But let’s just forget about her

Using my innate telepathic abilities, I have inferred that there is some controversy surrounding whether or not John Cage wrote “Some Rules for Students and Teachers.” What I don’t understand is that the preceding link clearly states that Sister Corita Kent originally wrote that list, with only the final rule (#10) being attributed to John Cage. And then, at the end of the article, the focus is still on John Cage. Is it the sexism of our society? Recognizing an inability to shift widespread perceptions? Did the writer of the article go to Catholic school and simply hates nuns?

As for my own reaction to the list, it’s two-sided. On one hand, I can agree with the things it says and would consider it to be a “good” list of rules and on the other hand I don’t need an “inspirational” list of rules to look at every day. I just kick ass on my own. But let’s do a quick rundown of reactions to each of the rules:

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

Presumably if it were a place I trust, I’ve already tried trusting it plenty. But what might the importance be of a place you trust? Without any mental or physical threats, anything within your ability can be accomplished, meaning you’re at your best in a place you trust. I just like to take walks. But not this time of year.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

Sounds painful. But I can see the value of this- in a perfect world where everyone encourages everyone else and there are no competing egos, deadbeats, or bullshit. It’s not a world I live in but it sounds nice, if a bit syrupy.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.

Could have been an addendum to rule two, but then we’d only have nine rules. Still sounds painful and I would fear my teachers’ everything extraction methods.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

This is one I didn’t need to be told. Everything is an experiment. Especially things that one has never tried before. It seems that people are often afraid to start new things because they’re afraid they won’t be good at them. But anyone who expects me to produce gold bootstrapping myself has unrealistic expectations and can be ignored. This is the kind of attitude that can free one to begin new activities.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

I would just like to draw attention to the last two sentences in this- let’s just make up definitions for phrases composed of words already with their own definitions and thus already possessing a collective definition. Other than that, I agree with the first sentence but would like to add that originality is as important as well.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

Fifty Shades of Gray is a mistake. A very profitable mistake.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.


RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

I guess I could try this since I generally write X amount of material and then look back over it and make small adjustments and revisions. But maybe I would have more success leaving everything behind until I finish something, then return to it to analyze it all at once.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.


RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

Rules were made to be broken? I wonder if this is referring to the rest of the rules in this list and an acceptance that, as humans, we are not perfect.

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.

Agreed, agreed, agreed, agreed. The last one, agreed. Look at movies carefully, often? I don’t understand the significance of this. I do watch movies critically but it doesn’t strike me as something important to do, as a student or even as a person. But honestly I found this list of hints to be the most useful part of this.



3 responses to “But let’s just forget about her

  1. Pingback: Summary: Weeks I & II | Weblog at Gunpoint

  2. >And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities

    Your comment on Cage’s breaking rules comment got me to slow down a re-read that rule, as

    “Break rules by leaving room for X quantities.”

    And phrasing it like that let’s me act on it. So, thanks for the insight.

  3. Pingback: Keeping things tentative while moving them along | The Daybook

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