From the Feuilletons


Monday 23 July, 2007

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Author Najem Wali warns not to confuse the state support of culture in Iraq with a renaissance in cultural life. What's really going on: artists are being paid to glorify their patrons. "Unfortunately, politicians find their equivalent in precisely those groups of artists who were trained under Saddam to deal opportunistically with the power structure and learned the advantages of satisfying the needs of their 'patrons'. One needn't be too surprised that no cultural renaissance has taken place since the American invasion – but rather an extraordinary explosion in the number of festivals and new 'cultural advisory boards'." (Read a feature by Wali on the Arab Writers Union here.)

"Where all think alike, no one thinks very much." Biochemist Gottfried Schatz quotes American writer Walter Lippmann to vent his unease at contemporary discussion about climate change. "Our planet's climate system is so complex that we don't even know all the factors that influence it. Aside from the much-discussed 'greenhouse gasses' carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour, thre are other factors including fluctuations in solar and space radiation, changes in the position of the earth's axis, continental shifts and changes in the ocean currents, altered transparency of the atmosphere, changes in vegetation cover and the evolution of new forms of vegetation. As long as we cannot reliably predict the weather for the next week, it seems quite bold to predict it for the coming decades... Many of us hesitate to publicly recognise our knowledge deficits, because the powers that be could use that as a pretence to go on recklessly squandering our planet's resources."

Der Tagesspiegel

Frederik Hanssen takes a look at the history of applause. "Theatre or concert audiences are especially happy when they feel they are part of the opinion-making process – when bravo and boo calls compete. And there have been mythological moments: the fisticuffs and insults in 1913 in Paris over Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' or in Cologne in 1926 with Bartok's 'Miraculous Mandarin,' where the theatre's iron curtain had to be lowered in order to end the tumult. But even more recently, at opera premieres in Berlin, opposing parties have been ready to do battle and the mood has been baser than in the soccer stadium."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 23.07.2007

For the FAZ am Sonntag, Julia Encke interviews the sociologist Wolfgang Sofsky (more), who, in his coming book, defends the private sphere in Germany against ever greater impingements in the name of terrorism control and tries to explain Germans' resignation to these contraints on their freedom. "There's something missing in Germany: anti-totalitarian consciousness. We've had anti-communism, we've had anti-fascism on command, but we've had no clear-sighted anti-totalitarianism. While totalitarian regimes have existed on both German soils, there is no fully-developed sensitivity for the threat of freedom."

Frankfurter Rundschau 23.07.2007

Director and enfant terrible Christoph Schlingensief talks with Katharina Wagner about hair styling, costumes and Bayreuth under the helm of Wolfgang Wagner. Wagner's "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg" premieres on Wednesday, and Schlingensief's "Parsifal" starts 2 August. "Schlingensief: 'Wagner's screaming really did shake one to the marrow. 'Do your shit alone. I'm not interested any more. You have artistic freedom.' Those were his three sentences. But then he'd get curious and come back ten minutes later. That was the best thing that could happen. Yesterday at the rehearsal I thought, isn't that a bit tasteless, with your own father?' - Wagner: 'But he's the same way with you. I was impressed by what he said to you when you painted the church and went to him and said: look, Mr. Wagner, that's art and he said: 'If you say so.' It's much the same with me."

Saturday 21 July
, 2007

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 21.07.2007

Sören Urbansky reports from the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, where tens of thousands of migrant families must live in yurts for lack of other accommodation. "The family's low beds are pressed against the walls. The television is directly beside the altar, and its flickering screen shows a a sumo wrestling match broadcast live from Tokyo. Badamsuren's younger sister is meanwhile playing an online game on her notebook. 'We've had Internet access for the last two months - wireless, of course,' says Badamsuren. Nevertheless her siblings still go have to fetch drinking water twice a day in canisters from the local well." - let's talk european