July 4, 2018

8.00 am: A communion. Over the next few days, I’ll be finalising teaching, admin, and research before the beginning of my vacation. There’re meetings to be had, problems to resolve, actions to be taken, and results to be communicated. Tomorrow’s entry will be the last for several weeks. 9.30 am: I had my first hearing test since I was a baby:

Inevitably, as one gets older, a audition of the full range of frequencies gradually diminishes. My mild and occasional background tinnitus has impaired the upper-most frequencies at little. The lower frequencies remain intact. Mercifully, both ears are effected in the same way. This is good news when it comes to mixing sound across a stereo field, where a precise awareness of left and right balance is essential. The condition may not get any worse. If this is as bad as it gets, I’m laughing:

11.00 am: My website-aid gave me a driving lesson around the controls of the new website template, as well as of those undergirding the transformed John Harvey: Intersections of Sound, Image, Word, and Life  blog site, and the soon to be initiated new Diary site. The July edition of the Aberystwyth Ego was out, and included an account of my work at Bethel Baptist Church last November:

12.00 pm: On with those bits of admin that really did need to be dispatched before I pulled down the shop blinds.

1.45 pm: After lunch, I prepared the release of the MA Vocational Practice feedback in readiness for tomorrow morning. ‘Music maestro, please!’: I’m now on a nostalgia trip listening to early 1980s pop music. At the time, it was a genre that I largely ignored, being a snide and supercilious prog-rocker with large specs who was also anxious to impress a student at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff. (Subsequently, she became a music teacher, orchestral performer, and reviewer.):

Pop is a far more culturally ambient mode of music than the compositions I listened to. Whether you loved or loathed it, the sounds were in and on the air. It seeped into my consciousness in a way that contemporary ‘mass music’ doesn’t … at all.

3.15 pm: I nearly had kittens. Where did I put the folder with the Vocational Practice feedback forms? How could I’ve lost them? Why is there no indication that they’d ever existed in my backup files? ‘Because they were never digital files in the first place, John’. They’re written on paper, placed in my real-world inbox, on my real-world desk top, ready to be distributed. May was a long time ago. And I forget stuff.

6.30 pm: I paid a visit to one of our ailing senior ladies at the Church. She is 90 years of age and as bright as a button. Very much the mother of the church. In her living room hangs S. Curnow Vosper’s Salem (1908). In the homes of an older generation of chapel and church goer, its absence would be conspicuous. The print has become a Welsh icon of sorts. I recall sitting below the window of the chapel depicted in the painting, while being interviewed about the painting by a TV company. Behind the window, a cockerel crowed so loudly and persistently that my contribution to the programme was rendered unusable:

7.45 pm: I looked over, in an unsystematic manner, the pages of the Intersections site that had been commuted to the new template. I’ll need to go through every page to iron-out the creases that’ve been introduced in translation.

 

 

 

Catching the light

 

 



July 3, 2018

7.45 am: A communion. 8.20 am: I launched out early enough to take-in a short promenade. The sunlight pronounced a silent benediction upon this little part of the world at the edge of the sea. The dolphins have returned, I was told. I’ve never known the water to be such a lustrous blue. (My horizon is noticeably lower these days.):

The Old College was resplendent too. Sandstone responds well to sunlight. I’d only one MA tutee to teach this morning:

9.40 pm: I’d time to address admin before my next consultation, and so retired to my usual watering hole, close-by. A no-show on this occasion. But I’d much to be getting on with, and an iPad on board. (I’m a man who plans. I like to know how the next hour will play out.):

11.45 pm: I held a follow-up consultation with a student who’ll be entering our second year from another institution. It’s helpful to set projects, to be undertaken over the summer, which will provide an introduction to the type of instruction that they’ll experience in September. Good to hit the road running.

1.45 pm: After a little correspondence to finalise my commitments at the end of the week, I returned to the ‘Write the Vision …’ transcription. I was working under the full glare and heat of the sun in that part of the studio. Mercy, me!:

A strange occurrence: On Thursday, I’ll be having lunch with someone who, a few days ago I’d ‘dreamed’ of having dinner with. This was out-of-the-blue. By 5.00 pm, the task was complete. It remained for me to stitch all the separate verse files together. A procedure for tomorrow morning:

7.30 pm: ‘Varieties of administration’, as they say in the New Testament (King James Version): references, postgraduate applications, and church work. In the background, among other things, Scritti Politti’s ‘The Word Girl‘ (1985)  – a gem of a pop song. It takes me back to my years in Cardiff, around that time. How strange that music can retain the memory of feelings (of melancholy) associated with a period and place so powerfully intact:

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • There’re times when your intentions for the work must be questioned. Are they an enabling or a limiting factor?
  • The form of the work can effect the concept of the work, just as surely as the concept can effect the form. One must recognise the reciprocal relationship between these two dynamics.
  • Always be ruthless: cull the body of the work; be clear in your own mind regarding what constitutes the best.
  • Over production and diversification can be manifestations of prevarication. Therefore, learn to discern the cutting-edge of your practice, and commit yourself to it only.
  • Auto-suspicion is a great asset: be aware of your avoidance strategies, lazy compromises, and slick solutions. Do the difficult thing, at all costs. Any other policy will guarantee you a short professional career.
  • Work at your best when no one is either watching, or applauding, or remotely interested in what you do, or offering you a reward. This is of the essence of personal and professional integrity.
  • Work at your best even when producing your worst. That’s the fastest and best way to recover your form.

 

 



July 2, 2018

Sunday. A visit to Llanerchaeron with a friend of Holy Trinity Church, who’d recently been widowed:

Today. 7.45 am: A communion. I awoke tired. My water intake needed to be disciplined today. There’re days, and this was one, when the inclination to work is hard to summon. A lifetime spent acting against feelings and following the path of duty, helps under these circumstances. I switched on computer no. 3: no screen image and, likely, no boot up. (Sigh! I really don’t have time for this.) Never before have I had so many machines go down in such a short space of time. Is it the weather? I rummaged through YouTube for tutorial advice. 11.00 am: It woke up, like a sluggedly teenager. My most elderly MacBook is the only one that hasn’t let me down. So, I booted it up and waited for the inevitable crash to ensue. (‘This isn’t optimistic thinking, John!’) In and around all this, I acquainted myself further with the new ‘Intersections’ subdomain of my website. Here will lie whatever is the successor to this Diary beyond the thousandth post. (As I descended into sleep last night, I saw myself appear in short black and white video in which I answered only one question.) The migration from the original domain to the new one has caused a few glitches. ‘Nothing is ever straightforward’, so my webmaster assures me. Oh, for a simpler life.

11.30 pm: I set up the gear to record ‘Write the Vision …’, this afternoon. 12.00 pm: Off to School to check on my physical mail and the state of the nation. (In the absence of the Head of School, I’m the department’s babysitter.): The temperature is around 28°c. I wasn’t enjoying this at all:

2.30 pm: Having checked balances for the I. Nothing Lack. suite on two other sound systems, and completed a little admin, I turned again to record the ‘Write the Vision …’ samples:

Once the process was begun, the inscription of the individual verses took no longer than was required to copy them out. Once all the verses are assembled, their sonorities will be modified in order to remove the aggressive rasp. The heat below the Velux window was punishing, and the sun’s glare made it hard to see the computer screen. The task was tedious and repetitive. Needs must. I’m aiming to complete the recording and production, and have the files ‘in the post’ ready to be pressed into vinyl, by Thursday. The accrued inscription, which I made without looking – my eyes were on the printed text that I was following – reminded me of examples of ghostly automatic-writing:

7.20 pm: On with the inscription. I began chapter 2 of Habakkuk. One by one, that would be the only way I’d fell the trees in this forest.

 

 

 

 

*  For Amy Seed



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