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CAGE, JOHN: James Joyce, marcel duchamp, erik satie: an alphabet.
Dbl CD. Words, words, words – a kind of play in fact – made for German radio. 2 Versions here, English and German. Some poor jokes, some engaging moments, some eclectic and interesting quotations… adding up to - an acquired taste, a politeness test for the public, another Cagean experiment? Is it interesting that there’s not enough sense here in the text for sense and not enough music for music in the sound; that it skips about, leaving in passing some engaging thoughts, some pointless observations, some silly formulations -with half embarrassed titters from the public? I was more charmed by reading Cage’s books than hearing similar narratives and commentaries read aloud and invested with specific colour, tone and interpretation by awkward readers. So, though it is a sometimes charming trail through the unexpected byways and readings of Cage’s enthusiasms, for this listener it was more often an irritating, self congratulation session where good thoughts are devalued and bad ones delivered as gems. There’s a lot of bad writing, bad reading and annoying public reaction here. Pretentious, amateurish are words that come to mind. As a performance piece it might work - if you were there; and as a radio piece maybe – disappearing into the air as spoken. But as a CD? For me it works only as a document, as evidence in a case; it gives no pleasure. Is it possible that there’s too much reverence for Cage around these days, and not enough calling a spade a spade? King John it seems was often walking naked, but his courtiers saw finery anyway. Unhappily, that way what was really fine gets devalued. Cage did a lot that was important, but some things are better left as ephemera.