Friday, September 12, 2008

Do you know Robert Genn's The Painter's Keys?

The Painter's Keys is a wonderful newsletter which almost always has some perfect piece of wisdom to delight us. Gioia forwarded this one which I thought was perfect for 14 Secrets.
John Cage
Dear Artist,

What a remarkable clearing house this twice-weekly letter is. After that last one about building a factory, this old factory computer was backed up with creative folks who positively get off on the factory life. Almost no one disagreed with me. This could be a bad thing. Truckloads of related items came in as well. Louise Nel Phillips deposited John Cage's "Rules for Students and Teachers." Here they are:

1. Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.
2. General duties of a student--pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
3. General duties of a teacher--pull everything out of your students.
4. Consider everything an experiment.
5. Be self-disciplined--this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
6. Nothing is a mistake. There's no win and no fail, there's only make.
7. The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
8. Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. They're different processes.
9. Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It's lighter than you think.
10. Break rules. Even your own rules. Leave plenty of room for X quantities.

John Cage (1912-1992) was a composer,John Cage's Variations VII
John Cage's Variations VII print maker, performance artist, writer, philosopher, editor, teacher, mushroom expert, collaborator and poet. Fact is, John Cage had a lot of fun in his factory. Considered one of the most influential composers of the twentieth century, he produced works with one note, no notes, notes by chance, and a noted organ composition that takes 639 years to play.

Thinking about the life and "happenings" of John Cage, it's not difficult to see that joy, imagination and brilliance flow from factories. "Life," he said, "is a workshop."

Best regards,


PS: "Music is purposeless play, 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." (John Cage)

Esoterica: During a joint concert of Cage's "Etude for Piano," the video artist Nam June Paik cut off Cage's tie and then washed his hair with shampoo. Performance art is not limited to public galleries. Of his university life Cage wrote, "I was shocked at college to see one hundred of my classmates in the library all reading copies of the same book. Instead of doing as they did, I went into the stacks and read the first book written by an author whose name began with Z. I received the highest grade in the class. That convinced me that the institution was not being run correctly. I left." Cage's favorite saying was "nichi nichi kore konichi" or, "every day is a good day."

Thank you Gioia!

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