by Julia Dür


7. “That is a very good question. I do not want to spoil it with an answer” (21)

                                                                           Some Final Remarks

This quotation is taken from Cage’s afternote to his Lecture on Nothing which is part of his book Silence. After delivering his Lecture on Nothing, “he prepared six answers for the first six questions asked, regardless of what they were.”(22)“That is a very good question. I do not want to spoil it with an answer” is one of them. Cage’s amusing idea originated from the belief that a discussion is nothing more than an entertainment. Cage, as a result of using chance operations in his music, made his responsibility that of asking questions instead of giving answers and making choices. He was not much interested in giving answers as well as in receiving definite answers – as the nature of Cage’s friendship with Duchamp well demonstrated. Experience, in Cage’s mind, was much more important than understanding. Duchamp, on the other hand, made every effort to make his art mysterious. He was not either interested in giving ultimate answers as he believed that the creative act was a joint effort by the artist and the spectator.

I am introducing the final paragraphs of my paper with the analysis of a quotation that I believe is quite apt to ‘finish’ the never ending circle of the DuCage experience. Both Duchamp and Cage demonstrated with their artworks that there is much space for the spectator’s experience and curiosity. They do not offer ultimate answers but leave much space for our own imagination. Like Duchamp and Cage, I am not concerned here with an ultimate answer or ‘summary’ of my project. I see no point in writing a ‘summary’ after having studied those two artists. It would at least seem rather paradoxical to me. Instead, I would like to leave you with the voices of Duchamp and Cage as a ‘stepping stone’ for your own imagination:

“People took modern art very seriously when it first reached America because they believed we took ourselves very seriously (…) A great deal of modern art is meant to be amusing. If Americans would simply remember their own sense of humour instead of listening to the critics, modern art will come into its own.”(23) —Marcel Duchamp

“This is also for me the effect of modern painting on my eyes, so when I go around the city I look, I look at the walls….and I look at the pavement and so forth as though I’m in a museum or in a gallery. In other words, I don’t turn my aesthetic faculties off when I’m outside a museum or gallery.”(24) —John Cage

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Why did I choose these two quotations?………………………

I believe that many people associate with modern art something that is worldly innocent, something that has nothing to do with their reality. After having had the possibility to immerse in the world of DuCage, I am not so sure if there is a difference between art and the life around us. Art, for them, was normality - it was a part of their life as was the street they were living in. Museums then, would symbolize nothing else than life – or we may also change this expression like a parable – namely that life is one big museum… Isn’t every single artwork simply an emotional expression of an individual? If that is so, isn’t then art all about the capability of interpreting the things that are going on around us? I believe it is enough if we try to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. This is what being a glass wanderer is all about.


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 Tomkins, Calvin. The Bride & the Bachelors. New York: Penguin/Viking, 1965.

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More Resources 

  • The Museum of Contemporary Art. Rolywholyover – A Circus. Los Angeles: 1993.
  • Microsoft Encarta ’95. The Complete Interactive Multimedia Encyclopedia. 1995 Edition.
  • Leo Truchlar – Lecture Script
  • Special thanks to ….Sweet Surprise Postcards © John Gavin Gillard
  • Websites

……….and finally……Thanks…… for more inspiration to:
my best friend Markus for not losing patience in endless discussions and his inspiring piano music ;) my parents for distracting me now and then; Mr. Truchlar for granting me so much freedom and space; Christoph; Dido, Sinéad O’Connor, Era and The Beautiful South for their inspiring music.



[21] Cage, Silence (Afternote to his “Lecture on Nothing“) 126.

[22] Ibid.                                                                                        

[23] Tomkins 226.

[24] Fetz, Kunst in der Stadt 2 x.

[25] The bibliography contains some books I have not cited in the paper itself – it is a mixed collection of books that have been piling up in my shelves in the course of writing…most of whom were quite helpful