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John Cage Quotes


An American composer, music theorist, writer, and artist.
(1912 - 1992)

An error is simply a failure to adjust immediately from a preconception to an actuality.
[Events]
 

Discord occasions a momentary distress to the ear, which remains unsatisfied, and even uneasy, until it hears something better. I am convinced...that provided the ear be at length made amends, there are few dissonances too strong for it. Disharmony, to paraphrase Bergson's statement about disorder, is simply a harmony to which many are unaccustomed.
[Music]
 

I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.
 

I have nothing to say, I am saying it, and that is poetry.
 

Ideas are one thing, and what happens is another.
 

If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.
 

It is better to make a piece of music than to perform one, better to perform one than to listen to one, better to listen to one than to misuse it as a means of distraction, entertainment, or acquisition of "culture."
 

It is not irritating to be where one is. It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else.
 

It's useless to play lullabies for those who cannot sleep.
 

The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.
 

The highest purpose is to have no purpose at all. This puts one in accord with nature, in her manner of operation.
 

Theatre takes place all the time wherever one is and art simply facilitates persuading one this is the case.
 

There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.
 

There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing.
[Poetry]
 

To accept whatever comes, regardless of the consequences, is to be unafraid.
[Courage]
 

We are involved in a life that passes understanding and our highest business is our daily life.
 

We are involved in a life that passes understanding: our highest business is our daily life.
[One Day]
 

We carry our homes within us which enables us to fly.
 

We need not destroy the past. It is gone.
 

When we separate music from life we get art.
[Art]