In the thread about DONNERSTAG Thomas Ulrich writes: "I myself am not a fan of the Urantia Book and for many years refused to touch it." I think many Stockhausen experts did so. When I got familiar with Stockhausen's work I often wondered why nobody was willing to talk about this book which is so obviously important for LICHT. I guess, Markus Bandur at the Cologne symposium 2000 was the first to break the silence, and I remember quite well the following discussion. Mr. Riethmüller said: "When Gregg Wager, while writing his dissertation, came with a copy of the UB, I knew we had a problem." Riethmüller obviously saw the UB as "trübe Quelle" (mud source) and perhaps he thought that one has to protect Stockhausen by simply ignoring this weird book. So how to deal with the UB? I think Markus Bandur has shown a very useful way, see http://www.freidok.uni-freiburg.de/vollt...Stockhausen.pdf. But I want to ask Thomas Ulrich: *Why* aren't you a fan of the UB and refused to touch it?
I did not like to touch the Urantia Book (UB) because of the same reason Riethmüller mentioned: It is a "mud source", pure superstition. My thoughts were caused by what I had heard about how the book came into existence, by an oral transmission of heavenly beings. Up to now that are my limitations as a Western theologian: I simply cannot believe such thing, sorry. But then, going more deeply into LICHT, I felt I could not ignore it any longer, and thus I began to read in this huge volume. With a double effect: 1. I felt repelled by a so to speak "bureaucratic" spirit of the book; this interest in a fantastic cosmic order feels to me very strange; everything is regulated in a hierarchy; there is no personal relationship between God and man, and I have the suspicion that it is an empty phantasy. So there is nothing that affects me directly. 2. But then I asked myself: Why was Stockhausen fascinated with this book? And pondering this question I got a more positive result: It seemed to me, that the UB tackles a task that modern theology still neglects: To transform the tradition in a way that it can go together with our space-age. For sure in modern theology everybody is aware of the dimensions of the cosmos - but in our religious reflections we still think: There is God, and there is the earth and man, and that's it. Thus for me the thought arose: Maybe the UB is an attempt to bring our old Christian tradition to our cosmic age - and in that I could go ahead with the UB in a more positive way: The UB takes this problem serious and gives an answer, und that is a positive challenge, though for me this answer I cannot accept, is too fantastic and strange. But with this thought I now can accept that Stockhausen was fascinated by the UB, because his world was the modern cosmic world, and there is a text, that tries to transform that Christian tradition to modern age. In more detail I spoke about that in a congress in Cologne 2010; my lecture was published (in German) in the periodical MusikTexte No 129.
Thomas Ulrich's response is, as usual, fascinating and very thought provoking.
Should I try to quibble over the question of whether the UB is a "serious" attempt to bring Christianity into the modern age? Reading Martin Gardiner's book makes the whole enterprise look as a sort of Foucaultian exercise in power politics through myth-building and soft coercion. If I read Gardiner correctly, there is little that is "serious" in the UB except the establishment of a cultural structure parallel, in some ways, to the Seventh Day Adventists. In America, many will view the U-Book and the study groups that have grown up around it with extreme skepticism. My own response, after having attended a UB "discussion group" for over a year as a passive listener (weekly readings!), was more benign. However, the group I attended certainly seemed to advocate a more "hands off" approach to real-world engagement, and it was this ostensible passivity that made the whole experience not just endurable, but even moderately enjoyable.
Still, Stockhausen's involvement seems puzzling, especially given the oft-repeated remark to his students that "you must read this book if you want to continue studying with me." I don't know how seriously to take that remark -- certainly I never heard anything of that sort from the Maestro's mouth myself! Still, even though it seems unquestionable that Stockhausen's theological thinking centers around Christianity, I don't want to underplay some of the other influences.
Thomas, you're talking about the bureaucratic character of the UB's cosmic hierarchy - and I think that's really strange. But in another point I have a total different opinion: The UB proclaims a very personal relationship to God, especially by the indwelling Thought Adjuster. If I read paper 1, sections 5 to 7, I find there a lot of personal aspects of God and so the relationship to God is a personal one. For many UB readers God *is* the Universal Father, a "you" that can be approached. I think, the problem with the UB is another one: it's the strange way it came "down" or "through". For Protestants the revelation is closed with the last book of the bible. So they *must* deny the divine character of this book. Me, as a Catholic have it a little bit easier: we know the phenomena of "private revelations". So there is at least the possibility that revelations go on. The Catholic Church would of course deny the divine character of the UB, too, just because it is in many points in contradiction to the bible. By the way, the UB has such a critical attitude towards the churches that they simply can't be enthusiastic about this book. People getting in touch with the UB want to know how it came to this book. I think that's one of the most important questions! But the answers are not very satisfying. The UB fundamentalists say: Even if it was a fraud or a fake by William S. Sadler, it could be that God spoke through him. So the problem of fraud and fake is solved for them. I totally agree with you that the UB is an attempt to save Christianity for modern times. But that leads to the question: an attempt by whom? Celestial beings? The Sadlers and their friends? Anyone else? So here we are at the mentioned problem of origin again.
To Paul-Miller: Speaking about the UB I must say that I don't find it more crazy than the Book of Mormon or L. Ron Hubbard's Xenu stories, so why should Americans be especially skeptic towards the UB, when at least the LDS is an accepted part of the American society? That studygroups have an "hands off approach" to the real world is nothing I can confirm in general. Of course, there are UB readers who are totally crazy and lazy but I would say the majority of UB readers is firmly grounded. Mo Siegel, the president of The Urantia Foundation, was for instance the successful founder of the well-known Celestial Seasonings Tea Company.
Yes, Paul, we should not neglect all the other influences on Stockhausen - Robin, too, pointed to that. But in LICHT (and also in KLANG) through the protagonists, their names and functions, it is quite obvious that the Christian tradition, be it via traditional Christianity or the Urantia Book, is predominant. In the years around 1970 that was another thing! And I agree that the way the UB is said to be transmitted, is the real problem. If there comes a theologian who says: In which way the Christian tradition has to change to fit into our cosmic age - that would be quite another thing. One could discuss with that person, present other solutions; and there are no additional items one has to believe, additional to the creed...
What makes people be attracted by the UB? And what was it in Stockhausen's case? Knowing many UB readers I can say it is first of all part IV, the Life and Teachings of Jesus. The cosmic dimension is important for them, too, but especially attractive is that they get more detailed information about Jesus. It seems as if the Jesus of the bible is too strange, too distant and too abstract for them. The UB's Jesus seems to be more human. You must know that the UB even tells that the small Jesus had problems with his digestion... :-) In Stockhausen's case, however, I think the attraction is more by the parts I to III, the cosmic dimension. I don't know whether he ever read part IV, but it didn't seem to have any greater importance for him. On Youtube there are some short clips of UB readers who tell what they like about this book, perhaps this helps to understand, also to understand Stockhausen's attachment. I link three of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55JBuLd3dK8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MGURfFjssI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlGc-6wMnmA
The UB is camouflage of course, but camouflage that wants to be noticed, which is a contradiction. Just as Christianity is the camouflage for Gesang der Jünglinge, and the use of world "sacred names" is a religious camouflage for Stimmung, (re: Spirituality thread) neither of which is ultimately about religion. Gesang is actually about voice recognition and the attempted machine assembly of phonemes into recognizable words. The basis for it is Cold War politics of surveillance, a vast US Defense-funded research programme in artificial intelligence and the speech sciences, including Chomskian linguistics, that provided incomes and goals for MIT, IRCAM, Berio's Studio di Fonologia in Milan and Cologne Radio. The scientific background is covered in Robert T. Beyer's Sounds of Our Times: Two Hundred Years of Acoustics (AIP/Springer, 1998) in which is revealed that the Stockhausen Electronic Study II (1954) is a continuation of US scientist Franklin Cooper's Pattern Playback speech synthesizer, a 1940s invention using transparent templates representing different speech formants to train a generation of phone-tappers sitting outside your house in an unmarked van. Beyer observes "Attempts to identify voices on the telephone by speech spectra techniques became intensive in the 1950s and even earlier. Anyone who has read Solzhenitsyn's novel The First Circle will recall the laboratory described therein in which Stalin was attempting to identify his enemies by means of such techniques" (Beyer 353-55). Incidentally the Cooper Pattern Playback double formants were projected on a great stave identical in appearance and frequency range to Stockhausen's Studie II, which is why at times the sound combinations resemble speech. I have no objection to the Christian imagery of Gesang, of course, even though it is a plaintive attempt to disguise a covert and rather sinister ultimate purpose. That as an experiment in voice recognition and reassembly it fails to deliver makes it more of a triumph of art over politics. With Cosmic Pulses it is the same. James is quite right: it is a cover-up of a venture the composer felt was doomed to fail. So who is covering up? Me, Stockhausen/Hamlet, or Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern?
Robin, what do you mean with "camouflage"? Is it from the nature, the essence of the work, as you interpret it, that the religious layer is camouflage - or do you think Stockhausen himself tried to hide what was really important to him, by establishing a religious surface? The latter I could not understand from all I read in TEXTE - and with his explicit religious works like INORI he managed to become very unpopular in the circles that were responsible for cultural life in Europe. And even more so with his faible for Urantia! And if the first possibility is, what you mean - what is the reason for that? Is it just your private preference - or has it something to do with the essence of the works? And similarly to the motive of Cold War and the CIA: Stockhausen had not be aware of that - or? In this way it has nothing to do with the works of that time, but is just an interesting background-information to the history of that time. Right?
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!