I opened this thread because I have great problems with Mary Bauermeister's book. These are: - It's problematic and even unfair to publish a book of the style "My life with...." when the person talked about is dead and can't react any more. - For that I think she wouldn't have dared to publish this book as long as Stockhausen lived. - But on the other side a problem is also what the book *doesn't* contain: not a single word about the friction between her kids Julika and Simon and their father or the 9/11 remarks, which made especially Simon react in a very fierce way. She pretends a "heile Welt" between her kids and their father, at least towards people who don't know more. - Bauermeister claims that she invented (!!!) the Michael sign with the three blue circles which is absolutely ridiculous for anyone who knows the Urantia Book. - Some parts of the book are nothing more than "Kitsch". What do other members of this forum think about the book?
Does she really claim to have invented the Michael sign? As I read it, she seems to be simply claiming responsibility for assembling the elements that Stockhausen wanted: a cross, and concentric circles. By the way, Urantians were already using this variation on their logo.
I am deeply ambivalent about memoir. On the one hand, it provides invaluable information, but for the most part, I find it to be a bankrupt genre. In Mary's case, it is a very helpful book that illuminates many of the lacunae in Stockhausen's biography. While writing my dissertation, I was struck by how many of his biographical details are drawn from Stockhausen's own recollections of them. He had well-rehearsed anecdotes that turn up repeatedly in his interviews. Whether he's talking to Kurtz, Maconie, or the NY Times, the stories and even the word choices are nearly identical.
So, Mary's book is a wonderful way of peaking behind the curtain of Stockhausen's own memoir, which he wove through his interviews, program notes and other texts. It gives vital context to some familiar stories that Stockhausen had crafted to serve his own agenda.
As to the fairness of such a book, it seems fundamentally irrelevant to the entire memoir genre. If the standard is that no memoir can be written after its characters are dead, because they are unable to respond, then Kindheit and Mondeva would be disallowed as well.
When I say that Stockhausen's stories are well-rehearsed, I don't mean that in a pejorative sense, as if he fabricated them. It seems clear that he was champion talker, and he knew how to craft a story to sustain a listener's interest.
I think Mary's book puts this in great relief, particularly with the influence of Sri Aurobindo. Until her memoir, all we knew is Stockhausen's version of the events. He paints a picture almost as if he were about to plunge the dagger into his breast only to stop upon glimpsing this strange book on his shelf that he'd never read. He picks it up, and the rest is history.
In Mary's telling, she had actually been the first one to experience a radical transformation upon reading the book over the course of (what else?) seven days on her balcony in San Francisco. An uncharitable reviewer could argue that Stockhausen stole Mary's story for his own memoir, and that's really my issue with the entire genre. No one can say for certain what is true. It prizes sentiment over fact.
But after all these years of believing, from Stockhausen's version, that he had simply noticed the book on his shelf during one of his lowest points, we learn from Mary's memoir that it was actually a profound influence for her before his crisis of 1968. If we were journalists or lawyers, we would say that casts his version of events into doubt.
More charitably, we can say that Mary's version puts Stockhausen's into context. That context is vital towards understanding this pivotal moment in his life. So, in that regard, I think her book is of tremendous value.
For me now Bauermeister's book is not present to me many details - but I remember when I read it the feeling of relief. Because before that there was a fear that it could contain pure gossip, awkward (in German: peinlich) tales etc; there must have been many temptations. But when I read it I felt well entertained and liked the picture of this time, a valuable information and perspective.
About the "invention" of the Michael symbol: Mary Bauermeister writes in her book on p. 289/90 (I translate): "With Lionel I also meditated to find a symbol for the figure of Michael from Stockhausen's opera Licht - he had asked me for a strong symbol. (...) So, after an inner view, we brought together the ingredients for this symbol: a cross, but a cosmic one, not a cross of suffering. Circles around a center, a kind of source of power (Kraftquelle).(...) And arrows, symbol for determination (Gerichtetheit), the top of the arrows formed like buds of a flower." Sorry, but for me that sounds as if she and that Lionel claim to have invented the symbol. And I somewhere read (maybe in Gregg Wager's dissertation, I can't recall any more) that the "arrows" had quite another reason: Stockhausen was afraid to be brought to court for using the three blue circles which were/are under the copyright of the Urantia Foundation in Chicago, and you must know that those days were the time when the Foundation, under the influence of the mad trustee (and UF president) Martin Myers, sued anyone who dared to use the circles. As the Foundation had forbidden to use a text from the UB for the program of INORI Stockhausen knew that he had to be careful.
Right, but where did "the ingredients for this symbol" come from? Especially in light of Wager's theory that Michael's sign is an attempt to avoid trademark infringement, it seems as if Bauermeister accepts it as a given that the 3 blue rings are part of the symbol. This is already clear in the early sketches that Stockhausen made where the UB logos are clearly visible. So, the way I read that passage is that she was merely taking credit for designing the version that Stockhausen wanted.
Joe, I totally agree that one *can* read this in the way you did - but also in the other. My general impression: Mary Bauermeister wants to express with this book that she was more important for Stockhausen and his work than it was known so far. Was she? In January 2000 a German newspaper asked Stockhausen: Who helped you so much that you'd like to thank him/her publicly? And he answered: Doris Stockhausen, Suzanne Stephens, Kathinka Pasveer. No word about Mary Bauermeister. It's up to us to interpret this...
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!