This isn’t actually a review of Adam’s review, but I wanted to highlight a few quotes from Adams in the “Up Front” section of the book review:
“Cage helped to open my awareness and acceptance of sound — all sounds, not just the pitches of the musical scale. And he set an example for liberating musical forms from the hand-me-down archetypes of European tradition. I don’t agree with those who consider Cage the most important composer after Stravinsky. I think much of his later work is fundamentally, even tediously, didactic. A work like ‘4′33″’ is a demonstration, a lesson in how to listen, so to speak. But to equate its artistic value, as some have, with a work like ‘The Rite of Spring’ is to confuse art with philosophy.”
“He was a great entertainer and endlessly imaginative. But history, at least up to now, has not proved him an avatar here. People want feeling from music, whether it’s Mahler or Coltrane. Music is the most powerfully expressive of the arts, and to deny that critical element of feeling, as Cage did, is to render it largely cold and static.”
It seems to me that Adam’s accepts the philosophical ideas of Cage, grudgingly, but doesn’t wholeheartedly throw himself behind the idea that any sounds, or amalgam of sounds can be beautiful in and of themselves and moving in that way. Cage wouldn’t mind whether their existence came about through a process involving chance. I tend to fall more on Adam’s side of this debate in that I don’t think that most people will find deep emotions in music developed this way, but to say that Cage was actively denying feeling from his music, just because he was trying to detach his “ego” might be a stretch.
Just watch this video, which I’ve posted before and tell me that “lov[ing] the activity of sounds” isn’t an emotionally deep statement. Also tell me who replaced Cage as Winnie the Pooh’s voice actor when he died.