8.30 am. I’d been deleting and responding to emails periodically during my weekend away, so as not to have to face a dispiriting column of them reaching up to heaven, first thing on Monday morning. Having replied to few that remained, I took time to turn over my experiences on Friday. The common threads running through my encounter with the chapel, church, and hotel were: visualisations and remembrances of death, vestigial presence, ‘ghosts’ of images and texts, and supernatural denotations and allusions.
When history and the present, the present and future worlds, the tangible and invisible. life and death, the sublime and the absurd, and past and current research, converge upon one another like this, I know something is afoot; something will come of it.
12.00 am. This reinvigoration of my interest in biblical visual culture is also timely. The commission to produce a book on the subject, currently being negotiated with Bloomsbury Publishing, while coming entirely out of the blue, will provide a context for a much broader and deeper inquiry than it was possible to achieve in my The Bible as Visual Culture book. I need, now, to put together a conspectus of imagined themes, topics, and methodologies to place before the publisher at our mid November discussion in London. Over the weekend, the BBC confirmed that the program series on invisibility was going forward. I await their call for interviews.
2.10 pm. Abstraction, from a socio-political perspective on America in the period from the 1950s to early 70s:
Either you see the importance of this discussion or you don’t. Personally, I find the forward projection of this period onto the wall of our contemporary political context both fascinating and alarming. The dynamics of history (global, national, and individual) are sometimes all too predictable. In part, this is because we often fail to learn from our mistakes, and find it almost impossible to replicate our successes.
3.10 pm. A second-year fine art, catch-up, mini tutorial. The discussion began with painted pebbles and moved on to sailors’ painted sea chests, the Ark of the Covenant (and the Indiana Jones film based on the same), reliquaries, and, finally, the embodiment of memory. 3.30 pm. A time for admin: references for students, my teaching diary, and notifications regarding such. The week is now in order. 4.00 pm. I began addressing queries that I’d received, having canvassed students on the Abstraction module regarding essay writing in general and the module’s essay in particular:
Among the returns were many revealing questions related to style, structure, sourcing information, referencing, grammar, and content. The students’ lack of confidence was conspicuous. This is appreciable; at secondary school level, they’ve been given little by way of instruction regarding writing methods, and too few occasions on which to develop them. More often than not, at university level, students are still battling with the essay’s form rather than its content.
7.00 pm. On with the likely introductory section for Image and Inscription. I’ve no idea how the whole will fit together, and only the faintest notion of what the introduction ought to sound like. I can feel it, but I’ve yet to hear it. I would have it no other other way.
In view of the size of the component files, completed portions of the whole will have to be bounced down into a single mix before they can be amalgamated with other portions. It’ll be like constructing a very large house room by room rather than brick by brick.
9.30 pm. Practice session 2.