February 29, 2016

The ‘last post’ before the hiatus. 8.00 am. Sober, somber reflection. 8.30 am. There was a great deal of tutorial arrangement, re-arrangement, fitting in, finalising, and notifying to perform before I could excuse myself from my study. 9.50 am. Into the studio, with every intent of completing section 8 and beginning section 9 by the end of the afternoon. The finale of the present section: the two Tables of the Law.


In Hebrew, the Ten Commandments are referred to as the ‘ten utterances’ or ‘ten words’ (aseret hadevarim). I followed the rendering of these utterances recorded by the historians Philo and Josephus, and assigned to each letter of each word of each of the ten statements a separate inscription-like sound with its own tonality:


The statements were then arranged in order, to form a string of 10 samples:


I formatted two versions (representing the two tables) of the string sample, one for the left channel and the other for the right. The right channel version was reversed and played against the left channel version simultaneously. The reverse mode referenced the idea that the tables ‘were written on both their side’ (Exodus 21.15). That is to say, seen from the front side, the text on the rear side would run back-to-front.

By lunchtime, the finale was as complete as it could be, for now. I determined not to listen to the section again for a week. (It’s like placing a painting with its face to the wall for a while.) When I hear it again, this part will sound either very right or very wrong, with nothing in between.

1.40 pm. Emails to answer. 2.00 pm. On with section 9, which begins with the casting and adoration of the golden calf. (As soon as the Israelites receive the commandment prohibiting image making and idolatry, they break it.) The narrative proceeds as follow:

  1. The commission, construction, and consecration of the golden calf.
  2. God tell Moses what’s happening below; God threatens to consume the people because of their disobedience; Moses intercedes on their behalf; and God repents of his intent.
  3. Moses [and the elders, presumably] descends the mount; Moses and Joshua hear the people shout and sing; and, later, see them dancing before the calf.
  4. In anger, Moses breaks the two Tables of the Law and burns the calf.
  5. Aaron explains to Moses what had happened in his absence.
  6. Moses passes a death sentence on those who were not faithful to Yahweh; the Levites execute that judgement.
  7. Moses ascends the mount to make atonement for the peoples’ sin.
  8. Moses hears God’s description of the promised land.
  9. Moses descends [this is implied rather than described]; he sets up the Tabernacle; God speak to him, now, from out of a cloudy pillar at the door of Tabernacle; God talks of a forthcoming encounter, when his ‘goodness’ will pass before Moses.
  10. God commands Moses to make two new Tables of the Law (copies of the original); and Moses ascends the mount once again.

This section ends in the same way as section 8, with the Tables of the Law. Throughout this project, I’ve found myself in the same position as a film director of biblical epics: faced with the dilemma of what to leave out, telescope, and highlight from the welter of narrative incidents. 3.30 pm. I returned to the study, to deal with correspondence:


4.00 pm. On with section 9. I jumped in at the point where the Israelites were shouting and singing, and dancing before the golden calf (Exodus 32.17-19). The quality of my work is in direct proportion to the quality of my attentiveness.

6.30 pm. Practice session 1. 7.30 pm. A preparatory email to my, albiet small, sound ensemble, who’ll be assembling on Thursday for the ‘Ways of Working with Sound’ workshop:

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 19.45.48

It’ll be a bit of a party game. But ‘fun’ can be an effective attitude in which to conduct education, sometimes. And, if you’re going to address the subject of sound, you need to be prepared to make a colossal din. Once I had added several examples of sonic artists’ work, the PowerPoint presentation was structurally complete. All that needed to be added were some examples from my own outings in data bending and circuit bending:





6 Responses to February 29, 2016

  1. Do I really understand correctly that your entry on the 29th. February was to be your very last???? If this is to be so may I indeed thank you so very much for the time that you have taken in sharing over these, am I correct in saying, last twenty months. While fully understanding the nature of such a process and exchange could well seem to be very much one sided, I feel sure that as like myself there have been the many ‘Readers’ if not those who wish to take up the offer to ‘Comment ‘. For myself, others also, it has been a most welcome opportunity to share with you in this way and likewise to part of your ‘thinkings!’, ‘doings’, ‘travels’ and ‘journeys’ over this twenty month period. I do wish and hope that you will consider to continue to in some way offer your thoughts, reflections, ideas and ideals. If I may take one aspect of the Blog that has offered so much to myself personally it would have to be what I might well call the ‘reflections’, for yourself they are usually entitled ‘Some principles and observations derived from today’s exchanges:‘.
    My most grateful thanks to you and again further greetings from the City of Groningen, the Netherlands.
    Colin J. Leythorne.

    • johnscriptorium says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Colin. The original intent was to record a snap shot of academic life in the 21st century. That is does, but with a measure of self censure (not least because I post it on a FaceBook page associated with the university). If it returns in some form (and it may well do), it’ll be on my private account only. At heart, the blog is me talking to myself. As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, Colin, self-cognizance is of the essence of awareness. Good to hear from you, as always.

      • May I thank you for your reply and further may I prolong this exchange a little longer.
        Not wishing to add any more to your ‘Basket in/of Life’, but to offer the following as a little diversion!?
        (scroll down to view the you-tubes and the images)
        I have to quickly add that it is not my own personal area of appreciation, I am still very much a ‘student’ of J. S. Bach, also maybe not yours either, but!
        You will see that I did manage to take a series of images of the, I was going to say duo, but I feel that that should be trio? and was amazed, even ‘shocked’, at the electronics! Give me a Penny Whistle any day, do they still exist? but not for a penny!
        Which leads me to the next link.
        I feel sure that you know the work of M. R. James. Of late I have been again working with the BBC, 1968, Jonathan Miller (Director, Producer and Screenplay), ‘Whistle and I’ll Come to You’, the power of the single non-electronic note!!!!
        In appreciation Colin J. Leythorne

        • johnscriptorium says:

          Thanks, Colin, for taking the time. I’m a big fan of Bach. (He’s the father of systems art, in my books.) I’ll look at this with interest.

  2. Vicki Jackson says:

    I too have enjoyed ‘Some principles and observations derived from todays exchanges’ along with your reflections on the past.
    Feeling sad that this is your last blog!
    Many thanks for your wise advice and shared memories of days gone by!

    • johnscriptorium says:

      Many thanks, Vicki. I think it may be a hiatus of uncertain length. I’m tempted to quote the famous line from ‘The Terminator’ … but will resist.

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