Friday, October 26, 2012
Ideas are one thing and what happens is another.
During my first and only year as a theater major at U of I, for some reason I was chosen to squire four members of the John Cage company around campus.
It was a thankless job as, first of all I had never heard of John Cage, and the four people spoke no English. They were from Albania or Guatemala or someplace I had no interest in visiting.
But I took them around for the day, and really don't recall many particulars. When we finally landed at the auditorium for their evening performance, only 10 people or so showed up and likely they were lost, looking for the cafeteria or something.
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.
― John Cage
The concert consisted of the four standing at various points on the stage and two would open their mouths and make a sound, and two would open their mouths and not make a sound. And then they'd change positions. This went on for the better part of an hour. There could have been more to it, but I doubt it. Besides, I was on the payphone talking to my boyfriend.
It is not irritating to be where one is. It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else.
― John Cage
So I heard an old interview between Terry Gross and Cage tonight. And once I got beyond the fact that Cage sounded a lot like Vincent Price, he made sense, wonky sense to my sense of sense, but sense, nonetheless.
And I remembered the John Cage Company, and how I couldn't wait to ditch them. How on that night I tapped my foot and wrung my hands, because this was agony, when pleasure waited just a hopscotch across the quad away.
"If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all." -- John Cage
Finally, finally when I dumped these four at their dormitory, I raced to an apartment and jumped into bed with my beautiful boyfriend. Whoever he was.
Everything we do is music.
― John Cage
I hiked the Sam Merrill trail this week. Half way to Echo Mountain, I ran into a woman with a scarlet macaw on her shoulder. And I asked if I could take her picture. "Not me," she said, all flustered. "But you can take a picture of my bird."
"But I want a picture of you both."
"Oh no," she said, flinging out her arm so the bird perched as far from her as possible.
Further up the trail I came upon another hiker. “Hey,” I said, “That bird gave me a turn.”
“Oh thank god you saw it, too,” she sighed. “I thought the altitude was getting to me.”
We are involved in a life that passes understanding and our highest business is our daily life.
-- John Cage