Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Like most American males, I learned to dress at the age of 12 and have learned nothing more about it since.  My own sartorial preferences have remained in that age, when the two principal models were that pair of boys' lit Toms, Sawyer and Brown.   In Grad school, the choreographer and scholar Susan Foster encouraged me to read Roland Barthes; while I really liked Empire of Signs (the book about a country very much like Japan) , The Fashion System was totally lost on me, and I've never been quite sure whether my deficit was due to intellectual weakness on my part, or just an ordinary heterosexual allergy to fashion.  Nevertheless, I have recently made some modest efforts to up my wardrobe, but the direction is more retrograde than original.  I'm back to wearing hats, but now going with wide brims rather than the caps of my schooldays and in Kathmandu, perhaps risking the dismay of some vegetarian friends, I had a couple of extra-long leather ties and a suede vest made for me, figuring that both were about a generation out of style, so there was a chance to beat the curve for once.   Moreover, having not worn a tie for about five years (and that last one was a bolo at that), maybe it was time to at least imitate the appaearance of a grownup.

Which brings me to my (small) musical point.  Many of my recent pieces have been coming out with surfaces that recall familiar musics enough to be heard as, well, neo-classical.   Inasmuch as my current working mode has emphasized, instead of first principles, digging into historical repertoire and locating alternative paths not taken, the label certainly fits. But only if the "classical" part is loosened up a bit more (neo-subitor, neo-serial, neo-experimental...).  In any case, there is certainly nothing less fashionable at the moment than to assert a relationship to the classical, even when neo- or pseudo- or quasi- or just plain faux-.   And the musical point of this is that one only moves forward, does or makes or discovers something really new, when one is out of step with fashion.  When the world zigs, kiddos, it's time to zag.

1 comment:

Office of the Cultural Liaisons said...

As a tree grows the roots grow deeper.It is probably natural to cross paths with things that are sometimes older than newer. There is a nature of creative impulses not to be completely exhausted at the time that often brings us there. This is quite different from nostalgia. We need to widen our sense of time anyway and realize the current we live in is braoder than the instantaneous. The last time i attempted to stay in the present i ended up being informed by the 12 century.