Summa: diary (October 28-31, 2023)
Disabuse yourself of the following assumptions:
- You ought to be more well-known and admired than you are;
- Fame and fortune will come your way eventually, if only you continue to work hard;
- Success is all down to luck;
- You deserve all the success you have;
- The popularity of your work derives from its quality;
- To grow an audience, you must first compromise your vision;
- Networking is the answer;
- Your work will speak for itself; it requires no introduction;
- If no one is enthusiastic about your work, then, you should quit;
- You’re not as clever as those with far more qualifications;
- If you haven’t made your mark by now, then, you never will.
October 28 (Saturday). Yesterday, I returned to the School of Art (after several months’ absence) for an informal conversation with Dr Julian Ruddock. He toured me around the new painting complex, which has landed — Tardis-like — in the rear car park. I’d asked the university to provide this type of accommodation back in 2003. Twenty years later, my patience has been rewarded. Afterwards, I joined one of my former PhD tutees in town for a coffee and catch-up.
8.15 am: My ambulation across the Promenade was cut short by the incoming rain. 9.00 am: With the mix for Spirit Communication finalised, and the album’s descriptive text well underway, the day was dedicated to completing a general introduction to the project. Next week, the design and writing of a bespoke website will begin in earnest.
October 30 (Monday). 7.30 am: Studyology. Interest in the paranormal, as a subject of academic study and popular culture, has grown exponentially during the last five years. Scholarly books and articles, TV programmes, and online videos (especially), have fed a insatiable appetite to comprehend the subject from historical, sociological, psychological, folkloric, and experiential perspectives (among many others). Whatever one’s view of this field of study — whether it be either hokum or evidence of postmortem survival and supernatural entities (and, I would suggest, neither view is wholly true nor untrue) — the trend isn’t going to dissipate anytime soon. Perhaps, during periods when our earthly existence appears to be peculiarly precarious and threatened, we redouble our efforts to find sanctuary in the idea of another, better, and more secure life to come.
In the morning, I worked on the descriptive text for the first and last tracks on the Spirit Communication album. After lunch, I made a start on the bespoke website. It’s always a battle to convince my free Weebly account to accept yet another adjunct site. It didn’t on this occasion. The company has skilfully put pay to freeloaders like me. However, I couldn’t give up on the idea of having a website for this and the final project in the series consistent with the previous six. Therefore, I applied myself to finding cheats and workarounds … and succeeded, eventually.
4.15 pm (or was that 5.15 pm, really): An ambulation through town, across the Promenade, and through the castle. The season has now turned. The annual and spectacular murmuration of starlings gathered around the pier. The remains of daylight diminished rapidly, as 5.00 pm approached. I treasure this time of year.
October 31 (Halloween/Nos Calan Gaeaf). 8.00 am: Studyology. On with the track descriptors. At some point ,after this album is released, I’ll add the websites’ descriptors to the tracks of all the albums in The Aural Bible series on the John Harvey: Sound site. An audient doesn’t need to read this information to hear the compositions. However, knowledge of the context, intent, and processes that have given rise to them will tutor apprehension.
There couldn’t be a more appropriate day for writing about the paranormal. While I’ve a supernaturalist outlook on life, I’m not so naive as to believe that every anomalous phenomenon is what is purports to be. So called ‘true’ ghost stories are thrilling to hear, engrossing, and thoroughly entertaining unless, that is, you are the suffering protagonist. I’ve known honest, burly, no-nonsense South Walian men who’ve confessed to experiences that left them feeling like frightened little children, and still bring tears to their eyes in the retelling.
Edmund Jones (1702-93) wrote about one David Thomas of Pantmelyn, Breconshire (who was a preacher among the Methodists), He travelled at night over the Illtyd Mountain [Mynydd Illtud] in that county, and encountered a terrifying auditory apparition:
All of a sudden he heard on his right hand a sound so strong and loud as five or six coaches could make at once. This caused so great a terror that it made him leap to the ground (and for a long time after any sudden sound would startle him). Upon hearing the strange mighty sound he said: ‘In the name of God, what is here?’ Upon which the sound ceased, and he heard it no more. He saw not the form of anything, but saw darkness on his right hand, where the sound was.Edmund Jones, The Appearance of Evil: Apparitions of Spirit in Wales, edited by John Harvey (Cardiff: University of Wales Press (2003)).