Saturday, July 16, 2005

Mesotics I

Cage sent a mesostic as reply to my poem "John Cage Shoes." I had, as a correspondence artist, connected. In the style of correspondance (sic) artists, I passed Cage’s mesostic on to Ray Johnson, founder of the New York Correspondance School. Johnson replied with an abstract ink drawing called John Cage Feet. I published my poem, Cage’s mesostic and Johnson’s drawing in the little magazine, Unmuzzled OX.

John Cage and Sari Dienes were neighbors in Stony Point. John would take Sari mushroom hunting. For The Poets’ Encyclopedia, John wrote on mushrooms, and Sari sculpted his portrait in mushrooms. Is that a good thing, as Martha Stewart used to say? Or is that a boring thing? Cage like to cook and he liked eat; he was almost a bon vivant. Was it Cage or Warhol or Duchamp who first proclaimed their love of bor-ing things?

Ezra Pound wrote 120 Cantos. They seem an unfinished experiment. I decided to publish extensions of these cantos in Unmuzzled OX. Cage wrote actual variations, and they opened The Cantos (121-150) Ezra Pound. He wrote through the cantos. He dug up fascist cantos that had never been published in English. Other contributors, such as Jackson MacLow, took their lead from Cage. Ray Johnson finally took two shoes and painted one John and the other Cage.

Cage has been dead for almost fifteen years. Cage tried to live longer; a final essay concerns macrobiotic cooking and philosophy. The vigorous or even gentle exercise of dance is healthier than abstruse spiritual exercise of music. Someday, I’d like to publish an anthology on the influence of John Cage, an anthology which would feature the mesostics in Unmuzzled OX. Mesostics are a good sample of one of the twentieth century’s most interesting minds. Sampling is a John Cage piece for radios.

Ray Johnson committed suicide.


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