Features » Magazine Roundup


Magazine Roundup

Lettre International | Prospect | Die Weltwoche | Elet es Irodalom | L'Express | The Times Literary Supplement | L'Espresso | Outlook India | Al Ahram Weekly | Literaturen | The New York Times Book Review

Lettre International
, 01.04.2006 (Germany)

The upcoming football World Cup serves as a pretext for Mexican writer Juan Villoro to reminisce about the best footballer of all times. And that's Diego Maradona, the "God with small feet" who saved SSC Naples in 1984. "It's one of the wonders of football, the sheer enigma of Maradona's body. He's 1.62 metres tall, sleeps till eleven, and runs around listlessly, taking time to digest. (His huge portion of spaghetti on Saturday evenings always made him rather conspicuous at the Sunday game.) Yet his body is still peculiarly taut. Even in tails, he looks like he's going to block a ball with his chest at any moment. He's made football into an art, of the most capricious and theatrical kind. There never was a team who relied so much on one player. Not even Pele played such an undisputed position of power. In the World Cup in 1986 Diego convinced us that with him at the helm any of the national teams could have won."

Prospect, 01.04.2006 (UK)

Canadian social critic Michael Ignatieff explains in an essay why the only solution to the dilemma over security and human rights is to continue banning torture and coercive interrogation, even in the much-touted "ticking bomb cases". These "might arise especially where an American or European city faced the threat of WMD. An outright ban on torture and coercive interrogation leave a conscientious security officer with little choice but to disobey the ban. In this event, as the Israeli supreme court has said, even a conscientious agent acting in good faith to save lives should be charged with a criminal offence and be required to stand trial. At trial, a defence of necessity could be entered in mitigation of sentence, but not to absolve or acquit. This is the only solution I can see that remains consistent with an absolute ban on torture and coercive interrogation."

Die Weltwoche, 27.03.2006 (Switzerland)

Peter Rüedi talks to Austrian jazz musician Joe Zawinul, who is touring Europe at the age of 74, giving 30 concerts in five weeks. A conductor who is also renowned for his keyboard bass lines, he is considered by many to be the blackest white man. "I wouldn't describe it like that, but it's true, I simply get on well with black people. In a way we have the same sense of humour. In Vienna we'd say, it's a little like our 'charm'. Our dialect in Vienna is pretty close to a walking bass line. Miles used to say, 'No one can write bass lines like you.' In fact it's really happening in Vienna at the moment, even in our neck of the woods, if I can put it in those terms. You can't heap enough praise on the Swiss musician Mathias Rüegg, and what he achieved there with his Vienna Art Orchestra. "

Elet es Irodalom, 24.03.2006 (Hungary)

After the icons of Hungarian film Istvan Szabo and Gabor Body were uncovered as former spies for the Hungarian government (more here), the producer György Durst believes Hungarian film is welcoming in the next generation: "Over the last 20 years the studio has been my workplace, the centre of my world, the playground for my childhood fantasies, my film school, it formed the spiritual and moral chapter of my life. Now it turns out that it's been a place of deception and the scene of personal tragedies played out by heroes and cowards.… The prize winners at the Hungarian Film Week (winners) are proof that the next generation has arrived. The international jury members had a broader perspective and were able to judge the films better. Without any pressure from the Hungarians, they awarded the most important prizes to the new generation.… Now that Istvan Szabo's shady past has been made public, the changes in the film industry can no longer be reversed."

L'Express, 27.03.2006 (France)

As part of a series of interviews in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in Israel on March 28th, this week Israeli writer Amos Oz explains why he believes in the "separation" rather than the "reconciliation" of Arabs and Israelis. When asked about the essence of the conflict he responds: "It's not a war of cultures, nor one of religions, even if certain people wish it were. It all revolves around the simple question: who owns the land? Our country is tiny. Both peoples have a right to be there. How could anyone dispute the fact that it's the home of the Palestinians? Which it is, just as Holland is home to the Dutch. And equally who would question the Jews' right to the land? Historically it's clear this is the only homeland they have, there's never been another. In this situation there's no good and bad as Europeans often like to believe. It's not a western film; it's not a fight between good and evil. It's a real tragedy because it amounts to a conflict between two rights to entitlement."

The Times Literary Supplement, 24.03.2006 (UK)

After reading John Lewis Gaddis' history "The Cold War", Edward Luttwak states categorically: "There is no justification for Cold War nostalgia. The sanguinary threats of truculent preachers, pious murderers and elected fanatics and the variegated violence du jour of fanatical Islam are all small potatoes as compared to the peril of nuclear obliteration that attended entire decades of the Cold War. And to think of the unthinkable, even if Islam’s true believers were to acquire one or two nuclear weapons and use them too, there would still remain almost a world of difference between the detonation of a bomb or even two by wild-eyed fanatics deluded by promises of black-eyed virgins, and of 20,000, 25,000 or 30,000 megaton-yield weapons systematically delivered on target by disciplined military professionals dutifully obeying verified release orders."

L'Espresso, 24.03.2006 (Italy)

Interviewed by Denise Pardo, Belgian writer Amelie Nothomb verges on desperation when discussing reality shows and television as a whole. "We are all part and parcel of it, and corrupted by a form of television where God equals money and the ideology of exposure holds sway. We no longer have the right to keep our feelings, desires and emotions under wraps. Scorn is poured on people who keep things to themselves. Here the rule is absolute transparency. You can do anything, you just have to tell everyone about it. Today's television nullifies the centuries it has taken us to establish our civilisation's laws and values. 20 years of television were enough to do away with them."

Outlook India, 03.04.2006 (India)

"The Indian elephant makes dazzling moves, as we all know by now, but what if the dance-floor itself is tilted?" Asks economist Bimal Jalan in the lead article on the state of the nation. "Close to sixty years after Independence, India has indeed become one of the fastest growing economies of the world. Hardly a day passes without somebody saying that India is arriving or has arrived," Jalan writes. "I have no doubt therefore about the potential for the next threshold, a 9-10 per cent growth, but I do have extreme doubt whether we can actually reach that level. The main reason for this is what I call the public-private dichotomy." Righting the imbalance between the two sectors involves, for Jalan, urgent reform of the public authorities and taxation.

Shiv Visvanathan reviews a clever and entertaining book of essays on the significance of coffee, tobacco and cartoons in Tamil cultural history. And Devangshu Datta is delighted that with "Goalless. The Story Of A Unique Footballing Nation", a book about Indian football has come out in time for the World Cup, and asks why soccer still hasn't become a mass sport in India, even though it's played everywhere.

Il Foglio, 27.03.2006 (Italy)

Year on year in San Remo the picture becomes clearer: Italian music is in a bad state. But there is a ray of hope glimmering in Sicily of all places. A new music scene is exploding there, enthusiastically portrayed by Bruno Giurato (pdf). "Roy Paci, for example, from Augusta, born in 1969, singer and trumpeter. In the new release of 'Zelig Circus' he conducts his 'Aretuskas' (named after 'Aretus', the ancient name for Syracuse) with Claudio Bisio's troupe. The genre oscillates between reggae, mambo, pop and cabaret. Paci has something of the Latino about him with his dark glasses and Al Capone pin-striped suit. He breaks into conversation immediately: 'My grandfather always used to say: before you can run, you have to learn to walk. You need to know where you're coming from. I think Rosa Balistreri has the ultimate voice (here some songs by Etta Scollo, the Balistreri interpreter). Musically I was born in a band, not in a conservatory; the concerts on the piazza and the processions, a place for the southern trumpeters to practise."

Al Ahram Weekly, 23.03.2006 (Egypt)

Iran-scholar Hamid Dabashi sees "the bugbear of a band of neocon artists" in the open letter against Islamic totalitarianism signed by Salman Rushdie and other artists and intellectuals in the French weekly paper Charlie Hebdo. Dabashi doesn't shy away from drawing a link with the Holocaust: "The current anti-Muslim plague, running loose throughout Europe and the United States, banks on the white Christian repertoire of anti-Semitism that has now shifted its focal attention away from the Jews and re-directed itself towards Muslims. Under the guise of the freedom of expression, and positing their racist prejudices in colourful colonial Enlightenment shades, prominent European opinion-makers, as fully evident in their leading newspapers and magazines, are letting loose their racist bigotry in ways unprecedented since the horrid records of European pogroms that ultimately led to the Jewish Holocaust." However this doesn't stop Dabashi from occupying a teaching post at Columbia.

Further articles: Ayman El-Amir looks at the pros and cons of a "pan-Arab satellite television" with the upcoming start of Al-Jazeera International TV. And geologist Rushdie Said writes about his dream of transforming the Egyptian deserts into a myriad of lush gardens.

Literaturen, 01.04.2006 (Germany)

Jutta Person went to Rome to visit the publicist (Micromega) and philosopher Paolo Flores d'Arcais, who describes the climate in Italy on the eve of elections: "Over the last few years Italy has become incredibly more vulgar. And when I say vulgar, I don't mean the number of naked women you see around. The ethical, aesthetic and anthropological climate of this country has simply been completely demolished". But he finds it ridiculous when the omnipresence of the President is sometimes referred to as fascistic. He believes it's important to remember that no physical abuse is taking place (even if he names the anti-globalisation demonstrations in Genoa as a counter-example). Your life isn't at stake; you just risk your career or being made redundant".

The New York Times Book Review, 27.03.2006 (USA)

Paul Berman cannot hide a tinge of disappointment on reading Francis Fukuyama's new book "America at the Crossroads": "Fukuyama is always worth reading, and his new book contains ideas that I hope the non-neoconservatives of America will adopt. But neither his old arguments nor his new ones offer much insight into this, the most important problem of all — the problem of murderous ideologies and how to combat them." - let's talk european