From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Die Welt 14.02.2009

"Where's the next Ben Gurion?" asks Israeli historian Benny Morris. The Israeli politicians of the first decades embodied the sort of Zionist ethos which you could never dream of seeing in today's politicians. "Today's bunch are made of a very different stuff: Olmert, Netanyahu and Barack spent years accumulating fortunes, aided of course by their contacts and years in office. (Livni is an exception here: she is known for her clean hands and modesty). But in general the wealthy self-serving politicians reflect the development and the character of Israeli society in the last two or three decades: The shift from the collective to individualism, from socialism to capitalism from the slimness of youth to the middle-aged spread. This seems to be the case for all national and nationalist-socialist revolutions, among which Zionism undoubtedly numbers (even if in certain countries – see Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe – the shift over generation is embodied in a single head of state.)"

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 14.02.2009

China's government is preparing the military for an outbreak of hunger riots, reports Mark Siemons and explains in depth the desperate situation of the country's twenty or so million unemployed migrant workers. Part of the problem is the archaic division of the population into rural and urban dwellers. "The law is still in force, that a person who has inherited peasant status is not eligible for a 'Hukou' or city pass, meaning they will never gain proper rights to live in the city and access the social insurance there. Despite mounting criticism the Communist Party has failed to revise the law out of fear that a mass exodus from the countryside would overstretch the urban social systems. The combination of tradition, Communism and the modern social method of muddling through, had allowed archaic elements to enter China's capitalist system. To be a peasant is a blood-related social destiny and there is nothing the individual can do to change it."

Berliner Zeitung

Norman Foster shut his offices in Berlin and Istanbul at the end of last month, making between 300 and 400 redundancies. Nicolaus Bernau explains why the London star architect had an offices in Berlin in the first place. "From the perspective of London, Berlin was [until the drop in the value of the the pound] a low-wage city, just like Istanbul. The offices were slightly more expensive than they would have been in India but then here and in Turkey too, thanks to the German university system, there are plenty of well-educated engineers... Here young people are prepared to 'scrub up' plans for little money as they say in German architect-speak. And in cities where people can live well on not much money, that works."

From the blogs 17.02.2009

We have not seen the end of the Holocaust-denying Lefebvrist Bishop Williamson. Henryk Broder writes in Achse des Guten: Richard Williamson, the bishop who has just been in-communicated by Benedict XVI believes that God created the Earth in six days, that the human race is descended from Adam and Eve, he believes in immaculate conception and the virgin birth, in Mary's assumption, and the resurrection of Christ – the only thing he doesn't believe in is the Holocaust. Three days after his Regensburg speech the Pope apologised to the Muslims, but he is taking his sweet time about settling matters straight with Williamson. Which probably has something to do with the fact that not even the most idiotic Jews have felt the urge to burn any Pope dolls."

Frankfurter Rundschau 18.02.2009

Tobi Müller, introduces the 25-year old Swiss diplomat daughter and singer Emilie Jeanne-Sophie Welti Hunger, or Sophie Hunger for short, who has cast the whole of Swizerland under her spell. This has inevitably raised suspicions. "Sophie Hunger has gained a reputation in the mainstream media for being difficult in interviews. In fact she only wants to talk about her music. And nothing else. When asked why she writes such 'tragic lovesongs', Hunger replied that she didn't know what the interviewer was referring to and refused to say another word. So some channels and their paying audiences are talking about refusal and arrogance. Or coquetry. All notions that imply that she has something to hide. Who is this woman really, sounds the old and desperate sounding authoritarian question."

Die Welt

Wolf Lepenies remembers that Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (whose Futurist Manifesto was written 100 years ago next month) wanted not only to revolutionise art, but also cooking. Being extremely anti-pasta, which he saw as symbol for flaccidity, pessimism, nostalgic inaction and neutrality, he wanted to spritualise the menu. "The 'porco eccittato' (exalted pig) consisted of a peeled slice of salami, swimming in hot espresso, which was mixed with a shot of Eau de Cologne. A good set of teeth were all one needed to get down the 'pollo Fiat' which was suffed with steel balls and served with whipped cream. The 'sea platter of liberated words' on the other hand demanded the guest's full attention and associative faculties: 'On a sea of frizzy lettuce, adorned with squirts of ricotta, swims half a watermelon, on board is the sculpture of a small commander in Dutch cheese, who is commanding a flabby crew, alluded to by a calf's brain cooked in milk. A few centimetres in front of the prow is a cliff of Siennese gingerbread. The ship and the sea is sprinkled with cinnamon or red pepper.'"

Die Zeit 19.02.2009

In an interview with Giovanni di Lorenzo and Claus Spahn, the pianist Marizio Pollini talks about the diligence of Italy's musicians, the depressing political situation and the conservatism of the youth. "What I deplore in so many young artists is their meager interest in contemporary music. I can't believe that today's 20-30 year-olds do not know better. It is extraordinarily important that they learn about the great and wonderful music from the 20th century up until today. Audiences have to be sensitised. After all in the fine arts modernism enjoys far higher regard than in music."

Die Tageszeitung

In an interview Grandmaster Flash, one of the inventors of Hiphop talks about writing Hiphop history – his autobiography came out last year, the role of drugs in music and why iPods make him nervous: The 51-year old still can't get over the fact that no DJs carry around record boxes any more: "It was three or four years ago. I had just done a sound check when the next DJ arrived. I said to him: Son, where are your records? Grandmaster, he said, I got my records in my laptop, in this little box. I'm thinking this guy thinks I'm stupid. But he's setting up his laptop and shows me his data. These are MP3s, he says. I had to think of my son, who's been hassling me for months now to get him an MP3 player. But it made me feel like I was behind the times or something. You know, past my sell-by-date." - let's talk european