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John Cage (Critical Lives) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2012/6/15
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John Cage's contribution to twentieth-century music, literature and art not only established his place as a leading figure in the post-war avant-garde, but also guaranteed his enduring controversy. His emphasis on chance, as opposed to intention, rejected traditional artistic methods and caused uproar amongst his peers. The shock provoked by pieces such as 4'33" still reverberates today, as Cage's radical approach to art and aesthetics continues to challenge and inspire artists worldwide. In his new biography Rob Haskins considers John Cage's life, art, ideas and work, evaluating the twin pillars of Cage's creative output and the ideas that lie behind it. Demystifying the artist's use of chance, and his relationship to Zen Buddhism, the book explores Cage's belief that everyday life and art are one and the same. John Cage will appeal to musicians and artists, as well as general readers interested in the art, music and ideas of the twentieth century.
Rob Haskins is Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, and has been involved with John Cage's music as both a scholar and a performer for almost twenty years. He is the author of Anarchic Societies of Sounds: The Number Pieces of John Cage (2009).
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Haskins explains in his introduction that he finds the experience of playing Cage's music beautiful, and then goes on to elucidate the path to and means of that beautify in Cage's career. He loves Cage, and out of that love is willing to think critically about the man and the composer, an essential feature. There was no one like Cage, and he was one of the most important artists in the history of civilization, but that does not mean that every though he had was good, nor that every piece he made was successful, that made sense even on his own terms, and Haskins is clear about this.
Haskins depth of knowledge is impressive, but the book is not weighty. He expresses important and difficult concepts clearly and ties them in directly to Cage's actual practice and experience. The biographical details are cogent but brief, and Haskins emphasizes the flow and change of Cage's musical output. He doesn't fetishize "4',33"" and the "Sonatas and Interludes," but identifies the truly fertile periods of Cage's work, and makes lucid critical judgements on what pieces stand in the first rank of achievement. Throughout, he has great intellectual and emotional affection for Cage, but it never clouds his thinking or his writing. The best single book on Cage that has been published.
I used Haskins' biography as a text in a college course on John Cage. In the final class evaluations, 80% of the students gave this book the highest possible rating for "the textbook made a valuable contribution." The remainder of the responses were at the second highest level. And yet this book is also an interesting read for someone well-versed in Cage scholarship, for Haskins spices his concoction with his own opinions (always well-defined as opinions). Cage is fascinating simply in terms of his own biography, but Haskins actually likes the music, the poetry, and the art that he is dealing with, and is a compelling advocate for the work itself.
Just a brief mention of the "one star" review here. It is mostly about another matter entirely, having nothing to do with the Haskins biography. It also criticizes Haskins for a book he has not yet written.