[23. Po / Splitting Apart, Unchanging]
Not knowing exactly what day a year from Monday—the day eight of us had arranged to meet in Mexico—would be, I decided it was early June 1967. When people wrote or called asking me to do something that month, I said No…then it occurred to me—see the last paragraph of the Foreword—that I was the only one taking the trip to Mexico seriously…What we have to do, then, is not to say Yes or to say No, but simply to go straight on illiterately, updating the way of life Meister Eckhart proposed (just following the general outlines of the Christian life, “not wondering am I right or doing something wrong”)…
—John Cage, afterword to A Year From Monday
Today marks the end of this blog, a year from Monday, September 5th, 2011 on the centennial date of John Cage’s birth, right here in Los Angeles at Good Samaritan Hospital, just a few miles from my small apartment in East Hollywood, where I began and ended this project. It also marks the end of my dissertation fellowship, which means many long hours of teaching music history, the long and epic tale of a tradition that was in many senses anathema to Cage’s artistic program (and in others wholly in line with it), but which is nevertheless a way of life for academics such as myself. I am preparing many exciting events for this fall, including a panel discussion on “Cage Studies” at the national convention of the American Musicological Society this November, with Laura Kuhn and a host of Cage scholars, along with several publication preparations.
I have been pondering how to end this blog, and asking myself if an ending really matters, as Cage alluded to in the afterword to A Year From Monday. In every sense, it was the concept behind this blog that kept me going, week after week, even during vacation months, hectic writing deadline schedules, and all the daily, weekly, and monthly distractions that go along with the messiness of everyday life. I feel that some posts were especially enlightening for my own research, others perhaps a bit by the book, and others even still less than engaging, but it was the process of reading through, week after week, that I found most valuable, and I hope some of these posts will provide a valuable, or at the least provocative, resource for others to build on. As I’ve told many people over the last year, at the very least, I am proud of the concept behind this blog, and the title.
I did not intend to cover all of Cage’s writings in one year, as some may have guessed from the title of this blog, but rather to pick one or two essays each week and write between 1000-2000 words; a few weeks were a bit slimmer, and several were much longer - in total this blog amounts to approximately 80-90,000 words. The writing style varied, from slips of colloquialism to discursive academic prose, all fitting for a forum that is meant to be an informal discussion of ideas, links, images, and content to be cataloged and indexed in the endless algorithms of cyberspace. If and when I take down this blog, I have little doubt that remnants will remain cached on servers for years, ghosts of information once gained and again lost, in an endless cycle of rebirth that, even in the cyber age, continues to frame our corporeal existence.
I found the final I-Ching reading to be wonderfully apt, as it often is when one is asking the right questions. The first post to this blog received the unchanging hexagram No. 35. Chin/Progress, which, according to the Bollingen translation, "represents the sun rising over the earth, a symbol of rapid, easy progress, which at the same time means ever widening expansion and clarity." Today's reading was another unchanging hexagram, No. 23. Po/Splitting Apart, and the image represents an end to all things corporeal:
The mountain rests on the earth;
The image of SPLITTING APART
Thus those above can ensure their position
Only by giving generously to those below.
I’ll conclude with one final note of thanks, to the one individual who made this all possible, Mr. John Milton Cage Jr. himself, born September 5th 1912. Happy Birthday Mr. Cage.
|Cage with Cake - The John Cage Trust|
Richard H. Brown
September 5th, 2012
Los Angeles, California