By Peter Jaeger
John Cage used to be one of the first wave of post-war American artists and intellectuals to be stimulated by means of Zen Buddhism and it used to be a power that led him to develop into profoundly engaged with our present ecological challenge. In John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics, Peter Jaeger asks: what did Buddhism suggest to Cage? and the way did his knowing of Buddhist philosophy influence on his illustration of nature? Following Cage’s personal artistic concepts within the poem-essay shape and his use of the traditional chinese language textual content, the I Ching to form his tune and writing, this e-book outlines a brand new serious language that reconfigures writing and silence.
Interrogating Cage’s ‘green-Zen’ within the mild of latest psychoanalysis and cultural critique in addition to his personal later flip in the direction of anarchist politics, John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics presents readers with a significantly performative web site for the Zen-inspired “nothing” which is living on the center of Cage’s poetics, and which so in actual fact intersects together with his ecological writing.
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Extra resources for John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics: John Cage and the Performance of Nature
The non-dualistic, non-hierarchical quality of Buddhist philosophy provides the rationale The imitation of nature in her manner of operation 31 behind the Japanese Zen saying ‘nichi nichi kore ko niche,’ meaning ‘every day is a good day’ (or ‘every day is a beautiful day’) – a phrase which Helen Luckett reports was also a favourite saying of Cage (62), and which Cage uses to begin the ‘Communication’ section of his ‘Composition as Process’ lecture (Silence 41). The phrase comes from Ko- an 6 of the Biyàn Lú (Japanese: Hekiganroku), or Blue Cliff Record, an eleventh-century collection compiled by the Zen master and poet Hseueh-tou (Setcho- ).
The void is at once vast, without time or space, as well as phenomenal, and fully formless. The imitation of nature in her manner of operation 37 Cage does not describe nature, the void, nothingness or the thematics of Zen, but offers instead a site for direct experience, and for contemplating the void which Zen posits as the ground of all things, but which cannot be represented by conventional description. Extrapolating from Bachelard’s words, the poet in this mode gives readers a sense that ‘there is something else to be expressed besides what is offered for objective expression’ (186).
During the late 1960s, Cage further developed his non-subjective approach by producing rule-driven poems which revolve around a kind of spine consisting of a proper name or a found phrase. Cage originally thought of these poems as acrostics, but he soon came to call them ‘mesostics’ after his friend the philosopher Norman O. Brown pointed out that the central spine of each poem was not situated at the left margin, as it would be in an acrostic poem, but down the middle. In one of his first published mesostic sequences, entitled ‘36 Mesostics 40 John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics Re and not Re Marcel Duchamp’ (1972), Cage uses his friend and mentor’s name as a mesostic spine: A utility aMong swAllows is theiR musiC.
John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics: John Cage and the Performance of Nature by Peter Jaeger