Monday, September 1, 2008

Zen Vaudeville: A Medi(t)ation in the Margins of Fluxus., David Doris

David Doris, Zen Vaudeville: A Medi(t)ation in the Margins of Fluxus.
(A slightly shorter version of the text was first published in: The Fluxus Reader, edited by Ken Friedman,
Academy Editions, 1998) [1]

Now I am going to make a statement here. I don't know whether it fits into the category of other people's statements or not. But whether it fits into their category or whether it doesn't, it obviously fits into some category. So in that respect it is no different from their statements. However, let me try making my statement.

There is a beginning. There is a not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is being. There is nonbeing. There is not yet beginning to be nonbeing. There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be nonbeing. Suddenly there is nonbeing. But I do not know, when it comes to nonbeing, which is really being and which is nonbeing. Now I have just said something. But I don't know whether what I have said has really said something or whether it hasn't said something.

- Chuang Tzu

Danger Music Number Six (February 1962)

There is nothing here.

- Dick Higgins

� Pre-Face.
In the history of the arts of the twentieth century, Fluxus stands as a singularly strange phenomenon. It resembled an art movement, and was inadvertently named as such in 1962. [2] Yet unlike other art movements, Fluxus produced no signed manifestos indicating the intentions of its participants, who, indeed, could rarely agree on just what it was that constituted the Fluxus program. And, unlike other movements, Fluxus was not bound to a specific geographical location. On the contrary, Fluxus could well be seen as the first truly global avant-garde; the artists, composers, poets and others who contributed to the corpus of Fluxus work hailed from France, West Germany, Japan, Korea, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, and the United States, and quite a few lived their lives as expatriates or nomads.

Originally intended by George Maciunas (who is acknowledged as the principal organizer and disseminator of Fluxus) to be the title of a magazine for Lithuanians living in New York City, [3] "Fluxus" soon became something quite radically different, coming to signify an astonishingly broad range of practices in virtually every field of human communicative endeavor. The work produced under, or in proximity of, the flag of Fluxus includes films, newspapers, books, performances, symphonies, sculptures, sound poetry, dances, feasts, one- line jokes, insoluble puzzles, games - the list continues. However, it should be noted early on, these descriptive categories are, more often than not, inadequate to the task of containing Fluxus works, which, as I hope to demonstrate, operate in the margins between such categories. A single score, for example Ken Friedman's 1965 work, Zen is When:

A placement.
A fragment of time identified.
Brief choreography.

might be realized as a painting, an assemblage, a poem, a private or public performance, a thought, or even a thesis for a master's degree - perhaps all at once. As such, Fluxus works were some of the most important manifestations in the development of intermedia; the term itself (also applicable in part to the concurrent phenomenon of happenings) was coined by Fluxus participant Dick Higgins, denoting work whose structures determined the textures of the spaces between media. Indeed, it is this very between-ness, this marginality, that makes Fluxus, even thirty-some-odd years after its first European performances, so difficult to coax with words into stability.
The Fluxus phenomenon began at a unique moment in time, a period of relative artistic freedom and economic growth in the United States, Europe and Japan - only a decade and a half after the most destructive war in the history of humanity. The early 1960s saw the first humans in outer space, the inauguration and assassination of the youngest president in American history, the establishment of a U.S. military presence in Vietnam, the assembly of the Berlin Wall, and the rapid proliferation of television and thermonuclear weapons. It was a strange and dangerous time.

On 16 June 1962, at a concert entitled "Neo-Dada in der Musik," Nam June Paik, a Korean composer living in West Germany, slowly raised a violin above his head and, in a single furious blow, smashed the instrument against a tabletop. He called this gesture a violin solo. [4]

In the midst of all the extraordinary institutional spending and material surplus that characterized the late 1950s and early 1960s, Fluxus created a space for itself outside the structures that fostered the economic consumption of aesthetic practices, outside the established gallery and theater circuits. At a period marked by the production of massive, eminently saleable works, principally in the field of visual art, the artists of Fluxus produced works of little inherent economic value: pieces of printed paper, small plastic boxes filled with cheap, simple objects (sometimes they were filled with nothing at all) and, particularly in the first few years, performances. Fluxus produced virtually nothing to hang over the family piano, nothing that could reasonably be considered an "investment" by a potential buyer. Indeed, the artists of Fluxus seem to have waged a battle against the economic and spiritual aggrandizement of both art and artist so rampant during the period. In place of the grandiose, Fluxus took the position of a sort of aesthetic Everyman, doing many small things in many small ways. In place of the supposed timelessness and permanence of the art object, Fluxus loosed a prolific flow of seemingly inconsequential amusements and ephemera, most of which, at the time, went largely unheeded. Fluxus challenged notions of representation, offering instead simple presentations which could provoke awe, laughter, disgust, dread-the entire range of human response. In the midst of an increasingly mediated world, the artists of Fluxus attempted to wake up to the experience of simply being human, a supremely strange enterprise indeed. This essay is an inquiry into just a few aspects of that strangeness.

� Long long ago�
Long long ago, back when the world was young - that is, sometime around the year 1958�a lot of artists and composers and other people who wanted to do beautiful things began to look around them in a new way (for them).
They said: "Hey! - coffee cups can be more beautiful than fancy sculptures. A kiss in the morning can be more dramatic than a drama by Mr. Fancypants. The sloshing of my foot in my wet boot sounds more beautiful than fancy organ music."

And when they saw that, it turned their minds on. And they began to ask questions. One question was: "Why does everything I see that's beautiful like cups and kisses and sloshing feet have to be made into just a part of something fancier and bigger? Why can't I just use it for its own sake?"

When they asked questions like that, they were inventing fluxus; but this they didn't know yet, because fluxus was like a baby whose mother and father couldn't agree on what to call it - they knew it was there, but it didn't have a name.

� � �

They did "concerts" of everyday living; and they gave exhibitions of what they found, where they shared the things that they liked best with whoever would come. Everything was itself, it wasn't part of something bigger and fancier. And the fancy people didn't like this, because it was all cheap and simple, and nobody could make much money out of it.

- Dick Higgins [5]

Every voice is the voice of Buddha, every form is the Buddha form.

�from the Zenrin Kushu, A Zen Phrase Anthology [6]

In 1957, George Brecht, a chemist at the personal products division of Johnson & Johnson in East Brunswick, New Jersey, wrote an extraordinary essay entitled "Chance- Imagery." In it, he develops an outline of historical sources, methods and theories involved in the practical application of the forces of chance in the arts. Illustrating his text with examples drawn from the realms of physics and statistics, Brecht denotes "two aspects of chance, one where the origin of images is unknown because it lies in deeper-than-conscious levels of the mind, and the second where images derive from mechanical processes not under the artist's control." [7]

After a discussion of automatism in surrealist production (certainly one of this century's boldest adventures in the exploration of the unconscious) Brecht admits that he is "more interested� in the mechanically chance process." [8] He cites Marcel Duchamp as the pioneer worker in this field, noting the techniques employed in the construction of his 3 stoppages �talon (3 Standard Stoppages), in which the "standard" measurement created by the fall of a piece of string was determined by "wind, gravity and aim;" and in his La MariƩe mise � nu par ses c�libataires, m�me (le Grand Verre) [The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)], for which Duchamp employed a toy cannon to shoot paint-dipped matches at the glass to determine the positions of the nine malic molds.

Yet Brecht suggests that Duchamp's use of chance in his work was "not exhaustive," and so acknowledges the importance of other modernist applications of chance: Jean Arp's chance collages, Max Ernst's "decalcomania of chance" as well as his techniques of frottage, the Surrealist cadavre exquis, and Tristan Tzara's chance poetry. In each of these cases, the artist relinquishes, to a greater or lesser degree, the power to determine the form of a work, serving instead as a functionary, a facilitator of natural processes within a specific, limiting context (a poem, a drawing, a collage). In this strain of practice, in the denial of artistic choice and determinism in favor of the potency of apparently arbitrary natural processes, Brecht perceives profound spiritual implications. These implications, Brecht points out, were noted by the Dadaists themselves: "The almost incredibly incisive mind of Tristan Tzara, as early as 1922, even recognized the relationship of all this to Oriental philosophy (in one of the most convincing of Dada documents, the 'Lecture on Dada'): 'Dada is not at all modern. It is more in the nature of a return to an almost Buddhist religion of indifference."' [9]

Tzara aspired to indifference, of course, and so he perceived a kinship in Buddhism's evident coolness, its detachment from the world. I would suggest, however, that the Buddhist "condition" is not one of indifference, but rather of a radical involvement with the world. This condition, according to Buddhist texts, demands first that one's own preconceptions be consciously cast aside - no easy task - in order that the things of this world be allowed to manifest themselves as such, as they present themselves in their fullness of being. Neither overwhelming nor unknowable, nature is thus revealed through simple, direct engagement in its processes. Further, the operations of the individual are themselves revealed through engagement in this unfolding; one becomes an actively perceiving, infinitely mutable organ of response, not differentiated from nature. Brecht quotes Daisetz Suzuki's discussion of the role of nature as a paradigm for human action in Zen Buddhism: "Nature never deliberates; it acts directly out of its own heart, whatever this may mean. In this respect Nature is divine. Its 'irrationality' transcends human doubts or ambiguities, and in our submitting to it, or rather accepting it, we transcend ourselves." [10] This acceptance, notes Suzuki in his original text, is itself a matter of choice:

We accept nature's 'irrationality' or its 'musts' deliberately, quietly, and whole-heartedly. It is not a deed of blind and slavish submission to the inevitable. It is an active acceptance, a personal willingness with no thought of resistance. In this there is no force implied, no resignation, but rather participation, assimilation, and perhaps in some cases even identification. [11]

The artists of Fluxus were committed to the acceptance and the investigation of nature's "musts," choosing in many cases to relinquish artistic control in favor of participation in, assimilation of, and identification with the processes of nature. Both Zen and Fluxus embody principles that entail a restructuring, and even ultimately an elimination, of the supposed boundaries between "life" and "art," between "I" and "other." In this paper I will examine certain aspects of Zen that resonate within some Fluxus performance, and which offer an alternative critical vocabulary, a provisional framework within which one can allow some aspects of Fluxus to be revealed.

� � � � �

Maybe you think that whatever Fluxus may be is contained in some postmodernist phenomenon�would it be any less wiser to look upon it as East-West protestism, catharticism, hinderism, buddyism, or confusionism? [12]

�Larry Miller

This paper came about, as many do, in an attempt to satisfy a curiosity. After establishing an initial connection with Fluxus material, I noticed that critics and even Fluxus artists would make the observation, now and again�quite frequently, in fact�that Fluxus was somehow like Zen, that Fluxus works were similar in some respects to Zen works or Zen koans. Unfortunately, no one has ever chosen to examine this observation in any significant detail. How and why is it the case that Fluxus works so often bring Zen to mind? On the one hand, there is Fluxus: the name of a loosely organized group of contemporary artists (and non-artists) who were examining, in the most radical ways, the limits of what constitutes "art." On the other hand, there is Zen: the name of a centuries-old, non-theistic religion whose practitioners examine, in the most radical ways, the limits of what constitutes "consciousness." Two distinctly different explorations of the limits of what defines us as human, true, but why even mention them in the same breath?
And supposing there is some connection between the two, why the attendant critical silence?

At the first pass, it seemed to me that both Zen and Fluxus were excruciatingly difficult to explain: somehow, no matter what words came to mind, they never appeared to be adequate to the task at hand; important details of the experience - including my experience - of both Zen and Fluxus invariably escaped exposition. Contradictions arose within each set of practices which systematically frustrated attempts to say anything definitive about either. After some time, and considerably more frustration, it became clear that my own difficulties in bringing about some sort of closure, some sort of totalizing definition, were the result of the very pretensions which Fluxus and Zen perpetually mock. Words, to paraphrase a Zen adage, are so many fingers pointing to the Flux-moon, and are not to be confused with the Flux-moon itself. Or as Dick Higgins points out: "We can talk about a thing, but we cannot talk a thing. It is always something else." [13]

This "something else" is what the artists of Fluxus, like the practitioners of Zen, have sought to interrogate. What the two hold in common is an insistent attitude of questioning: a revelation of the codes by which we come to frame the world, by which we come to receive the world as given and immutable. This questioning, unfolding through demonstration rather than discourse, indicates a cognitive shift away from the modernist understanding of the self as the inviolate center of being. Both Fluxus and Zen investigate the nebulous realms between conceptual categories: between subject and object, between vision and hearing, between high and low:

The reason intermedia is called intermedia and not multimedia is that it falls between categories� Every time it seems to take a direction or form a shape, something happens that just takes it out of it again. And Zen is doing the same number. It is falling between categories. This is one of the basic secrets of Zen. [14]

�Eric Andersen

In this discussion of a relationship between Fluxus and Zen, it is not my concern to determine a linear, causal relationship between the two - to research how and why specific artists at specific times took specific "inspiration" from Zen. Fluxus artists were, and remain, proudly omnivorous in their approaches to alternative modes of living and art- making, and so it would be an error to assert that any single artist found his or her philosophical base in the ways and means of Zen - and a graver error to imply that there was a universal interest in eastern philosophies amongst the participants of Fluxus. [15] Fluxus is too slippery for that; too slippery, indeed, for one to assert anything that will not fall short of presenting an accurate, comprehensive picture. With this in mind, it should be noted that this paper�like any paper that that claims to speak about Fluxus (or Zen, for that matter)�is tentative, provisional, and according to some, entirely off the mark. "Fluxus encompasses opposites," says George Brecht; no matter what one might think about it, "there is someone associated with Fluxus who agrees with you." [16] The contrary of this statement is also true: there is someone associated with Fluxus who disagrees with you. From a broader standpoint, however:

Every word I say contributes to the lie of art.

�LaMonte Young, "Lecture 1960"

All the scriptures are only paper good for wiping off shit.

�Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768)

� The Event.
event 'i-vent' n [MF or L; MF, fr. L eventus, fr. eventus, pp. of evenire to happen, fr. e- + venire to come - more at COME] 1 a : something that happens : OCCURRENCE b : a noteworthy happening c : a social occasion or activity 2 a archaic : OUTCOME b: the issue of a legal action as finally determined c : an outcome, condition, or event that is postulated < in the ~ that I am not there, call my house > 3 : any of the contests in a program of sports 4 : the fundamental entity of observed physical reality represented by a point designated by three coordinates of place and one of time in the space-time continuum postulated by the theory of relativity 5 : a subset of the possible outcomes of an experiment < 7 is an ~ in the throwing of two dice> syn see EFFECT, OCCURRENCE - event-less / -les / adj - at all events : in any case � in any event : in any case � in the event Brit : as it turns out [17]

The group, with few exceptions, that associates itself with Fluxus is irresponsible. It is my impression that many people just simply goof-off and pretend in a kind of very very nasty way, socially speaking, and certainly socially with respect to other artists, that they have certain superiority in their seemingly indifferent little activities such as a sneeze tomorrow or a finger is as good as a hole in the wall, or any of these little directives which if acted out are somehow to me important rather than unimportant so far as its effect is to say to me and others - 'You guys are doing important things, but look, we are even more important doing unimportant things.

- Allan Kaprow [18]

Throughout this century there has been a strain of art which has sought to eliminate the perceived boundaries between art and life. Contemporary chroniclers of the art scene of the early 1960s, as well as the artists themselves, were well aware of their predecessors in similar pursuits. Unlike, say, the Futurists of an earlier era, who saw themselves as a new breed, determined to liberate themselves from the weight of history and inherited cultural baggage, intermedia artists of the early 1960s were only too happy to point out antecedents for their work, as if to stake out their own place within an alternative lineage of artistic production, a marginalized history that stood outside and against the mainstream.
Fluxus was a group of nominally kindred spirits who together and separately surveyed the peripheral territories of their respective disciplines, or rather the margins between those disciplines. The new structures that resulted from these explorations tested received notions of the limits of the arts, as well as the limits of our ability to perceive those structures as art.

George Maciunas staked out the historical parameters of these territorial researches with a zeal bordering on the maniacal. Trained in architecture, graphic design and art history, Maciunas had a considerable attraction to structure and order; he has been described as "an obsessive/compulsive personality that accumulated, hoarded, classified, and dissected." [19] He was also a fan of film comedian Buster Keaton (1895-1966), and of Spike Jones (1911- 1965), the bandleader whose parodies of popular and classical music - incorporating in his orchestrations the sounds of pots and pans, car-horns, gunshots and kazoos - fused the boundaries between music and slapstick comedy. Maciunas's art historical essays took the form of charts: painstakingly drawn evolutionary diagrams of the newest occurrences in the arts (those new occurrences, that is, that were of interest to Maciunas). Perhaps the largest of these charts is his Diagram of Historical Development of Fluxus and Other 4 Dimentional, Aural, Optic, Olfactory, Epithelial and Tactile Art Forms (Incomplete), in which kudos are paid to Futurist Theater, Marcel Duchamp, Surrealism, Dada, Walt Disney Spectacles, Byzantine Iconoclasm, the Japanese Gutai Group, Vaudeville, Joseph Cornell, and many more�in short, a fairly broad spectrum of historical traditions and isolated phenomena which have in common a re-evaluation of accepted notions of structure, both aesthetic and ontological.

Zen is not mentioned on this chart. Nor would one necessarily expect to find it there. John Cage, however, is. Indeed, the chart, says Maciunas, "starts with what influenced Cage. Cage is definitely the central figure in the chart." In fact, he continues, "you could call the whole chart like 'Travels of John Cage' like you could say 'Travels of St. Paul,' you know? Wherever John Cage went he left a little John Cage group, which some admit, some not admit his influence. But the fact is there, that those groups formed after his visits. It shows up very clearly on the chart." [20]

"The argument goes like this," says the poet Emmett Williams, who is justifiably critical of the notion of a "direct influence" of Zen on Fluxus:

John Cage was a student of Daisetsu T. Suzuki, the Japanese religious philosopher who helped to make the Western world aware of the nature and importance of Zen. In turn, many of the activists on the American Fluxus scene studied with Cage, who opened a few of the Doors of Perception for them. Ergo: Fluxus has a direct connection with Zen.
It would be more accurate to say: Ergo: Fluxus has a direct connection with John Cage. But Cage is an artist and a teacher, not a Zen missionary, who also "studied" with Sch�nberg, Duchamp and Buckminster Fuller. Besides, there has been for many years a worldwide interest in Zen and other sects of Buddhism, and it would be surprising if Fluxus artists, generally a well-informed and well-travelled lot, were not aware of these disciplines, and of the value of meditation. [21]

John Cage, though certainly "not a Zen missionary," was one of the most important conduits of Eastern thought to the Western world. As if directly addressing Williams' concerns about Cage's own role in the foundation of Fluxthought (but speaking of Dada rather than Fluxus), Cage notes: "It is possible to make a connection between the two, but neither Dada nor Zen is a fixed tangible. They change; and in quite different ways in different places and times, they invigorate action." [22]
It was in large part through the activities and pedagogy of John Cage that both Dada and Zen came to invigorate action during the late 1950s. As Williams points out, Cage studied chess with Duchamp for a time, and was attracted in no small measure by the utopian thought of Fuller and the formal purity of Sch�nberg's music. And indeed, Cage attended lectures by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki at Columbia University from 1949 to 1951. Suzuki's thought played a great role in the formation of Cage's own production; Suzuki's teachings, he felt, enabled him to regard music "not as a communication from the artist to an audience, but rather as an activity of sounds in which the artist found a way to let sounds be themselves." [23] As a vehicle of signification, this approach could "open the minds of the people who made them or listened to them to other possibilities than they had previously considered�To widen their experience; particularly to undermine the making of value-judgements." [24]

In 1952, Cage had explored the opening of the mind to other possibilities in a piece entitled 4'33", in which the pianist, David Tudor, sat at a piano and did nothing except indicate the beginning and end of each of the three movements by shutting and lifting the piano's lid. During the piece itself, no sound is intentionally produced by the pianist on the instrument. Four minutes and thirty-three seconds of distinctly musical silence: Cage, a composer of music, has imposed as a framework a measure of time, and declared that whatever incidental sound occurs within this framework is a piece of music. With Cage came the notion that duration, sound and silence, rather than harmony, rhythm and melody, are the foundation blocks upon which musical experience is structured. With no melodic or harmonic passages to lead the listener through time, Cage's music ceases to function as narrative, but rather places the listener in the vertically structured space of synchrony - this moment in time. And time, as we have come to know it in this century, is interdependent with space.

It was the notion of opening to possibilities that Cage brought with him to the International Summer Course for New Music in Darmstadt (1958), and which he shared with his classes in "Experimental Composition" at the New School for Social Research (1956- 1960). Numbered among the participants at Darmstadt were La Monte Young and Nam June Paik (Emmett Williams was also living in Darmstadt at this time). Among those who attended the New School classes, with varying degrees of regularity, were Dick Higgins, Al Hansen, Allan Kaprow, Toshi Ichiyanagi, George Brecht and Jackson Mac Low (Brecht and Mac Low had been invited to sit in by Cage), all of whom were to play pivotal roles in the development of intermedia. [25]

Cage's students were introduced to his understanding of music as time-space, and formulated their own methods for exploring these uncharted waters. On the one hand, students like Allan Kaprow and Al Hansen were impressed by the Cage/Dada notion of the "simultaneous presentation of unrelated events," and went on to create happenings, complex, multi-sensory constructions�what Fluxus artist Tomas Schmit called "the expressionistic, symbolistic, voluminous opera-type-of-thing" [26] �such as Kaprow's 1959 18 Happenings in 6 Parts.

George Brecht�for whom the Cage class was in part "a kind of confirmation" of "the thought of Suzuki that I'd already discovered on my own" [27] - was not so inclined to construct as to notice: "Composers, performers and auditors of music permit sound- experiences by arranging situations having sound as an aspect. But the theater is well lit. I cough; the seat cracks, and I can feel the vibration. Since there is no distraction, why choose sound as a common aspect?" [28] Brecht claimed to be "increasingly dissatisfied with an emphasis on the purely aural qualities of a situation," and so began to call his work, even his object-oriented work, "events." This word, he claims, "seemed closer to describing the total, multi-sensory experience I was interested in than any other�" [29] Rather than examining the extravagance and multi-sensory barrage that constituted many happenings, Brecht's work was "very private, like little enlightenments I wanted to communicate to my friends who would know what to do with them." [30]

� When the telephone rings, it is
allowed to continue ringing, until it stops.

� When the telephone rings, the receiver
is lifted, then replaced.

� When the telephone rings, it is answered.

Performance note: Each event
comprises all occurrences
within its duration.
Spring, 1961

"I don't take any credit for having written a score like telephone events," said Brecht in a radio program of May 1964. His role as "writer," in this instance, is that of the scripting of possibilities implicit in one's engagement with a ringing telephone. Brecht's addendum, noting that "Each event comprises all occurrences within its duration," informs the reader that the three performance possibilities listed may in fact be three individual perceptions of a single phenomenon. In contrast to the constructivist tendencies of the happenings, in which the ringing of a telephone becomes an aspect of a larger composition, Brecht isolates and focuses on the single phenomenon, revealing the multiplicity within that singularity. For Brecht, the "act of imagination or perception is in itself an arrangement, so there is no avoiding anyone making arrangements." It is therefore also seen as unnecessary to develop complex, polymorphic structures for presentation: a single telephone ringing provides sufficiently fertile ground for performance possibilities. It is the interaction between the percipient/performer and the object perceived that provides richness and diversity. Brecht's "little enlightenments" are acts of quotidian simplicity which are presented and noticed, or vice versa; indeed, Brecht declares, "the occurrence that would be of most interest to me would be the little occurrences in the street�" [31]
While Brecht may have coined the term "event" to refer to his "private little enlightenments," he was by no means the only individual investigating the realm of monostructural presentation. In 1960, La Monte Young produced a series of "Compositions" which built upon the ground of questioning opened up by John Cage's 4'33".

Composition #3 1960
Announce to the audience when the piece will
begin and end if there is a limit on duration.
It may be of any duration.

Then announce that everyone may do whatever
he wishes for the duration of the composition.

Similar in some respects to Cage's piece, principally in the use of duration as its limiting aspect, Young's work, a musical "composition," stretches the conception of performance by eliminating the need for a specifically musical instrument and performer, employing instead an "announcer" to simply indicate the boundaries of the event. The audience thus become the performers, and are given complete freedom to act within the established confines of the piece. While the work can still be understood as music, it is raw action and perception which themselves become the stuff of the performance, outside the limitations of our understanding of music as sound, silence and duration. In the following piece, Young questions the necessity of determining duration within a work, and examines the notion of synaesthesia, of a structured reversal or combination of perceptual acts, asking, "Isn't it wonderful if someone listens to something he is ordinarily supposed to look at?" [32]

Composition #5 1960
Turn a butterfly (or any number of butterflies) loose in the performance area. When the composition is over, be sure to allow the butterfly to fly away outside. The composition may be any length, but if an unlimited amount of time is available, the doors and windows may be opened before the butterfly is turned loose and the composition may be considered finished when the butterfly flies away.

The beating wings of a butterfly surely do produce sound - and can thus, by traditional standards, be appreciated as music - but this sound is certainly beyond the range of normal human perception. In such an extreme state, one becomes aware of the inability of a single mode of perception, in this case hearing, to reveal the totality of an object as it presents itself. The notion of a categorization or isolation of the senses, and consequently of the specific arts which are addressed to those isolated senses, comes under question. In order to understand an object in its totality, the perceiver must herself be perceiving as a totality. In a commentary to the sixteenth case of the Wumenguan (in Japanese, Mumonkan), a thirteenth century collection of koans, Wumen asks his reader:

Does sound come to the ear, or does the ear go to sound? Even if echoes and silence are both forgotten, when you reach this, how do you understand verbally? If you use your ears to listen, it will be hard to understand; only when you hear sound through your eyes will you be close. [33]

This is where matters begin to get interesting.

� The Big Problem of Naming Little Things.

A monk saw a cat and asked, "I call it a cat. Master, what do you call it?" Joshu said, "You calling it a cat." [34]

if naming: decided

- Ben Patterson [35]

Prof. Quincey Adams Wagstaff: Say, I used to know a fellow looked exactly like you, by the name of Emanuel Ravelli. Are you his brother?
Emanuel Ravelli: I am Emanuel Ravelli.
Wagstaff: You're Emanuel Ravelli?
Ravelli: I am Emanuel Ravelli.
Wagstaff: Well, no wonder you look like him. But I still insist, there is a resemblance.
Ravelli: Ha ha ha ha. Hey, he thinks I look alike.

- The Marx Brothers, from Horsefeathers

"There is, of course, one important thing that the masters of Zen and the masters of Fluxus have in common," notes Emmett Williams in his 1992 telling of the Fluxus story: "the extreme difficulty of explaining, to the outside world, exactly what it is that they are masters of." [36] While I disagree with Williams that this is the one important moment of commonality between Zen and Fluxus, William brings to light an important issue. Indeed, both Fluxus and Zen evade attempts to concretize them in language, attempts to effect their permanence, their stability.
Fluxus treads a strange terrain, a liminal space somewhere between words and silence. One of its key products are event scores, taut little propositions, exercises, or word- objects, usually printed on small, often disposable cards or sheets of paper.


smile ���������� stop to smile

C. Shiomi Feb. 1964 [37]

Hundreds of these event scores have been published over the past thirty years, and in many cases, they are all that remain of the events for which they served as the original impetus. The events themselves - elegant, ephemeral monostructural gestures which may be performed before an audience, alone or in a group, or in the mind - and the objects which are revealed within their structures, unfold in a space to which words have limited access: this space is not the space of language, nor of silence, but of being, or rather, becoming. [38]
Like Zen, Fluxus uses language to force a confrontation with the inadequacies of language, and posits instead a field of direct experience that eludes systematization.

The earliest moment of Buddhist performance and its critical reception is the stuff of legend. Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha (c. 560-480 B.C.E.), after attaining enlightenment, stood atop the Mount of the Vultures to offer a sermon to his disciples. Saying nothing, Shakyamuni held up a single golden lotus blossom before all those in attendance. His disciples were baffled by this gesture, save for one Mahakasyapa, who simply smiled in understanding. This circle of act and reception, the "transmission of the lamp" of enlightenment outside the constructs of the language of scripture, direct action with "no dependence on words and letters," came to constitute an essential paradigm of Zen's method and self-perception: Here it is; what is there to say?

The argument behind this method of disclosure, says Daisetz Suzuki, is simple, and quite beautiful:

The idea of direct method appealed to by the masters is to get hold of this fleeting life as it flees and not after it has flown. While it is fleeing, there is no time to recall memory or to build ideas. No reasoning avails here. Language may be used, but this has been associated too long with ideation, and has lost direction or being by itself. As soon as words are used, they express meaning, reasoning; they represent something not belonging to themselves; they have no direct connection with life, except being a faint echo or image of something that is no longer here. [39]

There's nothing mystical about this, really: a communication of what is true can certainly be expressed or contained in words - words themselves are dharmas, manifestations of reality - but it also suggests that transmission of understanding is independent of language, indeed, that language is something of a hindrance to genuine understanding. Zen Buddhism ultimately attempts to foster a direct, unmediated relationship between the mind and reality, an immediate experience of the world as such. This is no easy goal to achieve, given the preponderance of language in the structuring of our day-to-day experience of the world, and in the structuring of our own consciousness. It is language, after all, which comprises scripture and koan, as it is language which names the "butter" and "eggs" featured in Dick Higgins' May 1962 Danger Music Number Fifteen (For the Dance):

Work with butter and eggs for a time.

Yet the words which constitute this language are not themselves the beliefs contained within scripture, nor are they the eggs that were tossed about during the performance, and which I'm still rinsing out of my hair. A paradox thus presents itself. Language constitutes our subjective experience of the world, yet this very subjectivity simultaneously prevents us from experiencing the world in its suchness. Do we then discard language in order to gain access to an authentic experience of the world?
Yes and no. Chuang-tzu, one of the founders of philosophical Taoism, an important influence on the development of Zen in China, suggests that words be regarded as a net which is employed to catch fish; this net (known in Japanese as sengyo) is required to perform a task, but it is the fish themselves which are consumed: "Words," says Chuang-tzu, "are there to convey a profound meaning; we should keep the meaning and forget the words." [40]

One must cast one's net if one is to catch any fish at all. One must also be wary of becoming entangled in the net. Language must by necessity be employed as a tool, but in such a way that it will create the conditions in which it is no longer useful, a void in which its own absence can be filled by unmediated perception and direct action. The principal tool used by Rinzai Zen (one of the two major schools of Zen) to accomplish this end is the technique of kanna Zen - literally "Zen of the contemplation of words." The form of this contemplation is embodied in the koan.

The term koan is derived from the Chinese kung-an, which originally signified "a legal case constituting a precedent." [41] Koans have been used as a systematic medium of training since the 11th century, when the students of Lin-Chi (Rinzai in Japanese) compiled the discourses and sayings of their master into a single volume, the Rinzairoku. [42] A koan may take the form of a portion of a sutra, an episode from the life of one of the great masters of the tradition, a mondo (a baffling dialogue between master and student), or a paradox; in short, any form that will, through the use of words, ultimately engage the student in a direct relationship with reality. Rather than being theoretical or discursive in nature, the constitutive form of a given koan (question or statement and response) is an example of its own teaching, codified in language. Ruth Fuller Sasaki points out:

The koan is not a conundrum to be solved by a nimble wit. It is not a verbal psychiatric device for shocking the disintegrated ego of a student into some kind of stability. Nor, in my opinion, is it ever a paradoxical statement except to those who view it from the outside. When the koan is resolved it is realized to be a simple and clear statement made from the state of consciousness which it has helped awaken. [43]

The beginning student, however, has no notion of this, and struggles to seek an answer founded in the codes of language itself; after all, it is language which constitutes her very subjectivity. But how does one respond in language to a problem such as the familiar, classic koan: "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Sitting on her solitary meditation cushion - legs locked in the lotus position, spine straight, hands folded in mudra, eyes half-open, breathing normally - the student begins to focus on the problem: One hand, the student may think, makes no noise at all; indeed, two hands are required for clapping. Tentatively, she will go to her roshi, or master, perhaps offering as a solution: "The one hand makes no sound at all." The roshi will deny the validity of this answer in some fashion (he might even strike the student, if this seems necessary, in order to bring the student into an immediate, incontestable appreciation of this moment), and the student will return to her problem. Time and again, she confronts the roshi with a solution, and time and again she is turned away. This state of affairs breeds a considerable and mounting tension. After some time, the problem becomes the single thought contained within the student's mind; there is room for nothing else. Finally, the tension has to break. [44]
The traditionally "correct" response to the problem of the one hand is this: the student thrusts her hand out toward the roshi, and says nothing. Effectively, this is something akin to saying, "Here is the sound. Listen." (In response to certain koans, the roshi may himself be slapped by the student, an appropriate gesture signifying, in part, the transcendence by the student of the master-student power relationship). Here then is a severing of the hand, if you would, and of the perceiving subject, from their linguistic correlatives. What is being presented is not "one" hand clapping, and not "two" (that is, not "not-one"), but the sound itself as such, beyond such a dualistic notion as "one"/"not-one": just this act presencing, a fact unfolding here before you. In short, an answer to a koan must be revealed experientially, as a demonstration or an example of the very principle it embodies.

What do koans have to do with Fluxus? Victor Musgrave, whose Gallery One hosted the 1962 Festival of Misfits, notes: "some of the Fluxus artists have�produced significant equivalents" to "the bandaged, all-seeing ambiguities of [Zen's] marvelous koan." He asserts that this is "the most formidable task that Fluxus artists have attempted." [45] I agree. But how do the artists of Fluxus engage this "formidable task"? How are Fluxus works the "significant equivalents" of koans?

It is important to note that, according to Musgrave, an equivalence is seen not between Fluxus work and Zen painting or haiku verse, but between Fluxus work and koans. Rather than compare the work of Fluxus artists to the expressions of the specific sensibility that accompanies Zen practice, Musgrave likens Fluxus events to the principal pedagogical tool of Zen, the koan. The Fluxus work is not an index of the performer's relationship with his or her materials, as the exquisite brushwork of a Zen painting traces the path of the scribe's hand and presence of "no-mind." Rather, the Fluxus work, like the koan, is the exposition of the path itself, the restructuring and presentation of a process of meaning-production. The form a work takes is the demonstration of the unfolding processes of its own presentation and reception. Like the circular, stimulus/response form of the koan, Fluxus "presentation," to quote Dick Higgins, "would always have to do somehow with the general principle that ideas could be displayed or demonstrated rather than argued for or against." [46]

� No-Hand.
No-Play #1.
This is a play nobody must come and see. That is, the not-coming
of anyone makes the play. Together with very extensive advertising of the spectacle through newspapers, radio, T.V., private invitations, etc.�
No one must be told not to come.
No one should be told that he really shouldn't come.
No one must be prevented from coming in any way whatsoever!!!
But nobody must come, or there is no play.
That is, if the spectators come, there is no play. And if no
spectators come, there is no play either�
I mean, one way or the other, there is a play, but it is a No-Play.

- Robert Filliou (1964)

In 1976, Higgins formulated his "Exemplativist Manifesto," in which he outlines the mutable structures of what he terms exemplative work; that is, work in which "the idea is developed through its embodiment in the actual work, and thus the work is an instrument for conveying a thought-and-feeling complex by implying a set of examples of it." [47] George Brecht describes this notion as "an expression of maximum meaning with a minimal image, that is, the achievement of an art of multiple implications, through simple, even austere, means." [48] Exemplative work offers the audience/percipient/participant a construct of notation and performance, "an image of the set of possibilities intended by the artist." [49] The following snippet of conversation between George Brecht and Irmeline Lebeer gives an indication of how one might respond to a specific work:

GB How would you realize this?
IL Me? Oh� for example by pushing the piano into the center of the room.
GB And how would you choose the center of the room?
IL The center of the room? You can feel where that is, can't you?
GB You mean intuitively?
IL You could also strike a note in the middle of a piano. Or drop something on the strings in the middle of the piano.
GB Yes. There are lots of possibilities, aren't there?
IL And you? What did you do? You've already realized it yourself, no?
GB Yes. With my two index fingers I began to play the notes of the piano starting from the two ends until I found the note in the center.
IL Oh, of course. That's fantastic. In that case, that's the piece?
GB No, no�it's completely open. The realizations you've just made up are as good as any other. [50]

Event scores such as "Piano Piece" mark a culminating moment of what Umberto Eco described in 1959 as the "open work." Such works, notes Eco, "tend to encourage 'acts of conscious freedom' on the part of the performer and place him at the focal point of a network of limitless interrelations, among which he chooses to set up his own form without being influenced by any external necessity which definitively prescribes the organization of the work in hand." [51] Rather than presenting the conditions of an ideal performance�e.g., tempi, musical cues, specific notes to be played on specific instruments, colors, lighting, materials, etc. - the Fluxus event score suggests certain parameters in which the performer is free to determine his own form.
This suggestiveness, notes Eco, is the ability of the event score text to stimulate in a performer/reader the capacity to adapt his own inner life to that of the work being performed, "some deeper response that mirrors the subtler resonances underlying the text." [52] But where does one look for the "subtler resonances" in a text such as this one by Robert Watts, which simply reads:

winter event

Indeed, the performer of this work is faced with an object that is nearly tautological in its apparent simplicity. Such a work can not be regarded on its own merits - there's almost nothing here to be regarded. This is a work with virtually no intrinsic merit, no form of its own, no qualities of which to speak. Rather, as Eco says, it is "the focal point of a network of limitless interrelations," and as such, has an infinite potential number of possible realizations.
Now, rather than argue for or against this (we will return to this notion later in the paper), here's something the reader can do on his or her own that might help make the issue clearer. It's a piece by Fluxus artist Takehisa Kosugi called Chironomy 1 (Chironomy, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is "the art or science of moving the hands according to rule, as in pantomime or oratory"). The text of the piece reads:

Put out a hand from a window for a long time.

According to this text, the only tools needed to perform the piece are a hand, a window, and time (how much time constitutes "long time" is up to the performer). So choose a window, choose a hand, decide on a length of time, and perform the piece. The discussion will continue afterwards.

� � � � �
Like Watts' "winter event," the written text of Kosugi's piece, enjoining the performer to "Put out a hand from a window for a long time," says very little: it presents a simple image which offers nothing more than itself as proof, as baffling an injunction as it is apparently meaningless. What does it mean to "put out a hand from a window for a long time?" To search for meaning in the written text as a closed, autonomous form is futile; there's simply nothing there to explain, and no clue to understanding. One must look elsewhere for direction: Kosugi's text is a musical score; like any written musical score, one must perform the piece, follow its instruction in real-time, in order that it may reveal itself as meaningful.
The hand serves as the focusing element, a meditative stasis around which the world unfolds. During my own private performance of Chironomy 1, [53] I heard some yelling across the way, and the cry of a baby. Cars passed on the street below, there was a rich aroma of frying meat floating on the wind, and the soft hum of my computer on the desk nearby. After quite a few minutes of maintaining the gesture, I felt a slight pain in my forearm, a slow throb which worked its way up to my shoulder and the base of my neck. In the face of this pain, I became more determined to maintain the gesture, and soon it seemed clear that the piece, for me, was no longer one of formal duration - that is, was no longer concerned with the simple passing of time - but of endurance, of a body situated within a shifting, temporal network of physical and mental phenomena; this network in turn was brought to light by the body's situation within its structure, simultaneously inside and outside, revealed by the act of a single gesture presencing. In my performance of Chironomy 1, the gesturing hand - the distinct object named in Kosugi's text and thus initially the primary focus of my own consciousness - could not be located as an object independent of its context.

Kosugi described his own experience of Chironomy 1 as follows:

I did one performance related to this piece in an outdoor space in Kyoto. There was an outdoor stage, and there was an auditorium, and at the rear of the stage was a backdrop, a wall and a door. I just slightly opened the door and put my hand out. The audience could only see my hand. The opening in the door was very narrow, so I couldn't see the audience. So the outside space was so different; the hand was exposed to the audience, and this part, my body, was behind the wall, so I was very isolated. Psychologically very strange.
Window, door, the same thing. It is the passage between in and out, so one can shut the door, and make an inside and outside. Putting one part of the body through the window, it becomes part of the outside - but the body is the inside - psychologically, it's very unusual, very affecting to the consciousness. So this is a part of mine, and I'm exposing a part of the inside into a part of the outside. A kind of feedback. This part of my body, the hand, is very much a part of me. But if you expose it to the outside, and if there's a barrier between the hand and the body, then the hand could be independent - a little bit.

This side, my inside, and the outside, are so different, but still they are the same. So from the audience side, they can only see my hand. I can not see my hand. But as a total reality, they are the same thing. I have my hand with me, but I can not see it. The audience can see only my hand, but they can not see my body. So, take this chair as an example. Maybe it has another part and it is exposed to another dimension, but we can not see it. But everything is together. On the physical stage, it's just a chair.

A tactile experience, this piece. Eyes and ears are open; perhaps this makes the eyes and ears more sensitive. But most important is the hand: the hand is an antenna. [54]

What Kosugi has succeeded in creating is a wholly liminal state, a condition in which the notions of "interior" and "exterior" have been reversed, and finally revealed as inappropriate.
"In exemplative art," says Dick Higgins, "the action is always between: it cannot take place at any one pole without the conception of another. It is therefore:

between the heart and the mind,
between the personal and the objective,
between the unitary and the general,
between the warm and the cold,
(as af Klintberg put it) between the water and the stone." [55]

If an open window serves as a frame, it also functions as a space of transit and becoming, neither solely inside nor outside. When a body part, such as a hand - Kosugi also experimented with other body parts during his career - is positioned within that marginal space, our ability to locate the space, or to name the "isolated" body part within that space, is put into question. The body, as it enters the space of the margin, is neither inside nor outside - and it is both inside and outside. The apparent opposition of terms is unified - and nullified - through direct action. Both one and zero. Neither one nor zero. The sound of one hand clapping.
From a Buddhist perspective, there is no hand, no object, but for that act which enables the world to come to presence, and there is no world but for that context in which this hand reveals itself. Likewise, there can be no "subject" and no "object," but rather a relationship between the two which exists beyond one's ability to name them, or even perceive them, as isolated entities. Each is the cause of the other, each implies the existence of the other. It is thus conceptually inaccurate to distinguish between the two: they are one and the same thing. [56]

George Brecht examines the complexity of this mutual causation and the attendant problem of naming in this event score from Fall 1961:

Consider an object. Call what is not the object "other."

EXERCISE: Add to the object, from the "other," another
object, to form a new object and a new "other."
Repeat until there is no more "other."

EXERCISE: Take a part from the object and add it to the
"other," to form a new object and a new "other."
Repeat until there is no more object.

In attempting to create a "new object" from an "object" and an "other," it becomes clear that the "object" constitutes the "other," and vice versa. "What is 'it,"' says Chuang- tzu, "is also the 'other,' what is the 'other' is also 'it.'� Are there really It and Other? Or really no It and Other?" This question is ultimately unanswerable. "Therefore," says Chuang-tzu, "the glitter of glib debate is despised by the sage. The contrived "that's it' he does not use, but finds things in their places as usual. It is this I call 'throwing things open to the light."' [57]
This notion of "finding things in their places as usual" proved attractive for many of the artists involved in Fluxus. For Brecht, it came as something of a "surprise" when he "learned that George Maciunas in Germany and France, Cornelius Cardew and Robin Page in England, Kosugi, Kubota, Shiomi in Japan, and others had made public realizations of the pieces I had always waited to notice occurring" [my emphasis]. [58] Brecht's event scores�some of them, that is�can be seen as little exercises in concentrated attention, indices of phenomena yet to occur, virtual events waiting to be perceived or enacted. The participant in such exercises himself resides in a condition of relaxed awareness, attentive to shifting details in the noetic field - or perhaps he doesn't. Either way, Brecht's event scores serve to describe the parameters in which this attention - or distraction - is practiced.

Notes for David Doris's "Zen Vaudeville":
1. Portions of this essay first appeared in Fluxus Virus (Ken Friedman, ed. K�ln: Galerie Sch�ppenhauer, 1992), under the title "Fluxus and Zen? Shut My Mouth, Quick!"

2. Dick Higgins: ".in the autumn of 1962, fluxus became FLUXUS, and the press decided to call us the 'Fluxus-Leute' (Fluxus-people)." "In einem Minensuchboot um die Welt," in Ren� Block, 1962 Wiesbaden FLUXUS 1982 (Wiesbaden: Harlekin Art, Berliner K�nstlerprogramm des DAAD, 1982), p. 127.

3. Mats B., "Birth of Fluxus: The Ultimate Version," Kalejdoskop (Lhus), no. 3. (1979), quoted in Clive Phillpot and Jon Hendricks, Fluxus: Selections from the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1988), p. 9.

4. The title of the piece is One for Violin Solo.

5. Dick Higgins, "A Child's History of Fluxus," in Horizons: The Poetics and Theory of Intermedia (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1984), p. 87.

6. Isshu Miura and Ruth Fuller Sasaki, The Zen Koan: Its History and Use in Rinzai Zen (New York: Harcourt Brace & World), p. 103.

7. George Brecht, Chance-Imagery, (New York: Something Else Press, 1964), p. 3.

8. Ibid, p. 4.

9. Ibid, p. 5.

10. Ibid, p. 7.

11. D.T. Suzuki, Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings of D.T. Suzuki, (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1956), p. 234.

12. Larry Miller, "Maybe Fluxus (a para-interrogative guide for the neoteric transmuter, tinder, tinker and totalist.)," (New York: Larry Miller, 1991).

13. Dick Higgins, "A Something Else Manifesto," in A Dialectic of Centuries (Printed Editions: New York, 1978), pp. 102-103.

14. Personal interview with Eric Andersen, New York, 3 October 1992.

15. Robert Filliou, however, remarks in a letter to the editor of the Berlingske Tidende dated 21 December 1963 that "many of us have been influenced by Zen Buddhism." In Harald Szeeman & Hans Sohm, Happening & Fluxus.

16. George Brecht, "Something About Fluxus," in FLuxus cc fiVe ThReE, June 1964.

17. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: G&C Merriam Company, 1974).

18. "Excerpts from a Discussion Between George Brecht and Allan Kaprow Entitled 'Happenings and Events' Broadcast by WBAI Sometimes During May." In FLuxus cc fiVe ThReE (June 1964).

19. Barbara Moore, "George Maciunas: A Finger in Fluxus," Artforum 21 (October 1982), p.40.

20. Larry Miller, "Videotaped Interview with George Maciunas," March 24, 1978.

21. Emmett Williams, My Life in Flux-and Vice Versa (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1992), p. 163.

22. John Cage, Silence (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961), p. xi.

23. Cage: "This testing of art against life was the result of my attending the lectures of [D.T.] Suzuki for three years. I think it was from 1949 to 1951." In Richard Kostelanetz, The Theatre of Mixed Means (New York: RK Editions, 1980), p. 52.

24. Quoted in Rick Fields, How the Swans Came to the Lake, p. 196.

25. Rather than discuss these classes-particularly the New School classes-in detail here, I direct the reader to the following sources: Al Hansen, A Primer of Happenings & Time/Space Art (New York: Something Else Press, 1965), pp. 93-102; Dick Higgins, Postface (New York: Something Else Press, 1964), reprinted in The Word and Beyond: Four Literary Cosmologists (New York: The Smith, 1982), pp. 47-49; essays by Cage, Hansen and Higgins in Richard Kostelanetz, ed., John Cage (New York: Da Capo Press, 1991), pp. 118-124; George Brecht's interviews with Irmeline Lebeer and Michael Nyman in Henry Martin, An Introduction to George Brecht's Book of the Tumbler on Fire (Milan: Multhipla Edizioni, 1978), pp. 83-84 and 114-115; a catalogue essay by Bruce Altshuler, "The Cage Class," in FluxAttitudes (Ghent: Imschoot Uitgevers, 1991), pp. 17-23. Additionally, facsimiles of some of George Brecht's notebooks from these classes have been published over the last few years.

26. Tomas Schmit, "If I Remember Rightly," Art and Artists, vol. 7, no. 7 (1972), p. 39.

27. "An Interview With George Brecht by Irmeline Lebeer," in Michael Nyman, An Introduction to George Brecht's Book of the Tumbler on Fire, p. 83.

28. In cc V TRE, January 1964.

29. Brecht, "The Origin of Events," in Sohm and Szeeman, Happening & Fluxus.

30. Ibid.

31. "Excerpts from a Discussion Between George Brecht and Allan Kaprow." In FLuxus cc fiVe ThReE (June 1964).

32. La Monte Young, "Lecture 1960," in Ubi Fluxus ibi Motus, Ubi Fluxus ibi motus.. Edited by Achille Bonito Oliva (Venice: Fondazione Mudima, 1990), p. 203.

33. Thomas Cleary, No Barrier: Unlocking of the Zen Koan (New York: Bantam Books, 1993), p. 80.

34. Yoel Hoffman, trans., Radical Zen: The Sayings of Joshu (Brookline, MA: Autumn Press, 1978), p. 149.

35. Ben Patterson, from "Notes on PETS," in Benjamin Patterson, Philip Corner, Alison Knowles and Tomas Schmit, The Four Suits (New York: Something Else Press, 1965).

36. Emmett Williams, My Life in Flux-and Vice Versa (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1992), p.163.

37. "Stop to smile" might be better-or differently-translated as "stop smiling." Disappearing Music For Face was realized as a film in 1966. Shot at 2000 frames per second, the image is an extreme close-up of a smiling mouth (that of Yoko Ono); imperceptibly over the course of the ten-minute film, the smile fades. The score has also been realized as a live performance.

38. The corpus of Fluxus work was not wholly constituted by such gestures-but my own sense is that the most emblematically "Fluxus" pieces have these attributes, as well as a number of others, in common. Dick Higgins and Ken Friedman have each tried their hand at naming and examining the attributes that properly differentiate Fluxus work from other intermedia work. Dick Higgins, in his 1985 essay, "Fluxus: Theory and Reception," Lund Art Press, Fluxus Research Issue, Vol. II, no. 2 (1991), p. 33, lists these attributes as: internationalism, experimentalism and iconoclasm, intermedia, minimalism or concentration, an attempted resolution of the art/life dichotomy, implicativeness, play or gags, ephemerality, and specificity. Friedman, in his essay, "Fluxus & Co." (New York: Emily Harvey Gallery, 1989), p. 4, expands upon Higgins' list of criteria to include: globalism, unity of art and life, intermedia, experimentalism (research orientation), chance, playfulness, simplicity/parsimony, implicativeness, exemplativism, specificity, presence in time, and musicality. It is considered by each of these Fluxus artists/authors that a work, if it to be considered authentically "Fluxus," must meet the criteria listed- the more criteria met, the more "Fluxus" is the work. This notion is contested by some. While I am not of the opinion that all genuinely Fluxus work meets these criteria, I also don't believe that a work needs to do so; indeed, one of the remarkable aspects (criteria?) of a Fluxus work is that is escapes such channelization. But to date, these two essays stand as the boldest attempts to create a working definition of Fluxus, and as such, have elaborated some excellent and eminently useful terms.

39. D.T. Suzuki, Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings of D.T. Suzuki (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1956), p. 130.

40. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion (Boston: Shambhala, 1989), p. 311.

41. Ibid., p 182. An alternate translation: "a controversial or mysterious case" (Thanks to Matthew Miller for translation from Chinese).

42. Heinrich Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History, Volume 1 (New York: Macmillan, 1988), pp. 201-202.

43. Ruth Fuller Sasaki and Isshu Miura, The Zen Koan (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1965), pp.xi-xii.

44. Ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha! Ho ho! Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha!!! (This will be discussed later.)

45. Victor Musgrave, "The Unknown Art Movement," Art and Artists, vol. 7, no. 7 (1972), pp. 12-14.

46. Dick Higgins, "Something Else About Fluxus," Art and Artists, vol. 7, no. 7 (1972), pp. 16-21.

47. Dick Higgins, A Dialectic of Centuries, (New York: Printed Editions, 1978), p. 157.

48. George Brecht, From "Project in Multiple Dimensions," 1957/58, in Henry Martin, Book of the Tumbler on Fire, pp. 126-127

49. Dick Higgins, A Dialectic of Centuries, p. 156.

50. "An Interview with George Brecht by Irmeline Lebeer," in Henry Martin, Introduction to George Brecht's Book of the Tumbler on Fire, p. 85.

51. Umberto Eco, The Role of the Reader, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979), p. 51.

52. Ibid., p. 53.

53. The following brief description is written in the first person, with the understanding that the phenomena described are personal, referring to a specific performance at a specific time by a specific person (the author).

54. Personal interview with Takehisa Kosugi, 10 November 1993.

55. Dick Higgins, A Dialectic of Centuries, p. 157. Reference to Bengt af Klintberg, Swedish folklorist affiliated with Fluxus.

56. This paradigm of mutual engagement, known in Mahayana ("Great Vehicle") Buddhism as the doctrine of Interdependent Origination, is also an important precept in both Zen and Taoism.

57. This translation is from Ben-Ami Scharfstein's Introduction to Yoel Hoffmann, The Sound of the One Hand (New York: Basic Books, 1975), p. 18.

58. George Brecht, "The Origin of Events," (dated August 1970), in Happening & Fluxus.

The remainder of the piece can be read at: