NOWHERE ELSE TO TURN (John Cage v Francis Schaeffer)

__________________

________________________

DESCRIBING THE STORM
CHAPTER FOUR
If there is no God, there can be no meaning for man except that which he creates for himself. Modern music
has expressed this concept in a most powerful way. One might well say that the history of modern music is the
story of man’s failure to attain to anything solid or permanent as he has sought to create his own meaning. We
look, then, at
Modern Music
If we ask what the leading difference is between modern music and the music of earlier times, the answer
would surely be the element of the spontaneous. Traditional music—whether of the concert auditorium or of the
parlor—was structured. It was written (and could be written) in musical notation. The musician could play it by
reading what was written there, since the framework was one of order, form, harmony, and plan. The concept
of music, in other words, reflected a biblical view of the world. But what happened when the new framework of
thinking began to dominate music? Man began to think of himself as a part of a big cosmic accident—a universe
that was not created, and which does not have a plan behind it. The only thing that man can do in such a universe
is to try to create meaning out of himself. Thus the characteristic element in music reflecting this new framework
of thinking is spontaneity—and the element of chance.

Up to this point we have given our own viewpoint. At this point we will quote from a European writer. He
is discussing the work of a well-known symphonic composer, Mr. John Cage. Here it will become clear that the
new framework of thinking does indeed explain some of the strange “happenings” in great concert halls of the
world.
The power of art to communicate ideas and emotions to organize life into meaningful patterns, and to
realize universal truths through the self-expressed individuality of the artist are only three of the
assumptions that Cage challenges. In place of a self-expressive art created by the imagination, tastes,
and desires of the artist, Cage proposes an art, born of chance and indeterminacy.
Back in the Chinese culture long ago the Chinese had worked out a system of tossing coins or yarrow
sticks by means of which the spirits would speak. The complicated method which they developed made
sure that the person doing the tossing would not allow his own personality to intervene. Self expression
was eliminated so that the spirits could speak.
Cage picks up this same system and uses it. He too seeks to get rid of any individual expression in his
music. But there is a very great difference. As far as Cage is concerned there is nobody there to speak.
There is only an impersonal universe speaking through blind chance.
Cage began to compose his music through the tossing of coins. It is said that for some of his pieces lasting
only twenty minutes he has tossed the coin thousands of times. This is pure chance, but apparently not

pure enough, he wanted still more chance. So he devised a mechanical conductor. It was a machine
working on cams, the motion of which cannot be determined ahead of time, and the musicians just
followed this. Or, as an alternative to this, sometimes he employed two conductors who could not see each
other, both conducting simultaneously; anything, in fact, to produce pure chance. But in Cage’s universe
nothing comes through in the music except noise and confusion or total silence.
There is a story that once, after the musicians had played Cage’s total chance music, as he was bowing
to acknowledge the applause, there was a noise behind him. He thought it sounded like steam escaping
from somewhere, but then to his dismay realized it was the musicians behind him who were hissing.
Often his works have been booed. However, when the audience members boo at him they are, if they are
modern men, in reality booing the logical conclusion of their own position as it strikes their ears in music.
We might add that one of the “compositions” of John Cage is called “Silence.” It consists of precisely that: four
and a half minutes of total silence! One could almost laugh, if it were not so sad—and serious. But it is. When
man rejects God, and God’s word revelation to man, he ends up here—doomed to silence. For what can man say
(musically, or in any other way) in a universe that has no meaning? When man refuses to think—and speak —
God’s thoughts after Him, he is consigned to this predicament.

______________________

NOWHERE ELSE TO TURN

CHANCE VERSUS DESIGN

In The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer refers to the American composer John Cage who believes that the universe is impersonal by nature and that it originated only through pure chance.  In an attempt to live consistently with this personal philosophy, Cage composes all of his music by various chance agencies.  He uses, among other things, the tossing of coins and the rolling of dice to make sure that no personal element enters into the final product.  The result is music that has no form, no structure and, for the most part, no appeal.  Though Cage’s professional life accurately reflects his belief in a universe that has no order, his personal life does not, for his favorite pastime is mycology, the collecting of mushrooms, and because of the potentially lethal results of picking a wrong mushroom, he cannot approach it on a purely by-chance basis.  Concerning that, he states: “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operations, I would die shortly.”  John Cage “believes” one thing, but practices another.  In doing so, he is an example of the person described in Romans 1:18 who “suppresses the truth of God,” for when faced with the certainty of order in the universe, he still clings to his theory of randomness.

Related posts:

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 53 THE BEATLES (Part E, Stg. Pepper’s and John Lennon’s search in 1967 for truth was through drugs, money, laughter, etc & similar to King Solomon’s, LOTS OF PICTURES OF JOHN AND CYNTHIA) (Feature on artist Yoko Ono)

The John Lennon and the Beatles really were on a long search for meaning and fulfillment in their lives  just like King Solomon did in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon looked into learning (1:12-18, 2:12-17), laughter, ladies, luxuries, and liquor (2:1-2, 8, 10, 11), and labor (2:4-6, 18-20). He fount that without God in the picture all […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 52 THE BEATLES (Part D, There is evidence that the Beatles may have been exposed to Francis Schaeffer!!!) (Feature on artist Anna Margaret Rose Freeman )

______________   George Harrison Swears & Insults Paul and Yoko Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds- The Beatles The Beatles:   I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis Schaeffer spent a lot of time listening to the Beatles and talking […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 51 THE BEATLES (Part C, List of those on cover of Stg.Pepper’s ) (Feature on artist Raqib Shaw )

  The Beatles in a press conference after their Return from the USA Uploaded on Nov 29, 2010 The Beatles in a press conference after their Return from the USA. The Beatles:   I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 50 THE BEATLES (Part B, The Psychedelic Music of the Beatles) (Feature on artist Peter Blake )

__________________   Beatles 1966 Last interview I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis Schaeffer spent a lot of time listening to the Beatles and talking and writing about them and their impact on the culture of the 1960’s. In this […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 49 THE BEATLES (Part A, The Meaning of Stg. Pepper’s Cover) (Feature on artist Mika Tajima)

_______________ The Beatles documentary || A Long and Winding Road || Episode 5 (This video discusses Stg. Pepper’s creation I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis Schaeffer spent a lot of time listening to the Beatles and talking and writing about […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 48 “BLOW UP” by Michelangelo Antonioni makes Philosophic Statement (Feature on artist Nancy Holt)

_______________ Francis Schaeffer pictured below: _____________________ I have included the 27 minute  episode THE AGE OF NONREASON by Francis Schaeffer. In that video Schaeffer noted,  ” Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…for a time it became the rallying cry for young people throughout the world. It expressed the essence of their lives, thoughts and their feelings.” How Should […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 47 Woody Allen and Professor Levy and the death of “Optimistic Humanism” from the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS Plus Charles Darwin’s comments too!!! (Feature on artist Rodney Graham)

Crimes and Misdemeanors: A Discussion: Part 1 ___________________________________ Today I will answer the simple question: IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE AN OPTIMISTIC SECULAR HUMANIST THAT DOES NOT BELIEVE IN GOD OR AN AFTERLIFE? This question has been around for a long time and you can go back to the 19th century and read this same […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 46 Friedrich Nietzsche (Featured artist is Thomas Schütte)

____________________________________ Francis Schaeffer pictured below: __________ Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” , episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”, episode 8 […]

_______________

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: