Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Stockhausen, Stupid Culture & Sonic Terrorism

I found a Stockhausen LP in the Easy Listening section of a shop this morning, which was funny, and coincidental, since I’ve been listening to the compilation, ‘Elektronische Musik 1952-1960’ since yesterday.
   The placement of The German Genius (official) in the wrong box must have been a prank by somebody. I’m all for such gestures, although I have to say that when I find items in the wrong category, I’m always tempted to tell the shop owners, as I did here (and we both had a chuckle about it). I tend to make the effort more in charity shops because I want them to increase the chances of them making a sale. I confess, though, to finding Jeffrey Archer in the Literature section once and not saying a word.
   Now I wonder if anyone has taken the place of Archer in the most-obvious-name-to-drop-when-citing-anti-literature stakes. The thing with him is that most people get the reference. I still think someone should have taken his place by now. Furthermore, I don’t even think he’s that bad. I mean, his isn’t the worst kind of writing I could think of. For starters, books that drive me insane just at the sight of their spines are so-called ‘Chick Lit’ efforts. ‘I Got Knocked Down By A Bus Whilst Wearing Big Pants’ and ‘My Yummy Mummy Years’, that kind of thing. It isn’t even the nature of the content that riles me as much as the idea that a market has been created that seems to be designed to encourage total stupidity and low cultural ambitions in girls and women. The equivalent exists for men, of course.
   Publishers love tapping into that massive market comprised of the simple-minded. Ditto TV and film producers, naturally. Yet, as I say this, I remind myself that some consumers of Stupid Culture may in fact be Extremely Intelligent, and read or watch Easy things because all day they’ve been doing something intellectually taxing. Besides all that, my motto now is Each To Their Own. I say this as I’m about to explode when confronted with another example of Total Idiocy in relation to culture. It’s a calming mantra. Mind you, I was watching TV the other day and couldn’t help asking LJ why the world was ‘full of fucking morons’. I do lapse.
   TV is both relaxing and infuriating, but having been raised on it since childhood I cannot kick the habit. Whilst disasters (natural and male-made) queue up for top billing on the news, I read Stockhausen’s comments about 9/11 and recall some of my own from the time. I upset a few people by suggesting that The West goes into rabid reaction mode (publically and militarily) when terrible things happen to its people, but forget that innocents are slaughtered every day outside the zone of self-interest, ie, in foreign places we can’t pinpoint on the map.
   Stockhausen got into trouble when he called 9/11 ‘the biggest work of art there has ever been’ – oops. ‘Compared to that’, he said, ‘we are nothing, as composers’. He later qualified the comments by explaining that they occurred in the context of being asked about Lucifer, who he said was in New York, and that 9/11 was his greatest ‘work of art’. Stockhausen’s electronic masterpiece, ‘Kontakte’, is one of his greatest works of art. It’s also quite possible that, should it be flown into the homes of The Masses wherein it automatically began playing (and could not be stopped), it too would prove as psychologically disturbing as any act of terrorism.

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