Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I Want My Avant-Garde TV

This video is great (hat tip to WFMU). I'm a bit dismayed by some of the comments on Youtube, though. For instance, someone remarked, "I really wanted to mute all idiots laughing... bunch of ignorants." To which someone else replied, "I think Cage considered the idiots laughing as part of his music." 

Now, I totally agree that Cage considered the audience reaction as part of the music. But I don't think he would have considered them idiots. Why? Because art is supposed to be stone cold serious? Do you think they laugh because they don't "get it?" Do you think you get it?

If you do, then you don't. If you don't, then you do. Get it?

These comments completely ignore the influence of Zen on Cage's work. This is the musical equivalent of a koan. There's no "getting it," as in rationally understanding it. It is its action. It is what is happening. You either enjoy that or you don't, and there's no prescribed way to enjoy it (though Cage himself says he prefers laughter to tears, and hear hear for that). The only people who really don't get it are the dildos who pay to go see/hear 4'33" and then just sit there in silence. The piece isn't supposed to be four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence, it's simply four minutes and thirty three seconds. Cage didn't believe in silence, so that's actually the one thing the piece can't be.

By explaining the music this way, have I indicted myself along with people who think they understand it and look down upon others who don't? Perhaps, but I don't mind the paradox. I find it appropriate, and it amuses me.

Humorlessness, pretentiousness, and conformity is destroying the arts. I want my avant-garde TV.

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