14
Apr
10

John Cage//Nietzsche//Techniques of Listening and Life

John Cage, from Silence

But this fearlessness only follows if, at the parting of the ways, where it is realized that sounds occur whether intended or not, one turns in the direction of those he does not intend. This turning is psychological and seems at Ilrst to be a giving up of everything that belongs to humanity-for a musician, the giving up of music. This psychological turning leads to the world of nature, where, gradually or suddenly, one sees that humanity and nature, not separate, are in this world together; that nothing was lost when everything was given away. In fact, everything is gained. In musical terms, any sounds may occur in any combination and in any continuity.

Is this not a certain technique for achieving what Nietzsche intended in the figure of the overman? It seems uncannily similar, and Cage’s arguable political naivete aside, it presents at least the glimmer of a course of aesthetic action (the positive suppression of positive intention) for the goal that Nietzsche, as I read him, set out.

If nothing else, silencing yourself for a bit makes for a good exercise.

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2 Responses to “John Cage//Nietzsche//Techniques of Listening and Life”


  1. 1 matthew
    April 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    yes! much of the 50′s american avant-garde constantly reference nietzsche in their writing; feldman’s essays are littered with direct quotations.

  2. 2 Luckycloud
    April 28, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    I will have to read more Feldman, then!


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