Addendum to Letter 7 – John Cage Said

Responding to the question, “What’s restricting about taste and memory for you?” John Cage Said:

There’s a beautiful remark of Marcel Duchamp: To reach the impossibility of transferring from one like object to another the memory imprint. And I think the trouble with memory–both from a poetic point of view is made clear, too, by the remark of Rene Char, the French poet, that each act is virgin, even the repeated one. To see things as being new rather than things that we already know before we’re experiencing them.

I think this is one of the things that leads to trouble between two people when someone says of another person, ‘I knew what she would say’ or ‘I knew what he would say.’ I would hope that we don’t get into that frame of mind with respect to one another, hm?

There’s another remark I’ve come across in the last year or so that I like, and it’s by the composer Erik Satie. It’s related to that remark that I just quoted from Char–he checked his version.  Satie says experience is a form of paralysis. Do you see the relation?

If we think we know what the other person is going to say, and if we don’t approach things as virgin, then our minds and our attitudes turn out– become paralyzed, and that’s why we want to have each thing new. To realize that two Coca-Cola bottles are not identical and what makes them not identical is that they’re not at the same point. They can’t be at the same point in space. Since they’re not at the same point in space they automatically receive – each one receives light differently than the other.