John Cage Quotes

Do you have any favorite John Cage quotes?

John Milton Cage Jr was an artist, philosopher, music theorist, composer and author who is probably best known for his his 1952 composition 4′33″, which is ironically performed in the absence of deliberate sounds. He also wrote several books about music, life and philosophy.

Some of the popular books by John Cage are Silence: Lectures and Writings, Empty Words, Composition In Retrospect, M: Writings ’67–’72, A Year from Monday and many others.

Here are some best and famous John Cage quotes on music, silence, mushrooms, philosophy and many other interesting topics of life:

Famous John Cage Quotes

Famous John Cage Quotes

1. In the dark, all cats are black. -John Cage

2. Every something is an echo of nothing. -John Cage

3. Get yourself out of whatever cage you find yourself in. -John Cage

4. There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing. -John Cage

5. Art is sort of an experimental station in which one tries out living. -John Cage

6. I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry as I need it. -John Cage

7. A ‘mistake’ is beside the point, for once anything happens it authentically is. -John Cage

8. Our business in living is to become fluent with the life we are living, and art can help this. -John Cage

9. We are involved in a life that passes understanding and our highest business is our daily life. -John Cage

10. It is not irritating to be where one is. It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else. -John Cage

11. Our intention is to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and desires out of its way and lets it act of it’s own accord.

John Cage

12. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I’m doing. -John Cage

13. There is nothing we need to do that isn’t dangerous. -John Cage

14. Value judgments are destructive to our proper business, which is curiosity and awareness. -John Cage

15. I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones. -John Cage

16. Sleep’s what we need. It produces an emptiness in us into which sooner or later energies flow. -John Cage

17. Combine nursing homes with nursery schools. Bring very old and very young together: they interest one another. -John Cage

18. The highest purpose is to have no purpose at all. This puts one in accord with nature, in her manner of operation. -John Cage

19. College: two hundred people reading the same book. An obvious mistake. Two hundred people can read two hundred books. -John Cage

20. If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all. -John Cage

21. The first question I ask myself when something doesn’t seem to be beautiful is why do I think it’s not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason. -John Cage

22. It is not futile to do what we do. We wake up with energy and we do something. And we make, of course, failures and we make mistakes, but we sometimes get glimpses of what we might do next. -John Cage

John Cage Mushroom Quotes

John Cage Mushroom Quotes

23. Clothes I wear for mushroom hunting are rarely sent to the cleaner. They constitute a collection of odors I produce and gather while rambling in the woods. I notice not only dogs (cats, too) are delighted (they love to smell me).

John Cage

A meal without mushrooms is like a day without rain. -John Cage

John Cage Quotes On Music

John Cage Quotes On Music

24. All great art is a form of complaint. -John Cage

25. The material of music is sound and silence. Integrating these is composing. -John Cage

26. The emotions – love, mirth, the heroic, wonder, tranquility, fear, anger, sorrow, disgust – are in the audience. -John Cage

27. So somebody has talent? So what? Dime a dozen. And we’re overpopulated. Actually we have more food than we have people and more art. We’ve gotten to the point of burning food. When will we begin to burn our art? -John Cage

28. Which is more musical, a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school? Are the people inside the school musical and the ones outside unmusical? What if the ones inside can’t hear very well, would that change my question? -John Cage

29. 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.

John Cage

30. Everything we do is music and everywhere is the best seat. -John Cage

31. Whether I make them or not, there are always sounds to be heard and all of them are excellent. -John Cage

32. I want my writing to be as clear as water I can see through so that what I experienced is told without my being in any way in the way. -John Cage

33. Nothing is accomplished by writing a piece of music. Nothing is accomplished by hearing a piece of music. Nothing is accomplished by playing a piece of music. Our ears are now in excellent condition. -John Cage

34. When you start working, everybody is in your studio- the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas- all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave. -John Cage

35. What is the purpose of writing music? One is, of course, not dealing with purposes but dealing with sounds. Or the answer must take the form of a paradox: a purposeful purposeless or a purposeless play. This play, however, is an affirmation of life–not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and one’s desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord. -John Cage

John Cage Silence Quotes

John Cage Silence Quotes

36. The world is teeming; anything can happen. -John Cage

37. As far as consistency of thought goes, I prefer inconsistency. -John Cage

38. If my work is accepted, I must move on to the point where it is not. -John Cage

39. Composing’s one thing, performing’s another, listening’s a third. What can they have to do with one another? -John Cage

40. There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.

John Cage

41. There’s no such thing as silence. Something is always happening that makes a sound. -John Cage

42. The highest purpose is to have no purpose at all. This puts one in accordance with nature, in her manner of operation. -John Cage

43. Whereas what we need is to fumble around in the darkness, because that’s where our lives (not necessarily all of the time, but at least some of the time, and particularly when life gets problematical for us) takes place. -John Cage

44. Artists talk a lot about freedom. So, recalling the expression “free as a bird,” Morton Feldman went to a park one day and spent some time watching our feathered friends. When he came back, he said, “You know? They’re not free: they’re fighting over bits of food. -John Cage

45. It is better to make a piece of music than to perform one, better to perform one than to listen to one, better to listen to one than to misuse it as a means of distraction, entertainment, or acquisition of “culture. -John Cage