“Silence” is a seminal compilation of writings by American avant-garde composer, poet and artist John Cage. Despite the fact that this pioneer of experimental and electronic music visited Czechoslovakia as far back as 1964, and despite his considerable fame and the fact that his books are considered core reading for fine arts and music academies, none of John Cage’s publications have ever been translated and published in the Czech Republic until now.
“Silence”, A Year from Monday, M, Empty Words and X (in this order) form the five parts of a series of books in which Cage tries, as he says, “to find a way of writing which comes from ideas, is not about them, but which produces them.” Often these writings include mesostics and essays created by subjecting the work of other writers to chance procedures using the I Ching (what Cage called “writing through”).
American composer John Cage (1912-1992) was one of the biggest names when it came to evolution of twentieth century music. His influence even spread into various other art forms (dance, theatre, poetry, visual arts, film), where his impulses were put to great use. The radical parting from the European music tradition and even from the up until then common understanding of art was characteristic for his works. After the initial experiments in finding new sounds, Jon Cage found himself in the early 1950’s maturing into a rather distinctive conception of music that strived to bridge the gap between Art and life. He emphasizes the role of focus in art perception and points out the fact that even silence is still full of sounds (which we usually fail to notice). In accordance with medieval mystic Master Eckhart’s teachings, Cage attempts to create the most candid composition for “everything that is to happen”. He used quite ingenious devices, including random choices from previously prepared possibilities. His opinions, summarized and published in Silence (1961), influenced the spiritual climate of the era and helped many other artists find new paths (different from their own).