7.30 am: Morning-tide:
8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Into the fray, a work-at-home day, admin to slay, opinions to weigh:
It’s the facelessness of admin that galls me most: writing letters in response to letters posted by people I don’t even know. I dislike entering into protracted debates, remotely. Face-to-face encounters enable you to look the other person in the eye as you pull the trigger. Moreover, talking is far less ambiguous than writing emails. (And, please, don’t mention messaging or texting: modes of communication that are guaranteed to risk misunderstanding.) I don’t seek confrontation, but I rather enjoy it when its offered. Bring back bare-knuckle boxing! On with postgraduate admin and applications, exam admin, teaching prep, and pastoral matters. Too few things seem ever to resolve these days.
10.00 am: I was in editing mode (note: not ‘mood’). Some projects have a long tail. Too long. And I was eager to press on with what is now and is to come (to summon a biblical phrase). ‘Extrication! Extrication!’
The software asked me to confirm. But, sometimes, I’m not so sure:
(In the background: Shakti’s Shakti with John McLaughlin (1975).) In Higher Education, a dependence on software to monitor and provide feedback to students is fraught with problems. Errors are liable to creep in, bugs arise, verification and commutation fail, and information remain unread. These often counter-intuitive and user-unfriendly programmes also shift more and more administrative tasks and responsibilities onto academics, as valued specialist administrative staff are made redundant. Proper administrators are trained to be such. Academics don’t receive the same training. Thus, the present arrangement demeans both.
I should write a tract called ‘The Impossibility of Concentration in the Age of Internet’, or some such vapid title. Writing research at a device on which you can also correspond, shop, hang out with friends, vent spleen, and do unmentionable things is a disaster. You need a Jesuitical self-discipline to remain focussed. It’s like being in an office where anyone can enter and interrupt, tempt, and otherwise distract you with the wrong or right things at the wrong time and in the wrong place. (In the background: Jayanthi Kumaresh and Shri R Kumaresh, Kalyani. Consummate musicianship, joy, and devotion in union. Then, Nina Burmi singing Thumri. A number of comments on the YouTube page were from listeners who, while Europeans, felt Indian – such was the immediacy, relevance, and potency of the music in their ears and to their souls.)
In my Before Christian Era, my appreciation of Indian classical music (which has endured all of my life) drew me to the religious ideas that had inspired it. (This was the beginning of my journey.) In the photograph below, taken when I was 17 years of age, I was clearly in transition:
(In the background: Derek Bailey and Ruins, Saisoro (1995).) By 5.00 pm, I was done. Thereafter, a putting away of desktop folders and files before dinner preparations commenced.
7.30 pm: ‘Now where was I?’ A time for planning, looking towards the vanishing point on the horizon, timetabling teaching, research development, considering options, and domestics.