Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists

Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists

by Kay Larson

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Overview

Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists by Kay Larson

A “heroic” biography of John Cage and his “awakening through Zen Buddhism”—“a kind of love story” about a brilliant American pioneer of the creative arts who transformed himself and his culture (The New York Times)

Composer John Cage sought the silence of a mind at peace with itself—and found it in Zen Buddhism, a spiritual path that changed both his music and his view of the universe. “Remarkably researched, exquisitely written,” Where the Heart Beats weaves together “a great many threads of cultural history” (Maria Popova, Brain Pickings) to illuminate Cage’s struggle to accept himself and his relationship with choreographer Merce Cunningham. Freed to be his own man, Cage originated exciting experiments that set him at the epicenter of a new avant-garde forming in the 1950s. Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Allan Kaprow, Morton Feldman, and Leo Castelli were among those influenced by his ‘teaching’ and ‘preaching.’ Where the Heart Beats shows the blossoming of Zen in the very heart of American culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143123477
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/30/2013
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 347,410
Product dimensions: 5.45(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.04(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kay Larson was the the art critic for New York Magazine for fourteen years and has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times. In 1994, she entered Zen practice at a Buddhist monastery in upstate New York.

Table of Contents

Prelude xiii

I Mountains are Mountains

1 D. T. Suzuki 3

2 John Cage 21

3 Merce Cunningham 63

4 Four Walls 96

5 Seeking Silence 122

II Mountains are No Longer Mountains

6 Ego Noise 159

7 The Mind of the Way 195

8 Heaven and Earth 216

9 The Infinity of Being 240

10 Zero 264

III Mountains are Again Mountains

11 Another School 295

12 Moving Out from Zero 325

13 Indeterminacy 347

14 Interpenetration 376

15 Coda 412

Epilogue 425

Acknowledgments 427

Notes 429

References 453

The Maha Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra 461

Index 463

What People are Saying About This

Maria Popova

Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists is a remarkable new intellectual, creative, and spiritual biography of Cage — one of the most influential composers in modern history, whose influence reaches beyond the realm of music and into art, literature, cinema, and just about every other aesthetic and conceptual expression of curiosity about the world, yet also one of history's most misunderstood artists — by longtime art critic and practicing Buddhist Kay Larson. Fifteen years in the making, it is without a doubt the richest, most stimulating, most absorbing book I've read in the past year, if not decade — remarkably researched, exquisitely written, weaving together a great many threads of cultural history into a holistic understanding of both Cage as an artist and Zen as a lens on existence.
—Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)

From the Publisher

“Heroic… fascinating.” —New York Times

“Inspirational… exuberant.” —Los Angeles Times

"Revelatory… Where the Heart Beats may not just be the best book written yet about John Cage; it’s probably also one of the most substantive-yet-readable entryways into the nexus of 20th-century American art and the immortal qualities of Eastern thought… one of the most profound, not to mention unexpected, gifts imaginable."—Slate

"Absorbing… no future commentator on Cage's work or influence will be able to ignore Larson's contribution…a milestone in contemporary cultural criticism." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Remarkable… without a doubt the richest, most stimulating, most absorbing book I’ve read in the past year, if not decade — remarkably researched, exquisitely written, weaving together a great many threads of cultural history into a holistic understanding of both Cage as an artist and Zen as a lens on existence… Not unlike Cage’s music, Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists is impossible to distill, to synthesize, to relay. Rather, its goodness is best experienced in full, with complete surrender." —Brain Pickings

"Strange and wonderful... a gloriously rich reading experience, studded with layers upon layers of deeply inspiring and endlessly fascinating paths. One of the best books of the year in any category." —NPR.org (A Favorie Music Book of the Year)

 

Seth Colter Wall

Where the Heart Beats may not just be the best book written yet about John Cage; it's probably also one of the most substantive-yet-readable entryways into the nexus of 20th-century American art and the immortal qualities of Eastern thought…Tough-minded even when working at high levels of abstraction, Where the Heart Beats is one of the most profound, not to mention unexpected, gifts imaginable during John Cage's centenary year. Larson's is the first book about Cage to have the same feeling of listening to Cage—replete with the epiphanic moment of “ah,” at which point the skeptical, hidebound mind may find itself pushing up against all the quotidian objections to unusual ways of organizing information, before breaking through to some other form of understanding—and a new definition of what may constitute the good life. There's something very calmly Zen about this, the way Where the Heart Beats doesn't feel the need to put down or else diminish our enjoyment of pop-culture jokes like “Cage Does Cage” while making its points. Instead, it feels as though Larson's book only hopes to exist alongside those tropes, while giving us a few additional words to use when talking about an artist who resisted the fixed implications of so many languages.
—Seth Colter Walls (Slate)

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