I N D E T E R M I N A C Y
___ new aspect of form in instrumental and electronic music
John Cage was an American composer, Zen buddhist, and mushroom eater. He was also a writer: this site is about his paragraph-long stories — anecdotes, thoughts, and jokes. As a lecture, or as an accompaniment to a Merce Cunningham dance, he would read them aloud, speaking quickly or slowly as the stories required so that one story was read per minute.
This site archives 186 of those stories. Each story is spaced out, as if it were being read aloud, to fill a fixed area. If you like, you can also read them aloud at a rate of one a minute.
You can read a random story (reload or select the asterisk for another), pick one by number using the form on the main page, or choose one through one of the three indices. The index of names lists people and beings and the stories they are mentioned in, and the index of first lines lists the first line of each story alphabetically. The stories often end in punch lines; the index of last lines (my favorite) lists these alphabetically.
The stories are taken from two of Cage’s books, Silence and A Year from Monday, and from the Folkways recording of him reading 90 of them aloud as David Tudor plays piano (among other things). The numbering is arbitrary, except that the first 90 stories are those on the Folkways recording in order.