From the Feuilletons


Monday 10 April, 2007

Der Standard 10.04.2007

French philosopher Andre Glucksmann explains in an interview why he'll vote for Nicolas Sarkozy in the upcoming French presidential elections: "What I expect from him is energetic decision-making. It's clear why this is necessary if you look from France to Germany: Here are two neighbouring countries, both with a social market economy. Both have to improve their systems, both need trenchant measures. And Germany is coping much better. Poverty is not as widespread, and let's not forget the country has absorbed 16 million 'Ossis'. During the same period, France has practically turned its back on five million people in the banlieues." And what about Bayrou? "Bayrou keeps stressing that his roots are in the countryside. But we learn from Proust that life in the country is also cruelty, idle banter, control. Bayrou embodies a nostalgia. For him the most important festival in France isn't the Cannes Film Festival but the Salon de l'agriculture. Historians have always been to France what philosophers are to Germany. Since Michelet, we've been living with an imaginary past. And that's what Bayrou thrives on."

Die Welt 10.04.2007

"A third-rate simulacrum" writes Ukrainian author Oksana Sabuschko on the demonstration by "blues" who have been herded onto the Maidan in Kiev in an attempt by the opposition to stage their own Orange Revolution. "But the saddest sight of all is when the 'blue' politicians on the stage try to talk to the people below: and all they get is a bewildered silence. This silent Maidan – above the stage with the loud speakers, below the silent masses – it's such a lurid metaphor for the relationship between the Soviet power and the Soviet people that you want to believe it's some grotesque happening or an experimental film called something like 'Goodbye Lenin 2.'"

Berliner Zeitung 10.04.2007

In an interview with Renate Oschlies, political singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann talks about life as an honorary citizen of Berlin. ("I don't have to pay for public transport. And, I get the local government rag for free, which means that I know before anyone else whether or not there's an impending rise in dog tax) and why none of these perks will mollify him. Shortly before being awarded the honorary citizenship, he referred to Berlin's ruling SPD/PDS coalition as 'criminal'. "Well, I was obviously being euphemistic. It's worse than a crime, in my opinion, that in Germany's capital, the democratic party SPD has jumped into bed with the heirs of the nomenclature. I have always found this politically obscene, and I've written the odd bit of prose and poetry expressing my views. And just because they've handed me this honorary citizenship, which was not awarded by the red-red government, but by other members of the Berlin parliament, I'm hardly going to change my opinion. Though I would like to say that the expression red-red always pains me like a toothache. Because the SPD is not red, but pink, it always was, and the PDS is black, reactionary."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 10.04.2007

Uwe Justus Wenzel comments on the silence of the post-modern ethicist Zygmunt Bauman who was recently exposed as having been deeply involved with the communist secret services in post-War Poland. "When Bauman accepted the Adorno prize in 1998, he talked, almost in passing, about 'salvation from the hopes of the past'. And how he had learned, through Adorno, about how to fight for this salvation. Zygmunt Bauman's fight, so it seems, is not over yet."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 10.04.2007

In the paper's ongoing series on megacities, Iranian author Amir Hassan Cheheltan writes about Tehran: "Perhaps you could describe Tehran this way: it's violent, but totally under the control of smog and noise. It's full of junk and kitsch, petty crime, paradoxical frivolity and political folly. The city is void of memory. It has hardly any old buildings, and yet it infects its inhabitants with the virus of nostalgia! Tehran has a million buildings, and yet the aesthetes and psychologists still haven't figured out whether they were put up in conformity with or in opposition to the mindset of its inhabitants."

Saturday 7 April, 2007

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Inspired by Piranesi's "Carceri", Martin Meyer has asked a group of authors to describe their "alternative worlds."

Philosopher Kurt Flasch lives out his alternative world for ten or fifteen minutes in bed each morning. "It's the first few minutes after I wake up. Whenever the evil outside world allows me the time, I remain lying there for ten or so minutes and let the ideas come as they may. I don't interfere with their jumbled order; I just give myself up to enjoying a fanciful quarter of an hour. I'm an early riser, work is waiting, and I know that soon my methodical daily routine will start. But it can wait for a couple of minutes."

Israeli writer Etgar Keret (website) tells of a "beach state" which has crept into existence almost unnoticed. "The majority of Israel's inhabitants know nothing about this modest, new state and simply think of it as 'Frischmann beach, Tel Aviv'. The governor of the state, Uzi Computer, doesn't seem too bothered. In fact, he tells me, stretching in the sand, 'It's probably better that way to be honest. Keep your head down. If it got round that we'd founded a new Hebrew state, just imagine what a fuss there'd be. We'd have refugees turning up. The UN would be on our backs. Who knows, some idiot would probably declare war on us.'" - let's talk european