July 14, 2017

9.00 am: Taking stock. I looked over the New Testament narratives about blindness. In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 8, there’s an account of man whose sight was restored by Christ in two stages. Initially, he could see only imperfectly: ‘I see men as trees, walking’ (Mark 8. 24). (A remarkable image.) This was an imperfect but, nevertheless, a true apprehension. He perceived movement correctly, but had only a vague perception of the objects in motion. Indistinction gave rise to a striking metaphor. Our vision of that which we fail to grasp precisely at first, can sometimes be more interesting than our final and more coherent  perception.

I extracted the sound samples from the vinyl to digital transfer of the records for this account, as well as the much longer narrative of the man born blind from birth, in John, chapter 9. This healing — which involves the application of clay, spittle, and water to the boy’s eyes — is contextualised within a discussion between his parents and the Jewish authorities regarding the identity of Jesus and that of the prophesied Messiah (which, in the view of the latter, were not necessarily congruent).

Thereafter, I continued to research significant events that took place in America in July 1964 – the period in which Scourby made the recording. There are four events that month: the signing of the Civil Rights Acts (July 2); the British nuclear test in the USA (July 17); race riots in Harlem, Rochester, and Yorkville; and the launch of the Ranger 7 probe towards the moon, and its crash landing on the satellite, after taking 4, 316 photographs of its surface (July 28 and 31):

Ranger 7, photographs of the moon, NASA Facts, 2/6 [n. d.] (with acknowledgment to WikiCommons)

How, then, do these events connect to the theme of blindness? Once that question is addressed, the delimiting structure that I’m yearning for will become clearer.

My microphone suspension kit came today. This is designed to minimise contact between the microphone and me.

After lunch, I segmented the Mark 8 text so that I could manipulate each component independently. Then, it remained for me to analyse the text, so as to extract a content that could to inform the concepts, processes, and methods of the sound composition:

Inevitably, my ruminations stray into sermon preparation territory — but without any spiritualisation or application of the text. For my intent is to understand the form, structure, and internal logic of the narrative, primarily.