February 20, 2017

8.42 am: Now:

Yesterday evening I watched a Storyville film, Notes on Blindness, about the theologian John Hull’s gradual and total loss of sight. Hull kept an aural dairy documenting his blindness, the transcripts of which were turned into a book called Touching the Rock (1990). In his review of the publication, Oliver Sacks wrote: ‘There has never been, to my knowledge, so minute and fascinating (and frightening) an account of how not only the outer eye, but the ‘inner eye’, gradually vanishes with blindness; of the steady loss of visual memory, visual imagery, visual orientation, visual concepts … of the steady advance or journey … into the state which he calls “deep blindness”‘. I, too, was struck by how the loss of visual sight effected a corresponding deterioration in his visual memory. It suggests that the latter needed to be constantly replenished or refurnished by optical sensations derived from present experiences.

A visual memory:

While lying on the bed settee … I recalled Sunday afternoons at home, between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years of age, listening to records in the front room while Mam vacuumed upstairs. I recalled the walk that I took, during the Summers, up [my parents’] terrace and Portland Street to Blaenau Gwent to attend the evening services. The low light – warm and ochre – cast long shadows across the mountainside above Tillery Street, and upon the tips of the Baptist church’s gravestones (Diary > February 18, 1990).

Blaenau Gwent Baptist Church, mosaic, Abertillery (March 18, 2008)

9.00 am: There were emails to compose and consider before I could turn the corner of my study and into the studio to pick up from where I’d left off on Friday evening. To begin, I made a thorough test of the sound system thus far, before finalising the arrangement of effectors on the ‘through’ and ‘A’-loop routes. Inevitably, the longer one works with a system, the more likely that its defects and limitation will become apparent. How does one exclude a ‘dry’ (unprocessed) signal in the final, effected (‘wet’) mix? The record decks’ mixer combines ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ signals (50/50%). That’s what it’s designed to do.

2.00 pm: After lunch, I began the set up for ‘B’ loop:

Thereafter, I trawled through a number of malfunctions that, it turned out, were programming errors (rather than failures) related to the two sampler units. Once diagnosed, the problems were easily solved. The mixer’s ‘wet’/’dry’ limitation (mentioned earlier) couldn’t be overcome with the present equipment. I would need a more sophisticated unit capable of filtering out the ‘dry’ signal, so to do. My instinct was to honour and work with this restriction, rather than overcome it by acquiring new and expensive technology. I have incapacities, so why shouldn’t my equipment too. 5.15 pm: Enough routing and looping for one day:

6.30 pm: Practise session 1. 7.30 pm: There was postgraduate teaching prep and admin to catch up with before I could return to the more ‘scholarly’ aspect of The Aural Bible III’s research.








2 Responses to February 20, 2017

  1. Brian Keenan, who was held hostage in Beirut from 1986-1990, often blindfolded for long periods of time, has turned his experiences to good use in his books. One of these, Turlough (2000), recounts the life of the 17th century harpist, Turlough O’Carolan who went blind in his late teens. The Guardian (11.11.2000) ends its review with this paragraph;
    “Keenan in his cell must have felt like Turlough: blind, incapacitated, imprisoned, surrounded by confusing enemies, trying desperately to find his way out into the light, in the end having to seek it inside his own head and heart because there were no other doors available to him to open. Keenan wrote a best-selling book about his imprisonment, An Evil Cradling. This first work of fiction is also surely the story of his terrible imprisonment and triumphant survival.”

Leave a Reply