From the Feuilletons


Die Zeit, 29.06.2006

Conductor Christian Thielemann speaks with Christine Lemke-Matwey about his Wagner "Ring" for the Bayreuth Festival and the "dark German sound," which really does exist: "That's exactly what I love so much! Just like the Rossini sound. A German orchestra will always play the triplet at the start of Brahms' second piano concerto like this: Tyaaa-tyaaa-tyaaa-tyaa-tyaa-tyaa-tyaaa. An Italian orchestra, on the other hand, plays: Tyaaa-tyaaa-tyaaa-yapp-ta-ta-taa. There you have it! So the question for Berlin, for Germany, is: Have we still got it? Can we summon that? Nothing more. Since I don't own a tradition, I have to acquire one – as Goethe said. This is the kind of reflection that the 68ers disrupted. It's idiotic that someone who says "Negerkuss" (more) is considered xenophobic! So this shake-up pleases me just like the soccer World Cup pleases me: Finally we're a little less inhibited."

Evelyn Finger has visited the GDR memorials in Bautzen, Leipzig and Marienborn. There she met historian Joachim Scherrieble, director of the Marienborn memorial to the partitioning of Germany. "The biggest border crossing between the two Germanys, half way between Hanover and Magdeburg, was once the purgatory of the Cold War, a mile of torment, a menacing sluice between the two systems. Now highway traffic thunders on the A2 to the north, while Intercity trains race by to the south. 'Being a memorial,' says Scherrieble, 'means being more than just a permanent exhibition.' It means gathering stories, arguing with victims as well as with perpetrators, school classes and pensioners from the Bremen CDU Seniors. 'They come to have a look around, but the way they talk suggests that they already know it all.'"

Die Tageszeitung, 29.06.2006

The psychedelic rock band "The Red Krayola" (more) has been around for forty years. They've earned a lot of influence but not much money. Band founder Mayo Thompson explains why in an interview with Max Dax. "America is a weird continent. Many people lose track of their original idea over the years. That's very typical of America. Lots of careers – including my own - are nothing more than a string of possibilities that you've chosen to follow. You don't force things, but you're present and open to possibilities. There's nothing wrong with that. But you have to be careful that you stay faithful. Only then, without really intending to, do you realize a decade later: you've left tracks. Famous people are referring to you. That's America. That happens all the time. America is just another word for coincidental careers – careers that develop out of misunderstandings. Wittgenstein said the same thing, by the way."

"There are limits but there are also possibilities to overcome everything. With the head." These are the reflections of politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit on the French soccer star Zinedine Zidane. "He's now on a path whose end should and will be glorious. That's what makes the quarter final against Brazil so exciting. Strange, but tonight, I thought for the first time that it's not totally inconceivable that the final game could be Germany against France" (see our feature "The philosophical Madonna" by Cohn-Bendit here).

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 29.06.2006

Writer and poet Olga Martynova tells the story of house plants in the Soviet Union. "Of course, the word 'house plant' is not at all satisfactory. And dry Latin names recall more the academic salon than the dangerous distances that men in sun-helmets with weathered faces travelled to collect these plants over two or three centuries, or the slaves, camels and ships that carried them over sand and waters. Today I cherish these names. Soft little fir with tiny evergreen – asparagus; flashy lily-like blooms on a long fat stem – Hippeastrum (amaryllis) – with striped green or violet leaves. Geraniums were the only thing we didn't have. They were looked down on. Petit bourgeois, tasteless - inconceivable to have something like that in one's house" (here a feature "Moscow revisited" by Olga Martynova).

Der Tagesspiegel, 29.06.2006

Christiane Peitz talks with Andreas Eschbach, author of the novel "Eine Billion Dollar" (One trillion dollars) about Bill Gates and his foundation. Asked if Gates can abolish hunger with the 60 billion dollars he now has at the disposal of his foundation, Eschbach answers: "The hunger problem is not insoluble. There's enough food for everyone, but it's not always where it's needed. It's a structural problem, not one of quantity, so again it's a question of networking. The thing is to put the global system of mutual dependencies on an ever higher level. It's not a bad thing when someone tackles the problem with the kind of confidence that perhaps only an American can have. When someone earns more money than he can spend, why shouldn't he try make the world a better place?"

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 29.06.2006

The Green cultural politician Alice Stöver predicted it, and now it's happened. The Berlin Opera Foundation (more here), founded not long ago to much ballyhoo, will be at least 9 million in the red by 2009, reports Jörg Königsdorf. He knows what he'd do if he had the chance: fuse the Deutsche Oper and the Staatsoper under one artistic director, who could then push the East-West jealousies aside and run the two theatres along artistic criteria. "For example, from an artistic point of view, wouldn't it be much more sensible if Barenboim's Staatskapelle – which has long been ranked as the better orchestra internationally – played the major Wagner and Strauss repertoire in the acoustically much more suitable Deutsche Oper? Wouldn't it be better to have the solid orchestra of the Deutsche Oper for the day-to-day repertoire in both theaters? And do we really need two independent opera choirs for the two houses?"

In an interview, Iranian opposition journalist and sociologist Akbar Ganji muses over why there is no democracy in Iran. "Oil is the greatest hindrance to democracy in all oil-producing countries. Instead of promoting the development of these societies, oil, this gift from God, has held them back. Because we don't work. We just devour the money. If the state had to live off my money, it would have to consider my demands. But when money just falls into the lap of a state, that state doesn't need the people. We need the state but it doesn't need us. We are beggars of the state, we devour its bread. So no class can develop that's independent of the state. Civil society and democracy require the separation of state and society. To create a civil society that's has influence and can hold its own against the state, we need free enterprise. But we don't have that. Instead, 85 percent of the economy is controlled by the state. That's our weak spot. And not just ours. We share it with all oil-producing countries." - let's talk european