An attempt to decode his mysteries -
by JENNIFER PAULL
'Cage is a time-travelling machine.'
'Truly fertile Music, the only kind that will move us, that we
shall truly appreciate, will be a Music conducive to Dream, which banishes
all reason and analysis. One must not wish first to understand and then
to feel. Art does not tolerate Reason.'
Albert Camus (1913-1960) French-Algerian philosopher,
repr. In Youthful Writings (1976), 'Essay on Music', Sud (Algiers, June
Reviewing two CDs by John Cage (1912-1992) is a somewhat daunting task.
Obviously no conventional rules apply; no ordinary yardstick can be used
to measure the unmeasurable, no mundane radar screen suffices to keep track
of his myriad tangents of sound and silence.
In this case, finding out what is being performed by whom, and the name
of the recording company (for whom) is a major undertaking in itself. Let
me reduce matters to a simpler platform. There is a Green CD [listen
-- track 1, 0:03-1:15]. It opens, and out falls a multi-coloured sticker,
'Free Tibet'. There are no programme notes; there is simply one single piece
of black and white paper upon which the contents are itemised without explanation.
The inside of this black and white cover is red and gold -- the deliberate
colours of Zen Buddhism? After hearing a lecture given by Nancy Wilson Ross
on both Zen and Dada in the late 1930s, Cage remained in his way a lifetime
student of both.
Copyright © 28 August 2002
Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland