Taking John Cage [by strategy]

I’ve long been fascinated by John Cage’s voluminous writings; they span a dizzying list of topics, from music to art to cooking. I read a lot of Cage while I was working on my Brian Eno book; I spend several pages in the book talking about Cage.

In an anthology of “b-sides” of less famous Cage writings, which I found for cheap during a visit to the Strand bookstore in New York, I came across a little scrap of text titled “Art and Technology.” It’s a short piece, written in 1969. I was struck by a few prescient statements that Cage made in the piece, and how they seemed to connect with how we live now.

John Cage predicts Wi-Fi (1969):

“We need for instance a totally wireless technology. Just as [Buckminster] Fuller domes (dome within dome, translucent, plants between) will give impression of living in no home at all (outdoors), so all technology must move toward the way things were before man began changing them: identification with nature in her manner of operation, a complete mystery.”

John Cage predicts the rise of a global open-source software community (1969):

“Computers’re bringing about a situation that’s like the invention of harmony. Sub-routines are like chords. No one would think of keeping a chord to himself. You’d give it to anyone who wanted it. You’d welcome alterations of it. Sub-routines are altered by a single punch. We’re getting music made by man itself: not just one man.”

4 thoughts on “Taking John Cage [by strategy]

  1. xyzzzz__

    Congrats on the bk, been wondering about it every now and again…its good that its finally nearly here.

    Which other artists have been good at predicting the way of the future? Reading some of those obituaries I was reminded Ballard did well there.

  2. les

    i’ve often wondered if anyone in the “golden age” of science fiction ever predicted the internet. or is it that back in the 60s, it was just assumed that by the year 2000, we’d all have flying cars, but what we got instead was the internet?


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