January 26, 2018

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart (Ps. 37.4).

8.00 am: A communion. The verse (above) has been a comfort to, and the experience of, the faithful within the Judaeo-Christian tradition for millennia. Of course, God isn’t contractually obliged to give them anything their heart desires. Some desires are either selfish, or stupid, or vain, or potentially hurtful to others and themselves, or else downright immoral. That’s why the initial clause of the verse needs to be addressed first; it serves to curb waywardness and excess of expectation. The Hebrew word for ‘delight’ (עָנַג) is curious; it means, variously, to be happy and luxuriate in, and to live softly and delicately with. It was often used to describe a man’s tender and amorous affections towards a woman. To delight in God is, thus, to have an embarrassingly intimate relationship with him, one that is passionate, indulgent, sporting, joyful, committed, and fully knowing. As one lover attunes their heart to that of the other, so the faithful bring their will, ambitions, and feelings into accord with God’s own. Thus, his desires become theirs too; and those he will fulfil.

9.00 am: A skip load of admin to process (notifications of classes, scheduling, correspondence, and timetabling) stood before me and a re-engagement with the conference paper. Some duties take far more time than I either anticipate or have at my disposal. Emails often come thick and fast until lunchtime on Fridays, after which they more or less dry-up until Monday morning. Now, there’s a mercy. My new PowerPoint remote control had arrived. (I’d misplaced the dongle belonging to my old one.) One ought not to get too excited about something like this. But I do. It works seamlessly. 11.30 am: I’m woefully behind. Back to the paper. In the background: Gerry Rafferty’s masterful Baker Street (1978). (The saxophonist received only £27 for his memorable solo on the track, apparently.) It was released in the year of my Foundation Studies. I hear it in my head every time I stand on the Baker Street platform of the Circle and Hammersmith & City line. In some respects the song is a grim, dissolute, and an unconsoling rendering of Down Town (1965), sung by Petula Clark. While written about a city, her song has always evoked, for me, a visual memory of my home town – Abertillery — during my boyhood. We take art to ourselves and write between its lines the story of our life:

Down town: Foundry Bridge, Abertillery (1960s) picture postcard (Courtesy of Abertillery Online)

1.15 pm: This has been one of the best weathered days since Autumn. There was a stunning intensity and edge to the light. Uplifting:

Off to the School to meet my PhD tutee, who was about to face the inquisition. The examiners arrived shortly afterwards. He, his co-supervisor, and  I sat in my office like anxious fathers-to-be, waiting for his call to viva:

While he was being sifted, I calmed the nerves with my occasional, restorative snack. This is my second KK in a fortnight. Things maybe getting out-of-hand:

I continued working on assessment admin for the remainder of the afternoon: reducing component marks to a percentage of the whole and adding them together, while chivvying staff for missing data. Routine and repetitive, but requiring considerable concentration.

5.00 pm: Wonderful news! My tutee had passed with flying colours. Well deserved! It was a great deal of hard graft on their part. I’ll miss working with them. Julian Ruddock has contributed significantly to the interdisciplinary study of art and science. We collaborated on the video work 2A: Earth Core (2017), which made for his doctoral show last year.

7.30 pm: If I cleared my desk of a assessment admin and ‘stuff’ by the close of the evening, I could, then, commit the whole of the ‘morrow to my conference paper its the associated compositions. Saturdays are just another working day for many academics these days. But my Sundays are sacrosanct. 9.40 pm: Mission accomplished! Thoroughly ‘cream-crackered’.

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January 27, 2018