Friday, December 8, 2023


“I have nothing to say and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it.” – John Cage

Silence, true silence, is a rarity in our modern world. We steep ourselves in sound from the moment we wake until we lay our heads down once again. Whether this is by choice in the form of music, videos, news, television, or the noise that occurs all around us – traffic, airplanes, the sounds of the natural world, clips of strangers’ conversations on the street and more – our minds have adapted to a world of noise. For many, the sudden experience of silence can be a truly jarring moment, an instant in which one is confronted with the ringing in one’s own ears or the sound of one’s breath and heartbeat. Some experienced an enforced dampening of the sounds of vibrant life as the pandemic took hold and the world became muffled. We seek silence at times, feeling the pull of a quiet forest or the shelter of a room to ourselves. And yet perhaps the sounds of life are part of the necessary social structure that our human minds have come to rely on.

Robert(a) Marshall spoke to us from New York City in early August. Having just moved to Prospect Heights they say they are OK for the moment despite the world being a bit of a mess. For the last 15 years, Robert(a) has been working on a biography of Carlos Casteneda, a controversial figure. This ties into their own interest in what’s real and what’s not and our perceptions of things. Casteneda himself, among other things, started a cult that played with ideas of perception, claiming to have gleaned his own knowledge from a Yaqui Sorcerer. What his concepts really consisted of were reworkings of radical theories in anthropology and sociology that call into question all sorts of assumptions. One tenet that he held onto was that reality is an agreed-upon idea of the world. This, of course, ties in quite well to the culture of misinformation in which we find ourselves today. To hear more about Robert(a)’s research on Carlos Casteneda and more, listen to the complete interview.

Sir Norman Rosenthal says that in some ways he is “yesterday’s man” although for a period of about 30 years he was responsible for all the exhibitions of the Royal Academy. The most important of these was toward the beginning of his career that introduced several new German artists, including Joseph Beuys, who subsequently became very well-known. Now retired, he still works hard to keep up with the goings on of the art world. He had an illustrious career and was responsible for some truly iconic exhibitions. Rosenthal never studied art or art history, a student of history he fell into the art world because he genuinely enjoys art as well as music. There is no point, he says, to becoming involved with art unless you love it. To hear more from this enthralling interview with a true giant of the art world, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

There is comfort in silence at times and at others, there is joy in noise.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here.

Robert(a) Marshall was reading Annie Ernaux’s The Years which he was not enjoying but was determined to finish. Sir Norman Rosenthal is a tremendous fan of music and listed many pieces he recommends including a John Cage concert he recently organized that is available here.


New York Art Residency and Studios Foundation (NARS) announces that submissions for their international residency program are now open. NARS Foundation hosts international and US-based artists for a minimum of 3-month residencies, providing space and time in an artist community, located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. In addition to residency, artists receive curatorial support, networking opportunities, studio visit time and more. For further information and to apply, visit the website. Deadline for applications is October 4.

From 24 June to 20 August 2021, Marian Goodman Gallery and Holt/Smithson Foundation will present the first exhibition of Robert Smithson’s work in the gallery’s New York space. The exhibition, Abstract Cartography, will focus on a crucial five-year period in Smithson’s development: 1966 to 1971, a time when his “inklings of earthworks” began. This careful selection of artworks will trace Smithson’s radical rethinking of what art could be and where it could be found.

Brainard Carey is an author, artist and educator. He is the director of Praxis for Aesthetics. He has written six books for artists; Making it in the Art World, New Markets for Artists, The Art World Demystified, Fund Your Dreams Like a Creative Genius, Sell Online Like a Creative Genius, and Succeed with Social Media Like a Creative Genius. His book, Making it in the Art World, is available now with bonus content here.

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