John Cage

Literary Birthday – 5 September – John Cage

John Cage was born 5 September 1912 and died 12 August 1992.


  1. I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.
  2. 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.
  3. When we separate music from life we get art.
  4. The world is no longer a romantic place; some of its people still are however, and therein lies the promise. Don’t let the world win.
  5. The act of listening is in fact an act of composing.
  6. Look at everything. Don’t close your eyes to the world around you. Look and become curious and interested in what there is to see.
  7. Don’t try to create and analyse at the same time. They’re different processes.
  8. What I’m proposing, to myself and other people, is what I often call the tourist attitude – that you act as though you’ve never been there before. So that you’re not supposed to know anything about it. If you really get down to brass tacks, we have never been anywhere before.
  9. Ideas are one thing and what happens is another.
  10. Art’s purpose is to sober and quiet the mind so that it is in accord with what happens.

Source for image: Bogaerts, Rob / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher, and artist. His works include  Silence: Lectures and Writings,  A Year from Monday: New Lectures and Writings, and Musicage.

by Amanda Patterson

Please click here for our Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 4th September 2017