I Have Nothing New to Say and I Am Saying It

...and that is commercialism as I need it. I have ongoing doubts about the propriety of taking off three months of my life to write a Cage book. I never aspired to be a Cage scholar. By the late '80s so many people were doing excellent work on him that I just bowed out. I have a phobia about competition, and I despise duplicating the work of others. I got a blast from analyzing all of Nancarrow precisely because I was learning so many things no one else yet knew. Years ago Oxford asked me to write a Charles Ives biography. Few things would have … [Read more...]

How Nazism Created the Current Republican Party

As part of my Cage research, I'm reading Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy (1945), which Douglas Kahn (in "John Cage: Silence and Silencing," in the Winter, 1997, Musical Quarterly) claims Cage read shortly before writing 4'33". I don't recall Cage ever mentioning Huxley in his writings; I'd be interested if someone can point me to an instance. Kahn certainly makes a good case for Huxley's influence, which is similar to Coomaraswamy's in this respect.  But what moves me to buh-loggg today is a passage in the chapter "Religion and … [Read more...]

View from Outside the Cage

The best way to kickstart a new book is to blog it, right? I have tried, since age 15, to reread John Cage's Silence every few years, and I'm always amazed at how different it seems time after time, how many new meanings I get from it and how many old ones seem no longer there. But now, researching my 4'33" book, I'm gaining a much clearer picture of Cage than I had in my youth. I'm now the age Cage was in 1964-5, and his work of the 1940s and '50s seems to me much more transparent than it used to, though not particularly less admirable.  What … [Read more...]

The End of Not Inhaling

Friends are beginning to inquire whether I'm OK, so I guess it's time to blog something. The end of the semester is always a whirlwind, complicated this year by a performance of my son's beautiful orchestra piece and the arrival of relatives to hear it. Afterward, only one day's rest intervened before I was whisked off to Wilmington, Delaware to make the first half of a recording of my 70-minute suite The Planets, with the intrepid Relache ensemble and a brilliant young sound engineer with a great ear, Andreas Meyer. (Andreas runs a new CD … [Read more...]