… some notes on Lecture on Nothing – an impressionistic summary of John Cage’s brilliant text
- Nothing more then nothing can be said.
- We make our lives by what we love.
- Being American, having been trained to be sentimental, I fought for noises … when the war came along, I decided to use only quiet sounds. There seemed to me to be no truth, no good, in anything big.
- Somebody asked Debussy how he wrote music. He said: “I take all the tones there are, leave out he one’s I don’t want, and use all the others”. Satie said: “When I was young, people told me; you’ll see when you’re fifty years old. Now I’m fifty. I’ve seen nothing”.
- Slowly as the talk goes on, we are getting nowhere – and that is a pleasure.
- It is not irritating to be where one is, it is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else.
- If anybody is sleepy, let him go to sleep.
- All I know about method is that when I’m not working I sometimes think I know something, but when I’m working, it is quit clear I know nothing.
In keeping with the idea that a discussion is nothing more than entertainment, Cage prepared six answers for six questions asked after the lecture, regardless of how these questions sounded.
- That is a very good question. I should not want to spoil it with an answer.
- My head wants to ache.
- Had you heard Marya Freund last April in Palermo singing Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire; I doubt whether you would ask that question.
- According to Farmers Almanac this is False Spring.
- Please repeat the question …and again … and again …
- I have no more answers.
(first published in 1961)