I meant to post this yesterday, but forgot. September 5th was John Cage’s 100th birth anniversary. I know next to nothing about music, particularly Western music, and I understand I Ching even less, but the little that I know of Cage I like. I’ve only read about him and he seems like the kind of person I’d have liked to hear talk, especially if he spoke like he wrote. For the life of me, I can’t remember where I found the photo below, so it’ll just have to go uncredited. Here, for your reading pleasure, are Cage’s 10 rules for students and teachers. It’s not a bad manifesto, whether or not you’re hoping to make music out of silence and without musical instruments.
In other news, I just watched Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democrats’ convention. I’m not sure why. I neither understand nor really care much about American politics. Reading the political news in India over years will do that to you. But I did press play on a video of her speech and in the process of watching it — full marks to her for memorising the whole thing, by the way — I was struck by sudden, serious shame for doing such a fine imitation of a wombat. Only hours ago I’d been whining to a friend that it’s terrible how exercise in my life means getting up from a chair and sitting on a couch or vice versa. (My genius friend told me he’s going to do Crossfit and I should try it. I ordered myself a sandwich, while remaining seated.) Now here I was, balancing a nearly-empty mug of sweet tea on my potbelly, listening to a woman who has the kind of muscles in her arm that would make most Bollywood heroes gulp fearfully. Inexplicably, this galvanised me into action and I listened to the rest of Michelle Obama’s speech while trying to touch my toes, marching on the spot and throwing a few delicate kicks in the air. By the end of her speech, I was sweating. It’s the first time I’ve done any form of exercise in months, and it was all because I’d unthinkingly chanced upon the video of Michelle Obama at the convention. See? Cage was right — “Nothing is a mistake.”