Presentation on theme: "Becoming Strangers: Travel, Trust, and the Everyday. Day Sixteen: The Farther One Travels...."— Presentation transcript:
Becoming Strangers: Travel, Trust, and the Everyday. Day Sixteen: The Farther One Travels....
Half Done! Part One: Packing the Bags. We learned the basic terms & concepts that we’d be using. Part Two: On the Road. We examined “travel stories” for what they could teach us. Part Three: Stopping, Looking, Reassessing. We’re going to be thinking again about “travel” – revisiting some of our basic terms – doing laundry – getting ready. Part Four: On the Road Again – Sky’s the Limit! We’re going to be discussing the relation of space, place, time, travel, strangeness, etc., in distinctly 21 st century ways.
Part Three: More Specifically In Part Two, we mostly looked at first-person accounts of travel. We made the individual, and the individual experience of travel, our primary object of analysis. In Part Three, we will begin exploring other rubrics / objects of analysis / ways of conceiving “travel.” We will also be revisiting & rethinking ideas that came up in Part Two, such as the “strangeness” of many things encountered in the middle world. Be prepared to be confused for a bit: we are acquiring new tools that will help us in Part Four.
End of Last Lecture: Ryoanji (ca. 1500 CE) Most famous example of Japanese dry rock garden. Attached to a Zen temple in Kyoto. Consists of fifteen rocks clustered in five groups. Only other materials: moss and raked sand. No center, and no privileged point of view. Very difficult to see it all at once.
Ryoanji (1983-1985) by John Cage Musical piece written for four voices and one percussion instrument. Cage made 2-D renderings of the shapes of the rocks in Ryoanji garden as seen from above. He instructs the singers to “play” the resulting curves. The percussion instrument follows a score in which a computer has randomly determined each interval.
John Cage (1912-1992) Chiefly a composer, but also immensely influential in fields of dance, painting, poetry, sculpture, and theater. Pivotal figure in the emergence of artistic “postmodernism.” Pioneer in use of collaged sound (“sampling”), electronic music, and computer-assisted composition.
John Cage: Evolution of a Composer Studies music in L.A. with Arnold Schoenberg, paramount “modernist” composer (the inventor of “atonal” music). Told he has no ear for harmony, Cage devotes himself exclusively to percussion. Experiments with found & “altered” instruments, as well as irregular, complex rhythms. While in teaching at Cornish (1936-38), meets his life partner, the dancer Merce Cunningham.
John Cage’s Breakthrough Mid-20 th century psychology tells him gay = sick. Makes him question whole emphasis on one’s “interior life” in Western culture. So much effort expended on making people “happy & productive.” So much talk about art as “sharing one’s emotions” – as if that accomplishes anything. His response: He studies with Daisetz Suzuki, a Zen master.
What Cage Gets from Zen From Zen, Cage borrows the idea that, to become enlightened, you must cease being egocentric (me me me) and wake up to the wonder of the world & everything going on around you. (Nirvana is here and now, if only you’d realize it.) He concludes that art should not be about “self- expression.” It should help you toward enlightenment, which involves a forgetting of the self. All “self-centered” rules, techniques, etc., must be rejected – this includes Western tonality.
Cage’s New Principles Stop representing what you see / experience – you will inevitably slant / bias the resulting representation. Suspend taste, decorum, judgment, etc, for the same reason. Instead, create art that behaves like a river, or the weather. “Art should imitate not nature but nature in its processes.” The new rules: Anything can be art. Start anywhere and end anywhere. Anything can follow anything.
And the Last Rule: (There is No Such thing as) Silence
“The Farther One Travels, The Less One Knows” Cage teaches that “the middle world” is not somewhere out there (Rio de Janeiro) but always already around us. All one has to do is stop, empty your mind, and listen.
“Lecture on Nothing” Cage used random number to determine the number of sections, subsections, and “cells” into which to divide his lecture. He then divided up the text of his lecture by placing a random number of words (including the option of “no words”) into each cell. He begins by talking about Kansas – then moves toward talking about the talk. Then he talks about his audience’s reaction to talking about the talk. What does he mean by “nothing”? And why is he happy to “bore” his audience with repetition?
Looking Ahead We have begun thinking about metaphoric or extended versions of “travel” – in this case, Cage teaching us to live constantly in a middle world (life as a pilgrimage!). While we will still be concerned with embodiment, perception, “the middle world,” and so forth, these concepts enter with less emphasis on the point of view of particular individuals. Be prepared to encounter the wildly unfamiliar – music that doesn’t work like Madonna or Beethoven, for example. Be ready for a paradox: the humanities imagine the universe from a “non-human” perspective. To the stars!
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