Just a couple of comments on the original post after reading a very interesting thread.
I don't think a person needs to ever see the work of another photographer or the work of any other medium to create. The influences and inspiration for ones own work are everywhere in nature, and the industriousness of man. I do believe that you might be surprised that after photographing for a few years and then looked at the work of others you might find some similarities in subject and style with your own,
Although we cannot wake up with the slate wiped clean, we can make a conscious effort to look at the world around us in a new and different way. For myself sometimes I try to take a scene or object and try to deconstruct it to its simplest elements or try to contemplate it on a different plane of understanding from the obvious. I had read about a author/philosopher who would spend some time everyday doing this. An example would be he would study a coffee cup and consider various elements from the design to the materials it is mad of, to its uses. He might settle on the idea of thinking about the people who make the cup. Do the make it by hand? Is it made by a machine? Do they use these cups themselves?
I like to compare the way we intrepret and understand the world around us to the electromagnetic spectrum. Only a tiny sliver of wavelengths produce visible energy in the form of light. The vast majority of energy is there unseen, yet discoverable if the right tools and techniques are applied. the same is true of our ideas in relation to what we see. it is easy to stick with the visible. already understood and interpreted world. We need to strive to push into that invisible spectrum of ideas.
It sounds kind of silly at first but try it with any object you see and can think about for awhile. It can open some new ways of thinking and looking.