Tell them what they need to know, not what they want to hear
WFH: DAY 41. 8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 pm: I reviewed this diary from mid April to the present, in order to comprehend the direction and scope of my thoughts. (I did this for myself, and no one else. The exercise is a process of taking stock.) 9.00 am: A skip-load of emails had deposited themselves in my account overnight. Out, then, with the sickle. I’ve received a good many unsolicited advertisements for face-masks. (They are the new porn and gambling scams.) Letters from the anxious and confused are a constant drip. Each has to be attended to with tact and practical assistance. Pastoral oversight, teaching, marking, redesigning modes of course work submission, general admin, research, and planning for both the new academic year and my own future are running in parallel, presently. ‘Oh heck!’, one correspondent remarked. Quite.
10.30 am: Having extricated myself from the tangle of ‘send/reply/forward’ sequences, I returned to undergraduate dissertation marking and commentary. What a lovely day!:
(In the background: Miles Davis’ Miles in the Sky (1968).) I listen to quality, look at quality, and read about artists of quality, in the hope that some of it will rub off on me. Why waste our short lives being short changed by mediocrity. I’ve always advised my tutees: ‘If you want write well, then, read the works of those who do. Attend to the how they write as much as to what they write. We learn by imitation.’ It’s a lifetime’s habit. I’m committed to making improvements across the board of my life, from the inner motions of the spirit to my actions in the world. There’s a ton of problems to fix. Inevitably, the endeavour will be frustrated by a failure of determination, weakness of will, compromise, loss of vision, unrealistic expectations, exhaustion, hypocrisy, and self-delusion. But I’m undaunted. To quote John Bunyan: ‘There’s no discouragement / Shall make him once relent’.
1.40 pm: A further email scatter before the 2.00 pm Research Meeting conference call. We’re all in this together. We shall all get out of this together. My own contribution to the university’s research profile will lessen during the second part of 2021. Much of what was discussed concerned a world that I’d not participate in, by my own volition. The university is agile and competent enough to make a survival response to the present crisis. ‘The [research] must flow’.
3.15 pm: Back to the dissertation until my late-afternoon pedestrianization, via the cemetery, Plas Grug, and the School of Art.
7.30 pm: Back to dissertation. Maintaining the pace is half the battle. There’s a forest of trees to be felled over the next month. They’ll all go down, one at a time.