I love what’s happening with the attempt to get a charity recording of John Cage’s 4’33” to Christmas No.1 – thereby ousting the almost inevitable other contender – some X-Factor manufactured product who we’ll struggle to remember this time next year.
This video has been released documenting the recording of the piece – with the usual gaggle of pop-star celebs gathering to don their headphones and do their bit:
What is fascinating about this is how unbearable silence has become. I don’t want to read too much into it, because I think it’s brilliant and a bit of fun, but it’s clear that a lot of people are very uncomfortable with the lack of noise. And the dancing, gestures, coughs and shuffles are small outbreaks of resistance – small ruptures where the ego just has to break through.
In my very limited experience of trying to attain silence, these are the things I’ve battled with too. The absence begs to be filled, and we find it almost impossible not to do so. The same happens in classes: silence falls, and the first response is the giggle, the cough. ‘I’m still here’ the … silent … message of all of these small noises.
We should do more silence. It is good for us because it challenges the ego, and challenges us to think about where our identities lie. The reactions of these pop supremos having cameras on them but not being able to speak, or sing, or play shines a light onto all of our insecurities, and tells us something important about ourselves. And if that’s the message we get from this charity single, then I’m all for it. So go buy it!