By writing it all down (all? – no: one thought in a hundred!) I believe I get a little outside it (C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (1961))
Sunday, February 2:
Monday, February 3. 8.00 am: A communion. 8.45 am: Second cup of tea. The Monday morning review: the week, the day, the hour ahead; the preparations of the spirit, mind, body; confession, petition, thanksgiving. I perused my inbox with a view to ‘killing’ as many emails as possible with one swipe of the swatter. Again, there were adminy odds n’ sods to process before the meat of the day cold be devoured. They’re not the same as last week’s. But they are the same as last week’s. As in the world at large: Plus ça change. Or, as Fred frith put it:
Same old job(Fred Frith, ‘Same Old Me‘, Step Across the Border (1990))
Same old newspaper
Same old news
Same old tragedies
Same old sleep
Same old sleep
Same old stupid habits
Same old fucking problems
Same old me
Or as Talking Heads, who released their single ‘Once in a Lifetime‘ on this day in 1981, sang: ‘Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was …’ (In the background: Fred Frith’s Gravity (1980).) I’ve been invited to contribute to a symposium on ‘Religion and Art Practice’, convened by Goldsmiths, London, in a few months time. Thus, whatever, I commit myself to completing in the next few weeks must take this new opportunity into account. As things stand, I’m now trying to kill two (and, preferably, three) birds with one stone. My pitch to the convenor:
I’m presently working on research (including a suite of compositions prepared for the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales) that explores auditory manifestations of the supernatural, as described in ‘spirit histories’, published during the 16th to early 19th centuries. The accounts of encounters with spirits, therein, were gathered together by Protestant clerics and ministers in order to disapprove atheism and Sadducism (the repudiation of post-mortem survival). To date, the acoustic dimension of apparitions has received very little scholarly attention. But, to my mind, it represents as extraordinary and revealing an index to folk religion and theology (the spiritual outlook and experience of the so-called peasant class) as any visual description of ghosts etc. (which I’ve also dealt with).
For the first half of the morning, I corresponded with the convenor and completed my funding application for the CD related to this project.
11.45 am: On with teaching and assessment admin (again). An end was in sight … in a rather short-sighted without my specs sort of way. The following happens too often for comfort these days: an unanticipated email arrives; it requires immediate action; that action can take an hour to resolve; whatever else I’d aimed to do in that time is suspended.
1.20 pm: I popped into town to procure ingredients for a rare excursion into culinary practice. A sunny and upbeat morning had turned into a rather so-so, ‘can’t be bothered’ sort of afternoon. Mentally, I’d made the opposite journey. (‘No “objective correlative” for you today, then, my lad!’, teased the voice.)
2.00 pm: At 20,000 ft and 497 mph, half my family was on their homeward journey. ‘God’s speed!’:
Far later in the day than anticipated, I settled to what I wanted to complete by its close. I aimed to fulfil my objective. (In the background: Henry Cow’s Unrest (1974).) On with tabulations. More a potch than a difficulty.
5.30 pm: cooky-stuff. I prepared a meal for tomorrow evening while making one for this evening:
7.30 pm: Having paired socks and apportioned smalls, I returned to tabulation for the remainder of the evening.
I concur with Lewis’ self-reflection (above). He’s discussing a strategy to come to terms (if we ever truly do) with the loss of a loved one (a wife of four years’ marriage in his case). However, his wisdom has a broader application to not only other types of loss but also any complex, perplexing, or overwhelming state of affairs with which we may be confronted. Writing out the problem, as far as it can be articulated, helps to objectify it. For to describe something is to contain or represent the matter to ourselves, on our own terms. By framing a loss we may begin to comprehend its extent, depth, shape, and dynamics, and define the way of recovery.
A reflection on something heard: