words to live by…


i received john cage’s list “some rules and hints for students and teachers or anybody else” when i was an undergrad.  i think my teacher gregg moore said something along the lines of rule “check out rule 4″ (rule 4: consider everything as an experiment”) because that rule has a box around it and the class he was teaching was about surface experimentation but but i think he knew that the other rules would stick with is as well and they did… even when i was overseas for 3 years and that piece of paper was in the u.s..  those especially sticky rules were

rule 1: find a place you trust and then, try trusting it for a while

rule 7: the only rule is work.  if you work it will lead to something.  it is the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.  you can fool the fans but not the players.


helpful hint: always be around.

it’s funny to put them in a list together because over the years they have applied to life in different ways depending on the context, time and country i was in but those are the ones that have been bouncing around my head the most all these years.

i still have the same piece of paper that was handed out that day.  not so surprising since (among other things) i still have a box of freshman biology 1 AND 2 notes but i do think it’s funny how you come to rely on things that come to you through positive experiences.  i just googled “john cage some rules and hints” and the list came up first thing.   hard to believe i ‘ve never googled it before.  i just pull out the folder i keep with various readings i’ve picked up over the years and pull out this old peice of paper when i need a reminder of all the other great rules that are on this list.  lately i’ve come across this list in other people’s collections.  “hey, you should look at this…” they say and i’m pleased to see what it is.
the list in it’s entirety is below (you can also click the title).


By John Cage
Rule 1: Find a place you trust and then, try trusting it for a while.
Rule 2: General duties of a student:
Pull everything out of your teacher.
Pull everything out of your fellow students.
Rule 3: General duties of a teacher:
Pull everything out of your students.
Rule 4: Consider everything as 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: FOLLOW THE LEADER. 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 catch on to things.
You can fool the fans – but not the players.
Rule 8: Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different
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.
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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