From the Feuilletons


Spiegel Online, 18.07.2006

In an interview, the German-Israeli historian Dan Diner explains why Israel is striking back so hard at Hizbullah. "With this war, this government is defending to a certain extent the borders of 1948. In the places of spatial depth – as was once the case in Gaza and is still so on the West Bank – there is now, in the cases of withdrawal, an even greater inclination towards violence on the part of the Israelis if the border limits are not respected... There is no concrete military goal that Israel would have to achieve to restore its ability to terrify, which it thinks it has lost. At the moment, Israel is simply playing out the image that it has in the region and that is feared: it is sort of playing crazy – with the result that its ability to terrify has been increased. Its enemies should be persuaded that Israel is a crazy, unpredictable state."

Berliner Zeitung, 18.07.2006

British novelist Nicholas Shakespeare explains in an interview why Leipzig plays the main role in his novel "Snowleg," which has just come out in German. "When I was on a reading tour in Germany in 1990, I realised that neither my publisher in Hamburg nor my other West German friends were interested in visiting East Germany. They all waved it aside. 'Ach, they just want our money, it's boring over there, ugly, dirty.' In Leipzig, I went to the Stasi museum. There I found jars of honey with pieces of felt in them. I was told these were smell samples of 'protagonists', like in a novel. I thought what an unusual culture, where you kidnap the smell of a person and preserve it for years in a jar. Like a perverted version of Proust's Madeleines. Maybe that's the way to preserve experience? And forty years later, you take the lid off... maybe that's a typically German image? I admit, I didn't have much interest in Germany growing up. But then I suddenly discovered that we're all Saxons. So I went back to Leipzig and asked the people what it was like to live in a forgotten country."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 18.07.2006

Lebanese writer Hassan Daoud describes the suddenness of the outbreak of war and criticises the political forces in his own land, that don't dare restrain the Hizbullah warmongers. "A Lebanese will say that the point in time was poorly chosen, because he can't say what he wants to say. It's about a collective timidity, from which only those are exempted who hold high the slogan of war and armed struggle. For decades, they have been allowed to determine what is forbidden and what is allowed. And so the same thing keeps repeating itself: houses rolled flat, deep bomb aisles, endless currents of refugees."

Sociologist Natan Sznaider describes Israeli desperation at the current conflict: "If Israel acts moderately, the other side only becomes more radical. The Palestinians voted Hamas into government, and in so doing they made it clear that they aren't interested in Israeli plans for withdrawal. In answer to this election result, the Israeli citizens penalised the Israeli Right and elected a government that clearly stood for territorial compromise. But no sooner did this government take office than rockets were fired on the south of Israel on a daily basis."

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 18.07.2006

Kathrin Passig
, the winner of this year's Ingeborg Bachmann Prize (more here, her story here), tells what it's like to win such a prize unexpectedly, "which was perhaps awarded for the text I submitted, perhaps also for an idea, a moment of happy coincidence. Certainly, many factors came together: the film shown before the reading, the favourable timing of the reading itself, and possibly even the weather. In any event, the short moment on one Saturday morning has now been recorded in all the media, and myself with it, like an insect covered unexpectedly by a drop of sap as it was going about its business. The sun shines through the resin, the insect looks a little silly caught out like that, and specialists declare it a paradigm case of some circumstance or another."

Guido Fischer has attended the German premiere of the work "Klang (sound): the 24 Hours of the Day" by composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. After the first hour, entitled "Himmelfahrt" (Ascension), was performed last year in Milan, the first four hours have now been played in Stockhausen's home town of Kürten, near Cologne. "'Freude' (Joy) is the name of the second hour, an arabesque, decorative piece for two harps. In 'Himmels-Tür' (Heaven's Gate), the fourth hour, percussionist Stuart Gerber uses a ritual-archaic knocking sound to signify entry through a wooden door. And in 'Natürliche Dauern' (Natural Duration – the third hour), the first 15 of a total of 24 piano pieces had a surprising retrospective element. Extensive use of the pedal produced lingering, hushed tones in a three-fold homage – to the slow-motion minimalism of Morton Feldman, to Henry Cowell's chord agglomerations and to Alexander Scriabin's immaterial sound constellations. Originally Stockhausen wanted to have the 'Sound' cycle finished by 2028 – to mark his 100th birthday. But as he seems to be making faster progress than anticipated, he's moved the date ahead. And once he's done with the hours, he'll move on to the minutes and seconds." - let's talk european