John Cage - Diary: How to Improve The World
“Over 16 years, beginning in 1965, John Cage compiled anecdotes, observations and koanlike tales, originally typing everything on an IBM Selectric and using chance methods to determine the formatting of texts that twist down each page. The Siglio edition preserves the graphic effects, but, more important, it gives a sense of the company he kept during these years—Marcel Duchamp, R. Buckminster Fuller, D.T. Suzuki—and of his passionate feeling about a world locked in a state of perpetual warfare. Cage has a reputation for being a Zen-inspired wit. He was also much more, an intensely engaged moral thinker.” –Holland Cotter, New York Times
Now available in an expanded paperback edition, Diary registers Cage’s assessment of the times in which he lived as well as his often uncanny portents about the world we live in now. With a great sense of play as well as purpose, Cage traverses vast territory, from the domestic minutiae of everyday life to ideas about how to feed the world. He used chance operations to determine not only the word count and the application of various typefaces but also the number of letters per line, the patterns of indentation, and—in the case of Part Three, originally published by Something Else Press—color. The unusual visual variances on the page become almost musical as language takes on a physical and aural presence.
While Cage used chance operations to expand the possibilities of creating and shaping his work beyond the limitations of individual taste, Diary nonetheless accumulates into a complex reflection of Cage’s sensibilities as a thinker and citizen of the world, illuminating his social and political awareness, as well as his idealism and sense of humor: it becomes an oblique but indelible portrait of one the most influential figures of the 20th-century American avant-garde.