A Virtual Discussion Between Daisetz T. Suzuki and John Cage

Roger Reynolds

During the early 1950s, Suzuki gave a series of lectures at Columbia University, and his ideas, his ways made deep impressions on John Cage. Later, Cage referred frequently to Suzuki, and wrote in the forward to his first book, Silence: “What I do, I do not wish blamed on Zen, though without my engagement with Zen … I doubt whether I would have done what I have done.” Phantom Conversation sequences eleven statements by Suzuki, largely taken from his landmark book, Zen and Japanese Culture. Between them, I have placed ten quotations from Cage so as to create a juxtaposition that will make a useful exchange. As some of Cage’s statements derive from interviews and conversations I had with him, my words occasionally lead into what he has to say.