Notes for David Doris's "Zen Vaudeville":
1. Portions of this essay first appeared in Fluxus Virus (Ken Friedman, ed. Kln: Galerie Schppenhauer, 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 Knstlerprogramm 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.
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.
59. John Cage, from "Lecture on Commitment," delivered at the Beta Symposium at Wesleyan, February 1961, in A Year From Monday (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1969), p. 113.
60. Cited in Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics (Boulder: Shambhala, 1975), p. 191.
61. Dick Higgins, "The Post-Cognitive Era: Looking for the Sense in it All," in A Dialectic of Centuries, p. 6.
62. Jackson Mac Low, "Buddhism, Art, Practice, Polity," in Beneath a Single Moon, edited by Kent Johnson and Craig Paulenich (Boston: Shambhala, 1991), p. 177.
63. Walter De Maria, "Meaningless Work," (1960), in An Anthology (New York: Jackson Mac Low and La Monte Young, 1961), unpaginated.
64. Higgins, Postface, p. 92.
65. Ken Friedman, The Events (New York: Jaap Rietman, 1985), unpaginated. Scrub Piece was first performed at the Nathan Hale Monument in New London, Connecticut.
66. George Maciunas, "Neo-Dada in Music, Theater, Poetry, Art," in Phillpot and Hendricks, Fluxus: Selections from the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection, p. 27. This essay/manifesto was read at the Fluxus concert Aprcs John Cage in Wuppertal, West Germany, on 9 June 1962.
67. George Maciunas, from a letter to Tomas Schmit, 8 Nov. 1963, in Jon Hendricks, ed., Fluxus etc. Addenda II: The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection (Pasadena, CA: Baxter Art Gallery, California Institute of Technology, 1983), pp. 165-166.
68. Maciunas, "Neo-Dada in Music.," p. 27.
69. Jackson Mac Low, "Fluxus and Poetry," unpublished manuscript (June 1992), p. 7.
70. Philip Corner, from a letter to Harry Ruh, in FLUXUS, the Most Radical and Experimental Art Movement of the Sixties (Amsterdam: Gallery "A", 1979), unpaginated.
71. Charles Gerras, ed., Rodale's Basic Natural Foods Cookbook (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984), p. 154.
72. Alison Knowles, by Alison Knowles (New York: Something Else Press, 1965), p. 2.
73. One can imagine, however, that there are at any given moment situations in which making a salad is difficult, if not impossible, for any number of reasons-political, economic, social. One can further imagine that the very difficulties brought to bear on salad-making by these forces might also be revealed by a performance of Knowles' Proposition.
74. Estera Milman, "Road Shows, Street Events, and Fluxus People; A Conversation with Alison Knowles," Visible Language, 26: 1/2 (1992), p. 103.
75. Milman, "Road Shows." p. 103.
76. Ibid., p. 104.
77. In Nancy Wilson Ross, ed., The World of Zen (New York: Vintage, 1960), p. 265.
78. In Robert Filliou, A Filliou Sampler (New York: Something Else Press, 1967), pp. 5- 10.
79. Robert Filliou, "The Propositions and Principles of Robert Filliou (Part One)," Humanistic Perspectives in Contemporary Art, no. 9 (1978), p. 7.
80. Mieko Shiomi, personal letter to the author, dated 16 October 1992.
82. Interview with Takehisa Kosugi, New York, 10 November 1992.
83. Interview with Takehisa Kosugi, 10 November 1992.
87. Many thanks to Ken Friedman for bringing these Daruma to my attention.
88. Thomas Cleary, trans., Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986), p. 9.
89. Yoko Ono, "To the Wesleyan People (who attended the meeting,)-a footnote to my lecture of January 13th, 1966," reprinted in To See the Skies (Milan: Fondazione Mudima, 1990), pp. 14-15. All quotations of Yoko Ono in this portion of the paper have been drawn from this essay.
90. Henri Matisse, "Notes of a Painter," in Herschel B. Chipp, Theories of Modern Art (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968), p. 135.
91. It seems reasonably safe to assume that this proposition, like many of Ono's works, is intended to be performed "in the mind." Otherwise, blindness is assured.
92. Interview with Ben Patterson, New York, 3 April 1992,
93. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion (Boston: Shambhala, 1989), p. 122.
94. The tree beneath which Shakyamuni Buddha attained complete enlightenment.
95. Thomas Cleary, trans., No Barrier: Unlocking the Zen Koan (New York: Bantam, 1993), p. 141.
96. Thomas Cleary, trans., Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986), p. 35.
97. Interview with Eric Andersen, 3 October 1992.
98. Alan Watts, "Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen, in Nancy Wilson Ross, ed., The World of Zen, (New York: Vintage, 1960), p. 336. Originally published in Alan Watts, Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen, (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1959).
99. Watts, "Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen," p. 335.
101. See, for example, Clement Greenberg's essay in Francis Frascina, ed. Pollock and After: The Critical Debate (New York: Harper & Row, 1985), pp.41-42. Originally published in Partisan Review, July-August 1940, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 296-310.
102. George Brecht, "Chance-Imagery," p. 6.
103. Watts, "Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen," p. 335.
104. Brecht, "Chance-Imagery," p. 7.
105. For an interesting comparison of Brecht's and Vautier's views on these matters, the reader is referred to "A Conversation About Something Else: an Interview with George Brecht by Ben Vautier and Marcel Alocco," in Martin, An Introduction to George Brecht's Book of the Tumbler on Fire, pp. 67-73.
106. George Brecht, "an interview with Robin Page for Carla Liss (who fell asleep)," Art and Artists, vol. 7, no. 7 (1972), p. 33.
107. This "gesture" would seem to have a precursor in Marcel Duchamp's mythic decision to "quit" his practice of art and pursue his love of chess. However, for Brecht, as we have seen, there can be no "quitting" or "starting:" he simply has some novels he'd like to read. No big deal.
108. D.T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), p. 265.
109. Yoel Hoffman, trans., Radical Zen (Brookline, MA: Autumn Press, 1978), p. 113.
110. Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, D.C. Lau, trans. (New York: Penguin Books, 1963)
111. Interview with Takehisa Kosugi, 10 November 1992.
112. Chart reprinted in Szeeman and Sohm, Happening & Fluxus, unpaginated.
113. Dick Higgins, "Fluxus: Theory and Reception," in Lund Art Press: Fluxus Research Issue, vol. II, no. 2 (1991), pp. 34-35.
114. Miller, "Transcript of the Videotaped Interview with George Maciunas," p. 26.
115. Friedman corrected the spelling of the title in his 1990 Correction Event: Zen Vaudeville.
116. Ken Friedman, "Fluxus Performance," in Gregory Battcock and Robert Nickas, eds., The Art of Performance: A Critical Anthology (New York: E.P. Dutton, Inc., 1984), p. 59.
117. George Maciunas, "Expanded Arts Diagram," in Happening and Fluxus, unpaginated.
118. Quoted in Conrad Hyers, The Laughing Buddha: Zen and the Comic Spirit (Wakefield, NH: Longwood Academic, 1991), p. 34.
119. Friedman, "Fluxus Performance," p. 63.
120. Conrad Hyers, The Laughing Buddha, pp. 49-50.
121. Many thanks to Tashi Leo Lightning for introducing me to this tale, and for this retelling. Letter to the author, 23 February 1993.
122. Hyers, The Laughing Buddha, p. 17. For a more thorough analysis of the radical power of laughter to overturn categories, the reader is referred to Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, Hlcne Iswolsky, trans. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984).
123. This piece was presented in cc V TRE, February 1964, as Ten Rules: No Rules (Editorial). George Brecht points out that "(Editorial)" was added to the title by George Maciunas in keeping with the newspaper format of cc V TRE, but it is not a component of the work itself. (Letter to the author, 3 August, 1993).
124. George Brecht, "From Project in Multiple Dimensions," in Martin, An Introduction to George Brecht's Book of the Tumbler on Fire, p. 126.
125. Norman Bryson, "The Gaze in the Expanded Field," in Vision and Visuality, edited by Hal Foster (Seattle: Bay Press, 1988), pp. 97-98.
126. D.T. Suzuki, from a translation of a lecture by Rinzai entitled "The One who is, at this moment, right in front of us, solitary, illuminatingly, in full awareness, listening to this talk on Dharma." In D.T. Suzuki, Erich Fromm and Richard De Martino, Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis (New York: Grove Press, 1960), p. 35.
127. Ibid, pp. 36-37.
128. Ibid, p. 35.
129. Suzuki, "Lectures on Zen Buddhism," in Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis, pp. 25- 26.
130. Higgins, "An Exemplativist Manifesto" (1963), in A Dialectic of Centuries, p. 162.
131. John Cage and Daniel Charles, "For the Birds," in semiotexte, vol. 3, no. 1 (1978), pp. 32-33.
132. Gilles Deleuze, "Nomad Thought," semiotexte, vol. 3, no. 1 (1978), p. 17.
133. Ibid, p. 18.
134. Ibid, p. 16.
136. Higgins, "A Something Else Manifesto," in A Dialectic of Centuries, p. 103.
137. An evening of Fluxus performance is often constituted by a chain of seemingly disconnected events. Presented one after the other, there is no sense of a narrative flow, but rather of an accumulation of singularities. This recalls the disjunctive structure of aphoristic books such as Nietzsche's The Gay Science, as it recalls that of the great koan collections, the Rinzairoku and the Wumenguan, as well as the Tao Te Ching and Paul Reps' contemporary collection of Zen texts, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.
138. Brian Massumi, A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992), p. 6.
139. Milman, "Road Shows." p. 100.
140. Higgins, Postface, p. 18.
141. Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History, Volume 2, p. 153.
142. In Jon Hendricks, Fluxus Codex (New York: Abrams, 1988), p.133.
143. Jackson Mac Low, letter to the author, 3 August 1992.
144. Fluxus etc./Addenda II: The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection (Pasadena, CA: Baxter Art Gallery, California Institute of Technology, 1983), quoted in Phillpot and Hendricks, Fluxus: Selections from the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection, p. 12.
145. Higgins, "The Post-Cognitive Era: Looking for the Sense in it All," in A Dialectic of Centuries, p. 6.
146. Higgins, "Something Else About Fluxus," p.18.
147. In Daisetz T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), p. 228.
148. Jean-Franois Lyotard, "Notes on the Return and Kapital," in semiotexte, vol. 3, no. 1 (1978), p. 52.
149. D.T. Suzuki, "History of Zen Buddhism from Bodhidharma to Hui-Neng," in Essays in Zen Buddhism (First Series), New York: Grove Press, 1949, p. 200.
150. Actually, the idealized space of transcendence is called nirvana, but as seen by Zen, there is really no idealized space of transcendence-or it is at most very unimportant- and the concept of "nirvana," like all concepts and names, is just more emptiness.
151. cf., the "Filliou Ideal," above.
152. George Brecht, a letter to John Cage, June 30 1967, Volume I, Chapter XI, page 1 of The Book of the Tumbler on Fire.
153. Brecht, "Something About Fluxus."