Year ago, in an otherwise unmemorable piece, a record reviewer wrote, "For years, people have been trying to figure out if Frank Zappa is a genius or an asshole."
Much the same could be said about the late avant-garde composer John Cage. But who knew a blog posting about Cage could plunge all fandom into war?
Supergee's blog posting, "Why John Cage should never have been taken seriously as a composer," has drawn 17 comments so far.
Arthur's post, tagged "asshat," begins with a quote from Cage. It says "If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience."
Arthur then comments, "If you develop a preference for food that tastes good, it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse inedible food and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience. Hire me as a chef."
(If you're wondering why a post about John Cage is in a blog about Robert Anton Wilson, see Oz Fritz's post. If you squint hard, the Robert Anton Wilson five minute exercise Oz describes could be seen as a performance of Cage's 4'33".)
It seems to me that a composer should be judged by his music, not by whether he ever said (or did) anything that could be judge silly or wrong. Cage's piano music (both for "prepared" piano and for regular piano) is often quite good. Prokofiev looks like an "asshat" for deciding to return to Russian when it was ruled by Joseph Stalin (it must have been one of those "it seemed like a good idea at the time" kind of things) but I'm obsessed by Prokofiev's music.
Check out this performance of "Dream" by Cage. For all of his reputation as an "out there" guy, much of Cage's music seems listenable even to people who hate modern classical music.