Summa: diary (March 1-3, 2023)

Just because you believe in something, doesn’t make it true. Just because you disbelieve in something, doesn’t make it untrue.

March 1 (St David’s Day). My friend Mark Williams, who’s a painter in Newport, Gwent, drew my attention to the recent passing of the Welsh artist Phil Muirden. He’d taught us both on the Foundation Course at the, then, Gwent College of Higher Education, Newport, where he was Senior Lecturer. Every class, he’d breeze through the studio door and ask: ‘Any news?’ We’d none, of course. He drew (in situ) and painted boats and nautical paraphernalia, mostly. They’re images that reflect a lively and an engaging draughtmanship and a consummate knowledge of his subject. (He was the son of a Scottish merchant sailor.) Tutors in those days rarely either talked about or showed students their own work. In the absence of the Internet, our only hope of discovering whether the teachers practiced what they preached was when their work was included in art exhibitions. Phil was likeable, funny, and gentlemanly, with the deep and sonorous voice — like that of a Welsh preacher.

6.30 am: Workout Day 1: Floor exercises. My regime is hybridic; its combines elements of Pilates, callisthenics, Alexander Technique, and curious Victorian ‘exertions’ (illustrated with drawings showing manly men sporting handlebar moustaches and well-toned biceps). I’m concentrating on developing core strengths at the base of my spine (in order to further alleviate my recent strain surrounding that area), while at the same time addressing the entire muscular frame. As in life, a specific problem is often best solved not by focussing upon it exclusively but, rather, by dealing with it within the bigger picture of one’s actions and attitudes. 7.30 am: A communion. 8.00 am: Writing. 8.30 am: Ambulation.

9.00 am: The roofers have finished tiling and cleared the detritus of their craft. Between 10 and 15% of all the slates that builders order are unusable … always. Which is why they buy more than are needed. The rejects are flawed by uneven and mottled surfaces, chipping, flaking, and cracks. The slates that they obtained to tile our roof are from Spain, and less than half the price of the Welsh variety — which is considered to be the best in the world. The worst in the world come from China; these slates have too much iron-ore content, and rust in the rain. The leftovers:

‘The Remnant that Remaineth’

9.30 am: Studiology. I determined to grasp the bull by the horns and assign a single ID to all Apple devices (of which there are many) in the studio. For too long I’ve been wasting too much time battling with the conflicts that arise from having two IDs in operation simultaneously. The process takes time, and uninstalls some applications that will need to be reinstalled. 12.30 pm: Done! Everything in Apple world is able to talk with each other. 1.45 pm: I was in the groove for computery things — maintenance, repair, and updates — and so I pushed on, confronting what had been previously intractable problems. Whenever possible, I purchase ‘future proof’ digital devices that can be constantly upgraded, as opposed to being made redundant when the hardware becomes incompatible with a new software update.

March 2 (Thursday). 7.00 am: Workout Day 2. 8.oo am: A communion. 8.30 am: Writing. So many of those musicians I grew up listening to, and who were colossi in their fields, could not afford to pay into a personal pension and ended their careers destitute. The remarkable English fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth died in a small shared bedsit in California. His fans had to chip together to pay for the funeral. The American Jazz and folk violinist Jerry Goodman, who played in the first line-up of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, now needs an operation on his hands that he can’t afford. Thank God for the NHS! I find it discomforting to know that those who were gifted far beyond anything that I could ever achieve should, in the end, have fared less well than I who owe them so much. ‘The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places’.

9.15 am: Studiology. Boot-up! Review of yesterday’s updates. MacBook 3 is misbehaving. (Sigh!) I may need to reinstall and older version of the iOS. There’s a axiom woven into the fabric of the universe: As you fix one electronic device, another breaks. 11.00 am: A coffee-conflab with my friend — the artist Susan Forster, who lives nearby.

To my mind, her artworks are objects in the world that beckon to a significance that lies beyond it. As when we encounter the inscription of an ancient and indecipherable writing, meaning and intent are assumed to be present even if they cannot be interpreted in terms that are comprehensible to us. These objects have an evident structure and syntax, even while the elements of their ‘language’ comprise only a few glyph, which are repeated — yet without ever appearing repetitive. The objects are assembled from familiar and base materials associated with our everyday lives, such as corrugated cardboard packing, barbecue sticks, and wooden transport palettes. These things are transformed — through the alchemy of selection, appropriation, conceptualisation, construction, and gilding (in some cases) — into what would, in a less materialistic culture than our own, serve as a tangible focus for contemplation, a backdrop to ritual, and the promissory of a reality that lies beyond the grasp of the physical senses. Susan’s objects are sown into the seam that joins together art and non-art; they are ‘the red thread /Between Nothingness /And Eternity’ (Sri Chimnoy (1931-2007), ‘My Flute’ (1974).

1.30 pm: And while we’re on the subject of eternity: extreme sound-stretching. Looks like I’m in this for the long haul:

March 3 (Friday). 8.30 am: Ambulations. At the cheese section in a local supermarket: ‘Are you looking for anything in particular?’, the assistant asked. ‘Do you mean in respect to life in general or to a brie that won’t ripen too quickly?’, I replied (in my head). 9.15 am: Writing. 9.45 am: Reading. 10.30 am: I’ve discovered that the practice of maintaining sound recordings of personal experience for the purpose of revisiting places (acoustically, in the mind) is gaining momentum. I first engaged ‘audiography’ in 1985. Some of the recordings were made publicly accessible on The Aural Bible website, a few years ago. No account of the history, contexts, and intent of my own practice has been written. Thus, I’m inclined to conceive blog along the lines of My Dairies, in order to plug this gap.

8.30 am-5.00 pm

11.00 am: Studiology. Yesterday, I’d extracted the harmonics from a sample derived from the whole Bible overlays derived from the Alexander Scourby recordings, which I used for The Biblical Record project. A beginning, in other words. Although, I strongly suspect that the recording won’t be used in the final ‘The Singing in the Air’ [working title] project. It’s, rather, of the nature of a test piece or trial. Intriguingly, the fruit of my efforts already sounds suspiciously like the ethereal drone heard above the congregation’s hubbub in online video recordings of the phenomenon. Twenty six tracks and distinct pitches (one for each letter of the alphabet of the language of the spoken word of Scripture on the recording) covering eight octaves.

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