December 17, 2015

8.00 am. There was time to run updates on my computers before approaching the more serious issues of this life and the next. 8.30 am. I eased emails into my outbox and logged onto Blackboard …. Nothing! The loading icon twirled like a circus spinner’s plate in deceleration, until an ‘Err’ message (which things are always appallingly designed, as though a five year old had discovered the font folder) appeared without any expression of either consolation or hope. I needed to adapt … be flexible. 9.00 am. Back, then, into the sound studio to consider my first moves with the third section of the composition. 9.20 pm. A message from IS (Information Services, that is): ‘Blackboard is currently undergoing maintenance this morning until 10am, we expect access to be intermittent as the server is upgraded’. Well … if I’d known that earlier …

10.00 am. A descent, a call, a monologue, a corporate response, a promise (Exodus 19.7-8). 10.30 am. Blackboard is restored. Not a ‘hoorah!’ moment, but … :

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On with marking the exhibition reports for the module. (John Tavener provided the sound backdrop for this morning’s marking session.) I’m listening to large, expansive music in order to train my mind to comprehend sonic scale and a slower pace of development. Having spent the last few years working within a timespan that rarely exceeded four minutes, the shift in perception required is considerable. Tavener’s directness and simplicity of expressive means is astonishing.

I liked this:

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I was able to follow the route taken by the van carrying my sound equipment as it proceeded towards my home. ‘Here it comes! Here it comes!’

12.30 pm. A flare had gone up from one of the School’s undergraduate Art History dissertation students. I’ve learned to attend to these matters swiftly:

First. I am committed to making this dissertation shine, too! Second. Stop worrying. You’re ahead of the game. That you recognise the weakness of the writing and your limitation as a writer is nothing other than good news. Thirdly, ideas will gel … I promise. But in their own time. You can’t rush them to coalesce. Fourthly, the aim of the first draft is to throw up problems early on, so that you have time to resolve them gradually. Lastly, you’ve set yourself a huge task in taking on an interdisciplinary study. One foot will always be on thin ice — the discipline in which you aren’t trained. The trick is to write about it as an art history student. That, after all, is your perspective.

On with the marking (speech-bubbling commenting).

1.40 pm. Having completed a domestic task and looked over the integrity of my parcels, I returned to the marking:

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4.30 pm. I can do no more of the same. My eyes burn; my head aches. This is no way to mark. An inspection of the new amp and cabs was called for. Now, if I was a really sad geek I’d have videoed the ‘striptease’ of opening the box (teasingly), unwrapping the plastic bag (like the Dance of the Seven Veils), and revealing the contents, slowly, one bit and a time (shamelessly). Well, I’m not (yet):


She’s elegant. (Amps are always female.) I then familiarised myself with  the 注意事項 [precautions]. These have the same status as the laminated instructions that you’re encouraged to read on aircraft before takeoff. (In other words, its too easy not to.) Over the years Yamaha (the equipments’ manufacturer) have produced a bewildering variety of unrelated products, including motor-scooters, outboard motors, pianos, sports equipment, guitars, music schools, hifi equipment, robots, alloys, semiconductors, and performance amps. That’s one in the eye of specialisation. 

6.30 pm. Off to the Arts Centre to see the NTL’s A Winter’s Tale. Dreadful! I did not survive the interval. Contrary to Kenneth Branagh’s introductory remarks, the lines were spoken in a declamatory manner that obscured the poetry of the text. The cast were actors seen to be acting. Why was the play set in Tsarist Russia? (Admittedly, Hermione did say that she’d a uncle who’d been the Emperor of Russia. But …) Moreover, the stage design was visually dull, conservative, and contributed nothing to the interpretation of the text.