From: Ron Pellegrino<>
Subject: Cage, poisonous sound, and tinnitus
Date: April 4, 1999

christophe charles wrote:

>In a 1977 interview for Radio France, at the occasion of the publication of
>"Pour les oiseaux", John Cage said (en francais dans le texte, poorly
> translated) :

>Question : Are there "poisonous" sounds?
>Cage : I haven´t heard any. And I have been searching. I even made the experience
>to hear a very loud sound, with my ear very close to a loudspeaker for
>one hour. Then I had a ringing in my ear, and the next morning the ringing
>continued, the next day also. Then I phone the doctor, made an appointment,
>but on the way to the doctor, the ringing ceased ! He made an examination, and
>told me my ears were functioning very well.

In the 1960s John Cage was considered a leader of the lunatic fringe. In the 1990s he seems to have achieved the status of a deity with his every utterance considered a jewel of truth. I´m certain in his ethereal state he finds the irony amusing.

Cage must have lived a very protected life never to have heard a "poisonous" sound such as a racial epithet, a curse, a slur, or any of all the other sonic expressions of anger, contempt, and hate. Sound carries the spirit of the sender for both good and evil. Undoubtedly Cage was the target of more than his share poisonous verbal arrows. Perhaps he had a superior shield compared to most other people.

Does anyone doubt that Cage never repeated that silly prank of putting his "ear very close to a loudspeaker for one hour?" Ask anyone with tinnitus how much they enjoy the ringing in their ears.

Ron Pellegrino

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