John Cage at Seventy-Five
The present issue of the Bucknell Review is a seventy-fifth birthday tribute to the American composer John Cage. Composer and teacher William Duckworth, a member of the Bucknell University faculty and a special guest editor for this volume of the Review, and regular editor, philosopher, and teacher Richard Fleming, also a member of the Bucknell faculty, have created a provocative and imaginative publication in celebration of Cage. A network of friendships, centered on Fleming's with Duckworth and Duckworth's with Cage, has informed the "Cage project," and made this remarkable work possible. The issue begins with a commissioned portrait of John Cage taken just a few days before his seventy-fifth birthday by New York photographer Gene Bagnato at Cage's home in 1987. The rest of the issue is bracketed by two conversations with Cage. The first is Duckworth's own interview, which affords the reader a general introduction to the composer, while the concluding piece by Richard Kostelanetz draws Cage into a discussion of his works involving radio. Following the opening interview are two pieces devoted to the two most important influences in Cage's work: Eastern philosophy and the American thought of Thoreau and, by implication, Ives. Margaret Leng Tan's essay examines the former, while William Brooks focuses on the latter. Excerpts from the Cage Boulez correspondence are presented in Deborah Campana's contribution. Also included in the issue are essays on how Cage's writing can best be read, by Arthur J. Sabatini, and how Cage's chance music can be analytically approached, by James Pritchett, as well as observations by Tom Johnson on how to deal with intentionality and nonintentionality in the performance of Cage's music. The centerpiece of the publication is by Cage himself. His recently completed text "Anarchy," first given by him at "John Cage at Wesleyan" festival at Wesleyan University in February 1988, is here published for the first time in its entirety. Alongside "Anarchy" is a Norman O. Brown lecture on Cage. Accompanying these pieces is a photo essay containing rare photographs of the artist, which provide extraordinary glimpses of moments of his life. This essay, created by Fleming and Duckworth, consists of photographs primarily from Cage's own collection and that of Mimi Johnson. Rounding out the center section of the issue is the reproduction of an art work created especially for Cage's seventy-fifth birthday by painter Neil Anderson. Like all the pieces in these pages, the painting reflects the care and friendship for Cage shared by so many. This issue of the Bucknell Review is exciting in its breadth of content and its diversity of material. It will appeal to all those interested in the work of John Cage and to those intrigued by the statement Cage's work makes about American and twentieth-century life.
Contributors: Neil Anderson, Gene Bagnato, William Brookes, Norman O. Brown, Deborah Campana, William Duckworth, Tom Johnson, Richard Kostelanetz, James Pritchett, Arthur J. Sabatini, and Margaret Leng Tan.
About the editors:
Richard Fleming is the John Howard Harris Professor of Philosophy (distinguished chair) at Bucknell University. He has taught philosophy and humanities course at Bucknell since 1983 and has received numerous teaching excellence awards. His Bucknell University Press publications include Sound and Light: La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela (edited with William Duckworth, Bucknell Review 40:1, ), and The State of Philosophy, 1993.
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