|Note to WWW readers:
An unattributed John Cage quotation goes like this: "the wait during the download time is the best thing about the Web. What do you hear and think of while you're waiting?"
Be patient. Most of these pages will download in less than 4 ' 33 ". . . .
It is blindingly hot outside. I walk under a huge tent set up in the courtyard overlooking Benjamin Franklin parkway. No one is around; the space under the tent is empty. It's a little cooler here. I can hear the gentle sound of the tent's cover rippling slightly in the breeze, and sounds of traffic in the distance.
I take a program and map for the exhibit. The show is organized into three main sections.
Museum Circle features works donated from museums of all kinds in the Delaware Valley area, plus in the center of the room duplicates of some of the books in Cage's library, stored in shelves and drawers, and near them a table and chairs for reading, writing, chess-playing (several games are available), and relaxing.
Cage Gallery is a room showing visual art (drawings, collages, handmade paper, etc.) made by John Cage. These are rearranged everyday in different places on the walls, according to a random pattern generated by a computer program.
Finally, Circus is a large room exhibiting works by visual artists whom Cage admired. The arrangement of the artworks is also regrouped randomly every day, using a computer program, with some works being displayed in new combinations and others temporarily rotated out of the pubic exhibit, to be stored to one side.
The following is a rough log of some of the thoughts that occurred to me as I strolled through Rolywholyover on that Tuesday in June. Numbers correspond to exhibited works listed in the show's brochure.
| Museum Circle
What's this here? Let's take a look:
29. Calithumpian Rattle, c. 1850. The exhibition brochure says: "Made from the wheel of a winnowing mill, this noisemaker produced 'music' as a traditional part of the wedding ceremony, serenading a newly married couple on their wedding night."
Huge wooden gears to turn against an iron tongue when the contraption is cranked, snapping the metal tongue against each of the gear's teeth. Played outside the new couple's bedroom window or door while they were trying to concentrate on other things? What songs and jokes would accompany the noise? What a healthy culture invented this contraption!
Cage's tongue is iron too, and produces a rowdy wedding music. But he also knows about winnowing, the gears needed for the job.
Cage is also about as "calithumpian" as a musician can get. Where'd this great word come from? A jokester's etymology: 'thumpian' from the rollicking dance that accompanies the music, and 'cali' from the Greek word for "beautiful" (?).
Who put those scare-quotes around the word 'music' in the above description?
a fence-wire tightener
| 44. Microscope. Brass with its walnut case. Temple University School of Dentistry Historical Museum.
Go to Rolywholyover, Part 2