endlessly repeating silence: John Cage shouldn’t do his own PR

It’s a waste of time to trouble oneself with words, noises.

It involved a stay in Florida an at night, looking for help, a walk through land infested with rattlesnakes.

John Cage likes to repeat himself. Have you heard the story about the anechoic chamber? Want to hear it again? How about the I-Ching? It’s a book from China (so you know its good). Zen is Japanese and the East is east.

Perhaps there is no reason to be so harsh. Cage was notable in introducing Zen to America. Anachronistic accusations would be untoward.

Perhaps after all there is no message. In that case one is saved the trouble of having to reply.

It is not a question of denying the influence of John Cage on music, on sound, on noise, on the experimental (do we know what that is?). But can we question he reliance upon “chance”? Did his heavily formatted lectures on something, nothing, pauses matter? Do they still matter when printed in a 50th anniversary copy of the text where it is just white space to be filled with margin notes (physical ink noise)? What of the spontaneous? Or does that risk reliance on the “man of genius”?

I was reading John Cage, Silence one day but then I realized that I could stop.

If  anybody is sleepy, let him go to sleep.

I went to sleep.

There is not enough of nothing in it.

Before studying Zen, men are men and mountains are mountains. After studying Zen you can still climb them.

(discontinuity has the effect of divorcing sounds from the burden of psychological intentions).

I had a student ask me what type of music I listened to. I responded, “noise.” He misunderstood me.


If  anybody is sleepy, let him go to sleep.

I went to sleep.

but plenty of old shoes

I had another student ask me what type of music I listened to. I responded, “noise.” She also misunderstood me.

This is a lecture on composition which is indeterminate with respect to performance. That composition is necessarily experimental. An experimental action is one the outcome of which is not foreseen. Being unforseen, this action is not concerned with its excuse. Like the land, like the air, it needs none. A performance of a composition which is indeterminate of its performance is necessarily unique. It cannot be repeated. When performed for a second time, the outcome is other than it was. Nothing therefore is accomplished by such a performance, since that performance cannot be grasped as an object in time. A recording of such a work has no more value than a postcard; it provides a knowledge of something that happened, whereas the action was a non-knowledge of something that has not yet happened.

I had a student ask me what type of music I listened to. I said, “stomp and holler.”

but the noise…

The final poem says, “Now that I’m enlightened, I’m just as miserable as ever.”

Thanks, Johnny. How about that muzak?

Tomorrow, with electronic music in our ears, we will hear freedom.

I went to sleep.



All quotes from:

Cage, John. Silence. 50th Anniversary Edition. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2011. Print.

Composed while listening to A Perfect Pain by Merzbow & Genesis P-Orridge.

In the space that remains, I would like to emphasize that I am not interested in the relationships between sounds and mushrooms any more than I am in those between sounds and other sounds.

Cash in the Cage’s Debut Drowns in Pretention

Cash in the Cage, Famous Johnnys ★★✩✩✩

Famous Johnnys, the debut effort from music theory dropouts Jacob Bernstein and Michael O’Brien (Cash in the Cage being their collective moniker) is so full of promise that it is despicable in how much it fails to deliver anything meaningful. The debut single “Folsom Prison 4’33”” is as pretentious as it sounds. Is it really an iPhone playing “Folsom Prison Blues” into a Green Bullet Mic with seemingly random insertions of Johnny Rotten screaming “ANARCHY” for just over four and a half minutes? Yes. Yes, it is that obvious and that simplistic. These are the titular “Famous Johnnys” and the artists are so pleased with the cleverness of their ‘subversive’ idea that they don’t even bother to consider the utterly pedestrian nature of such a recording in 2013. While the juxtaposition of John Denver, John Mayer, John Bonham’s “Moby Dick” drum solo, and clips of Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement was novel and well orchestrated on the track “Hang Your Wonderland,” it is the unfortunate exception (likely due to the presence producer Madeline Montgomery – absent on the rest of the record). Sorry, kids, but these aren’t even worth the time to pirate.