The Poet Prepares to Play Chess with the Ghost of Marcel Duchamp

 

yesterday i photographed a collection of annotated chess matches that were played from 4 – 18 July 1973 between John Cage and Arnold Epstein, a long-time Cuernavaca expatriate who once lived at Black Mountain and like Cage, was a student of the great Grete Sultan.

according to Arnold, he, Cage and Tini Duchamp played the UNIVAC computer at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and won easily.

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it is because of a chance encounter with John Cage on an airplane in 1968 that Gunther Stent first learned of the I Ching and discovered that like the genetic code, it consisted of 64 mutationally related elements. He mentioned this to me in the mailroom of the Molecular Biology and Virus Laboratory at Berkeley shortly after, and i immediately said to him that the relationship between the two systems was considerably deeper. The rest as they say is history, and as Jackson Mac Low wrote in The Presidents of the United States of America: “If you can’t learn from history, what can you learn from? Mystery.”

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 7.14.2005


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