Rules for students and teachers, popularized by John Cage

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

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

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

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

The source is here, via the excellent Ted Gioia.


Sorry to be a bit stupid, but what does he mean by "Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while"?

Be appropriately suspicious when screening for a living/career situation to support you whilst you focus on your field of interest, and then put aside that suspicion and actually focus.

(this is good advice for people who have a de facto safety net provided by moderately wealthy family backgrounds, and also skilled enough to be assured of getting somewhere no matter what they specialize in, as long as they specialize enough to differentiate themselves)

According to the link, the rules were created by Corita Kent, not John Cage.

This sort of content-free list of platitudes will appeal to idiots and leftists. Those retards think that shallow, juvenile crap like this is wisdom. Apparently, Tyler is in concordance with such things. That, or it's a slow news day.

Dude, there is no reason to get angry.

Yes, much of it is not exactly ground-breaking, but there are some interesting ideas in there. And it is only ideological if you see everything as ideological.

Unless your dead inside, there's always a reason to get angry.

Well, it's a point of view.

One might equally say there's always a reason to stay calm.

There's often a reason to get angry, but not always. For instance, disagreeing with these tips for students is not a reason to get angry. It may be an excuse, but it's not a reason.

"Getting angry" is for some people an equivalent of a morning coffee.

Unfortunately the side-effects on bystanders and colleagues are worse.

I'm seeing an exhortation to hard work and individual responsibility. You have a problem with that?

Recasting the most pedestrian observations into a list often makes them sound quite profound.

1) +1
2) +1
3) +1

this list would not work in the real world

Platitudinous crap

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

Is this true for all fields? If you are looking for a clever trick to make a machine work or to nail down a mathematical proof can you possibly do that without analysing the problem at the same time? In fact if you analyse the problem obsessively enough, sometimes the solution just pops full formed into your head.

You a right. In mathematics, when working on a hard problem, "analysis" and "creation" are not even separate entities.

Sorry, but those are Coretta Kent's 10 Rules, not John Cage's. Kent knew and learned from Cage, but rules were not his style.

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.
Utter balls: if you worked all the time you'd be tired all the time and consequently be working inefficiently. Try to find the rate of work that leads to your doing best.

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.
Oh for heaven's sake, is this becoming a women's magazine?

HINTS: ...
"Always go to classes." More rubbish: be selective.
"Read anything you can get your hands on." No; most stuff isn't worth any of your time. Learn to be selective.
"Look at movies carefully." Spurn the movies - dross, mostly, just dross, made for the dim, ignorant and excitable.

Just finished "Paying for the Party" Armstrong and Hamilton it gives truth to the rules+ for those of us who are not above such a little thought. Interesting read.

I'll have a little of #7, a #10, and the part about watching a lot of movies.

This is advice to move young people from fairly below average to average or a touch above average.

And then keep them there.

This could be a poster in a high school classroom. There might be a cat on it.

Harsh crowd. The advice is accurate for a college student. An above commenter suggested this is bad advice for the real world. Perhaps. Fortunately, college students are not in the "real world." They are in an intellectual playground. You would advise students to experience many things and play in this playground. What, precisely, is the problem?

It's because the advice comes from an artist, and the regulars around here are convinced that artists are dirty hippies.

I don't think most people are getting as far as reading the link to find the author to point out this is crap.

As for rule 7, I like to keep this anecdote by Dr. Richard Hamming I found a few years ago in mind:

"Now for the matter of drive. You observe that most great scientists have tremendous drive. I worked for ten years with John Tukey at Bell Labs. He had tremendous drive. One day about three or four years after I joined, I discovered that John Tukey was slightly younger than I was. John was a genius and I clearly was not. Well I went storming into Bode's office and said, ``How can anybody my age know as much as John Tukey does?'' He leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head, grinned slightly, and said, ``You would be surprised Hamming, how much you would know if you worked as hard as he did that many years.'' I simply slunk out of the office!

What Bode was saying was this: ``Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.'' Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity - it is very much like compound interest. "


Well given that I consider Cage to be complicit in the destruction of classical music, I wish he had been less diligent -- or at least spent more time expanding and revising 4' 33 each day.

Speaking of Cage, a recent article in American Art, with the puntastic title "The Cage-iness of Abstract Expressionism" draws some interesting links between Cage and the abstract expressionists. Paywalled, but only $4 if anyone's interested:

No, not really.

"The opyright law is one of the forces behind the rise of the mega-bundlers. Mega-bundlers benefit from economies of scale in cataloging IP but there are also economies of scale in dealing with the legal system and insuring against/for lawsuit. "

Quote then goes on to list the private bundlers, who enforce IP rights of their aggregated works.

But, it ignores: ASCAP and BMI, non-profit cooperatives owned by the composers and artists who have integrated forward into rights management and copyright protection.

Small composers have just as much access as Getty/Bill Gates.

They just form a cooperative to protect their rights and get a royalty stream back based on their efforts. Copyrighted, of course.

This goes to the previous piece on copyrights. Sorry.

"Rule 7: The only rule is work." Oh Mr. Miyagi, you tricked me with the first six!

p.s. I fail to see the difference between higher education and the real world. What separates the buyers and sellers of college credits from the buyers and sellers of other overpriced things people don't need?

I think the advice in the Hints section is pretty useful. Saving quotes, data, and passages will be very useful for aspiring writers of all types. Even non-writers can benefit from having in one place a collection of useful and inspiring data/quotes/facts.

I've gotta side with the thumbs down crowd on this inchoate mess.
#1. Did she mean "a place that seems trustworthy" ? I have never considered myself more than minimally articulate, and yet I could have done better here, I think.
#2, #3. Police may get involved once you begin pulling out body parts. Or is this suggesting that given limited time and a constrained format that "all" has meaning? Utter pap. Get as much as you can out. Could anything be more obvious? I think the word is "value". I take the contrary POV: take the minimum from your teachers and then construct your own enlightenment.
#4. Everything? lmfao. Like student debt? Values? Social Contract? utter pap.
#5. I think this someone is called an 'imam'. I am astounded that anyone would consider NOT listening to you OWN music as most important. Surround yourself with excellence, for sure; FOLLOW someone else? loser.
#6. As relayed by witnesses right before he released his hold on the hand rail and jumped...he seems to have changed his mind on the way down...
#7. No room for work hard, play harder, huh? Or those like me who don't distinguish between the two? How about: "No one is that smart, you have to work hard."
#8. Learning is the most fundamental of all creation (and analyses) processes. You must do both together.
#9. What a brilliant idea! How about: "We all can choose to be happy, but hard work can be painful. Don't shy from either."
#10. Clap-trap.
Hints: Engage. Observe. Experiment. There is one thing that you can change in this world: yourself. Now is a good time to start.

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