My favorite aspect of mass emails about my music journey is responses from old friends. After the most recent blast, a friend from high school (he was an adult then) replied in verse. I've excerpted my response.
What a great question! what is "modern" if styles and ideas are no newer than those of the past generation?
I picked up Huang's translation of the I Ching yesterday. Can you believe I don't know anything about it except what I read in His Dark Materials? I was moved by Huang's insistence that divination should not be used when reason, common sense, or moral principles give an answer. It seems obvious, but we commonly find it so hard to act on a choice that we'd rather give up the power to choose! If, however, we're willing to let something like the I Ching choose for us, that power to act is no less ours -- it always has been.
It's true that much of what today's avant garde does relates back to John Cage's avant garde's work of over 30 years ago, but I think he would agree that all these ideas and potentials have existed continuously. It's not to devalue innovation or change; rather, I have felt empowered in connecting to this continuity. How could an individual possibly be ready to compete with the innovation of historical predecessors, yet action necessarily begins in one? For now, I like to believe that by allowing myself to experience and to work instinctively, my actions originate also from the same potential that has ever coaxed beauty and change out of the cosmos.