May 22, 2018

1982/2017 (May 22, 2018)*

7.15 am: A communion. 8.00 am: I turned to the final (possibly) Art in Wales essay. As always, the last one proves to be the most demanding to mark. This is a principle built into the universe. As I write, the passing of another member of the congregation at Holy Trinity Church was announced. Either a death or a funeral has become a weekly occurrence of late. When a church is already small in number, every loss leaves a yawning gap. The image that I had in my head is of a mouth from which teeth are being extracted one at a time.

9.00 am: Back to Vocational Practice and on with the art historians’ seminar observation submissions. 9.30 am: Another trip to the surgery, for some intervention this time — ear washing. This would be one of life’s rich new experiences. It was rather like having an in-ear sauna (not that I’ve ever had a sauna):

I came out feeling like a character from a biblical miracle: ‘Once I was deaf in one ear, now I can hear stereophonically!’

On the way homeward, I picked up the third-year fine art Research, Process, and Practice dissertations from the School. They’d be my world for the remainder of the day. Joni Mitchell’s Hejira (1976) played in the background. She writes as a woman, a lover, and an observer of others. The Vocational Practice submissions were fascinating. I was very impressed by the art historians’ maturity, common sense, and deductive skills. Their task was to observe (as a fly in the wall) an undergraduate seminar in progress. Among my feedback comments, I wrote: ‘Sadly, too often, the tutor has to deal with the issues of student participation more than those of the scholarly content under discussion’. No amount of study skill training can compensate for a student’s either lack of preparation or disinclination to engage. What’s needed is a change of attitude on their part: a determination to exercise the responsibilities of studentship, and a willingness to put their foot in their mouth and joyfully abandon themselves to the subject.

12.00 pm: On to the dissertations and blogs until lunchtime. After lunch, I continued where I left off, while listening to Pete Sinfield’s The Song of the Sea Goat (1973). The arrangement of the song, based on Vivaldi’s D Major Lute Concerto, is reminiscent of King Crimson’s Lizard, from three years earlier. Keith Tippett and Mel Collins played on both albums. 3.00 pm: Refreshments. My ‘fav’ ginger cordial:

I find the Research, Process, and Practice dissertations both rewarding and telling. It’s heartening to see the students realise their ambitions; the writing, in turn, reveals the measure of the self-comprehension. Quite apart from its academic function, the dissertation commits the students to the full implications of their intent. It can be a revelation to themselves. 7.30 pm: I continued assessing the dissertations, with the first two Roxy Music albums in the background. What an extraordinary band. They took pop music somewhere else. The songs are risky and boundary pushing. Who’d have thought that a rock group could accommodate an oboe. One must live dangerously on occasion.




*  For Amy Seed

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