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John Cage - X Writings '79 - '82
John Cage is primarily known as a composer, but he also applied his experimental composition techniques to writing text. One of his main objectives was "to make a musical composition[,] the continuity of which is free of individual taste and memory (psychology) and also of the literature and 'traditions' of the art." Cage's X contains several examples of writing which is composed by applying some predefined system of constraints or "chance operations". For example, one of the sections of X, "Diary: How To Improve The World", is a collection of diary entries spanning nine years. The number or words in each entry is chance determined. The result, according to Cage, is "a mosaic of remarks, the juxtapositions of which are free of intention." Apparantly, the application of constraints somehow removes intentionality. X also contains a few sections where Cage is "writing through" James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake: He reworks the structure and words according to chance operations which has the diabolical effect of making the original text even more incomprehensible. An excellent read!
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