John Cage: A Mycological Foray--Variations on Mushrooms
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This two-volume, slipcased work presents writing, art, photography and ephemera from the famed composer and philosopher. It represents a fascinating admixture of creativity, passion, and reference.
“I have come to the conclusion,” Cage writes, ‘that much can be learned about music by devoting oneself to the mushroom…. Lest I be found frivolous and light-headed and, worse, an ‘impurist’ for having brought about the marriage of the agaric with Euterpe, observe that composers are continually mixing up music with something else.”
Volume I offers an essay about Cage’s long interest in mushrooms that combines his own writing with photographs (some taken in the field, some of his foraging notebooks). The volume also reproduces “Mushrooms et Variations,” a piece that Cage wrote and performed himself in 1983; the paper in this section of the book is made from apple waste.
Volume II reproduces a set of ten lithographs originally published in 1972 as a limited edition of 75. Mushroom illustrations by Lois Long, a co-founder with Cage of the New York Mycological Society, are each accompanied by vellum overlays. These overlays present botanical notes by noted mycologist Alexander H. Smith along with Cage’s reflections that assume the form of poems, perhaps lyrics, perhaps recipes. On the reverse of the illustrations are further handwritten notes by Cage.
Handsomely produced. Each encounter with the work is likely to reveal some fresh surprise.
Slipcased. Two volumes. Black-and-white and color illustrations.