October 7, 2017

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day (Genesis 32.24)

1.00 am: Behind everything, is prayer. And behind prayer, is God. There’re times when praying = wrestling; like one-to-one combat, with all the implications of struggle, throws, grapplings, pins, pains, and  bruises. It can be a very lonely, spiritually unnerving, and physically exhausting ordeal. ‘Violent’ too, in its own way. As Jacob’s experience shows, the contest can go a great many rounds before it’s called. Of course the angel (‘a man’) let him win; they were mismatched from the outset. And so it is with God and us: the purpose of the bout is to test your determination rather than God’s strength. ‘Are you serious about what you’re asking for’, he challenges? ‘Then, prove it.’ God always concedes the fight, not because he has to but because he wants to, by giving us the blessing that we need (which may be distinct from the one that we’ve asked for). We can takedown God through prayer. Now, that’s a thought to wrestle with.

So, after a prolonged struggle and much self-searching I retired, but with no answers … just more clearly defined questions.

9.00 am: There were adminy-bitty-thingy-things related to tutorials next week to settle before I could fire-up the electrics in the studio. 10.00 am: A review and modification of yesterday’s work. It’s still at little wobbly. But I prefer irresolution at this stage. If a work is nailed down too soon, it’s that much harder to raise the lid again and take the piece somewhere better. The object, following on from last evening, was to create parallel pairs of ‘musical preacherly rant’.

One sample retained the sound of an electrical glitch made by the equipment used to capture the sermons. Should that be kept (as part of the given) or removed (because it may be a distraction)? Time will tell. The glitches are the equivalent of accidental drips of paint on a canvas: ‘To be or not to be?’ To preserve or to expunge? On Mark Rothko’s Black on Maroon (1958), a few drips of the black have been cast onto the two parallel maroon columns, in the process of painting. (For me, those columns recall the pillars of smoke and fire that went before the Israelites during their sojourn in the wilderness). A lesser artist might have shouted an expletive before carefully painting over them. In letting them be, Rothko honoured the process – the authenticity of the act that brought the art into being.

1.30 pm: After lunch, I walked into town to fulfil domestic duties and take a ruminative stroll across the promenade. (It’s better achieved in the early hours of the morning while out on a run.) I could smell the sea – that mildly unpleasant odour of seaweed, salt, and dead fish – before I saw it:

Looking seaward, the Llyn Peninsula was barely visible on the horizon. From where I stood, at the centre of Cardigan Bay’s reversed ‘C’, one could draw a 90-degree line across the Irish Sea that passed between Arklow and Enniscorthy on the coast and, in land, directly through Kilkenny, and onwards to Limerick. Directions and connections:

2.15 pm: Studio time is not a commodity to be wasted. Task: To listen to everything completed or partially resolved for the I. Nothing, Lack, project. It’s like standing back from a suite of works on a gallery wall and surveying their distinction and unity. In the foreground, while I listened, I completed cabling the sound system for the Turn Table project, in readiness for a thorough test:

Everything A-OK. I’ll ‘rehearse’ my approach to next Saturday’s event, Monday afternoon.

4.30 pm: As this Saturday’s working day entered its final hour (the evening is for chilling), the strong sunlight broke through the grey skies, which had dogged the town all day, and caressed the side of my face. The sensation was vaguely maternal … certainly womanly. Physical warmth evokes its own consolation:

 

4.30 pm: A letter to a friend was begun. 5.30 pm: Press ‘ESC’.

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