John Cage; The Banff Centre, Canada; 29/11/83

The title of the reading James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie, and the Alphabet is a reference to the poetry of Jackson Mac Low. Cage refers to a number of artists, composers, writers, and thinkers throughout his reading that have influenced him, though they all resist being understood or fully explained.

"It is possible to imagine that the artists whose work we live with constitute not a vocabulary but an alphabet by [means] of which we spell our lives..." He introduces his views on Duchamp, Joyce, and Satie before reading his text.

The text uses chance operations and incorporates 26 different possibilities (based on the alphabet) and other combinations of the three ghosts of Duchamp, Joyce, and Satie, as well as other sentient and non-sentient beings. A broad range of other actors and references within the text include: Heidegger, Marshall McLuhan, Houdini, Commaraswamy, Jonathan Albert, Buckminster Fuller, Mao Zedong, and Louise Nevelson.


Accession No. WAA.036
Artist: John Cage
Container annotation: Duchamp, Satie, Joyce and the Alphabet
Place/Year: The Banff Centre, Canada 29/11/83
Type: Reading
Technical aspects: Very clear Stereo
Duration: 90'
Tape capacity: 90
Tape brand: Memorex