LOVE, ICEBOX: LETTERS FROM JOHN CAGE TO MERCE CUNNINGHAM
December 21, 2019
A deeply moving, succinct record of John Cage and Merce Cunningham's partnership filters out of the modest 156 page book Love, Icebox with a Foreward, Commentary and Afterword by Laura Kuhn. Known as the titans of the avant-garde music and modern dance movement in America, these two men found inspiration and companionship in each other.
Ms. Kuhn provides a clear historic context for the cherished letters, or better, compact poems of desire and doubt. Basically the letters stretch from 1942 - 1946, a time of chaos when Europe and America fought back Nazism in World War II. Actually, Merce and John crossed paths four years earlier at the Cornish School in Seattle.
Of course, this being John and Merce, creativity infuses the letters like the one pictured from 1944. Cut in various places like a jig-saw puzzle it's typewritten both vertically and horizontally. Although it resembles a ransom note, the content is all passion: "today is beautiful and I am dreaming of you and enigma and how we are together today: your words in my ears making (me) limp and taught by turns in delight. oh, I am sure we could use each other today."
There are times when the poems exude the fragrance of the long ago brilliant ancient Greek poet, Sappho. Her stangzas were short, and pointed, infused with intense emotions but kept perfectly erect inside the word.
There are so many gems poured into this book, it is difficult to put it down. It's something one might read every morning for inspiration or at night for transcendence.
Even if John Cage and Merce Cunningham mean nothing to you, this book will surely touch your soul and inspire you to seek them out.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis