Sunday, March 18, 2012

Coomaraswamy and the Beats

In a new article (see below), David Need draws attention to the importance of Coomaraswamy's The Transformation of Nature in Art and of Coomaraswamy's readings of the Upanishads for the music of the avant-garde musician and artist John Cage. According to Need, it was this and the idea of sabdabrahman--of brahman or being as sound--"led Cage to focus on the spaces between the notes." Hence 4′33″, the famous 1952 composition in which the assembled musicians do not actually play their instruments at all.

David Need, "Spontaneity, Immediacy, and Difference: Philosophy, Being in Time, and Creativity in the Aesthetics of Jack Kerouac, Charles Olson, and John Cage," in The Philosophy of the Beats, ed. Sherin N. Elkholy (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky), pp. 195-210. See especially pp. 204-06.

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