Tuesday, December 22, 2009

True to Life

Much of the philosophy behind Cage's work is centered around perceiving life as it is and yet as art- perceiving life as art. His use of indeterminacy further establishes this. Life's occurrences happen at random, with no preconceived orchestration, thus, composing a piece by use of indeterminate methods mimics this quality. Cage's desire to mimic life and stay true to indeterminacy is clear when one regards his attitudes toward recorded music. Once a performance has been captured, it is no longer a living performance. It becomes two-dimensional, a characiture of the real thing, and no longer mirrors the way life occurs, because the record will always perform the piece in the same way every time (unless your record player is dysfunctional, adding a degree of indeterminacy to the listening of the piece, but that's another matter altogether, for the real life experience wouldn't be of the performance itself, but would be a real life experience of the record played on this particular record player in your parlor).
Recording a performance is an attempt to capture and freeze a fleeting moment, a phenomena in time and space. Cage seemed to be aware that, in real life, one cannot capture such moments, that there are things in this world that are temporary. Life has a progression of sorts that does not always stop for as long as we might like. Leaves change from green to red and yellow, fall from the trees and will inevitably brown and crumble. Sunrises and sunsets will begin and end with or without our blessing. Children will progress into adults despite our demands that they stay as they are. We have put much effort into contriving ways to get around this steady march of time by, say, recording music or taking a photograph, but will always fall short of replicating the real life occurrence.

Perhaps Cage realized, and wanted others to see, that fleeting moments should not be lamented for their loss, but celebrated for their occurrence, however short it may be. That is, rather than regret having lost something, rather than brood over having had something that one can't keep, one should instead revel in the joy it brought while it was present.

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