9.00 am: First, a computer fix: ‘full-disc access’, please! I’m endeavouring to configure each of my old laptops for specific software. I rarely dispose of laptops. They can be stripped down, rebuilt, and augmented with further RAM to become almost as good as new, or at least as good as I need them to be. Whatever one might think about Apple’s ethics, the company makes machines that are roadworthy, reliable, and long lasting.
9.45 am: Essayology, again. You can’t hope to write a decent essay without investing time and effort in reading, ruminating, planning, drafting, redrafting, and finalising. Few students, I suspect, have discovered the joy of writing. My apprenticeship with the skill was honed on diary- and letter-writing in the pre-digital age. I had to write (and type) in resolved sentences, with a clear sense of where ideas were heading and how they should be grouped, and without the facility to cut and paste. The discipline helped me to develop control which, in turn, encouraged confidence and pleasure. Word-processing can make you lazy and shoddy, if you aren’t careful. In the background: Van Der Graaf Generator’s The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other (1970). The plaintive and prophetic composition ‘Refugees‘ is as relevant today as it was at beginning of the 1970s.
‘Yes. I do play a great deal of so-called progressive-rock’. My formative years and experiences are bound up with it. Much of that music (along with examples of the jazz, fusion, and the classical repertoire that were important to me back then) has stood the test of time. Those sounds – along with the memories of the occasions on which I first heard them, and of the friends with whom I listened – have served to define my sense of self, quality, and ambition. The music that I discovered was a significant contributor to my self-education. (And the fruits of autodidacticism have been, for me, the most relevant and enduring by far.)
1.40 pm: I continued marking while making periodic excursions into the studio to modify the power supply to one of my pedalboards and the micro-switch preferences on a powered volume pedal. Manual labour is a welcome antidote to hours of screen-based activity. ‘Check the mA output is sufficient on that 9v PSU, John!’, the voice said. Sound advice.
One of my blistering comments on an essay: ‘I’ve no idea where this essay is going or how it relates to the question you’re supposed to be answering’. The worst submissions take the longest to assess, because there’s so much amiss that needs an address. There’s something decidedly inequitable about that state of affairs.
3.30 pm: The final essay of the day. (A silent prayer was uttered.) Many students don’t read either enough or closely enough or with a view to understanding how authors write. Throughout their education, reading and writing are skills that have been taught and acquired together. For some reason, that relationship is rent asunder when they get to university. Whereas, it ought to be maintained for the remainder of their academic life. (And I’m saying this to remind myself too.) 4.00 pm: Turnitin (the marking machine) went into scheduled maintenance mode. (Sigh!). I returned to the studio for some fun with power cables and ties.
5.00 pm: A day’s end: