Features » Magazine Roundup


Magazine Roundup

Der Spiegel | The New Republic | Outlook India | L'Espresso | Le Point | Gazeta Wyborcza | The Spectator | Reportajes | Nepszabadsag | Heti Valasz | Heti Vilaggazdasag | Die Weltwoche | The New Yorker

Der Spiegel, 19.06.2006 (Germany)

For forty years, writer Günter Grass boycotted the Springer Publishing House but recently, he met for a conversation with Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner. Politically the two still do not see eye to eye, but Döpfner was prepared to admit that the conflicts around 1968, Rudi Dutschke and Heinrich Böll were detrimental to both the country and his publishing house (some background). "Until today. Through misconceptions and misguided developments in the Bundesrepublik. Through a corral if not bunker mentality at Springer. And through clichés that hold until today." But he was not prepared to go further. "Grass: 'What Springer did to Böll is a disgrace for your papers. I would actually like to ask you, dear Mr. Döpfner, to summon the courage to apologise for this in a prominent place and in clear terms.' Döpfner: 'Mr. Grass, having read the early foundational texts of the 68ers, all I can say is that the apology has to start there.'" See our feature on "The future of journalism" by Mathias Döpfner here.

In an ongoing debate over the Stasi files, the former federal Commissioner for Stasi Files Joachim Gauck (more) responds to the demands of the so-called Sabrow Commission to take greater account of everyday life in reflecting on East German history. "The attempt to come to terms with the East German dictatorship is going to fail if we limit the discussion to the atrocities of the Stasi. In fixating on the secret service, significant aspects of life in the 'socialist' society remain ignored: neither the leading role of the SED nor the various modes of adaptation and careers. The population of East Germany was greatly influenced by a fear-driven conformity syndrome, which was not forged by the police and secret service alone."

In an interview, Simon Rattle responds to critics who have charged him with flattening the sound of the Berlin Philharmonic. "It doesn't make much sense for me to say 'Give me your old Karajan sound!' The vast majority of the Philharmonic has never heard it." More important is "that the sound lifts up from the ground, on wings, that it rises high."

The New Republic, 26.06.2006 (U.S.A.)

Ryan Lizza provides an amusing report of the first meeting of liberal bloggers in Las Vegas, the "Yearly Kos", put on by the Website Daily Kos. Everyone found the event very signficant, but the atmosphere was a little heavy after the guru of the scene, Armando, confessed to being a corporate lawyer for Wal-Mart. "Las Vegas could be the beginning of a new era of blogger influence and authority. Or it might just be the weekend they all sold out. This uncertainty over what will happen at the first major convention for liberal bloggers drives Yearly Kos participants into a strange and ritualistic dance. Throughout the four-day convention, bloggers, politicians, and reporters circle one another like a trio of underwater species not quite sure who eats whom anymore. The bloggers alternatively ridicule and suck up to the reporters. The politicians prostrate themselves before the bloggers one minute and then roll their eyes at them in off-the-record pow-wows with the 'mainstream media' the next. The press smile and yuk it up with the bloggers during the day and escape to decadent, MSM-only meals at night. All three groups seem to agree that everything in their respective spheres is changing because of the blogs, but nobody is quite sure how."

Outlook India, 26.06.2006 (India)

Outlook India has a special on Bollywood Music. In a long article, Sunil Menon provides a history of Indian film songs and explains their great importance. "The film song is the song video non pareil—an imaginal realisation of modernity, a magnified visual field on which sexual desire is projected and sublimated in tightly ordered metaphors. Remember all those open declarations of affection in public parks. The hero in white drainpipes, the lady in increasing aspects of coquetry, gambolling around fountains and neat rows of flowers. The park is a critical locale: as nature, it beckons our sexuality, but it is an organised, controlled piece of nature. Only so much amour can be tolerated, only intimations of the erotic. The romantic duet of film is pure surrogate sex."

L'Espresso, 22.06.2006 (Italy)

In his regular column, Umberto Eco refuses to grant the Pope forgiveness for his recent speech at Auschwitz, in which he characterised the horrors committed against Jews as a function of the times. "There were always warmongers and pacifists in the church and this opposition itself undermines the argument that the times were as they were. Many managed to turn against the mentality of their own epoch; in addition to Saint Bernhard, who claimed to eat a Muslim for breakfast and another one for dinner, there was St Francis. And Mother Theresa was a contemporary of Oriana Fallaci."

Le point, 16.06.2006 (France)

In his "Notebook" column, Bernard-Henri Levy recalls his visit to Guantanamo last year and demands – after the recent suicides – the "immediate closing" of the prison camp. Guantanamo is "certainly not Auschwitz, and neither the number of inmates nor the conditions of their internment, nor the status of the majority in the large army of the international Jihad make it possible to turn it into an American gulag, as the Bush-opponents, in a Pavlovian reflex, try to do." But alone the "existence of this zone of non-justice" has "something deeply shocking about it, for the prisoners hopeless and for the image of the USA, disastrous," which is "simply beneath the worth of a great and powerful democracy." In addition, an immediate punishment should be meted out to the "evil dunce of a commander who, upon hearing the news of the three suicides, could find no better reaction than to criticise them for 'not respecting' human life -sic!- and calling their death not an 'act of desperation' but an 'act of asymmetric war' being waged against the USA." Levy concludes that the democratic state is not to be defended with the means of a state of emergency.

Gazeta Wyborcza, 17.06.2006 (Poland)

The selection of an architectural design for the future Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw is threatening to end in a scandal. Four members of the jury stepped down last week, after the Polish regulations ruled out some famous competitors (including David Chipperfield and Eduardo Souto de Moura). Warsaw architect Michal Borowski says, "I regret their decision but the rules of public commissions (proof of tax payments, clean criminal record) are clear. The competition will not be repeated, as the jury members who stepped down have demanded – that would be illegal."

The papal visit at the end of May and Benedict XVI's visit to Auschwitz in particular are cause for reflection. After some authors (Daniel Goldhagen among others) accused the Pope of remaining silent on the issue of the Catholic church's participation in the Holocaust, the historian Anna Wolff-Poweska claims, "Goldhagen's intentions and those of the Pope have nothing to do with one another. While he is seeing the Auschwitz visit as a political event, Benedict XVI considers it a spiritual one. Goldhagen is only interested in murdered Jews while the Pope wants to honour all Nazi victims; one is placing blame, the other is opting for love and hope. Goldhagen chooses the outcry, Benedict XVI, silence."

The Spectator, 17.06.2006 (U.K.)

Susan Richards is more than a little perplexed by America's foreign relations with Russia and its neighbouring states. The Americans have shocked the Russians by supporting the Rose Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. "Almost unreported, a US naval ship docked in Crimea as part of a Ukraine–Nato military exercise the other day, amid continuing discussions about the country's admission to Nato in 2008. The Crimea is, if you remember, still home to Russia's navy. Is this gunboat diplomacy or am I a turnip?" Richards explains that Russia answered by putting economic pressure on both countries. Georgia is no longer allowed to export its fruit, vegetables or mineral water to Russia. The USA is showing no signs of helping their allied partner out of this precarious situation. "If once again we inspire people to stand up to the Russians, then abandon them as we did in Hungary in 1956, who then will trust us?"

Reportajes, 18.06.2006 (Chile)

Author Mario Vargas Llosa is clearly relieved at the results of the Peruvian presidential elections. But at the same time he calls on two-time winner Alan Garcia to do his duty: "The victory of Alan Garcia is a serious setback for Venezuelan near-dictator Hugo Chaves' megalomaniac plans for a network of satellite states across Latin America that will follow his populist-nationalist-statist model, which is speedily turning Venezuela into a typical third world banana republic. In the last five years the Peruvian economy has grown 25 percent, the country enjoys high credit worthiness worldwide, and international investors are just waiting for the green light from the new government. If president Alan Garcia moves in a responsible, intelligent way and refrains from demagogy, the country could finally start on a path of sustainable progress during his term in office, like Chile and Spain before it. It would simply be irresponsible not to take advantage of this chance to modernise Peru."

Nepszabadsag, 16.06.2006 (Hungary)

Music critic Miklos Fay complains that György Ligeti, who died last week and was perhaps Hungary's most renowned contemporary composer, is hardly known in his home country of Hungary. "It's shocking. Only a few of us mourn his passing because they know all his works and are sad that there will be no more of them… There will also be no more concerts for politeness' sake where foreign orchestras play 'Lontano' as a bold act representing the triumph of modern music to a yawning Hungarian audience. Ligeti should be played when only when the music is used to convey a message to an interested audience. We are now posterity. It's up to us whether the world keeps on spinning without Ligeti, but with his music.”

Heti Valasz, 16.06.2006 (Hungary)

The earth is racing towards an environmental catastrophe set off by technical development and a profit mentality, says the novelist György Spiro in an interview. Pessimism is consequently the only realistic worldview: "My biography demonstrates it too: I was never pessimistic enough to not be surprised by all the dire twists of events. I was always more optimistic than I should have been. It's a mistake to confuse pessimism with a dramatic turn of mind. The dramatist sees the world and its conflicts, but discovers no solution. When one conflict pushes another into the background, that's a far cry from being a solution." The major figure of his novel "Gefangenschaft", "which takes place at the time of Jesus of Nazareth, is also not sceptical. Even in the last moment of his life he has an unpleasant surprise."

Heti Vilaggazdasag, 14.06.2006 (Hungary)

The Hungarians attempted to free themselves from the Soviet occupation in the 1956 popular uprising, which was bloodily quashed by the Red Army. Today 1956 is a favourite topic of Hungarian politicians, but few citizens are really aware of what happened. Two young authors - Andras Papp and Janos Terey – are the first to deal with the events of 1956 free from ideology in a play for the theatre. Director Peter Gothar reflects in an interview about the Hungarians' collective memory. "The events of 1956, this whole thing that happened 50 years ago - we still have no exact name for it - effected absolutely everyone in the entire country. 1956 changed the fate of our parents indirectly because many families were separated. The dramatic street scenes had a cathartic effect on the children at the time. You could put it like this: 1956 was the war experience of the post-war generation. But we still haven't worked through it all, we still can't deal with it openly today."

Tamas Vajna sums up the depressing conclusion of an unpublished report about the European media, put together by ten European universities. The report finds that it is increasingly difficult for European journalists to work independently: "'Journalists from Eastern and Western Europe have entirely different ways of approaching their work. In post-socialist countries, editors tailor their value systems to match those of the owners or the politicians. In Western Europe, journalists see themselves as autonomous social actors,' writes Andras Kovacs, sociology professor at Budapest's Central European University and head of the Hungarian team.... Western European editors, for their part, are too strongly influenced by their networks with economic and political elites, which are viewed as the norm in South and Eastern Europe." Editors in France complain "that the key figures in politics, business and the media all went to the same universities, and opinions from the Netherlands and Italy corroborate these findings."

Die Weltwoche, 15.06.2006 (Switzerland)

Julian Schütt visits the successful Swiss writer Martin Suter in his hacienda on the island of Ibiza. Sitting under the pergola surrounded by blooming grapefruits, Schütt finds that the former advertiser does everything right, both in his life and in his writing. "He knows that to talk with philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, 'you have to start with the atmospheric conditions.' Suter sums up what could also make a normal economy-class life better, for example that Louis Vuitton bags are barely good enough for transporting animals, and that it's not healthy to cry on an empty stomach. But above all, that reality gets away from us faster than we think."

Further articles: Walter De Gregorio presents German-Swiss dual citizen Pascal Zuberbühler, the controversial goalkeeper for the Swiss national football team. Alain Zucker talks with Michael Berg, who finds no pleasure in the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (more on Zarqawi here), who murdered his son. Simon Brunner tries his hand at selling the street magazine Surprise.

The New Yorker, 26.06.2006 (USA)

was a forerunner of the Cool, writes Peter Schjeldahl after a day in the MoMA show, which originated in Paris. "Those who wondered what it meant could never know. Because you had to be there, the most informative exhibits at the Modern are video-projected films, especially the delirious 'Entr'acte' (1924), by René Clair and Picabia, with a score by Erik Satie. A dancing ballerina, viewed from below through glass, turns out to be beefy and bearded. Duchamp and Man Ray play chess on a rooftop until a jet of water clears the board. A droll Tyrolian marksman is shot to death. His hearse breaks loose from the camel that is pulling it. Mourners follow in a wackily leaping run, filmed in slow motion. The hearse crashes in a field. The dead man, revived, touches the mourners, who vanish." - let's talk european