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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #437
Oddus Appetitus
David Gunn

Two hundred and sixty-two million years ago, towards the end of the Paleozoic Era, on a Saturday, something was stirring in the primordial punch bowl known as prehistoric life on Earth. Most of the newly burgeoning consciousnesses--the trilobites, the nautiloids, the loofas--adhered to the conventional wisdom of the day, which was to "Go slow. Evolve gradually, leisurely. Don't be impetuous and rush development because you'll get it all wrong." But on this Saturday, a certain something was about to challenge the region's prevailing circumspection. Its intrinsic sentience, which was well beyond that of the other rudimentary life forms that surrounded it, had already begun to rock the boat of the primeval status quo. One life form, a male gamete prone to motion sickness, reacted to the rocking by emitting a loud sperm wail. The racket attracted the Sentient, which was inquisitive, hungry for empirical data--hungry for anything, including gametes. Hmm. Tastes a little like chicken. Instead of dissipating, the Sentient's appetite increased, redoubled. Soon, it was absorbing data from all quarters, much as a descendant eons in the future would absorb it from Euros. It wiped out entire taxonomies simply because they were "interesting" ... or possessed a chickenesque flavor. The life forms unpalatable enough to not get eaten would later describe the hungry Sentient as having l'appétit impair, a singularly "odd appetite."

Time passed. The quintessence of the increasingly insatiable Sentient passed, too--down from one generation to the next to the next, remaining the sole constant throughout pre- and later post-history. The proto-land masses of Gondwanaland and Laurasia drifted continentally into Pangaea, which led almost but not quite directly to the Roman Empire. One day in 64 AD, the two most famous musicians of the land, known collectively as Oddus Appetitus, were summoned to perform for the Emperor Nero. The duo lived up to both their name and their reputation. The tunes they played sounded odd indeed to the Emperor, whose ears had been rendered tinnitic from abuse in the vomitorium, but so well were they executed that a transported Nero asked to jam with them. To give himself an edge, the Caesar supplied the music: an air for fiddle, cellolus and sticks he had played often. But, like the similarly named Sentient of the past, the duo was ravenous for data. As soon as they saw the music, they treated it like gladiator flank steak, devouring it as they played. Their playing was so hot that sparks flew off of their instruments onto the Tiber Fowl Factory adjacent Casa Nero. Methane flatulence from the birds that had long lain dormant in the building provided an ideal incendiary environment--and explode it did, shooting its myriad dazed denizens up into the sky. As the flash-cooked birds rained down onto the city, providing a hot meal to thousands, the "gift from the gods" became known as the first free rain chickens. Unfortunately, the blazing poultry precipitation started fires all over town, and soon all of Rome was ablaze. Nero, who was into the music, continued to cavalierly fiddle away, unmindful of the conurbation conflagration. Oddus Appetitus, likewise into the music, went even further into it, eventually transmogrifying into so many hungry hemidemisemiquavers.

Loath to stop and smell the Rosetta stone, time continued to pass. And always along for the ride was a strangely appetitive sentience that adopted innumerable forms. During the Toltec Classical Period, it assumed the role of Quetzalcóatl, a feathered serpent god so self-absorbed that it assimilated itself. While Empress Wu ruled in China, it materialized as controversial cookie fortunes which, when left unguarded, consumed the cookie matter around it. On and on throughout history, der ungerade Appetit continued to mine data with a zealousness normally reserved for Spanish inquisitors and omelets.

Today, the progeny of that original curious Sentient is alive, well and hungry for new data. Or chicken. Like Oddus Appetitus, it has recontextualized into a scintillating performing duo who are expert on the modern day equivalents of cellolus and sticks. Even more marvelous, they will presently display their inherently odd appetites live on this 437th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, an entity normally home to sentience of a lower common denominator, excluding, at least for the time being, the ol' chicken wrangler, Kalvos.