Stockhausen's remarks about 9/11 are mentioned over and over again - also in this forum. At http://youtu.be/mGk_8cr1TPA you find an audio version of his statement. Having heard it two things are clear for me: the immediate reaction was quite positive and the statement itself is so complex that a misunderstanding laid near.
The fascinating thing of this audio version is that you realize something: Stockhausen spoke more about shocks and surprises in art and not so much about the things happening at the WTC. I think the problem with some of his statements, especially the one about 9/11, is that Stockhausen saw links (Zusammenhänge) where other people wouldn't do or dare (!) so. The argument heard and written so often that therefore he had lost contact to reality is especially not true in this case for he calls the terrorists "total fanatisch" - what is not true and real about that?
But, notwithstanding, he had lost contact to reality in so far as he did not respond to the fundamental moral shock these unbelievable pictures caused and transferred the thing into the world of art. He used the plot to demonstrate that also art could and should be a question of life and death - and with that he obviously failed, confronted with "real" death and destruction.
In my little essay on LICHT for the "Gedenkschrift für Stockhausen", I quoted the composer Barraqué: >In Barraqués Propos impromptu heißt es: “Musik von Qualität, das will überhaupt nichts mehr heißen. Wenigstens das sollte endlich begriffen werden. Musik ist Drama, Pathos, Tod. Sie ist das komplette Spiel, die Erschütterung bis zum Selbstmord. Ist sie das nicht, ist sie nicht die Überschreitung aller Grenzen, dann ist sie überhaupt nichts.”< And I continued with regard to Stockhausen´s remarks on 9/11: >Solche Sätze wurden als Ausdruck einer romantisch geprägten “metaphysisch überhöhte[n] Musikauffassung” bezeichnet (man stelle sich aber diese Sätze bei einem konkreten realen Anlass geäußert vor).< (Accentuation by me.)
There are several things one should look at: First Stockhausen is not alone with his opinion about art possibly being a question of life and death. Second: Public and scientific opinion reacted differently ("metaphysisch überhöhte Musikauffassung")when such opinions were expressed in an arthouse realm and not in confrontation with "real life and death". Third: Stockhausen was nearly killed himself while being a stretcher-bearer, he told interviewers that he was very near to death several times. It is known from other persons with similar experiences (e. g. I know persons who experienced feigned executions) that their concept of death is completely cool in a way other persons feel to be cruel. We also know about the indifference we look at catastrophies which happened a hundred years ago.
I, therefore, would not call Stockhausen´s remarks a moral failure but a highly "objective" way of looking at a catastrophe.
When I read the contribution of Adorján, a contribution with much gravity, I feel that I never really could understand what that actually means: art is a matter of life and death. I often heard it and nodded with my head - but what does it mean? I can understand when an artist says: I will dedicate my life to art. As others dedicate their lives to their children, their profession etc - nothing special. Even when he says: I would go to prison for that or take the risk of being executed - but in that case what matters is the essential wish to follow one's own convictions - that I cannot go on with my life when I give in to external pressure and force. In that not art is a matter of life and death, but my own integrity. That is the same thing as with religious martyrs. Thus: What does it mean?
Thomas's response to Adorjàn (whose comment I endorse) resembles his initial response to my paper on spirituality. I ask, is not the Isenheim crucifixion about suffering and redemption? "Nothing special?" How can a person say that?
I feel that it could be useful to have a discussion-forum on the music of Stockhausen. There are so many people from all over the world, young and old, learned and eager to get into contact with this musical world: musicologists, composers, musicians, music lovers; people who plan concerts - who write books or have to give lectures and so on. So there should be much stuff, many ideas that we can share. And when we have open questions, there may be people who studied just that and could give a hint or a stimulus.
A problem might be the English language, but i feel that is the only possibility that many people who are interested can participate. And we can exercise tolerance to mistakes!