signandsight's from the feuilletons

From the Feuilletons

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what’s been happening in the German- language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27.06.2008

In his acceptance speech for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation literary award, author Ralf Rothmanns talks about freedom, and excoriates the “borderline fanaticism of certain politicians for screening and control”: “This state knows everything about me, my preferences, my illnesses, my triumphs and my poverty-stricken phases; its cameras are on me wherever I go, wherever I stand, and I, a citizen on the wrong side of the security veil, am increasingly left in the dark. Freedom of the individual human being means being able to have a secret, indeed, freedom is his deepest secret. But freedom of the state means transparency and this is increasingly hard to detect. On the outside I am free to press any button I want, but it seems in the end I am always connected to the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung 27.06. 2008

During the Germany-Turkey game in the semi-final of the Euro 2008, Gustav Seibt was at a reading by poet Max Goldt. In the second half though, he went out onto Oranienstraße in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, which has a Turkish population of around 30,000. “The bars, the house fronts were draped in black-red-gold joined like brothers in arms with the star and half moon of the wonderful Turkish flag, often sewn together in a patchwork image. The same could be said of the general mood that night which was affectionate and joyous. The red block cheered when the cameras picked out Angela Merkel in her specs, and there were the usual sighs and cries. (…) The evening was a demonstration of the sort of socio-cultural mix which integration sceptics, who only see the Turkish flag as a red alert for Germany, never see. Turkish girls in wrapped in red and white, drinking beer from bottles, standing side by side with cuddling lesbian couples, a few curious Fellows from the Wissenschaftskolleg – ‘congratulations’ – minimal police presence and clusters of fans rubber necking in front of every big green rectangle.”

Frankfurter Rundschau 26.06.2008

The notorious German writer Ernst Jünger has been incorporated into the Pleiade, the French library of classic literature. Author and translator Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt cannot believe it, or rather, he is stung by the inevitability. “A publication of this sort seems almost to intentionally push German emigre writers, the German resistance to Hitler’s barbarism, into the background. The true Germany is therefore not Alfred Döblin, Thomas Mann or Walter Benjamin – all emigrants, if not whistle blowers. As such they haven’t the remotest chance of being received into the ‘Pleiade’, after all they are on the wrong side, that of the resistance, the same side as de Gaulle. Incredible but true, this is a form of justification for the collaboration and a Europe without Jews or communists.”

Frankfurter Rundschau 25.06.2008

Arno Widmann witnessed a memorable meeting at Schloss Elmau, between Tariq Ramadan, the controversial voice of European Muslims, and Jürgen Habermas, the “leading theorist of the new world confusion.” Extremely impressed by Ramadan, Widmann was inspired to consider whether German Jews were not the first Germans. “Most Germans saw themselves as Hesseners, Frankfurters, Bavarians, Pfalzians rather than Germans. The Jews were not given the opportunity to see themselves as Bavarians. They wanted to be Germans. Perhaps Europe is in a similar situation today. The Irish are first and foremost Irish, the Danish are Danish, the Germans Germans and the Belgians are primarily Flemish or Walloon. Immigrants who are prevented from becoming Irish, Danes and Germans but who are called upon to be more European that Europeans ever were, have no option other than to become Europeans. They will be the first true Europeans. No Europe without Muslims.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung 24.06.2008

On Saturday, Günther Verheugen criticised Jürgen Habermas’ comments on the Irish veto, although he admitted that this “vote threw up questions which should not be ignored. We are Europeans but we are not a European people. This makes the decision processes in the European Union tedious, and the one-to-one transfer of the democracy principle at a European level nigh on impossible. The national right to veto, which was exercised by the Irish much to Habermas’ approval, is precisely the sort of hindrance which continues to delay potential progress. Yet this is the only way to go.”

This, Habermas parries today, will only result in the Irish being inflicted with “the unworthy spectacle” of a second referendum. “We should not blame either side for what has become an unbridgeable conflict over the future of Europe; it is simply a political fact. What I am accusing Verheugen and his colleagues of, is repressing this conflict. They are burying every constructive thought about Europe in the tedium of their technocrat talk. It is untrue that, as Verheugen insists, we can simultaneously retain the current political modus and get a deeper European consensus. To try to force 27 going on 28 ever-diverging member states into the same corset and ‘realise more democracy’ at the same time, simply cannot work.”

Frankfurter Rundschau 24.06.2008

The FR publishes the full interview (orignally published in part by die Weltwoche), between Jonathan Littell and Andre Müller. After an amusing start they get down to the nitty-gritty, discussing, among other things, Peter Handke and his love of Serbia. “When a family is sitting it its house in Foca and suddenly someone bursts in with a machine gun, chains up the daughter to the radiator and rapes her in front of her family, this is no laughing matter. Okay, you might say, the world is like this. But you don’t have to go up to these criminals and start shaking their hands. This is obscene and yet it is precisely what Peter Handke has done. He should keep his mouth shut. He might be a fantastic artist, but as a human being he is my enemy. You have to keep things separate. You can be immoral as long as you keep to art. But as soon as you leave it and start talking politics, other rules apply. If you compare Handke with Celine, a fascist who wrote anti-Semitic pamphlets, you will understand what I’m talking about. Celine was a wonderful poet, and I can say today that I value him greatly, because he’s dead. But had I lived in the 30s, I would have tried to kill him. Okay, Peter Handke is not killing anyone. But he’s an asshole.”

Frankfurter Rundschau 23.06.2008

In an interview with Michael Hesse, French Islam expert Olivier Roy locates the origins for the radicalisation of young Muslims not in Islam but in Western politics: “The West thinks that Islam is the root of radicalisation, so we automatically see Bin Laden as the trailblazer of the Muslim world. We should really be fighting him as a terrorist, not as a Muslim. Young Muslims do not become terrorists because they read the Koran or frequent a mosque. They do it for effect. They are the true heirs to the ultra left-wing groups of the 1970s: obsessed with America and Wall Street, they are more anti-imperialist than any proponent of Sharia. You only need to look at the videos of the hostage decapitations in Iraq to see that they are replicating the murder of Aldo Moro by the Red
Brigades – this has nothing to do with the traditional Muslim imagination.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung 23.06.2008

The UN Security Council last Thursday classified rape as a strategy of war, which constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity or a component of genocide. Croatian writer Slavenka Draculic cites one argument used by rapists which will have no legitimacy in the future: “While working on my book ‘They Would Never Hurt a Fly’ about war criminals on trial in the Hague, I came across the ‘Foca Case’. This is the case of three Serbs who captured three Muslim girls, tortured, enslaved and raped them. But the men didn’t seem to understand why they were having to stand trial. One of them spoke the following words in his defence: ‘But I could have killed them!’ From his perspective he had saved their lives.”

Frankfurter Rundschau 21.06.2008

Ester Jacobs talked to Boris Groys, curator of the retrospective of Russian conceptual art currently showing in the Frankfurt Schirn, “Total Enlightenment”. “The prices are soaring. The reason is simple. Wealthy Russians have started buying this art. They are falling over each other to buy it…. Russian buyers have a highly sentimental relationship to this art. It is the art of their youth. It is a mirror to the world they come from, and the unique combination of horror, love and irony which feeds this work is not unlike their own relationship to the Soviet past.”

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