INDETERMINACY.

Eddie Kohler has, as one of his many online projects, Indeterminacy. From the About page:

John Cage was an American composer, Zen buddhist, and mushroom eater. He was also a writer: this site is about his paragraph-long stories—anecdotes, thoughts, and jokes. As a lecture, or as an accompaniment to a Merce Cunningham dance, he would read them aloud, speaking quickly or slowly as the stories required so that one story was read per minute.
This site archives 186 of those stories. Each story is spaced out, as if it were being read aloud, to fill a fixed area. If you like, you can also read them aloud at a rate of one a minute.

I got this from wood s lot, and I’m going to quote the same one quoted there, for what should be good and obvious reasons:


I    never    had    a     hat,
                never
    wore    one,
        but    recently
was    given    a    brown     suede
    duck-hunting    hat.
                The
    moment    I     put    it
on        I    realized
  I    was    starved     for    a
    hat.
              I    kept
it    warm    by    putting
  it    on    my    head.
      I    made    plans    to
    wear    it    especially
when    I    was    going    to
    do    any    thinking.
        Somewhere    in
Virginia,
        I    lost    my    hat.

Comments

  1. Cage, charming sweetie though he was, surely not very interesting as a poet?
    The various re-arranged lines of “I have nothing to say and I am saying it, and that is poetry.” has a certain whimsical appeal, but this hat piece?
    .

  2. Fromt the “About” page:
    “A note on permissions: I haven’t tried to get permission for the inclusion of the various Cage texts on this site. This is due to lack of time, not lack of desire. I would feel much better with permission.”
    This excuse does not stand up in court very well. The estate of John Cage is rather zealous in enforcing its copyrights — they are famous for bringing suit against against Mike Batt, a composer who put a one-minute silent track on a record of his, as infringement on Cage’s 4’44″, a work consisting of four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. Right now this site is a major piece of plagiarism. Lack of time? Just Google and pick up the phone:
    John Cage Trust
    (212) 807-0646
    463 West St
    New York, NY 10014

  3. Sorry, make that 4’33″

  4. mark: Cage wasn’t claiming it as poetry, and I’m not sure he arranged the pieces like that — it’s an attempt by somebody to indicate the pauses of varying length. To him, they were just “stories.”

  5. Ah I see, Steve.
    In any case, I thought Cage was so lovable and sincere when I saw him on a television documentary in Britain in the 1980s that I find it hard not to give him quite a lot of licence.
    Great name, of course. Would a composer have succeeded quite so well in his line of business with a name like Adrian Beshchinsky? The Noam Chomsky name-just-right-for-professional-reputation effect in part, perhaps?
    .

Speak Your Mind

*