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John Cage Poetry

ANXIOUS INFLUENCE: READING JOHN CAGE THEORETICALLY

Introduction: Rhizome Joyce’s & cyclic & just & concept & just & crystallize. & jumping & cat; & Jacob & cells & Jean & command & just & canal-rhizome & just & concepts, & jostle & coexist, & just & cat & just & conjunction & 1914: One or Several Wolves? jeopardizes, & counted & […]

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John Cage

No Authors: Postanarchist Solutions for Practical Reading/Writing

Most Often Misunderstood: Cage’s Use of Chance As I have suggested earlier, with the exception of the recently published articles by Weaver and Braune, the only author to give more attention than a few sentences to the Cunningham mesostics is Cage’s fellow poet Jackson Mac Low, who writes of this sequence, albeit still quite briefly, […]

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John Cage

Experimental Satori: Repetition and Koan in the Mesostics

Despite its prominence in scholarly criticism of Cage, the influence of Zen Buddhism on his work cannot be overstated. It may, at first, seem strange to read the Cunningham mesostics as a particular example of the influence of Zen Buddhism on Cage’s poetry; certainly other more semantic poems, such as the poems in the “Diary: […]

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John Cage

Blind in a Good Way: The Cunningham Mesostics as Love Poems

As I have noted in a previous entry, it has become typical to read the Cunningham mesostics as experimental love poems. Andy Weaver, in “Writing Through Merce: John Cage’s Silence, Differends, and Avant-Garde Idioms,” argues that the sequence “openly enacts Cage’s love for Cunningham” since the poems both “show Cage’s intimate knowledge of Cunningham’s aesthetics […]

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John Cage

“Simply Something to Do”: The Cunningham Mesostics Beyond Use Value

If the primary concern of the Cunningham mesostics, then, is to engage the reader not in narrative or even logical sense, but rather in a comunis of acute attention to language, then this raises a number of questions: what is the purpose of such a poem, if not to communicate a message? and, if Cage […]

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John Cage

Noisy Inging: The “62 Mesostics re Merce Cunningham” as Anti-Exegesis

Cage’s oft-overlooked poetic sequence, “62 Mesostics re Merce Cunningham,” is written entirely in what my last entry described as “noise” – in particular, sematic noise, in which the semantic sense that would be conveyed by the convergence of phonemes and morphemes is disrupted. The sequence is made up of sixty-two mesostic poems (a mesostic is […]

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John Cage

Cagean Silence and the Comunis of Communication

Before I get into my readings of John Cage’s poetic sequence, “62 Mesostics re Merce Cunningham,” I would like to begin where many scholars start their work on Cage: with his silence. Silence is central to an understanding of Cage’s work (in poetry, in prose, in music, in visual art), and it has been a […]