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Lions Roar : March 2006
82 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2006 In New York, you will find this late phase of Noguchi's work at the muse- um dedicated to his art in Queens-but there is also an unforgettable example outdoors on the south flank of the Met- ropolitan Museum. Together with the reclining figure by Henry Moore in the plaza at Lincoln Center and the monu- mental sculpture by Barbara Hepworth in the plaza at the United Nations com- plex, this work by Noguchi grounds the city. Without these magnificent works of spirit and craft to hold the city in place, the whole thing-agitated, brilliant, strange-might fly off. Among other artists very nearly of our time to whom Baas devotes chapters- Georgia 0' Keeffe, Ad Reinhardt, Agnes Martin among them-her approach to the composer/ artist/ author/mushroom -col- lector John Cage is especially insightful. We should know Cage better. Scholars and critics who know and love both art and Buddhism are needed to sort out the mile-high sacred and the silly mid- den left to us by this formidably creative individual. That the heritage he left us is in part a gift from the best in him to the best in us cannot be doubted: Cage had an extraordinary ability, particu- 1arly with language but also in images, to loosen unnecessary bonds and melt rigid ideas, to evoke a world that is mi- raculously generous when fully wel- comed on its own terms. "When nothing is securely possessed," Cage once wrote, "one is free to accept any of the some- things. How many are there? They roll up at your feet." A direct student of D. T. Suzuki and a serious explorer of Zen literature, Cage created a body of work whose secret center of gravity may well be the koan literature and the recorded attitudes-inscrutable, disruptive, funny yet never unfocused-of the early Zen masters. That the Cage heritage is in part silly needs a sympathetic critic's explo- ration and guidance; this view could be dead wrong. In the working life of this man who truly mastered the art of play, sacred and silly somehow went together and needed each other. It makes sense when you think about it.