john cage. i just can't decide.

a letter to john cage.

dear john,

i would not dream of disrespecting you. however, when i speak of you to my friends, i say, "i really think this guy is alternately brilliant and alternately full of shit." okay, maybe that is a little disrespectful. i suppose the intellectuals would say that i don't understand you, or something. but four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence, really? and the chance operations, really?

i do admire your bravery. without your forays into the world of music, perhaps other people wouldn't have the cojones to experiment with our traditional perceptions of music. and i suppose i shouldn't have the cojones to tell you that you're full of shit. i don't know you, after all. perhaps, if i spoke with you, you could make me understand why you'd make people sit in a room for four minutes and thirty-three seconds.

i get it. "the music is all around us," right? i just think it was a dirty trick, making people sit in a stuffy hall waiting for music. maybe if they understood that they were supposed to appreciate the sounds of trucks driving by, and sneezes and whatnot, i wouldn't think that 4'33" was an asshole thing to do.

okay, maybe music doesn't have to be "pretty." maybe i shouldn't judge you based on my perceptions of music up until this point in my life. but my perceptions of music are usually rooted in some strange combination of the interplay between language and a pleasant formulation of sound. i usually react to a poignant line in a song, which is usually enhanced by the artist's decided accompaniment. your work avoids the dynamic. and i know you say that taste and habit can limit us. however, i tend to listen to many types of music, and i experiment with my taste. i often grow to appreciate some things that i dislike. and i appreciate you.

i do believe that you are brave and brilliant. i love your stories, and your interactions with what we have come to believe are great artistic figures. i love your undeniably comedic performances. though i don't think i'll ever understand your need to time things just right, i appreciate all the thought you put into things. every detail is important to you. i'm sure i can take your advice into account in order to expand my ways of thinking.

i apologize for saying that you're full of shit. i should say that i appreciate your efforts and that i don't necessarily buy into everything you say. i'm pretty sure you'd be okay with that.


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