Giving a lecture about something you love



It is raining, and as it often does my attention turns from the computer to my (read: our) present book collection. The simple fact is we have far to many books. So with fresh energy and intiative I dive in and consider which books can be recycled - no easy task. (Much easier since M is not here). More often the not, I find myself reading passages when I should be packing them in a paper bag, unable to put them down. I love thinking about when I first read the book, finding little quotes that I have forgotten.

From “The Roaring Silence: John Cage a Life” by David Revill:

In 1932 the young John Cage was a struggling artist living in Santa Monica CA. He decided that he needed to make money so he came up with a plan. “He canvased door-to-door, asking Santa Monica housewives if they would be interested in a series of lectures on modern art, ten for $2.50. “I didn’t want to be a professor, I just wanted to get by,” Cage remembered. “I explained to the housewives that I didn’t know anything about either subject but that I was enthusiastic about both of them. I promised to learn faithfully enough about each subject so as to be able to give a talk an hour long each week.”

During these lectures Cage met several people who became instrumental  in his career, including some art collectors and a famous composer who became his teacher for a time. This teacher changed the way Cage thought about time in relation to his work.

The lesson garnered from this story; you never know what will come up when you just put yourself out into the world in new and unexpected ways. People you didn’t know you were looking for are bound to find you. The universe opens and gives you little surprise gifts.

After reading this I am struck by the similarity between this and the concept of unconferences. Basically an unconference (DIY) is a facilitated, participant-driven gathering centered on a theme or purpose. There is no fixed agenda but instead rely on the participants to develop and contribute with presentations - spontaneous or prepared. Although I havent participated in an unconference (yet, #sswc net year ), I am really attracted to this idea as a way of having a conference based on the needs of the participants not necessarily the organisers.

Just like John Cage, you just never know never know what can happen at an unconference.