Steve Hicken has responded to my and Kyle Gann's posts on "simplicity" vs. "complexity" in contemporary music. As always, I appreciate Steve's even-handedness, but I have a couple of issues. First, I don't think that contemporary audiences demand instant gratification any more than those of Mozart's time. To the contrary, I think that even the most conservative listeners are more patient with dissonance, polyrhythm, and other gristly stuff than their counterparts of a hundred years ago, just because they're accustomed to the sounds (prior exposure to "modern music," horror-movie soundtracks, etc.). Audiences have become so terminally polite that they'll sit through just about anything, showing their discontent only by applauding weakly. Second, I think it's a mistake to view pop culture as simple-minded. Consider the insanely multiplying plot strands of Alias or 24, or those computer games for which people write 500-page instruction manuals. These examples come from Steven Johnson's forthcoming book Everything Bad Is Good For You, which, in inspired contrarian fashion, hails pop culture as a brain-teasing labryinth. Perhaps young composers are eating up Carter and Boulez because their minds have been saturated with layer upon layer of electronic information.