Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward (Job 5.7)
Now there’s a truth that’s validated by our own experience in this world, and comprehensive in its scope. Our bodies, minds, relationships, work, hopes, fears, loves, and desires are all liable to difficulties, vexations, and trials at one time or another, and, alas, in concert too sometimes. We are broken people in a broken world. Troubles are self-evidently inevitable for all of us. And with them, come sorrows. And ‘When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions’ (Hamlet). They, also, are as plentiful as the sparks that rise from the burning wood. Life can seem unutterably cruel, frustrating, and unfair sometimes.
9.00 am: Studyology. Back to writing the conference paper and designing its PowerPoint presentation. I conceive of these two elements like the halves of an Easter egg: as complimentary and reciprocal; a textual/visual parallel. The potential of each is pushed further with every paper or lecture I prepare. The delivery, in my opinion, should be as imaginatively creative (and, where possible, boundary breaking) as the content it mediates. Furthermore, this paper is for a conference on digitisation; so it needs to embrace and articulate the potential of that process. (‘Make those digits dance!’, Buddy.)
Talking of which: New kid on the block – the long-awaited digital stereo pitch modulating pedal from TC Electronic:
As I continued to write and design, I caught up with some back episodes of BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction. This is by far the best programme for hearing the most challenging new experimental music and sound-art compositions (acoustic, electronic, and everything in between), as well as some recondite world music. It’s always an education, and helpful in situating my own modest efforts within the context of contemporary sound practice.
Of which: some artefacts from the archive:
Maria Hayes & John Harvey, Energy Gift Exchange Day 11 (November 17, 2011)
I took part in the artist Maria Hayes‘ Energy Gift Exchange Day in 2011, the day after I’d held one of my 24-hour, open-studio events at the National Library of Wales. She’d invited me to sit before her and be drawn in motion and in public while I constructed a set of free improvisations on the electric guitar in situ. It was one of those occasions when my profound tiredness served to loosen me up. I enjoyed the challenge of building from nothing, with no plan or sense of anything other than the moment-by-moment unfolding of whatever was taking place – just like painting. (Life should be lived like that sometimes.):
On with the one of the PowerPoint’s principal schematics, outlining the equipment setup for the open-studio event at Bethel Welsh Baptist Church:
Evening. I pushed on, against tiredness and aching, with the writing and slide design.
Meditations and consolations at the close up the day:
- We should do what’s right because it’s right. There should be no ulterior motive.
- Doing the right thing may come at a considerable and an irreparable personal cost, and without any consolation.
- The best type of trouble (if one can talk of such a thing) comes as a trial. A trial places us under examination, tests our suitability for a particular situation, and enables us to sympathise with others who’re enduring the same. It’s productive, in other words.
- Trials also strengthen our endurance and prepare us for even worse ordeals.
- We don’t share our experience of trials often enough. There’s comfort to be had in knowing that you aren’t alone in the ‘fiery furnace’, and that others have survived.
- We are nothing without love.
- ‘There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (Proverbs 18.24). Some friendships manifest a degree of commitment that may exceed familial and even matrimonial bonds. You can ignore, betray, berate, and belittle such a friend. But their adhesion doesn’t weaken. Indeed, the very reverse seems true. Neither do they resent, retaliate, or in any respect return in kind. Such a friend brings the best out in you, and you the same in them.
- Such a friendship bears the hallmarks of eternity. Thus, endurance authenticates veracity. As St Jerome remarked: ‘A friendship that can cease has never been real’.