Daily Excerpt on Twitter #JohnCageDiary

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September 5th, 2015


Beginning September 1, @sigliopress is tweeting an excerpt from the forthcoming Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) by John Cage. We’ll tweet #JohnCageDiary each day until the publication date, October 27. We hope you’ll retweet any excerpts that strike you—or retweet each day for the sake of disseminating Cage into the wider world.

Given the chance operations and constraints that Cage applied to his composition of Diary—and given how prescient and uncanny his portents about the world we live in now, it should come as no surprise how well-suited these excerpts are to the 140 character limit. We hope this accumulates into something with as much humor, play, incisiveness, provocation, etc. as Diary as a whole.

Siglio intern Googie Karrass amassed over fifty 140-character-or-less complete thoughts in Diary, and then we applied a random number generator to determine a sequence rich with its own serendipities and unexpected juxtapositions. Each entry is notated by the roman numeral that it appears under in Diary which was written over the course of sixteen years: 1965-1982.

We’ll be updating the excerpts here so that they’ll be archived, but it’s best to see them on Twitter and how people are responding. We hope you will!


XVII: I must write and tell him about beauty, the urgency to avoid it.

LIV: You could always tell when she was about to go out of her mind. She would begin to speak the truth.

CXCVIII: Twelve disciples. One teacher. One too many.

CCI: A newspaper man wrote asking me to send’im my philosophy in a nutshell. Get out of whatever cage you happen to be in.

XI: War will not be group conflict: it’ll be murder, pure and simple, individually conceived.

LXXXIII: There are those of course who have no time for improving the world. They are struggling to keep it going.

CXII: It’s probably no more than ninety-nine people who don’t know what they’re doing. They’re involved in high finance.

LXXI: Art instead of being an object made by one person is a process set in motion by a group of people. Art’s socialized.

CXXIV: College: two hundred people reading same book. An obvious mistake. Two hundred people can read two hundred books.

XXIX: Art’s obscured the difference between art and life. Now let life obscure the difference between life and art.

CXXI: Act of sharing is a community act. Think of people outside the community. What do we share with them?

XXII: Heaven’s no longer paved with gold (changes in church architecture). Heaven’s a motel.

LXXIX: Get it, she said, so it’s unknown which parent conceiving will bear the child. Responsibility undefined.

XXII: “We are packages of leaking water.” “The next water you drink may be your own.”

XXX: Difference between pennilessness now and pennilessness then: now we’ve got unquestioned credit.

XLIV: But what use is good art? / (Johns said he could imagine a world without it and that there was no reason to think it would not be a better one.)

XCV: Coal and oil we use are being replenished. Fossilization. It takes ages.

CCIV: If you’re poor, it’s illegal. If you’re rich, you’re automatically within the law.

CLXXIII: When can we get together? “It’s hard to say: I’m going out of town tomorrow and I’ll be back sometime today.”

CXXVIII: Soup cans are not only beautiful (Warhol, for example) but true (Campbell’s soup is actually in them).

XIII: Imitate the Ganges’ sands, becoming indifferent to perfume, indifferent to filth.

LXXIX: Clothes for entertainment, not because of shame. Privacy to become an unusual rather than expected experience.

XLII: We’ll take the mad ones with us, and we know where we’re going.

CLXV: We give each letter undivided attention, setting it in unique face and size; to read becomes the verb to sing.

CXI: We had to conceive of silence in order to open our ears.

XCV: Revolution. Two people making same kind of music is one music too many.

LVII: He got the notion his ideas belonged to him. He refused to disclose them, fearing someone else would profit from them.

CXLIV: I don’t believe, Duchamp said, in the verb, to be. “I do not believe that I am.”