The Process That Is the World: Cage/Deleuze/Events/Performances
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The Process That Is the World grapples with John Cage not just as a composer, but as a philosopher advocating for an ontology of difference in keeping with the kind posited by Gilles Deleuze. Cage's philosophy is not simply a novel method for composition, but an extensive argument about the nature of reality itself, the construction of subjects within that reality, and the manner in which subjectivity and a self-creative world exist in productive tension with one another. Over the course of the study, these themes are developed in the realms of the ontology of a musical work, performance practices, ethics, and eventually a study of Cagean politics and the connection between aesthetic experience and the generation of new forms of collective becoming-together. The vision of Cage that emerges through this study is not simply that of the maverick composer or the “inventor of genius,” but of a thinker and artist responding to insights about the world-as-process as it extends through the philosophical, artistic, and ethical registers: the world as potential for variance, reinvention, and permanent revolution.
Assemblage, Etudes Australes, Renga, Branches, Freeman Etudes, Ryoanji, Wishing Well, and so forth. Something work-like remains in Cage’s version of composition – an element of specificity, distinction, differentiation – even as he drastically renovates the concept of the musical work: D.C.: Christian Wolff wrote in a text on you that even when your works are extremely ‘pared-down,’ that is, as ‘open’ as possible, they are still works. They subsist, even if only as pure transparencies. J.C.:
possible” places us in a paradigm of agency where subjects act against the interference of the world in an attempt to realize personal intentions to greater or lesser degrees of success – a model of agency familiar to anyone with a conservatory background, and the model inhabiting the minds of nearly every performer hacking away in the practice rom. Cage, however, demands that we think about the problem of agency differently. In place of individual responsibility and intention, we are asked to
at the price of distancing us from world’s creative transformation. Those that would privilege self-similarity and stability above all else side with the police and the judges, preserving order by resisting the capacity for change inhering in every situation. “What they have in mind is self-preservation,” Cage asserts. “And what is self-preservation but only a preservation from life? Whereas life without death is no longer life but only selfpreservation... The acceptance of death is the
when faced with that which exceeds recognition. We are forced to ask questions about the nature of our senses themselves -- "what must be proper to sensibility, what must sensibility be like, what internal logic must it follow for such phenomena to be possible? – but we are left in suspense as to how the questions will resolve themselves.24 In the moment of the encounter, we are uniquely open to the world’s experimentation on and through us; we are in Cage’s experimental situation as it pertains
suspenseful but undirected, stopping at the threshold of a determination without specifying an outcome. The establishment of this performed frame is necessary to keep the immanent plane of sounds sensible and to prevent the sonorous events that occupy the actualization