Sunday, April 28, 2002

I've been finding it difficult to write lately... but I will inhale deeply and say to myself, begin anywhere.

'Begin anywhere' is the second John Cage quote that I read twice in two days last week. The first was a mention from this brief Stickshift Biography of a Life in Decline by Canadian poet David McFadden. I found the link while looking for viable alternatives to the incredibly lame Canada Reads.

I had never heard of John Cage before, but this passage intrigued me:

Must confess I did attend the legendary series of lectures by John Cage at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in 1961, and this had a profound effect that's still with me. Almost every writing period I've gone through since then has had at least some aleatory component, and usually buckets of it. In fact I tend to devise chance operations for use in practically every avenue of life, including which book I'm going to read next, or which music I'm going to listen to next. I was also big on McLuhan in those days, but Cage's influence seems to have wired me more thoroughly. Although Cage never went so far as to say this, for me using aleatory techniques in any setting is like actively collaborating with all the angels in heaven. The angels may not actually watch over us as we're told in Sunday School, but they love to be asked to collaborate in our decision-making processes, and they love to be asked their opinions on artistic subjects.

The next day, I opened my Saturday Globe and Mail's Review section and saw a photospread of four billboards - part of a commissioned art project of some sort. Bruce Mau's simply read, begin anywhere:.

Begin anywhere refers to a spirit of optimism in solving problems in front of us. How to prioritize? How to choose? John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: Begin anywhere.

In the spirit of aleatory as described by David McFadden, I guess I should start reading some John Cage.

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