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Quotes of the day: John Cage

Published Thursday, September 04, 2014 @ 7:25 PM EDT
Sep 04 2014

John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer, music theorist, writer, and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


All great art is a form of complaint.

An error is simply a failure to adjust immediately from a preconception to an actuality.

As far as consistency of thought goes, I prefer inconsistency.

College: two hundred people reading the same book. An obvious mistake. Two hundred people can read two hundred books.

Combine nursing homes with nursery schools. Bring very old and very young together: they interest one another.

Everything we do is music.

Food, one assumes, provides nourishment; but Americans eat it fully aware that small amounts of poison have been added to improve its appearance and delay its putrefaction.

I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.

I have nothing to say
and I am saying it
and that is poetry
as I need it.

In the dark, all cats are black.

It is not irritating to be where one is. It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else.

It's useless to play lullabies for those who cannot sleep.

Sleep's what we need. It produces an emptiness in us into which sooner or later energies flow.

So somebody has talent? So what? Dime a dozen.

Syntax, like government, can only be obeyed. It is therefore of no use except when you have something particular to command such as: Go buy me a bunch of carrots.

The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.

The grand thing about the human mind is that it can turn its own tables and see meaninglessness as ultimate meaning.

The highest purpose is to have no purpose at all. This puts one in accordance with nature, in her manner of operation.

There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.

There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing.

Value judgments are destructive to our proper business, which is curiosity and awareness.

We need not destroy the past. It is gone.


(September 5 is also the birthday of Bob Newhart.)

Categories: John Cage, Quotes of the day


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