today i bought altar, a collaberation between boris and sunn o))). a really impressive, very abstract, dark, droning piece of art. making me want to rip off my headphones and keep listening the same time. making me addicted, to keep listening, my thoughts drifting away. having no clear images in my head. just feelings. creepy. noises are floating around, feeling as if the air would be liquid and different currents make the air look like an animated fractal, always changing shape, always in motion. making me want to move along. inevitably swallowing my attention, my thoughts. still, seeing nothing. giving me the creeps. i like it. love it.
posts for september 2007. (page 1.)
i’m back now. back home, in zurich. and we have been out yesterday, and it was wonderful, the weather being great, as great as it hasn’t been probably for a long, long time: the sun was shining bright, it was warm, and the places we visited on our trip were absolutely beautiful. we’ve been at brú na bóinne, visiting the passage graves knowth and newgrange. passage graves are basically hills with a tunnel (the passage) going inside, reaching finally a chamber, the grave itself. both of them are over 5000 years old, therefore being older than the pyramids in egypt. more interesting is the fact that newgrange’s inner chamber is completely dark all the time, except on midwinter, when, in case the sun isn’t blocked by clouds, it shines through a window over the tunnel into the grave and lightens it up a bit for around 17 minutes in the morning. it is amazing that such a long time ago, people managed to build this up with such a precision.
on our visit, we had the chance to enter the grave, and to get a tiny impression of this event, using electric light instead of sun beams. first, being completely dark inside, one sees light crawling onto the floor, slowly increasing, the shattered photons adding some light, allowing to recognize the room’s structure, the other watchers, and, according to our guide, even their faces and colors of the inside. then, the light slowly fades away, the darkness crawling back out of the holes, covering everything. the only color left being black. pure absence of light, for another 364 days, 23 hours and a lot of minutes. or even for millennia, when entry stones fell down, blocked the way inside for the sun. today it’s different, though, electric light allowing tourists to see something, to wander around in this grave, appreciating its construction, gazing at the decoration carved into the stones, the spirals.
then, finally, being out again, the view of the landscape feels so beautiful, the green much more intense, one is happy to have escaped the blackness.
now, feel free to enjoy some views on these places.
i’m currently staying in dublin, attending the 11th workshop on elliptic curve cryptography. our view on the countryside has been very brief, basically being limited to the view out of our cabs window on the way from the airport to our hotel. we haven’t seen much more from the city, mainly exploring the way from our hotel to the ucd campus, which means walking next to a big busy street for 20 minutes, walking a bit over trinity college yesterday on the way to the conference dinner, and then seeing the inside of some restaurants and pubs. a very nice pub was a real, completely non-touristic irish pub which we’ve been in two days ago (the only tourists in there being us). it were actually two pubs, connected by a small door and owned by the same person, the difference being a bit the ambient—the one more aristocratic, the other for the plebs—and, suprisingly, the prices, being slightly higher in the aristocratic part. well, and the people were slightly different too, like more suits could be seen in the aristocratic part. opposing to that, we were in a very touristic pub yesterday, with “folk” music and dancing. probably only remotely related to real irish traditions. but very popular among tourists.
another strange thing we encountered is the fact that almost noone here speaks irish. ask a random irish person on the streets, chances are really small he does. well, they apparently learn it in school, but they probably like it as much as the germans like to learn frensh in school: most aren’t able to do a conversation exceeding something like “hi, my name is felix, who are you?”…
this afternoon, we’ll probably see a bit more ireland; planning’s still to be done, we are aiming at something but it’s not sure yet that we can get there in time. if we do, i’ll write about it tomorrow, after my return home. stay tuned.
my first contact with moonsorrow was on the 9th of april this year, when they were playing at the z-7 in pratteln. i didn’t knew them before, but i was told that i might like them. well. i did. after the concert, i decided i had to buy one of their albums, namely viides luku: hävitetty, which is finnish and means chapter five: ravaged, being their fifth album, and i immediately listened to it when i came home after the concert. less than two weeks later i also had the rest of their albums lying on my desk.
simlarly to finntroll’s visor om slutet, v: hävitetty is a very special album. consisting of just two tracks, each having around 30 minutes of music, it builds up an intense atmosphere throwing you back into the old times, when vikings were sailing the northern seas. in contrast to visor om slutet, most of this album is heavy, very heavy, transporting a completely different mood. the first six minutes of the first track can be seen as a separate song, called jäästä syntynyt (born of ice), a very atmospheric, slow, dreamy piece, featuring a short poem:
“auringon kuoleman syntyäkseen
uusi maailma tarvitsee
vain pisaran vettä kylmyyteen
käsillä juoksemaan ihmisten”
which translates to:
“through the death of the sun
a new world is born
a drop of water in cold
to run on the hands of man”
other bands would let this be a whole song.
after this, a twenty-five minutes long heavy sound scape named varjojen virta (stream of shadows) breaks loose on the listener, never being boring, recurring motifs varied, always melodic, sometimes a bit slower, mostly fast, screaming. closing my eyes, i can see vast landscapes and seascapes, raging storms, ships fighting the rough sea, endless forests, fog, darkness, bleak lives, people dying, battles raging. the music makes me want to move, it’s so intense, so beautiful, intoxicating. the lyrics are in finnish, with an english translation being provided in the booklet, allowing to enrich the experience, putting more emotions and emphasis into the music. they transport dreary feelings, are depressing, make me shiver. beautiful, in some sense, sorrowful, in another.
the second song on this album, tuleen ajettu maa, which means a land driven into the fire, begins with shaman chants, quickly progressing to heavy riffs, screams. similarly to varjojen virta, this sound scape is intense, dense, heavy, varying between more silent, folkish parts, many heavy parts, black metal thunderstorms, forming a fascinating masterpiece.
this one feels similarly depressing, bleak, even more aggressive. i can see boats floating, shaking on rough water, the sea trying to swallow the boats, i can see battles, fights, man against man, dying and dead people, the distinction between victor and loser being that one is dead, whereas the other is dying. skimming through the lyrics, i read as the last verse:
“näin kaikki päättyy, näen sen nyt
tämä sivu on viimeinen
näin kaikki päättyy, tyhjään ja unohdukseen
eikä kukaan tänne palaa”
“this is how it ends, i can see it now
this page will be the last
this is how it ends, to emptiness, to oblivion
and none will ever return”
this is what the music makes me feel. makes me see, makes me think about, when i listen to it.
leaving traces is easy. just think on how many fingerprints you leave outside your home every day.
and this does not only apply to your real life, but also to your online life. every little thing you do in the internet leaves traces at many different places. for example, think of typing in a url like spielwiese.fontein.de in your browser and pressing enter. first, your browser will put that address in its history (for the pedants out there: i’m fully aware that there are situations in which this does not happen. as i don’t want to blow up this article with technicalities, i’ll simply ignore that.), so days later you can still see that you visited that page. you’ll also find copies of the page in your browser cache. back to the incident itself. in order to access the site, your browser has to establish a connection with my web server and send a request for that site. this request is relayed though different places, every one able to see that you (identifyable by your ip number, which can be traced back to you by your internet provider) requested this specific site (except in case you’re accessing pages using https, in that case, the intermediate relays just know your ip address and the ip address of the destination server).
finally, in any case, my web server will receive your request to deliver the page / from my domain to you. and, as most web servers do, it will note that down into it’s logfile, so i can see that you accessed my site. in fact, i see a lot more. usually, in the request, your browser sends a lot of additional information: for example, a string identifying the user agent. for example, this could be
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:18.104.22.168) Gecko/20070802 SeaMonkey/1.1.4
it usually also includes information on your operating system (in this case, linux) and the exact version of your browser. usually, the browser will also send on which site you were before (the so called referer). this information will be sent for any web page you click on, and for every image or other object contained in that page. hence, i am, without any tricks, able to track you on your way through my web page, and i can see where you’re coming from.
so, now i have a big log file containing a lot of information: which user came from where, looked at which sites, left where, used which browser, which operating system and which screen resolution, at which time. if i feed this log file into an analysis tool, it will gather the information and present them to me in a useable way—whatever that might mean.
are you surprised? some of you won’t be, i know. anyone interested in this subject can find out about this on lots of places on the web (for example, look here). and, in fact, one can do much better than me. first, by using cookies, i could identify you uniquely and connect your different sessions to see how your surfing behaviour varies over a larger time scale. then, i could combine the data from several servers. if i would have data from enough servers, i could throw together a very detailed survey on what you are doing on the web. in that case, i’m your big brother, watching (almost) every step you do online. luckily, for you, i’m not doing that. but other people do. for example, the big web advertisement companies, which have their advertisements on a huge amount of web servers, can see you everytime you view such a web page (if you’re not using an ad blocker). or assume that your web page is using the service of another server which tracks statistics for you. many people are using such services (may it be in the form of a simple counter), so the provider of the service knows when you are looking at which site. and now assume that some of these data collectors cooperate. sharing their huge amount of data. a creepy thought, isn’t it?