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John Cage quotes (showing 1-30 of 80)

“If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.”
John Cage
“I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.”
John Cage
“The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.”
John Cage
“If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”
John Cage
“I have nothing to say
and I am saying it
and that is poetry
as I need it.”
John Cage
“Every something is an echo of nothing”
John Cage
“Get yourself out of whatever cage you find yourself in.”
John Cage
“In the dark, all cats are black.”
John Cage
“As far as consistency of thought goes, I prefer inconsistency.”
John Cage, Silence
“All great art is a form of complaint”
John Cage
“There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.”
John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings
“When you start working, everybody is in your studio- the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas- all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave.”
John Cage
“Artists talk a lot about freedom. So, recalling the expression "free as a bird," Morton Feldman went to a park one day and spent some time watching our feathered friends. When he came back, he said, "You know? They're not free: they're fighting over bits of food.”
John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings
“The emotions - love, mirth, the heroic, wonder, tranquility, fear, anger, sorrow, disgust - are in the audience.”
John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings
“Everything we do is music." (Classical Composer)(From: 4'33")”
John Cage
“Our intention is to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we're living, which is so excellent once one gets one's mind and desires out of its way and lets it act of it's own accord.”
John Cage
“It is not irritating to be where one is. It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else.”
John Cage
“College: two hundred people reading the same book. An obvious mistake. Two hundred people can read two hundred books.”
John Cage, M: Writings '67-'72
“I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing.”
John Cage
“The world is teeming; anything can happen.”
John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings
tags: music
“There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing.”
John Cage
“What is the purpose of writing music? One is, of course, not dealing with purposes but dealing with sounds. Or the answer must take the form of a paradox: a purposeful purposeless or a purposeless play. This play, however, is an affirmation of life--not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and one’s desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.”
John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings
tags: music, zen
“The highest purpose is to have no purpose at all. This puts one in accordance with nature, in her manner of operation.”
John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings
“Our business in living is to become fluent with the life we are living, and art can help this.”
John Cage
“A 'mistake' is beside the point, for once anything happens it authentically is.”
John Cage
“Art is sort of an experimental station in which one tries out living”
John Cage
“Value judgments are destructive to our proper business, which is curiosity and awareness.”
John Cage
“Which is more musical, a truck passing by a factory or a truck
passing by a music school?
Are the people inside the school musical and the ones outside unmusical?
What if the ones inside can't hear very well, would that change my question?”
John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings
tags: music
“It is not futile to do what we do. We wake up with energy and we do something. And we make, of course, failures and we make mistakes, but we sometimes get glimpses of what we might do next.”
John Cage
“Why do you not do as I do? Letting go of your thoughts as though they were the cold ashes of a long dead fire?”
John Cage

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