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Overpopulation and Art: A reading by John Cage

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 34 mins
Event Type: Lecture / Panel Discussion Program Origin: KPFA

On January 28, 1992, John Cage delivered a series of lectures at Stanford University in Palo Alto California, just a few months before his death. Representing his last major writing, “Overpopulation and Art” is a mesostic poem that covers a wide variety of Cage’s concerns, from the implications of technology on the environment, to the role of art in society. Although often remembered as a radical composer of aleatoric music, John Cage was also an extremely intelligent man, who remained curious about most aspects of life, be it scientific, artistic, political, or philosophical. Unrelentingly optimistic about humanity’s potential, and yet painfully aware of its faults, Cage’s concluding words, in which he describes the arc of one’s achievements as going from “failure to failure, until the final victory,” serves as a fitting epitaph for this incredible man’s life.

Musical Selections:  Overpopulation and Art [a mesostic poem] (ca. 1992) (26:12) / John Cage
Performers:  John Cage, reader
Genres:  Poetry; Literature
Subject:  Cage, John; Poetry; Politics and culture
People:  Cage, John
Recording Date:  1/28/1992
 
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