John Cage’s Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) to be released in October


US composer, philosopher, writer and artist, John Cage (1912-1992), dabbled in everything from poetry, to criticism, philosophy, painting, sculpture and performance, yet his appeal is not down to the breadth of his work; nor its nature, as whatever the medium he possessed a unique ability to make everything he touched somehow Cageian.

His diary is due to be published by Siglio Press on the 27th of October 2015

Written over the course of sixteen years, John Cage’s Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) is filled with observations, anecdotes, proclivities, obsessions, jokes and koan-like stories.

Originally typed on an IBM Selectric, Cage 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 published as a Great Bear Pamphlet 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 and perspective, Diary nonetheless accumulates into a complex reflection of Cage’s own particular 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.

You can read our review of the book here.



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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.