From the Feuilletons


Monday 8 May, 2006

Die Welt, 08.05.2006

In a text on the future of journalism, Chief Executive of the Springer Publishing House Mathias Döpfner makes a plea for perseverance: "We're not going to go down, things are changing less than we think." In his opinion, the Internet will, if anything, complement newspapers. "As an information carrier, papers may be replaced by electronic paper. But the function of the newspaper is irreplaceable. Through journalism." He characterises the difference between the media. "The newspaper broadens, the Internet deepens. The newspaper works horizontally, the Internet vertically. The second significant difference is that in the Internet, the user guides the journalist. In the newspaper, the reader is guided. The Internet inverted the hierarchical relationship. It is selfless, anti-authoritarian, grass-roots democratic. The newspaper, on the other hand, is a self-consciously authoritarian medium" (here a speech by media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who sees things a bit differently).

Hubertus Knabe, historian and director of the Gedenkstätte Berlin Hohenschönhausen (more here) is appalled by the proposals put forward by the commission of experts that was called by the red green government to formulate a future strategy for the working through of GDR history. "The GDR is obviously being represented as too grey for the experts' taste. They complain about the 'primacy given to documents of state repression.' In my opinion, it's time for a 'file change' and a 'differentiation of perspectives.' With their suggestions, they definitely want to 'counter the clearly overemphasised concentration on the sites of repression and the division'... Even more worrying than this state subsidised Ostalgie (nostalgia for the East) is the expert's desire to centrally organise the commemoration of the GDR in the future. The proposal of creating a 'historical association' itself, recalls the planned economy of the SED, which forced every little business into a large combine."

Die Tageszeitung, 08.05.2006

South Korean pop culture is taking over Asia, reports Tilman Baumgärtel. "Korea fever started in 2002 with the TV series 'Winter Sonata.' The melodrama about unfulfilled love and accidental death moved girls, teenagers and housewives across Asia to tears, with record viewer levels in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and the Philippines, as well as parts of Russia. Oh Su Yeon, the author of the series, has followed it with 'Autumn Story' and 'Summer Scent'. The series made Korean actor Bae Yong June, who played the lead role in 'Winter Sonata' as well as several other soaps and love stories, into a pan-Asian superstar.... But it's not only the soaps that are making it big across Asia. South Korean movie melodramas and comedies like 'My Wife is a Gangster' are also hugely successful in cinemas and on DVD."

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 08.05.2006

Writer Matthias Politycki reports from the Italian town of Arpino, which grows by one lyrical monument each year. "The astonished visitor walking through the alleys of Arpino is greeted at every prominent location – not quite each corner - by a man-sized marble board bearing a poem. Often there is a bench in front of it, enabling people to read and reflect on the poem in peace. Then there are the flags – Italian, European and others, depending where the poet comes from. This project is not limited to Italy; there is French, Spanish, English, Czech, Russian and Swedish verse, always in the original language and often, on a second board in Italian translation, poems in Arabic and Chinese. The lyrical city map of Arpino displays, in its way, the entire world."

Saturday 6 May, 2006

Frankfurter Rundschau, 06.05.2006

Marcia Pally notes what she learned at the New York PEN festival "World Voices", which also had a hand in organising (more here). "There's better wine at the German parties than at the Hungarian ones, but there the music and dancing are better. What the esteemed authors present – Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Salman Rushdie, Felicitas Hoppe, Huang Xiang, David Grossman, Amartya Sen, Necla Kelek and hundreds more – taught me is the following: firstly, panel discussions about revolution can be spiritual, moving, bitter or bureaucratic, but never practical. After hundreds of discussions I still don't know how a revolution can get started."

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was born 150 years ago on Saturday.

In the Berliner Zeitung, Harald Jähner praises Freud for "understanding the interplay between our drives and their repression as the source of the most beautiful accomplishments of our civilisation." But what's it all led to? "The sexual practices that in Freud's day had to be couched in Latin even to a specialist audience, today make up the background patter on afternoon TV.... Our attitude to uninhibited sexuality is relaxed, even bored. Freud's charmingly stiff language has been replaced by the babble of Angelika Kallwass, moderator of a psycho-talk show on Sat 1. The author Michel Houellebecq ('Atomised') represents our blasé, bored attitude toward the tireless libido: the sad stylist of a de-scandalised swinger sexuality."

People feel relatively good about their culture today, writes Henning Ritter in an article entitled "The uneasiness in culture" (the literal translation of Freud's work known in English as "Civilisation and its Discontents") in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "The uneasiness Freud discusses didn't refer to individual cultural features, to this or that element of culture, but to cultural efforts in general, to their significance and their risk of failure. His cultural expectations were thoroughly traditional. 'Civilisation and its Discontents' is perhaps the last treatise on happiness. It's not about the increased delight gained through the high and the fine, but about being able to endure everyday life. Promises of happiness are proscribed, and anyone who heralds them is an imposter in Freud's eyes: 'Life as it is inflicted on us is too difficult, it causes us too many pains, disappointments, and insoluble tasks'." - let's talk european