“Listening to Cage: Nonintentional philosophy and music.”
Click here to access the essay which is published in an Open Access format by CogentOA: Arts & Humanities (a Taylor & Francis journal) and therefore available free to all readers.
ABSTRACT: Listening to Cage: Nonintentional Philosophy and Music threads together the writings of ordinary language philosophy and the music of John Cage, responding specifically to requests made by Cage and Stanley Cavell. While many texts downplay or ignore the philosophical demands in Cage’s music and other texts find grandiose spiritual and philosophical material tied to his work, this text rejects both efforts. It challenges the basic directions of the growing secondary source material on Cage, finding it largely contrary to what Cage himself and his music teaches. That secondary material constantly offers an intentional approach to the music which is to make Cage understandable or easier to understand. The present text makes him appropriately difficult and basically unapproachable, asking the reader for serious acknowledgment of what Cage says he does, namely, “I have nothing to say and I am saying it.” While there is little hope of stopping the Cage industry that academia and publishers have grown, this text wishes at least to try to slow it down. The footnotes of this text include direct conversation material with Cage from the 1980s and 1990s regarding many subjects—his own compositions, our life struggles, remarks on Wittgenstein, Thoreau, philosophy, and music—all with a new context for their hearing.