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Getting nowhere? Academics are let loose on John Cage

“Getting Nowhere” is an international festival celebrating the centenary of John Cage, organised by students and staff at the University of York (UK).

It takes place from 14 to 17 November 2012 (Wednesday to Saturday). Papers and panels interpenetrate with performances of works by or linked to Cage.

Interpenetrate? Intersomethingpenetrate? What the eff do these earnest musicologists think the Great Simplifier would have made of their constipated mangling of his language? One-word answers in four letters, please.

Here’s the conference schedule. Try to keep a straight face:

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  1. Lebrecht: 21
    Cage Conference: 0

  2. Daniel Wolf says:

    Cage himself frequently used the term “interpenetration”. I believe that Cage’s usage of the term comes directly from the Zen scholar Suzuki. The term is frequently used with regard to the coincidence or reconciliation of opposites, a strong interest of Cage, and Cage was not alone in using the term: Northrop Frye uses it, for example, in his work on Blake and his notes seem to indicate that he got the notion from Suzuki; Cage’s close friend the classicist and philosopher Norman O. Brown also used it with some frequency.

  3. Clyde McConnell says:

    Be sure not to step in the Name Droppings on the afternoon of the 16th.

  4. There’s nothing especially new about an academic Cage conference – there have been a number of others at various points (for example the ‘Hung Up About the Number 64′ conference at Huddersfield University in 2006).

    And what is meant by calling Cage the ‘Great Simplifier’?

  5. Actually Cage was fascinated by the complexity of language and how it was constructed leading to the creation of such works as his Empty Words, which I’m sure as a Cage expert you’ll be familiar with. I think describing him as “The Great Simplifier” is more offensive than anything, implying that he was a simple man and his work was basic which I’m sure any Cage scholar will know was not the case. The point you have made seems rather petulant to be honest. Or is that word too complex for you also?

  6. Cage once remarked, “I consider laughter preferable to tears.” And, I’m told, people who laugh long and often tend (on average) to live longer. Norman, if you find the website risible, imagine what the conference itself would accomplish: perhaps another seven years added to your allotted span. Why not come and experience it?

    And I would extend the same invitation to any others following this thread. There is, after all, nothing to fear.

  7. The man himself liked the word interpenetration so much that he used it in two sentences in a row in Silence.
    The programme itself was largely performances of Cage pieces.
    He would have liked it.

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