)

"MRR is an 85-year-old pop star, who entertains his audience with book reviews," comments Julian Schütt after an indeed very entertaining interview with an impatient Marcel Reich-Ranicki. "I hope your tape recorder works. Just so you don't say later that the tape was dysfunctional. This is a one-time deal. So let's go!" The critic didn't deny that his canon of German drama contains only men. "I don't choose books on the basis of their authors' sex organs. My belief is: German-language women cannot write plays. I know, I come across as misogynous when I say that. People want to throttle me, and I hold up Marieluise Fleißer as an example; Bertolt Brecht did more than just look over her shoulder. She lived 40 years after her relationship with Brecht, but didn't manage to write one piece in that time."


Le Nouvel Observateur, 11.08.2005 (France)

Is French cuisine in a crisis, or is it just the Michelin Guide? The title story looks at a new phenomenon in the gastronomic heights: the return to reason. More and more restaurant owners want to escape the high prices and "dictatorship of the Michelin", and have even been known to give back one of their hard-earned stars. Their new credo: you can be first class and cook with a highly personal style even "without chichi and tralala". The young cooks of the Generation.C are: Fabrice Biasiolo ("Une auberge en Gascogne"), Benjamin Tourcel, Gilles Choukroun and David Zuddas. The Nouvel Obs is already calling them the "Hussars of the table", who have broken waves to "desacralise" French cooking: "Most chefs of the new generation reject the 'system' and the 'pressure' of the Michelin. They have a passionate love for their profession, but they don't want to collapse under the weight of it. And they can't stand the arbitrary, dumb decisions any longer."

The magazine also features an interview with Pascal Ory, publisher of the book "Discours gastronomique francais des origines a nos jours" (Gallimard), on the decreasing waning significance of French cuisine, and a portrait of chef Thierry Marx. In his restaurant Chateau Cordeillan-Bages in Medoc he offers a menu for 60 euros. One person eats for free at each table – and must give an elaborate judgement on the chef's creations in return. The dossier also contains a small lexicon of "trendy cuisine".


The Spectator, 15.08.2005 (UK)

Bruce Anderson takes a sober look at the controversy about the Iranian nuclear programme: Nothing can come of European attempts at diplomacy, and the USA is geo-politically not so certifiably insane as to attack Iran. So what to do? Anderson's suggestion: "Let them build nukes." The comparison with the other nuclear powers also speaks in favour: "If the Chinese, Indians and Pakistanis have nuclear weapons, why not them? They are more democratic than Pakistan, while their human rights record is much better than China’s."


The New York Times, 14.08.2005 (USA)

Amanda Hesser visits Bruno Goussault, head of the CREA, to find out for the New York Times Magazine why good restaurants now shrink-wrap their meals before they cook them. "Sous vide" is the name of the technique that combines vacuum packing, low cooking temperatures and deep freeze in exact plans. "For meats and fish, there is a window of doneness between 52 degrees Celsius (about 125 degrees Fahrenheit) and 62 degrees Celsius (about 144 degrees Fahrenheit). Below 52, you risk bacteria. Above 62, you begin denaturing proteins. Goussault then put one piece of salmon in a thermal circulator set at 56 degrees Celsius and one set at 53 degrees Celsius to see if they could raise the final internal temperature to 54 and 50 degrees respectively without changing the texture they had achieved in the piece they had cooked to 47 degrees. Food cooking in a thermal circulator looks a bit like an animated version of a Damien Hirst sculpture - abstract animal parts suspended in a vibrating liquid."
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