From the Feuilletons


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 26.07.2006

Good old Bayreuth. "You stand in long lines for a pair of bratwurst, sip champagne in the smoky intermission restaurants, and then force yourself into a narrow wooden chair in the festival hall whose interior temperature, rumour has it, goes up to 50 degrees," writes Julia Spinola. "In spite of it all: The Bayreuth Festival is unique - and not only because of its unreformable mixture of staleness and glitter (...) Marc Albrecht now directs a 'Dutchman' the likes of which - so craggy and bold, so wild, so glowing and so deathly pale, so drastic in its extremes and so strict in its unfolding form - has been seldom heard. Wagner's original version of 1841/42 will be performed. Minus the final redemption at the end of the overture and opera, it surges ahead in an uninterrupted two hours. With stinging clarity, Albrecht allows the storms to rage within and without. The power of the sound is transparent and yet powerful, expressive down to the smallest gesture. And in a furious tempo driven by urgent desire, it is suddenly interrupted at certain places with moments of unreal stillness."

On the film page, German director Dominik Graf and his favourite director, Mike Figgis, carry on a wonderful conversation about the meaning of music in film, bad critics, and outsiders. Figgis relates the following story: "Once, my old friend John Calley, then head of the studio, contacted Orson Welles. He met him and said: 'I am the king here, come and make a film with me. What would you like to do?' By chance, two nights later he saw the Johnny Carson Show, where Orson, the guest, said: 'I have tried for ages to make another film in Hollywood, but no one wants me.' But Calley had just offered him a film only two days earlier. It was obviously better for Orson to convince himself that no one wanted him, than for him to attempt to surpass 'Citizen Kane.' It was more useful to be an outsider. After all, Hollywood is also about choosing whether to dramatically play the role of struggling avant gardist or to try to understand the language and use it to make your own film."

Berliner Zeitung, 27.06.2006

Detlef Friedrich reports on an exhibition put together by 50 eleventh graders in Eisenach in Thuringia, on the Nazi-era "Institute for Research and Removal of the Jewish Influence on German Church Life," in short the "De-Judaification Institute." In 1940 the institute published a version of the Bible "from which the entire Old Testament had been struck. It contained a 'de-Judaified' New Testament, a fully revised hymn book and a 'Jew-free' catechism, in which Jesus Christ was portrayed as an Aryan. The 'de-Judaified' version of the New Testament, also called the 'Volkstestament', was dubbed 'The Message of God,' and printed in a run of 250,000. Entire parts of the Gospels were omitted. Hebrew words like Amen, Hosanna and Hallelujah, all references to the Old Testament and all connections between Jesus and Judaism were also deleted." The exhibition "Gratwanderungen" can be seen at the City Hall in Eisenach until August 15.

Frankfurter Rundschau, 27.07.2006

"Nothing that Israel undertakes in this situation appears to be correct, but it would be utterly wrong to refrain from any military resistance," says Austrian-Israeli writer and historian Doron Rabinovici in defence of Israel's actions. "By now Hizbullah is no mere terror group. It has long been more powerful than the Lebanese Army. Since Israel's withdrawal six years ago, Nasrallah has been building up his arsenal of weapons. He has access to rockets that threaten Tel Aviv, armoured tanks and drones. In addition, the threat of Iran stands behind him. For domestic political reasons, Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad is seeking a confrontation with the Jewish State. In the case of a broader conflict, the militia in Lebanon would be a more immediate outpost of Iran. Why should Israel worry about the Mullahs' atom bombs and the reach of their rockets, when conventional rocket-launching bases can be set up a few kilometres from Haifa? Anyone who denies there is a dilemma here is lying."

Die Tageszeitung, 27.07.2006

For Paris-based Lebanese writer Selim Nassib, the Israeli military action is obscuring the divisions among Arabs. There is a "notable international, Arab and Lebanese consensus to neutralise Hizbullah in Southern Lebanon... Behind this virtual unanimity in the Arab world, the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites is now gaining the upper hand. While Gaza is in a stranglehold and Lebanon is being destroyed, the bloody war between the two communities in Iraq has not let up for a single day. The majority of Arabs are Sunni, and Saudi Arabia has no desire whatsoever to see Shiite Iran, strengthened by Syria and Hizbullah, become the spokesman for the holy Arab cause: the 'Liberation of Palestine.' Because that's the key issue in this mortal combat for ascendency." The article is unfortunately not online, here the French original.

Die Zeit, 27.07.2006

Gero van Randow sums up (strangely not online) the recent debate around citizen journalism, the end of authorship and 'digital Maoism'. For van Randow, himself an editor, news offices will always exist, as demonstrated by Wikipedia and Ohmynews. And even the other complaints we hear nowadays are as old as the hills, he writes: "When the printing press was established, books became mass commodities for all and sundry. This situation was bemoaned in the late 17th century by no less a mind than philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, who lamented that the 'terrible and ever-growing mass of books' would mean the end of authorship. Two millennia earlier, Plato had voiced a pessimistic critique of the phonetic alphabet, saying it would weaken the power of memory, and so wisdom itself." - let's talk european