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Empty Words

Writings '73-'78

John Cage

Publication Year: 1979

Writings through James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, Norman O. Brown, and "The Future of Music."

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Title Page/Copyright

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pp. vii

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pp. ix

Buckminster Fuller too from prophet of Utopia has changed to Jeremiah. He now gives us eight to ten years to make essential changes in human behaviour. Perhaps all of us are needlessly shocked and alarmed. A subtle but radical change may be taking place which only superficially deprives us of our wits, which fundamentally is altering for the good mankind's condition. Let us hope so. Wishful thinking? Foreword : ...

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Preface to "Lecture on the Weather"

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pp. 3-6

When in 1975 Richard Coulter of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation offered me a commission to write a piece of music to celebrate the American Bicentennial, I automatically accepted because the invitation came from outside the United States. He suggested that I base it on texts of Benjamin Franklin. I got a copy of Poor Richard's Almanac but shortly put it aside, returning to the writings of Thoreau, the Essay on Civil Disobedience, the Journal, and Walden. ...

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How the Piano Came to be Prepared

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pp. 7-10

In the late 'thirties I was employed as accompanist for the classes in modern dance at the Cornish School in Seattle, Washington. These classes were taught by Bonnie Bird, who had been a member of Martha Graham's company. Among her pupils was an extraordinary dancer, Syvilla Fort, later an associate in New York City of Katherine Dunham. Three or four days before she was to perform her Bacchanal, Syvilla asked me ...

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Empty Words

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pp. 11-78

Empty Words has four parts, each with an introductory text. Each has been published previously: Part I in George and Susan Quasha's Active Anthology 1974; Part II in Interstate 2 (edited by Carl D. Clark and Loris Essary from Austin, Texas) 1974; Part III in Barbara Baracks' Big Deal 3 (Spring 1975); and Part IV in WCH WAY (Fall 1975) edited by Jed Rasula. ...

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Where Are We Eating? and What Are We Eating? (38 Variations on a Theme by Alison Knowles)

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pp. 79-98

No one need be alarmed by the exercises dancers give their stomachs. Dancers are furnaces. They burn up everything they eat. Musicians as furnaces are not efficient: they sit still too much. When I was forty-eight or nine I began to suffer from arthritis. I consulted many doctors; most of them said they could do nothing for me. They only advised me to eat aspirin like candy. I took twelve a day for sixteen or seventeen years. ...

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Series re Morris Graves

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pp. 99-122

The following text, finished in 1973, was first published in 1974 as an introduction to The Drawings of Morris Graves, a book edited by Ida E. Rubin for The Drawing Society, Inc. Its material derives from personal experience and recollections, conversation with the artist, one of his published remarks, and conversation with some of his friends, Dan Johnson and Marian Willard, Nancy Wilson Ross, Dorothy Norman, Xenia Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Alvin ...

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Sixty-One Mesostics Re and Not Re Norman O. Brown

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pp. 123-132

When Charles Aitel, representing a group of Norman O. Brown's former students, sent me a form letter in 1977 asking me to contribute to a cento in Brown's honor, I was delighted. The moment I had the chance I got to work with pleasure. This text includes references to other friends. The automobile accident happened to Teeny Duchamp. She has had to learn to walk all over again. It was with Edith Speziali that Pluteus cervinus was found in Scarsdale. Richard ...

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Writing for the Second Time through Finnegans Wake

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pp. 133-176

In 1939 I bought a copy of Finnegans Wake in a department store in Seattle, Washington. I had read the parts of Work in Progress as they appeared in transition. I used outloud to entertain friends with The Ondt and the Gracehoper. But even though I owned a copy, no matter where I lived, the Wake simply sat on a table or shelf unread. I was "too busy" writing music to read it. In 1942 Janet Fairbanks asked me for a song. I browsed in the Wake looking for a lyrical ...

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The Future of Music

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pp. 177-187

For many years I've noticed that music—as an activity separated from the rest of life—doesn't enter my mind. Strictly musical questions are no longer serious questions. It wasn't always that way. When I was setting out to devote my life to music, there still were battles to win within the field of music. People distinguished between musical sounds and noises. I followed Varese and fought for noises. Other musicians also did. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780819570598
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819550323

Page Count: 199
Publication Year: 1979