“There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Posts tagged "German"
After all that we were, what shall we be?

After all that we were, what shall we be?

The war that would slash modern history, our contemporary awareness of humanity, into before and after, leaving a gaping void between the two states, seems not to have happened at all in the opening pages of Annette Hess’ ambitious and complex debut novel The German House. It is 1963, the year of Hitchcock’s The Birds,...
More than itself

More than itself

More than a poet, Rilke, one might argue, is a supreme embodiment of a Platonic idea of the artist, a sublime abstraction of the power of art and of words to haunt us and to grant us life. Even when alive, he was less a person than he was a persona, a complex yet intangible...
The soothsayer

The soothsayer

A courtyard, a fountain, a pond with small grey fish. Around it walls, columns, a cloister. At its centre a staircase leads all the way up to the four stoutest columns bearing a roof inscribed with golden lettering. Flame, undo that which is ephemeral. Liberated is the eternal. I climb the steps, pause in front...
The mountain king

The mountain king

In the popular imagination, German history, culture and even reality closes down in 1918 with the end of WWI, the end of the German Empire and its Central European logic, the end of all order based on the authority of hereditary power, received structures, hierarchies, even typography. A strange, fantastical interlude begins, officially called the...
A hunger artist

A hunger artist

In the past few decades public interest in the art of fasting has drastically declined. While it used to be very profitable to put on big, stand-alone exhibitions, doing so today would be completely impossible. It was another time. Back then, the whole city would get caught up in what the hunger artist was doing;...
Horses

Horses

Helli is sitting in the middle of the forest path watching me approach. Aladdin is a few metres further on, drenched in sweat, his flanks quivering. My horse slows of her own accord, allowing me to focus and regain control over myself, the reins, the situation. As soon as Scheherazade has dropped back to a...
Crying wolf

Crying wolf

Millennial moments are full of auguries and momentum, real promise or sly illusions. They trick us into a sense of tabula rasa, into an exalted feeling of weightlessness from the past and its responsibilities, its phantoms and nightmares, but also from the effort to match and sustain its legacy of greatness and wisdom. It is...
Lamentation

Lamentation

This son has become so light, wasted away literally to skin and bones, his legs thin as sticks, so light that his mother can hold up his torso effortlessly on the flat of her hand… Extract from Wonder Beyond Belief: On Christianity no longer available online.   Navid Kermani is a writer and scholar who...
The life-lie

The life-lie

In 1990 Tony Harrison shocked and riveted London audiences with his production of Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, which pits an ancient text, Sophocles’ satyric play Ichneutae, against the inevitably objectifying and alienating mechanism of historical analysis. With unflinchingly raw social realism, Harrison not only raised questions of high and low art, of the validity of the...
Alpine dreams

Alpine dreams

The German language is a wondrous thing. Among its many mischiefs and perplexities, the word for ‘nightmare’ must be a recurring source of dismayed jollity: an Alptraum is not a dream on an idyllic Alpine peak, tarn or flowery green meadow gone awry, but a night-time experience never to be forgotten – if survived. It...