Romantic Remediation? John Cage and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden State of Mind
Nürnberg : Verlag für Moderne Kunst
InBlübaum, Dirk; Graulich, Gerhard; Uhl, Katharina (ed.), Die Revolution der Romantiker. FLUXUS made in USA, pp. 75-104
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Engelse Taal en Cultuur
Blübaum, Dirk; Graulich, Gerhard; Uhl, Katharina (ed.), Die Revolution der Romantiker. FLUXUS made in USA
SubjectEurope and its Worlds after 1800; Memory, Materiality and Meaning in the Age of Transnationalism
Rather than identifying Cage as a romantic soul mate of the transcendentalists exhibiting a rebellious attitude against conventions, I will investigate new ways to detect with greater exactness what Sean Wilentz described in the context of David S. Reynolds work on the American Renaissance as “the subterranean cultural currents that fed the imaginations of the same great American writers.” Going one step further than Reynolds in Beneath the American Renaissance with his aim to explore “unsounded depths of American culture,” I will turn to the semantic meaning of “sound” in its double sense: first, as a key term for the transcendentalist writer Thoreau which helped composers such as Charles Ives and John Cage to create an innovative, unconventional musical language based on polyrhythms, electronics, chaos, silence, indeterminacy, and novel forms of visual notations; second, I will use the semantic meaning of “sound” as a verb to explore the depths of Walden pond which allowed Thoreau to create a crucial visual counterpart to his literary account of “life in the woods.” The sounds of the environment and the practice of measuring by means of a sounding line will open up a new way to re-evaluate the city-nature dichotomy. In a final step, I will reconnect Cage’s cartographic scores and visual grids with Thoreau’s work as a landscape surveyor.
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