John Cage's Lecture On The Weather

I've always considered John Cage's politics to have been those of conscious non-engagement, but that's because I have really not known anything about "Lecture on the Weather," a text/sound/film/stage performance commissioned by the CBC for the US Bicentennial in 1976.

Cage had twelve performers read chance-selected texts from Thoreau's writing, "On Civil Disobedience," combined with projected images and a weather-related soundscape. Ubu's own poet-creator Kenneth Goldsmith posted the text of Cage's remarkable preface to the Poetry Foundation's website a few years ago.

[It was a couple of years after Goldsmith published his own Cage-inspired work, "The Weather," which consists of transcriptions of a year's worth of Manhattan weather reports from 1010 WINS News, which as Marjorie Perloff wrote about at length, is more fascinating and unexpected than it might first seem.]

In this post on the John Cage Trust's blog, Laura Kuhn writes about a remarkable 2007 restaging of "Lecture on the Weather" to mark the transfer of the Cage archive to Bard College. The slideshow below has a recording of Cage reading his preface and photos of the rather amazing collection of Thoreau readers.

As of last year, the Trust was waiting for some "angels" to fund the release of a recording of the Bard restaging. Maybe they should do a Kickstarter campaign or something.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: July 4, 2011.

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