January 22, 2016

Art is made by those who consider themselves to have failed at whatever isn’t art (Howard Jacobson).

8.30 am. Once emails had received my attention, I made final notes on my response to the MPhil thesis, which I’d be examining this afternoon, while developing a range of interrogative questions and final recommendations:


10.10 am. Back to the conspectus via a detour past email requests and notifications regarding modules and tutorials, and posts and messages to chivvy, encourage, and express concern. The dairy/blog must have an end point, otherwise it’ll go on for as long as I do. (As of yesterday, I’ve published 400 posts.) More importantly, this mode of writing soon will have achieved its unstated aim, being: to narrate a personal perspective on academic life in the twenty-first century. Moreover, there may be other modes of disclosure and mapping that cannot emerge from this present form. One must always make provision for evolution; old and established structures rarely accommodate new and progressive ideas without rupturing both.

11.30 am. I desperately tried to conceive of a definition for art and visual culture that, first, permits them to either fit together or else inside one another (Which is the dominant? Which is the sub-discipline?) and, secondly, intelligently subsume sound art and art-music. Simultaneously, I engaged in a brief exchange of ideas on FaceBook messenger. The correspondent was one of our alumni, who’s currently on teaching practice as part of their teacher-training course; the subject was the joys, pitfalls, and content of art teaching in primary and secondary schools. I wrote:

School students need to grasp the fundamentals of structure and depth of thought. There are simply too few teachers who are sufficiently sophisticated to convey that knowledge … and with passion and imagination … .

Learning to teach (and you never stop) requires a period wherein it’s the sole focus of one’s attention. The trick is, thereafter, integrating your own needs with it … In teaching others, you teach yourself. (Teaching is way of talking to yourself) … 

The older the school students get, the more constrained they become by conventions and expectations about ‘art’ that they’ve absorbed by osmosis, unconsciously. If you substitute the concept of ‘play’ for ‘art’, then the students have no problem in letting go and letting be. That’s where creativity begins — even at my age.

12.20 pm. Off to School to discuss arrangements for the viva with the Chair and await the arrival of the External Examiner. I love the winter sunshine; my amaryllis loves the winter sunshine; we both love the winter sunshine:


1.00 pm. A lunchtime meeting the external examiner, Dr Anne Price-Owen (Swansea). 2.00 pm. Then, onto the viva voce proper. A good outcome. By 4.30 pm, the fairly extensive documentation of our interrogation, response, and recommendations was written up, printed out, and signed:


5.20 pm. Homeward:




6.30 pm. Practice session 1. 6.30 pm. Two sessions on text-based activities needed to be balanced by one session on sound-based activity. (For my sanity’s sake, at least.) Thus, on with section 5. Having introduced several parametric curves to one track, and a touch of reverb to the termination point of another, the composition fell into place. Thus the solution to the irresolution was to unify the shape of the gradations across all tracks. Thereafter, I paired away one track (Why have three when two are sufficient?) and listened to the composition closely over headphones. This stage of production is always very instructive. It’s like listening through a stethoscope. A substrata of sounds is revealed — subtle things that can be hardly heard on the monitors, and yet which are noticeably absent when they’re removed.