Monday, October 6, 2008

Shallow Observations

I can’t say I’ve ever really heard anything like Cage’s “Lecture on Nothing.” The first part was kinda funny, in a “is he serious here?” kind of way, and I which I thought represented Cage at his best. In fact, I’m convinced half the reason Cage became so well known is his persona—if most people tried to say “I have nothing to say, and I am saying it”, they would simply be ignored, but when John Cage murmurs “I had nothing to say…and I am saying it” in his softly comforting voice, it almost sounds profound instead of like something from an especially zany Douglas Adams character.

Anyway, the first part was funny. The second part, not so much. Repeating the whole “we’re getting nowhere” thing was funny at first, then became a bit boring, then became maddening. I kept trying to guess when Cage would decide enough’s enough, but no, Cage just soldiered on. Now I know what brainwashed POWs go through. (Not literally, that’s just poetic license, but you get my point). I guess Cage was trying to say that “getting somewhere” isn’t always the most important thing, and I guess he made his point. Although I do think the “getting nowhere” idea became a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

I liked the ambient music—it added atmosphere without anyone (I think) really noticing it. I’m not sure what it was intended for, but it would make excellent furniture music.

Cage became famous for thinking outside the box. Which is a good thing, I’m all for it, we need original thinkers—but I would like to see something more. It seems like most of what he said could be translated to “I’m thinking outside the box here”—I mean, what does “I have nothing to say and am saying it” mean? And yeah, I know 4:33 was supposed to show the value of silence—but it also showed the value of self-promotion. It seems, at least to me, that Cage wasn’t above dressing self-promotion in high sounding words.

But then, I’m not Cage’s biggest fan, as you might have noticed, so maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe he was really the next Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Not to sound like I hate everything, but yeah, I don’t like Ralph Waldo Emerson much either. Or maybe it’s Thoreau. Or both. Now we’re getting nowhere).

And I really think that thirty sided dice are just overkill. I mean, how high do dice go? Fifty? I felt like I was rolling a bowling ball or something.

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