If you’ve done your modern dance history homework, you know that Merce Cunningham’s artistic partner, John Cage, was also his romantic one. But you may not know that Cage and Cunningham exchanged many letters over the course of their partnership. Several of these have been collected in a new book, The Selected Letters of John Cage.
John Cage (left) and Merce Cunningham (center) with artist Robert Rauschenberg. By Douglas H. Jeffrey, courtesy of the Merce Cunningham Trust.
Cunningham was a famously private man—few people knew that he taught himself Russian, for instance—but Cage’s letters to him give us some insight into how much in love they must’ve been. If you’re a hopeless romantic at heart, like me, Cage’s letters are a lovely read. Here are some of my favorite excerpts:
“Please be lonesome enough to come back in not too distant time.
I love you and often think of fancy reasons why: spirit is very close to me and mine, I sent it, close to you.
My whole desire is to run up and down the sea coast looking for you.
“your last letter is so beautiful i cannot answer it, only read it and lie on it.”
“Rain finally came + it’s beautifully cool. Wonder how long it will last. It was marvelous because it started suddenly and then was alternately terrific and gentle.
I think of you all the time and therefor have little to say that would not embarrass you, for instance my first feeling about the rain was that it was like you.