December 1, 2017

8.15 am: A reckoning. 9.00 am: I laid aside admin until Monday morning. Studiology. I picked up the trail where I’d left it Monday morning and confronted chaos. The challenge was to compose something both distressing and compelling to listen to. When I was young, I’d fill my mouth full of lemon sherbet in order to experience the pain-pleasure principle: that unbearable sweetness, sourness, and sizzle – which numbed my mouth, made my eyes water, and nose burn – and the glorious relief in its aftermath. (I enjoyed the ordeal, in part, because I was in control of the process as both victim and torturer.) This memory would serve as my guiding light.

While files crunched down I disassembled the rig at the centre of the room. It’d become too complex for either comfort or control. When the means of production distracts from the creative process, something has to be done. Simple structures are preferred.

I began constructing sectional components of the composition. Often, I hear the part long before I hear the whole. But in the part is the suggestion of the whole. One just has to attend very carefully in order to discern it. By lunchtime, my rats’ nest of cables had been brought to order.

2.00 pm: From then on, I interwove the ‘horror’ samples in order to generate an intensity. As the rig was simplified in the background, so the composition became increasingly austere and paired down. 3.30 pm: Sundown:

5.00 pm: By now, I’d an acceptable continuity of ‘noise’. The original track bearing the overlaid versions of all four sermons had been excluded. If a piece can work with less elements, then the additional elements must have been superfluous. The slimmed-down rig was established on the large white table. Other devices may be added, as necessary:

7.30 pm: I reviewed the day’s compositional work. It had begun to grow on me. When I listened, my mind’s-eye was filled with a vision of suffering, anger, and disorientation. This was entirely apt, given the nature of late-stage dementia. Afterwards, I began my initial study in Isaiah 9, in preparation for the Advent Light service next Friday.

Masaccio’s The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden (c. 1415) meets heroism, rigour, determination, and a final resolution:


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