August 2, 2017

8.30 am: In Darren Aronofsky’s π (1998), the film’s protagonist periodically declares his beliefs about mathematics, prefaced by the time of day and the determination:  ‘Restate my assumptions’. What follows is a kind of creed enumerating his convictions about numbers and their significance. The habitual reaffirmation of one’s beliefs is good practice. This, of course, assumes that a person has a set of beliefs that’s definable and defensible. Whether we are religious or not, its useful to establish a basis for our convictions and certainties and their implications, simply and systematically. (A commitment to ‘unfaith’ deserves a declaration of principles and professions just as much as does a commitment to doctrines and theologies of assurance.) Reaffirmation is not a thoughtless repetition. At every statement, one ought to pause, consider, and ask the question: ‘Am I still convinced of this?’

In the Anglican Church, we reaffirm the articles of belief, embodied in either the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed, in our weekly liturgy. This is a public declaration of both a person’s individual identification with, and the congregation’s communal commitment to, ‘the faith once delivered to the saints’ (Jude 1.3). These creeds embody (although not comprehensively) the fundamentals of Christian belief. Most other doctrines are secondary, but important nevertheless.

9.00 am: Studiology. The digital transfer of the Scourby records has reached the Book of Deuteronomy. Another biggy! In the background, discs were processed. In the foreground, I sorted through the track listings and their contents. Having established the component parts of the compositional suite, three strategies – that had been waiting in the wings – came into focus. The possible incorporation of:

  1. references to major historical events that took place in July 1964 (the period when the recording was captured);
  2. information related to the provenance of, and written material that came with, the set of records that I purchased;
  3. other processes of interpreting the biblical text. For example, using a sonic adaptation of braille codification and by applying computer-aided text to sound conversion algorithms.

The written material, which was inscribed in pencil by one hand on three sheets of lined paper and a number of the record sleeves, provides a partial and fragmentary narrative. The records were once owned by two Americans, ‘Beth & Bill’. They began to log their auditions on 5 April 1992. Their last log was entered on 27 November 1996. Whoever wrote the notes appears to have have been dyslexic; there are several variant spellings of words throughout, such as ‘Job’ and Jobe’, ‘Side’ and ‘Sid’, and ‘Record’ and ‘Rekord’. During that four or more year period, there are inscriptions for Old Testament books only. The writer provides several estimations regarding the ratio between the text printed in the Bible and the same, read by Scourby: for example, ’30 Pages 80 Minutes’. There was no pattern to their listening. During 1996, for instance, they played a disc on everyday of the week for nine days, broke off for three days, and then resumed intermittently for two- or three-days at a time for the remainder of that year. One document suggests that they listened in at least two places: ‘Home’ and ‘School House’. One of the records, they indicated, is missing from the set:

7.30 pm: In the evening and into the early hours, I composed my draft contribution for Dr Chamberlain’s The Pedal Effect project. A portion of autobiography in relation to an object (an effects pedal pedal, in this case); the history of an object in relation to one’s life: a fascinating, reciprocal dynamic.