I sent in the quadruply-revised final draft of my book on 4’33” today: 217 pages, with 325 footnotes and eight pages of bibliography. Wiley Hitchcock would be proud of my footnotes-to-pages ratio. He used to kid me about how many footnotes in my American music book read “e-mail to the author.” But hey, I figure, if you know the composer, why spend hours rooting through a library when you can send an e-mail?
And may I mention how euphoric I am to be writing books in the era of Google? The time-saving features are unbelievable. I read through Silence again, and most of A Year from Monday, and a lot of the articles in Richard Kostelanetz’s John Cage and John Cage, Writer. But there are so many Cage books and books about Cage, and compendiums edited by the indefatigable Kostelanetz, and I didn’t have time to go through them all, but Google found me everything I needed. For instance, I’ve always remembered Cage telling a story about sitting in a restaurant with De Kooning, and De Kooning framing a bunch of bread crumbs with his fingers and challenging Cage to say it was art. But I couldn’t find it in Silence or A Year from Monday, so I kept Googling “John Cage” + crumbs + “De Kooning,” and after a few references to George Crumb I finally found the story retold in a Christopher Shultis article available through JSTOR, and luckily I have JSTOR access through Bard, and of course Chris had the footnote: Kostelanetz’s Conversing with Cage, pages 211-212. I could have spent days looking for it. Naturally I never footnote the internet reference if it’s in a book somewhere, but Cage has been so thoroughly worked over that there’s nothing I can think of that someone hasn’t written about, and some internet reference will lead me to the right place in the books. And Amazon makes most pages of many books available, so I can Google a sentence fragment and get access to the actual scanned book. I’ve got numerous footnotes, with page numbers, to books I’ve never held in my hand. It’s freakin’ incredible. Not to mention Grove and Britannica and Musical Quarterly at my fingertips, plus my illustrations stolen from other web site jpegs and grabbed from PDFs. I can sit here and do blindingly erudite musicology almost without leaving the house. I wouldn’t want you to know how much of my library research I’ve done in my pajamas. A million thanks to Al Gore for inventing this thing.