In the last weeks the winter term 2012/2013 started here in Berlin; and so I thought what good advice could I give students who wanted to study in the field of sound studies in particular or in cultural theory and cultural history in general?
Then I remembered I read once a series of rules for students as conceived by the less known teacher and artist Sister Corita Kent, and popularized by John Cage. I found all of them again in Stuart Brand‘s famous catalogue of counter-cultural articles and resources Whole Earth Catalog (1968ff.) – which you can now access online in its entirety.
No matter what exactly is the main interest of your study, no matter under what cultural or social conditions, no matter under what ridiculous political or institutional regulations you may be studying these days or some time in the near future: these 10 rather basic advices will guide you to the best study field and they will help you to explore it in the best way you can these days at a university:
RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.
RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.
RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.
RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)
HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.