Why, after all, do we read the lives of artists? Partly, the pleasure is vicarious: We want to see them both with the famous people they knew and also in the detritus of their daily lives. But even more, we want to get inside their process — not to expose it so much as to celebrate its inscrutability.
This is what Cage did whenever he wrote or spoke about his work. "I'm interested in going to extremes," he said in 1969. He wanted to communicate not by reassuring, but by challenging and even provoking his audience. "I want people to be mystified by what's happening," he explained late in life. "The reality of our life is mystery." - David Ulin