Shop > Artists' Books


Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)

John Cage
Artists' Books
6 × 8.5 in
176 pages
Music, Philosophy, Poetry

Composed over the course of 16 years, John Cage’s Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) is one of his most prescient and personal works. A repository of observations, anecdotes, obsessions, jokes and koan like stories, the diary registers Cage’s assessment of the times in which he lived as well as his often uncanny predictions about the world we live in now. With a great sense of play as well as purpose, Cage traverses vast territory, from postwar music to Watergate, from domestic minutiae to ideas on how to feed the world.

Typing on an IBM Selectric, Cage used chance operations to determine not only the word count and the application of various typefaces but also the number of letters per line, the patterns of indentation and – in the case of Part Three (published as a Great Bear pamphlet by Something Else Press)—color. The beautiful and unusual visual variances become almost musical as the physicality of the language on the page suggests the sonic. This first complete hardcover edition collects all eight parts Cage originally published in A Year from Monday, M and X. Coeditors Kraft and Biel have consulted these publications along with Cage’s original manuscripts, and – with the Great Bear pamphlet as a guide – they have used chance operations to render the entire text in various combinations of red and blue as well as apply a set of 18 typefaces to the entire work.

Composer, philosopher, writer and artist, John Cage (1912-92) is one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. A pioneer in extending the boundaries of music, often composing works through chance operations, Cage also had an extraordinary impact on dance, poetry, performance and visual art.

  1. john cage: diary

Related Items

  1. Robert Seydel: A Picture is Always a Book
  2. Erkki Kurenniemi
  3. Emily Jacir & Susan Buck-Morss
  4. Izabela Oldak: A Diary With Kaleidoscope Eyes
  5. Richard Kostelanetz: Thirty Years of Critical Engagement with John Cage
  6. Bruno Ceschel: Self Publish, Be Happy
  7. Sara MacKillop: One Day Diary (Pocket Version)
  8. Edward Sanders: A Book of Glyphs
  9. Jason McLean: ’Dream’, 2010
  10. Jessica Williams: Diary
  11. Art or Sound
  12. Fito Conesa: Suite for ordinary Machinery
  13. Chloé Griffin: Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller
  14. Mark Connery: Hell Passport #15
  15. Angela Bulloch: Source Book 10
  16. String Figures: The Collections of Harry Smith, Volume II
  17. K8 Hardy: How To
  18. Ryan Foerster
  19. Protocol Warum: Care Not Care
  20. Animal Spirits
  21. how to write 4 

Haegue Yang, Bathroom Contemplation.
  22. Georges Perec and the Oulipo: Winter Journeys
  23. Sean Landers, Art, Life and God
  24. A Critical (Ninth) Assembling (Precisely: 6789)
  25. Ian Wallace: The First documenta, 1955
  26. György Lukács

Notes on Georg Simmel’s Lessons, 1906/07, and on a “Sociology of Art,“ c. 1909
  27. William Kentridge & Peter L. Galison:

The Refusal of Time
  28. Christoph Menke: Aesthetics of Equality
  29. Jalal Toufic: Reading, Rewriting Poe’s “The Oval Portrait“
  30. G.M. Tamás: Innocent Power
  31. Paul Ryan: Two Is Not a Number

A Conversation with Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri
  32. Péter György: The Two Kassels:

Same Time, Another Space
  33. Kenneth Goldsmith: Letter to Bettina Funcke
  34. David Robbins: Concrete Comedy: An Alternative History of Twentieth-Century Comedy