Retorts To Cardew

When Cornelius Cardew went crackers and became, first a Maoist and then a devotee of Enver Hoxha of Albania, he repudiated much of his own earlier work and the avant garde in general. He turned his fire particularly on Stockhausen, with whom he had worked closely as both student and assistant. In The Listener (15 June 1972), Cardew published a screed with the self-explanatory title “Stockhausen Serves Imperialism”. Here are two letters which appeared in the magazine the following week:


No doubt Messrs Britton and Pullman went straight on to a list of Enemies of the People who would be the first to be executed when the Revolutionary Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) – described by Richard Gott as among “the more perverse and irrelevant political groupings” of the time – ushered in the glorious proletarian revolution.

5 thoughts on “Retorts To Cardew

  1. And that’s the 26-year-old P Pullman spouting Blake, as he continued to do in his ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, twenty years further on. These letters are somewhat less cloud-brained than those favoured by the current editor of ‘The Radio Times’, or, perhaps, than those submitted by its current readership. Or both.

  2. I rather like the idea of having a cloud brain. You could let it seep gently out from your ears and rise into the sky like a small fair-weather cumulus. “It’s up there” you would tell your friends “Just near those others.” It would be like keeping a tippler pigeon, or even a falcon (but much slower and more vague). But then, maybe the wrong cloud brain would come back, at dusk, while you are drinking a last mild ale of the day…..what then?

  3. I have absolutely no idea what any of this is about. But do I win a prize from the Listener or Hooting Yard for spotting that tiny white glove floating above the first P of the second letter?

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