Sunday, March 22, 2009


The other day, I found a copy of John Cage's lectures and writings, titled "Silence" at a used-books sale. (Link to Amazon)

I just skimmed through the book and came across discussions on The Art of the Fugue, Stockhausen (and "Klavierstuck XI"), Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Satie, atonality, why much of the East bypassed harmonies in its music, Zen, Robert Rauschenberg, D.T. Suzuki, wild mushrooms (Cage was something of a wild mushroom enthusiast - who knew?) and of course, his favorite topic, silence.

Do they still make intellectuals like him?

The book also reminded me that though the Nineteen-sixties are celebrated - fetishized - for their accomplishments and daring experiments, the seeds for that decade were actually sown much, much earlier. And John Cage was one of the giants on whose shoulders stood the artists and intellectuals of the generation that followed.


Anonymous said...

The Beats - there is something so orthodox yet radical about taking the Sangha on the road, about plunging headlong into Kurukshetra charioteered by an avataric Neil Cassady, armed with a quiver full of arrows, each one planted with an involvement and force of intention until not a single feather shows.

Georgia O'Keefe, Alastair Crawley, Father Bede Griffiths, the list is endless. But isn't that a tautology of sorts? Something about the wheel of karma.... the cycle of time, which, incidentally, is the subject of a film by Herzog (The Kalachakra Initiation). Really disappointing though. At the end of the film, he thrusts the camera in the face of a monk who is in deep meditation. With barely open eyes, the monk looks at the camera, then looks away, completely unmoved, in a nice little fuck you to Werner.

km said...

Anonymous: Loved reading your comment.

Is that the "Wheel of Time" film by WH? I must see that, if only for the scene you've just described :)

Anonymous said...

That's the one. I watched it at the cinema with a friend who is a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic of anything even remotely religious. He came away delighted. Though he did say to me - "I'd like to have seen those monks pissing and shitting. One could have expected that of Herzog, no?" I had to nod in agreement.