Extrication sometimes requires a severance of the many connections associated with a root problem. Like a malignant tumor, it has to be removed fully, and with surgical precision, from the organs surrounding it. This may involve cutting away perfectly healthy tissue too, in order to ensure that all traces of the disease are excised.
Sunday. 12.10 pm: Fracture, Llanbadarn Road. (The metaphors proliferate.):
2.30 pm: A ‘rubbish’ run to Llanbadarn Church and back. I’d missed lunch, and so was insufficiently fortified. Between my ears, I listened to Public Image Ltd’s Metal Box (1980) album on the outward journey, and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds (1966) on my return:
Monday. 8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: I dealt with the weekend’s email. (In the background: Burt Bacharach’s love songs.) 9.30 am: Studiology (briefly). I reviewed last week’s conclusion to ‘Write the vision …’, and listened again to ‘Lesser Light’. Had I put my brush down on the latter too soon? My perception of the earlier album tracks is changing in the light of the subsequent ones. Therefore, I’m committed to remaining open and responsive until after the final composition is complete. Only then will the whole set be nailed down.
10.00 am: I’d set aside the week to work on the conference paper. The programme is now published. It provided a steer to my own contribution. I now know what I needn’t do, because others are doing it, and what I must do in order to either fill any conspicuous gaps in the contributions, or venture beyond the boundaries of expectation. By the end of the process of writing, I want to know something about my topic that I don’t already know. I must first learn before I can teach others:
Composing a conference paper is no different than, say, writing an essay, except that it’s written to be spoken and accompanied by a para-discourse (the PowerPoint presentation). This includes (in my way of doing things) images, animations, text amplifications, and sound samples. Ideally, text, image, and sound ought to grow together as the argument is prosecuted.
After lunch …
On with biblical studies: the Vulgate, Hebrew, and English texts, and associated commentaries. I’m loath to say any more, lest I give the game away. I saw patterns and connections both within the topic at hand and to my preoccupations more widely. That was not only uplifting but also reassuring. I was on the right track.
My children have been mining their cupboards with a view to turfing out the contents. They’ve both reached that time in life when they must ‘put away childish things’. (Or, at least give them away to charity shops.) Naturally, it’s a slow process. Exclamations such as ‘Oh! Look … Wow!’ ‘We kept all these!’, ‘I remember this!’, and ‘Does it still work, do you think?’ drifted up the stairwell to my study. So many memories are embodied in, and triggered by, the our childhood toys and games. And it’s hard to let go of them. ‘Save some for your own children’, I implored. My elder son passed on to me his failed attempt to construct a guitar fuzz box. I believe this was one of his end of year school projects. Following in his old man’s footsteps:
Over dinner, I regaled my boys with stories of how, as a prepubescent, I mutilated my toys in Dad’s shed at the bottom of the garden. Matchbox cars were slowly crushed in his metalwork vice; Corgi cars (along with ants’ nests) were filled with methylated spirit and set on fire; and small plastic soldiers, slowly erased against the orbital sander. I was a dreadful child. Small wonder that my parents didn’t allow me to keep small furry animals. Mercifully, none of these, admittedly highly satisfying, mutilations ever found their way into either my adult life or real-world behaviour. (Honest!):
7.30 pm: I’d not advanced as far as I’d hoped during the afternoon, and so pressed on with the ideation of the first part of the conference paper. I made notes related to the broadest context of the topic. I find it helpful to move from the micro to the macro and back again throughout the course of composition. It’s important to keep the whole and the part in relation and due proportion. I played Keith Jarrett’s Hymns/Spheres (1976) in the background. I suspect it was the sonorities of the church organ together with the melancholy of the declining light that cast my mind back to the year in which the album was released. I remembered the walk that I’d take, then, from my home to Blaenau Gwent Baptist Church, Abertillery, on overcast autumnal evenings. And I recalled, too, those friends of my own age whom I’d meet there, who’re no longer in this world: Katherine, Lyndon, Lisa, and Linda. How strange it is to be here still, when they are not: