Discussion Bound: Composition in Retrospect by John Cage
Written in his characteristic “mesostics” (lines of prose poetry linked by a central vertical acrostic), Composition in Retrospect is a statement of methodology in which composer John Cage examines the central issues of his work: indeterminacy, imitation, variable structure, and contingency. Finished only shortly before his death in 1992, Composition in Retrospect completes the documentation of Cage’s thought that began with his classic book Silence (1961), but it is an introduction and invitation to his work as much as a summary or conclusion. Also included in this volume (at Cage’s request) is “Themes and Variations,” a piece written in 1982 about friends and heroes such as Jasper Johns, Buckminster Fuller, Marcel Duchamp, and Erik Satie. Together these pieces form a book that is both a testament to the artists Cage admired and a clear statement of his own ars poetica.
Moderated by Alexis Meldrum, curatorial assistant.
This monthly discussion is a place to exchange ideas about readings that relate to artworks and the art world, and to learn from and about each other. Books are available at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café for a 10% discount. To add your name to our Discussion Bound mailing list, click here or call 828.253.3227 x133.