Summa: diary (November 27-30, 2023)

Let holy charity
Mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become my inner clothing,
True lowliness of heart,
Which takes the humbler part,
And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

(Based on Bianco da Siena, ‘Discendi amor santo’ (c. 1390)).

November 27 (Monday). I was struck by Paul Lynch’s quotation from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas in his winner’s acceptance speech at the Booker Prize, yesterday evening:

If you use what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not use what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.

I considered this attributed saying of Christ in relation to the inner creative impulse. Were it not for its exercise, life would be a pale and listless affair without direction, progression, astonishment, contentment, and joy. Of course, you don’t need to have this motive in order experience a fulfilled life. However, if this is in your possession and you ignore it, it will atrophy … and so will you.

8.00 am: A review of the week ahead, and a little correspondence. I replied to a letter by Ed Pinsent, who’s a writer, comic book artist, and producer of The Sound Projector Radio Show (on which I received airplay, Friday evening). Like me, he’s from a fine art background. Ed had been taught by the painter Maurice Cockerill. We’d lamented that such mavericks wouldn’t be welcome in Higher Education art departments, these days. They’re too high-bound in regulation and accountability. 

Artists from a fine art background (like Ed and myself) — whether working in graphics, sound art, or music — bring to these disciplines a sensibility that isn’t native. In part, we trespass into them in a state of innocence. Thus it appears to us that nothing is either prohibited or impossible to essay. Blissful ignorance.

9.00 am:  Studiology. A review of the weekend’s pedalboard testing. 9.15 am: Desktop file filing, website review and adjusting, and album design. This was to be the agenda for the remainder of the day. Inconsistencies, irregularities, anomalies, omissions, errors, and oversights: ‘Begone!’

November 28 (Tuesday). 7.00 am: I enjoy shaving to something by Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-87), be it jaunty, regal, or a lament. 7.30 am: The neighbourhood awakes. This is my favourite time of the day.

8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: An in-garden discussion with builders about a wall-pointing job. (Tea was served.) 9.00 am: Studyology. I began the tedious process of importing the track descriptors of the six previous releases in The Aural Bible series from their bespoke websites to the albums’ information panels on the Sound site. (In the background: Aaron Copeland (1900-90)):

  • R R B V E Ǝ T N Ƨ O A, The Aural Bible I, National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, 2015 (GENCD8002).
  • The Bible in Translation, The Aural Bible II, National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, 2016 [disc 1; disc 2; bonus material] (GENCD8003).
  • The Biblical Record, The Aural Bible III, National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, 2019 (GENCD8004).
  • Noisome Spirits, The Aural Bible IV, Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, 2021 (GENCD8005).
  • Seven Prayers for Stephen Chilton: Requiem, The Aural Bible V, Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, 2021 (GENCD8006).
  • Penalta Colliery: Sound Pictures, The Aural Bible VI, Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, 2022 (GENCD8007).

2.00 pm: I’d made far more progress than I’d anticipated. 3.00 pm: A first draft of all the albums’ textual material was complete. On, then, with a detailed review and amendment of each release’s text content. (In the background: Dafydd Roberts’ I Saw a Sword Lay Shattered (2022).) 4.00 am: A walk under a heavy sky.

November 29 (Wednesday). It’s cold. 8.15 am: A communion. 8.45 am: Studylogy. The second pass over the albums’ textual material. One of the residual benefits of this process is that I better appreciate how each project emerged from its successors, and the continuities that bind them together as a series. Moreover, I’m reminded of the connections between the sound, image, and textual projects over the years. They’re three manifestations of the same ideas and themes.

In the background: Captain Beefheart’s (1941-2010) Ice cream for Crow (1982) — his last studio album before retiring from music to pursue painting. Beefheart’s late recordings (1978-82) are among his most uncompromising. Which is why, on the one hand, they weren’t a commercial success and, on the other hand, they were critically acclaimed. Sometimes, you have to choose either one or the other. I turn to Beefheart’s music whenever a suspicion arises that my own work is pulling punches.

Don van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) at the Doc at the Radar Station album sessions, 1980 (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Throughout the late morning and all afternoon, I transcribed spoken text from a number of tracks on Spirit Communication to fill-in the ‘lyrics’ section on both the album’s and its bespoke website.

November 30 (Thursday). 7.30 am (1°C).

8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 pm: Studylogy: Having tea’d-up the builders, I reviewed and made minor corrections to yesterday’s work on the websites. The improvements made to The Aural Bible series items on the Sound site have implications all the other releases thereon. (Talk of chasing my own tail.) One oughtn’t to spend too much time and energy on rectifying past errors and inconsistencies, in either art or life.

10.45 am: A walk to the Arts Centre for a coffee-conversation via the National Library of Wales path — which offers a spectacular view of the town. I can see my house from here.

12.15 pm: I returned home via large egg sellers in town, and in the hope that a Chinese takeaway might be opened. None were. There was a time when all were, hoping to catch the lunchtime purveyors. 2.00 pm: A final session on The Aural Bible series websites.

See also: Intersections (archive);  Diary (September 15, 2018 – June 30, 2021)Diary (July 16, 2014 – September 4, 2018); John Harvey (main site); Instagram.

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