Wisdom Teacher

A few remembrances from the inimitable John Cage:

“The sound experience I prefer to all others is silence,” he says in this short clip on You Tube. And for most of us on the planet, says Cage, the sound of silence is actually traffic. He rhapsodizes that the sound of traffic is constantly modulating and cannot be predicted. “I don’t need sound to talk to me,” he says simply.

My favorite vignette about Cage has always been the one that I heard during a Laurie Anderson performance. Asked to interview him for the Buddhist magazine Tricycle, Laurie was intent upon asking him a really difficult question: Is life getting better or is it getting worse?

When she finally did pose this query to Cage, he looked at her intently and then answered in a very measured fashion:

“Well of course it is getting better Laurie. It’s just that it is happening so slowly.”

One Reply to “Wisdom Teacher”

  1. I’ve read a number of books about Cage. He was something else.

    I will never forget taking my husband to a Merce Cunningham performance (his first), choreographed, of course, to Cage’s music. I admit to having been a little concerned about how he might react, as my listening is a bit more eclectic than his own. For the performance, every member of the audience was given his or her own ear phones. My husband looked at me, smiled, and just kept listening.

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