Friday, 21 October 2016

Psychopathology as a career

On 13th October of this year, Ricordi published a press notice, referring to an interview in Die Zeit with composer Georg Friedrich Haas, in which he reveals the difficulties he had with emancipating from his nazi youth: 

Earlier, Haas had revealed to the world that he had finally wholeheartedly accepted his psychopathological sexuality: 

If one would still doubt, in spite of the overwhelming evidence in modernism itself, that the movement was born from trauma and psychopathological conditions, Haas' revelations - so wholeheartedly shared with the world - are another proof of the sickness that is at the heart of the wish, to delete the entire dimension of musical communication and psychology, and to concentrate upon the pure sonic material.

Does Haas' work express morbidity? Or does it merely represent it, like Tracey Emin's bed does not express sordid life experience but merely represents it? Haas explores the properties of pure sound:

These are sonic variations, and they are, to some extent, stylized. But how interesting is that in itself? How much information (intellectual, aural, emotional, aesthetic) does it offer? Enough to ask for the listener's time and attention? If you don't expect music, but the changing shades of colours in pure sound, it may be interesting for a while.

Haas experienced the work of John Cage as a liberation from 'order', which he (Haas) clearly understood as 'suppression'. If you think the concept of order is merely restricting you, the last thing you should comtemplate is to become an artist. Cage wanted to exclude human intervention from music and the liberation of sound  as an aesthetic phenomenon in itself, not needing artistic manipulation. The result is not music, of course, which is an art form, and all art forms are results of human aesthetic manipulations of their material, and as such carry psychic and aesthetic content. Cage never understood what art is, let alone what music is. I can only consider Haas as an incredibly naive and damaged person without understanding of art, music, and of civil society - so, perfectly suited for a career in the modern music scene.

A title like 'Dark Dreams' does seem to be an appropriate description of Haas' entire artistic project: 

Interestingly, at the end of this piece, something like music appears, as a voice from another world, screaming and mumbling as if from a dark pit from which there is no escape. There may still be a composer of music hidden in this man. 

Stockhausen was, as a teenager, traumatized during the last days of WW II, Xenakis was similarly traumatized. I know of a modernist composer, who gave-up his composition because even as modernism it was hopelessly amateurish, and took-up a career as a conductor of new music with various specialized ensembles, and as a loud propagandist of modernism, attacking the central performance culture as a whole, in his opinion a mere bourgeois playground of stale convention. His poisonous fanaticism was effective and reminded one of the Spanish inquisition, Nazis and the enthusiasm of Lenin and Stalin. This composer's parents, who were both psychiatrists, had committed suicide when he was a teenager. Obviously, that is not the best preparation for aesthetic creation - unless one is endowed with something like a spiritual inspiration.

Modernism is (was? it is still around) something reflecting sickness. No creative developments can be expected from it.

In the modern scene, Haas' sonic art is much appreciated, and one can understand why: it reflects and vindicates the morbid, nihilist emptiness of postwar modernism, the tragedy of a lifeless world amidst the ruins of a musical culture - ruins that only exist in the hearts and minds of traumatized people with pathological psycho problems.

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