August 31, 2018

5.30 am: I looked towards the narrow column of partial light between the bedroom curtains. Was this too early for me to rouse? ‘I shan’t always be like this’, I thought. But the ‘it’ had no specificity. 5.50 am: I placed my feet on the carpet, with a determination to push the day to the limit. 7.30 am: A communion. A subtle, sweet, and welcome sense of another life in another place – of wellness, happiness, resolution, and possibility – entered my spirit unannounced. I’d never experienced the like before. One can only respond with benediction at such gracious visitations.

8.00 am: I played Purcell’s ‘See, Even the Night is Here’, from his The Fairy Queen (1692), as I caught up with postgraduate admin and attended to my appointments’ diary in-fill. Thereafter, I set my face towards the more substantial work of the morning. 9.15 am: I pressed on with the paper until 10.45 am, when I made for the School and two postgraduate tutorials:

Grace attended both. There’re times where the tutor/tutee binary dissolves, and we become but two people journeying together, holding one another’s hand, to goodness knows where. The idea that fine art teaching is about imparting subject knowledge is very wide of the mark. Certainly, it includes that dimension. However, the greater part of teaching cannot be reduced to, or expressed in, aims and objectives and curriculum content. And some of that part cannot even be articulated in words. Instead, it must be shown by example.

1.00 pm: I returned to homebase. After lunch, and throughout the afternoon, I pushed (inched) the presentation further. I knew what I was writing about, but not how it would connect with the next idea. In such situations, I stop what I’m doing and go on to write about the next idea. Then, later, if possible, I build a bridge between this new idea and the previous, recalcitrant one.

As this Diary comes to a close, I’m consciously considering other diaristic modes that might contribute to the character of the ‘New Diary’, should that materialise in the future. To date, the visual aspect of the Diary has been represented predominantly by photography and, to a lesser extent, schematics. Photographs render the objective referent in a fraction of a section. As such, the camera’s perception of reality and time is alien to our own. As John Berger once remarked, a drawing doesn’t render in time, rather, it embodies time. The set of six 1-minute drawings was conceived in order to capture small portions of my day by this means. I’d found the experience of making a time-limited composition for Pedro Bericat’s 1-Minute Autohypnosis sound compilation, in 2016, rewarding. The drawings applied the experience to the visual realm:

Visual Diary: Marking Time (1-minute drawings): 10.15 am, 1.40 pm, 3.00 pm, 3.45 pm, 4.00 pm, 4.10 pm

7.30 pm: I kept up my engagement with the writing. It was tempting to put it aside. But one ought to get back into the saddle as quickly as possible after a fall. Confront the difficulty.

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements and ruminations:

  • We can fritter away our lives on distractions, non-essentials, small things, and those things that’ll have little consequence in the long term. Instead, we should do only what’s necessary, what’s required of us, what we alone can perform, and create something of substance and endurance.
  • To build something new, you must first demolish something old.
  • It’s more than metaphor; it’s equivalence.
  • Art is life lived.
  • You can’t learn to cook merely by watching TV programmes. The skill requires a messy, odiferous, wet and dry, fingers and hands engagement with ingredients and technologies of mixing, teasing, tasting, pouring, setting, proving, and heating. It’s a sensual and methodical affair. If you aren’t in love and involved with the means of manufacture, you’ll never be a painter of worth.
  • Don’t allow your inability to be a reason for giving up, especially if art hasn’t first given you up.

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