File spoon-archives/avant-garde.archive/avant-garde_1998/avant-garde.9805, message 18

Date: Thu, 28 May 98 23:00:14-040
Subject: Re: Hello?

Regarding Ostrow/Kaneda's points on Cage --

An interesting assesment; does anybody have any references for where to look further for opinions (such as Cage's) on indifference and indeterminacy? My personal encounters with Cage's work are limited to chunks of the Kubrick 2001 soundtrack (were I believe that there's a little bit of Cage near the end) and a CD I once loaned from my local library that seemed pretty interesting. I find the idea, however, of scrupilously recording and preserving (on the "20th Century Classics Label", I believe) randomly generated tones slightly disconcerting. Perhaps a better way for Cage to distribute his work would have been a nuclear source hooked up to a gieger counter and fed into a computer to acheive true irreprodcibility (nuclear decay being the easiest source of true randomness).

Or would this simply get rid of the "indifference"? Slapping a unique (and yet meaningless) series of tones onto a disk, and then making tens of thousands of copies of it -- essentially priviledging one arbitrary moment to an extent that makes the whole process itself resistant to theorization by such middle-brow folk as we on the avant-garde list -- might be the way to go, I suppose.

And one final thought -- Cage's musical productions, in the way that (as I just mentioned above) they privilege one moment (one particular string of random numbers) that, for all rational purposes, is indistinguishable from the next, seem in a sense to be the culmination of the Romantics of the 19th century. I mean, Keat's odes are basically "here I am, in an insignificant point in space and time, not really caring much about the grand forces of history [feel free to jump on me here regarding my impression of Keats' ahistoricism], and I'm going to create a series of words to "memorilize" an occasion that is really no different, from the outside, from any other number of occasions." The Nightingale ode for example -- the external events that Keats records (bird is near, then flies away) are entirely abritrary, but recorded with such precision...

-- Simon DeDeo

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Date: Thu, 28 May 1998 20:04:14 -0400
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From: Ostrow/Kaneda <>
Subject: Re: Hello?
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In the late 50's early 60's,  when it came to art making many artists
aspired to occupy a position characterized by indifference and
indertermancy.Indetermancy (no fixed meaning) and indifference  (a means to
over come the notions of transcendental subjectivism associate with art)
were represented by John Cage  (who an an extrodinary influence on this
generation) as the means to overcome the appeal of taste and  assure  the
self interest of art and not that of the artists.  These were the
attitudes that were thought to guarantee that art would be art and not
become something else. Both meaning and intentionality as wellas all other
extra -aesthetic explanations were thought to  play into the hands of the
critics and their middle brow audiences  who were suspected of   both
undermining the authority of art and limiting its potential effect.

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