December 22, 2015

8.15 am. On reflection. 9.00 pm. Mack to barking. Some common problems:

  • The absence of dates for significant periods, events, and prominent people. Art history is, among other things, art in history. And history is temporal.
  • Sentences overloaded with ideas. They need to be parcelled out separately.
  • Statements are insufficiently fleshed out with explanation, example, and illustration.
  • Statements are insufficiently substantiated with quotation, citation, and evidence. Don’t just say it. Prove it!
  • Similar ideas are either repeated or else dispersed throughout the text, whereas they need to be corralled into a single section.
  • Insufficient use other authors’ observations and understanding. One cannot travel on one’s own in essay writing. The companionship of, and a conversation with, others is obligatory.
  • Insufficient structure, unclear transitions between one idea and another, and too little sense of the essay’s direction and destination.
  • Insufficient deployment of the comma, colon, and semi-colon.
  • The definite article is sometimes missing.
  • Ideas are dropped as soon as they’re picked up, rather than developed.
  • The bibliography is under-used.

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There is, already, evidence from the submissions I’ve marked, of a correlation between module attendance and assignment attainment, and between pre-submission tutorial attendance and the students’ overall performance.

I recall how poor I was an essay writing in school. Those were the days when English grammar was taught. But too little attention was paid to whether grammar was learned. Consequently, it took me three attempts to pass my ‘O’-level English Language paper. So, I know how hard it is to reconcile ideas and words, and I’m sympathetic with those who struggle likewise.

Music for marking: in the background, I played compositions by Oliveros, Reich, and Ligeti. Occasionally, I’d also listen to my sectional drafts from Image and Inscription, in order to hear what they lacked.

1.50 pm. After lunch, I re-immersed myself in the morass of unresolved sentences, overlong sentences, and lost commas.  Some Bartók to lubricate the critical mind. FaceBook replied to my post regarding the loss of WordPress images from my dairy posts on the site:

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As vague, evasive, and deflective as this reply may read, the company has fixed the problem. So a big smiley from me.

Morrison’s are selling electric seedless green grapes. Perhaps, they either illuminate and flash like christmas tree lights or burst in the bag like pop corn, on connection to the mains:


My gran had a novelty plastic bowel of fruit that lit up. I’d bite into and tongue the waxy surfaces of the grapes and oranges when no one was looking. (What was that all about?)

4.00 pm. The forest is being felled. One of the principal reasons for a student’s inability to write art history in an academic manner is their reluctance to read art history writing. We should read not only for knowledge but also to understand how the subject may be discussed. Books are our best teachers in this respect.

Never let yourself off the hook of doing the important things in life well. Naturally, there’re things for which we have an inadequate native ability. To climb high from a low rung on the ladder may demand of us more than we are willing or able to give. But, then again, we don’t know what we are willing or able to give until we’ve begun the ascent. It’s not greater ability but, rather, more courage that we stand in need of.

I listened to Joni Mitchell’s Hejira (1976), and remembered the day trip that I’d made to Albany, New York on October 13, 2002, following a conference at Siena College. In my diary, I wrote: ‘walked around in a mood of fantasy and reverie’. There were some things in life, I realised, that were achingly impossible because they were evidently inappropriate. To strive, one must first be persuaded of the legitimacy of the cause:


6.45 pm. Practice session 1. 7.30 pm. I essayed the essays once again. There was gold amid the evening’s diggings. I called for Sibelius and more Ligeti. Sometimes I feel the future pressing towards me.




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