January 2, 2018

A ‘dream’ experienced on the boundary of sleep:

Dreams (or whatever this was) rarely explain anything that’s taking place in my waking life. Clearly, the experience referenced my recollection at Ynyslas yesterday. They embody what might be described as ‘felt memories’, as distinct from fully-fledged emotions. In South Wales, when I was growing up, unexplained, unsummoned, and (vaguely) unnatural occurrences, such as this, weren’t out of the ordinary.

I had an early appointment at Bronglais Hospital in connection with two of three operations that need to be undertaken this year:

My flare-firing had paid off (December 12, 2017). I sat, waiting, among anxious parents, forlorn Christmas decorations, a bound copy of the Readers’ Digest, shuffling patients, and staff moving at full tilt again after the holiday period; looking at carpet panels, which were securely gaff-taped to the floor; and listening to a ‘click’ that was almost a ‘clunk’, beating out time somewhere to my left.

Back at home, I apprised the university’s occupational health unit of developments before getting down to the beginning of the end of semester ‘markathon’. Due to the progressive deterioration of the nerve response from my elbow to my fingers, the pace would need to be slower. My capacity to type is now impaired.  Onwards …

Some principles and observations derived from today’s assessment:

  • Don’t get side tracked by expanding upon biographical and marginal information that could be expressed as a single sentence only.
  • Always have the question at your elbow, and ask yourself in what way does the essay, at every point, help to answer it.
  • Be careful not to be reductive in your interim and final summaries.
  • Sentences should be sensible.
  • Structure is the chassis of the essay. Everything is built on top of it.
  • Ideas are the fuel that propels vehicle forward.
  • Argument is the steering wheel.
  • Illustrations are the windows.
  • Content is the wheels.
  • You are the driver.

 

 



January 1, 2018

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick (Proverbs 13.12)

The keyword here is ‘deferred’; that’s to say, postponed for a later time. In other words, this isn’t a text about the utterly crippling experience of hope abandoned. (That’s far, far more difficult to deal with.) We’re in the realms of delayed, rather than cancelled, trains. You may have a burning desire for something to come to pass, and the deep-seated expectation that, one-day, it will. However, its fulfilment has been along time in coming. If you know that the object of your hope will be tremendously good for either you or others, then the wait can be utterly miserable. It may effect your whole disposition. That’s testament to how much you’ve invested in that hope, how singularly important it’s to you, and how desperate you are that it should be realised. That hope may be realised, but only at the right time – neither too soon nor too late. And when it arrives, you’ll know why it didn’t come any earlier, berate yourself for being so impatient, and rejoice with thanksgiving.

I’ve never made any New Year’s resolution other than to remain resolved. Determination is a vow and an endeavour that must be renewed and pursued daily. There’ll be days when my steadfastness will buckle and collapse. I reckon on it, and purpose to respond to the lapse by redoubling my commitment the next day. To quote John Bunyan: ‘There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent’. Giving up is not an option. And doing other than what’s right is not an option either. Self interest, need, desire, happiness, pleasure, and even hope, all take their place in the queue behind this principle.

Over the weekend, I established a second sound mixing and production station at my study desk. (This has been a longtime in coming). On it, I composed a bespoke sound piece for a friend overseas, based on the sea. It was sent as a New Year’s Day gift. They’re likely to be the work’s only audience:

 

New Year’s Day is, for me, the tipping point between holiday and workaday. I try to keep busy, make preparations, put things away, tidy up, and clean. It’s a practical and a therapeutic approach to self-readying.

Before lunch, we drove to Ynyslas, to walk the sand dunes down to the beach:

 

The windchill off the Irish Sea was significant, but enlivening. It did my sinuses a world of good. Turner would’ve known how to respond to this. It’s strange how one place can summon the recollection of another, entirely different, place elsewhere. Brushing through the dry and sun-bleached long grass, set against the neutral cloud bank, I recalled ‘The Tip’ and ‘The Moss’, as they were known locally – grassed-0ver slag heaps from the local coalmine – over which ‘Pop’ (my maternal grandfather) walked and regaled me with the stories about industry, when I was young. Both were levelled when the pit closed, in the years after the Miners’ Strike. Therefore, they cannot be revisited other than vicariously, by means of another place (such as this):

Mid afternoon. (All hands to the deck!) We de-baubled and defenestrated the Christmas tree. (The lounge window is the easiest, if an inglorious, route to the front garden and garage.):

I rehabilitated my Skype presence by shutting down the spammy account and generating another one based on my new private email address.* But for how long will this one remain inviolate?

A recollection (once shared with a friend):

 

*My new Skype identifier is ‘JohnHarveyAber’.

 

 

 



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