The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

September 2005 Archive

September 03, 2005

Sometimes we don't notice how tiny things may have the largest impact.

Like, for example, what would jazz be like if Adolphe Sax hadn't invented the saxophone around 1840. Wold Charlie Parker have played the zither instead? And what instrument would they use in cheesy movies for ambiguous or semi-explicit scenes instead? The French horn?

There is this theory about evolutionary genesis, which basically states that things will more or less invent themselves if the time is right. That they come from the collective consciousness, and that inventing something is an act of channeling that consciousness rather than coming up with something from scratch; that creativity is a matter of an extremely vivid sense of perception rather than imagination.

Basically, this theory states that if Sax hadn't invented the saxophone, someone else would have invented something similar around the same time, provided that there had been another person with a similarly profound sense of perception; that we might not have bebop without Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, but that there might be something similar instead.

When I did the new website for the library, it was weird how ideas would simply pop up at more or less the right time the deeper I got into it. Harmless conversations with someone about something completely else would lead to ideas for the site. I could almost feel the synapses click into place. At the beginning of the project, I had no idea whatsoever what to do, and I also didn't want to do anything. The more I got into it, the more everything just seemed to evolve by itself without any intervention on my part whatsoever, as if it had always been there. It was like I was channeling some force, not actively thinking about it.

Which also explains why I can't seem to remember much of the past three weeks, by the way.

I'm pretty sure that Bud Powell never thought once about what he was playing when he did those amazing piano solos of his. It's like when you're running down a flight of stairs: as soon as you start thinking about what your feet are doing, you fall.

Posted by Horst at 09:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

September 05, 2005

Matthew Herbert: Plat du jour For example, Matthew Herbert's Plat du jour is a record that seemed almost overdue because the idea that fueled it has been part of our daily discourse for a while now, and was only waiting to be turned into a concept album. And by that I mean "concept album" in the sense of "concept art", seeing how meticulously Herbert researched and prepared this record.

"the ultimate modern compromise: brown bread is nutritionally better for you but contains 5 times more pesticide residues (due to the milling process) than white bread."

Herbert's dissatisfaction with industrial food that contains so many additives that some of it is unsuitable for small children and that seems to be more unhealthy than nourishing, led him to make a record based entirely on food.

"my personal favourite is Shrek cereal: a tie-in with a film that says you can still be loved if you are fat, used to sell heavily-processed breakfast cereal that, ahem, makes you fat."

All the instruments played on this record are food or food packaging: be they 30,000 chickens, a bottle of branded water, 60 coffee beans dropped into a can of weedkiller, or two slices of toast and an electric toaster -- you name it, it's there, and it's always closely linked to the topic of the respective song. The cover art is food colourings on chromatography paper, with information about their adverse effects on health.

ricetec patent no. 5663484: this is the patent number in which ricetec, a texas agribusiness firm, attempts to patent basmati rice, a plant neither created by ricetec nor indigenous to america.

As for the music on this record, I think I might like it better if I were more into electronca and house. The musical ideas are good and remarkably varied, but not entirely the kind of thing I usually listen to, so I fear my expertise here is not too sound. At any rate, I like it surprisingly much, especially for the first 45 minutes or so. However, it seems that there isn't enough musical variation in here to fill a full 60 minutes, and so the last few tracks drag on a bit, even though they contain funny ideas, such as the dinner prepared by Nigella Lawson for George Bush and Tony Blair being driven over by a battle tank. Also, the lyrics of the one non-instrumental song are fairly poor and rather flat, but the instrumentals more than make up for this. Overall, you simply have to appreciate this album for the thoroughness with which the artistic concept has been carried out and the amount of work that has been put into it.

"the bpm of the track [fatter, slimmer, faster, slower] is 85 since 85% of british girls have tried dieting by the age of 13"

All the quotations are from the record's liner notes. Matthew Herbert's website is at

Posted by Horst at 09:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

September 10, 2005

Or pure coincidence, of course. During the time when I designed the library website, some things simply popped up without any rationale at all, by mere coincidence.

My initial idea for the home page of the Biology library had been to take a picture of a skeleton of what may have been some kind of minisaurus and arrange a number of pictures of the library along the spine, similar to what I had done with the Philosophy library.

I had also made a couple of pictures of stuffed animals on display at the department. The biology librarian wanted the owl to appear on the site. My kind of favourite was the platypus, followed by the grinning long-eared hedgehog. It soon turned out that the platypus was incompatible with the minisaur spine because every rule of picture composition was against it; it just looked awful. On the other hand, the long-eared hedgehog was unuseable because it was totally out of focus. Which meant that both wouldn't be on the picture.

At this point my colleague with whom I share the office intervened. She insisted that the platypus was simply too cute and that it had to be on the picture at all costs. Somehow her insistence convinced me that it wasn't the platypus which was the bad idea, but the minisaur spine.

Which is why I scrapped the entire concept and made up a new one based on a 180° panorama of the library. Which is why the Biology library now has a somewhat freaky home page with the owl, the platypus and the minisaur, and the long-eared hedgehog, because I remembered just in time that scaling down the picture and sharpening it in Photoshop might just save it. At that point the whole thing took on a weird dynamic, and I felt that I had to add the green stuff. And there we were.

How much of this was coincidence? Would I have eventually scrapped the minisaur spine myself, or was it really just due to my colleague's insistence on the platypus? No idea. The whole thing popped up in my head within 15 seconds of her saying she wanted the platypus. Sure doesn't look like it.

[Link to VU Biology library home page]

Posted by Horst at 01:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

September 13, 2005

More often than not I am spooked by those newspaper reports about deadly accidents on unprotected railway crossings. I mean, how likely is that -- you cross a railway line at the precise moment when a train passes by. Even spookier, however, is the fact that about half of these accidents happen because the car just stopped right on the tracks, the motor died and the driver couldn't get away in time.

I find this extremely scary. If you don't believe in a higher force, this is your opportunity to reconsider. Isn't this almost as if fate had decided there and then that this person's life should end at that very moment? There are no reports as to in how many cases the car door was stuck as well and the driver couldn't escape, but it sounds almost likely that this would have happened too, in addition to the dead motor.

What I do find hard to believe though is the large amount of cases in which the driver "failed to notice" the approaching train. We never hear of cases in which the driver just didn't want for the train to pass and attempted to cross the tracks before the train, well aware of how dangerous it was. Considering how often fate intervenes and turns off people's motors right there on the tracks, it seems odd how rarely this would happen.

Posted by Horst at 06:01 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

September 18, 2005

At the moment, all my creative energy is flowing into Messages from the lost continent and a collection of short stories which I wanted to write last year and now intend to complete by mid-October, which seems feasible at the speed that I'm writing.

Therefore, reduced update scheme here. Sorry.

Posted by Horst at 06:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

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