Where the Heart Beats - Kay Larson
John Cage, the avant-garde American composer famous for 4’ 33” (a performance of four minutes and thirtythree seconds of silence) and percussion experiments using everyday objects, was already well into his journey to achieve a pure musical aesthetic when he encountered D.T. Suzuki’s Essays in Zen Buddhism: 1st Series in 1950. Like other artists of his time such as Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac, Cage was profoundly influenced by Zen as taught by Suzuki, who had moved to New York that same year. In Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists (Penguin Press, $29.95), Kay Larson shows how Cage’s Buddhism and his artistry are inseparable. In telling the story of Cage’s life, she also traces the influence of Cage and Zen on other young artists, from poets to painters to musicians, who came of age in the post-war period.