8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Studiology. I pressed on with extracting recordings for the ‘Beth and Bill’ composition. There was no fast way to proceed; due care and diligence were required. However, that measured and mechanical process gave me a mental space within which to reflect upon the process, as well as the content that surrounded my quarry: the Proverbs and Psalms, in the early part of the morning. (‘Where there is no vision the people perish’ (Proverbs 29.18).) Today, many people get their precepts and principles from FaceBook posts and the pithy encapsulations of mindfulness culture. Me … I want wisdom for not only this life but also beyond. I need my morality, and well as my spirituality, challenged too.
I discovered that Beth and Bill’s ‘N’ indicates that the chapter they were listening to occurs at the beginning of the side. Thus, ‘N’ probably meant ‘No’ measurement. By noon, I’d completed half of their inventory. What was the thread connecting their choice of readings over those months in 1996? Were they following a Bible reading course? What one doesn’t (can’t) know is often as interesting as what one does (can).
After lunch, I returned to the task, picking up speed as I progressed. My procedures are borderline torturous on occasion. But one ought always to be subject to the demands of the work, however uncomfortable they might be. We do not make in order to luxuriate. We make out of an imperative that can be costly: physically, intellectually, and spiritually. There may be no pleasure in the doing of it.
3.30 pm: Job done. I’ve now material from which extracts can be selected and inserted into the digital sampler. A vinyl record – which represents the other medium of manipulation – will be played on the DJ deck at the performance. Its content will comprise a full account of the chapters referenced in the extracts. I realised that not only ‘N’, but also ‘NEW’ and ‘Beg’, all refer to the same indication for Beth and Bill, namely, that the chapter is located at the start of a record’s side. People can be wonderfully inconsistent.
4.00 pm: Back to the beginning, and the task of re-finding each chapter and, then, recording it. I listened to each of them. It was, variously, a salutary, an encouraging, and an uplifting audition.
And, so, into the evening. I listened, next, to Ecclesiastes. The book makes more persuasive sense when heard aloud. Nevertheless, its wisdom is still hard to bear. The preacher’s damning assessment accords with one’s own experience of the dreadful inequities that bedevil this world, the painful ironies, and the dispiriting sense of futility that curses even the best of things that life has to offer. And, yet, in this face of all this, we battle to uphold righteousness and justice, do good and repudiate evil, look beyond the boundaries of the visible, and hope in a coming kingdom wherein all things will be made over.