Cage’s critique of “wholeness” is also a critique of the specifically Germanic context in which the theory and practice of the Gestamtkunwerk first evolved. When Cage argues that “the stranger has always had a great integrating effect” he is explicitly criticizing the connection between the German “hunger for wholeness” and a craving for racial purity. Indeed, it often appeared as if Cage’s self-appointed mission was to free the musical world from the influence of Germanic ideas about “unity” (even if he saves some of his strongest criticism for non-German practitioners of this “essentially” German idea):

I think our teaching, and our ideas, particularly about music, have become controlled mostly by German ideas and you still see it. The other day, I picked up the lecture Stravinsky gave at Harvard University…. He said that the thing that interested him was unity in the situation of variety, and he wanted to find the single thing that brought together all the differences. And he recognized this as an ideal which he believed. We all believe it until we begin to examine it. When we examine it, we see it is a purely German idea, it’s a fascist idea really, which wants to find not the blackness in the black and the whiteness in the white, but wants to find the whiteness in the blacks too, and wants everything to be white. (Kostelanetz 1988, 280)

Cage was once asked the following question about his extraordinarily dense score for “Roaratorio”: “Putting all these sounds together, aren’t you afraid that you’re going to get white noise?” His response: “I’m sure that it will be noise, but I doubt that it will be white.”