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New York City–January 1988
John Cage

2001 • 91 pp. 7 x 11"
Music / Essays / Art

$25.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-6466-5

$19.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7057-4

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

Not for sale in the British Commonwealth except Canada

“The poems . . . create space for rethinking what anarchy and, more immediately, sovereignty can mean in a fully globalized 21st century . . . Cage’s methods, intentions and good... [continued in Reviews below]”—Publishers Weekly

A major American thinker of the 20th century muses on anarchism.

"That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have." This quote from Henry David Thoreau's Essay on Civil Disobedience is one of thirty quotations from which John Cage created Anarchy, a book-length lecture comprising twenty mesostic poems. Composed with the aid of a computer program to simulate the coin toss of the I Ching, Anarchy draws on the writings of many serious anarchists including Emma Goldman, Peter Kropotkin, and Mario Malatesta, not so much making arguments for anarchism as "brushing information against information," giving the very words new combinations that de-familiarize and re-energize them. Now widely available of the first time, Anarchy marks the culmination of Cage's work as a poet, composer and as a thinker about contemporary society.

Reviews / Endorsements

“The poems . . . create space for rethinking what anarchy and, more immediately, sovereignty can mean in a fully globalized 21st century . . . Cage’s methods, intentions and good will are impeccably rendered on a platform that is at once fiercely inventive and deeply concerned for the collective human freedom within its own governance . . . [this book] brilliantly highlights the political commitments of his work as a whole.”—Publishers Weekly

“This is a singularly important addition to Cage’s writings . . . [it] is of vital, historical importance.”—Stephen McCaffery, author of The Cheat of Words

“Although he often brought into his poetry and other writings his deep, lifelong concern with the world’s societies and with ways to change them for the better, the ways in which he did this while composing Anarchy . . . are especially brilliant and aesthetically compelling.”—Jackson Mac Low, author of Barnesbook: Four Poems Derived from Sentences by Djuna Barnes


Winner of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) Book, Jacket, and Journal Show – Best Scholarly Typography (2002)

John Cage (1912 - 1992) was one of the seminal figures of the avant-garde in the U.S. A composer for whom the whole world -- with its brimming silences and anarchic harmonies -- was a source of music, Cage studied music with Adolph Weiss, Arnold Schoenberg, and others, later collaborating with such artists as Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. Cage was the author of many books, including Silence, X, A Year from Monday, M, and Empty Words. The latter are all in print with Wesleyan, along with Joan Retallack's interviews with Cage, MUSICAGE: Cage Muses on Words, Art, Music and a paperback edition of Cage's Norton lectures at Harvard, I-VI.

Wed, 3 Jan 2018 13:37:31 -0500