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John Cage’s Top 10 rules (Did he actually write them?)

“Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make.” Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit – Sis. Corita Kent

 

John Cage’s Top 10 rules?

John Cage was an artist, philosopher, and one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, among many other works, he is credited for writing a set of rules for creativity purposes. His controversial composing style and his avant-garde techniques earned him fame, and although the list became very popular thanks to him and his fame, he is not the author of it.

John Cage

Who wrote the list?

No less than a nun is behind this rule-breaking set of rules. The celebrated artist and educator Sister Corita Kent, a close friend of the controversial composer. As Cage’s life and creative process were so aligned with it and he is directly quoted in the tenth rule, people started to attribute the authorship to him. Therefore the list started to be known as John Cage’s Top 10 rules, which, truth to be told, wasn’t it’s true name.

Sister Corita Kent

What can we find in it?

We can find a series of principles for learning how to live creatively and embrace uncertainty. Furthermore, it underlines the important role of work ethic, the fascinating osmosis between intuition and intellect, and the transcendental attitude of being fully awake to everything. 

You can apply the so-called John Cage’s Top 10 rules to creative processes as much as to everyday life, thus making it as useful for teachers and students, as it is for every other person. Check it out, we are convinced you’ll be finding useful and meaningful perspectives in it!

List of rules

 


Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit

Rule 1: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

Rule 2: General duties as a student – Pull everything out of your teacher. Pull everything out of your fellow students. 

Rule 3: General duties as a teacher – Pull everything out of your students.

Rule 4: Consider everything an experiment.

Rule 5: Be Self Disciplined – this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

Rule 6: Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make.

Rule 7: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It is the people who do all the work all the time who eventually catches onto things.

Rule 8: Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

Rule 9: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It is lighter than you think.

Rule 10: “We are breaking all the rules, even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X qualities.” (John Cage) 

Helpful Hints:

  • Always Be Around.
  • Come or go to everything.
  • Always go to classes.
  • Read everything you can get your hands on.
  • Look at movies carefully and often.
  • Save everything – it may come in handy later.

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