John Cage - SILENCE
I had a copy, years ago of John Cage’s “III. Communication” from Silence, but I’ve never had a copy of Silence, or of any of his other books. I’ve now rectified that. His influence on the arts has been massive, and one can hear echoes of his process in much that is now. (Even though yes of course Dada and Gertrude Stein were obvious influences on Cage. The question still remains the answer. Or as e.e. cummings would say, “the answer is the more beautiful question” or something like that.)
For instance Michael Palmer’s Notes for Echo Lake.
So to honor my new, old things, here’s the opening snippet from “III. Communication”:
NICHI NICHI KORE KO NICHI: EVERY DAY IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY
What if I ask thirty-two questions?
What if I stop asking now and then?
Will that make things clear?
Is communication something made clear?
What is communication?
Music, what does it communicate?
Is what’s clear to me clear to you?
Is music just sounds?
Then what does it communicate?
Is a truck passing by music?
If I can see it, do I have to hear it too?
If I don’t hear it, does it still communicate?
If while I see it I can’t hear it, but hear something else, say an egg-beater, because I’m inside looking out, does the truck communicate or the egg-beater, which communicates?
Which is more musical, a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?
Are the people inside the school musical and the ones outside unmusical?
What if the ones inside can’t hear very well, would that change my question?
Do you know what I mean when I say inside the school?
Are sounds just sounds or are they Beethoven?
People aren’t sounds, are they?
Is there such a thing as silence?
Even if I get away from people, do I still have to listen to something?
Say I’m off in the woods, do I have to listen to a stream babbling?
Is there always something to hear, never any peace and quiet?
If my head is full of harmony, melody, and rhythm, what happens to me when the telephone rings, to my peace and quiet, I mean?
And if it was European harmony, melody, and rhythm in my head, what has happened to the history of, say, Javanese music, with respect, that is to say, to my head?
Are we getting anywhere asking questions?
Where are we going?
Is this the twenty-eighth question?
Are there any important questions?
“How do you need to cautiously proceed in dualistic terms?”
Do I have two more questions?
And, now, do I have none?
I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY AND I AM SAYING IT