From the Feuilletons


Ingeborg Bachmann Prize awarded to Kathrin Passig

The three-day Ingeborg Bachmann competition took place from Thursday to Saturday in the Austrian town of Klagenfurt. Writers read from unpublished works in a quest for Austria's most prestigious literary award, worth 25,000 Euros. This year Kathrin Passig won both the main prize and the "public's prize". Other awards went to Bodo E. Hell, Norbert Scheuer and Angelika Overath.

Paul Jandl of the NZZ enjoyed his weekend at Klagenfurt, but found the texts almost too good. "There are still the typical Klagenfurt texts. But this time, the economic under- and over-classes outnumbered the largest marginal group, the I's. There are no more self-reflective texts, rather examinations of the Hartz IV milieu (Claudia Klischat), the penitentiary inmate (Clemens Meyer) or the key account manager (Andreas Merkel). There's not much lacking in the texts, aside from the fact that their craft is so perfect it's almost boring. These texts are not beyond critique, they're made for critique."

Elmar Krekeler writes in Die Welt, "An icy wind of indifference blows over the texts. They go at the world from a distance. They don't want to get burned. Somewhere, one thinks, something should be smouldering, in the characters, hopefully in the authors. Please don't leave me so in peace. Move me, excite me, knock me off my feet if you have to. But nobody does." With the exception of the winning text by Kathrin Passig. "A dead funny thriller. A literary parable, a life parable. A picture of the world. A discovery. This is the world in which we find ourselves. Full of stray, desperate jokes."

For Passig, an online journalist (website here) and non-fiction writer, the story of a fight for survival in a winter storm was a first foray into fiction. In an interview with the FAZ online, Passig explains that she decided to participate in the competition after attending it last year as an audience member. "Based on my observations last year, I decided it should definitely not be a funny text, it shouldn't be about problems in a relationship and it should not contain bad dialogue." Passig, surprised by her listenter's mirth at her reading, "tried to look sternly at the audience. I'm talking about people dying! Maybe the video that introduced me had put them in a laughing mood."

Monday 26 June, 2006

Berliner Zeitung, 26.06.2006

Bachmann Prize winner Kathrin Passig and co-author Holm Friebe introduce "the next big thing. (...) This month's issue of Wired magazine calls 'going bedouin' a corporate trend – it refers to a company that has no physical base and exists only in the form of a website, employees and communication between them. 'Pop-up stores' are more than transitional use of vacant space, and they are not limited to five and dime stores. The trend in Berlin was initiated by Japanese luxury brand Comme des Garçons, which recently opened in a vacant wing of the Karl Marx Book Store. Various brands have followed. We recently received the business card of a Berlin dentist, on which there was nothing more than a mobile phone number and an email address. The reason: she has no practice, she's a freelancer who rents space in shared practices, wherever something happens to be free."

Die Welt, 26.06.2006

In an interview with Ulrike Langer, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales declares he doesn't believe in Internet egalitarianism or the intelligence of the masses. "It's true, Wikipedia as an institution is in many respects egalitarian and grass-roots democratic. But at the same time, we Wikipedians are also elitist. We believe that some people are idiots and would do better not to write for an encyclopaedia. And I'm also no prophet. I try to communicate that free licenses are not only influencing software development but also encyclopaedias. One of my most important tasks is developing the 'creative commons' platform, which develops legal models for exchanging and developing free licenses." Wales also defends himself against the accusation by Jaron Lanier that Wikipedia is digital Maoism (more here, Lanier's text here).

Saturday 24 June, 2006

Die Welt, 24.06.2006

In a long interview with Roger Köppel, the eminent German historian Ernst Nolte once more clarifies his position on Nazism, its links with Bolshevism and Hitler, as well as the key issue for future historians. "If I had just ten more years, I'd take an in-depth look at Islamism as the negation of the liberalistic American society. That would be a fitting end to my life's work, to examine after communism and fascism the third, the weakest it's true, yet also the most astonishing phenomenon in the resistance to the individualist uniformity of humanity." For Nolte, Islam is certainly not a new form of fascism, but "I would say that Islamism, - the extreme political form of Islam - reveals the very strong defensive reaction to intrusive capitalism that you also see in Nazism and Bolshevism." Is this the new "small dose of Nolte" that historian Götz Aly called for some weeks ago? See our feature "The logic of horror" by Götz Aly.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24.06.2006

The Pirate Bay, the Swedish Internet file-sharing service which is used the world over primarily for obtaining pirate copies, was recently removed from the Net. Gunnar Herrmann tries to explain why Sweden of all places has become a hotbed of pirate copiers. "Computers and fast Internet access have spread faster here than elsewhere... There are even ministers who've publicly acknowledge they had downloaded pirated copies from the Net. An EU directive on strengthening copyright protection on the Internet was implemented last year only after long discussions. And in Sweden they don't talk of pirate copiers, but about 'fildelare', or 'file sharers'." Pirate Bay is now provisionally back online and confidently awaiting the court's decision.

Der Tagesspiegel, 24.06.2006

The Polish city of Zamosc on the Ukrainian border was conceived as a "Padua of the North." Now the German art project "Ideal City - Invisible Cities" is stirring up much excitement in the town, reports Christina Tilmann. "Sabrina van der Ley, the artistic director of the Art Forum trade fair in Berlin, and her husband Markus Richter, until 2005 owner of a Berlin gallery, know absolutely everyone in the art world. Star artists from Francis Alys to Tacita Dean, from Pedro Cabrita Reis to Lawrence Weiner followed their call, and the local population can now only gape in astonishment at what has happened to their town. The citizens of Zamosc were suspicious at first, even aggressive, when the artists showed their installations, Richter said at the opening. Later that night, people celebrated in the city's former fortifications, there was free beer for everyone, the mayor came – and so did the police." - let's talk european