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Thread: Stockhousen's Horrific comments about 9/11

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    Default Stockhousen's Horrific comments about 9/11

    I must admit that I had no clue about these shocking comments up until I purchased a book 2 weeks ago on Amazon called 'The Home We Build Together' written by the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Lord Jonathan Sacks. I purchased the book after hearing England's PM David Cameron praising it, and that ignited my curiosity. Anyways the book is a deep and awesome work of Philosophy. In the book by way of making a point, Lord Sacks brought down a quote by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, and it reads as follows:

    "Well, what happened there is, of course—now all of you must adjust your brains—the biggest work of art there has ever been. The fact that spirits achieve with one act something which we in music could never dream of, that people practise ten years madly, fanatically for a concert. And then die. [Hesitantly.] And that is the greatest work of art that exists for the whole Cosmos. Just imagine what happened there. There are people who are so concentrated on this single performance, and then five thousand people are driven to Resurrection. In one moment. I couldn't do that. Compared to that, we are nothing, as composers. [...] It is a crime, you know of course, because the people did not agree to it. They did not come to the "concert". That is obvious. And nobody had told them: "You could be killed in the process." Stockhausen 2002, 76–77

    I have read these comments as they were quoted by Lord Sacks, and I found them to be extremely offensive, vulgar and abhorrent.
    Last edited by Musician; Oct-03-2013 at 03:59.

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    Senior Member Garlic's Avatar
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    Oh god not this again.

    This quote has been dragged out again and again by people with a grudge against Stockhausen and his music.

    I don't see what's so offensive. He's not condoning the action in any sense. I don't know what drove him to say it but it's no wackier than other things he's said. It's over ten years old and he's been dead for over five years. What's the point?

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    I have no grudge against his music, I never listen to his music. I just wanted to point out that his comments are unacceptable under any circumstances.

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    Senior Member Garlic's Avatar
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    Well thank you.
    I could dig up some quotes from politicians around that time that are far more offensive than Stockhausen's. People who have done genuine harm to the world. But I can't be bothered. Why do you think this is relevant now?

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    You can do whatever you want, but nevertheless these comments are terrible.

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    Stockausen's comments don't bother me. Even more controversial at the time was Ward Churchill's "little Eichmans" remark, referring to the people who worked in the World Trade Center. From Wiki: "Ward Churchill, former ethnic studies professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wrote an essay in September 2001 titled 'Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens' about the September 11, 2001 attacks, in which he argued that American foreign policies provoked the attacks. He described what he called the 'technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire' in the World Trade Center as 'little Eichmanns,' i.e. as those who banally conduct their duties in the service of evil."

    Needless to say, this was controversial and Ward was fired. Not for his views, of course, nossir, not a bit!


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    Stockhausen's comments are certainly interesting, what seems to be assumed is that he is talking positively of the event. Think about it from the point of view that the evilness of 9/11 was in one sense great, but great meaning "extent, amount or intensity considerably above normal," not great meaning "good."

    It was a huge event that will be marked permanently in the history of the human race and its significance could not be comapared to something huge in the world of art. One must also keep in mind that a performance of a work by Stockhausen is also something of a "huge event," (a lot of his music needs very specific requirements such as a park on a moonlit night, often a piece might last for more than 2 hours, there would need to be a lot of rehearsal time and preparation) but a good "huge event," not an evil one. Perhaps he was shocked by great evil of 9/11. Of course he would think that something equally huge could not be possible in the classical music world.
    Last edited by ComposerOfAvantGarde; Oct-03-2013 at 11:48.

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    The bit where he said 9/11 was a crime, did you find that abhorrent too?

    Stockhausen said: "now all of you must adjust your brains". I like that. You can adjust your brain, think of something in a different way, then adjust it back.

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    Senior Member quack's Avatar
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    The comments are horrific because they are for the most part true. The terrorists were meaning to produce a spectacle, to make people notice and they did. They murdered thousands in the most publicly visible way possible, and like it or not, the pictures of the attack are now iconic.

    It reflects poorly on Stockhausen perhaps but only as far as his willingness to say uncomfortable things about terrorism and the nature of art.
    The soft complaining flute in dying notes discovers the woes of hopeless lovers.

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    He said that it was a crime because 'the people didnt agree to it', meaning that according to him, if 3000 people decided to come together and willingly let others bomb them to pieces, that would be an act of 'great art' by him. Everything he said is shocking, and horrific, there is no justification to any of it. Let me put it this way, I will not accept any rationalization or any attempt to sweep his comments under the carpet. When one equates mass murder to art, then he needs to be imprisoned cause his brain is sick and a person like that can be dangerous. Its not us that need brain adjustment, humanity doesnt need to adjust to his deplorable diatribe, it is he who needs brain adjustment and seek help, very fast. Well since he is already departed, that would be of no use. I think that people who are mature and can see things clearly, would instantly confess that his comments are horrible. Vast majority of people will consider his comments horrible, but there are always a few who will tolerate anything, that's not a surprise, you'll find all sorts of people agreeing and rationalizing every evil thing under the sun, they will always find a reason to justify just about anything. That's their choice, but from a universal stand point, what matters is that the overwhelming vast majority of people reading this will know rite away that his comments were offensive and despicable.

    I don't have anything to add to this.



    Quote Originally Posted by Nereffid View Post
    The bit where he said 9/11 was a crime, did you find that abhorrent too?

    Stockhausen said: "now all of you must adjust your brains". I like that. You can adjust your brain, think of something in a different way, then adjust it back.
    Last edited by Musician; Oct-03-2013 at 13:07.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nereffid View Post
    Stockhausen said: "now all of you must adjust your brains". I like that. You can adjust your brain, think of something in a different way, then adjust it back.
    Right, it seems that his comments demand a similarly open, unprejudiced mind as his music.

    But in any case, 9/11 had a gigantic audience, not a concert audience of course, but a media audience, and the attack was designed to shock that audience. The shock was immense, at least in German. But not because 3000 people were killed, though, one must admit, but because it happened in the US, the cultural hegemon of which Germany was just a satellite state. I don't know of course whether this played a role in Stockhausen's remarks.

    What Stockhausen said was at least free of the hypocrisy of weeping for 3000 dead Americans while many times that number of people starve to death every day around the world and nobody cares.

    Still, Stockhausen's comments were cynical to the highest degree. But perhaps only because he completely de-politicised 9/11 by looking at it through an artist's eyes. Had he dared to look at, say, the Holocaust the same way (and I don't know whether he did), his cynicism would have at least been consistent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Musician View Post
    Let me put it this way, I will not accept any rationalization or any attempt to sweep his comments under the carpet.
    So why draw attention to these comments on an Internet forum where people might discuss them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nereffid View Post
    So why draw attention to these comments on an Internet forum where people might discuss them?
    You can certainly express your opinions, and I can certainly disagree and reject them if I don't find them senseful.
    Last edited by Musician; Oct-03-2013 at 13:10.

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    Perhaps you think that people who agree with Stockhausen, or at least do not outright condemn him for exercising his right to free speech, should also be imprisoned and treated for their brain sickness. Do you believe my comment warrants re-education?

    Do you really think that comparing the attacks to art is really worse than for instance claiming that it was an inside job by the US government. To my (perhaps sick) mind the people creating a vast conspiracy by Bush and the CIA to murder their own civilians to further foreign policies is a more offensive remark than anything Stockhausen said.
    The soft complaining flute in dying notes discovers the woes of hopeless lovers.

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    In researching Stockhausen's comments just now I found this article by an arts professor:
    9-11 as Work of Art?
    Seemed an intriguing and honest examination of the issue.

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