John Cage: Silence Lectures and Writings



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S always always felt as a writer whose first creative life was a musical one that language could not possibly find a form as staggering or multitudinous as something scored for sound but Cage has done itAnd he s as spectacularly funny as he is is brilliant Why is Uncommon Wisdom everyssayist I know not talking about his workI guess my big uestion is how to write nowIf Stein had known of Zen perhaps and had sympathy for her reader s Unseen City expectation of patterns Also I was surprised by how much I thought and learned about dance reading these pieces and what it is in choreography that relates to poetic attention to the tension between grammarsyntax and white space Cage was a great multidisciplinary artist and it s a shame that he is best remembered as a musician Its hard to imagine anyone appreciating his music without first beingxposed to his writing Incidentally Cage taught at Black Mountain College the college that I attend in daydreams after graduating from Hogwarts Silence how I wanted to like you But there was so little to actually grasp onto Some charming anecdotes yes But that was about it Mostly it was just a morass of chance operations imposed upon the typography I mean bonus points for being theoretically rigorous However those same techniues that make John Cage s music so fascinating are a complete disaster when applied to writing I know I m not grooving as mystically as Cage would like me too but I just can t get behind this fucker I kept running into John Cage mentioned by many people from the point of view of music of poetry of modernism or contemporary art He kept turning up but I just never actually read any of his work or Art even listened to what he has done I haven t actually listened yet but I reallynjoyed this strange book which I read most of some parts I skipped but I think that would be the point I did not know of his being a follower of Zen Buddhism and of his spiritual work and how that is important for understanding his art Everything about him kind of God Is in the Crowd explains the way he thinks about music and art and I just loved it He is a statement his life and art and not in a pretentious way which is what modernism sometimes comes off as he s modern in the sense that he breaks allxpectations the way he works his sometimes funny and sometimes absurd idea. Ys to find a way of writing which comes from ideas is not about them but which produces them Often these writings include mesostic.

S the way he Attracting Songbirds to Your Backyard expands forms and uses them to make a statement I will keep reading about him and learning from this wonderful visionary genius When Schoenberg asked me whether I would devote my life to music I said Of course After I had been studying with him for two years Schoenberg said On order to write music you must have a feeling for harmony Ixplained that I had no feeling for harmony He then said that I would always ncounter an obstacle that it would be as though I came to a wall through which I could not pass I said In that case I will devote my life to beating my head against that wallOne day while I was composing the telephone rang A lady s voice said Is this John Cage the percussion composer I said Yes She said This is the J Walter Thompson Company I didn t know what that was but she xplained that their business was advertising She said Hold on One of our directors wants to speak to you During a pause My mind went back to my composition Then suddenly a man s voice said Mr Cage are you willing to prostitute your art I said Yes He said Well bring us some samples Friday at two I did After hearing a few recordings one of the directors said to me Wait a minute Then seven directors formed what looked like a football huddle From this one of them finally Notes for the Everlost emerged came over to me and said You re too good for us We re going to save you for Robinson CrusoeIn Zen they say If something is boring after two minutes try it for four If it is still boring try it foright sixteen thirty two and so on Eventually one discovers its not boring at all but very interestingArtists talk a lot about freedom So recalling the When I Moan (Vassi and Seri 1: Russian Stepbrother Romance) expression free as a bird Morton Feldman went to a park and spent some time watching our feathered friends When he came back he said You know They re not free they re fighting over bits of food Reviewsentence start time PERIOD comma PERIODUESTIONING STATEMENTDEFINITIVE STATEMENT UESTIONING STATEMENT DEFINITIVE STATEMENT uestioning statementDEFINITIVE STATEMENT WITH REGARDS TO UESTIONING STATEMENTS MENTAL CAPACITIES time hurt uestion BRUSH OFF REPLYuestion RASH ASSUMPTION uick replyUICK BACKPEDALING immediate statement FUMBLING REPLY WITH MUCH REHASHING OF PREVIOUS IDEAS AND SOME CONFUSION assertive crushing definitive statement EMBARRASSED PAUSE. S andssays created by subjecting the work of other writers to chance procedures using the I Ching what Cage called writing throu.

Yes his voice still sounds fresh in the next century This dear sweet gentle soul turns upside down notions of performance composition a I m not a big fan of his interpretation of Zen Doubtless an innovator but this feels really dated and is mainly just an historical document though he can be uite charming and funny this book will try to No Biggy! edify you about nothing and you will learn nothing leave with nothing Well after reading this you willither love or hate John Cage Personally I think the craziest composer of the 20th Century is indeed very loveable The lectures and writings are incredibly clever half of the book does not Crush It! even mention music Through intense thought Cage writes in Macro Micro structures in structures of chance procedure andven in structures of such perfect timing that he is creating a piece of music because a sound can be music through his words The book gives an insight into the type of character Cage was and that makes his avant garde music Attracting Birds to Your Backyard even charming than it was in the first place There is a lot to say about this book but I think it would be better for anyone who wants to read it to find a copy and read it What if I ask thirty two uestionsWhat if I stop asking now and thenWill that make things clearIs communication something made clear p 41 Composition as Process Having finally finished Silence I m astonished I ve somehow never had this book recommended to me by another writer onlyver by students of Zen and instrumentalists But nearly Deep Listening everything Cage articulates in hisssays about rhythmic structure space thought and non thought music and silence plugs directly into the kinds of tense obsessions I find myself working through daily as a language person and I found myself rethinking much of my own approach to working while reading these pieces I think Cage takes a innovative approach to documenting the mind and its influence over the shape of an innovative nonfiction than most writers I read I m kind of astonished by the degree to which his music based theoretical framework allows him to shatter and multiply the communicative space of the page He is a master of formal innovation on the page because his mind already works vertically in stacking fashion and not in the linear lidded fashion of the sentence perhaps I have alway. Silence A Year from Monday M Empty Words and X in this order form the five parts of a series of books in which Cage tries as he sa.

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John Milton Cage Jr was an American composer philosopher poet music theorist artist printmaker and amateur mycologist and mushroom collector A pioneer of chance music electronic music and non standard use of musical instruments Cage was one of the leading figures of the post war avant garde Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century He