June 5, 2018

7.00 am: That first thing in the morning look of querulous, glazed desperation, when I stare uncomprehending into the bathroom mirror, feeling and looking a decade older and waiting for my brain to stir:

7.30 pm: ‘Slacking, John!’ There’s a wave of tiredness that hits after the assessments are over. The body and mind crave a holiday. At such a time, one’s efforts need to be redoubled. ‘Surf the wave! Come on, you waster, get to it! Make something of your life … today … NOW!’ He’s a stern and brutal taskmaster, that boy. 8.15 pm: A communion. 9.00 am: Into the Inbox and on with responses to my PhD monitoring queries. In the background: Henry Purcell’s Bonduca or the British Heroine (1647). Wil ‘the carpet’ was outside my study and studio completing the final landing. He’d made great strides yesterday: three storeys in one day.

10.00 am: Back to ‘Saul>Paul’, and further adjustments to the relative volumes of the samples. It’s not a matter of establishing a unity of loudness. I’m using amplitude to interpret dynamic emphases in the spoken text. The ‘Blind’ suite has few types of element, by design. Therefore, each has to be exploited to the full. Making the most of the least is one of the defining characteristics of a discipline. I work best when the constraints are greatest. In the absence of restraints, either implicit in or suggested by the source material, I cultivate limitations and impose them on my practice. This is of the essence of self-discipline:

12.00 pm: I was half-way through the composition. My ears were ‘tired’ of hearing. I made ready for a trip to the School and a pastoral tutorial at 12.30 pm.

1.30 pm: Following lunch, I moved on to the third section of ‘Saul>Paul’. This was such slow work. Painstaking calibrations. I was still contemplating whether the composition could be half the length (comprising the first and second sections only). They encapsulate the narrative of Saul’s intent to persecute the Christians, and his blinding, encounter with Christ, and conversion on the road to Damascus. (This is the scene that’s invariably depicted in Western European art.):

Caspar Diziani, The Conversion of St Paul, Santa Giustina, Padua (courtesy of WikiCommons)

4.00 pm: I took time out to review a job description. Academic posts have a bewildering and intimidating complexity these days. ‘Only Superman/Superwoman need apply!’. Afterwards, I made a cursory exploration of the issues of racism and segregation in the Bible, in advance of the next suite or composition. It’s a huge topic. Presently, I need to establish key texts only.

7.30 pm: Bits derived from many aspects of my life preoccupied my evening. How to deal with the humdrum? Look! From the studio window, in the distance, the sea reflected white as the sun bowed towards it. Throughout the house, small wonders of light and shade played on the white walls and through glass – an ephemeral phantasmagoria:

How does one forget? It’s a dreadful process. Two scenarios: 1. You want forget what has been either distressing or traumatic; 2. You need to forget what don’t want to forget. At various times in my life, I’ve faced the challenge of both. Sometimes, I forget things because either they aren’t memorable, or I wasn’t paying them enough attention, or else the memory of other things crowded them out. Other things, I’ve unconsciously misremembered (misrepresented the facts to myself in the retelling) in order to cope. The passage of time, too, has blurred the detail and stifled the intensity. That’s been a mercy.




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